July 23, 2014

Hopkins’ Gynecologist Videotaped Patient Exams, Resulting in $190 Million Class-Action Settlement

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In a truly disturbing case out of John Hopkins, a gynecologist was found to have videotaped the last 25 years of patient gynecological exams. According to a recent article by Bustle.com, roughly 9,000 former patients joined a class action lawsuit, suing the doctor for malpractice. Evidently, that lawsuit has just recently been settled for a total of $190 million. The settlement is the largest of its kind.

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Evidently, a search of the doctor’s home in Towson revealed an elaborate system set up to store the 25 years' worth of images. It is estimated that there were over 1,200 photographs and video clips discovered in the doctor’s home. However, there is no indication that any of the evidence found was for anything but personal use, meaning that it is not believed that they have been uploaded to the internet.

After the charges were filed, the doctor was found dead in his basement. Investigators believe that he took his own life after the evidence against him came to light.

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July 16, 2014

General Motors Prepares to Pay Out Big in Relation to the Numerous Recall Lawsuits

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In a recent report from the Associated Press, the attorney in charge of compensating the victims of the recent rash of crashes due to the GM recalls announced that there will be no limit to the amount of money GM will shell out to victims and their families. Currently, thirteen deaths have been linked to various accidents due to recalls in GM automobiles over the course of the last year. This figure, however, may be artificially low, as it relies on GM’s own admissions. It is expected that hundreds of other lawsuits will be filed once the specifics of the fund are established.

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The recalls affected a number of General Motor vehicles, but were primarily centered around the Saturn Ion and the Chevrolet Cobalt. Each of these vehicles had ignition switch problems that had the potential to leave drivers with no way to control the vehicle.

The attorney in charge of compensation—who is paid by GM, but is not technically an employee of the company—says that the most recent recalls will not be eligible for the limitless compensation fund, as the company sees the most recent recalls as a separate issue. Additionally, only those lawsuits alleging problems with a vehicle's ignition switch will be eligible for the recovery fund.

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July 9, 2014

Criminal Charges Won’t Be Filed Against Secret Service Agents for Shooting Mother on Capitol Hill; Civil Charges Remain

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Last October, Secret Service agents and Capitol Police officers shot and killed a woman who failed to stop her black Infinity at a security checkpoint and led them on a chase throughout the nation’s capitol. According to an article by the National Journal, the officers and agents will not be prosecuted by the Justice Department. However, the civil charges alleging the wrongful death of the victim still remain.

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According to police documents, the woman failed to stop at a security checkpoint, knocking over a bicycle rack with her car, which knocked down a police officer. From there, she sped away towards Capitol Hill. She drove her car over a curb near the Reflecting Pool, where she was surrounded by officers. She then put the car in reverse and hit one officer. It was at this point that the officers shot the woman. She was shot five times from two different directions. Her 14-month-old child was in the back seat the whole time. The child was not injured, thankfully.

The Justice Department stood by the officers’ decision to use deadly force, explaining that situation fit within the parameters for the permissible use of deadly force. The family of the woman, however, still has a pending wrongful death action against the officers and the police force for using excessive and unnecessary force.

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July 1, 2014

Maryland Supreme Court Decision Clarifies Landowner's Duty in Accidental Drowning Case

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In 2010, a young three-year old boy died when he climbed through a gate and into a swimming pool in his parents’ apartment complex. The family of the boy filed charges against the apartment complex, among others, alleging that they were negligent because they breached "a duty to maintain the Country Place pool in a reasonably safe condition for all residents of Country Place Apartments, and particularly children of all ages."

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At trial, the defendants claimed that they didn’t owe the boy any duty of care (and thus could not be held liable for the accident) because the boy was trespassing when he entered the closed pool. However, the boy’s family pointed to a Maryland law that required all pools be properly fenced in and argued that the defendants were negligent per se for their failure to comply with that law.

At trial, the court died with the defendants, finding that the law creating a duty only came into play once it was established that the person in question was not a trespasser. However, on appeal to the intermediate court, the decision was reversed. That court held that the statutory duty arose regardless of the injured person’s status.

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June 25, 2014

Maryland Court Keeps Out Important Testimony Favorable to the Plaintiff in Hit and Run Accident

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In a recent case in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the court held that testimony from witnesses that the driver of the car causing the accident fled the scene and then returned a short time later laughing before he then left again, was inadmissible in a claim for damages against that driver.

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In the case Alban v. Fiels, the Albans were an elderly couple who were hit while driving in their truck by Mr. Fiels. The Albans’ vehicle sustained more damages than Fiels, and they were immobilized. In fact, Mrs. Alban was stuck in the car until firefighters came to extricate her.

Mr. Fiels fled the scene but did so down a road that had no outlet. Knowing that the road the driver fled down had no outlet, a nearby witness waited for the driver to return. When he did, the witness noticed that the driver slowed down and then sped off, laughing.

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June 19, 2014

Family of Man with Down Syndrome Sues the State of Maryland After He’s Killed While Being Detained By Off-Duty Police

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this year, a man with Down Syndrome was killed when three police officers moonlighting as mall security officers tried to detain the man for repeatedly viewing the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” without a ticket. According to a report by the Washington Post, the officers tried to forcibly remove the man and in the process fractured his larynx, causing him to suffocate. The medical examiner listed the death as a homicide, but the district attorney decided not to press criminal charges.

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Evidently, the man’s family has filed suit against the State of Maryland, claiming that the treatment of their loved one was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The mall operator as well as the cinema are also named in the suit.

Maryland’s Response

The State of Maryland is asking the federal court hearing the case to dismiss the suit, arguing that the man was targeted by the police officers not because of his disability but because he was breaking the law.

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June 12, 2014

Contributory Negligence and How It Affects Accident Victims

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

As an experienced personal injury law firm, we see hundreds, even thousands, of accident cases each year. Some of the cases we see involved an accident that was purely the fault of one party. These types of accidents are typically drunk driving accidents, distracted driving accidents, or other situations involving a clear infraction of a traffic law.

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However, there are many accidents that are not clearly only one party’s fault. These types of accidents can pose a problem for Maryland accident victims due to Maryland’s law of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that acts to bar the recovery of any accident victim who is at fault for the accident in which they were injured.

At first blush, such a law seems to make sense. Why should an accident victim be able to recover from another party if the “victim” was also at fault? However, contributory negligence can lead to some seemingly unjust results. For instance, consider a case where a pedestrian is jaywalking but is hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. Under Maryland law, if the jury found that the pedestrian was partially at fault for the accident, the pedestrian would not be able to recover for any of the damages he or she sustained in the accident.

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June 5, 2014

Drowning Death During Tough Mudder Competition Leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The Brooklyn, New York-based company, Tough Mudder, is facing a law suit filed by a Maryland woman who lost her son after he drowned in a Tough Mudder competition. Tough Mudder is an 11-mile race with obstacles throughout the entire course. The obstacles tend to be extreme in nature, and often involve climbing, swimming, balancing, and sprinting.

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According to a report by CBS Baltimore, the man died during the 2013 Tough Mudder event in West Virginia. Specifically, he died on the “Walk the Plank” obstacle, which involved climbing up a wall and then jumping off a platform 15 feet into the water. Evidently, the man jumped off the platform, and another woman jumped right after him, landing on top of him and preventing him from surfacing.

According to the lawsuit, Tough Mudder was experiencing a particularly large crowd that day and took shortcuts on safety. For example, the plaintiff claims that there was only one volunteer stationed at the obstacle and that the volunteer had his or her back turned when they were telling racers to jump. Thus, the volunteer could have no idea if the path was clear for the next racer.

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May 28, 2014

Recall in the Midwest Results in 1.8 Million Pounds of Ground Beef Being Recalled; Hummus Recalled as Well

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this week, and just in time for Memorial Day barbeques, Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, Michigan, announced a recall of its ground beef, recalling 1.8 million pounds of meat. According to a report by Parade, the company announced that there was possible E. Coli contamination in the meat and recalled it because there had been reports that consumers had been getting sick after consuming the meat.

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Thus far, there have been 11 instances of people getting sick from the contaminated meat. The reports of illness have come from Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. So far, no one from Maryland, Virginia, or DC has been reported ill.

Another Contaminated Batch of Food

In the same article by Parade, a recall of hummus sold by Trader Joe’s stores and Target stores was also mentioned. The 15,000 pounds of hummus were recalled due to the presence of listeria in some of the tested product. Evidently, the Texas Department of Health found the contaminated hummus while conducting a routine check on chick peas, the primary ingredient in hummus. Once the contaminated batch was located, both Trader Joe’s and Target voluntarily recalled all the products that came from that plant around that time. In total, 10 products were removed from the shelves.

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May 21, 2014

General Motors Recalls Another 2.42 Million Vehicles

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

General Motors has not had a good year. Earlier this year, it came to light that the ignition switch in several of the company's more popular models was faulty, causing drivers to lose control of the car at full speed. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the faulty mechanism, and countless accidents are suspected to have been caused as well. To make matters worse, evidence has shown that GM may have known about the problems and decided to continue selling the cars anyhow.

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The Most Recent Round of Recalls

Earlier this week, GM announced yet another round of recalls, this time covering an additional 2.42 million vehicles. Evidently, that figure covers four different problems in various models, including:

  • Airbag problems in certain Cadillac models;
  • Shift cable problems in the Chevy Malibu and the Pontiac G6;
  • Seat belt problems in the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, and GMC Acadia; and
  • A problem with the GMC Sierra HD that can cause the car to catch fire.

These vehicles join the over 2 million others that have been recalled by the car manufacturing giant earlier this year.

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May 14, 2014

Family of Navy Yard Shooting Victim Re-Files Wrongful Death Suit in Florida Court

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this year in April, the family of one of the Navy Yard Shooting victims filed suit in a Florida state court for the wrongful death of their loved one. According to a report by the Washington Post, the lawsuit names the United States government and two government contractors as defendants.

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A similar suit was filed last year, but was dismissed for procedural reasons. This time around, the victim’s family added the two government contractors as defendants. The victim’s family is claiming that the government contractors who employed the shooter failed to adequately check his background and didn’t pay attention to the several signs of mental instability.

The suit also relies on the federal government’s own investigation into the shooting, claiming that the government was negligent in failing to secure the Navy Yard and also that the government failed to respond to the signs of mental health issues that the shooter exhibited in the time leading up to the tragic event.

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May 7, 2014

Weather Report Used By Appellate Judge in Premises Liability Case

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In an interesting case out of New York State, an appellate judge reversed a lower court ruling that found against a slip-and-fall accident victim. The case was brought by Mr. Palazzo after he slipped and fell on some ice outside the defendant’s residence.

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According to court documents, Mr. Palazzo was walking down the sidewalk outside the defendant’s residence at approximately 11:15 a.m. on December 15th when he slipped and fell. He testified that he noticed that the sidewalk was went and icy in some parts, but he didn’t notice any specific patches of ice. After he fell, he sued the property owner to cover his medical bills and his pain and suffering.

At Trial

The judge presiding over the trial made note of the fact that Mr. Palazzo didn’t see any specific patch of ice. The judge also looked at weather reports on the day of the accident that indicated that there was warm temperatures in the morning of the accident, and that it was unlikely that there was actually any snow or ice on the sidewalk. The most recent storm was on December 10th, when it snowed five inches.

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