Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

July 2010 Archives

Court OKs Fetus Wrongful Death Car Crash Suit

In what looks to become a slippery slope, a Wisconsin 4th District Court of Appeals gave the green light for a man to sue his unborn child's mother's insurance company for wrongful death, after the woman's negligent driving played a part in a car accident. Following the accident, the mother gave birth to a stillborn fetus.

Shannon Tesar, the father of the fetus, is seeking damages from the mother's insurance company based on the death of his unborn child, reports the Associated Press. Tesar's case was originally denied when the lower court ruled that the mother did not owe a legal duty to the fetus. The reversal has brought up some real concerns that the court is opening the door to other types of suits against mothers for nearly any action that can harm unborn children, such as poor dietary habits.

NASCAR Owner Jack Rousch Injured in Plane Crash

NASCAR team owner Jack Rousch and friend, Brenda Strickland were injured during a crash landing Tuesday evening at Wittman Airfield in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Rousch, who was piloting his Hawker Beechcraft Jet, has been flying private airplanes for years and was in Wisconsin attending the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual AirVenture.

Both Jack Rousch and Brenda Strickland, "exited the aircraft following the accident," according to Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith. "Both were transported to local hospitals, with Roush in serious but stable condition and Strickland with non-life threatening injuries." No stranger to crashes both on and off the track, Rousch survived a nearly fatal plane crash in 2002, when his plane crashed into a pond in Alabama, reports ABC News.

Dr. of Octomom Nadya Suleman Faces More Charges

The doctor in legal trouble over implanting too many embryos into "Octomom" Nadya Suleman is facing yet more charges for the same types of actions. Dr. Michael Kamrava is facing allegations from the Medical Board of California that he implanted too many embryos in an additional patient and, in another case, failed to order tests in a patient facing stage 3 ovarian cancer.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Medical Board is alleging Kamrava's actions in one case "constitute an extreme departure from the standard of practice." The new charges against the doctor come six months after the Board accused him of a pattern of gross negligence that led to the birth of eight of Nadya Suleman's 14 children. In addition to the over-implantation in Suleman's case, the Board says Kamrava has created a "stockpile" of unused frozen embryos that serve "no clinical purpose."

Transocean Electrician: Deepwater Fire Alarm Was Disabled

Ever since the April 20 Transocean and BP oil spill in the Gulf, which killed 11 men and started the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, people have been asking questions. How could this have happened? Who is at fault? What went wrong? As many suspected, the answers to these questions are slowly emerging, and they don't look good for those involved.

To avoid crew being woken up in the middle of the night by false alarms, fire and gas leak alarm systems were allegedly disabled, according to Mike Williams, chief engineer tech who worked aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

"I discovered it was 'inhibited' about a year ago," said Williams. "The explanation I got was that from the [offshore installation manager] down, they did not want people to wake up at 3 a.m. due to false alarm." Williams said, reported by the LA Times.

6 Killed, 34 Hurt in California Bus Accident

A Greyhound bus collided with two vehicles on the highway in Fresno, California early Thursday morning. Six people were killed and 34 were injured, four of which are in critical condition. According to Kirk Arnold of the California Highway Patrol, the crash occurred on northbound California Highway 99 when the bus struck an overturned SUV that was blocking the far left lane. The bus then ricocheted into another vehicle and all three vehicles rolled down an embankment with the bus violently hitting a large eucalyptus tree.

Taxi driver Mike Coupland witnessed the event and told KMPH-TV "at the last second" he saw the SUV on its side in the highway -- "no lights, no nothing." Coupland believed the bus did not have enough time to avoid the SUV. The impact was "like a bomb going off ... pieces and parts everywhere. It was terrible ... [the bus driver] "was doing nothing wrong."

Arnold said authorities are not sure how long the SUV had been in the road before the crash. The bus was headed from Los Angeles to Sacramento. 48 people were recorded as being on board including the driver, who died in the crash.  However Greyhound said only 35 people were on board. At least one deceased person was in the SUV.

Greyhound investigators are already investigating the matter, as are highway patrol. Determining fault in auto accidents varies from straight forward and simple, such as a rear end accident at a stoplight, to highly complex such as in this case.

30 Injured in United Airlines Flight Turbulence

When the captain puts on that "fasten your seatbelts" sign, you should pay attention. A United Airlines flight from D.C. to L.A. was diverted to Denver to treat the 26 passengers and 4 crew members who were injured, one severely, in turbulence encountered over Kansas.

United Flight 967 was hit with bad weather over the Midwest, according to a report from the Associated Press. The flight crew made the decision to divert the flight to Denver International Airport on the evening of Tuesday, July 20. The plan landed safely at 7:45 p.m.

Bed Bug Infestation at NYC Victoria's Secret

There has been quite a bit in the news lately about bed bug infestations and one thing is clear, these bugs do not discriminate on the basis of socio-economic status. From a suit filed over an alleged bed bug infestation at a Hilton Hotel, to student apartments in Portland, OR, the bugs are not picky. Now they have decided to bug a Victoria's Secret on New York's posh Upper East Side (Lexington Avenue and East 58th Street).

The Harvard School of Public Health website defines bed bugs as small wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals. The bugs feed on their preferred hosts generally at night, while these hosts are asleep, and painlessly sip a few drops of blood.

Carp On: 5 States Sue Feds Over Asian Carp

For any of you who have been following "the one that got away" story of the litigation over Asian carp, the story continues today. As you may reacall, the Supreme Court has washed their hands of the fishy case, so now the battle over the carp has adjourned to a lower federal court. Five states; Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania filed their suit against federal government, Chicago's water department and others in U.S. District Court in northern Illinois on July 19. The suit seeks to have the Chicago shipping locks leading to Lake Michigan closed after an actual Asian carp was found near the lake in June. The Supreme Court has twice refused to close the locks.

The Journal-Sentinel reports the plaintiffs want the locks immediately shut and ask they remain that way except in case of emergency. The suit also seeks an increase in the programs for netting or poisoning the crafty carp and to re-erect a barrier between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin that was destroyed over 100 years ago.

Distracted Driving: Don't Eat and Drive

We have heard again and again of the perils of distracted driving, especially about texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel. But last week, came an example of another form of distracted driving, courtesy of spicy pork rinds. Yes, readers, it was not the evil temptation of texting, but the fat laden, cholesterol producing evil of pork rinds that was to blame for a major single-vehicle accident in Blaine, Washington.

The Bellingham Herald reports that 42 year-old Edward Sutherland was driving his Freightliner Fed-EX truck with a 40-foot trailer from Blaine to Burlington, WA when he suddenly began choking on his spicy pork rinds. The choking caused Sutherland to lose control of the truck and swing across the highway into the northbound lanes, where he came to a stop in a ditch. Fortunately, he did not hit any other vehicles. Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary told the Herald that Sutherland suffered only minor injuries. He will be charged with driving with wheels off the roadway.

Parking Garage Collapse in Hackensack, NJ

Rescue workers have found at least one person trapped in the rubble of a collapsed parking garage in Hackensack, New Jersey on July 16. Two or three others who are missing might also be caught under the remains of the underground garage of a 15 story, 300 unit apartment building. Rescue workers found evidence of the trapped person via camera, they will not be allowed in until the structure has been shored up.

Residents of the building told the New York Times the garage collapse was caused when a steel-and-glass canopy outside the building slammed onto a U-shaped driveway above the garage causing the whole building to shake. Lt. Stephen Lindner of the Hackensack Fire Department told the press the cause of the collapse has not yet been determined.

Erin Andrews Files Privacy Suit Against Hotels

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews is going after the hotels she stayed in for allegedly creating the condition that allowed her stalker to spy on her and record nude video. Andrews filed lawsuits against Marriott and Raddison Hotels, as well as others. The suit alleges that the hotels "failed to adequately protect her privacy." She is asking for unspecified damages for negligence, infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The civil lawsuit was filed in Chicago.

Andrews alleges that the hotels gave her stalker, Michael David Barrett, her room number and also allowed him to check into connecting hotel rooms. Barrett was convicted of felony stalking last year and is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in prison. Andrews testified at his sentencing and requested the maximum sentence, saying that Barrett's actions had a catastrophic effect on Andrews and her family. Barrett admitted to modifying peepholes in hotel suites to "allow him to see into Andrew's room and videotape her nude." He then uploaded the video to the internet.

What is Comparative Negligence?

You may have heard the term Comparative Negligence before, particularly when talking about car accidents, but do you know what it means?

First, let's start with negligence itself. Negligence is the failure to act with the prudence and care that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances. Legally, negligence has five elements: duty, breach, legal causation, factual causation and damages. One could write a book about each element of negligence, so for the sake of brevity, remember this: you generally have a duty toward everyone to exercise "reasonable care" for their safety and property. If you breach that duty, and someone is injured, you are usually going to be held legally responsible.

Now let's move on to comparative negligence, which most stats have adopted and how it applies to car accidents.

Suit Filed in Death of Councilman Matt Garcia

A wrongful death suit has been filed over the shooting of the young Fairfield, California councilman Matt Garcia. Garcia was shot and killed on killed Sept. 1, 2008, by two men who mistook him for someone else. Garcia's mother, Teresa Courtemanche, filed the $16 million dollar suit on Wednesday, July 14, against Henry Don Williams, Gene Allen Combs and Nicole Stewart.

The Vallejo Times-Herald reports that Williams and Combs were convicted in the shooting death of Garcia; Williams for first-degree and Combs for second-degree murder. Prosecutors in the case say the men mistook Garcia for a drug dealer who owed Combs money. Nicole Stewart was alleged to have been behind the wheel of the car that drove the men away from the scene. She made a deal to testify against Williams and Combs and was never charged with a crime. After her testimony, she was placed in a witness protection program. It is unclear how she will be found to be served with notice of the suit.

Public Pool Drowning Leads to Wrongful Death Suit

The family of Carlos Salgado, 26, a Calumet Township official, has filed a wrongful death suit against Park District President Fred Bilotto and the Village of Blue Island. Salgado died in a public pool drowning at a pool party on June 26. Criminal charges are not being filed.

The Southtown Star obtained a police report indicating that investigators found that there was drinking and nudity at the party but no indications of foul play. "At this time, it looks like there was no foul play," Blue Island Police Chief Douglas Hoglund said last month. "It was a tragic accident." In fact, the police report describes a wild party which included massive amounts of alcohol and sex in a public restroom.

The family has stated that they do not believe the police contention that there was no foul play. Salgado was found at the bottom of the pool several hours after the Calumet Township party for employees and guests.

Mass. Strip Search Suit Settlement Approved

Nearly 500 people who claim they were strip searched without cause in Massachusetts have settled with the Franklin County Jail for $1.1 million. A federal magistrate approved the settlement, entitling each of the wrongfully searched and detained members of the class-action lawsuit to $3,500. The attorney for the plaintiffs, Howard Friedman alleged that the Mass. strip search suit was filed because the plaintiffs were unconstitutionally searched by authorities who had no valid basis to believe that the people being arrested had weapons or drugs.

Gregory Garvey of Sunderland originally filed the claim against the jail, which later grew into a class-action lawsuit. The Republican reports that Garvey was strip-searched after an arrest for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation. After being held overnight he was strip-searched again before a court appearance. At the court appearance, his case was dismissed. According to the members of the class, this type of abuse was not uncommon at the Franklin County Jail.

District Court Magistrate Judge reviewed the settlement and gave his stamp of approval, "I find that it is fair and reasonable," Judge Neiman said.

Sinkhole in Tampa Growing, Swallows Car

Dude, where's my car?

A family in Tampa woke to a loud noise at around 6 a.m. Sunday. When they walked outside, it seemed that the family car, a 1995 Toyota Camry, was missing. It hadn't been stolen. They hadn't forgotten where they parked it after a hard night of partying. The car was actually sitting at the bottom of a sinkhole, 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep. And it's growing deeper.

After the family called for help, emergency crews were sent to the scene. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue arrived at Bordeaux Village Condominiums, located near the University of South Florida, shortly after 6 a.m. At least 11 families have been evacuated from units near the sinkhole. So far, there have not been any injuries reported, but it is a dangerous situation. The Red Cross has been contacted to help families who have had to evacuate; they intend to provide housing, food and other help as needed.

What's New, Injured by Texting While Walking?

Americans are growing more and more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, especially driving while texting or talking on the phone. But now a new distracted danger looms: emailing and/or texting while walking -- distracted walking.

It almost sounds like a punch line, and the recent report from the Los Angeles Times certainly starts out like a techie joke. Woman in Silicon Valley walking down the street, texting ... walks into a sign pole. She drops her phone and her friends have a good laugh at her expense, but worse things are happening and not just in the Valley, all over the country.

PG&E to Pay $5M in Wrongful Death Suit

Lisa Bernstein, whose daughter was killed in a accident with a Pacific Gas & Electric truck in 2006, has agreed to a $5 million settlement. Mary Bernstein and her boyfriend Robert Conway were killed when a PG&E truck slammed into several stopped cars on an off-ramp of the California Interstate 280.

John Mayfield, the driver of the truck, was a diabetic and claimed that he blacked out due to a faulty insulin injector, which cased a blood sugar level drop. Mayfield pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison. Conway's family settled with PG&E for an undisclosed amount. 

"I was unwilling to let Mary's death go unnoticed," Bernstein said. Now, "I think Mary would approve because she really loved people and this agreement will make the roads safer for people....Five million is still nothing, but hopefully PG&E will take safety a little more seriously."

Barge and Tour Boat Collide in Philadelphia

A barge and tour boat crash in Philadelphia has two people still missing after 37 were sent into the Delaware River Wednesday afternoon. An 800 foot barge ran into a tourist "duck boat," capsizing the boat and sending the tourists overboard. The two missing people are a 16-year-old girl and a 20-year old male. Nine others were hospitalized.

According to Charles H. Ramsey, the Philadelphia police commissioner, prior to the crash the duck boat had broken down with a small fire and it was waiting it the water for help. Before help could arrive, a Philadelphia barge, which was pulled by a tugboat, rammed into the tourist boat causing it to sink. A search has begun for the boat and state and federal investigators are preparing an investigation into how the accident occurred.

"We confirmed that there were 37 people on board, 35 passengers and two crew. As of right now we have confirmed that 35 people have been recovered. There are two people missing," said David Umberger, the Coast Guard's civilian search and rescue controller for the area, reported by CNN.

LA County Creates Rave Safety Task Force

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to convene a task force to study problems with public safety at raves. The vote comes after the death of a fifteen year old girl last month during the two-day Electric Daisy Festival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Authorities believe the death of Sasha Rodriguez, who collapsed at the festival, was drug related, but are still waiting on toxicology reports.

There were more than 200 injuries reported at the Electric Daisy event and 114 people were sent to the hospital. According to Southern California Public Radio, many injuries were due to drug or alcohol overdoses, but some were hurt when crowds rushed the barriers, trying to avoid the $75 entrance fee.

Bed Bug Infestations, Bed Bug Lawsuits on the Rise?

Blood sucking parasites. Please, no attorney jokes allowed here. This is an examination of a growing problem garnering press coverage and scaring everyone from business travelers to teenagers shopping for cool clothes. We are speaking of course of Cinex lectularius, the bed bug. Bed bug infestations are nothing new, but the recent spike in news stories about infestations and the bed bug lawsuit that can result seems to be something fairly recent.

According to Reuters, even the Mayor of New York City has the nasty creatures in his sights. He has been asked by teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch to help with what it says is a “growing infestation of bed bugs in New York City.” Recently, Abercrombie has been forced to close two of its New York stores (South Street Seaport and the SOHO Hollister store) due to an infestation of the critters.

'Wacky Worm' Fair Ride Mishap Leads to Injuries

The Wacky Worm wacked its passengers at the Alameda County Fair, July 1. A chain on the family friendly roller coaster broke loose and hit riders as they rolled by it. Fortunately, the injuries were not severe, but the fair ride will remain closed until state inspectors have a chance to investigate.

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Worm turned at about 3:00 p.m. All of the seven people hurt suffered minor injuries. One child and one adult were taken to Valley Care Hospital in Pleasanton for further observation. The others were treated at the fairgrounds.

CA Settles With Jaycee Dugard for $20M

California attorneys have approved a $20 million settlement to Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped and held for almost 20 years by a Philip Garrido, a convicted sex offender who had been paroled by he state. The compensation is waiting final approval by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A bill that approves the compensation has already made it through the Senate and California's State Assembly. Typically California's corrections department would have immunity from such a claim, but the State approved liability due to the extreme and unique circumstances.

In a story that seems too gruesome to be real, Jaycee Dugard was allegedly kidnapped by Philip Garrido in 1991 outside her home in South Lake Tahoe, California when she was 11 years old. Garrido had been released less than three years earlier after serving 11 years of what was originally a 50 year sentence for rape. Dugard was found alive last August in a secret compound of Garrido's home in Antioch, California. Dugard, 30, and her two daughters fathered by Garrido, had filed claims with the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Suit Filed in Unapproved IUD Case

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Rhode Island are claiming they had unapproved IUDs implanted in them by their doctors. The suit against defendants OB-GYN Associates, Bayside OB-GYN and the Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology is leaving open the possibility of adding more defendants, more plaintiffs or even seeking certification as a class action, depending on the facts that are uncovered during further investigation.

According to a report by the Providence Journal News Blog, the suit filed June 30, in Providence RI, alleges that the intrauterine devices (IUDs) implanted in possibly hundreds of women were bought by the defendants at half-price from a foreign source. The version of the IUD they purchased was not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The suit alleges the plaintiffs were "placed in harm's way," suffered inconvenience, embarrassment and emotional distress; suffered "battery" because an unapproved device was implanted in their bodies without their permission; and other allegations.

Phillie Phanatic Sued ... Again

If Kermit the Frog and Big Bird had a child, what would it look like? Why, the Phillie Phanatic of course. But if those icons of kindness (the frog and bird) were really his parents, they would no doubt teach the Phanatic some care and gentle manners. That way, perhaps he could stop getting sued all the time. The big, green "ungainly" mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies has been sued so many times the Philadelphia Daily News now calls him the "big green litigation machine." Here is just the latest.

According to the Daily News, plaintiff Grace Crass, of Wernersville, Pa. was at a minor league game with her church group when, surely without provocation, the Phanatic climbed through the stands and onto her, causing her asymptomatic arthritis to explode with a vengeance. Ms. Crass's attorney, John Speicher, says she may eventually need knee replacements. Ms. Crass is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

County Settles in Juvenile Hall Wrongful Death Suit

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has agreed to settle a lawsuit for wrongful death brought by the parents of a boy who died while in custody at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. Despite complaining of fevers, headaches and toothaches for at least five days in a row, he was not treated in a clinic until days after his symptoms began. He was finally admitted to the County-USC Medical Center hospital, where he died of meningitis. 

According to a report by the Contra Costa Times, the parents of 14-year-old Tremayne Cole filed their suit in October for the wrongful death of their son. In 2009, a database was put in place to help track medical histories and alerts for the minors in custody at Los Padrinos. By November 2009, additional changes were added to require staff to add a minimum of three notations a week for any minor in custody.