Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

Recently in Injury & Tort Law Category

There's no doubt our smartphones can be distracting. There's no doubt that distracted driving is dangerous, even deadly. And there's no doubt smartphones, or at least some alerts, could be disabled while we're driving. So does not automatically disabling distracting smartphone functions while we're driving mean that smartphone manufacturers are liable for distracted driving accidents?

Not according to a California Superior Court in Santa Clara, California. The father of a man killed by an 18 year old who was texting and driving, sued Apple, claiming the company knew the dangers of texting and driving, possessed a "lock-out mechanism" capable of disabling functions like texting while someone is driving, and failed to provide the feature for users. But the court dismissed the lawsuit, saying Apple's role in the accident was far too attenuated" to be legally responsible for the death.

Shakespeare was wrong. A rose by any other name might still smell as sweet, unless that name is pink slime. Then, there's a good chance consumers would never know what it smells like because no one smells pink slime.

Do you remember the news reports about "pink slime" that made the local news circuit back in 2012? How could anyone forget right? Finding out that over half the nation's ground beef contained pink slime was eye opening. But the phrase pink slime didn't win any friends over at Beef Products Inc. who were the ones skewered by the report. Instead, it led to the company hiring some lawyers, filing suit, and winning a sizable settlement from Disney and ABC news.

When Rolling Stone published their story, "A Rape on Campus," in November 2014, about an alleged ritualistic rape in a fraternity on the University of Virginia's campus, the series of events that unfolded landed the rock n' roll magazine in seriously costly legal trouble. Nearly three years later, the last chapter in their legal saga may finally be closing as they've agreed to pay the fraternity named in the story $1.65 million. Notably, a lawsuit filed by the individual members of the lawsuit was dismissed.

Last year, a jury awarded a $3 million verdict in the defamation lawsuit filed by the then dean, Nicole Eramo, against Rolling Stone. Eramo alleged that the magazine portrayed her as callous and uncaring when it came to the alleged sexual assault victim at the center of the story. The case actually settled this year for a confidential amount while the verdict was being appealed by Rolling Stone.

United Airlines has settled the legal case against it being brought by Dr. David Dao, the UA passenger who was forcibly removed from his seat by law enforcement, on April 9 of this year, when he refused to get bumped from a flight. Dr. Dao allegedly suffered a concussion, a dental injury, and other injuries, as a result of the incident which went viral causing a PR nightmare for UA.

While the settlement is for an undisclosed amount, most commentators agree that the amount must have been enormous to achieve a resolution this quickly. The level of public vitriol over this incident was enormous. While United Airlines initially attempted to stand by the actions of their crew and law enforcement, after the massive public backlash, the company reversed their position.

The company that promised it could, but then couldn't, Theranos has agreed to pay out over $4.5 million to settle the Arizona class action case against it. The settlement resolves the consumer protection and fraud claims against the blood testing company brought by Arizona.

The settlement will provide each individual who used Theranos in Arizona between 2013-2016 with a full refund. With 175,000 class members, the average breaks down to around $25 per person. In addition to the monetary relief for consumers, a $25,000 attorney fee award was secured, as well as an agreement for Theranos to cease operation in Arizona for two years.

A federal district court in the state of Kentucky ruled last Friday that a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, and other individuals, can proceed. The defendants sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but were only successful in each having one claim dismissed, despite each being sued under multiple claims.

The lawsuit stems from a March 2016 campaign rally where three protesters were forcibly removed from the audience after Trump stated: "Get 'em out of here." The lawsuit requests damages for injuries stemming from the removal, as well as punitive damages.

A federal court judge has approved the $25 million class action settlement against Trump University. The case stemmed from allegations of fraud and misrepresentation, in essence claiming that Trump University provided no value to students, and worse, simply took advantage of students. The settlement actually resolves three separate cases against Trump University that all stem from similar allegations.

Although neither President Donald Trump, nor the Trump University, will be required to admit fault, a $25 million settlement says quite a bit about who was in the wrong, particularly given that the facts were heavily one sided against Trump University. The settlement was approved by the same Indiana-born judge whom President Trump accused of being biased against him for wanting to build the border wall due to the judge's heritage.

In 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against Neiman Marcus as a result of a data breach in 2013 that exposed the personal data of approximately 350,000 shoppers. The data breach was the result of a hack, and caused the retailer much bad press at the time it was discovered as customers complained about fraudulent charges.

However, recently, the parties have reached a tentative settlement agreement that calls for the retailer to set up a $700,000 claims fund that class members would be able to seek payment from. If a customer can show that they shopped at Neiman, Bergdorf Goodman, Last Call, or Cusp, between July and October 2013, and that their information was part of the breach, they may be entitled to receive $100. Meanwhile, the attorneys are expected to receive approximately $900,000 in fees and costs. Despite the disparity in attorneys' fees and the class recovery, the parties expect the court to approve the settlement.

Remington, the gun maker, has finally settled the massive class action brought against it by gun owners over the defective, extra hair-trigger on certain models. Despite the fact that as part of the settlement Remington has agreed to replace the defective triggers in nearly 7.5 million guns, they refuse to actually admit there is a defect. Remind you of anyone?

Remington's refusal to accept fault, despite agreeing to replace the part plaintiffs claimed was defective, isn't even the most shocking part. As the judge noted, the settlement resolves a potential $500 million of liability for just $3 million. Furthermore, there is a serious problem in logic with the settlement terms due to a recall being issued while the company steadfastly maintains that there is no problem with the triggers that are the subject of the recall (and that have been shown to go off due to a speck of dust).

An ongoing tobacco industry case that had fallen out of the headlines has been making news recently. The Robbins v. RJ Reynolds case may finally get the retrial Reynolds was asking for back in 2014, when the jury awarded over $23 billion to the widow of a deceased smoker and cancer victim.

The Florida court of appeals found that the plaintiff's attorney, in the 2014 trial, crossed the line when he attacked Reynolds in the courtroom by attacking the tobacco industry's character. Essentially, the court reasoned that because these specific types of tobacco cases were part of an earlier class action, there are specific rules that prohibit a plaintiff's attorney from disparaging the tobacco industry.