Lawyers of Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, S.C. Win Milwaukee Civil Rights Case

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Civil Rights Lawyers in Milwaukee, WI

A Milwaukee jury unanimously found that a Milwaukee Police Officer violated the civil rights of our client by falsifying an affidavit in support of a search warrant that led to a SWAT Team invading an innocent man’s home and shooting him in the hand and shoulder (the shooter was attempting to shoot him in the chest.)  In this civil rights case, the jury awarded not only $750,000 in compensatory damages but awarded punitive damages of $250,000.

Milwaukee Lawyers Fights Civil Rights Case For Over 5 Years

The City of Milwaukee fought this civil rights case for over 5 years including an appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (next step the U.S. Supreme Court) which confirmed the client’s right to a jury determination of whether the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally and whether the false affidavit led to the client’s injury.  The City of Milwaukee attempted to use the fear of  guns claiming that merely because the client owned multiple hunting rifles, the SWAT Team was justified in a executing a “no knock” search warrant with 15 team members, which included the use of an armored vehicle known as the “Bear Cat”, storming his house, shooting him and exercising a technique called a “shield stun” while the client was sitting on the floor, blood spurting from the finger shot from his hand and the wound in his shoulder that tore out much of his deltoid muscle.

Years of hard work by the dedicated civil rights lawyers of Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, S.C.  led to a positive result and vindicated the client’s claim that he did not fail to comply with police commands.  Due to a briefing by the defendant, the SWAT Team was “wired” due to the unsupported belief that the client “disliked the police” leading to the “high man” on the entry team shooting without first warning.

“The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the personal rights that it secures has a long history.  At its very core stands the rights of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from governmental intrusion.”  Justice Potter Stewart.  A Milwaukee jury held a policeman accountable for our client’s privacy being invaded due to his misconduct and awarded substantial damages.

You can read more on the story here via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

For civil rights lawyers you can trust, call Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, S.C. at (414) 273-1144 today!

Should Your Small Business Go Public?

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Have you been asking yourself if you should take your small business public? The process of going public with your small business can be complex and is not something you should rush into. There are a number of advantages to making the transition, and below we look at some of the reasons why you might want to go public with your small business.

Why Should a Business Go Public?

Small Business1. Raise more capital: If capital  is the limiting factor in business expansion, many investors consider going public to raise the much needed capital.

2. Brand awareness: The business is widely recognized and the credibility of the business is enhanced. It is easier to market products and services of a public company in comparison to a small business. Clients will often associate a public company with stability and quality.

3. Cross border expansion: Going public helps a business to reach out to a wider market in foreign countries with ease. This opens doors for foreign direct investments.

4. To attract a better workforce: Public companies are able to offer enhanced salary packages, staff training and capacity building. Therefore, they are often able to recruit and retain highly qualified staff in comparison to small businesses.

5. To spread out the risks: Partnership and sole proprietorship businesses may have a limited life span. In fact, many of them disintegrate upon demise of one of the owners. It is therefore necessary to consider going public to ensure that the business life extends beyond the life of the owners.

6. Listing at the stock exchange: A small business might go public in an effort to have their stocks recognized, listed and traded publicly. They are thus able to benefit from international trade gains.

7. Expansion: A small business has limited opportunities for expansion; however going public will give it an opportunity to increase its product range or diversify into totally new products or services. Some small businesses may have reached their threshold and can only go public to reach the next level. A common example are farmers savings cooperatives that grow into full fledged banks.

8. To meet threshold requirements for national and international tenders: Some tenders are only given to public companies and thus small businesses will strive to go public to net such opportunities.

How To Make a Small Business Go Public

Before going public, the management must ensure that the business is making handsome profits. A public offer will only be successful if the public have confidence in the business. Therefore before considering going public, a small business should be making handsome profits and have projections of remaining profitable in the future.

Personal injuries suffered during hunting

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Hunting is a favorite activity for a lot of Americans. The rise in popularity means an increase in the amount of people out in the wild trying to get their prized animal and with that increase, unfortunately there is a greater chance of an accident occurring.

Recreational activities such as kayaking, boating, fishing, hunting and other sports-related activities are very relaxing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, accidents happen all the time. Even if you are a skilled hunter, accidents can happen to anyone. Safety should always be your top priority to help prevent injuries or even death.

As a hunter, you need to obey all state rules and regulations every time you head into the great outdoors for a hunt. By obeying all rules and regulations, you can avoid causing a spinal injury, brain injury, death  or any other serious consequence that would result from a gunshot wound.

If an accident occurs during a recreational activity, the victim is usually eligible for compensation if negligence is proved to have been a contributing factor to the accident. Hospital costs and other expenses while the victim is recovering can be covered by the compensation. Every situation offers a different compensation amount and the Law Office of Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson are able to consult with you to determine the best course of action for handling a personal injury which occurred during a recreational activity.

Call us today at (414) 273-1144 or use our web submission form to help you determine if you can prove negliegence in the accident and whether or not the victim is eligible to be compensated for their damages.


Dealing with a serious accident or personal injury

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Injuries happen and they disrupt your life in some of the worst possible times. If your life has been put on hold due to a serious accident or a personal injury, Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson S.C. can help.

Gutglass Personal Injury

Car and truck accidents, wrongful deaths, and pharmacy mistakes. These are all examples of random personal injuries that can end up making your life extremely difficult.

Did you know…

  • That last year, there were more than 31 million injuries that occurred in the United States that were severe enough to require a doctor’s care? (According to the National Center for Health Statistics)
  • Out of those, two million needed hospitalization. Over 150,000 of those injuries were fatal.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that three million injuries and 40,000 deaths occur from over 5.5 million car accidents every year and an additional 60,000 personal injuries and 5,000 deaths occur each year from truck accidents.
  • There are over 300,000 personal injuries and 1,000 deaths occurring from construction accidents each year.
  • And of those who do end up in the hospital, 98,000 patients die each year from medical mistakes.

How can we help? We resolve several different types of personal injury cases and our attorneys have a vast amount of experience and knowledge with the following:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Car Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Bus Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Work Injury
  • Slips and Falls
  • Premises Liability
  • Burn Injuries
  • Pharmacy Mistakes
  • Dog Bite Cases
  • Product Liability
  • Defective Products
  • Asbestos Injuries

It may be a tough decision to file a personal injury lawsuit. Your life has been seriously affected by your injury and it has most likely already caused you a lot of stress and pain. At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson S.C., we will help support you and guide you through the process. If you have questions about a potential personal injury case or a pre-existing personal injury case, we are available to serve you.  Give us a call at (414) 273-1144 or use our web submission form to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers or to request a free case evaluation on your personal injury situation.

Data Bank Basics

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Whether you realize it or not, you as a health care organization representative or a medical practitioner are directly affected by what is called the “Data Bank.” As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Data Bank is a confidential information clearinghouse created by Congress in order to “improve health care quality, protect the public and reduce health care fraud and abuse in the U.S.” Established in 1986, the Data Bank is made up of the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) and is responsible for collecting and distributing reports containing the negative actions of a physician.

Before we go any farther, we must say that there’s no need to panic. If you’re just hearing about this now, let us assure you that the information is not public and can only be obtained by authorized personnel such as government officials, health care facilities, hospitals, attorneys and select other approved agencies. The records may be released to public viewers, but it will not contain the physician’s identity or specific information.

The Data Bank is primarily used to inform health care organizations such as hospitals, health plans and regulatory entities to conduct an in-depth review of a practitioner’s past actions before entering into partnership with, referring or recommending the physician. The information available in each report includes a variety of information regarding a care-provider’s history including medical malpractice payments, adverse licensure actions, negative peer reviews, civil judgments, criminal convictions, license/certification suspensions and other actions that are deemed negative. In keeping the records, the Data Bank relies on the reporting of a number of entities involved in each case. Those who can submit reports include medical malpractice payers, state authorities, hospitals, formal peer review organizations, government agencies, health plans, licensing groups and private accreditation organizations.

The good news is that the Data Bank remains committed to serving both the health care organizations and the practitioners. Whenever a report is filed on a practitioner, he or she has a chance to view the information, review it for accuracy, and submit details regarding their side of the story. According to the Data Bank, it sees its overall goal as improving the quality of health care, which, many times, will involve the viewpoint and rebuttal of the defending practitioner.

The process of a report begins when an organization sends information to the Data Bank, which in turn processes the data and sends a copy of it to the reporting party. The Data Bank also sends a notification to the affected practitioner, who then can review the report for accuracy. Once the report has been officially filed, the practitioner can respond to it either by adding a statement or disputing its factual accuracy. In a last resort, the physician my also request a report review as a way of combating the file.

Any practitioner who has been involved in a malpractice case, license issue or other negative claim can find out if they are listed in the Data Bank by conducting a self-query through the Data Bank’s website. And, as medical malpractice attorneys, we at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson encourage all practitioners to search the Data Bank for any reports that list them in order to be sure the records are accurate. Should any false or inconspicuous information be found and legal representation is needed, that practitioner should contact us right away. After all, reputation as a quality health care provider is crucial to a career, and physicians need to do whatever they can to protect it.

For a free case evaluation or to request legal assistance, contact Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson today!  

Charting Your Course: Keeping Good Medical Records

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When it comes to malpractice suits, a medical chart can be either your best friend or your worst enemy. Regardless of what happened in the exam room, unless it is on paper, it never happened. At least, that’s how a jury will see it, and how a patient will many times claim it. That’s why, in order to protect yourself and your reputation as a medical provider, you need to become excellent at keeping records.

A medical record is both a medical and a legal document. Detailed records are not only important for the patient’s care, but also for providing solid evidence in the case of a negative outcome. A thorough, accurate medical record provides evidence that a physician took appropriate actions, and it can be used in a court situation to reinforce the level of care provided. When a patient’s memory of the procedure fails to recall certain actions, the jury can look at the medical records to see what really took place during his or her treatment.

Many times, however, it’s not good enough just to keep good records. All charting must be done at key moments in the process in order to dispute any idea that they are illegitimate. Beginning with the new patient interview, each physician should gather detailed information regarding the patient’s medical history and obtain his or her previous medical records. Any information that is recorded incorrectly during this visit will lead to repeated care mistakes throughout the treatment.

It is also critical to document any differential diagnosis. Many times, a patient’s attorney will ask a defending physician how he or she reached a certain diagnosis while trying to prove that all of the possibilities weren’t considered. However, if a physician has kept good record of differential diagnoses, he or she can prove what options were considered and why others were dismissed.

Follow-up care must also be documented well. If a patient makes a complaint that goes ignored, it can be highly detrimental to a defending physician. Juries hold physicians to a higher level of responsibility than they do patients and expect doctors to prioritize patient calls, test results and any complaints that are made during the process. Juries view the management of these actions to be the physician’s responsibility and will usually find in favor of the patient if no records show that proper follow-through was provided. In order to avoid this, all complaints should be recorded along with the follow-up actions taken by physicians.

Informed consent is another critical area that must be noted and is legally required before a procedure is taken. Failure to secure the patient’s consent can put the physician at risk for any number of claims including medical battery. Documenting the informed consent interview, however, proves that the patient was aware of the situation and agreed with the treatment. The records must include the different treatment options along with the risks of the procedure. It should be signed by the patient and a witness, as well as the physician.

Notes taken during the procedure and treatment are also necessary. Juries tend to see detailed descriptions as indicators of attentive treatment and will take that into consideration when evaluating the case. Plus, detailed notes also provide evidence that a procedure was done properly and that a high level of care was taken even if the outcome is undesirable.

Finally, charting is also critical at the time of a patient’s discharge. When a physician releases a patient, he or she should note details regarding the person’s leaving condition, any follow-up actions needed, prescription information, test results and any concerns or side notes. Both the physician and the patient should sign the discharge form in order to show that both agreed on the terms of release and follow-up care.

At any point during the treatment, physicians should make clear note of a patient’s noncompliance or refusal of care. Doing this can show a jury that the patient was responsible for the unfavorable results, and it can shift the burden from the physician.

At the Law Offices of Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we are experienced at providing legal services to physicians and medical personnel facing malpractice charges. That’s why we encourage the practice of keeping good records. As attorneys, we know that written records are valuable pieces of evidence that can make or break a case. Today, if you are a medical care provider who has gotten lax in your documentation, we urge you to re-engage the habit. Doing so could save you in both finances and good standing should the unthinkable happen. And for those who are already facing charges, we encourage you to call us for a free case evaluation. We’ll review your situation and do whatever we can to help you retain your business and defend your reputation.

To schedule your free consultation, contact Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson today! 

Not-So-Informed Consent

By | Blog, Medical Malpractice, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Most medical providers are familiar with the concept of informed consent in which a patient gives permission for a medical or surgical procedure after achieving an understanding of the relevant facts and risks involved. It’s a basic procedure that should have basic results, but with the recent ruling of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the case of Jandre v. Physician’s Insurance Co. of Wisconsin, those basics are getting increasingly complex.

This spring, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs Thomas W. Jandre and Barbara J. Jandre after events that had taken place in an emergency room in 2003. On June 13 of that year, Thomas Jandre presented to the ER after experiencing 20 minutes of slurred speech, facial weakness on his left side and dizziness. He was treated by Dr. Therese Bullis, who established differential diagnoses including among other things Bell’s palsy, stroke and Multiple Sclerosis. After ordering a CT scan, which returned negative for hemorrhagic stroke, Dr. Bullis diagnosed Jandre with a-typical Bell’s palsy, prescribed medication for him and instructed him to follow up with his primary care physician within a week. Three days later, Jandre saw his primary care physician and was diagnosed with resolving Bell’s palsy. Eight days after that visit, Jandre suffered a massive stroke. And, due to the fact that Dr. Bullis had not informed him that additional tests were available for detecting a stroke, the courts ruled in favor of Jandre who plead a violation of informed consent.

It’s a rare thing today to find a medical malpractice case that doesn’t involve informed consent. Because it requires no expert testimony and is based solely on what a person would want to know as a patient, it is completely subjective. Medical practitioners are at the mercy of what a court believes a “reasonable” patient should have known before the incident occurred, and are thus subjected to the jury’s speculative opinion. Unfortunately this has led to inconsistent verdicts in which physicians are not found to have been negligent in their treatment, but are still in violation of informed consent. And until the court system establishes more concrete laws on the subject, there is little that can be done to change the outcomes.

There is, however, one thing that could change each situation dramatically, and that is proper documentation.

The best way to combat informed consent violations is to put everything in writing. Not only must you have the proper discussions that outline every possible scenario for a patient, you also must put it in writing. By taking detailed notes of the discussion, a physician can at least have proof that certain options were discussed with each patient and that he or she understood the possible outcomes. Each medical provider should also create a patient consent form to be signed by the patient prior to treatment. This form should include the name of the procedure, the physician performing the duty, an outline of the risks and benefits, any alternatives that were discussed, and that the patient had the opportunity to ask any questions. Not only should this form be signed by the patient, it also should include the signatures of both a personal witness and another health care provider involved in the treatment. It may also be beneficial to have the patient initial after each paragraph to ensure extra credibility.

While informed consent will likely remain a subjective topic among the courts, physicians can do themselves a huge favor simply by getting everything in writing. At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we encourage you as a medical provider to do your best to inform your patients of all possible treatments and outcomes and then to get it on paper. Doing so could make an incredible difference should the subject come up in a legal situation.

So, do your part to take good notes and know that if you need excellent legal representation for any medical malpractice claim, we at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson would be happy to offer a free case evaluation. Call us today!  


Subrogation in Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Cases

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Because a substantial number of owners and operators of cars and trucks in the United States either maintain inadequate amounts of insurance coverage or fail to maintain any insurance coverage at all on their vehicles, many motor vehicle insurance policies contain provisions for underinsured motorist coverage, sometimes abbreviated as UIM, and uninsured motorist coverage, sometimes abbreviated as UM. The intent of such provisions is to give persons insured under auto insurance policies and innocent third parties some of the insurance protection they would have enjoyed if the underinsured or uninsured driver with whom they are involved in an accident had maintained adequate insurance coverage on the underinsured or uninsured vehicle.

When an insurer pays a benefit under a policy provision for underinsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, it is in effect paying a debt owed by the underinsured or uninsured driver, the person who is actually liable for the damages arising as a result of the event that led to the insurer having to make the payment. An insurer who makes such payments has a right, the right of subrogation, by which it is permitted to take legal action against the underinsured or uninsured motorist in an attempt to recover as much as possible of the amount the insurer has paid out. The insurer’s subrogation right will only have value, as a practical matter, to the extent that the underinsured or uninsured driver has assets that can be seized by legal process to satisfy the judgment that the insurer obtains against the underinsured or uninsured driver in its subrogation action.

The business of insurance in the United States, including that of motor vehicle insurance, has traditionally been governed by the law of each state rather than by a single unified system of federal law. As a result, the extent of an insurer’s subrogation right and the manner in which it can exercise that right will vary from one state to another.