September 19, 2014

Ontario: Two Killed in Teen Driver Car Crash

At about 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 18, 2014, two female passengers were killed in a car crash involving an unlicensed teen driver in Ontario, reported the Los Angeles Times. While traveling at a high rate of speed near South Grove Avenue and East Airport Drive, the 16-year-old male driver lost control, causing the car to jump the center median, slam into a wall, and flip before crashing into a traffic pole. Emergency responders transported the driver and a male passenger to an area hospital to receive treatment for non-life-threatening trauma. Authorities are investigating the accident.

Car Crash—The Leading Cause of Teen Driver & Passenger Death

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the Unites States, claiming the lives of seven teens aged 16 to 19 every day in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That year, car crashes killed 2,700 teens and injured another 282,000. In Ontario, 15 of the 808 crashes that resulted in injury or death involved drivers under the age of 21. Compared to 54 other cities with similarly sized populations, Ontario ranked the 9th worst.

Factors Contributing to Teen Driver Car Crashes

Inexperience and a propensity toward risk-taking make teen drivers more likely to fail to notice or to underestimate dangerous situations.

Speeding and driving under the influence are major problems for teenage drivers, especially males: in 2010, 39 percent of the male drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in deadly accidents were speeding at the time and 25 percent had been drinking.

Teenage drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt use compared to motorists in other age groups, with only 54 percent of high school students reporting that they wore seat belts while riding with other passengers in 2011.

The risk of a crash increases with the number of teen passengers in the vehicle.

For more information on teen drivers and the rights of the victims of fatal crashes and their families, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

Everyone at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis, and Leslie would like to offer our condolences to the families of the two female passengers who were killed in this car crash. We would also like to wish a full recovery to those who were injured.

September 11, 2014

Should Student Injured in Newport Beach Accident Get Education Re-Do?

Newport Harbor High School logo

Newport Harbor High School logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2011, a Newport Beach accident involving a drunk driver left Crystal Morales, then a senior at Newport Harbor High School, in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. When she returned to school about three months after the crash, she was given assignments but not required to turn them in and her grades quickly started improving, in one class from a D to an A-. In her opinion, the school’s staff gave her a pass to graduate, cheating her out of a quality education. Now she’s suing the school, requesting that Newport-Mesa Unified School District invalidate her diploma and allow her to re-do the last few months of her senior year.

In court papers filed in response to the lawsuit, the school district indicated that Morales’ mother, Gloria, refused an assessment for special education for her daughter after the Newport Beach accident and was adamant that her daughter graduate with a high school diploma, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The elder Morales said, “that she didn’t understand what her daughter would miss out on by graduating.”

While it remains to be seen if Morales is given a second chance to take her senior year curriculum, what is clear is that she is yet another victim of drunk driving. Annually, DUI crashes claim nearly 10,000 lives and more than one-third of the victims are not the drunk drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2011, 3,371 of the people who lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes were not the drunk driver.

After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, the driver responsible for the Newport Beach accident that injured Morales was sentenced to seven years in prison.

What do you think? Should Crystal Morales get an education re-do? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Additional articles on health and public safety are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

September 5, 2014

Six Get Food Poisoning at Newport Beach Restaurant

Shigella boydii

Shigella boydii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Six people experienced the symptoms of food poisoning after eating at Newport Beach restaurant True Food Kitchen, reported the Orange County Register. After eating at the Fashion Island restaurant, which offers plant-based and other health-oriented options, on August 21, 23, 24, and 25, the diners came down with severe diarrhea and tested positive for the intestinal bacteria shigella. Investigators suspect the bacteria was passed from ‘person to person,’ as none of the victims ate the same dish. The county shut down True Food Kitchen on August 28, allowing it to reopen last Saturday after it sanitized the restaurant and disposed of all ready-to-eat foods. Replacement staff will be serving diners until all regular employees are tested and cleared to return to work.

Shigellosis as a Cause of Food Poisoning

An infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella, Shigellosis causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps a day or two after victims become infected. Symptoms usually last for 5 to 7 days, and hospitalization is rarely necessary for cases in the United States. Antibiotic treatment is only necessary when patients are already suffering from severe disease or compromised immune systems. Not all victims experience symptoms and may unknowingly spread the bacteria to others.

While about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported annually in the U.S., the number of infections may be twenty times greater than this because milder cases are seldom diagnosed or reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Poor hygiene is often a cause of shigellosis, especially in child-care settings. Toddlers aged 2 to 4 are most likely to become infected, and infections are more common in summer than in winter.

Washing hands with soap carefully and frequently—especially after using the restroom or changing diapers—and ensuring children do the same is an effective way to prevent the spread of shigellosis-associated food poisoning.

Where to Report Food Poisoning in Orange County

Those experiencing the symptoms of food poisoning may report their cases to the Orange County Environmental Health Department by calling 714-433-6418 or filing a complaint online.

What do you think? Would you eat at True Food Restaurant after this food poisoning incident? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Additional articles on public health and safety are available through our office free of charge. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 29, 2014

Bike Riding to Become Safer in Santa Ana

English: Bike lanes were created in 2010 on Ja...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bike riding and walking is about to become safer in Santa Ana. California has awarded the city $3 million in grant funds to add new bicycle lanes and upgrade traffic signals, reported the Orange County Register. Along with several other cities across the state, Santa Ana applied for funding for the projects with the California Transportation Commission through its Active Transportation Program, which received requests for a total of $184 million in projects. Approved for six of the eleven projects it submitted to the agency, Santa Ana will spend the funding it receives on ‘bicycle boulevards’ along Bishop Street, Pacific Avenue, and Shelton Street and on designated bike lanes along Newhope Street, Civic Center Drive, and Grand Avenue. It will also be modifying traffic lights and signage near schools.

Much of the population relies on bike riding and walking to get around, so hopefully these improvements will have an affect on Santa Ana’s poor safety record for bicycle and pedestrian accidents. In 2011, the most current year for which the California Office of Traffic Safety has published accident data, Santa Ana ranked 4th out 13 cities with populations of over 250,000 for bicycle and pedestrian accidents in a ranking system in which 1st place is considered the worst.

Improving a city’s infrastructure for bike riding and walking is a critical element of any motor vehicle crash reduction program, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This includes ensuring the city is equipped with signed routes, marked lanes, wide curb lanes, and paved shoulders, as well as sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, and paths.

Adding bike lanes can not only reduce injuries but also boost the economy: after adding protected bike lanes to two car-congested streets in Manhattan, 8th and 9th Avenues, the city’s transportation department recorded a 35 percent drop in accident-related injuries for all street users on 8th Avenue and a 58 percent decrease on 9th Avenue. Business along 9th Avenue reported a 50 percent increase in income from retail sales—which is understandable, as stopping to make a purchase or check out a new business is much easier on a bicycle than in a car.

We’re looking forward to seeing how the new infrastructure in Santa Ana improves bike riding and walking, and maybe even the economy and traffic congestion too.

What do you think of Santa Ana’s new transportation projects? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Additional articles on health and public safety are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 20, 2014

Peanut & Almond Butter Sold in Health & Grocery Stores Recalled

Peanut butter is a semi-solid and can therefor...

Peanut butter is a semi-solid and can therefore hold peaks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you buy your peanut or almond butter at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Ralphs, you should throw it out and contact the producer, nSpired Natural Foods Inc., for a refund. After routine testing of nSpired’s nut butters revealed the risk of Salmonella contamination, the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that the company would be voluntarily recalling several lots of its products.

The recall affects peanut, almond, and nut butters sold under the following brands: Arrowhead Mills, MaraNatha, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods’ 365 label. Four illnesses that may be related to the use of these products have been reported. For a complete listing of recalled items, visit the FDA’s website.

To request a refund or a replacement, contact nSpired Natural Foods Inc. at 1-800-937-7008 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT.

Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The onset of symptoms, which include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, occurs 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually persists for four to seven days and does not require medical treatment. In severe cases, however, hospitalization may be necessary and the infection may spread from the intestines into the blood stream, possibly causing death. Individuals with impaired immune systems, the elderly, and infants are more susceptible to severe illness.

Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 19, 2014

L.A. Council: Fix Sidewalks with Biggest Risk of Legal Liability First

Broken asphalt road by Chuetsu Earthquake, 200...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In their 40 years practicing personal injury law in California, the lawyers in our office have handled hundreds of cases involving pedestrians injured in accidents that were the result of the failure of city governments to properly maintain walkways. In Los Angeles, where 40 percent of the sidewalks were estimated to be damaged in the late 1990s—a proportion that’s most likely grown by now—and where citizens routinely file trip-and-fall claims against the city, officials have decided to use their $27 million budget to fix the sidewalks with the biggest risk of legal liability first, reported the Los Angeles Times.

In order to avoid liability for pedestrian accidents on property for which the city “is indisputably responsible” and to ensure access to public amenities, sidewalks on or near city properties like parks and libraries will be repaired first, though this year’s budget will not cover the cost to fix all of them.

As for fixing the buckled, crumbling sidewalks lining residents’ homes, the L.A. City Council is still debating who should pay for the repairs. Under California law, property owners are responsible for properly maintaining their sidewalks. In the 1970s, the city voluntarily repaired sidewalks that had been damaged by street trees, shifting the burden of maintaining them away from homeowners and onto the city. However, the city lacked the resources for such a program and soon left sidewalks to deteriorate. One proposal is to have the city share responsibility for sidewalk repair with property owners by splitting the cost.

While L.A.’s dilapidated sidewalks are not the only cause of pedestrian accidents and injuries, they’re certainly a contributing factor to the city’s poor pedestrian safety ranking. In a comparison of 13 cities with populations of over 250,000, the California Office of Traffic Safety ranked Los Angeles the 3rd worst for pedestrian accidents.

What do you think? Should homeowners split the bill for sidewalk repairs with the city?

Additional articles on transportation safety and the civil claims process after an accident are available through our office free of charge. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 15, 2014

Anyone Hear of Morgellons?

I was introduced to this terrible condition two years ago. So why discuss this today? How is it relevant to you? Please take a moment to read on.

A good friend started having breakouts that caused him to feel like bugs were crawling under his skin. He became quite sick, as did a family member. Soon, he was at the doctor’s office and undergoing multiple tests.

Eventually, all the tests came back normal. He had neither a virus nor an apparent bacterial infection nor elevated chemical panels in his liver or kidneys. The doctors threw up their hands saying, “We do not know what it is.”

He began to research the condition. I hired a professional researcher to help as well. When he examined the lesion on his skin, he could pull out a fibrous material. Under a microscope it looked a lot like Morgellons.


Despite the physical evidence, doctors were telling my friend that his condition isn’t explainable; that he must be picking at his skin causing this condition and that it is probably stress. Some people have been under the same scrutiny and getting the same advice as you can see from this site discussing Morgellons.

Soon we had numerous physical specimens. We also had plenty of doctors telling us that they weren’t identifiable. The experience was harrowing for him, a real hardship.

Ultimately, we discovered that thousands of people suffer from this and are without any help. See the latest study of Kaiser patients.

My friend moved out of the home in which he had been living at the onset of his symptoms. In the following months, his condition cleared up. We concluded something in his prior home must have been causing the breakouts.

We are only speculating, but the incidence of Morgellons seems to be growing, especially in California. His house was like so many, nothing unusual, but there was something in it that must not have been right. Fortunately, he moved and his condition improved.

We are of the unscientific opinion that the cause of Morgellons is something normally found in many homes, and yet the scientific and medical communities want to treat it as a disease of the mind. I am convinced something lurking in all our homes is a contributing factor—though some homes may be worse than others and some people more susceptible.

A new site has recently been added to the web, Its creator is proposing exactly what we suspected: the environment in the home is causing the condition. If you know anyone with this oft-misunderstood condition, refer him or her to the site. I imagine in the coming months, the results may prove it necessary for all of us to test the environments of our homes.

Additional articles on health and public safety are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

August 14, 2014

Nationwide DUI Crackdown on Now Through Labor Day

Between backyard parties, festivals, and barbecues, we may find ourselves drinking more than usual during the summer. This is especially true on the season’s holidays, first Memorial Day then the Fourth of July and finally the quickly approaching unofficial end of summer, Labor Day. Unfortunately, at these times the line between celebration and tragedy is dangerously thin—and can be crossed the instant a drunk driver turns the key in the ignition.

Year after year, summer ends in death on our roads and highways, with alcohol-involved crashes claiming more than 750 lives over the last five Labor Day weekends. In California, the most current Office of Traffic Safety accident statistics indicate that driving while under the influence killed 34 people and injured another 1,894 on Labor Day weekend in 2011.

The victims of drunk driving accidents are often innocent motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists: 35 percent of the more than 10,000 people who die in DUI crashes every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To combat drunk driving when it’s at its peak, over 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country will be out in full force cracking down on impaired drivers now through the end of Labor Day weekend.

As the final weeks of summer pass, the NHTSA, local and national authorities, and the attorneys and staff in our office—where we see the tragic consequences of drinking and driving far too often—would like to remind you of your responsibilities to others on the road and to yourself.

How do you avoid drinking and driving?

Additional articles on public safety and the civil claims process following an accident resulting in injury or death are available to the public free of charge through our office. If you would like to request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.


August 13, 2014

Beauty Contestant Busted for Fraud after YouTube Video

Privacy is fleeting these days. A Google search of almost anyone will yield at least a few results, in many cases from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The widespread attention one Riverside beauty contestant received on YouTube would have probably been welcome had it not resulted in a year in county jail, three years probation, and $24,000 in restitution—if she’s convicted of Workers’ Compensation Fraud.

Last March, 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Palmer, a clerk for Stater Brothers, claimed to have fractured her toe, insisting she couldn’t put weight on her foot or wear a shoe. Not long after making these claims, and while collecting workers’ comp benefits, Palmer competed in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant. A YouTube video of the event shows her walking and standing in high heels without any indication of discomfort. A week later she was back at the doctor’s office with the same complaints of pain.

Investigators for the California Department of Insurance had little trouble finding the YouTube video of the aspiring beauty queen and she was arrested last Friday, reported

‘People might want to say …here’s a young lady who had beauty and … bravado in making these claims … but it really didn’t add up on the brains side of it,’ said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Byron Tucker.

While we’re glad Ms. Palmer didn’t get away with her scheme, we’d like to point out that revealing too much on social media can do more than expose a criminal; it could ruin an honest accident victim’s claim. As with this case, insurance companies have investigators monitoring the social media accounts of plaintiffs, looking for evidence that could contradict their claims of injury, disability, or suffering. That’s why in our office, we warn clients to keep their social media accounts private and to be careful about what they share.

What do you think of this case? How much do you normally reveal about yourself on social media?

Additional articles on the civil claims process after an accident are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474.

August 6, 2014

New App Could Prevent Deaths from Cardiac Arrest

English: CPR training

English: CPR training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of about 600,000 people and accounting for 1 in every 4 fatalities annually. Sufferers of heart disease are more prone to cardiac arrest, and about 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. A new app alerts its users whenever someone’s heart has stopped beating. The hope is that good Samaritans will perform CPR, in many cases sooner than emergency responders arrive, ensuring the brain continues to receive oxygen and preventing death.

Using the PulsePoint Respond mobile app, an emergency dispatch system alerts CPR-trained bystanders and off-duty professionals when people near them suffer a Sudden Cardiac Arrest event and where to find the closest automated external defibrillator (AED).

Already connected to 650 emergency response systems, PulsePoint will now be available to Los Angeles residents. In a county where it takes 5 minutes on average for emergency crews to respond—and even longer in remote communities like Lancaster and Palmdale—having citizens help each other sooner could prove crucial to improving the chances of those suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest event of survival with a good quality of life, which diminishes after about 3 or 4 minutes.

So far, about 13,000 people, primarily first responders and their friends and families, have downloaded the app, reported the Los Angeles Times. Hopefully, as the fire department continues to notify the public of the app’s existence, more and more people will prepare themselves to save lives by becoming users.

What do you think? Will you download the PulsePoint Respond app?

Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

July 31, 2014

Laguna Beach Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians

Southbound PCH in Crystal Cove State Park near...

Southbound PCH in Crystal Cove State Park near Laguna Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annually, 3 million people flock to Laguna Beach for its temperate year-round climate, scenic beaches and coves, and art galleries and festivals. Throughout the year—but especially in summer—swimsuit-clad tourists can be seen spilling out of crosswalks as they traverse Pacific Coast Highway to the ocean. Given the popularity of this seaside resort, you would think more would be done to accommodate visitors walking and cycling through the city, as well as full-time residents. For a city its size, Laguna Beach ranked the most dangerous for pedestrians.

In an effort to identify emerging and ongoing traffic safety problems that may be ameliorated with grants, the California Office of Traffic Safety compares the accident statistics of cities with populations of a similar size, ranking those with the worst records the highest, starting with 1st place. In 2011, the most current year for which crash data are available, Laguna Beach ranked 1st out of 102 cities with populations of between 50,001 and 100,000 for its incidence of pedestrian accidents. Laguna Beach ranked 18th for accidents involving bicyclists and 4th for those involving motorcyclists.

Citizens Call for Safety Improvements

After a series of accidents claimed the lives of local cyclists and pedestrians, the families of the victims and several concerned citizens gathered at the Laguna Beach City Hall in mid-July to call for safety improvements. Joan Marcus-Colvin, whose husband John was killed while riding along PCH last June, expressed her dismay over the city’s lack of infrastructure for cyclists at the rally, pointing out that Laguna Beach does not have one dedicated bike lane. She also questioned whether rumble strips on the road shoulders along PCH and the addition of a traffic signal near the site where her husband was struck could have warned the driver that he was drifting out of his lane and slowed him down, possibly saving John’s life.

Benefits of Infrastructure for Cyclists & Pedestrians

Incorporating infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, such as bicycle lanes, sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and pedestrian signals, improves safety and prevents accidents. Studies have indicated that the addition of such infrastructure results in fewer collisions between vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians. For example, after installing protected bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan in 2007, the city’s transportation department reported a 35 percent decrease in crash-related injuries to all street users on the 8th Avenue path and a 58 percent decrease on the 9th Avenue path.

In response to the rally, Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig indicated the city was taking steps to address the problem of pedestrian and cyclist safety, including assessing the traffic circulation and bike and pedestrian access along Laguna Canyon Road; studying the mobility needs of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and bus riders; and conducting a transit study, reported the Laguna Beach Independent. Pietig also said the “Orange County Transportation Authority is conducting a corridor study of Coast Highway throughout the county…as well as a five-year bike corridor plan to prioritize local improvements and encourage funding.”

Additional articles on transportation safety and the civil claims process following an accident are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.

July 25, 2014

Porcelain Dolls Resembling Little Girls Left on Doorsteps in San Clemente

Earlier this week, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department received reports that porcelain dolls had been left on the doorsteps of eight homes in the upscale community of Talega in San Clemente. The impacted families expressed concern to authorities that the dolls bared an eerie resemblance to their daughters.



Authorities immediately began investigating the matter. After interviewing the families, they were able to link the dolls to a female adult who lived in the local community and attended church with many of the families. She admitted to leaving the dolls on the porches of her neighbors; however, it was determined that her motivation was out of goodwill. The investigation has been closed.

Given the resemblance of the dolls to the girls living in these homes and the way they were anonymously gifted, it’s not surprising the recipients were alarmed. Fortunately, the case was solved quickly. Next time the woman wants to give back to her community, hopefully she won’t choose such a creepy way to do it.

What do you think? Would you have been worried if you found a porcelain doll resembling your child on your doorstep?

Additional articles on health and public safety are available free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474 or contact us online.