Earlier this month, a woman was reunited with the paramedics who saved her life after she was involved in a serious car accident back when the woman was in high school almost 30 years ago. According to one local news report, the woman, who is now a yoga instructor, was providing a free class to a group of firefighters. As she was arranging the class, she mentioned to the coordinator that she would like the opportunity to thank those who saved her life almost 30 years before.

fireman-1238249As it turns out, the coordinator was able to locate the men responsible for saving her life back when she was in high school. In fact, one of the men was still working in his capacity as a paramedic. The paramedics responsible for saving her life told reporters about the terrifying accident. Evidently, when they arrived on the scene, a car with three high-school students inside had been crushed by a dump truck. Two of the girl’s friends were pronounced dead at the scene, and she was trapped inside the car until emergency responders were able to cut her out of the vehicle and take her to the hospital.

The paramedics told reporters that the accident spurred change both in Maryland and across the country in how commercial driver’s licenses are provided to truck drivers.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of California heard a case that was brought against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that the negligent design in the city’s roadway led to injuries and deaths that were preventable had proper care been taken in the road’s design. In the case of Cordova v. City of Los Angeles, the negligent driving of a third party caused the plaintiffs’ vehicle to crash into a magnolia tree that had been planted in the center median by the City of Los Angeles. The case proceeded not against the negligent driver whose actions led to the accident, but against the City itself for the allegedly dangerous condition.

magnolia-7-1487063According to the court’s opinion, the case arose after the driver of a Nissan Maxima was hit by another motorist and pushed off the road. As the car left the roadway and entered the median, it struck a large magnolia tree that was in the median. Four of the five people inside the car died as a result of the collision, and one was seriously injured. The parents of three of those inside the car brought a lawsuit against the City, alleging that the tree was dangerously close to the road.

At Trial and On Appeal

The issue at trial was whether the magnolia tree constituted a “dangerous condition” on public property. Both the trial court as well as the appellate court determined that the tree was not a dangerous condition because, among other things, it did not cause the accident. The appellate court noted that there was no allegation that the tree made an accident more likely by obstructing the view of motorists or anything along those lines. The courts both looked at what caused the accident, rather than the added danger that the tree may have presented.

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Earlier this month, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case that deals with an evidentiary issue common in many personal injury lawsuits:  the admissibility of expert testimony. In the case of Sorrels v. NCL (Bahamas), the plaintiff was a customer on one of NCL’s cruise ships. At some point during the cruise, the plaintiff slipped and fell on the deck of the ship and fractured her wrist. At the time, the deck was wet from a recent rainfall. She filed suit against the cruise line, alleging its negligence in maintaining the ship’s deck.


The Issues at Trial

In this slip-and-fall case, one of the critical issues was what the ship deck’s coefficient of friction (COF) was. COF is a scientific term experts use to describe how much force is necessary to move one surface over another. In this case, the relevant surface was the ship’s deck; the higher the COF, the less slippery the surface will be.

The plaintiff called an expert at trial to testify to the ship deck’s COF. The expert tested the ship’s deck, although it was 520 days after the slip-and-fall accident. The expert also was going to testify to what he believed that the “normal” COF for a ship deck on a commercial cruise line should be. Specifically, the expert had four conclusions:

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Earlier this month, the Michigan Supreme Court heard a case brought by a grieving mother against the lifeguard she claimed was responsible for her son’s death. In the case, Beals v. State of Michigan, the plaintiff’s 19-year-old son who suffered from severe learning disabilities drowned while at a state-run swimming pool designed for children with learning disabilities.

life-guard-4-1315238The evidence at trial showed that there were 24 others in the pool at the time of the boy’s death. The lifeguard, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was on duty but didn’t see the young man become submerged. In fact, no one in the pool saw the woman’s son go under water. It wasn’t until minutes later that another swimmer who had goggles on saw the boy at the bottom of the pool. Swimmers yelled for the lifeguard, but he didn’t respond for another several minutes. When emergency personnel arrived, they pronounced the boy dead.

The boy’s mother filed suit against the State of Michigan, as the operator of the pool, as well as the lifeguard, as a state employee. The lifeguard asserted “sovereign immunity” as a defense and asked the court to dismiss the case against him.

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Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case that discussed the presumption of negligence that arises when one driver rear-ends another driver in the context of a personal injury suit. In the case of Lopez v. United States, Lopez, the plaintiff, sought monetary damages from the United States government after an accident that she was involved in with a postal employee.

that-hurt-1450455According to the court’s opinion, Lopez was traveling as a passenger in a vehicle being operated by a friend. The lane in which they were traveling came to an end at the intersection that was quickly approaching. The driver of the vehicle switched lanes into the lane that was occupied by the postal truck. The truck rear-ended the vehicle that the plaintiff was inside and pushed it a short distance into the intersection. The airbags did not deploy, and the vehicle was able to be driven home by its owner.

A short time later, Lopez filed suit against the United States government, claiming that the postal employee was negligent in rear-ending the vehicle in which she was riding. Lopez pointed to a presumption under Missouri law that arises in rear-end accident cases and states that the driver who crashes into the rear of another driver is presumed to be at fault. However, the court failed to apply the doctrine and found in favor of the defendant.

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Earlier this week in Cambridge, Maryland, several people were injured when a pick-up truck towing two jet skis caused an accident involving roughly 20 other vehicles. According to one local news source, the accident took place on a Monday evening, just before nine o’clock, on Locust Street.

jet-skiing-1388627Evidently, the truck was driving with a trailer in tow when it started colliding with several other cars on the road, both occupied and unoccupied. Eventually, the truck lost control and ended up striking a marked police car head-on. The driver of the truck did sustain serious injuries and was flown to Peninsula Medical Center in Salisbury. The police officer whose car was hit was also taken to the hospital, and he is expected to make a full recovery with time. Those seem to be the only serious injuries.

After police caught up with the truck’s driver, they arrested him. He has since been charged with attempted murder and several other charges relating to the accident. Police are also awaiting toxicology reports to see if drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in what certainly seems to be an odd accident.

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Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant women and is a totally separate form of diabetes than the other two types, commonly referred to as Type I or Type II. It is estimated that around 18 percent of women will develop gestational diabetes at some point during their pregnancy, making it one of the more common pregnancy-related conditions experienced by expecting mothers.

blood-glucose-meter-1318261In a nutshell, gestational diabetes is the name of the condition where a mother has too much sugar in her bloodstream. This is the result of the body’s failure to produce enough insulin. According to one recent news article, a new study looks at two common ways to treat gestational diabetes, insulin and glyburide.

As noted above, insulin is the hormone that is responsible for breaking down sugars and converting them into energy. A direct dose of insulin has long been one alternative to treating diabetes. However, more recently doctors have been prescribing glyburide to patients with gestational diabetes. The study takes a look at both medications and ultimately concludes that treatment by glyburide may result in a higher risk of required admission into the intensive care unit, a larger chance of the mother developing respiratory stress, and also a greater risk that the mother will be large for gestational age.

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Earlier this week in the Chesapeake Bay, one young girl was killed and seven others were injured when a speed boat driver lost control of the boat he was operating, sending it into several other boats that were full of spectators. According to one news source, the girl was on a boat that was tethered together with several other boats, all of which were watching the speedboat race that was billed as “NASCAR on the water.”

boat-water-trail-1343298-mEvidently, the accident occurred around five in the afternoon during the 25th annual Thunder in the Narrows race. As the boat’s operator lost control and careened into the string of spectator boats, seven people were injured, and one young girl died. Three of the injured victims were flown to the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Four others sustained some minor injuries but were not hospitalized.

The U.S. Coast Guard is currently in the midst of an investigation into the accident, hoping to learn more as to why the boat’s operator lost control of the vessel. Charges have not been filed against the boat’s driver yet. However, that could change depending upon the conclusion of the investigation.

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Earlier this month, an article by the local Baltimore CBS affiliate was published, indicating that over one weekend in June there were over 80 DUI or DUI-related arrests across the State of Maryland. According to the article, a large percentage of those DUI arrests involved drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .16 or more, which is twice the legal limit for safe driving in Maryland.

untitled-1108573-mDrunk driving has become such a problem in Maryland that the state police have created a task force, called the State Police Impaired Driving Reduction Effort (SPIDRE) Team. Of the 80 arrests across the State, 13 were made by the SPIDRE team. According to one member of SPIDRE, “Most of the people that we’re coming in contact with now, it’s not the people that get 1 or 2 drinks at dinner, it’s people that this is what they do, this is what they like to do,” referring to driving after consuming several drinks.

In fact, the average blood-alcohol content for a SPIDRE arrest is .17, which is well over the .08 legal limit. According to the CBS article, this is approximately seven or eight drinks for an average-sized man or approximately five drinks for an average-sized woman.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Appeals in West Virginia denied a plaintiff’s appeal in a car accident case that requested a new trial based on the lower court’s failure to allow the plaintiff to submit the responding police officer’s opinion as to which party caused the accident into evidence. In the case, Browning v. Hickman, the court had to consider two alleged errors made below and determine if either was sufficient to grant a new trial to the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

to-protect-and-serve-542937-mThe case arose when the two parties were involved in an accident at an intersection. The defendant was traveling straight through the intersection and the plaintiff was making a left turn in front of the defendant when the accident occurred. Both parties claimed to have had the right of way. The plaintiff said he had a green arrow at the time, and the defendant claimed he had a green light.

A witness to the accident called 911, explaining that the plaintiff pulled out in front of the defendant’s car. Police arrived at the scene and, after a brief initial investigation concluded that it was the defendant who failed to yield to the plaintiff. However, that officer later told the attorneys that he wasn’t actually aware of whether the plaintiff did, in fact, have a green arrow.

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