Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

June 2010 Archives

1800 Vets Possibly Exposed to HIV at VA Hospital

This week, 1,812 veterans who had dental work done at the John Cochran Division of the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, received letters warning them they may have been exposed to HIV and other infectious diseases. Patients treated at the Medical Center from February 2009, to March 2010, are being notified they could contract hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV due to dental equipment that was improperly cleaned.

Although the letter to the affected veterans states that the risk of "infection was extremely low," blood tests are being made available to them, according to a report by FOXNews. "VA leadership recognizes the seriousness of this situation and has implemented safeguards to prevent a similar situation from occurring again," the letter said.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Mitrice Richardson Case

The mother of a mentally ill woman who disappeared after being released from police custody in the Malibu/Lost Hills area near Los Angeles last September has filed a wrongful death suit against Los Angeles County and Sheriff's Department officials. Latice Sutton, mother of Mitrice Richardson, is alleging the sheriffs were negligent in releasing her daughter with no car, no phone, no purse and after she exhibited signs of being mentally unstable.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the negligence and wrongful death suit filed by Sutton says that, based upon the video surveillance tape the police allowed her to view, her daughter exhibited clear signs of disturbance. Richardson was arrested on September 16 for failing to pay her dinner bill at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu. The staff said at the time Richardson was acting "crazy."

It's a Tradition! Fireworks Laws and Safety Tips

What could be more American than the 4th of July? Parades, hamburgers, lemonade and fireworks. And injuries from fireworks resulting in lawsuits. To help us all truly celebrate the former and avoid the latter, herewith, some good old-fashioned guidelines and hints on ways to make your 4th of July funny, sunny and totally independent of injury.

Fireworks Laws:

All fifty states of our wonderful union have varying laws regarding the legal purchase and use of fireworks.

In 40 states plus the District, fireworks of at least some type are legal. In a few states, according to the delightfully named American Pyrotechnics Association, they are not legal. The states where you may not legally play with fire are: Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. States which allow only sparklers and other "novelty" items include Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Ohio and Vermont. Arizona is the only state that allows only "novelty" items.

Cop Sues Estate of Sean Bell for Leg Injuries

An officer involved in the fatal 2006 shooting of Sean Bell is suing his estate. Officer Michael Carey's suit claims he was hit in the leg by Bell's car right before Carey and other police officers fired into it multiple times, killing Bell on the morning of his wedding. Bell's fiancee has brought a wrongful death suit against Carey and the other police officers involved.

According to AoL News, an unarmed Bell and a group of friends were leaving his bachelor party on Nov. 25, 2006, when undercover officers fired more than 50 bullets at the men, wounding Bell's two friends and killing Bell. The suit brought by Michael Carey alleges that he "suffered a serious leg injury when [Bell] crashed into the vehicle he was riding in before Officer Carey ever drew his gun and fired a shot." The suit further claims Bell was not wearing glasses or contacts, something he needed to drive properly.

Kate Gosselin Botox: A Victim of Botch Tox?

Let's try to give the gal a little assistance; goodness knows she has the tabs from D.C. to Dubai criticizing her every (dance) move and outfit. It is all over the Web as of June 25, that reality star and mother of (just in case you didn't know) 8, Kate Gosselin has had Botox treatments. But clearly, since everyone is talking about them, they were bad botox treatments. Botox is usually applied to facial wrinkles to give a person a more youthful or at least "rested" look. Not a "hey she looks like Jack Nicholson" type of appearance.

Reports by US Weekly have a few cosmetic practitioners commenting that Kate's doctor did a poor job. Weighing in on "before and after" photos of the tabloid regular, Dr. Michael Olding, the chief of The George Washington University's division of plastic surgery commented, "In the "after" photo, she "has the typical appearance of Dysport or Botox poorly placed in the space between the brows where frown lines occur."

Police Car Chase Results in Death of Nun

This is the kind of story that makes you wonder about the randomness of events. A high speed getaway of two robbery suspects, with police just beginning to give chase, ended in the death of a nun, Sister Mary Celine Graham. Sister Mary Celine, 83, died of the injuries she sustained when one of the robbery suspects plowed into a Honda and ricocheted off, hitting three pedestrians, including Sister Mary Celine.

The New York Times reports the driver, who has been identified by the police as Dyson Williams, 20, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder and robbery. As a result of the Honda crash, and a second crash into a minivan as the driver's accomplice tried to avoid arrest,  experts and bystanders have been questioning police policies regarding high-speed pursuit, especially in densely populated urban areas.

Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Suit Looming

Joe Jackson is preparing to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Conrad Murray, according to The celebrity news site recently obtained a Notice of Intent to File Legal Proceedings against Murray. The document, drafted by attorney Brian Oxman alleges "Defendant Murray has given multiple and contradictory versions of the times and events which lead to Michael Jackson's death. Each contradiction demonstrates a reckless disregard for Michael Jackson's life. The changing of times, dates, and events have taken place only because defendant willfully failed to keep medical records in violation of California [law]." The document goes on to call Murray's actions "inhuman," and"an extreme violation of the standard of care."

The document makes several serious allegations including:

$15M Award in Rental Car Death Lawsuit

A jury in Alameda County, California, has awarded a verdict of $15 million dollars in a wrongful death suit against Enterprise Rent a Car. The plaintiffs were the parents of sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed when their car crossed the Highway 101 median, hit a truck and burst into flames in 2004. Their parents claimed the negligence of Enterprise, who rented a recalled car to their children, was the cause of the crash and death of the two women.

After fighting the claims for five years, in May Enterprise admitted its negligence according to a report on The two young women were returning home to Santa Cruz, Ca. in the rented car when, according to experts hired by the plaintiffs, Raechel lost control of the steering and crashed. The experts concluded that the loss of control was due to a leak in the power steering fluid. According to the report, a month before the PT Cruiser the sisters were driving was rented to them, Daimler Chrysler released safety recall notices for 435,000 PT Cruisers from 2002 through 2005. The recall was initiated because the power steering hose could leak, resulting in a fire.

Pew Survey: Who is Texting While Driving Now?

Those crazy teenagers with their loud music and their constant texting in the car. When will they behave in a responsible manner and learn that distracted driving is very, very dangerous? Maybe when they have a good example to look up to. Results from a new study by the Pew Research Center, announced June 18, say that "adults" text while driving too. In fact, just as much as teens do.

The Pew Research Center says that according to the findings of a September 2009 survey, 47 percent of all texting adults say they have sent or read a text message while driving. That compares with only 34 percent of texting teens ages 16-17, who said they had "texted while driving." That's not all, and maybe this is where they learn those bad habits. Forty-nine percent of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone.

Settlement Reached In Wrongful Death of Dubuque Girl

On Monday, June 21, a settlement in a sad lawsuit was reached in Dubuque, Iowa. The Community School District and the city of Dubuque have agreed to pay $170,000 to the family of a student who died in a traffic accident in front of Hempstead High School in September, 2007. The family of 15 year-old high school student Lauren Schmidt will receive a settlement in the wrongful death suit they filed after she was killed in front of the school in a traffic accident. 

According to the report by THonline, 15 year-old Lauren Schmidt was crossing the street in front of Hempstead High School. As she passed in front of a school bus partially pulled into the street, she was stuck by the car of fellow student Codi Regan, 16. Sixteen year-old Ryan Glaser, a friend of Schmidt's, was with her at the time and was also struck and injured.

Appeal Rejected in Hormone Replacement Drug Case

The United States Supreme Court has rejected Pfizer's appeal of a $2.7 million verdict resulting from its Prempro hormone-replacement treatment being linked to breast cancer. Pfizer requested the appeal after a lower court upheld the compensatory award of $2.7 million against its Wyeth unit, but ordered a new trial on punitive damages, which the jury had set at $27 million. Pfizer bought Wyeth last year for $68 billion.

Pfizer argued that it was wrong for the lower court to allow a retrial on a portion of the case, contending that any new trial should cover the entire matter. The U.S. Supreme Court, by denying certiorari, did not find Pfizer's case compelling.

The case Wyeth v. Scroggin was brought by Donna Scroggin, who took the Prempro hormone drug to treat menopause symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Scroggin was later diagnosed with breast cancer and filed suit against Pfizer, in light of a a 2002 study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health that showed a link between the medicine and breast cancer risk.

First Chinese Drywall Jury Verdict: $2.4M

If you have been following the path of alleged damage and destruction caused by imported Chinese drywall on thousands of homes build across the Southeast and other areas of the country, you know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued many advisories regarding the defective drywall. The CPSC has had its say, a judge in federal court in Louisiana, finding against the manufacturers of the drywall has had his say, now a jury in Florida has had its say.

According to the Associated Press, a jury has decided in favor of Florida homeowners Armin and Lisa Seifart who sued the drywall distributor Banner Supply Co. for hiding their knowledge of the defective drywall from them. The company fought in court to limit any damage award to the plaintiffs' actual costs incurred in completely rebuilding their home. However, the jury verdict awarded a total of $2.4 million in damages, an amount meant to also cover the loss of enjoyment of the Seifarts' $1.6 million house and for the stigma that might now reduce its resale value.

Uh O's: What if A Recalled Food Makes You Sick?

As discussed in a post on FindLaw's Common Law blog, the FSIS and the Campbell Soup company announced a recall today of quite literally a ton of Spaghetti Os. Unfortunately for lovers of kid's comfort food everywhere, 15,000,000 pounds of the canned noodle and meat meals were recalled due to possible underprocessing.

According to a report from Reuters, the possibly underprocessed meat could reach consumers and cause illness. Campbell Spokesman Anthony Sanzio admitted that consumers who ate any underprocessed meatballs could experience the not too comforting symptoms of nausea or vomiting and possible other gastrointestinal issues. Happily up to this point, no one has been sickened due to the recalled noodles. But, in this time of constant salmonella outbreaks and e. coli related recalls, it is reasonable to ask: If a Spaghetti Os consumer were to fall ill thanks to that product, who would be responsible?

Child Killed in DUI Crash; Chicago Heights Police Sued

Why would the Chicago police allegedly hand the keys to a man high on marijuana and intoxicated at three times the legal limit of alcohol, with a child in the back seat? And why would the man accept the keys and drive away?

It is a puzzling, tragic case that has left far more questions than answers. Forty-five minutes after Cecil Conner, 22, drove away from police, he reportedly hit several trees and Michael Langford Jr., a 5 year old child, was killed. Conner was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated. The case has sparked outrage and lawsuits against the police.

BP Oil Spill Equals 4-8 times Exxon Valdez

It wouldn't be a BP update if it wasn't bad news. 

New estimates suggest that the BP oil spill is leaking 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons a day into Gulf, equivalent to having an Exxon Valdez disaster every 4-7 days. We're now going on 8 weeks, which means that without accounting for whatever BP has been able to siphon, we're looking at between 4 and 8 Exxon Valdez spills. And the leak is ongoing. 

BP is working on its oil spill plan, attempting to siphon more of the oil from the sea floor.  A cap in place can catch up to 18,000 barrels of oil per day and adding a second containment option could catch up to a total of 20,000-28,000 barrels per day. 

Brooke Hundley Sues ESPN for Defamation

Brooke Hundley, a former ESPN production assistant, is suing ESPN for defamation after the sports network fired her following her sexual harassment lawsuit against broadcaster Steve Phillips. She alleges that as a result of ESPN's actions, she lost her job, lost future job opportunities, has faced public harassment, embarrassment and damage to her reputation. She is seeking at least $15,000 in damages. 

Phillips admitted to the affair with Hundley, but had denied Hundley's accusations. Hundley confronted Phillips' wife with the news of the affair. She says the confrontation was only made so Phillips would stop his sexual advances. Both Hundley and Phillips were fired by ESPN. 

DOJ Criminal Investigation Could Stall BP Lawsuits

The BP oil spill has prompted a number of lawsuits against the company. However, those lawsuits are now in jeopardy of facing a legal limbo as a Department of Justice probe could temporarily bring the lawsuits to a halt. The U.S. Justice Department opened the investigation to determine whether there has been any criminal wrongdoing. 

Once the government begins a criminal investigation, the companies involved in the lawsuits will have a legally valid reason to stop cooperating in the civil suits. Anything they offer could be used against them in a criminal trial. Individuals can simply "take the fifth" and refuse to answer questions.  

BP Oil Spill: Justice Dept. Weighs Criminal Charges

Attorney General Eric Holder is considering possible criminal charges in the BP oil spill. Holder stated that he plans to "prosecute to the fullest extent of the law" anyone who has broken a law in connection with the spill. At the moment, it does not appear that any charges have been filed or subpoenas issued. 

Judges Recused Themselves From BP Oil Spill Lawsuits

Half of the active federal judges in New Orleans have recused themselves from BP oil spill lawsuits, due to a conflict of interest. In addition, judges are recusing themselves in Alabama. The lawsuits, filed by business and property owners, seek billions of dollars in damages to compensate for the massive oil spill. 

States File Brief over Military Funeral Protests

Several states are backing Albert Snyder, who sued anti-gay protesters over their demonstration at the 2006 military funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, a Marine killed in Iraq.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have submitted a brief to the Supreme Court to show their support for Albert Synder, the Associated Press reports.

Ginger McGuire Sues United For False Imprisonment

What do you call it when you fall asleep on a plane and no one wakes you up after it lands?

Ginger McGuire calls it false imprisonment. On behalf of McGuire, attorney Geoffrey Fieger is suing United Airlines for false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and negligence. Fieger is well known as a legal commentator and former attorney for Jack Kevorkian.