August 20, 2014

Woman Who Lost Husband and Two Sons When Home Depot Collapsed Sues Under Negligence Theory

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Back in 2011, a massive tornado swept through Missouri, ripping apart most buildings and homes in its way. One building that was destroyed was a Home Depot home-improvement store. Tragically, dozens of people were trapped inside as the 100,000-pound walls to the store fell. Eight died. In fact, all but 10 of the 73 walls fell inward as the roof was ripped off the store.

Employees told customers to head towards the store’s training room, where they should remain safe. However, as one woman’s husband and two children made their way to the training room, the walls of the store fell on them, crushing them instantly.

The Missouri woman who lost her family in the storm accident recently filed a claim against Home Depot, the store’s designer, and the property owner, a Maryland-based company. The suit alleges that the building was not up to par back when it was built in 2001 and that, had it been constructed properly, the walls would have fallen to the outside rather than fall in on unsuspecting customers.

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August 13, 2014

Maryland State Trooper Shoots Pit-Bull After She Was Bit

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this year in July, a Maryland State Trooper was responding to a call in Mechanicsville when she was attacked by the homeowner’s pit-bull. According to a report by a local news source, the officer was responding to a call regarding a unconscious person inside a home. As the officer entered the home, the dog charged at her.
The officer dodged the dog’s first attack, but it retreated and then came back a second time. In its second attack the dog managed to take away the officer’s baton and bite the officer in the foot. In response to her threatened safety, the officer fired a single shot at the animal, wounding it. The pit-bull then retreated.

The dog ran off after being injured, and police tried unsuccessfully to locate it. Neighbors told responding officers that this was not the first time that the dog had attacked someone.

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August 6, 2014

Baltimore Sun Report Shows Patient Care Lacking and Events Often Unreported

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

In a recent article by the Baltimore Sun, the paper considers the growing problem of patient safety in hospitals and nursing homes across the State of Maryland. One of the biggest problems with the current system, the author argues, is that it does not require hospitals to disclose errors they make unless those errors result in a lawsuit or if regulators happen to catch the hospital covering up the mistake.

This sort of self-regulation, of course, is not in the interest of prospective patients, who need as much information as possible before making a decision about which hospital to go to for surgery.

The article also points out some startling statistics, including:

  • Medical errors kill over 400,000 Americans each year;
  • Approximately 4,000 Marylanders who are admitted to the hospital each year develop bedsores that progress to an advanced state;
  • The Maryland Health Care Commission identified over 400 cases of blood-stream infection in 2012 alone;
  • According to one government study, hospitals fail to report up to 85% of their mistakes each year;
  • One-fifth of doctors admit to having not disclosed an error to a patient for fear of a lawsuit;
  • In 2013, there were 223 reported “adverse events” (medical mistakes) in Maryland hospitals.

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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, 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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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