Articles Posted in Relevant Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, a jury awarded a Georgia doctor $7 million in a premises liability lawsuit brought against the hospital where the doctor sustained a career-ending head injury after falling to the ground after slipping off a rolling stool. According to one local news report covering the case, the doctor alleged that the hospital provided an unsafe rolling stool in the operating room where the fall occurred.

Operating RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a doctor who had performed thousands of surgeries at the defendant hospital. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff had just finished with a surgery and sat down to complete the post-op paperwork. However, as he sat on the rolling stool provided by the hospital, the stool shot out from under him, causing him to fall to the floor.

The doctor hit his head on the floor but initially seemed fine. It was not until hours later that he started to become nauseous and then started experiencing double vision. Later, he began to have seizures. He was hospitalized for several days and eventually tried to return to work. However, since he was routinely suffering from seizures, he had to close down his practice. The doctor was later diagnosed with trauma-induced epilepsy and continues to suffer from cognitive and memory problems, migraine headaches, and seizures.

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Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who was seriously injured when a glass shower door at the defendant’s hotel shattered, covering her naked body in shards of glass. In the case, the court reversed a lower court’s decision that denied the plaintiff the opportunity to seek punitive damages from the hotel chain. The court held that the issues that needed to be resolved in order to determine whether punitive damages were appropriate should have been determined by the jury, rather than the trial judge.

Shower HeadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her sister were staying at one of the defendant’s hotels. The plaintiff was exiting the shower when the glass shower door exploded, causing her serious injuries. After the accident, a hotel employee came to the room and told the sisters that several rooms had this problem, and it was caused by the shower door coming off its runners. The employee explained that the room was on a “do not sell” list, and the sister should check and see if her shower door had the same problem. The sister checked, and indeed, her shower door was also off its runner.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel chain, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Evidence was presented showing that the hotel knew about the problems with the doors, and had at one point taken the rooms off the list of available rooms. However, for an unknown reason the sisters’ hotel rooms ended up back on the available room list. There was also evidence presented that the door in the plaintiff’s room had previously shattered and been replaced.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nevada issued a written opinion affirming the reversal of a $1.2 million jury verdict in favor of a wrongful death plaintiff after a lower court determined that the plaintiff’s attorney committed fraud on the court. In the case, Adams v. Fallini, the court upheld the lower court’s decision to reverse the verdict, based on statements made in court documents that were known to be untrue when they were made.

Cow's FaceThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the mother of a man who was killed when he struck a cow while driving on a Nevada highway. In Nevada, there is an “open range” law that prevents a farm owner from being held liable if one of his animals causes a traffic accident while in an area specifically designated as an open range.

After her son’s death, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant, who owned the animal that caused the accident. The defendant’s attorney failed to respond to the allegations, and judgment was entered for the plaintiff in the amount of $1.2 million. Once the defendant realized her attorney failed to participate in the case, the defendant sought reconsideration, but that request was denied.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in New York issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that required the court to discuss the foreseeability element of the plaintiff’s claim and determine if the plaintiff’s injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s alleged negligence. Ultimately, in the case, Hain v. Jamison, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence and allowed the plaintiff’s case to continue toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Calf in a FieldThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case is the surviving husband of a woman who was struck and killed by a passing car while she was attempting to rescue an escaped calf belonging to the defendant. After his wife’s death, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against both the driver of the car that struck his wife as well as the farm that owned the calf. Specific to the farm owner, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s negligence in allowing the calf to escape and failing to return it to the farm was a proximate cause of his wife’s death.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the farm owner sought dismissal of the case against him on the basis that any alleged negligence in allowing the calf to escape was too remote a cause of death to establish liability. The trial court disagreed, denying the motion.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a woman who claimed that she was injured after the defendant ran her off the road. In the case, Long v. Arnold, the court affirmed the court’s decision below, ultimately upholding the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant.

Car Off RoadThe Facts of the Case

Long was driving her car when Arnold turned onto the road, cutting Long off. Long was traveling at approximately 10 miles per hour at the time, and she was forced to steer the car off the road and into a small ditch. Long’s vehicle slowed as it came into contact with some road-side brush and eventually came to a complete stop without ever contacting a solid stationary object.

Initially, Long did not notice any injury. However, two days later, she began to feel sore. She then filed a personal injury lawsuit, seeking compensation for her injury, medical expenses, economic loss, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

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Recent cases in the past year have resulted in several significant awards for plaintiffs who have developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder, increasing the question of risks surrounding the use of the product. Many baby powders are made with talcum powder, which is created from crushed talc, a mineral. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and is used in baby powder for that reason.

GavelGenerally, litigation has arisen from women who regularly used talcum powder in their genital area and developed ovarian cancer. Studies have shown different results, and there is no consensus on whether talc increases the risk of ovarian cancer. However, different studies over the years have raised serious concerns for consumers. One study found particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors, leading to questions of a connection. One more recent study found a 44 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among African-American women. The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that genital use of talc-based body powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Two lawsuits earlier this year resulted in high jury verdicts against the company. One woman was awarded $55 million, and the other was awarded $72 million. And in a recent case, another woman was awarded over $70 million.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Michigan decided an interesting case involving the type of evidence that is sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense in a slip-and-fall case arising from an allegedly uneven sidewalk. In the case, Bernardoni v. City of Saginaw, the court held that photos taken 30 days after the woman’s injuries were insufficient to prove the dangerous condition of the sidewalk on the day of her injury.

Sidewalk

The Facts of the Case

Ms. Bernardoni was walking on the sidewalk in Saginaw, Michigan when she tripped and fell. Upon inspecting the sidewalk when she got up, she noticed that there was a 2.5-inch differential in the height between two adjacent slabs on concrete, creating the “lip” on which she had tripped. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the local government, seeking monetary compensation.

In response, the government asked the court to dismiss the case based on the immunity it possesses under state law. Specifically, the government pointed to the state statute that requires anyone suing based on a dangerous sidewalk to prove that the government knew of the dangerous condition for at least 30 days prior to the accident.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion discussing how the “public duty” doctrine can act to prevent a plaintiff from suing a government agency for alleged acts of negligence stemming from a breach of a duty owed to the general public. In the case, McFarlin v. State, the court determined that the state owed a general duty to maintain the lake where the accident occurred in a safe condition. Because there was no evidence that there was some additional duty owed to the plaintiff, the public duty doctrine prevented government liability.

Cityscape on WaterThe Facts of the Case

Ms. McFarlin’s young son was on a boat being operated by her boyfriend on a lake that was owned and operated by the state. Shortly after embarking, McFarlin’s boyfriend drove the boat near two “danger” buoys that were marking a shallow dredge pipe. The boat came too close to the pipe, struck it, and flipped over. As a result, McFarlin’s young son died.

McFarlin sued the state, alleging that it was negligent in the placement of the buoys, the placement of the pipe, and that the pipe was not adequately marked. The state took the position that it was not liable because it did not violate any duty owed to the plaintiff. Specifically, the state claimed that the duty to keep the lake safe was owed to the general public, and that there was nothing establishing that it owed the plaintiff a duty above and beyond that which was owed to the public. Because of that, the public duty doctrine prevented the state from being found liable.

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The Connecticut Supreme Court recently released a decision affirming a lower appellate court’s ruling that allowed a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case to proceed despite the fact that the plaintiff’s claim was not filed within the three-year statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in the state. The appellate rulings applied the “continuing course of treatment doctrine” to expand the statute of limitations and allow the plaintiff to pursue her claim.

As a result of the most recent appellate ruling from the highest state court in Connecticut, the plaintiff’s claim will return to the trial court and proceed toward a settlement or trial regarding her claim for damages.

SurgeonThe Defendant Left a Sponge Inside the Plaintiff’s Body During A Surgery, Causing Serious Pain and Discomfort

The plaintiff in the case of Ceferatti v. Aranow is a woman who had been receiving treatment by the defendants for her morbid obesity, which included a gastric bypass surgery that was performed in December 2003. According to the facts explained in the most recent appellate ruling, the defendant doctor inadvertently left a synthetic sponge inside the plaintiff’s abdominal cavity during the surgery. Although the plaintiff testified that she felt pain from the sponge about one year after the surgery, she did not discover the sponge until undergoing an unrelated CT imaging procedure over five years after the gastric bypass surgery. Approximately one year after discovering that the sponge had been left inside her, she filed a medical malpractice action against the defendants.

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Whenever a landowner invites others onto their land, the landowner assumes a duty of care to that person. Most commonly, this duty requires that the landowner take reasonable precautions to ensure that there are no dangerous conditions on their property that could result in injury to their guest. However, as is the case with most laws, there are exceptions when a landowner may be absolved from responsibility when someone injures themselves on the landowner’s property.

fireworks-227383_960_720The Recreational Use Statute in Maryland

Maryland, like many other states, wants to encourage landowners to open their land for the general public to use and enjoy. In order to encourage this, the law grants landowners immunity from some lawsuits that may arise when someone comes onto their land and hurts themselves.

Generally speaking, the land must be open for free use by any member of the general public in order for the recreational use statute to apply. If it does not apply, the landowner may be held liable for injuries that occur on his or her land, even if the landowner was not aware of the condition himself.

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