Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

October 2010 Archives

Toyota Lawsuit: Sudden Acceleration Coverup?

Did Toyota know about and try to hide cases of sudden acceleration in their cars? In a situation resembling the "phantom recall" of Motrin performed by Johnson & Johnson, allegations have surfaced that Toyota was aware of sudden acceleration problems for years, but bought the silence of car owners with a buy-back of the car and a confidentiality agreement.

The Los Angeles Times reports a new complaint in the multi-party suit filed in federal court in California alleges the car company was aware of sudden acceleration problems, but worked to keep customers in the dark. The suit cites instances where a car owner complained of an acceleration problem, but that complaint never made it to government officials, let alone the public.

Halliburton, BP Knew Risks Before Spill

Good old Halliburton. Haven't heard from them for a while. Back in the days of George W. Bush, they were practically a household name. As in, "Hey honey, did you hear that the Army gave Halliburton a secret $7 billion no-bid contract to restore Iraq's oil fields just days prior to Bush ordering the invasion of Iraq?"

After fading a bit from the public consciousness, their name has been popping up regarding the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill. According to an investigation, BP and Halliburton should have doubted the reliability of the cement used to seal the well. However, they used it anyway, according to the President's oil spill commission. This conflicts with statements made by Halliburton, which said that tests demonstrated that the cement mix was reliable. Halliburton is now pointing the finger at BP, contending that the design of the well was faulty and that BP did not operate it correctly.

Comcast Sued Over Bungled Emergency Call

A Florida family has sued Comcast claiming the company was responsible for the death of their grandmother. When Sidell Reiner, 81, tried to make an emergency call after being injured in her home, the Comcast operator she contacted allegedly couldn't find and provide the paramedics with her address. When Mrs. Reiner's husband arrived home that day, she was already dead.

According to the Associated Press, Sidell Reiner was preparing for Thanksgiving with her family in 2009 when a piece of the crystal she was using fell on her foot, cutting her and causing severe bleeding. Reiner dialed zero on her phone and spoke to a Comcast operator, who according to the suit, transferred her to the local police dispatcher, but she was unable to speak clearly and give him her address.

Notre Dame Student Dies When Tower Collapses

Sad news out of South Bend as the Huffington Post reports that a Notre Dame student dies when a tower collapses from heavy winds. 20-year-old junior Declan Sullivan was filming football practice at the LaBar practice complex when the tower collapsed. At the time of the collapse winds in the area were reportedly close to 51 miles per hour. A day earlier, the Notre Dame football team moved their practice indoors because of the windy conditions.

The Associated Press is reporting that a state Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) official was promptly sent to the scene to investigate.

The Huffington Post quotes Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins, "Our hearts go out to the student's family and friends and our prayers and profound sympathies are with them during this incredibly difficult time. The loss of someone so young is a terrible shock and a great sadness. Our entire community share's in the family's grief."

NY Grocer Carpets Aisles For Safety, Style

Have you ever slipped and fallen on something at a grocery store? One New York City supermarket thinks it has a solution to the problem: carpet.

While the image of shoppers slipping on a banana peel might conjure up funny images from cartoons, to supermarket managers, it's no laughing matter. When an item falls to the floor, a potential liability exists, and the clock is ticking. That's because the longer the grape, tomato, kumquat or ... banana remains on the floor, the stronger the evidence of negligence. The grocery store isn't necessarily liable for an item dropped by a customer, but they can be liable for failing to clean it up in a timely manner if it poses a risk.

Hotels Threaten Suit Over TripAdvisor Reviews

We recently covered the rise of sites like Yelp reviewing businesses. We specifically looked at how to avoid being defamed by customers. The post offered pieces of advice for business owners concerned about defamatory reviews. One piece of advice: if a customer complains, you should confirm, confess and correct; and go the extra mile for a trying customer, but not the extra hundred miles.

But what to do about customers who leave comments that clearly cross the line into untrue, spiteful and legally actionable claims? The New York Times recently examined such issues involving hotel reviews on

TripAdvisor reviews that are potentially defamatory have become an issue for the site, which in the past did not allow property owners to post responses to guest reviews. Some hotel owners have demanded that the site do more to monitor guest comments and take action when reviews could be considered defamatory.

Heavy Smoking Doubles Alzheimer's Risk

In case you needed one more reason why smoking is bad for you, a new study shows a link between heavy smoking and Alzheimer's disease. The Kaiser Permanente study, released October 25, is the first to link the long term consequences of smoking with Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, according to study investigators.

The study monitored its subjects for 23 years to observe the long term health effects of heavy smoking, reports USAToday. Of the 21,123 men and women followed, 5,367 study participants were diagnosed with dementia later in life. Of those with dementia, 2,367 were smokers and 261 were heavy smokers (more than two packs a day).

Bedbug Infestation Bites Into NYC Tourism

News about bedbugs continues to crawl forth from the Big Apple. New York is just one of the major cities in the United States to be hit with an epidemic of the pests, but in NYC, they do everything bigger and better. Now, there are news reports that the bedbugs may even be affecting tourism.

Bedbug infestations have expanded from the city's apartment buildings and hotels to major landmarks and tourist destinations such as the Empire State Building, Bloomingdale's and Lincoln Center, the Associated Press reports. However, the news service also reports that the sightings were limited: Bloomingdale's found exactly one bug, the pests were relegated to the basement of the Empire State and a dressing room at Lincoln Center. Still, such reports are enough to make some visitors think twice about visiting New York.

Erin Andrews Peephole Video: Another Lawsuit?

Erin Andrews is a sports personality that is better known for her lawsuits than her sideline coverage. The Examiner reports that the Erin Andrews peephole video may have yet another lawsuit in the works.

Here's a little back story .... David Barrett took an unauthorized video of Erin Andrews while she was in her hotel room on location for a sporting event. The video went viral, and ultimately landed Barrett behind bars for thirty months. He is locked away, but the video isn't, putting us where we are today -- another lawsuit. This time the suit is aimed at getting any traces of the video stored safely away, or better yet destroyed all together.

Teen Driving Fatalities Drop Sharply

FindLaw's Injured blog is dedicated to tracking the latest news in personal injury and tort laws. Needless to say, a lot of the coverage can be on the sad side.

Not this time.

The latest news from the US Department of Health has a positive headline: teen driving fatalities drop sharply in the last five years.

Family Sues Sandusky Sheriff's Office For $20M

The family of Bryan Jones is suing the Sandusky Sheriff's Office for $20 million based on a bizarre series of events that left Jones' body riddled with bullets in his head and body. The parents of 26 year-old Bryan Jones phoned authorities when they were concerned that they son would be violent after drinking and potentially engaging in some type of illegal substances. The police responded by sending out a tactical response team that flash-banged the home and then fired multiple bullets into Bryan, who was sleeping on the family couch at the time of the attack.

The Sandusky Register reports on the deadly encounter:

"Immediately after the detonation of the flash bang devices, Bryan yelled out 'Why?' as Jose and Mario Calvillo fired shots into his head and body. At least four bullets penetrated Bryan. It is believed that death was not immediate. The Cavillos were so wild with delusions and anger that bullets were found in the walls and woodwork of the residence as well as in the body of Bryan."

Disney Bus Death Prompts Suit

9 year-old Chase Brubaker was killed at the Disney Fort Wilderness Lodge last April. Brubaker was on his bicycle and wearing a helmet, moving along near the sidewalk just before the collision. Moments later Brubaker would meet his tragic end when a Disney bus struck Brubaker and pulled him under its wheels. The driver, David R. Rich, has also been named as a party in the Disney bus death suit. His mother has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Wrongful death is the taking of another person's life as a result of a willful or negligent act. When a wrongful death occurs, the heirs and other beneficiaries can bring a civil action for wrongful death. A wrongful death action requires that the plaintiff prove a lower level of guilt compared to the prosecution in a criminal action. For the plaintiff to prevail in a wrongful death action, they must prove their case upon a preponderance of the evidence. The standard is much higher in a criminal case: beyond a reasonable doubt.

White House Lifts Oil Drilling Moratorium

The BP oil spill is officially old news.

What was once the top story for months is now largely seen as a footnote in an already challenging year. Now comes the announcement that the Obama administration has lifted the moratorium on deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium is being terminated about 7 weeks earlier than the original plan of November 30. The moratorium came in the wake of the massive BP oil spill that killed 11 and unleashed millions of crude oil into the ocean.

The White House agreed to lift the ban in light of new safety standards designed to make a similar spill unlikely. The general public was in favor of the oil drilling moratorium, but according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the U.S. needs oil and gas from the Gulf Coast, it was important to eventually end the moratorium.

OK Turnpike Accident Suit Settles for $63M

What began with a horrific 2009 Oklahoma trunpike accident, ended on October 8, in a settlement agreement. One day before jury selection in the civil trial over the deaths of those killed in the accident caused by trucker Donald Creed, eight of the parties settled with defendants for $62.7 million. Representatives for the other two people killed had reached a previous settlement.

The turnpike accident, which killed ten people, occurred when traffic had stopped for another accident between two drivers who were also named as defendants in the suit, reports Tulsa World. Truck driver Donald Creed, 77, did not see the cars stopped for the original accident and plowed into the last three cars stopped on the road. Several whole families were killed in the ensuing crash.

10 Injured in Roller Coaster Collision

Knott's Berry Farm was the scene of a roller coaster collision that injured 10 people the night of October 7. The accident happened around 8 p.m. on the "Pony Express" ride due to some kind of mechanical function.

The ride began as normal, starting up an incline to get to the first drop. However, the roller coaster did not make it up the incline and rolled backwards, crashing into a roller coaster car waiting in the loading station.

Study: ATV Accidents Deadlier than Motorcycles

A new report has come out that comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion: when it comes wheels on vehicles, two is better than four.

According to the study, presented at the 2010 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, riders of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) are far more likely to die or suffer serious trauma than motorcyclists after an accident. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes Research, while the initial injuries was similar for both groups, those injured on ATV suffered far worse fates. ATV riders were 50 percent more likely to die due to their injuries, as well as 50 percent more likely to require intensive care and artificial ventilation.

Firefighters Let Home Burn Due to Unpaid Fee

Looks like they check the spreadsheet before heading out to answer your 911 call in South Fulton, Tennessee. One homeowner in Obion County, just outside the city of South Fulton, found that out the hard way when firefighters called to the scene of his house fire refused to turn the hoses on. It seems that Gene Cranick "forgot" to pay the $75 fee for service by the fire department. No fee, no fight.

The city of South Fulton offers a service to those that live outside the city limits, according to the report from local news WPSD. If you have not subscribed to the service you are out of luck, says South Fulton Mayor David Crocker. "Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor Crocker told WPSD.

PA Family Sues Over Death After 10 911 Calls

At a young age, every child is taught to dial 911 in case of an emergency. The three digit phone number is specifically reserved for emergencies, in which dispatchers are available at all hours of the day to assist people in need, and immediately send the necessary services to a given location. The system is not perfect. A Pennsylvania family is suing over a death that occurred after the family made 10 911 calls and waited 30 hours for help to arrive.

MSNBC reports on the tragedy, quoting the family's attorney, Alan Perer: "This case represented a breakdown of the entire EMS and 911 system from the top-down. It was just sort of a perfect storm of errors and tragic failures. Some of the actions of individual employees were really outrageous."

OSHA: Brazilian Blowout Contains Formaldehyde

Difficulty breathing, nosebleeds, and eye irritation. These are the symptoms being reported by hairdressers across the country after giving clients a Brazilian Blowout. The popular hair treatment has had incredible success in the past couple years, promising straight and manegeable hair for up to twelve weeks.

According to OSHA, Brazilian Blowout contains formaldehye -- a chemical compound that can cause all of the symptoms described above, and more. Occupational exposure to formaldehyde is most common in construction, but the use of the compound is certainly not limited to that industry. Because of the potential toxicity of formaldehyde, it has become regulated by OSHA and banned from use in many products. Formaldehyde has also been linked to cancer.