Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse Leaves 10 Injured Including First Responders


Ten people were hurt Friday morning after a snow-covered bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, just before President Joe Biden was due to visit the area to discuss infrastructure.

Pittsburgh Public Safety reported that the bridge in Frick Park had collapsed at approximately 7 a.m.

A driver and two passengers that were on a bus hit by the collapsed bridge were among the injured. The Associated Press reported that crews created a human chain to rescue several people from the bus.

Responders who fell and slipped were also among those injured.

Darryl Jones, the fire chief of the city, stated that crews had to descend about 100 feet to reach people, according to WPXI, NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh.

Officials urged people to stay clear of the area. According to Pittsburgh Public Safety, the collapse resulted in a large gas leak.

Some families had to be evacuated from their homes but were allowed to return in the afternoon.

Location of the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, PA.

Witnesses claimed that the loud sound of the collapse was followed immediately by the hissing sound and natural gas smell.

Who Is Responsible For The Bridge Collapse?

The National Transportation Safety Board stated Friday that they would be sending a team of ten officials to investigate the collapse and determine its cause.  

Four snow-covered vehicles were seen in aerial drone footage, while the bus was still on the bridge. One car was also overturned.

Officials from Pittsburgh Public Schools decided to make all K-5, K-8 and 6-8 schools remote for the day to alleviate any further transportation issues. A number of neighbors suggested that a two-hour delay in school due to weather could have prevented a much worse human tragedy.

Biden will deliver a speech to support his $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which has earmarked $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania’s bridge maintenance. He visited the spot where the bridge was destroyed before delivering his speech.

Has The Forbes Bridge Always Been A Danger?

This bridge is an important route that connects to the Squirrel Hill or Oakland neighborhoods and is a popular route towards downtown Pittsburgh.

It was last inspected in September. However, the report wasn’t immediately available.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory, a September 2019 inspection of the bridge found the deck and superstructure in poor condition. The bridge’s overall condition was listed on the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as “poor.” This means that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has seen the progression of primary structural elements.

What Should You Do If You Were Injured In The Forbes Bridge Collapse?

Any kind of collapsing building, trench, stadium, or public infrastructure means you may be eligible to get compensation for your injuries.  Our infrastructure and bridge collapse attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have been fighting for victims and winning millions of dollars worth of settlements for our clients.

If you or someone you love has been injured due to a bridge or other public infrastructure collapse don’t hesitate to contact our attorneys today.

What Is Shoulder Dystocia?


When it comes to giving birth, several risks may occur, even with all the medical advancements of the last one hundred years. The potential for these risks can make childbirth – which is already a nerve-racking experience – seem even scarier.

When you consider that some risks that come with childbirth can come because of medical malpractice (which is when a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake during your treatment that results in injury or worse to whoever they’re treating), the whole experience might seem even scarier.

One of these things might even be shoulder dystocia, which is something that can happen during childbirth to your child – and it can even have consequences on the mother as well.


What Is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has breached the cervix but one of the shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. When this happens, it can delay the birth. In this specific case, doctors will likely need to enlist additional help to release the baby’s shoulder.

However, if they do it wrong, they could permanently injure the baby. If this happened to your baby, you might be a victim of medical malpractice and you may require the aid of an experienced infant broken or fractured bone lawyer.


What Are The Causes of Shoulder Dystocia?

It might seem scary, but shoulder dystocia can happen to any pregnant woman. Although some factors, called “risk factors,” might make it more likely, shoulder dystocia might end up as a happenstance situation that can’t be prepared for.

Unfortunately, even with the list of risk factors, it can be challenging for providers to predict or prevent shoulder dystocia in your baby.

When it comes to shoulder dystocia, some risk factors include:

  • Having a heavy baby (one that weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces (the more your baby weighs, the more likely it is that you’ll need to have a c-section, which can prevent shoulder dystocia).
  • Having preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor because women who have gestational diabetes tend to have babies that weigh more (see the first point).
  • Having had a baby suffer from shoulder dystocia in a previous pregnancy.
  • Having multiple babies at one time (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.)
  • Being overweight before pregnancy or becoming overweight during pregnancy.

Additionally, some factors might occur during labor that might also increase the chance of shoulder dystocia:

  • Using oxytocin to induce labor.
  • Using a pain aid to help make labor easier, such as an epidural.
  • Having a very short or very long second stage of labor (the part of labor where you push and eventually give birth to your baby).
  • Having an operative vaginal birth/assisted vaginal birth, which is when the doctor will use tools (e.g., forceps or a delivery-vacuum) to help the baby make it through the birth canal.


Consequences of Shoulder Dystocia

Luckily, most mothers and babies will recover just fine from instances of shoulder dystocia. There are, of course, some rare cases that count as outliers. However, although they might recover, they might still have to deal with the following issues.

For babies:

  • Fractures may happen in the collarbone or the arm.
  • Damaged brachial plexus nerves (these are the nerves that go from the spinal cord in the neck to the arm, and they’re the ones that provide feeling and movement in the arms, shoulder, and hands.)
  • Although this one is quite rare, neonatal asphyxia can cause brain damage or even death to the baby.

For the mother: 

  • Postpartum hemorrhaging, which is when the mother experiences extremely heavy – potentially deadly – amounts of bleeding after they give birth.
  • Tearing of the perineum – severe enough that they might need surgery.
  • Uterine rupturing, which is when the uterus tears during labor. Although this happening is rare, it is still very possible.


Medical Malpractice

Shoulder dystocia is one of the potential consequences of an atypical birth. If you suffered this, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice claim. Seek out birth injury lawyers in PA that specifically work within this sphere, so that you know you’ll get quality service from the lawyer.

If you have a settlement claim and you succeed with it, you might end up with the funds necessary to give your child the life you want for them. Additionally, funds that end up being used for special needs situations – such as what your child might be experiencing especially those suffering from a brachial plexus birth injury – don’t count as taxable income and they also accrue interest. This can help your child be financially secure throughout their life. 

Whatever your specific needs, if you or your child ends up experiencing shoulder dystocia, make sure to do whatever you need to do for you and yours to receive the justice you deserve. Call the team at Mceldrew Young Purtell Merritt for a free consultation at (866) 721-8431, or fill out our contact for here.

Pros and Cons of Settling your Personal Injury Claim out of Court


Around 95% of personal injury claims are settled before a court hearing, which shows that it is indeed the preferred option. The truth is that out of court settlements are quicker and simpler to navigate. Trials on the other hand are time consuming, tiring, costly, and unpredictable. Both the plaintiff and defendant save time and money by settling the matter without the court’s interference. However, some convoluted cases are destined to be prosecuted in court, and the plaintiff is able to reap greater benefits. Whether you should settle your case out of court or go to trial, depends on your unique circumstances. 

It is necessary to discuss your case with a professional personal injury attorney before you accept a settlement or opt for litigation. You can start by acknowledging the basic pros and cons of reaching a settlement out of court:


Pro: You know exactly what you are getting

When you sign an agreement with the defendant, compensation is guaranteed, regardless of the settled amount. The defendant cannot refuse to pay the agreed sum in the aftermath. When a personal injury case goes to trial, there is no surety of winning for both sides. The jury could sway either way, which makes it a risky affair. If the defendant succeeds at trial, you don’t get anything. 

Con: You might not recover as much as you deserve

Most of the time, the jury sides with the plaintiff and strives to maximize their compensation rewards. You might receive twice as much or more money through court than whatever the insurance adjuster is paying you. Out of court settlements are unlikely to address punitive damages, so you would be missing out on a hefty sum. The amount you attain in the settlement might only grant partial coverage for your damages. 

Pro: Less stress, expenditure, waiting time

Court trials can take years to commence and the proceedings may go on for several months. Moreover, the outcome of a trial is unpredictable, which makes the ordeal even more stressful. The attorney fees for litigation are much higher and the legal costs keep adding up by the extended duration of the case. Personal injury settlements normally wrap up before a court date, which means lower expenses and waiting time. You may receive the payment within a month of signing the settlement agreement, so you can take care of the pending bills. 

Con: You give up the right to sue

Once you accept a settlement offer from the defendant, you lose the right to challenge them in court and demand further compensation. If the defendant’s actions were unethical or malicious, you cannot hold them accountable after taking the settlement. It is likely that they make you sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits you from exposing sensitive information that concerns their reputation or public image. 

Pro: No room for appeal

Let us suppose that you win the case in court, but the defendant files an appeal. If this happens, the case will linger on and the defendant may eventually succeed in getting out of paying you any compensation. Therefore, all the time and money you spent on your claim will be for nothing. The best thing about out of court settlements is that they are binding and conclusive. 

Pro & Con: The details of the case remain private

When a case enters court, the details of it become public record. Out of court settlements allow both parties to keep the information private. This is certainly a good thing, unless you aim to publicize the defendant’s action or wish to expose their wrongdoings. 


Improper Fetal Heart Monitoring Complications That Might Count As Medical Malpractice


When it comes to childbirth, doctors are meant to be there to make sure that everything is going as smoothly as possible. They are meant to use technological advancements, science, and eagle-eyed monitoring to ensure that the baby is never in distress and that everything goes well.

There is, of course, the possibility that things outside of their scope occur, but all the same, most events are meant to go as smoothly as possible when it comes to childbirth.

One of the ways that they might continue to watch and make sure that things go well during childbirth is to monitor the heart of the fetus as it’s emerging from the birth canal.

Childbirth is hard on the mother and on the baby. For this reason, doctors are meant to take consistent stock of the mother’s status and the baby’s status by monitoring their heart rates and other factors.

If a doctor didn’t do proper monitoring, there might be complications during childbirth, and you might be eligible for a settlement claim for birth injury medical malpractice.


Medical Malpractice

Fetal distress is when a baby’s heart rate is either much higher or much lower than expected. This typically means that the baby is struggling to get enough oxygen. This is why it is vital for doctors to monitor the heart rates and ensure everything is going all right. A lack of oxygen in the newborn can lead to complications such as infant asphyxia which can lead to problems as serious as seizures or cerebral palsy caused by birth complication.

If you think you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, and if you think you or your baby are suffering from it, please contact a lawyer to discuss if you have any grounds for a settlement claim.


Preventing Fetal Distress

Fetal distress is when a baby’s heart rate is either much higher or much lower than expected. This typically means that the baby is struggling to get enough oxygen. This is why it is important for doctors to monitor the heart rates and make sure everything is going all right.

If doctors discover that there is something improper going on with the baby’s heartbeat, there are a few things they can do to try and help the baby.

The end goal is to make sure that the baby is getting enough oxygen, and this can be helped by:

  • Doing an amnioinfusion, which is a process that refers to the installation of fluid into the amniotic cavity to fix an extremely low amount of amniotic fluid in the amniotic cavity.
  • Administering extra oxygen to the mother
  • Providing the mother with additional IV fluids
  • Changing the mother’s position
  • Stimulating the fetal scalp which might help accelerate the baby’s heart rate
  • Decreasing or stopping contraction-enhancing medications such as Pitocin or Cytotec
  • Doing a C-Section

When it comes to making sure that a baby is in distress for the shortest amount of time possible, the best way to manage this is to perform an emergency c-section on the mother. When it comes to helping a baby, there are truly very few things a doctor can do to try and get the baby out of the distressing situation, which means it might be best to default to a C-section. Sometimes if the doctors delay a c-section too long, the damage to the baby cannot be reversed, and this is considered a delayed c-section medical malpractice case.

Once they get the baby from the uterus, the possibilities open up for what the doctors can do to help the baby. Once the baby is out of the mother, doctors can initiate resuscitation or other procedures to help the baby no longer be distressed.


Are You In Need of Legal Help?

If you think that you or your baby are victims of improper fetal heart monitoring, then you should reach out to a legal team to see if you’re eligible for additional support or a settlement claim. 

If you or your baby is suffering from the consequences of fetal monitoring errors, hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), or other birth-related injuries, seek help. The reason you might have a claim is because fetal monitoring is meant to help the medical staff on the scene take immediate and beneficial actions.

However, if a medical professional misinterprets or ignores these signs, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice claim. The sole purpose of the fetal cardiac monitor is to alert any on-site medical staff of any signs of fetal distress. If the baby ends up in any distress, the medical professionals are meant to use swift and appropriate actions to get the baby out of distress. If a healthcare provider ignores or misinterprets however they’re monitoring the signs of fetal distress, it might result in oxygen deprivation and newborn brain damage.

This is called medical malpractice and falls under the umbrella of a birth injury.

Because of how important and detrimental these types of cases can be, birth injury cases will typically require extensive and highly specialized knowledge to have a claim filed. If you want to see the best results for your claim, you must make sure that your lawyer is well-versed in both medical practices and in law practices.

Make sure that you work with a lawyer or with a firm that has a proven track record of success when it comes to cases involving birth injuries and other similar complications. The PA Birth Injury lawyers at Mceldrew Young Purtell Merritt have handled hundreds of birth injury cases, and have extensive knowledge on how to make sure you get the damages you deserve to make your life easier after such a traumatic experience. Call 1-866-721-8431 or fill out our form for a free consultation – we want to get you the representation that you deserve!

What Are The Leading Causes of Hospitalizations for Non-Fatal Traumatic Brain Injuries?


When it comes to health and safety, there is very little that is scarier than injuries that happen involving the brain. The brain is one of those parts of the body that scientists are still scratching their heads over.

Why do brains react to certain stimuli in the way they do? Why do they sometimes fail or become prone to illness when the rest of the human body is otherwise healthy?

Not knowing the answer to these questions is only part of where the terror comes from. But there are even scarier things out there, especially if you’re somewhat in the know about the topic.

The rest of this article will discuss traumatic brain injuries, their causes, and more.


What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury is an injury that can – and usually does – disrupt normal brain function. These injuries to the brain typically end up in hospitalization for the patient.

As may seem obvious from their name, traumatic brain injuries are nothing to joke about. They’re terrifying, especially if they happen to you or a loved one. What are the warning signs of a brain injury? 



Across the board, these acquired brain injuries tend to happen mostly to men and persons older than 75 years. In these situations, traumatic brain injuries can happen when there are severe slip and falls and when people get into car accidents. 

Traumatic brain injuries are the most common injuries that might result in hospitalization. This specific type of traumatic brain injury is typically non-fatal.


How To Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Even if traumatic brain injuries are non-fatal, they can still be very scary. As such, it’s best to try and prevent them if at all possible.

When you’re driving, try to make sure that you’re wearing your seatbelt. If you have young passengers in the car with you, make sure they’re securely fastened to their car seats and booster seats. 

When cars and other vehicles aren’t involved, configuring houses and other abodes in ways that make it hard to fall or that don’t provide too much of a fall risk can go a long way towards preventing nonfatal traumatic brain injuries.

If you’re careful and take care of yourself, you can make sure to prevent a traumatic brain injury.


Traumatic Brain Injury Study

A study was recently performed focusing on the topic of traumatic brain injuries. The CDC analyzed the data they received and come up with the following statistics:

  • Hospital rates among persons aged ≥75 years were approximately three times higher than those among persons aged 65–74 years when it came to traumatic brain injury incidents
  • Males tended to end up in the ER with brain injuries twice as much as females ended up in the ER
  • Unintentional falls were the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries 
  • Traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone of any age, even though they’re more prevalent in older individuals. 
  • Traumatic brain injuries in older individuals can lead to complications based on other underlying medical conditions 

Outside of falls and the like, the second most common reason people end up with traumatic brain injuries is car accidents and other vehicle crashes.

Once again, male individuals who participated in the survey were found to have ended up with traumatic brain injuries twice as often as female participants, which is the same as the statistic for falling. 

The reason for this is very simple – men tend to be involved in more car accidents than females. This might be because men tend to speed and lose control of vehicles more than females do. 

The higher the loss of control at high speeds, the more that a driver might likely end up in an accident that causes a traumatic brain injury.

photo by Yan Berthemy


What Can We Do?

Traumatic brain injuries may not be fatal, but they’re certainly terrifying and cause additional health issues on the body that no one is even aware of. As such, trying to protect yourself and prevent traumatic brain injuries from occurring in your life should be important. You should take preventative measures to keep you and your loved ones safe. 

For example, make sure to consistently – and correctly – wear a seatbelt properly when you’re driving. Make sure that you’re fully cognizant of your surroundings and that you’re not driving under any external influences, such as drugs or alcohol.

That last point may seem obvious and yet drunk driving or driving under the influence continues to be one of the largest causes of car accident-born traumatic brain injuries. 

When it comes to young adults and children, make sure to use the same safety measures and the like for them, as well. When dealing with new drivers in their teens, make sure that they’re being careful and observant drivers.

Most vehicle-related traumatic brain injuries that are caused by adolescents can be prevented by practice and confidence when it comes to lane merging, passing, maintaining a safe distance while driving, etc.) and limiting how much they’re driving under high-risk conditions such as during floods or storms. 

If you’ve been involved in a crash that resulted in a TBI, and are struggling to return to normal, contact the traumatic brain injury lawyers at Mceldrew Young Purtell Merritt to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve, and help get your life back on track. Call us today at 866-521-0865 or fill out our contact form here for a free consultation.

Injuries Sustained On The Route 11 SEPTA Trolley Accident in Darby PA

vehicle and transportation accident lawyers Philadelphia PA

On Thursday December 9th, 2021, six individuals were injured when a Delaware County SEPTA trolley hit a freight train in Darby Pennsylvania.  Officials from SEPTA say that the trolley operator was among the six victims who were later taken to an area hospital.

Witnesses recalled hearing the loud crash as the trolley hit the freight train, and news reports from 6ABC reported a gate resting on top of the trolley.

A screenshot of the trolley accident courtesy of 6ABC.com

What if you or a loved one were injured in the trolley accident in Darby PA?

The negligence of SEPTA should not impact your or your loved one’s ability to earn a living and provide for your family.  If you were involved don’t hesitate to contact our firm at (800) 590-4116, or fill out our contact form to get in touch with our attorneys immediately.

SEPTA hosts more than 300 million passengers annually on its subway, bus, trolley and regional rail lines — an average of 80,000 riders per day.

With the sixth-largest ridership and the fifth-largest transit system nationwide, there are bound to be injuries because of operator error or defective equipment, negligence or recklessness. If you have been injured in an accident with SEPTA or while on SEPTA property, our trial lawyers will assess your case during a free consultation.

How do you prove accidents if you were injured in a SEPTA trolley accident?

One of the most important ways to prove an injury has taken place is to seek medical treatment and make sure you retain your medical records.

Without keeping this information it’s rare you would get a recovery or settlement against SEPTA for any amount – so keeping in close contact with your medical professionals is vital to recovering damages for your injuries in a SEPTA accident.

What are the causes of SEPTA trolley accidents in PA?

The true cause of the SEPTA trolley accident will not be known until a full investigation has taken place.  Both the freight train operator as well as the SEPTA trolley operator will be investigated, but SEPTA accidents can be caused by a variety of sources including but not limited to:

  • Operator or driver error
  • Improper maintenance of vehicles
  • Improper maintenance of property
  • Lack of driver training or testing
  • Negligent security
  • Failure to fix design flaws
  • Safety violations and regulation breaches

It’s only after a thorough investigation that courts can understand what led to the trolley accident.

Why should I contact McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt to represent me for a SEPTA accident?

Our attorneys have won millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, and we’ve represented hundreds of clients who have won settlements when injured by SEPTA or railroad negligence.

It won’t cost a single dollar to contact our attorneys and let our experts determine free of charge whether or not you might have a case against SEPTA.

The negligence of SEPTA should not impact your or your loved one’s ability to earn a living and provide for your family.  If you were involved don’t hesitate to contact our firm at (800) 590-4116, or fill out our contact form to get in touch with our attorneys immediately.



McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt Secures $15.56 Million Verdict Against SEPTA

vehicle and transportation accident lawyers Philadelphia PA

On April 6, 2017, William Meszaros (“Bill”), then age 28, was working as a Power Trainee for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (“SEPTA”) Railroad Division.  On that day Bill was a part of a crew working in SEPTA’s Wayne Electric Car Yard in Philadelphia, Pa. Bill and his crew were tasked with loading a 5,644-pound spool of trolley wire into a storage container. 

In preparation to move the spool into the storage container, two members of Bill’s crew laid two sections of railroad ties in front of the storage container to compensate for the approximately 6-inch difference in height between the container floor and the ground. The spool of wire was then placed by way of forklift on the railroad ties. 

Once the spool of wire was placed on the railroad ties, the forklift was backed up to remove the forks of the forklift from under the reel. At this time, Bill was positioned just inside the storage container doorway as the other crew members began to roll the spool into the storage container doorway. The weight of the spool shifted to the right and pinned and crushed Bill to the wall of the storage container.  Bill was ultimately able to free himself, but he sustained catastrophic crush injuries and required emergency medical assistance.

Bill’s injuries included blunt abdominal trauma resulting in a mesenteric tear and serosal tear of the ascending colon, requiring surgical intervention, including exploratory laparotomy, small bowel resection with small bowel anastomosis, and repair of serosal tear of the ascending colon.  Bill also suffered a brachial plexus injury (permanent nerve damage) to his right shoulder and now suffers from chronic regional pain syndrome, chronic migraines, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Bill is now, at the age of 32, permanently disabled as the nerve damage prevents him from fully using his right arm and his abdominal injuries has resulted in severe and permanent gastrointestinal issues.  

Suit was initiated on Bill’s behalf in Pennsylvania State Court under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act by James McEldrew, Esq. of the law firm of McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt.  From the outset, SEPTA postured as if it wanted to resolve this matter, however, never made any significant settlement offers.  In fact, SEPTA took the position that Bill was exaggerating his injuries and spent a staggering $55,195 to have Bill, his girlfriend, and young child followed and surveilled for three years – in hopes of “catching him” faking. 

After a failed mediation attempt it became clear that this case would be heading for a trial. On the eve of trial, SEPTA made a $3 million dollar settlement offer which Bill promptly rejected. During the week-long trial, Bill’s legal team from McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt presented eighteen witnesses, nine of which were medical professionals.  

The witnesses included gastroenterologists, Dr. James C. Reynolds and Dr. Albert Harary, who both testified at length to Bill’s permanent and chronic gastrointestinal (“GI”) issues, which range from incontinence and constipation to crippling bowel spasms.  Dr. Reynolds, who heads up the University of Pennsylvania’s gastroenterology department and Bill’s current treatment provider, explained that the presentation of Bill’s GI issues changes daily and because of that, Bill is limited in what he can do and eat as there is no way to predict when a bowel spasm will occur and cause Bill to defecate on himself.  

The jury also heard testimony from pain and rehabilitation specialists, Dr. Guy Fried and Dr. Steven Rosen. Both doctors explained the nature and extent of Bill’s brachial plexus injury.  SEPTA and its orthopedic expert, Dr. Richard Mandel, argued that from an orthopedic standpoint, Bill was fine and could return to work. However, Drs. Fried and Rosen explained to the jury that a brachial plexus injury is not an orthopedic injury – like a broken bone.  Instead, the doctors explained that the brachial plexus is a network of nerves in the shoulder that carries movement and signals to the arm and hands and the injury Bill suffered to his brachial plexus when he was struck by the spool of wire permanently damaged those nerves.  As a result, Bill will never have full usage of his right arm again and will have to deal with chronic regional pain syndrome for the rest of his life. 

Yet, SEPTA maintained its position that from an orthopedic standpoint, Bill was fine.  To support its position, SEPTA also presented the testimony of neurologist, Dr. George Dooneief, and several surveillance videos of Bill performing numerous activities. However, the case presented by Bill’s legal team was insurmountable as the jury saw through SEPTA’s farce of a defense and returned a verdict in the amount of $15.56 million – more than five times SEPTA’s pre-trial settlement offer. 

The case was successfully tried by Daniel Purtell, Esq., John Coyle, Esq., and Marcus Washington, Esq. of McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt. 

Deadly Paraquat: Safety Measures Were Falsified To Keep the Herbicide on the Market

Syngenta, an agrochemical manufacturer that sells pesticides worldwide, is now in the center of a legal firestorm. This comes after leaked documents, and the testimony of a company insider, revealed deadly secrets the company has long struggled to keep hidden. 

Greenpeace released a devastating takedown of Syngenta in their report titled “The Paraquat Papers”, which was published on March 24th 2021. Paraquat, sold under the brand name Gramoxone, is a Syngenta pesticide that has long been banned in numerous countries after claiming tens of thousands of lives, but is still used widely in the United States as a pesticide. The Paraquat Papers alleges that Syngenta knowingly used manipulated data to prove to US regulators that paraquat is safe for use. 


What Is Paraquat and Why Is It So Deadly?

Paraquat has been sold in the United States since 1964, and is used to kill weeds and grasses before planting. Paraquat is so toxic that consuming only a single tablespoon is enough to be fatal. Unfortunately, it has been consumed accidentally, and intentionally, thousands of times since its introduction in the 1960s.

Paraquat is now banned in more than 50 countries around the globe due to its deadly nature. Yet this dangerous chemical remains available for sale in the United States to this day. This is in large part because Syngenta convinced regulators they had come up with a way to make paraquat safe.

Why Is Paraquat Still Sold in the United States?

Syngenta added an emetic to paraquat in the 1970s. This is a chemical that will induce vomiting if swallowed. By adding the emetic, Syngenta stated that individuals who accidentally or purposefully drank paraquat would immediately vomit up the toxin, saving lives. The emetic added to paraquat was codenamed PP796.

The only problem? Newly uncovered documents reveal that PP796 never worked. What’s worse, is that Syngenta knew this, and still continued to tout their products’ safety. In fact, Syngenta had its concentration of PP796 declared the global standard for all paraquat-based weed killers via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – a standard that is still in place today. 


Fabricated Data

John Heylings worked for Syngenta for 22 years, and has been trying to warn consumers and the company about the ineffectiveness of PP796 for years now. Heyling states that paraquat contains far too little PP796 for it to properly work as an emetic before the victim is killed by the pesticide, even for those who swallow the minimum lethal dose. 

Heylings also alleges that the concentrations that Syngenta uses are based on a report that was fabricated back in 1976, using data that was manipulated. The fabricated data claimed humans were 10 times more sensitive to PP796 than animal test subjects, instead of using the actual doses given to the animal test subjects as a reliable indicator. 

Paraquat and Parkinson’s

Heyling brought this information to Syngenta in 1990, but the company ignored him. In 2018, he again urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to change its standards in regards to paraquat – yet nothing was done. This has given rise to several lawsuits in the United States, all involving paraquat.

Several farmers have claimed they developed Parkinson’s disease after using paraquat on their farms. Studies have shown that farmers who use paraquat may be up to 11 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s after routine exposure to the pesticide. The disease can cause a loss of motor functions, imbalance, and shaking. Syngenta has repeatedly withheld warnings about the link between its product and Parkinsons, which has resulted in multiple lawsuits being filed. 


Paraquat Lawsuits

For too long, Syngenta has been allowed to market a deadly product in the United States, putting farmers and their families at risk. With growing public awareness of the lengths that Syngenta has gone to to keep this product on the market, the team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is tracking this evolving story closely. As Philadelphia’s Top Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers, If you or someone you love was impacted by the use of paraquat, we want to hear from you. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 for a free consultation, or fill out our form


Bristol Township – Two Injured by Space Heater


Two Bristol Township residents suffered significant burns and were airlifted to Temple Hospital after an electric space heater started a fire that caused significant damage to their home. Fire department officials arrived around 4:00 a.m. and stated that no smoke alarms were sounding when they arrived. Thankfully, several neighbors had woken the couple up by banging on their doors and windows, allowing them to escape the blaze. 

Bristol Township Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito stated that it was not clear whether the electric space heater was too close to something flammable, or if a defect/malfunction was responsible for the fire. Whatever the cause was, the fact remains that space heaters continue to pose fire hazards in homes across the United States, and these malfunctions leading to destructive and sometimes deadly fires are sadly all too common. The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if your devastating space heater fire was caused by a faulty product, and if so, who should be held liable for damages.

Why Are Space Heaters Dangerous?

Over half of all home heating fire deaths start because the heating equipment is placed too close to something flammable, such as bedding or furniture. Other factors that can lead to fires are failing to clean the heater, or heaters that are left unattended. But between 15 to 30 percent of space heater fires are caused by mechanical or electrical malfunctions.

The safest heaters are ones that have fire-preventative features such as automatic shut-offs and long cords, and these models are usually certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). But a UL certification is not legally required, and there is no current legal requirement that space heater manufacturers install critical safety features on all of their models. 


How Many Fires Are Started by Space Heaters?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) states that heating equipment, such as space heaters, is the number one cause of fires in homes. Between 2012-2016, there were an average of 52,050 fires every year caused by heating equipment in the United States, resulting in 490 deaths and one billion dollars in property damage. Of these, approximately 1,200 fires were caused by portable electric space heaters specifically.

The winter months of December, January and February are the most dangerous months for home heating fires in the United States, and they usually occur sometime between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Early morning fires, like the one in Bristol township, are the most uncommon but are also the most deadly time for a space heater fire to occur. In fact, nearly half of all fatalities due to fires caused by heating equipment occur between midnight and 8:00 a.m.

Who Is Liable for a Fire Caused by a Space Heater? 

Understanding who is liable for a fire caused by a space heater is a complicated question that will ultimately rely on the specific circumstances of your case. Liable parties may include:

  • The manufacturer of the space heater
  • The manufacturer of defective parts in your space heater
  • The retailer who sold you your space heater

All space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and must be turned off when unattended. Consumers are also advised to always plug a space heater directly into a wall socket, and never to use a power strip or extension cord to plug in a space heater. But even when all these precautions are in place, catastrophic fires can still happen when using a space heater.

If you or your loved ones have experienced a fire caused by an electric space heater, you deserve answers and compensation for your losses. If the manufacturer or retailer is liable, you may have recourse to file a wrongful death or product liability lawsuit against them. The skilled attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can answer your questions with a free consultation, and help you begin your recovery process. Fill out our online form here, or call us at 1-866-869-5318 to speak with someone today. 

Fiat Chrysler SUVs and Minivans Recalled Due to Projectile Hazard During Airbag Deployment


Another year has brought another massive vehicle recall due to defective airbags. On July 13, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall of 1.2 million Fiat Chrysler minivans and SUVs due to a defect which has already resulted in at least 14 reports of injury. The airbag covers of the recalled 2007–11 Dodge Nitro SUVs and 2008–10 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans are secured by defective clips, many of which have loosened over time to turn themselves and the plastic emblems they hold into projectiles.

This recall comes on the heels of the 6-years-and-counting saga of Takata’s airbag recall, involving 56 million vehicles made by 19 different automakers in what the NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” As many as 15.9 million defective Takata airbags still remain on the road, resulting in occasional tragedies like the story of 17-year-old Huma Hanif, whose neck was cut by a piece of metal ejected from a faulty airbag inflator, causing her to bleed to death. Her family claims that they were never contacted about the recall.

How Defective Product Law Protects Drivers

Federal laws cover manufacturing defects, design defects and communication about known product dangers, ensuring consumers of a basic right to the implied safety of a purchased product. When you buy a product and use it in the proper way, these laws are there to protect you from unexpected harm. 

On the other side of the equation, consumer safety laws aim to keep everyone in the manufacturing and supply chain honest, applying equally to manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Companies have an obligation to design and manufacture safe products — and when they fail to do so, you have a right to seek action. 

Vehicle Makers Are Held to an Especially High Standard

Product law requires automobile manufacturers to go to great lengths to ensure that every car they produce performs well under typical driving conditions, and mitigates injury in the event of a crash. There is even the added burden of crashworthiness, which requires a car’s designers and manufacturers to look ahead to the human consequences of all types of driver outcomes. This is one of the reasons that auto makers use devices like crash test dummies in simulating crashes.

Since airbags were first required in new passenger vehicles at the start of the 1999 model year, they have been a big part of that safety. Front airbags have been shown to reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29 percent and front-seat passenger deaths (provided they are 13 or older) by 32 percent. Side airbags reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by 52 percent.

The heightened safety that airbags deliver has become an expectation — which makes it all the more tragic when airbag defects end up causing injury instead of preventing it.

What Types of Injuries Can Defective Airbags Inflict?

While the Fiat Chrysler airbag issue is still unfolding, more is known about the ramifications of Takata’s airbag issue, which has so far claimed the lives of 24 people worldwide while injuring hundreds.

Airbags come out of their housing at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, and must be held to a high design and manufacturing standard. When they fail, injuries can include:

  • Broken bones, skull fractures and brain injury
  • Chemical burns from the gas propellant used for inflation
  • Deep cuts and hemorrhaging from projectiles and shrapnel
  • Blindness caused by exploding airbags

Source: Wikipedia, shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

When to Consult with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer

At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have over 30 years of experience in litigating product liability cases. We take all claims on a contingency basis, and will only charge you attorney fees if we are able to obtain financial compensation for your losses. Our experience comes in handy when connecting cases with the right expert witnesses, which can be invaluable in demonstrating the validity of a claim.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt welcomes clients local to our Philadelphia offices and those from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and further afield. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-866-694-5578.

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