Train Crash in New Jersey Kills 1, Injures 108

     HOBOKEN, N.J. (CN) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie confirmed one fatality Thursday afternoon stemming from a mid-morning train crash that injured 108 at busy Hoboken Terminal.     The crash occurred at about 8:30, the tail end of rush hour. A Pascack Valley Line train originating from Spring Valley, N.Y., collided violently into the terminal’s Track 5 platform. Witnesses reported that the train overran its stopping point, charging through a blocker at the end of the tracks and then through a passenger-concourse area before slamming into a wall separating the terminal’s waiting room.     Victims were taken to Hoboken University and Jersey City Medical Centers. Images shared on social media show the impact caused part of the station’s ceiling to collapse.     Several riders and witnesses told CNN that the train didn’t appear to slow down at all during the crash despite Hoboken being the terminus for the train line.     At a press conference this afternoon on the tragedy, Christie was joined by his New York counterpart, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Hoboken sits directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.     Christie said the person killed in the crash had been standing on the platform at the time, and was struck by falling debris.     The train was going at “a high rate of speed” before the collision, Christie confirmed.     He said the train’s conductor is in critical condition at a local hospital, but has been cooperating with the investigation.     Many roads directly around the station are still closed to begin the evening rush hour, including a five-block stretch of River Street. A few local restaurants directly around the terminal have set up makeshift aid and refreshment stations where they are hosting first responders and others in need, including commuters who may have been stranded all day after the crash halted many forms of transit that serve the terminal.     Rail service into the station is still suspended indefinitely, as is ferry service at the building. The PATH, an underground subway linking Hoboken to Manhattan, did resume service at 3 p.m. The station is directly underneath the terminal, but engineers determined its structural integrity was sound.     Hoboken Terminal is one of NJ Transit’s busiest stations, with about 15,000 people boarding trains every single day.     The crash is the latest tragedy involving high-speeds to strike the Northeast’s transit networks, coming soon after a 2013 MetroNorth derailment in the Bronx, N.Y., that killed four people, and a May 2015 Amtrak crash outside Philadelphia that claimed eight lives and injured more than 200.

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Skin Grafts Needed After Samsung Phone Blow-Up

      HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) — Stumbling through weeks of headlines about its gadgets catching fire, Samsung now faces a court battle with a man who says his phone, a Galaxy S7 Edge, exploded in his pocket.     The suit in Bergen County Superior Court contains several graphic pictures of Daniel Ramirez’s injuries and up-close pictures of the ruined phone.     In addition to needing a skin graft on his right leg, Daniel Ramirez says he suffered second-degree burns to two fingers, and second- and third-degree burns to his right upper leg.      It all happened on May 30, 2016, according to the complaint, when Ramirez was carrying his phone in the front pocket of his pants while working on a construction project in Akron, Ohio.     Ramirez says he “heard a whistling and screeching sound and noticed his pocket vibrating and moving around, as well as thick smoke ascending from his pocket.”     When Ramirez reached into his right pants pocket to try to grab the phone out, he “immediately felt his fingers burn.”     “Suddenly and without warning,” the Sept. 8 complaint continues, “the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge cell phone exploded and caught fire in Mr. Ramirez’s pants – burning directly through his boxers and pants.”     Ramirez says he was able to remove the cellphone but “was unable to quickly remove his pants and boxers because the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge cell phone ignited his pants and melted them to his leg.”     The phone “was completely charred and destroyed as a result of the explosion,” according to the complaint.      Citing recent articles from the BBC and New York Times, Ramirez says “the lithium-ion battery found in all of Samsung’s Newer Galaxy Smartphones includes volatile and flammable chemical compounds that can become unstable if overheated or punctured, which can cause the battery to burst into flames or explode.”     These articles appeared after Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 on Sept. 1 because of issues with the batteries causing explosions. Compounding the voluntary recall, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stepped in on Sept. 15 with a formal recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.     Samsung has not recalled Ramirez’s phone, the Galaxy S7 Edge. In fact, the company had offered Note 7 customers a choice to trade in their Notes for S7 Edges.     The company’s latest statement on the recall, last updated on Sept. 10, still says that the Note 7 alone is subject to the recall.     Samsung declined to comment on the specifics of Ramirez’s case, instead passing along a statement on Note 7 replacement devices.     CFTC intervention has put replacement devices on hold, but Samsung said Thursday they “will be available in the United States at most retail locations no later than Sept. 21.”     “Customers who exchange a Note 7 device for another Samsung product will also receive a $25 gift card, in-store credit, in-store accessory credit or bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets,” according to Samsung’s statement.     Despite Samsung’s position, there have been a few reports of Galaxy S7 Edge phones igniting recently. The Sun, a U.K. newspaper, reported this week about an S7 Edge phone exploding in the middle of a busy cafe.     Digital Trends also quoted a Samsung representative as telling them earlier this week that “there are no known safety issues with Galaxy S7 devices,” and that “this issue is currently being investigated.”      Ramirez says he is in ongoing, extensive physical therapy after suffering “severe, permanent and life-altering injuries” to his groin, legs and lower back.     Though his phone allegedly exploded in Ohio, Ramirez is a resident of Patterson, California, and bought his phone at a Best Buy in Modesto.     He sued the Korean parent and its U.S. subsidiary in New Jersey, where Samsung has a headquarters in Ridgefield Park.     Ramirez is represented by Marc Simon with Simon & Simon of Camden, N.J.     He bought his phone on March 11 — the same day as the model’s release.

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Bears, and Bear Hunts, Booming in New York

(CN) – New York bear hunters had their second biggest year ever in 2015, killing 1,715 black bears during the state hunting season.     “Our bear population is flourishing in New York State, providing increased opportunities for hunters and wildlife watchers alike to enjoy these important species,” the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said.     The only year in which more bears were killed was 2003, when 1,863 bears were taken.     Seggos also said 2015 was the first year since the 1950s when no one died in a hunting accident in New York.     Bear hunts are permitted place in every county in New York except Nassau County on Long Island, a small portion of Erie County near Buffalo and in New York City’s five boroughs. Some counties, such as Westchester, Suffolk and parts of Albany, allow only bow hunting.     Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties, just north and west of New York City, provided the most bears. The state hunt has two zones, Northern and Southern; 1,132 of the bears were taken in the Southern Zone.     The 583 bears taken in the Northern Zone was 27 percent above the recent five-year average. The hunt generally runs from September through December.     The biggest bear, taken in the Sullivan County town of Forestburg, clocked in at 520 pounds.     The 2015 bear hunt was one of the safest ever conducted, with just 23 injuries, the third-lowest on record.

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Quadriplegic Veteran|Can Seek More From VA

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A veteran rendered quadriplegic by botched surgery at a VA hospital may appeal his $4.5 million damages award, including court-ordered reductions because he could get free medical care from the VA, which injured him, the Second Circuit ruled.     Charles Malmberg underwent surgery in November 2004 to remove a degenerative disc and osteophytes at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Syracuse.     After the surgery, X-rays and an MRI showed he suffered from mild spinal cord impingement at several points, with excessive edema in the spinal cord. He was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia shortly thereafter.     Malmberg filed a malpractice claim against the VA in January 2006, to which the VA failed to respond. He sued in August 2006 and the VA was found liable for his injuries. Malmberg cannot use his legs, cannot stand, and will be confined to a wheelchair and require assistance for the rest of his life.     A bench trial began in December 2012, and the Northern District of New York awarded Malmberg $4,468,860 in damages in August 2014.     Malmberg appealed, arguing in part that the court “abused its discretion by offsetting the award for future medical care and benefits by subtracting out for services that could be provided by the VA for free thus forcing him to receive medical services from his tortfeasor rather than choosing his own medical providers”.     He also claimed the court wrongfully denied his motion to amend his ad damnum clause to increase the amount of damages he sought and awarded him only $2 million in damages for past and future pain and suffering, which is lower than comparable awards from New York state courts for similar injuries.     On Friday, the Second Circuit agreed with most of Malmberg’s arguments and vacated the judgment. Writing for the three-member panel, Second Circuit Judge Rosemary Pooler found that “federal law does not require an offset against a veteran’s damages award for future medical care that could be provided at a VA facility,” and that “federal law disfavors an outcome whereby a litigant is ‘obligated to seek medical care from the party whose negligence created his need for such care simply because that party offers it without charge.’”     Citing the Third Circuit ruling in Feeley v. United States, Pooler ruled that “a victim of another’s tort is entitled, we think, to choose, within reasonable limits, his own doctor and place of confinement, if such care is necessary. To force a plaintiff to choose between accepting public aid or bearing the expense of rehabilitation himself is an unreasonable choice.”     Pooler said the District Court also erred in deducting the cost of free VA care from Malmberg’s award: “if the plaintiff seeks medical care from a non-VA provider – which, as discussed, is his prerogative – the costs of that medical care cannot be regarded as ‘replaced or indemnified’ merely because the plaintiff elected not to accept the opportunity to receive free medical care from the VA.”     The unanimous panel also ruled that the District Court should have heard Malmberg’s motion to increase damages in his ad damnum of May 2013, as “the record was materially different” by then. During the bench trial, Malmberg’s physician at the VA testified that the extent of Malmberg’s deterioration was not foreseeable in 2006 when the case was filed.     Pooler also ruled that the District Court failed to provide sufficient rationale for its award. She found that the court did not “point to a single case or jury award to support its conclusion that the range in New York for pain and suffering awards for plaintiffs who suffered permanent and catastrophic injuries ‘is normally between $500,000 and $1.5 million.’ Indeed, the only quadriplegia cases it cited appear in a footnote, and each provides for a far greater recovery than the district court awarded here.”     The case was remanded for further proceedings with directions that the District Court consider anew Malmberg’s motion to increase the ad damnum, taking into account the testimony of his doctor. The remand also instructed the court to “determine damages without an offset for future receipt of medical care and supplies from the VA, consistent with this opinion.”     Also on the panel were Second Circuit Judge José Cabranes, and U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, from the Southern District of New York, sitting by designation.

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