Category Archives: Case Studies

Florida Bridge Tragedy

The bridge collapse that occurred last Thursday has claimed six lives. The bridge collapsed around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15th. Although officials say there will be no more casualties, they are going through the rubble again to ensure that no one else is trapped beneath it.  A total of 950 tons of rubble were moved when in search of the six victims. That same day, engineers gathered together to discuss the structural integrity of the bridge just hours before the collapse.

This new structure was supposed to connect Florida International University campus to the bordering neighborhood. The collapse happened months before the completion of the bridge. The bridge was supposed to enhance safety, keeping pedestrians safe from traffic due to a previous incident involving a fatal crash and a FIU student last August.

The meeting held at 9:00 a.m. that Thursday, gathered together engineers including the people responsible for designing the bridge (FIGG). The meeting was held to discuss a crack that appeared on the structure due to an observation that was made two days before, that Tuesday.

The Tuesday before the collapse, a FIGG engineer called an FDOT employee to warn about “some cracking” on the structure of the bridge. The FDOT employee was out on an assignment that day and missed the call, and did not hear the voicemail that was left by the engineer W. Denney Pate until Friday, the day after the collapse. The voicemail left by Pate discussed the crack that was found on the structure and stated that it needed to be repaired, however, he said there were no safety concerns.

It is unfortunate that six lives were lost in such a horrific and avoidable accident. At Groth Law Firm S.C., we have experience with a wide variety of cases dealing with wrongful death incidents, each one of our attorneys prepared and here to help you with your wrongful death case.

Wind Lake Gymnastics Center and Claims against James Kivisto

Our firm is currently investigating claims against the Racine County based gymnastics center known as “Wind Lake Gymnastics Center,” its owner James “Jim” Kivisto and USA Gymnastics.  There are possibly hundreds of victims from our community.  It seems that James Kivisto had been videotaping young girls for quite a while and now admits that he recorded his victims changing on “multiple occasions.”  Fox 6 Milwaukee has posted numerous articles about these incidents and the work that the Racine Sheriff and law enforcement now have to undertake to decipher who was, in fact, a victim of these crimes.

The sad thing is that any parent whose child was coached at Wind Lake Gymnastics may be a victim and it’s not unreasonable that all parents have now had to talk with young kids about this.  Many parents are asking themselves whether they can ever trust a coach again.    Attorney Groth recently stated, “The lack of diligence in certifying Wind Lake Gymnastics has cost our community so much.  I hope these kids are able to continue in sports – its such an important part of growing up.  But, as a parent I understand if you want to never let your child out of your sight!”

If you would like to talk about the process involved in claims like those against the Windy Lake Gymnastics Center and James Kivisto please call our office (414-375-2030).  Our attorneys have tried negligent supervision cases and Attorney Groth has helped a number of survivors of assault and rape obtain verdicts (and the closure associated with a verdict) before Wisconsin Circuit Courts.

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Fusions Aren’t Always Final

Fusion surgeries are aimed at eliminating severe pain between bones by fusing them together into a solid bone and making them more stable. Fusion surgeries can be performed on many different joints, including the spine, feet, ankle and wrist, among others. [i] We know that with fusion surgeries, however, the segments of bones next to the fused bones will deteriorate. Arthritis will likely set in, and the probability of future surgeries is increased.

Common risks of fusion surgeries include arthritis in nearby joints[ii] and Adjacent Segment Disease, which is caused by additional stress being transferred to the adjacent joints due to the fused segment losing mobility and becoming stiff.[iii] Oftentimes, these conditions cause more pain and result in the need for additional surgeries.

Researchers have found that adjacent joint arthritis is becoming a real concern for patients following an ankle fusion.[iv] Specifically, they are finding that because the patient’s movement and gait will be altered due to the fused bones, the patient is at risk for exacerbated arthritic degeneration in those adjacent joints.

Many of the fusion surgeries that are performed are on the spinal cord. Spinal fusion surgeries are procedures that are used to fix problems with the vertebrae, or small bones that make up the spine. Fusions are used to treat longstanding issues, such as spinal stenosis or degenerative disk disease, but they are also used to treat newer issues, like fractures or tumors, as well. Doctors often recommend spinal fusion surgeries after an individual has been involved in a serious accident which caused a fracture in their spine that cannot be fixed by non-surgical methods like physical therapy or pain management.

The fusion itself has been compared to a “welding” process as the goal of the procedure is to fuse all of the painful bones together so that they heal into a single, solid bone. [v] To connect the discs, surgeons can use hardware, like screws or rods, to keep the discs from moving. Sometimes surgeons also use pieces of bone, called a bone graft, to fuse the discs together. The purpose of the fusion is to permanently connect the vertebrate to eliminate the motion between them, which should then theoretically also eliminate the pain. [vi]

Fusions are typically ordered as a last resort because the procedures themselves are invasive and, like many other serious procedures, they come with a series of risk factors and negative consequences. As noted earlier, one of the most well-known consequences of spinal fusions is Adjacent Segment Disease.

The development of Adjacent Segment Disease (“ASD”) is one of the biggest risk factors associated with a spinal fusion surgery.  A daunting statistic for spinal fusion candidates is that within fifteen years of having a fusion, there is a 40% chance that they will need additional surgery due to ASD.[vii] Spinal surgeries cause stiffening in the fused segments, which results in added stress on the discs both above and below the fusion. ASD occurs because the adjacent, non-fused discs experience abnormal loads and movement causing them to work harder to compensate for the immobilized vertebrae that has been fused. As a result of the added stress, those adjacent vertebrae begin to rapidly weaken and deteriorate.

Not only is there a likelihood that a fusion patient may develop arthritis and experience more rapid degeneration in the adjacent spinal levels, there are a host of other risk factors patients need to be cognizant of. While fusions are aimed at eliminating pain, chronic pain is a common complaint of fusion patients. In fact, one in three spinal fusion patients report back pain within seven years of their surgery. [viii] Many factors, including nerve damage, implant failure and joint degeneration can cause chronic pain following a fusion. Astoundingly, one third of fusion patients lose the benefits of the surgery within ten years,[ix] resulting in the need for more surgery in many cases. These statistics are why surgeons are hesitant to operate on young patients. It seems that the consensus on fusions is that if the procedure is performed properly, it can significantly enhance the quality of life of a patient, but oftentimes, only for so long.

At Groth Law Firm, we have worked with many clients that have undergone fusion surgeries. We also have a network of doctors and surgeons that have educated us on the risks and benefits of fusion surgeries so that we are better equipped to serve our clients who have undergone, or will undergo, a fusion. If you have been seriously injured and are facing a serious surgery as a result of someone else’s negligence, give us a call at (877) 375-7001 so that we can make sure your rights are protected.

[i] https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/joint-fusion-surgery#1

[ii] https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/joint-fusion-surgery#1

[iii] https://deukspine.com/conditions-we-treat/adjacent-segment-disease/

[iv] http://lermagazine.com/article/adjacent-joint-arthritis-after-ankle-arthrodesis

[v] https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion/

[vi] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/spinal-fusion/about/pac-20384523

[vii] https://www.balancedback.com/blog/adjacent-segment-disease

[viii] https://www.treatingscoliosis.com/blog/long-term-effects-scoliosis-treatments/

[ix] https://www.treatingscoliosis.com/blog/long-term-effects-scoliosis-treatments/

$2.15 million judgment awarded to boy who lost arm in accident

Judge David Bastianelli of Kenosha County awarded a $2.15 million judgment for a 9-year-old Kenosha boy who lost his right arm in a 2006 pedestrian/auto accident caused by a 15-year-old girl with cocaine in her system.

According to police reports the at fault driver, Patricia Pacheco, now 18, had stolen her grandmother’s car for a joy ride. She was driving near Kenosha’s lakefront, when she began experiencing dizzy spells and light headedness. Rather than pulling the car over, Pacheco attempted to drive home.

The at fault driver, Pacheco, claims she “blacked out” near the intersection of 52nd Street and 34th Avenue. She veered off the road, hit a stop sign and a payphone before pinning the young boy against a minivan and severing his right arm. A witness reported that Pacheco was smiling as she careened off the road.

A toxicology report showed that Pacheco had a metabolite of cocaine in her system. Despite not having a driver’s license, this was Pacheco’s sixth driving related offense.

“This was a tragic collision. My client lost his arm because a 15-year-old made the choice to do drugs, steal a car, and go for a ” joy ride,” said attorney Jonathan Groth, “and two families are affected, not to mention a great number of witnesses who will never forget what they saw that day.”

$150k settlement for woman injured by three-time drunk driver

Attorney Jonathan Groth obtained a $150,000 settlement on behalf of a Clintonville, Wisconsin woman who was hit by a drunk driver.

The 55-year-old female victim was traveling north on U.S. Highway 45 near Clintonville, Wisconsin in Waupaca County when a drunk driver crossed the center line and hit her head-on. The collision was the fourth time that the defendant was cited for driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle after revocation as a habitual traffic offender. The drunk driver was previously charged with operating while intoxicated causing injury.

The victim suffered knee, neck and back injuries. The settlement was reached prior to Attorney Jonathan Groth having to file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim.

Patient privacy lawsuit leads to momentous verdict

In a momentous verdict a jury awarded Pachowitz $3,000.00 in damages and made a groundbreaking achievement for the rights of patient privacy after finding that an Emergency Medical Technician disclosed confidential medical information to Pachowitz’s fellow employees. This verdict marked the first time a medical provider was found to have invaded the privacy of a patient by telling only one person of the patient’s medical information. The verdict was a groundbreaking achievement for the rights of patient privacy.

The jury found that an emergency medical technician invaded Pachowitz’s privacy by telling Pachowitz’s co-worker about the patient’s overdose. Attorneys for the Tess Corners Fire Department paramedic, Katherina Le Doux, had argued that an invasion of privacy occurs only when someone tells “the public or a sufficient number of persons” to effectively cause the public dissemination of private information. The jury disagreed. Although Le Doux told only one person about the overdose, that person turned around and told about 10 more people, including the co-workers of Julie Pachowitz of Muskego. After responding to Pachowitz’s overdose, Le Doux called Sally Slocomb. Le Doux had testified that she was deeply concerned about Pachowitz, who recovered from an overdose that her husband said was not a suicide attempt but a bad reaction to one of the 23 medications his wife was taking. Sally Slocomb and Pachowitz both worked as nurses at West Allis Memorial Hospital. Pachowitz was on a medical leave, and Slocomb expressed concerns about her health to Le Doux, according to testimony during the trial in May 2002. Although she did not know Pachowitz, Le Doux said she called Slocomb after the 911 call because she thought she could help Pachowitz. Slocomb drove to the hospital on her day off and told people there about the overdose.

The jury decided that Le Doux, the Tess Corners Fire Department and its insurer had to pay Pachowitz’s estate $3,000 for the invasion of privacy. In addition, Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis upheld Wisconsin law stating that the defendants also had to pay Pachowitz’s attorney fees of $30,460, plus court costs.

Attorney Jonathan Groth was lead trial counsel for the Pachowitz family. The case was tried in Waukesha County before Circuit Court Judge J. Mac Davis.

Therapist sexually assaults patient, attorney Jon Groth files lawsuit on behalf of the victim

Attorney Jonathan P. Groth filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a Milwaukee woman who was sexually assaulted by a therapist at Renew Counseling Services in Milwaukee.

According to the lawsuit and prior Milwaukee police investigation, the victim was receiving counseling at Renew under the care of John Palmer, 61, beginning in December of 2004. The following spring Palmer began making sexual advances towards the victim during her individual therapy sessions. The lawsuit and prior police investigation allege that Palmer’s advances became more aggressive during three separate sessions resulting in Palmer asking the victim to remove her pants and underwear while he did the same. Palmer then had intercourse with the victim in his office.

In May of 2005, the victim reported the incidents to Patricia Croatt, 74, owner of Renew Counseling Service and requested that she be assigned a female therapist. The lawsuit alleges that Croatt was aware of Palmer’s actions and did nothing to reprimand Mr. Palmer, provide a female therapist, or notify the proper authorities. It wasn’t until the victim received counseling from her pastor, Reverend Harold Eppley, that the incidents were reported to the Milwaukee Police Department.

Attorneys subsequently discovered Palmer had been found guilty on 8 counts of improperly sheltering animals stemming from a 2002 criminal case in Ozaukee County. Court records show that Palmer faced a total of 24 counts of various forms of animal mistreatment in that case, including 8 counts of Intentionally Mistreating Animals. Palmer was on probation at the time of the sexual assaults.

“Had Renew Counseling Services done a simple investigation on Mr. Palmer, they would have been alerted to his criminal history…preventing his employment and preventing this sexual exploitation,” said attorney Groth. “Instead a man, who clearly should never have been allowed to work in this type of environment, heinously abused an already emotionally, physically, and psychologically fragile woman.”

The lawsuit alleges Renew Counseling Services failed to properly hire, train, or supervise Palmer, implement adequate policies, procedures, and protections to prevent incidences such as this one and failed to properly respond to warnings concerning the dangerous condition created by Palmer’s employment.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has charged Palmer with the felony crime, Sexual Exploitation by Therapist. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Facing civil, as well as criminal charges, Palmer fled in July of 2007 and was later apprehended in Tennessee.

Attorney Jon Groth obtained a $71,000 verdict in Sheboygan County

The motor vehicle collision occurred on April 6, 2005. State Farm Insurance offered 32,500.00 to settle the claim approximately 20 days before trial. At trial State Farm’s Defense Expert Chiropractor stated that any medical care after about 3 months was not related to the collision. Plaintiff’s chiropractor and pain doctor opined that her current and future care, pain and problems were related to the collision. The jury found in favor of the Plaintiff with a verdict of $71,000.00.

Rock County jury finds for the plaintiff

Attorney Jon Groth represented Smith who was driving his motorcycle when his protective glasses fell off. He decided to turn around to get them using a driveway. As he began to make his left turn into the driveway he was struck by another motorcyclist. The defendant’s insurance company denied the claim stating that Smith was at fault in the collision. Damages were stipulated to. Because the defendant’s insurance denied liability a jury had to force the insurance company to take responsibility. The jury found the defendant was 100% at fault.