Wisconsin Injury Attorney Blog

As previously reported here, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, 2014. Dontre was lawfully relaxing and possibly sleeping in the Park when he was approached by Officer Manney. Without any reasonable suspicion that Dontre was involved in criminal activity, Officer Manney detained Dontre and then began a pat-down search of Dontre’s person. An altercation ensued, where Officer Manney eventually shot and killed Dontre.

For the Hamilton family, justice for Dontre and accountability for Officer Manney have been hard to come by. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office declined to press state criminal charges against Officer Manney. Likewise, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin refused to bring federal criminal charges. The MPD did fire Officer Manney; however, just two days before the firing Officer Manney applied for duty disability pay, claiming that he suffers from mental illness as a result of shooting and killing Dontre. The City of Milwaukee Annuity and Pension Board approved Officer Manney’s claim, meaning that he will receive 75% of his MPD salary, tax free, for as long as he is determined to be disabled. In addition, Officer Manney has appealed his firing, and that appeal is still pending, meaning that Officer Manney could get his job back.

Seeking justice and accountability for the tragic death of Dontre Hamilton, the Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C., as part of the legal team which represents the Hamilton family, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Officer Manney and the City of Milwaukee. The Federal Complaint, which begins the lawsuit, lays out in detail the facts relating to Officer Manney’s unconstitutional shooting and killing of Dontre. We believe that this civil rights lawsuit will provide a full account of what led Officer Manney to confront, unlawfully detain, illegally search, and then subsequently shoot Dontre 14 times, resulting in his death.

The Federal Complaint also explains how the City of Milwaukee’s unconstitutional customs, policies and practices contributed to Dontre Hamilton’s death. These include the City’s failure to conduct  psychological testing of police officers, including Officer Manney; their failure to discipline police officers for misconduct; the “code of silence” within the MPD; the widespread pattern of police officers conducting unconstitutional searches and using excessive force; and the City’s failure to provide promised and necessary Crisis Intervention Team training to MPD officers so they can properly interact with persons suffering from psychological conditions. The Federal Complaint also describes how the MPD failed to properly follow the Wisconsin law which required an outside agency to investigate Officer Manney’s actions.  

In bringing this lawsuit, we will work for justice for Dontre Hamilton and his family. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the case.  

 

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As previously reported here, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park on April 30, 2014. The investigation into this tragic event was the first test of a new Wisconsin law where law enforcement agencies cannot investigate themselves after a death in police custody. Instead, a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency is supposed investigate in-custody deaths. It seems, however, that the law was not followed in the Dontre Hamilton investigation. Although the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) was supposed to lead the investigation, the Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) did most of the investigating, with the DOJ simply reviewing the MPD reports. In addition, about half of the agents and one of the supervisors leading the DOJ efforts had long prior careers with the MPD.   

Now there is an effort to make changes to the law to ensure that investigations into police-involved deaths are truly independent. State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) is proposing two bills, one that would require the outside investigators and their immediate families to not have worked for the law enforcement agency involved for ten years, and another that would require the appointment of a special prosecutor who would determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the officer involved.

The Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. are part of the legal team which represents the family of Dontre Hamilton. SKS Attorney Jonathan S. Safran, who has called for police-involved deaths to be investigated by an independent oversight board or the United States Department of Justice, expressed some optimism about the proposed bills. “They’re baby steps, but they’re at least going in the right direction,” Attorney Safran said.      

We will continue to work for justice for Dontre Hamilton and his family. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the case.    

 

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Due to several high-profile incidents of alleged police misconduct, the City of Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (“FPC”) is considering a proposal to require Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) officers to wear body cameras. On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, the FPC held a hearing which allowed Milwaukee residents to speak and ask questions about the policy. For example, several residents questioned the part of the policy which gives MPD officers discretion in operating the camera.

Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. civil rights attorney Jonathan S. Safran, who represents victims of police misconduct, also spoke at the hearing, and questioned the part of the policy which instructs MPD officers to “make every effort” to activate the camera, instead of requiring officers to do so. In addition, Attorney Safran made the point that, under the City’s document retention policy, videos from the cameras could be destroyed before the time period where a citizen can file a Notice of Injury or a federal civil rights claim elapses. As a result, a victim of MPD officer misconduct might not be able to obtain the video from the officer’s camera, which could provide important evidence for the victim’s civil rights claim.

The incident which serves as the driving force behind the proposal for the body cameras is the tragic shooting death of Dontre Hamilton by an MPD officer at Red Arrow Park in April 2014. If the officer had been wearing a body camera, video from the camera could shed more light on the events the led to the shooting. Dontre’s brother Nate Hamilton spoke at the FPC meeting, asking officials to take more time in considering the body camera policy. Nate also commended the FPC for considering the use of body cameras, stating:  “I applaud the Fire and Police Commission because you guys are starting to look a lot different by asking questions, the hard questions, that the community needs to be answered.” The FPC will consider the body camera policy at its regular meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2015. Read the proposed policy here.     

The civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. represent the three young children of Dontre Hamilton, along with their mother. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the Hamilton case and the body camera policy. 

 

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After an accident, you need a lot of help from a variety of places. You need qualified health care professionals to assist you with your physical recovery. You need support from family. You need cooperation and understanding from your employer while you're recuperating and unable to work. You might even need accommodation from your creditors as bills and expenses pile up.

It goes without saying that juggling all these people and tasks can be incredibly overwhelming – especially when you're injured. Fortunately, this is where an experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect your legal rights. Choosing a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make for your claim.

So how do you know if a lawyer is the right fit for you? Here are several questions to ask when speaking to an attorney about your claim.

What Areas of Law Do You Practice?

Many lawyers practice in a broad range of areas. Although there are plenty of competent attorneys with diverse practices, personal injury is a rigorous area that demands the skill and experience of a seasoned litigator. At Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C., personal injury law is what we do. Our attorneys are trial lawyers who regularly handle complex cases with millions of dollars on the line. One of our attorneys even co-wrote a book on personal injuries.

Have You Handled a Claim Like Mine Before?

Every claim and injury is unique, but many share similar fact patterns. Your lawyer should be able to tell you how similar claims have been handled in your jurisdiction. Our lawyers handle all types of personal injury claims and have experience with everything from ATV accidents and workplace injuries to boating accidents and mesothelioma claims.

What Fees Will I Be Charged?

It's important to get a clear understanding of your financial obligation right from the start. At Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. you pay no fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. We believe that everyone deserves access to high-quality legal representation; that's why we offer our clients contingency fee agreements. Our "no fee unless you win" policy ensures that our clients pay no fees out of pocket. If we are successful, our fee is covered by a percentage of the client's settlement or verdict.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Law Firm

If you have been injured, it's important to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The law limits the time in which you have to file a claim. Call the Wisconsin personal injury lawyers at Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. today at (414) 224-0400 to speak to an attorney about your claim.

This website has been prepared by Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

 

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As the school year draws to a close, parents of students begin to plan parties for proms and graduations. Hosting such a party can mean liability for parents, however, if the parents serve alcohol to their underage party guests.

Under Wisconsin law, it is illegal to procure, sell, dispense or give away alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 who is not accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse who is over 21. In addition, an adult cannot intentionally encourage or contribute to underage drinking. The penalty for violating this law is a $500 fine. Repeat offenders may face a misdemeanor conviction, which could result in a fine, jail time, or possibly both. Felony charges can be brought against anyone who provides alcohol to someone under 18, who then dies or suffers great bodily injury as a result.

In addition to the criminal consequences, there may be civil liability for adults who provide alcohol to underage persons. For example, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that a social host is liable for injuries caused by an underage person to whom the social host served alcohol. In that case, parents holding a high school graduation party served beer to a 17-year-old motorcyclist, who later struck a parked car, injuring the motorcyclist’s passenger. The Supreme Court held that the parents were liable for the motorcycle passenger’s injuries.

By contrast, the Supreme Court has held that social hosts who were aware of underage drinking on their property, but did not provide the alcohol, are not liable for injuries caused by an underage drinker. In response to this decision, several municipalities in Wisconsin have passed ordinances imposing fines on those who host underage drinking parties, even if the host did not provide the alcohol.

The Wisconsin personal injury lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. encourage parents and others not to host underage drinking parties. If you or someone you know has been injured a result of a negligent act by an intoxicated person, contact us for a free online case evaluation.       

 

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Back in 2001, ten-year-old Ilya Dobrydnev received a vaccination for hepatitis B. Following the vaccination, he experienced a fever, swollen lymph nodes, inflammation of his inner ear and ultimately severe loss of memory. Now an adult, Mr. Dobrydnev suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Because of Mr. Dobrydnev’s injuries, his parents filed a claim in vaccine court, which is part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system designed to compensate vaccine injury victims and to limit the liability of vaccine manufacturers. The vaccine court awarded Mr. Dobrydnev’s parents $1 million, as well as annual payments for his ongoing medical care. The United States Department of Justice challenged the vaccine court’s decision, and the United States Court of Appeals overturned the award. Even though Mr. Dobrydnev’s parents presented experts to the vaccine court who opined that the hepatitis B vaccine caused Mr. Dobrydnev’s chronic fatigue syndrome, the court of appeals held that Mr. Dobrydnev’s case did not satisfy the standard for vaccine injury compensation.

As a result of the Court of Appeals decision, Mr. Dobrydnev’s parents have filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court, claiming that the Court of Appeals used the wrong standard for determining the proper amount of compensation for vaccine injury victims. The Supreme Court will now decide whether to consider the case. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on vaccine injury cases.       

The Wisconsin vaccine injury lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. have helped many people receive compensation for vaccine injuries. Since the vaccine court was created in 1986, the court has awarded a total of $2.9 billion to approximately 3,900 vaccine injury victims. If you or someone you know has suffered a vaccine-related injury, contact us for a free online case evaluation.       

 

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The decision to place a disabled or elderly loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Many people worry that their family member will receive substandard care. Unfortunately, in many cases these worries are well-founded.

According to a study conducted by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, 22 percent of nursing home residents suffered some type of abuse or neglect. In one out of five cases, the harm or injury was long-term in nature. Inadequate care was responsible for the deaths of 1.5 percent of patients in the study.

The study also suggests that nursing home deaths related to kidney failure, blood clots, and other preventable health issues could have been prevented by more attentive staff and better facilities. In total, 59 percent of nursing home deaths and adverse events were preventable.

Nursing Homes Often Double as Rehabilitation Facilities

With the cost of health care on the rise, many nursing homes must now function in other roles, including rehabilitation and step-down care. Today, it is common for people recuperating from surgery to stay at a nursing home for several weeks or months. Many nursing homes also offer outpatient services and even psychiatric care.

Although many nursing home physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals are deeply committed to their patients, others may be underqualified or improperly trained. Furthermore, as nursing homes take on more patients and offer an increasing variety of services, overcrowded and ill-equipped facilities could lead to a rise in abuse and neglect.

Learn to Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Family members concerned about their loved ones can help prevent abuse and neglect by learning to recognize symptoms associated with poor nursing home care. Signs of abuse and neglect include:

  • Bed sores;
  • Rashes;
  • Unexplained bruises and lacerations;
  • Drug-induced dementia;
  • Abrupt changes in medication;
  • Over-medicating or unnecessary sedation;
  • Restraints;
  • Broken bones;
  • Depression, listlessness; and
  • Displays of anxiety or fear.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, hospital, or other type of skilled nursing facility, it is important to pay close attention to your family member.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Law Firm

At Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C., we help families obtain justice and compensation for nursing home abuse and neglect. These are sensitive matters that demand compassion as well as experience. Our lawyers are standing by to help. Call the office today at (414) 224-0400 to speak to an attorney about your claim.

This website has been prepared by Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

 

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On April 30, 2014, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee. As previously reported here, this tragic incident was the first test of a new Wisconsin law where law enforcement agencies cannot investigate themselves after a death in police custody. Under the law, a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency must investigate in-custody deaths, and then release reports from the investigation to the public if criminal charges are not filed against the law enforcement officers involved. For the shooting of Mr. Hamilton, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) was supposed to conduct the investigation.

According to the sponsor of the new law, however, the law was not followed in the Dontre Hamilton investigation. Former State Assembly member Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay), also a former Door County sheriff’s deputy, said that the DOJ did not lead the investigation. Instead, the MPD did most of the investigating, with the DOJ simply reviewing the MPD reports. In fact, of the 700 pages of records relating to the Hamilton investigation, 600 pages were generated by the MPD. The DOJ reports from the investigation are essentially just summaries of the MPD reports.  

“Milwaukee just thinks they’re different from the rest of the state and they just do things their own way, and until somebody makes them accountable, they’re going to continue,” Bies said.   

The Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. are part of the legal team which represents the family of Dontre Hamilton. We will continue to work for justice for Mr. Hamilton and his family. In fact, the DOJ has responded to our request to conduct a federal review of the case. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the case.    

 

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The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin has ruled that a former Pabst Brewery employee’s asbestos injury claim can proceed against an asbestos insulation contractor. Donald Peter worked as a maintenance machinist at Pabst for 36 years, starting in 1959. Up until 1979, Sprinkman Sons Corporation installed, maintained and repaired asbestos insulation at Pabst. In 2012, Mr. Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a lung disease related to asbestos exposure.

Mr. Peter sued Sprinkman, claiming that exposure to asbestos caused his injury. The trial court granted Sprinkman’s motion for summary judgment, deciding that Wisconsin’s statute of repose barred Mr. Peter’s claim because his damages accrued in 2012, more than ten years after Sprinkman completed its project at Pabst in 1979. The court of appeals, however, reversed the trial court decision. While the court of appeals agreed that Mr. Peter’s claim could be barred by the statute of repose, the court determined that Sprinkman was not engaged in the improvement of real property at Pabst, so the statute of repose did not apply. Read the entire court of appeals opinion here.

The Wisconsin asbestos injury lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. have helped many people recover for injuries and damages related to asbestos exposure. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact us for a free online case evaluation.       

 

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As previously reported here, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, 2014. Following the incident, MPD Chief of Police Edward Flynn fired Officer Manney, because Officer Manney conducted an improper pat-down search of Mr. Hamilton, who was lawfully in the park. According to Chief Flynn, Officer Manney did not have the required suspicion that Mr. Hamilton was dangerous, but instead conducted the pat-down search based on the assumption that Mr. Hamilton was mentally ill and homeless. The improper pat-down search led to the confrontation where Officer Manney killed Mr. Hamilton.

This tragic incident is the first test of a new Wisconsin law where law enforcement agencies cannot investigate themselves after a death in police custody. Under the law, a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency will investigate in-custody deaths, and then release reports from the investigation to the public if criminal charges are not filed against the law enforcement officers involved. For the shooting of Mr. Hamilton, the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations (“DCI”) conducted the investigation. On August 8, 2014, the DCI provided a report of its investigation to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who then hired an outside expert to review former Officer Manney’s use of force against Mr. Hamilton.

On Monday, December 22, 2014, Mr. Chisholm announced that he would not file criminal charges against former Officer Manney. According to Mr. Chisholm, Officer Manney’s use-of-force was justified self-defense. Officer Manney claimed to be in fear for his life because Mr. Hamilton had allegedly grabbed the officer’s baton and struck the officer. Regarding the 14 shots that Officer Manney fired at Mr. Hamilton, the outside expert concluded that there was “little serious doubt” that Officer Manney was justified in shooting Mr. Hamilton, and that police officers are trained to keep shooting until they stop the threat.   

The family of Dontre Hamilton expressed their disappointment with the decision not to charge Officer Manney. “We deserve justice, justice is our right,” Dontre’s brother Nathan Hamilton said during a press conference. Motivated to see something good come from this tragedy, the family of Dontre Hamilton has pushed for improved mental health training for MPD officers. On Thursday, December 18, 2014, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced that, thanks to the Hamilton family’s efforts, all MPD officers will be required to receive 40 hours of mental health training in a program known as the Crisis Intervention Team (“CIT”). “The Hamilton family thinks all officers should have this CIT training and I agree with them,” Mayor Barrett said. The CIT training instructs officers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Mayor Barrett commended the Hamilton family for having the strength to push for the new training in the shadow of tragedy. “I don’t know if I could do this,” the Mayor said, “I don’t know if any of you could.”

The Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. are part of the legal team which represents the family of Dontre Hamilton. We will continue to work for justice for Mr. Hamilton and his family. In fact, the United States Department of Justice has responded to our request and will conduct a federal review of the case. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the case.    

 

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