Even after their defective airbags resulted in a series of recalls and several deaths, officials at Japanese manufacturer Takata reportedly falsified testing information to representatives at Honda, the company’s largest buyer. honda1

That’s according to internal documents obtained recently by  The New York Times, via the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Legislators say this points to a pattern of lies by the company – even well after the seriousness of the airbag defect issue was widely known.

Testing at issue involved a newer component design. Although it did not go into production, as it was considered experimental, engineers at the North American branch of the firm said they were under intense pressure from headquarters to move forward with this new design, even as they staunchly believed it was most likely to fail.  Continue reading

A jury in Mobile recently assigned guilt to a man behind the wheel of a pickup truck involved in a fatal crash in 2014. The collision killed a 24-year-old Mississippi woman. Defendant, 23, reportedly looked down at his phone for just a few seconds before looking back up to realize the vehicle in front of him had stopped. He swerved to avoid a rear-end collision, but ended up striking another pickup head-on, causing the second truck to roll and ejecting its driver.driver

Prosecutors say he was “fixated” on his smartphone at the time of the wreck. AL.com reports that in the 1 hour 25 minutes before the crash – the whole time of which he was driving – defendant reportedly checked instant messages, looked at dating site profiles, accessed Facebook and Twitter and updated his own dating site profile. The last time he accessed his phone, records show, was 32 seconds before the 911 call about the wreck.

This kind of situation is not uncommon. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports every single day in this country, 9 people die and another 1,153 are seriously injured in distracted driving crashes. And yet, last year when the Alabama legislature had the chance to expand its anti-texting law to encompass other forms of driving distraction, it declined to do so. The bill would have banned not just texting, but personal grooming, reading, writing, interacting with pets or engaging in any action that prevents a driver from devoting necessary attention to driving.

But, there is some good news, auto manufacturers are taking action. In a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), vehicles equipped with front-end crash prevention are far less likely to rear-end other vehicles. Rear-end collisions in Alabama are among the most common types of distracted driving crashes.  Continue reading

An Alabama-based pharmaceutical company is slated to pay almost $40 million to 47 states over allegations that it improperly labeled multivitamin fluoride tablets. The tablets made by the company, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals Inc., reportedly contained less than half of the fluoride claimed. tablet

That’s a problem especially for children, who with a lower dose of the mineral could be at greater risk of developing cavities.

Qualitest is the biggest manufacturer of multivitamin-with-fluoride tablets, and the alleged mislabeling occurred between October 2007 and August 2013. The settlement is the result of a qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuit filed three years ago by a Florida dentist who discovered the problem.  Continue reading

The vast majority of car accident lawsuits settle out-of-court. That means before the case goes to trial, both sides collaborate to reach a fair conclusion. The defendant(s) agree to pay a certain amount, and plaintiffs agree to release those defendants from future liability. caraccident7

Even if you have no intention of taking your case to court, you will need an experienced injury lawyer to help walk you through this process. One of the many reasons is the language of that settlement agreement can contain a few costly pitfalls.

That was the case in the recent medical malpractice lawsuit of Gores v. Miller, which was filed subsequent to a car accident settlement signed on behalf of an injured 15-year-old girl.  Continue reading

Third-party liability for criminal actions can be difficult to prove, but it can be done.opendoor1

Generally, third parties have no duty or obligation to prevent criminal actions of other people. There are exceptions, however, for property owners who have actual or constructive notice of a pattern of the same or similar violent crimes. The key is showing that the criminal action that caused injury to the victim was foreseeable and that the property owner had a duty to minimize the risk for those lawfully on site.

One such case was recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In Jenkins v. C.R.E.S. Mgmt. LLC, plaintiff alleged an apartment complex where he worked and also resided had a duty to shield him from hard that was both unreasonable and foreseeable as a result of criminal acts committed by third parties.  Continue reading

Tailgating is an important part of football culture in Alabama and across the country.beerplastic

These events can get rowdy, and there’s always a risk of possible injury. The University of Alabama has a host of tailgating rules to improve safety that include everything from  notices regarding proper electricity use on “The Quad” to limits when bringing dogs and other pets to such events. What they do not ban, unlike a growing number of schools: Beer kegs.

Among those schools corking the kegs on game day: Penn State, Arizona State, Michigan State, University of North Texas and The Ohio State University.

In Connecticut, Yale University has also banned kegs at tailgate events, an action that stems from a very specific – and tragic – event. In 2011, at the popular Yale-Harvard match-up, a fraternity brother driving a U-Haul packed with kegs on his way to tailgate with his “brothers” plowed into a row of pedestrians crossing the street. One of them, a 30-year-old artist and fashion designer, was killed.  Continue reading

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) counted 743 bicyclist deaths in the U.S. in 2013. Of those, 6 occurred in Alabama. That’s slightly fewer than the 9 counted by state Department of Transportation officials in 2012, but doesn’t necessarily indicate a downward trend. There were 176 crashes involving bicyclists in the state that same year, resulting in 138 injuries.biketrail1

We are likely to see these numbers increase as bicycling grows in popularity in the state. The Alabama Bicycle Coalition reports there are dozens of popular trails throughout central Alabama, particularly around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Most bicyclists fatally injured die because of a collision with a motor vehicle, usually by drivers who aren’t paying adequate attention. However, there are cases in which cyclists are killed or injured on unsafe trails. In these cases, recovery of damages in civil court will depend on the circumstances of the crash, but also on who maintains the trail – and why. Continue reading

Two years ago, in the first bellwether case against medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard for production of its transvaginal mesh products, jurors awarded plaintiff $2 million in damages. Of that, $250,000 was for compensatory damages (intended to compensate for actual losses) and $1.75 million was for punitive damages (intended to punish defendant). woman1

In Cisson v. C.R. Bard, both sides had appealed the final order, but for very different reasons.

Defendant appealed on the grounds certain evidence should have been kept from the jury and that the court should have allowed the defense to propose a special jury instruction. Also, defense argued the damage award was excessive. Plaintiff, meanwhile, appealed the split-recovery ruling, pursuant to Georgia law, that grants 75 percent of punitive damages to the state.  Continue reading

Twelve years ago, a former National Hockey League player hosted a birthday party for his young son, and invited the entire 5th grade class. For the event, he rented a child golf game that included a plastic golf club. golfkid

Everything was going well, until the end of the party, when a 4-year-old boy, unsupervised at the time, swung the golf club and struck an 11-year-old girl in the lip, splitting her lip and knocking her front tooth out.

Now, a dozen years later, she has filed a personal injury lawsuit, accusing the hosts of the party of negligent supervision under premises liability law. She alleges the injury caused her to undergo 53 dental appointments over the years, a number of surgeries, pain and suffering and mental anguish. She can’t bite normally into food, had to give up on participation in music class (because she couldn’t blow into wind instruments without straining her lip) and has suffered teasing and bullying over the appearance of her mouth.  Continue reading

The manufacturer of an off-road vehicle was able to convince justices with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that a trial judge was right to dismiss a wrongful death/ product liability lawsuit against it for plaintiff’s failure to amend the complaint prior to deadline. sanddune

In Birch v. Polaris Industries, Inc., plaintiff had asked trial court to amend the original complaint to add new legal theories and also request additional discovery. However, they did so after the deadlines for amending pleadings and for discovery had passed. Trial court rejected the motion and decided that, based on the unamended complaint, plaintiff’s case was weak. It granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the 10th Circuit found no judicial error.  Continue reading