Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

September 2010 Archives

Will Vdara Hotel 'Death Ray' Spark Lawsuit?

And you thought summer time temperatures of up to 120 degrees in Vegas were hot?

Bill Pintas was enjoying himself at the new Vdara hotel pool in the City Center, when he suddenly encountered the "death ray":

"...all of the sudden my hair and the top of my head are burning ... I'm rubbing my head and it felt like a chemical burn. I couldn't imagine what it could be .. I used to live in Miami and I've sat in the sun in Las Vegas 100 times ... I know what a hot sun feels like and this was not it."

Apparently, due to an architectural flaw on the glass building, the sun's light is being amplified and reflected into an area of the pool. There have been reports that plastic has melted from the heat. Pintas said that his plastic newspaper bag melted during his encounter with the death ray, and he has the pictures to prove it.

Report: Fake Trucker Exams Compromise Safety

Truck drivers are required to pass a medical exam and carry a certificate certifying that the trucker is medically safe to drive. The long hours and late nights on the highway are a breeding ground for exacerbating existing medical conditions, and requiring an annual medical check-up is intended to help combat some potential problems and accidents. According to a new report covered by MSNBC, there is a rise in fake trucker exams which is serving to compromise safety for everyone on the road.

The problem with medically unqualified truck drivers is simple -- driving a large commercial vehicle without the medical facilities to do so can have deadly consequences. The report notes that in the past five years, 902,416 citations have been issued to truckers that did not hold the proper medical documentation. Rather than schedule an appointment with a doctor, many truckers are faking their exams.

Study: Driving While Texting Bans Have No Impact

Texting while driving is a current lightning rod for criticism. Critics call it irresponsible, reckless and dangerous. It should come as no surprise that 26 states have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving. However, a new study by the researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute found that the level positive impact of the texting bans was...non-existent. In fact, in some states, the number of crashes actually went up after the anti-texting laws were passed.

The study analyzed crash data from California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington, analyzing the information available before and after the states banned texting while driving. Despite the lack of data showing a reduction in crashes in states that banned texting while driving, Anne Fleming, spokeswoman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, was quick to reiterate that texting while driving is dangerous: "...texting while driving or using a cell phone while driving is definitely hazardous. It's just that laws enacted to reduce this behavior are not reducing crashes."

Are Segways Safe?

The death of the owner of Segway has renewed questions into whether the vehicles are safe. Jim Heselden, 62, bought the company less than a year ago from Dean Kamen. Heselden died after falling off a the side of a cliff and dropping 30 feet into a river. It was a sudden and tragic death that happened while Kamen was riding an all-terrain country version of a Segway off road.

A recent study found that Segway users are injured at a substantial rate and victims have suffered massive facial injuries, brain injuries and broken collar bones, ribs, ankles and arms. It has experts asking, are Segways safe?

Study: Driver Fatigue as Unsafe as Drunk Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released some disturbing results: tired drivers are as unsafe as drunk drivers. The panel looked at driver fatigue and sleepiness and their role in accidents.

According to MSNBC, the problem is not limited to car crashes. More than 320 sleep-related accidents have been the cause of death for over 750 individuals in airplane crashes over the past forty years. The majority of the crash information in the study was based on police reports and self-reports of the driver following the crash. Consuming caffeine and taking naps were two behavioral changes a driver can make for a "quick fix" to a drowsiness problem, although altering overall sleep patterns and lifestyle changes are also suggested as a more permanant solution.

Suit Filed in Delta Tau Delta Party Death

The family of an 18 year-old student who died at Wabash College in Indiana is suing the college. The suit was filed just less than two years from the anniversary of the death of Johnny Smith of Arizona. Smith died the weekend of homecoming, October 5, 2008 at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house.

At the time of his death, his blood alcohol level was .40, five times the legal limit to drive. The fraternity was kicked off campus following Smith's death. However, Smith's parents believe that besides banishing the fraternity, little else changed on campus. No criminal charges were ever filed by Montgomery County prosecutor Joe Buser in Smith's case.

Birth Brain Damage Suit: Govt. to Pay $11M

A birth brain damage suit against the government has been settled for $11 million. The injury, which occurred on Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, left now 4 year-old Kayla Mae McCraw with permanent brain damage. Tripler Army Medical Center was also the center of a pediatric malpractice settlement in 2006 that awarded a family $16.5 million when doctors gave a newborn carbon dioxide instead of oxygen, resulting in severe brain damage.

Fox News reports that medical errors unnecessarily delayed Kayla's delivery and caused her to be born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. When she was delivered, she was limp and not breathing. It then took medical staff 40 minutes to realize that the much-needed oxygen tube was initially misplaced. The series of errors were the cause of Kayla's physical condition today: a spastic quadriplegic suffering from cerebral palsy. Kayla has to be fed from a feeding tube for the rest of her life.

Natasha Pettigrew in Fatal Bicycle Accident

A 30 year-old Green Party candidate set to run for a Senate seat in Maryland this year was the victim of a fatal bicycle accident on Sunday. Natasha Pettigrew was riding her bike in early morning hours training for a triathalon when she was struck by an SUV. The driver of the car thought she hit an animal and kept driving with the bike lodged under her car.

The Washington Post reports that Natasha Pettigrew died in the hospital one day after the accident from her injuries. The Post quotes Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley: "She had driven to her home and called from her home. The initial indication was that she thought she may have hit a deer or animal in the roadway ... when she arrived home and saw the bicycle, she assumed it was something else."

Atlanta Bishop Eddie Long Accused of Sex Abuse

Two lawsuits were filed in DeKalb County, Georgia, on September 21 alleging sex abuse and intimate relationships between a prominent church leader and two young men who were members of his flock. The suits claim that Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church used his authority, both temporal and spiritual, to coerce the plaintiffs Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, into sexual relationships.

The suit claims a pattern of sex abuse by Long in using his position to single out young men in his congregation for sexual relationships, according to the report by CNN. Both Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg claim they were given gifts by Long and other church employees which included cash, cars and even college tuition. The suit claims Long characterized the relationships as "religious" and spiritual.

Toyota Wrongful Death Case: Settlement Reached

An out-of-court settlement has been reached in the Toyota wrongful death case that brought national attention to Toyota's products liability issue, and also spurred the recall of over 8 million Toyota vehicles. The deaths brought national attention to the potential that a driver-side door mat could trap the accelerator pedal, causing deadly sudden acceleration problems.

The New York Times quotes the only statement given by Toyota on the confidential settlement, "Through mutual respect and cooperation we were able to resolve this matter without the need the for litigation." The 2009 San Diego crash killed off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, their daughter, and his brother in law. The family was driving a Lexus (on loan while Saylor's car was in the shop) when the luxury vehicle suddenly and uncontrollably accelerated to 120 miles per hour before crashing into another car, and ultimately landing in a ravine. Moments before the crash, Saylor's brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, was on the phone with 911 detailing the scary ordeal.

NHTSA: Distracted Driving Deaths at 'Epidemic' Level

As if people don't have enough to worry about on a typical commute, a study released by the NHTSA has concluded that distracted driving deaths are at an epidemic level. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes one in every six highway deaths to distracted driving, a 16% increase from five years ago.

ABC News quotes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:

"People need to take personal responsibility for the fact that they're driving a three or four thousand pound car. If you're looking down at your cell phone for four seconds or texting device for four seconds, you're driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. It's very concerning and it's concerning to the extent that most young people think they're invincible. You need to put the cell phone and the Blackberry in the glove compartment right after you buckle up."

Botox Death Suit Reaches Settlement

The son and daughter of Sondra Bryant, a woman who died after receiving Botox injections, have reached a settlement with Allergan. Bryant, who died at 70 in 2008, had 100 units of Botox injections to treat shoulder pain.

Lynne and Bryan Kramer and daughter-in-law Collette Kramer filed the lawsuit and noted that Botox injection therapy for shoulder pain was not an approved treatment by the Food and Drug Administration. They alleged that Allergan had marketed Botox for a host of treatments that were never approved by the FDA. In addition, they alleged that their mother was never told of the risks associated with the Botox injections.

Susan Reeve Family Gets $10M 35 Years Later

22 year-old Susan Reeve was walking to her parent's home in Demarest, New Jersey when she was abducted and violently raped by Robert Reldan. Her body was found two weeks later in a nearby park. The year was 1975, and the now 70 year-old Reldan has been in jail for the murder of Susan and another woman since 1979.

Thirty five years later, Susan Reeve's family filed a civil suit against Reldan for damages after learning that he inherited millions of dollars from his aunt, philanthropist Lillian Garis Booth. Ironically, Reldan was convicted of conspiring to kill his aunt in order to expedite the sizeable inheritance award. Apparently she did not take the conspiracy seriously. The Reeve family has been awarded $10 million dollars. Arthur Reeve is quoted in the Arizona Daily Wildcat: "I think the outcome is very gratifying. My primary objective was to keep Relden from getting that money. I think it is a wonderful resolution that the money that came from a double murder is going to the education of young men and women."

Max Gilpin School Football Death Suit Settles

Jefferson County Public Schools have settled with the parents of a 15 year-old Louisville, Kentucky boy who died of heat stroke at a high school football practice. The insurers will pay $1.75 million to the parents of Max Gilpin, who died three days after suffering severe heat stroke at a Pleasure Ridge High School football practice in 2008.

The parents alleged that the negligence of head coach Jason Stinson and his assistants caused Max's death. The football death suit allegations claimed negligence and reckless disgregard of safety requirements. Stinson was charged criminally with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment. He was fired as football coach, but was later reinstated as a teacher. He was acquitted of the criminal charges in 2009. As part of the civil settlement, the defendants did not admit to any liability in the settlement, The Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

CA Orders All Gas Lines Statewide Inspected

This past weekend, state authorities have ordered Pacific Gas & Electric to make a complete safety review of all natural gas lines in its system. This order comes on the heels of the major explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, which killed at least four people and destroyed as many as 37 homes.

The first lines to be inspected by PG&E should be high pressure gas lines, like the one blamed for the San Bruno fire, according to the Los Angeles Times. PG&E is also under orders to gather and preserve records relating to work done on the line that is believed to have ruptured and caused the explosion and fire, especially any work in September 2010, concerning the Milpitas terminal. This request, sent to the California Public Utilities Commission, (CPUC) has come directly from California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who is overseeing the disaster response while Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is on a trade mission in Asia.

Miami Heat Dancer in Fatal Motorcycle Crash

A twenty two year-old Miami Heat dancer has been killed in a motorcycle crash in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Nicaragua native and member of the Miami Heat dance team, Nancy G. Lopez-Ruiz was operating her Suzuki GSX R when she was knocked off her bike by another car.

According to FOX Sports, the dancer was pronounced dead on the scene of the fatal motorcycle crash. The accident occured around 9:15 pm when a trailing car hit the meridian of the road, and then struck Lopez-Ruiz's motorcycle, causing Lopez-Ruiz to go flying off her bike. Local police are looking into whether drunk driving was a factor in the fatal motorcycle crash.

Gas Explosion in San Bruno Destroys 38 Homes

People all over Northern California were taken aback last night when a gas explosion in San Bruno, Ca, was reported. San Bruno is a suburb of San Francisco, close to the San Francisco International Airport. Initial reports said a crash of a small plane was to blame for the explosion and resulting San Bruno fire, but it has now been discovered that a natural gas line exploded, killing at least four people and injuring as many as 50 or more. Three of the injured are suffering critical burns. The San Bruno fire destroyed 38 buildings (down from an early estimate of 53); seven more sustained major damage and 15 acres burned.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. President Chris Johns told the Associated Press Friday morning that a 30-inch gas pipe broke apart underground just before 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 9. Workers and investigators have not yet determined the cause of the pipe rupture. Residents in the area reported smelling gas just before the blast occurred. PG&E is checking phone records to see what, if any, reports may have come in around the time of the blast.

Dram Shop Law: Liability and the Alcohol Seller

Vendors, bars, and social hosts beware: your liability may not end when topping off a guest or patron's cup with alcohol or closing out their tab. Dram shop laws, which essentially hold an alcohol seller accountable for injuries an intoxicated patron causes after consuming alcohol, are becoming more common for states to enforce. The laws, which can vary greatly in scope depending on the state, create an actionable cause for a victim of a drinking-related accident against more than just the that person directly caused the injury.

The purpose behind a given state's Dram Shop Law is simple -- to discourage a vendor from continuing to serve alcohol to a person that is clearly past their legal limit. Since the bartender has the choice to stop or continue serving the patron, he or she should be held liable when they ignore the signs of heavy intoxication that later cause major death or injury to another.

Tom Brady in Car Accident in Boston

A headline that will surely startle Patriots fans has come as of early September 9: "Tom Brady In Car Accident." The New England Patriots quarterback was involved in a serious car accident just after 6:30 a.m. Brady was shaken but refused medical treatment at the scene of the accident. Tom Brady's accident occurred when the player was on his way to Gillette Stadium to prepare for the opening game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The accident between the Audi driven by Brady and a minivan occurred when the minivan ran a red light and hit Brady's car at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street in Boston, according to The Washington Post. Brady looked shaken, according to eyewitnesses, but essentially unhurt. The Post reports it is believed Brady saw medical personnel from the Patriots.

Tony Alamo Church Members Sue Each Other

76 year-old Tony Alamo, the Southern preacher accused of taking underage girls across state lines for sex, was convicted and sentenced to 175 years in prison last year. The latest drama to come from Tony Alamo concerns a string of lawsuits that pits former members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries against each other.

According to Jack Times, six members of Alamo's church are suing each other over allegations that the other party knew or should have known about illegal sexual activity Alamo was engaging in, and did nothing to stop it. All the suits ask for at least $150,000 in damages stemming from the pain and suffering they have faced as a result of the very public trial.

Michael Douglas Cancer: Failure to Diagnose?

Recently, producer and actor Michael Douglas announced he has stage IV throat cancer and is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. According to interviews, Douglas said he sought treatment for a very sore throat earlier in the summer. He saw many doctors who could not find the cause of the problem until very recently.

According to the London Telegraph, it was not until a biopsy in early August that the cancer was revealed. A walnut-sized tumor was discovered at the base of Douglas's tongue. Reportedly, symptoms of a dry and sore throat, ear pain and vocal problems did not point the way to the true problem until months after Douglas first sought help.

American Airlines Sued Over Runway Overshoot

What happens when a plane overshoots a runway, causing a passenger on board severe mental and emotions problems? According to Jewel Thomas, you should get compensation.

Thomas is suing American Airlines over an incident in Chicago where an American Airlines plane ran off the runway at O'Hare International Airport. The Boeing 757 was flying cross-country from Seattle to New York and made an emergency landing at O'Hare. She says that she is so traumatized that, despite previously being a frequently flier, she is now afraid to travel by airplane. Thomas argues that American Airlines was negligent in the incident. According to Thomas, the plane had electrical problems and was on a backup battery. Therefore, she alleges that the crew was negligent not to divert the flight sooner before the battery ran out. It does not seem that American Airlines completely disagrees with Thomas.

American Idol Reject Re-Files Suit for $100M

"If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning."

"I met someone the other night who's 28 years old, and he hasn't worked a day since he left college because he's pursuing a dream he'll never, ever realize: He thinks he's a great singer. Actually, he's crap." -Simon Cowell

The hosts of American Idol have been known for this kind of tough criticism. Cowell was, of course, famous for his occasional critical rants. Eventually the ill will was likely to turn back at him and now American Idol is facing a $100 million lawsuit. Ian Berardo, a former Americal Idol reject, originally sued for $300 million but withdrew that lawsuit.

Study Uncovers Least Safe Cities for Walking

With fall quickly approaching, taking a leisurely stroll to watch the changing colors and enjoy the weather is something many city dwellers look forward to. If you live in Detroit, Atlanta, or Los Angeles, you may want to re-think walking the city streets. A new study uncovers the least safe cities for walking and the aforementioned cities are at the top (or bottom depending on how you look at it) of the list, reports the New York City Dot.

The New York City Pedestrian Safety and Action Plan tracked the number of serious pedestrian accidents in major cities across the globe, and also analyzed the underlying causes behing the deaths and serious injuries. The two safest cities are Hong Kong and Tokyo, with New York City and Portland as the only North American cities in the top ten.

Mariner Energy Oil Rig Explosion in Gulf

In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, "it's like deja vu all over again." Without any undue levity, in an all too familiar scene, an oil rig is reported to have exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the BP disaster where 11 workers were killed, all 13 men on the rig have been accounted for. The platform is south of Vermilion Bay, about 100 miles off the Louisiana coast, west of the site of BP's well.

A helicopter flying over the oil platform site spotted the explosion on the morning of September 2, according to the Miami Herald. The workers were in the water, but recovered by a offshore service vessel, the Crystal Clear, a Coast Guard Commander told the Herald. Only one person was injured, but all were sent to Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma to be examined.

Study: Digital Billboards Safe for Drivers

Digital or analog? A recent study says that it does not matter which format a billboard takes when it comes to driving accidents. The eight year study, commissioned by the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education, looked at the frequency of traffic accidents at various billboard locations throughout Reading, Pennsylvania to conclude that there is no greater chance for an accident when looking at print or digital billboards.

The Car Connection reports on the study: "The overall conclusion of the study is that digital billboards in the greater Reading area have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents. The Reading data matches data from Cleveland, Rochester, and Albuquerque, and all says the same thing: digital billboards are safe." The concern was based on the same features that make digital billboards appealing-- the increased sensory experience was also an increased distraction to drivers.