Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A new study of medication errors and adverse drug consequences during surgery at one of the country’s top hospitals has revealed a startling statistic: There was an issue in almost 50 percent of all surgeries. That included minor procedures to to serious open-heart operations. operation

The study, published in the medical journal Anesthesiology, was recently presented to the American Association of Anesthesiologists, where doctors indicated to the study authors that the problem isn’t isolated to this one renowned facility. In fact, it’s a major point of concern at hospitals and surgical centers throughout the country.

The error rate calculated by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital – 124 out of 277 – was far higher than previously reported. In these cases, one-third resulted in harm or injury to the patient. Three of those incidents were life-threatening. Two of those were caught by the staff in the operating room, while a third was caught by researchers. No one died as a result of these errors, but the message seems quite clear: They likely could and probably do in procedures across the country. There just isn’t a team of researchers standing by to watch. Continue reading

It’s not always the pilot of an aircraft would have grounds to sue passengers for a fatal crash landing. However, in the case of Krinitt v. Dept of Fish and Game, the mother of a pilot killed in a helicopter accident is suing the state government agency that contracted with the pilot’s employer for a job.
Plaintiff, as executrix of pilot’s estate, alleges defendant government agency’s employees were negligent, and their actions were the cause of the crash. The case was recently before the Idaho Supreme Court, which reversed an earlier grant of summary judgment favoring the defense.

The high court determined lower court erred in its summary judgment decision because the facts are to be liberally construed in favor of the non-moving party, with all reasonable inferences taken from the record to be drawn in their favor. Because it was the defense filing for summary judgment, the facts were to be considered in the light most favorable to plaintiff. That didn’t happen here. The reversal means plaintiff may now proceed to trial with her case.

According to court records, the helicopter crash happened in 2010, resulting in the death of the pilot, and ultimately both passengers, who worked for the state Department of Fish and Game.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

It is well-established under Alabama’s workers’ compensation law that the exclusive remedy workers have to pursue action against their employer is worker’s compensation. That means employees in most cases can’t sue their company for on-the-job injuries.
However, workers can pursue legal action against third parties who may be responsible for injuries arising from employment.

Such was the case in Lemley v. Wilson, wherein a city-employed worker was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic. He later died of his injuries. The worker’s father pursued legal action against the driver who struck him.

The case went to trial, and jurors sided with defendant. However, trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. Defendant appealed, and the issue of the new trial was heard by the Alabama Supreme Court, which reversed and remanded. The high court ruled there was ample evidence to support jury’s findings, even if there was also ample evidence to support plaintiff’s assertions.
Continue reading

In the spring of 2005, a man who was heavily intoxicated barreled down U.S. Highway 278 shortly before Midnight in Double Springs. He slammed into another vehicle head-on, and the other driver was killed. The drunk driver was severely injured, suffering traumatic brain injury.
A year later, he was indicted by a grand jury on vehicular homicide for causing the death with criminal negligence by committing three traffic violations – driving drunk, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road. However, before trial, defendant was deemed not competent to stand trial, and the criminal trial judge dismissed the charges with prejudice, meaning they couldn’t be refiled. The state didn’t appeal this order.

But then six years later, the state moved to indict again on these same charges, in spite of that order, on grounds defendant’s condition had improved. Recently, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the charges based on the new indictment, finding prosecutors never sought modification of that “with prejudice” order, and therefore had not covered all their procedural bases.
Continue reading

The case of Herland v. Izatt began when an intoxicated party guest picked up a loaded gun belonging to the host and accidentally shot herself in the head. firearm.jpg

Although the host/gunowner was not the subject of criminal charges for the horrific accident, the woman’s family filed civil negligence action, alleging general negligence, premises liability and negligent entrustment.

While the trial court in the case granted summary judgment to defendant, finding he owed no duty of care to his guest, the Utah Supreme Court reversed. Specifically, the high court ruled that gun owners do have a duty to exercise reasonable care in supplying a firearm to an intoxicated individual.
Continue reading

When a loved one is killed as a result of someone else’s negligence or criminal act, a civil wrongful death case can focus at least partially on whether or how much decedent suffered prior to death.
This is often an especially painful and difficult element to address because no one wants to think about those last moments in which someone for whom they cared experienced deep distress, severe pain or great fear. Still, it may be necessary to address because courts allow for greater compensation when a person was aware and suffered greatly before death, as opposed to if the person died suddenly or had no awareness.

This has become an issue in a recent hit-and-run DUI wrongful death case in New York, where the family of an 18-year-old pizzeria worker is suing a doctor alleged to be responsible for her death. In Rice v Corasanti, the question of the victim’s pre-death pain and suffering has become central, and, unfortunately, hinges on a witness who has been inconsistent with her testimony.
Continue reading

The trauma of losing a loved one as a result of negligence can be compounded when there is a dispute regarding who may be named personal representative of decedent’s estate.
The question is a crucial one because while multiple people may be dependents or have standing to collect on a wrongful death claim, only one person can file claim – and that’s the personal representative. This person must be named to this position before litigation can proceed.

Even then, it is not completely out of the ordinary for disputes to occur, as the recent case of Grant v. Wiley Sanders Trucking Lines, Inc., before the Alabama Supreme Court, reveals.
Continue reading