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Millions of Dollars Collected for Our Injury and Wrongful Death Clients – Car Wrecks, Nursing Home Abuse, Workers’ Comp, Med Mal and more.

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Attorneys Jay Varellas and Todd Varellas of Varellas & Varellas have been named class counsel in a Kentucky class action lawsuit in which a federal judge has entered a judgment for nearly $4.7 million. In the class action lawsuit, Senior Judge Joseph Hood of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington has certified a statewide class and entered judgments totaling $4,696,124 against Defendant The Aliera Companies, Inc., the creator and marketer of purported “health care sharing ministry” (“HCSM”) products. Aliera was founded by Timothy Moses and his wife and son in December 2015, the same year that Moses finished serving a six-year federal prison sentence for securities fraud and perjury.

HCSMs are organizations through which members share medical expenses among themselves. But HCSM plans must meet strict requirements in order to avoid being regulated as insurance products. For example, under federal law, an HCSM must have been in existence with members continually sharing health care costs since 1999, and under Kentucky law, all members of an HCSM must be members of the same denomination or religion. Since its inception, Aliera failed to comply with these requirements.

With this judgment, it is now established that despite the claims by Aliera that its health plans were “not insurance,” they were in fact insurance products as a matter of Kentucky law. Further, it is also established that the health insurance policies Aliera sold to customers as cheaper alternatives to traditional health insurance coverage did not comply with important requirements of Kentucky and federal insurance law, including requirements designed to protect consumers and ensure adequate funds were available to cover health care expenses.

In addition, the court’s judgment found that each Kentucky customer who purchased products from Aliera during the period it partnered with Trinity HealthShare, Inc. (which subsequently began doing business as Sharity Ministries, Inc.) is entitled to either (1) payment of the claims they submitted that have not yet been paid, or (2) a refund of the policy premiums they paid. In July, Trinity filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware, and its chief restructuring officer in that matter has calculated that there were $3,112,951 worth of medical bills submitted by Kentucky policyholders that have not been paid and Kentucky policyholders have paid a total of $2,189,003 in premiums. Assuming each policyholder would elect to receive the higher of their unpaid claims or a refund of their premiums paid, the court arrived at the total amount of $4,696,124.

The litigation on behalf of customers who allege they were defrauded by Aliera, Trinity and Aliera’s former business partner Unity Healthshare, LLC (now doing business as OneShare Health, LLC) will continue. This judgment only encompasses the second phase of Aliera’s fraud, when it sold sham HCSM policies through Trinity. During the first phase of its fraud, Aliera sold purported HCSM policies through Unity/OneShare. The case in federal court in Lexington will continue until all claims against Aliera, Trinity and Unity/OneShare are fully resolved.

The case is styled Albina and Willard v. The Aliera Companies, Inc., Trinity HealthShare Inc., and OneShare Health, LLC d/b/a Unity HealthShare, LLC, No. 20-496 (E.D. Ky.). In recent years, the fraud at issue in this case has been covered by a number of newspaper and other media outlets around the country, including a recent segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Class counsel in this matter are James J. (“Jay”) Varellas III and D. Todd Varellas of Varellas & Varellas; Jerome P. Prather of Garmer & Prather PLLC; William H. Anderson, George Farah, Stephen Pearson and Rebecca P. Chang of Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC; and Richard E. Spoonemore and Eleanor Hamburger of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger PLLC.

Attorneys from Sirianni Youtz also represent the committee of creditors in the Trinity bankruptcy in Delaware and serve as counsel for similar cases against the same defendants in several other states.

A copy of the original Class Action Complaint in the case is available at this link.

News reports about the lawsuit and judgment entered can be found on the websites for the Lexington Herald Leader ] and WTVQ.

For inquires about this lawsuit, contact Varellas & Varellas at 859-252-4473.

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Collisions involving tractor trailers cannot be handled in the same manner as car wrecks since they involve laws and regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) in addition to the rules of the road every other driver must follow. Truck drivers are professional drivers that are held to higher standards and these standards have been put in place for your protection on the roadway.

Hiring an attorney that’s able to turn over every stone is vital to reaching the maximum recovery for you. The attorneys at Varellas & Varellas have the knowledge and experience to aggressively pursue your claims following a collision with a tractor trailer along with a track record of results. These results put insurance companies on notice that your case will be effectively litigated to recover all the benefits due you.

In Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky alone there were 3,730 crashes involving heavy trucks between 2014 and 2018 while in Jefferson County there were 10,249. While Fayette and Jefferson Counties had the most accidents involving heavy trucks, the annual crash rate based upon each county’s population sheds light on which citizens of Kentucky are most at risk for being injured by a tractor trailer. Broken into five categories for increasing populations, the report determined Gallatin, Carroll, Hart, Scott, and Boone counties had the highest rates of collisions involving heavy trucks based on their populations.

The Kentucky Transportation Center (“KTC”) published the Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts Report analyzing crash data in Kentucky from collisions in 2019. For crashes involving trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, which include tractor trailers, the KTC report found a recent increase in the number of crashes compared to the previous four-year average. Unfortunately, this increase in negligent driving has also increased the number of injuries and fatalities involving tractor-trailers crashes.

According to the KTC report, the most frequent contributing vehicular factors for tractor-trailer collisions in 2019 were as follows: Defective Brakes, Defective Headlights, Other Lighting Defects, Steering Failure, Tire Failure, Tow Hitch Failure, Overload/Improper Load, Oversized Load, and Load Securement. The top driver contributing factors leading to collisions were: Inattention, Misjudge Clearance, Not Under Proper Control, Failure to Yield Right of Way, Following Too Close, Too Fast for Conditions, and Distraction to name a few.

While this data focuses only on the tractor trailer and driver, it is often the negligent and sometimes intentional practices of the company that hired the driver and owns the truck which ultimately plays a major role in causing the collision. Unfortunately, the conduct of some companies frequently highlights practices aimed at earning higher profits rather than protecting your family’s safety. Inspections can be rushed and repairs can be pushed back – all aimed at making an extra few dollars while putting you at risk. Aggressively pursuing every trucking case is essential to your maximum recovery as punitive damages are often proper due to gross negligence and punitive damages can drastically increase the value of your claim.

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With the severe winter weather that recently swept through Kentucky, Kentuckians and those visiting the bluegrass were confronted with dangerous conditions from ice and snow. It is often impossible to predict Kentucky’s weather from one day to the next—especially in the winter months. Ice and snow can create very dangerous conditions with parking lots, sidewalks, stairs and other walkways exposed to the elements.

So what should you do if you slip and fall on someone else’s property and have sustained an injury? If you believe you have been injured or if you sustain an obvious injury, it is important to go to the doctor as soon possible not only to document how and when the fall occurred, but also to begin your treatment and assess your injuries. If your injuries are not documented in a medical record, it can make pursuing any potential claim much more difficult.

Land owners and operators open to the public in Kentucky have a general duty to ensure their premises are reasonably safe and to provide such safeguards against injury from ice and/or snow as any ordinarily prudent owner and operator would under the same or similar circumstances. In other words, owners and operators have the responsibility to take steps necessary to remove any known dangerous conditions on the premises.

Often times, a third-party snow removal company has been hired to take on the responsibility of eliminating dangerous conditions which may arise on the property. Like with any industry, the skill and attention to detail for third-party snow removal companies can vary widely. These third-party contractors can range anywhere from a one man crew with insufficient equipment and assistance who attempts this type of work on the side all the way to professional snow removal companies using the industry’s best equipment who only do snow and ice removal. Despite this, the responsibility of land owners and operators along with any third-party contractor remains the same. Continue reading

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Nursing home neglect and abuse is a serious problem in all states, including Kentucky. ProPublica has developed a Nursing Home Inspect tool the public can use to view and search data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding nursing homes in all 50 states. The data shows that over the last three years Barkley Center in Paducah, Kentucky has been cited for 20 serious deficiencies, more than any other nursing home in the country. Not far behind, Pioneer Trace Group, LLC in Flemingsburg, Kentucky had 14 of the most serious deficiencies during the three-year period.

The average fine for nursing homes in Kentucky was more than $83,000, the sixth highest average in the country. Six nursing homes in Kentucky were well above the average and were each fined more than $375,000 over the last three years: Danville Centre for Health and Rehabilitation ($616,110); Signature Healthcare at North Hardin Rehab & Wellness in Radcliff ($523,868); Westport Care Center in Louisville ($508,495); Prestonsburg Health Care Center ($425,901); Mountain View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pineville ($425,705); and Stanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center ($377,738). Twin Rivers Nursing and Rehab Center in Owensboro, Kentucky has also been flagged for having a history of serious quality issues.

Many wonder how this kind of problem arises in facilities that advertise themselves as caring places. Unfortunately, nursing homes are often staffed by overworked caregivers and inadequate staff-to-resident ratios are common. When staff is overworked or exhausted, negligence becomes more likely. Additionally, residents can become isolated if they have disabilities or are perceived as “difficult.”

Sometimes there are also issues with a dishonest or dangerous staff member who commits intentional acts of abuse, but these are exceptional circumstances. Most nursing home abuse cases are cases of negligence or sometimes recklessness. For cases involving particularly egregious, reckless or intentionally abusive conduct, punitive damages may be available to punish the wrongful conduct and deter the staff member, the facility, and others from acting the same way in the future.

It is always a difficult decision to place a beloved family member in a nursing home and entrust his or her care to staff members. Most residents of nursing homes rely on staff to offer them water, food, medicines, daily hygiene help, and assistance to and from the bathroom. When a staff member withholds any of these necessary elements of care, serious medical problems can result.

Dating back to the 1980s when the media began to report on how widespread neglect and abuse are in the nursing home industry, both state and federal laws have prohibited nursing home neglect and abuse. Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are required to provide services and activities to allow a resident to attain or maintain the highest practicable degree of well-being. This includes having sufficient nursing staff, developing a comprehensive care plan, and providing necessary services to allow residents not able to take care of their daily hygiene to be able to maintain good nutrition and grooming.

All nursing homes in Kentucky are covered by state law, even those that do not participate in Medicare or Medicaid. In Kentucky, you can bring a lawsuit to enforce the rights granted under Kentucky and federal laws sometimes called the Kentucky Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. If you are able to prove your case against the nursing home, the award may include actual damages, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, depending upon the circumstances of your particular case.

The Kentucky Adult Protection Act defines abuse, neglect and exploitation. Abuse is specifically categorized as physical, psychological, and financial. Physical abuse includes uses of force that harm a senior, including sexual abuse, hitting, beating, restraining, or giving them drugs in order to incapacitate them. Psychological or emotional abuse includes threatening, shouting, humiliating or neglecting a senior. The risks of psychological abuse include depression and anxiety. Financial abuse includes theft or extortion.

How do you know that your loved one is being abused? Some signs of abuse include loss of weight, dehydration, bruises, bedsores, significant change in outlook or temperament, wounds, frequent infections, falls and fractures­. If you suspect or learn that a loved one was the victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, you can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Retain experienced Kentucky trial attorneys to reach the most favorable outcome. Attorneys with substantial trial experience are better equipped to skillfully negotiate and advocate for the highest possible compensation for your loss. Contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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Kentucky Injury Lawyers Blog, “Kentucky Nursing Home Residents’ Rights”

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Kentucky and federal laws grant important rights to residents of Kentucky nursing homes, sometimes referred to as the Kentucky Residents’ Rights Act or the Nursing Home Bill of Rights. When a resident of a nursing home has suffered abuse or neglect, the rights guaranteed by these laws can be enforced by filing a lawsuit against the responsible nursing home. The law allows for the recovery of actual damages, including pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs incurred in bringing the lawsuit.

Attorneys at Varellas & Varellas have been representing clients in cases involving nursing home neglect and abuse, personal injuries, trucking accidents, motor vehicle collisions and medical malpractice for more than 40 years and we will be happy to talk with you about your concerns regarding possible mistreatment or neglect of a loved one in a nursing home. We can help you determine whether the rights of your family member or loved one have been violated or ignored. Kentucky law requires that the following rights of nursing home residents be protected:

  • The right to be fully informed of the rules and regulations of the facility as well as the rights of the resident
  • The right to privacy, to be treated with dignity and respect and to be suitably dressed at all times
  • The right to be free from physical and mental abuse, including verbal and sexual abuse and corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion
  • The right to be free from physical or chemical restraints not required to treat medical symptoms
  • The right to confidentiality and privacy, including visual privacy in shared rooms and in tub, shower and toilet rooms
  • The right to personal possessions and to receive or refuse visitors
  • The right to participate in the resident’s own care and creation and review of an individualized treatment plan
  • The right for the resident’s responsible party or family member to be notified immediately of changes in the resident’s condition including any accident, disease, unexplained absence, sudden illness or anything unusual
  • The right to review all inspection reports regarding the facility and the right to voice grievances without repercussions and meet privately with state inspectors

Contact experienced Kentucky trial attorneys at the Louisville and Lexington offices of Varellas & Varellas to discuss your concerns regarding a loved one’s treatment and care at a nursing home. Under Kentucky law, claims for nursing home abuse and neglect and violation of a resident’s rights must be brought within specified time limits so it is important to contact attorneys as soon as possible so that those deadlines can be met and the claims will not be lost. Contact us using our online form or by telephone at 877-634-1519.

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Varellas & Varellas has settled a personal injury and wrongful death case for the full homeowner’s policy limits after the Plaintiff suffered head and brain injuries at the home of the Defendant which subsequently led to her death. The Defendant’s homeowner’s insurance company initially offered no settlement and then only offered 10% of the available insurance proceeds with a take-it-or-leave-it offer, contending it would secure a complete dismissal of the claim for insurance based on exemptions in the policy. The Plaintiff rejected the low offer and proceeded to secure a judgment of liability against the Defendant and then secured a judgment finding that the various exclusions claimed by the insurance company did not in fact apply to the Plaintiff’s claims. The full amount of insurance proceeds were then offered and recovered as compensation for the Plaintiff’s injuries and wrongful death.

Contact us locally at 859-252-4473 or 502-595-7955 or call us toll free at 877-634-1519. You can also use our online form to talk with one of our experienced trial lawyers about your potential claim involving wrongful death, dog attack, car or truck wreck, nursing home neglect or abuse, medical malpractice or other personal injury.

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Varellas & Varellas has obtained another favorable verdict for its client from a Fayette County jury. After three days of trial, the jury awarded the Plaintiff raw damages of $355,000, including her past medical expenses of $105,000, as well as an additional $250,000 for pain and suffering after she sustained injuries to her face, hand, fingers and knees as an automobile passenger at the time of the collision. The verdict was reduced by 20% due to apportionment of fault. After the collision, the Plaintiff required progressive medical treatment for her knees including injections, arthroscopic surgery and eventual knee replacements.

The driver who caused the wreck was not insured so the Plaintiff proceeded directly against her own uninsured motorist policy issued by Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Auto-Owners was permitted to argue at trial that its liability should be significantly reduced because the Plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision (despite her having a doctor’s note restricting her use of a seatbelt), but the jury only apportioned 20% of fault to the Plaintiff. William Smock, M.D., biomechanical expert, testified on behalf of the Plaintiff and Michael Voor, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Louisville, testified on behalf of Auto-Owners.

The verdict for the Plaintiff was nearly twice the limit of the Auto-Owners insurance policy and nearly 15 times the highest amount offered as settlement by Auto-Owners over the course of more than 5½ years since the claim was filed.

This Plaintiff’s verdict, along with the $2.4 million jury verdict returned in a previous case tried by Varellas & Varellas in 2015, are among the largest verdicts awarded by juries in Fayette Circuit Court in the past several years in cases involving personal injury or wrongful death. The case was tried by Sandra Varellas and Todd Varellas. Jim Varellas and Jay Varellas also assisted with the case over the course of the lengthy litigation.

Contact Varellas & Varellas to discuss your potential personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse or neglect, tractor trailer wreck, dump truck accident, and motor vehicle collision claims with one of our experienced trial attorneys. Use our online form or reach us by telephone at 877-634-1519 or locally at 859-252-4473 in Lexington or 502-595-7955 in Louisville.

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Varellas & Varellas has reached the largest settlement with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government since at least 2005 in a premises liability case on behalf of a man who fell in a construction pit that the Plaintiff alleged was improperly marked since it failed to warn of the depth of the pit or the danger to those near it. The Plaintiff suffered head and spine injuries and alleged general negligence as well as failure to adhere to various state and federal OSHA standards regarding construction around the pit itself and the failure to use fall protection measures near the pit. These included 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(1) (guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems) and 1926.502(i) (floor hole covers and railings), 29 CFR 1910(a)(8)(ii) (duty to have fall protection), 803 KAR 2:303(2)2 (floor openings railings and attendance of safety personnel), among others.

A fall safety engineer and multiple medical experts were prepared to testify at the upcoming trial before the settlement was reached. Since the Plaintiff worked for another company at the time of the injury, in addition to the injury case settled with LFUCG, the Plaintiff reached an additional workers’ compensation settlement for a lump sum and for the payment of future medical expenses in the hybrid personal injury/workers’ compensation case.

D. Todd Varellas was lead counsel working with other attorneys and another law firm in successfully litigating the case. Todd focuses his practice on civil personal injury and wrongful death cases. Todd has been successful in settling numerous cases for his clients and has recently tried multiple personal injury and wrongful death cases to a verdict. One of his recent trials resulted in a jury verdict of $2.402 million (reduced to $2.269 million after apportionment).

One of our experienced trial attorneys is available to discuss your potential claim involving personal injury, nursing home abuse or neglect, motor vehicle collision, wrongful death, medical malpractice or trucking wreck claims. Contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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After a 5-day trial, a jury in Lexington, Kentucky has awarded the Estate of adeceased man a total of more than $2.4 million, including $2 million in punitive damages, as a result of his wrongful death. After an apportionment, the verdict was reduced to a final amount of $2.269 million. The verdict was one of the largest awarded in Lexington or Fayette County in many years, and the jury was unanimous in finding that the Estate was entitled to collect compensatory and punitive damages due to the wrongful death.

The case was litigated by attorneys from Varellas & Varellas, including Sandra M. Varellas, D. Todd Varellas, and James J. Varellas (“Jay”) III.

Sandra has been selected for membership in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers as one of the top 100 civil trial lawyers in Kentucky and has been selected as one of the Top 100 Litigation Lawyers in Kentucky by the American Society of Legal Advocates, a selective membership which comprises less than 1.5% of all licensed lawyers nationwide. She has extensive litigation and trial experience and represents clients in areas including personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, tractor trailer accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death.

Todd has been selected by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys as one of the Top 10 Personal Injury Attorneys in Kentucky under the age of 40, and was previously selected by The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40, as one of the top 40 trial lawyers under the age of 40 practicing in Kentucky. Using his litigation and trial experience, Todd represents injury clients in areas including nursing home abuse and neglect, medical malpractice, wrongful death, defective products, and motor vehicle wrecks, including semi and truck accidents. Before joining Varellas & Varellas, Todd clerked on the Supreme Court of Kentucky and worked in the area of trial defense in Washington, D.C.

Jay joined Varellas & Varellas after practicing as an attorney at law firms in New York City and San Francisco. Jay has spent much of his legal career litigating large-scale class actions and other complex litigation disputes around the country. While an attorney practicing in New York, he was part of the trial team that tried a multi-billion-dollar class action to a jury verdict in a four-month trial in federal court. He also has trial experience involving claims of bad-faith denial of insurance claims and medical malpractice, and represents clients in cases involving personal injury and wrongful death, including nursing home abuse and neglect, tractor trailer and trucking accidents, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, products liability as well as other areas.  Immediately after law school, Jay clerked on the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

To discuss your potential personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse or neglect, motor vehicle wreck, medical malpractice or trucking accident claim with one of our experienced trial attorneys, contact us at 877-634-1519 or via our online form.

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A two-vehicle crash on Cane Ridge Road in Bourbon County near Paris, Kentucky killed four people and injured two others on March 20, 2015. Four men, including Julio Barrios and Javier Henriquez, both of Galax, Virginia, were riding in a Hyundai passenger car when it crossed the center line into the path of a minivan before turning sideways.

Barrios and Henriquez died from their injuries at the scene. James Henry Stevens and Margaret Franklin, from Bourbon County, were riding in the minivan and were also killed. Stevens was taken from the scene to the Bourbon Community Hospital but he did not survive his injuries.

The men in the Hyundai were on their way back to work at a local farm and the accident happened at a curve on a dangerous stretch of the road. The force of the wreck threw several people out of the vehicles leading to speculation that they were not wearing seat belts. Two of the men in the Hyundai were injured and taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

Officials do not yet know what caused the car to cross the center line but believe that the vehicles were not speeding. Tests will be conducted to determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in causing the crash.

The severity of the crash caused the closing of Cane Ridge Road from Glenn Road to Steele Road for several hours.

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