Earlier this month, an appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a case brought by two accident victims based on the fact that they did not raise an “issue of fact” as it pertained to proximate cause. The court determined that the plaintiffs failed to show that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s negligent acts were the cause-in-fact of their injuries.

mountain-road-1435240-mThe Facts of the Case

In the case, Piltch v. Ford Motor Company, the Piltches were seriously injured when their 2006 Mercury Mountaineer hit a patch of black ice, slid off the road, and crashed into a nearby wall. None of the cars’ airbags deployed during the accident. The Piltches filed suit against the manufacturer of the vehicle, claiming that under state law the vehicle was defective. They argued that they should be compensated for their injuries because the fact that the airbags did not deploy resulted in them sustaining more serious injuries than they would have had the airbags worked properly.

However, at trial the Piltches failed to present any “causation” evidence from an expert, meaning that they were relying solely on circumstantial evidence that the fact that the airbags didn’t deploy worsened their injuries.

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Earlier this month in Wisconsin, the mother of a 25-year-old man who took his own life back in 2012 filed a lawsuit against a youth football league, alleging that the brain damage her son sustained while playing for the league led to myriad mental health conditions and ultimately to his death. According to one local news source, the young man played for a Pop Warner football league from 1997 to 2000.

brain-001-880737-mEvidently, the young man sustained a number of head injuries and concussions during his tenure in the league. Towards the end of his life, the young man suffered from depression and dementia. The man’s mother, who is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages for the loss of her son, claims that the league was negligent in several ways, including:

  • Failing to properly train coaches in injury prevention and concussion treatment; and
  • Failing to educate players and parents about possible long-term brain damage that could result from playing football; and
  • Failing to institute proper concussion management or return-to-play rules for players suspected of having concussions.

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Several former professional wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) league have sued the league over allegations that the league was negligent in protecting the safety of wrestlers during televised matches. According to one national news source, the allegations stem from the league’s negligence in its policies regarding permitted wrestling moves that—while they drew the audience’s attention—put the wrestlers at great risk for serious head injury.

black-bomber-40797-mEvidently, the wrestlers claimed in the lawsuit that they have suffered severe neurological damage due to the repeated head injuries they sustained while wrestling for the WWE. Specifically, they are claiming that they suffer from headaches, memory loss, depression, hearing impairment, tremors, convulsions, and migraines.

The kinds of injuries sustained in wrestling are not unlike those sustained in other high-impact sports, such as football and boxing. And, like wrestling, leagues in those sports are also under legal scrutiny for their policies regarding concussions and head injuries. In fact, the NFL is currently in a prolonged lawsuit with approximately 5,000 former players who claim that they sustained serious and irreversible damage while playing for the NFL.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island upheld a jury’s verdict in a premises liability case that stemmed from a bar fight that left one man seriously injured. According to court documents, the fight occurred back in February 2009.

tequila-calls-you-211089-mEvidently, the plaintiff and another man were involved in two altercations on the same evening, the second of which rendered the plaintiff unconscious. He was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries and was kept there for two weeks. After he was released, he required another two-week stay at home before he was ready to return to work.

In 2010, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the bar owner, claiming that its negligence in responding to the first altercation resulted in the more serious second encounter that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff presented one eyewitness, a bartender, who testified that the other man was “known to have a black belt in karate and he’s known to get violent.” She also told the court that he was “belligerent, obnoxious, vulgar, antagonizing other patrons, and looking for a fight” on the night in question. Despite this, no one at the bar called police until after the second altercation.

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Back in March of last year, a hit-and-run accident claimed the life of one man. Since then, according to one news report, the driver of the car has been convicted of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, felony hit-and-run, and disorderly conduct after he pleaded guilty to the offenses.

car-fire-2-1068611-mThe charges arose from an accident where the driver of the vehicle hit the bicyclist on Virginia 122 in Bedford County. Witnesses to the accident told police that the driver pulled a crushed bicycle out from underneath his car before fleeing the scene. He later drunkenly called police to tell them his truck was on fire.

The bicyclist was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital but was pronounced dead the next day from blunt force trauma to the head. At his criminal trial, the driver was sentenced to seven and one-half years of incarceration for his involvement in the fatal accident.

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Due to a law enacted in the 1980s, Maryland plaintiffs are limited in the amount they are able to recover from municipalities across the state. According to an article by the Washington Post, this has led one woman to challenge the law that kept her from retaining the $11+ million award she received after a Prince George’s County police officer killed her husband while he was having a beer outside in Langley Park.

law-education-series-3-68918-mThe Facts of the Case

Evidently, the officer was off duty at the time and approached the woman’s husband because he was drinking in public. However, for some reason the confrontation escalated, and eventually the officer shot the man, killing him. The officer claimed that he was acting in self-defense, since the man was reaching for his gun. However, witnesses told a different story, explaining that the man never fought back and that the officer was the aggressor.

At Trial the Plaintiff Wins

At trial, the jury heard all the evidence and determined that the officer—as well as the County—was responsible for the wrongful death of the woman’s husband and returned a verdict in her favor for over $11 million.

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law-and-order-4b-977846-mWhen two parties enter into an out-of-court settlement, a contract is created by the two parties. This contract is typically a legally binding document that requires each party to do—or not do—certain things. For example, the most basic contract could be boiled down to something like the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain sum of money, and the plaintiff agrees to withdraw his or her lawsuit against the defendant and waive any future claims arising from that incident.

However, according to a recent report by the Baltimore Sun, all police brutality cases settled in the city come with one fairly uncommon term in the contract:  a confidentiality clause.

A confidentiality clause restricts the plaintiff from disclosing what happened with the reporters. This includes a prohibition against sharing any of the details of the settlement itself with the public, but the restriction goes further. Under Baltimore’s confidentiality clause, a plaintiff who accepts a settlement may not even discuss any of the facts or allegations of the underlying suit, essentially shielding government operations from the public eye.

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Earlier this month, a construction worker in New York who was injured on the job collected $5 million in compensation after accepting a settlement offered by his former employer and the property owner where the injury occurred.

construction-1-1338553-mAccording to one local news report, the accident occurred back in 2008 in Buffalo, New York, when an on-the-job fall caused the plaintiff to tear his rotator cuff and puncture his lung, and also gave him eight herniated discs. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff needed to undergo several follow-up corrective surgeries in order to get him as close to his previous condition as possible.

The plaintiff filed suit against both the general contractor that employed him, as well as the property owner where the fall occurred. However, at trial, the defendants asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming, among other things, that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the fall but were pre-existing at the time of the fall. They also argued that the plaintiff failed to take a safer available route while on the job.

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Earlier this month in Baltimore, the most winning Olympian pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. According to a recent report by one local news source, the swimmer was pulled over back in September of this year when he was seen crossing a double yellow line in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

keys-707275-mThe arresting officer told the court that Phelps’ breath-alcohol content was .14, and that the legal limit in Maryland is .08. Phelps was also going 84 miles per hour in a zone that is designated as 45 miles per hour. This was Phelps’ second DUI offense in the past 10 years.

At sentencing, Phelps was given a jail sentence of 12 months. However, that sentence was suspended in favor of 18 months’ probation. While on probation, Phelps will not be permitted to drink alcohol. He was also ordered to do community service and must go 90 days without driving privileges.

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Earlier last month, a lead singer for the legendary pop band U2 was involved in a serious accident while riding his bicycle in Central Park in New York City. According to one report by Rolling Stone Magazine, the singer had to undergo a five-hour surgery, requiring 18 screws to be put into his shoulder and hand. He also fractured his orbital socket and his left arm.

spring-in-new-york-2-997425-mEvidently, the singer was riding his bike in Central Park when he attempted to avoid another cyclist. In doing so, he lost control of his bike and ended up crashing. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where doctors addressed his broken arm. Several days later, he underwent a surgery to repair a broken pinky finger.

The doctor describes the accident as a “high energy cycling accident” that was caused by Bono’s attempt to avoid another oncoming cyclist. He said that while the accident was extreme, and the singer’s condition was serious, he expects Bono to make an eventual full recovery. It is expected that Bono will require several months of rehab and recuperation time. It is unclear if his injuries will interfere with any of his tour dates.

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