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What is Negligence?

What is Negligence? Negligence is when failure to act as a “reasonable person” directly causes injury to someone else.1 Legally, people have a “duty of care” to protect other individuals. For example, you shouldn’t be putting others in harm’s way by texting and driving. Similarly, business owners, property owners, and manufacturers are supposed to ensure that buildings are safe for occupants and products are okay for consumption. (more…)

Wrongful Death in Human Medical Research

Today’s clinical research procedures aim to be as humane and safe as possible. Scientific advances have made it increasingly easier to perform careful and safe procedures. While accidents and negligence can lead to disastrous results, modern medical research has evolved to expressly prevent wrongful death. Even so, the lack of ethics and regulations even decades ago have led to sometimes unexpected and often unnecessary loss of life.

Ancient Medicinal Practices

Medical research and practices were first performed thousands of years ago. While ancient physicians might have had good intentions, most of their procedures would be considered barbaric by today’s standards.

One of the oldest medical practices is the act of bloodletting. While it was first practiced by ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, the procedure became common during the Greco-Roman era. Physicians believed that the four “humors” in the human body (yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood) needed to be perfectly balanced for a person to stay healthy. Patients with a fever or similar sickness were thought to have too much blood, so doctors would use knives or leeches to drain the “excess” fluid. The practice fell out of popularity when people began to realize it did more harm than good.

Evolution of Clinical Research

The first recognized controlled clinical trial of modern medical research was conducted by James Lind in 1747. Lind, working as a surgeon on a ship, took detailed notes of his time aboard. After noticing many of the sailors dying due to scurvy he conducted his own experiment to find a solution. It was Lind who discovered that scurvy was due to a lack of vitamin C in the sailor’s diets. Nearly 50 years later, the British Navy made lemon juice a standard part of seafarer’s rations.

Ethical regulations developed much slower. While the ancient Hippocratic Oath was followed by most doctors and physicians, global standards weren’t established until after World War II. The Nuremberg Code was created in 1947 in direct response to the war crimes committed by multiple nations during the war, including Germany’s inhumane experiments on human test subjects. Among its multiple points, the Code required voluntary, well-informed and understanding consent of any person serving as an experimental subject.

In the Name of Science

Despite efforts to improve patient welfare and safety, many medical and government organizations performed inhumane and, often, cruel procedures in the name of scientific research. One of the most infamous experiments was the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s MK-ULTRA program. Beginning in the early 1950s, CIA officials conducted a number of experiments on human subjects with the intention of developing effective mind control methods. Patients were subjected to electro-shock therapy, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, abuse and high doses of LSD with the intent to alter brain functions. Many subjects suffered permanent psychological damage and several deaths have been attributed to the CIA project.

Modern Research and Experimentation

Today’s researchers must adhere to strict guidelines in order to preserve both the integrity of their experiments and the lives of their patients. In 1996 the International Conference on Harmonization published “Good Clinical Practice (GCP)” guidelines, which has become the international standard for ethical clinical trials. GCP includes mandates for everything from record keeping to volunteers’ rights.

Despite the ethical progress of the medical research field, the idea of experimental research gone wrong is a sure-fire way to capture the general public’s attention. The upcoming psychological horror film Flatliners, for example, focuses on the story of five young medical students who attempt to conduct experiments that produce near-death experiences. The film, set to release September 29, 2017, is the direct sequel to a similarly titled cult classic released in 1990.

Hardy Wolf and Downing's take on medical research.

Image © 2017 Columbia Pictures via

Maine Wrongful Death Attorney

The wrongful death of a loved one, whether due to medical malpractice or other negligent behavior, can send a person reeling. During these emotional times it’s difficult to focus on anything other than profound loss. While nothing can replace the loss of a life, you deserve compensation and the knowledge that those responsible are held accountable. The compassionate and patient counsel at Hardy, Wolf & Downing helps loved ones deal with their grief and ensure the guilty party pays. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

The Great GMO Debate

Are GMOs Harmful or Helpful | Hardy Wolf & Downing Are GMOs Harmful or Helpful | Hardy Wolf & Downing

The nutrition and ethics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been debated for decades, eventually gaining the attention of President Obama who signed a law in 2016 requiring food manufacturers to disclose which of their foods contain GMOs. While consumer groups lauded the new law’s transparency, there are loopholes that allow manufacturers to avoid disclosing some foods that have been genetically modified. If food agencies like the Federal Drug Administration allow these types of foods to be exempt, are they really that harmful?


GMOs: Harmful or Beneficial?

GMO LiveStock | Hardy Wolf & DowningThe truth is humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years. Our ancestors did this by selectively using seeds from plants that flourished best in the soil. As each generation of crops passed, their traits became more pronounced in their offspring, resulting in bigger, more plentiful harvests.

Genetic engineering is not entirely different except for obtaining desired results through genetic manipulation by scientists instead of breeding. The genetic modification process has created larger, more robust plants and fruits and even made some immune to pests, reducing the need to sterilize crops with harmful pesticides.

The most important question posed by critics of GMOs is, “Is food that comes from GM crops different from food that comes from natural crops?” Federal food agencies evaluate GMO foods to determine if they’re healthy for consumption – if they find a food that’s been distributed to consumers isn’t fit for consumption, they often penalize the food manufacturer with fines or even legal suits. After 30 years’ worth of studies, researchers have found GMOs generally carry the same risks and benefits as non-GMO plants.

However, critics claim GMO plants made with insecticides are harmful to the human body. The genetic chemical used to kill insects is a naturally occurring chemical that destroys insects’ digestive systems when they feed on the plant, killing them in the process. However, this chemical doesn’t affect humans. Humans consume products that are toxic to insects daily, including beverages like coffee.

GMO Fruits and Crops | Hardy Wolf & Downing

However, There Is a Downside …

For all the good that GMOs can do, there are also negative aspects. Some GMO plants produce terminator, or sterile, seeds, meaning GMO plants are incapable of naturally reproducing, forcing farmers to purchase new seeds just to create a single generation of crops. Scientists also argue that the spreading of GMO DNA can infect other crops, however, creating buffer zones to segregate GMO and non-GMO plants can solve this issue.



Get Product Liability Representation with Hardy Wolf & Downing

Regardless of GMO safety, if you believe you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a product made by a food manufacturer, Hardy Wolf & Downing is here to represent your case. We have extensive experience in product liability cases, and aggressively advocate on behalf of clients who have been injured due to unsafe products. Our firm works with qualified industry experts across the country who can provide crucial testimony to a product’s design or manufacturing defects.
Contact Hardy Wolf & Downing today to schedule a legal consultation with one of our attorneys.


Dog Attack Injuries


While dogs are man’s best friend they can sometimes lash out in unexpected ways. Animal bites are common throughout the United States, though most only require minor medical attention. In addition to causing physical injury, a dog bite can become infected. To protect yourself and your loved ones it’s important to understand why dogs attack, how bites should be treated and how to avoid them. (more…)

Insurance Claims Delays Deliver Massive Profits To Industry By Shorting Customers

From an article on Huffington Post:

Unlike many other businesses, the insurance industry is bound by law to act in good faith with its customers. Because of their protective role in the lives of ordinary citizens, insurers have long operated as semi-public trusts. But since the mid-1990s, a new profit-hungry model, combined with weak regulation, has upended that ancient social contract.

“Claims has been converted into a money-making process,” said Russ Roberts, a New Mexico-based management consultant and former business professor at Northwestern University who has studied the insurance industry’s evolution from a service business to a profit-driven machine.

The change started when consulting giant McKinsey & Company sold Allstate and other leading insurance companies on a new system to boost the bottom line: Rather than adjusting claims the traditional way, which gave claims managers wide latitude to serve customers, insurers embraced a computer-driven method that produced purposefully low offers to claimants.

Continue reading on Huffington Post.

A Song of Laws and Damages: Personal Injury in the “Game of Thrones” – Part 2

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon (Image courtesy of HBO via the

Game of Thrones’ six seasons of drama and action have amassed a significant body count. While characters of the fantasy series are forced to seek physical revenge for wrongs against them or their loved ones, today’s modern system of law allows victims to pursue financial compensation. In our last blog we discussed the many lawsuits that could be filed against the Stark, Baratheon and Frey families. Read on for part two, chronicling the personal injury caused by even more noble Houses. (more…)

A Song of Laws and Damages: Personal Injury in the “Game of Thrones” – Part 1

Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Image courtesy of HBO via the

HBO’s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, based off the books by George R. R. Martin, has become a cultural phenomenon. With the seventh season only weeks away, it’s likely that many fans are taking the time to catch-up or get through their latest re-watch of the entire series. (more…)

Families Suing Jose Fernandez Estate

Hardy Wolf & Downing's take on the families suing the Jose Fernandez Estate

The bodies of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two others, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias, were found September of last year after a boating accident resulted in the death of all three men. While previously thought to be an unfortunate accident, results from a six-month investigation by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have recently revealed the true cause. (more…)