Category Archives: Children

Prom Season – Keeping Our Kids Safe. Understanding The Law.

We are currently in the midst of prom season. It is an exciting time for both teens and their parents, and is a dream come true for many girls as it means new shoes, a new dress, and a day of beauty at the hair and nail salon.

It also a step closer to adulthood as high school graduation follows soon afterward, and then after summer break most students are off to work or college. I look back fondly at my own prom so many years ago. My high school, Stella Maris, held our senior prom at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. My friends and I engaged in all the usual pre-prom activities, including hair and makeup. We converged on one of our friend’s homes where we had a half glass of champagne and some hors d’oeuvres Dozens of pictures were taken and then we all piled into the black stretch limo that took us into Manhattan. We thought we were so sophisticated in our fancy dresses and our big 80s hair. I remember the limo driver actually stopping at a liquor store to buy us alcohol for the car ride to the prom. The drinking age at the time was 19, and even though most of us were 17 or 18, it was quite common – even expected – that we would drink before and after the Prom. Things have not changed all that much. While liquor has continued to be banned from the Prom, many of the after parties still involve alcohol or binge drinking. 

The idea of our own children engaging in such behavior is frightening for many parents while tolerated by others as a rite of passage. However, it should never be tolerated. According to, underage drinking is associated with risky behaviors like unsafe sexual activity, drinking and driving, and experiencing or engaging in violent behavior such as physical fights. Each year, alcohol-related injuries (homicide, suicide and unintentional injury) cause 5,000 deaths among people under age 21 in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for 15-20 year olds. Underage drivers represent about 5 percent of licensed drivers but are involved in 14 percent of fatal crashes. In 2011, there were nearly 7,000 alcohol-related emergency department visits among New Yorkers under age 21.

It is generally expected that there will be an after-party immediately following the prom. Today’s teens may stay in a hotel with a group of other seniors or even go to a destination like the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore. Many will attend parties at the home of their fellow students. If you are going to host one of these parties at your home, you should be aware of the possible consequences. New York State has zero tolerance for underage drinking when it comes to driving. Additionally, it is illegal to purchase alcohol if you are under 21 years of age. 

However, if as a parent or guardian you choose to give your child liquor, this is not considered illegal.  This does not mean you are allowed to serve alcohol to any other teens in your home. There are criminal penalties for serving alcohol to those under 21 and you could be held civilly liable if they hurt themselves or someone else. There is no defense, even if the other parents gave you permission for their child to drink or even if you did not buy the alcohol yourself. If the drinking occurs on your property, you will be responsible. 

Teens can enjoy themselves without alcohol; yet, many teens will still figure out a way to drink alcohol on the night of their prom. We should not be an accessory or an accomplice to this behavior.  Let’s help our kids make it to adulthood.    

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Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa and Sarafem Can Cause Birth Defects

If you have taken Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa or Sarafem while pregnant, contact your attorney

Antidepressants are one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being the most common antidepressants prescribed. SSRI drugs include Zoloft® (sertraline), Paxil® (paroxetine), Lexapro® (escitalopram), Celexa® (citalopram), Prozac® and Sarafem® (fluoxetine).

Studies have shown that women who take SSRI antidepressants while pregnant, or who become pregnant while taking the drug, are at risk of having babies with SSRI related birth defects. Pharmaceutical companies may not have adequately warned of SSRI birth defect risks. Depending upon the trimester of SSRI exposure in the womb, babies can suffer:

  • Congenital heart defects such as ventricular and atrial septal defects (VSDs and ASDs)
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN) in which the arteries of the lungs remain narrowed or constricted, inhibiting blood flow to the lungs and reducing the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream that can result in brain damage or death
  • A condition called Omphalocele in which the baby is born with intestines or other organs outside the body
  • Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects affecting the spinal cord
  • Craniosynostos, a malformation of the head caused by premature fusing of cranial sutures of the skull
  • Facial deformations such as Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
  • Club foot, a deformation of the lower leg and foot
  • Blockage of the anus called Anal Atresia
  • Genital deformities
  • Birth complications
  • Infant death

Parents of children exposed to SSRI medications in the womb that have developed these conditions or complications should contact our attorneys for a free SSRI birth defects lawsuit consultation. They may be entitled to compensation for their child’s injury and suffering.

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The Most Dangerous Toys of 2011

The Power Rangers Samurai Mega Blade is made to poke an eye out.

Giving a gift to a child is meant to end in a smile, not a trip to the hospital. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2009 there were approximately 250,000 toy-related trips to the emergency room. The non-profit World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) is looking to reduce that number. They have compiled their annual list of the 10 most dangerous toys. While none are as dangerous as the Radioactive Science Kit sold in the 1950’s, the toys on WATCH’s list pose risks for choking, electrocution, puncture wounds and a host of other injuries. We urge you to avoid purchasing these toys or allowing your children to play with them.

1. Twist ‘n Sort
The toy has already been recalled once because its small pegs can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. Even after the recall, this problem has not been fixed.
2. Power Rangers Samurai Mega Blade
This is not a toy, it is a 2 foot long sword. The first few warnings on the package should be enough to scare off any concerned parent: “Do not: (1) aim toy at anyone, (2) hit anyone with toy, (3) poke anyone with toy, (4) swing toy at anyone.” Used correctly, this toy is dangerous. Used safely, this toy is useless.

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