September 29, 2015

Badilla v. Wal-Mart Stores - Product Liability Breach of Implied Warranties

Consumers in the U.S. are protected by a number of provisions of both state and federal laws with regard to promises or "warranties" made by companies about their products.
Some of these warranties are in written or spoken form. These are called "express warranties." However, there are also certain unwritten, unspoken expectations to which consumers are entitled. These are called "implied warranties."

Essentially, consumers almost always have some recourse when products don't meet their basic expectations - especially when the result is someone is injured. The most common that we see in product liability law is implied warranty of merchantability. That means the product is guaranteed to work and be reasonably safe when used for its intended purpose.

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September 22, 2015

Logan v. Miss. Dept. of Transp. - Faulty Bridge Repair Results in Crash

Most crashes occur because a driver made a mistake. However, sometimes, the way the roadway or traffic is designed or constructed can play a role in either causing an accident or amplifying the severity. carbridge.jpg

In such cases, car accident victims may be able to secure compensation from the public agency responsible, and potentially from contractors who may have worked with that agency on the project.

In the case of Logan v. Miss. Dept. of Transportation, the issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court was whether there were sufficient issues of material fact for plaintiffs to proceed with their claim that a defective repair of a bridge caused them to spin out-of-control and suffer injuries. The court ruled there was, and that a statement by the couple's daughter-in-law regarding a conversation she had with transportation department officials at the scene of the crash was admissible in court - even though the workers hadn't been authorized by their employer to make those statements.

Here's what happened, according to court records:

Plaintiffs - husband and wife - were driving over a bridge that had recently undergone repairs. As they approached, there were no warning lights or indications that there was anything unsafe about the structure or the roadway. But as they crossed, the undercarriage of their vehicle got caught on two metal plates that were crisscrossed and sticking up from the road. This caused the driver to spin out of control and both vehicle occupants suffered injury. They called for help, and when their daughter-in-law got word, she rushed to the scene.

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September 15, 2015

Construction Accident Nets $2.8 Million Award

A man who required a leg amputation after falling three stories while applying stucco to a building exterior was awarded $2.8 million in damages following his third-party liability lawsuit. dangerhardhatarea.jpg

However, his damage award will be reduced by 30 percent, the portion of fault jurors deemed he had in the accident. It's worthwhile to note that this case, Chin v. Koryo Corp. et al., happened in New Jersey, which abides by a different system of comparative fault than Alabama. Here, we follow a system of pure contributory negligence. That means if a plaintiff is making a claim for damages, that claim will be defeated if defendant can prove negligence on the part of plaintiff - no matter how small.

Another important point is that while this was a work-related injury, this was not a workers' compensation case. It was a third-party liability lawsuit. Workers cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries (except in rare instances), but they can take action against other responsible parties.

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September 7, 2015

Side Underride Guards Subject of Truck Accident Lawsuit

A woman was on her way to give a motivational speech at a work conference when a semi-truck appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It was dark out, and the truck didn't have any side reflectors or bright colors. The woman never even braked until just seconds before impact. road7.jpg

When her small passenger vehicle collided with the 80,000-pound truck, which was pulling out of a driveway into an intersection,the impact shattered the front windshield and tore off her roof as she skidded underneath the trailer.

She suffered severe brain damage. In fact, she never awoke from her coma. She died in a hospital four months later, leaving behind a husband and a daughter, pregnant with her first grandchild.

Now, her husband has filed a wrongful death truck accident lawsuit against the manufacturer of that truck. In Dodgen v. PJ Trailers Manufacturing Inc., filed in the 165th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, plaintiffs allege defendant knew or should have known the risk of serious head trauma and decapitation that accompanies failure to install side underride guards.

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August 31, 2015

Diamond v. Reshko - Taxi Injury Lawsuit to be Retried

In the course of civil litigation, it is not uncommon for parties to settle out-of-court prior to - or even during - a trial.
In cases where there are multiple defendants, there may be situations in which some defendants settle out-of-court and others don't. While those that do settle may not longer be compelled to pay additional damages, they may still be found liable in court. Generally what this means is that damages owed by the remaining defendants will be reduced by whatever share the settling defendant would have owed.

However, there is the issue of joint and several liability. This is when there are multiple parties liable for the same act or event, and plaintiff could collect damages from any, several or all liable parties.

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August 24, 2015

$14M Awarded in Alabama Truck Accident Lawsuit

An Alabama man is now paralyzed after the semi-truck he was operating overturned on Interstate 10. truck2.jpg

He recently won a $14 million truck accident lawsuit against the company that serviced his rig several days before the wreck.

The Mobile man might have received as much as $19 million following the two-week trial. However, he and the defense struck a deal during jury deliberations. The deal was that even if plaintiff lost the case, defense would still pay $2 million. However, if plaintiff won, the most defense would pay was $14 million. Both sides also agreed there would be no appeal.

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August 15, 2015

Cook v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. - Product Liability Lawsuit After Mal Moore's Death

When Mal Moore, the former athletic director for the University of Alabama, died two years ago, he was in the advanced stages of pulmonary fibrosis. It was the ailment that caused him to step down. He was soon after hospitalized and died in March 2013.
Now, his daughter alleges that the condition was caused by a drug he was prescribed in 2008 for treatment of an irregular heartbeat.

In its generic form, the drug is called amiodarone, and it's used to treat life-threatening heart rhythm problems (known as arrhythmias) in individuals who have already taken other similar forms of medication. Moore only took the medication for three months to treat his condition, but his daughter alleges this exposure to the drug caused him to develop the pulmonary fibrosis.

Her federal lawsuit, Cook v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division.

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August 6, 2015

Underage DUI Death Results in Criminal Charges, Civil Lawsuit

The teenage son of a state trooper was killed last year following a wedding reception where he allegedly consumed alcohol purchased by the underage son of the hosts, the father and mother of the bride.
Now, the hosts are facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting underage drinking, and several businesses involved in furnishing the alcohol have been named in a civil lawsuit filed by the decedent's parents.

Reports indicate the decedent's parents may also sue the hosts separately for wrongful death.

The case is a tragic example of why hosts should never be lax when it comes to teens and alcohol, even when the atmosphere of the event is jovial.

News reports indicate decedent was with his 19-year-old friend when he walked into a local liquor store and purchased a fifth of whiskey. The purpose was to share it among a small group of teen friends, who had been invited last minute to the wedding reception.

In addition to consuming this liquor, the teen reportedly drank wine served by a catering service owned by the groom.

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July 30, 2015

New Data: Traffic Fatalities in 2014 Reveal Injury Risks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released early estimates for the total number of traffic fatalities in 2014.
Statistical projections indicate 32,675 people were killed on our nation's roads last year. That is a very marginal decrease of just 0.1 percent as compared to 2013, when a total of 32,719 traffic deaths were reported.

While traffic deaths were down slightly last year, in almost every area, the numbers actually shot up by 5 percent in the last quarter. That is when 11,396 people were killed in collisions, as compared to 10,813 reported in the fourth quarter of 2013.That is the first quarterly increase in auto accident fatalities since the third quarter of 2012.

While there has been an overall trend of declining motor vehicle accident deaths in the U.S. since 2006, there have been markedly different statistics when broken down by region.

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July 21, 2015

NHTSA Fines Vehicle Manufacturers $44M for Failure to Recall, Report Danger

Two large, heavy-duty truck manufacturers are being slapped with a $44 million fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failure to timely recall defective vehicles that posed injury risk to the public.
Spartan Motors, Inc., based in Michigan, and Forest River Inc., based in Indiana, conceded they did not initiate timely recalls on defective vehicles, as required by federal law. They also did not report important information, such as Early Warning Report data and technical service bulletins.

Most of that penalty will be deferred if the firms agree to bring their respective companies into compliance with federal regulations. For example, Forest River was given a $35 million civil penalty, but $30 million can be deferred. Meanwhile, Spartan has been given a $9 million penalty, but it will only have to pay $1 million if it complies with the consent order. It will, however, have to spend $3 million bringing the company into compliance.

Forest River first grabbed the attention of federal safety officials following a church bus crash six years ago. The crash, which occurred in Louisiana, resulted in two deaths and 21 injuries.

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July 15, 2015

Beals v. Michigan - Liability for Child Drowning Weighed

With summer in full swing, many families and young children will gather around the pool. Usually, this is the stuff of memories. But tragically, absent the proper supervision, it can end in a nightmare.
The fact is, there are an average of 62 unintentional drowning deaths of children under 14 annually. In fact, drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death in Alabama (and the U.S.) after motor vehicle accidents.

Forty percent of these incidents happen in pools and 37 percent happen in open bodies of water. Nearly one-fifth happen in or around the home. Much of the time, adults either believe someone else is supervising the child or are nearby but engaged in distracting behavior, like reading or talking.

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July 7, 2015

Report: Alabama 13th Highest Nationally for Injury-Related Death

A new report indicates over the last four years, the number of injury-related deaths spiked significantly in 17 states, while remaining relatively steady in 24 states and falling slightly in nine states.
Injuries are the No. 1 cause of death for people in the U.S. between the ages of 1 and 44, resulting in nearly 195,000 fatalities annually.

While Alabama was one of those states that saw the injury rate remain relatively stable over the last four years, the state ranked 13th highest nationally for injury-related deaths.

The analysis, "The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report," was prepared by Trust for America's Health, a D.C. health policy non-profit organization.

On a national scale, the No. 1 cause of injury-related death was drug overdoses, killing on average 44,000 annually. Researchers learned over the course of nearly 15 years, the number of people who died as a result of drug overdoses doubled. Approximately 50 percent of those - or about 22,000 each year - can be attributed to prescription drug overdoses. In fact, prescription drug overdose deaths now exceed deaths caused by motor vehicles in 36 states and Washington, D.C.

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June 30, 2015

Mathis v. Huff & Puff Trucking: Proving Extent and Causation of Injuries

Large trucks pose a significant threat to drivers in Alabama and throughout the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 4,000 people were killed in 95,000 injured in accidents involving large trucks in 2013.
The majority of those people who suffered injury or death were occupants of other vehicles.

In the recent case of Mathis v. Huff & Puff Trucking, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, plaintiff was struck by a semi-tractor trailer while in a tow truck.

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June 20, 2015

Cain v. Lee - Punitive Damages Weighed in Injury Lawsuit

In an injury lawsuit, there are often two kinds of damages: Compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are those incurred by plaintiff for actual losses. These can range from medical bills and lost wages to pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment. They are not necessarily tangible, but the goal is to restore those injured to whatever extent that's possible.

Punitive damages, meanwhile, are those intended to punish defendant. It's still the plaintiff who benefits from these damages, but whether plaintiff may seek them has little to do with his or her injuries and more to do with the egregiousness of defendant's conduct. Punitive damages are often far in excess of compensatory damages, particularly if defendant is a larger entity.

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June 12, 2015

Kent v. City of Columbia Falls - Bike Path Accident Lawsuit to Proceed

In a 4-3 decision, justices of the Montana Supreme Court remanded the case of Kent v. City of Columbia Falls to trial to be decided on its merits. bikepath.jpg

At its heart, this is a premises liability case. All other defendants aside from the local city government settled with plaintiff. Now, the primary question is whether the city is liable for negligent oversight of design and development of a subdivision where this tragic accident occurred. Initially, a trial court granted city's motion for summary judgment on the public duty doctrine, which holds government entities can only be held liable for individual injuries when there was a breach of duty owed to the individual, rather than the public-at-large. It's a tough hurdle because generally, the government owes a duty to the public, rather than individuals.

A number of states now refuse to recognize the public duty doctrine, but Alabama is not among them. The Kent case shows the tide may be turning within the courts.

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