Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

November 2009 Archives

Lawsuit Filed Over Seattle Bike Rickshaw Crash Fatality

Komo News reports that a lawsuit filed over a bike rickshaw crash fatality in Seattle was filed by the family of Peter Dzioba. The lawsuit filed claims that the bike rickshaw (or pedicab) company failed to inspect the brakes on the rickshaw vehicle which failed and caused the rickshaw to run through a red light. When the rickshaw ran though the red light, it crashed into a minivan.

This collision lead to the crash fatality. Peter Dzioba died from the crash. He was thrown from the vehicle and rolled underneath the minivan. His wife Mary Dzioba and the driver were also injured from the impact.

The company that operated the bike rickshaw in question is Cascadia Cabs. The owner of the company responded by saying that the brakes were working properly and that the driver should have never used the vehicle on such a steep hill.

School Bus Accident In Kings School District Raises Questions

A school bus accident between two buses in the Kings School District in Ohio raises questions on school safety. The Dayton Daily News reports that one school bus rear ended another school bus when the bus accident occurred on Nov. 24.

There were four buses with middle school children who were on their way to an orientation at the Waren County Career Center. The bus accident in Warren County sent 17 students to three different hospitals in the area. The students complained of neck and shoulder pain due to the whiplash.

The accident raises some questions on school safety.

Record Settlement Compensation for Motorcycle Crash in IL

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a motorcycle crash in Joliet, IL yielded record settlement compensation of $6 million dollars.

Mr. Richard Wright and his 15 year old daughter Kelly Wright were side struck by a man driving a Chevrolet truck while riding a motorcycle in Joliet. The truck driver John Martis was attempting to turn left at a stop sign in the suburban neighborhood when he hit the motorcycle with his truck.

Both Mr. Wright and his daughter Kelly suffered from various injuries due to the accident. Mr. Wright suffered a fractured wrist and ankle, while his daughter Kelly Wright suffered from a severely broken left ankle and a severe right tibia fracture. These injuries have required surgeries.

Lawsuit Over Hormone Drug Forces Wyeth and Pfizer to Pay

A lawsuit over the hormone drug Prempro manufactured by Wyeth and Pfizer has resulted in a $100 million dollar punitive damages award. Another lawsuit over the same hormone drug also resulted in punitive damages. Both lawsuits were decided in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that there are currently 1,500 of 10,000 similar cases that are pending litigation in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Pfizer spokesperson Chris Loder as saying: "The company believes that neither the awards of punitive damages nor the liability verdicts were supported by the evidence or the law. The company stands by its belief that its subsidiaries acted responsibly."

Car Accidents in Joe Biden's Motorcade Raise Questions

Recent news about a rash of car accidents involving Vice President Joseph Biden's motorcade raises some questions about traffic safety.

Edmunds Inside Line detailed how Vice President Joseph Biden's motorcade had yet another car crash. The car accidents in the VP's motorcade all occurred in the span of a week and a half.

KBR Rape Case Settled for $3 Million after Arbitration Award

AP reports that a woman who claims that she was raped back in 2005 while she was working for the company KBR Inc. (which was a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. at the time) settled her case for nearly $3 million dollars this week after winning an arbitration award over the alleged rape.

The woman claimed that she was raped by a State Department employee while she was working for KBR Inc. as a civilian contractor in the city of Basra in Iraq. She filed the lawsuit against KBR Inc., Halliburton, and several other affiliates.

The lawsuit details how the employee, Ms. Tracy Barker had to live in mostly male barracks. While she resided in these barracks, she allegedly endured sexually explicit comments, verbal abuse, and threats of physical abuse. When she tried to complain to KBR Inc., she claims that they punished her by transferring her to Basra. She was allegedly raped by a State Dept. employee. Ms. Barker also has a lawsuit pending against the employee. It was settled in federal court last week.

'Heidi Klum' of Foot Models Sues NY Co-Op For $10 Million

It seems like beauty has a beast of a problem with her co-op! A foot model is suing her co-op for mistreatment. Hand and foot model Christina Ambers fell in love with the doorman in her building after being unlucky in love only to have her neighbors try to force her out of the building. Her response? She is suing the co-op for $10 million dollars.

Foot model Christina Ambers actually married that doorman even after he was told by the co-op's super to not date the foot model. Mr. Angel Rotger said that he was fired shortly after it was discovered that he and Ms. Ambers were involved romantically. They are now suing the co-op as a result.

In fact, NY Daily News reports that Christina Ambers' lawsuit against the coop alleges that her husband was socked in the groin by the super's wife. Ms. Ambers told NY Daily News: "He made his way to the hospital and was diagnosed with a contusion. Can you imagine how hard she must have hit him to have caused a contusion?" Well we are guessing it must have been a pretty hard hit to handle. It's not every day a man suffers from a testicular contusion. Perhaps it was over the fact that Mr. Rotger left his wife for the pretty "Heidi Klum" of hand and feet models?

$300 Million Trial Verdict Leaves Philip Morris Smoking Mad

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Bloomberg  reports that Philip Morris USA must pay $300 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages to former smoker Lucinda Naugle. The woman brought the lawsuit against the tobacco company because she claims that the company committed fraud against her.

Her lawyers argued that the tobacco company knew about the fact that smoking cigarettes was addictive and harmful to a smoker's health, but they hid that information.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Ms. Naugle took up smoking Benson and Hedges when she was twenty years old back in 1968 because she thought it made her look older and more sophisticated. Benson and Hedges is a brand of cigarettes sold by Philip Morris. Ms. Naugle quit 25 years later at the age of forty five, but it was too late.

Minnesota Bus Crash Kills 2 after Driver's Aneurysm

The cause of a fatal Minnesota bus crash may be due to the fact that the bus driver suffered from an aneurysm bursting in his chest while he was driving.

The AP reports that the crash occurred on the Strain Bus Line which was operating a tour bus to an Iowa casino.

The bus driver, Ed Erickson was driving the bus on a clear Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 90 near Austin, Minn. when he lost consciousness due to the chest aneurysm before the crash occurred. The bus actually crossed over the median dividing the highway from the eastbound lane it was traveling in. The bus made it all the way into westbound lanes before it ended up in a ditch.

A video that details the crash can be viewed here:

DOT's 2009 Bus Safety Action Plan Urges Seat Belts

The United States Dept. of Transportation has released its Motorcoach Safety Action Plan last Monday. This comes at the heels of an investigation into a fatal crash in Texas and another crash this week in Minnesota. The fatal bus crash in Texas occurred in the summer of 2008 because of a tire puncture. We covered both crashes on the Injured blog here and here.

Many would be surprised to know that currently, buses are not required to have seat belts installed.

The bus safety action plan proposes the installation of seat belts on all buses. This is important because DOT's 2009 action plan outlines how data shows that passengers being ejected from their seats due to a rollover crash causes the greatest number of deaths: "[D]ata indicates that ejection due to a rollover crash causes the highest percentage of motorcoach passenger fatalities. NHTSA determined that installing seat belts would be the most direct method of retaining passengers within the seating compartment and preventing ejection."

The action plan put forth by the DOT strives to prevent fatalities like this from happening. The DOT expects that this action plan will result in a reduction in the number of bus crashes as well as a reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries.

Driver Texting about Drug Deal Injures Cyclist

Bicyclist Lisa Granert was wearing a reflective vest and a helmet while she was riding her bike along Route 70 in New Jersey but it was of little help when she got struck by a car operated by a man distracted because he was texting.  reports that Robert Sharrer told police that he was texting while he was driving. The worst part? It was a text about a drug deal. While he texting about the drug deal, his car drifted to the shoulder and struck Ms. Granert.

He was allegedly texting about the sale of prescription drugs that he was in possession of at the time of the crash. The unauthorized prescription drugs were found in the car. As a result, Mr. Sharrer has been charged with possession with an intent to distribute.

Molestation Suits vs the Mormon Church, Boy Scouts

Portland Oregon attorney, Kelly Clark, filed suits in Washington, Oregon and California on Monday, charging the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America with liability for the molestation of his clients when they were children.  The cases, against both organizations in San Francisco and Seattle and against the Church alone in Portland, all concern allegations of molestation that took place in the 1970's and '80's. Clark has a long standing practice specializing in representing victims of abuse.

School Hit With a Lawsuit over Dodgeball Game Injury

A Bronx school was hit with a lawsuit because a 12 year old was injured during a school dodgeball game while he was sitting on the sidelines.

According to the New York Daily News, 12 year old Shane Reese of the Bronx was hit in the face with a soccer ball and suffered a mouth injury during a game of dodgeball at public school IS 219. The City of New York has offered Reese $20,000 in order to settle the lawsuit.

His lawyer Mark Weinberger is quoted by the New York Daily News  as saying: "Soccer balls were flying all over the place. There was an issue of lack of supervision." According to the lawsuit, gym teachers gathered over a 100 students into a gymnasium and gave them soccer balls to play dodgeball with instead of the more gentle red dodgeballs that are typically used in the schoolyard activity. Soccer balls are typically harder and hurt more when an individual is hit with it.

Officer Shooting of AZ Man Results in $20 Million Lawsuit

The family of an Arizona man who was shot by police while he was holding his baby daughter has filed a lawsuit against the city of Scottsdale. The lawsuit is for $40 million dollars.

According to The Examiner, the scuffle between Scottsdale police and Mr. David Hulstedt occurred on November 7, 2008. The police department received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as David Hulstedt. He told the dispatcher who received his call that there was a crisis. When the dispatcher heard a baby crying in the background, she asked if Mr. Hulstedt was hurting the child.

Mr. Hulstedt responded to her query with: "I'm not going to tell you. I want you to send her to my house. I want to meet with her. I'm done talking here." Mr. Hulstedt was talking about his desire to meet with Arizona's governor Janet Napolitano. He wanted the governor to come to his house. No one knows why he was upset or wanted to the governor to come to his house. He hung up the phone on the dispatcher.

When the dispatcher called back, the man's mother told the dispatcher that her son was "mentally distressed".

Can You Sue for Getting an STD?

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. The AP reports that chlamydia has hit a new record in 2008 with 1.2 million new cases of the disease. The sexually spread disease is often symptomless, but one of its devastating effects is that it renders women infertile. It was the most STD cases ever reported to date for the disease.

Other STD cases have been on the rise too. Approximately 13,500 cases of syphilis have been reported in 2008. It was on the verge of being an extinct disease in the United States ten years ago. This means that there is a surge in new cases for this particular STD. Syphilis can be fatal.

The other two STDs that have seen a steady rise are HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and herpes. The STD cases for both of those reach in the millions. There is currently no cure for herpes.

If there are so many new cases of these STDs, it seems like there will soon be a rise in lawsuits about STD transmissions.

Fighting Kite Fights: Boy's Family Sues NYC

Jared Kopeloff of Flushing, Queens was just minding his business while skateboarding when he was slashed in the throat by a stray kite wire that was encrusted with glass shards.

The kite wire is used in a sport made popular by the book The Kite Runner. It is a South Asian sport that is particularly popular in the Afghani community in Flushing and is commonly played in Flushing Meadow Park. It uses strings encrusted with shards of glass in order to cut opponents' kites in what is known as "kite fighting." The fighting kite that gets cut falls from the sky until there is only one fighting kite left. That kite flier is declared the winner of the kite fight.

Travis Barker DJ AM Lawsuit Now Claims Wrongful Death

The lawsuit that Travis Barker and DJ AM (also known as Adam Goldstein) filed against Learjet for the crash that they suffered injuries from September 2008 was amended to include a claim of wrongful death by the late DJ AM's mother Andrea Gross.

The lawsuit now claims that DJ AM's death from an accidental drug overdose was directly related to the Learjet crash he and Travis Barker were in. According to Rolling Stone, DJ AM's family claims that the medication that DJ AM took during his hospital stay as well as the mental toll the crash took on him were the reasons that DJ AM resumed his drug use after ten years of sobriety.

Did Doc Inseminate Patient with Own Sperm? Suit Settles

A racially mixed couple from Connecticut are shocked because they recently found out that a complete stranger is the biological father of their twin girls. Now before this turns into a Maury Povich show special questioning the wife's fidelity, it seems like the father could be the fertility doctor that the couple went to for artificial insemination.

In a lawsuit filed back in 2005, the couple argued that Dr. Ben Ramaley used his own sperm to artificially inseminate the woman. The lawsuit was settled this week.

CBS News reports that the case was settled for an undisclosed amount of money and a confidentiality agreement was signed. As a result, the family and the doctor refuse to comment on the case. The question of the twin girls' paternity still hangs in the air.  

For Blind Gamer, Lawsuit Against Sony Is Clear

The Examiner reports that Sony is facing a lawsuit from a blind gamer named Alexander Stern in California. Mr. Stern contends that even after repeated requests he made to Sony via email to revise their games to make them more accessible, the company did not revise their games. For blind gamers, this is a big deal.

The gamer sued under Title III of the ADA and under California civil rights law.

ADA Title III requires that all public accommodations and facilities from commercial and non-profit entities be accessible to disabled Americans.

While the law historically applies to physical accommodations, Stern alleges them broad enough to include the virtual world as well. While his complaint makes referrence to the brick and mortar Sony stores that sell Sony's games, his primary argument is that the gaves themselves are goods, services, privileges, advantages or accomodations of the stores, thus bringing them under Title III of the ADA.

That's Hot! The Lawsuit Against Hot Food Survives

Dunkin' Donuts cannot be pleased about a recent complaint with shades of the famous McDonald's lawsuit. Surely everyone remembers the 1994 case against McDonald's, Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants. Woman spills coffee. Coffee is hot. Woman suffers 3rd degree burns and is awarded $2.86 million in court.

Is the Carrie Prejean Sex Tape Child Pornography?

We all know that Carrie Prejean was involved in making a sex tape that proved the undoing of her legal battle with the Miss California USA Pageant. What we don't know is what implications that this may hold for the former Miss California USA, her ex boyfriend, the pageant and anyone else who distributed or showed the video. There may be something more than just a simple violation of privacy. The tape could actually be criminal.

Since Carrie Prejean was only 17 years old during the filming of this video, it could strictly be understood as child pornography. This likely explains why the Prejean sex tape itself has not been more widely disseminated on the internet, as websites could take on huge liability forp putting up child pornography.

Prejean shot the video by herself and then she sent it to her boyfriend at the time.  

According to the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, the video that Carrie Prejean shot could be viewed as "use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" which is against federal law. Anyone who produces material that uses the sexual exploitation of minors violates strict child pornography law. Specifically, this law falls under 18 USC 2251. Anyone guilty of this crime is subject to a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence.

Toyota Lawsuit Over Sudden Acceleration Picks Up Speed

A class action lawsuit was filed by CA residents Seong Bae Choi and Chris Chan Park on Nov. 5, 2009 against the popular car maker Toyota.

The plaintiffs claim that sudden acceleration is a problem that is present in many makes and models. This particular problem has caused countless unintended accidents and crashes. They also contend that in spite of Toyota's knowledge of the problem, that Toyota has failed to address the safety issue.

According to Bloomberg, there have been over 2,000 complaints about sudden acceleration. The lawsuit also contends that the sudden acceleration has been the cause of 16 deaths and over 200 injuries.

Christopher Bizilj Uzi Death Triggers Wrongful Death Suit

The family of 8 year old Christopher Bizilj (who died because of a Micro Uzi machine gun accidentally discharging during a Westfield Connecticut gun fair last year) filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit is for $4 million dollars.

A newsclip of the story can be seen here:


KBR, Halliburton Sued Over Burn Pits

There are currently 16 lawsuits pending against American military contractors KBR and Halliburton, claiming that they poisoned scores of American troops by burning everything from human corpses to asbestos in huge open air burn pits.

These lawsuits also include a Turkish company called ERKA. However, this post will focus on the American parties named in these suits.

KBR was Halliburton's subsidiary until 2007. They are now two separate corporate entities.

The lawsuits center around large open air fire pits that allegedly compromised the health of American soldiers and private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lawsuits claim that these open air pits emitted extremely hazardous fumes. The suits claim that the companies burned a range of hazardous materials in these pits such as human corpses, animal carcasses, and asbestos.

Yaz Lawsuits Spell More Legal Trouble for Bayer

More and more women are filing lawsuits against drug company giant Bayer Corporation because of side effects caused by their contraceptive Yaz and Yasmin (precursor to Yaz).

According to attorneys who have sued Bayer, the birth control pill has been associated with severe side effects such as heart attacks, blood clots and strokes.

Most lawsuits have centered on Bayer's negligent and fraudulent marketing. The lawsuits claim that Bayer has fraudulently represented that Yaz has been tested and was found to be safe. The lawsuits also detail how Bayer concealed the very dangerous side effects of the medication during its commercial.

Punishment for Pilots? NWA Pilots Fight FAA Decision

The two pilots on Northwest Flight 188 who flew past their destination more than 100 miles are fighting the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) decision to revoke their licenses.

The incident occurred on October 21. The pilots claimed that they were so engrossed with their laptops looking at Northwest Airline's new scheduling policy, that they lost track of time. We outlined their behavior as well as other instances of pilot negligence in our previous post in Injured here.

The distracted pilots had their licenses revoked shortly thereafter. According to CNN, both pilots filed appeals against the FAA's decision.

Utah Refinery Explosion Ignites Safety Questions

Silver Eagle Refinery in Woods Cross, Utah had a severe explosion that caused damage to ten homes in the area. The refinery is located five miles north of Salt Lake City.

This is the refinery's second explosion this year. The first occurred in January of this year. In that explosion, a fire had burned for 11 hours straight.

The AP reports that this current blast started in a vessel called a diesel hydrotreater which removes sulfur compounds from diesel fuel.

According to AP, federal records show that Woods Cross refinery had fires in 2003, 2005 and 2007, in addition to the two explosions this year.

Refinery Explosion Aftermath: OSHA Fines BP $87 Million

According to CBS, the multinational oil company BP has been hit hard with a fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That fine is worth $87 million dollars.

What would cause OSHA to levy such a hefty fine? This fine comes after a six month inspection by OSHA revealed that the oil giant failed to repair hazards that were found at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas back in 2005. There were hundreds of violations stemming from those hazards.

BP failed to correct the hazards despite an explosion that occurred in 2005 at the same BP refinery in Texas City, killing 15 people.

Carrie Prejean Sex Tape Leads to Settlement

As we wrote about earlier here on Injured, former beauty queen Carrie Prejean was sued by the Miss California USA Pageant over her breast implants.

The pageant demanded that Ms. Prejean pay back the $5,200 that it gave her in order to pay for the procedure.

The spat over breast implants came after the beauty queen's initial suit against the pageant, in which Prejean claimed that she was fired from her post out of religious discrimination.

Prejean also claimed that the Miss California USA Pageant violated her medical privacy by informing reporters of her procedure.

Now, everybody's agreed to drop all claims.

According to CNN: "The legal battle between Miss California USA pageant officials and former beauty queen Carrie Prejean ended Tuesday with an agreement to drop their claims, according to a pageant spokesman."

The whole tussle started over Carrie Prejean's controversial answer about same-sex marriage during the Miss USA beauty pageant.

Commuter Train Fire May Fan Flames of Philly Transit Strike

The AP reported that a packed commuter train for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority caught fire in Philadelphia today.

The train was crowded more than usual because there was a city wide transit strike in progress.

Official said there are no injuries reported but the fire added to the chaos caused by the Philadelphia transit strike.

Here is a news clip of the incident:

Robber Can Sue Store that He Robbed

It seems that tort law is on your side even when you are on the wrong side of the law. A robber wants to sue the store he robbed from.

AP reports that a "Michigan judge says a man who claims he was chased, shot and beaten by workers at a store he'd just robbed can sue the men. But only if he comes up with $10,000 within two weeks."

The robber, Scott T. Zielinski, is serving out an eight year sentence after being convicted of unarmed robbery for the November 2007 heist at Nick's Party Stop in Clinton Township which is located in Michigan.

He claims that he was chased, shot twice and beaten to a bloody pulp by three employees after he robbed the store.

MySpace Photos Scandal Spurs Lawsuit against School

In yet another instance of digital drama, we have a lawsuit based on things posted on the internet, pitting school discipline against students' rights of expresion.

Wired Magazine reports that two teenage girls from Indiana have sued their school district after they were punished for posting provocative photos of themselves on their MySpace pages. The girls claim that the district violated their First Amendment rights and should not have punished them for activities done outside of school.

You can check out the news report here:

Texas Bus Crash Caused By Tire Puncture

A tire puncture was found to be the cause of a deadly crash in Sherman, TX in August of 2008. The bus was heading to Carthage, MO from Houston, TX. The passengers were planning on attending a Catholic festival.

The tire on the bus blew out just as it was approaching a curve on a bridge. This caused the bus to go over the railing and fall off the bridge into a creek.

According to the Washington Post: "On Tuesday, NTSB investigators said a slow leak left the bus's tires severely underinflated, causing the blowout."

A probe by the National Transportation Safety Board discovered that a retreaded tire on the vehicle's right front axle had failed.

Sweat Lodge Lawsuit Makes Guru Break Into Sweat

According to the AP, the first two of what will surely be a rash of lawsuits over a sweat lodge ceremony gone bad has been filed this past Friday.

Three people died during a sweat lodge ceremony lead by the infamous spiritual guru James Arthur Ray. Another 20 individuals suffered from a range of physical problems such as breathing difficulties and vomiting.

Ray and his employees allegedly stood by the door of the sweat lodge enclosure and denied participants from exiting the lodge when they felt sick.

"Hold Your Wee For a Wii" Death Brings Big Verdict

A California jury came back with a huge verdict for the family of a 28 year old woman who died as a result of a radio contest gone bad.

According to the AP, Jennifer Strange, a mother of three children, died of acute water intoxication. She died because of her participation in a radio contest called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii."

The contest, which was held in January 2007, was to see which contestant could drink the most water without going to the bathroom.

Carrie Prejean Sued Over Breast Implants

The former Miss California USA may have to repay $5,200 that she borrowed for her breast implants.

State pageant officials for the state of California say that they loaned the money to Ms. Prejean for the medical procedure in order to be more competitive for the Miss USA pageant.

The repayment demand came in response to a lawsuit filed by Ms. Prejean where she claims that pageant officials violated her  medical privacy by leaking to reporters that her breasts were augmented and that they paid for it.