Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

November 2010 Archives

Feds Probe Rental Car Agencies on Recalls

More federal agencies are looking into whether rental car companies are renting potentially dangerous recalled vehicles.

First Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) requested that the FTC crack down. Now the issue of rental car companies renting out cars under recall has come to the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NTSA launched an investigation into the practices of rental car companies regarding recalled cars -- propelled in part by stories of injuries and deaths in rental cars under recall.

The NHTSA says it has recently learned of injuries and accidents stemming from recalled cars and it wants to probe further into the problem, reports CNN Money. As noted in a prior post on FindLaw's Common Law, Senator Schumer has also been asking that the FTC change its regulations to force rental car companies to adhere to the same recall practices that car dealerships do: If it's under recall, it can't be sold by dealers and shouldn't be rented by rental car agencies.

Did Boston 'Cigarette Man' Give Kids Freebies?

Here is a unique angle for a wrongful death lawsuit: Will Evans, the son of a smoker, whose mother died of lung cancer, is suing a tobacco company for deliberately trying to get her to smoke when she was underage.

Lorillard Tobacco Co., through the "Cigarette Man," allegedly sought to entice Marie Evans and other black children to smoke when they handed out free samples to children in the neighborhood, according to the lawsuit.

According to Marie Evans, she was 9 years old when she received her first free cigarettes from the "Cigarette Man" in the Boston housing project she grew up in. Evans traded them for candy for four years, before she started smoking when she turned 13. Eventually, Evans smoked up to a pack-and-a-half of Newport cigarettes per day. At age 54, Evans died from lung cancer.

Bachelorette Party Leaves Bride Paralyzed

Bachelorette parties are supposed to be a bride's last fling before she gets her ring featuring drinking and dancing with best friends. Tragedy struck at a recent bachelorette party when the bride to be was playfully pushed in a pool. The bride was paralyzed after she fell into the shallow water head first.

Rachel Friedman, 25, was left paralyzed after fracturing her C6 vertebra -- an injury that her doctors think will prevent her from walking again. The paralyzed bride to be is in remarkably high spirits and does not plan to seek any type of legal recourse. She recently appeared on the Today Show with her fiance, Chris Chapman.

Avoiding Black Friday Injuries

Just as important scoring the best deals this Black Friday has to be educating yourself on how not to get trampled while doing it. Black Friday crowds bring a whole new meaning to the phrase shop till you drop and the consequences can end with some very painful reminders.

Shopping injuries are not uncommon and are usually the result of a slip and fall while in a store or some other type of personal injury. When it comes to Black Friday injuries, a shopper is just as much at risk for some type of fall as another eager shopper pushing his or her way to the front of the line. This very real concern is also a reason many bargain hunters have decided to stay in and shop online to avoid a potential injury.

Can Parents Sue for Cyberbullying?

The term cyberbullying has become part of most Americans' vocabulary, after surfacing in high schools and universities nationwide. In the past few months, a rash of teen suicides resulting from bullying, cyber and otherwise, has renewed the concern by teens, parents and lawmakers about cyberbullying and how to prevent it from harming or taking the lives of our kids. Even President Obama got involved with the YouTube campaign "It Gets Better Project," aimed at helping LGBT teens deal with bullying.

If your child is cyberbullied, what can you do? Many online sources have excellent recommendations for practical assistance a parent can offer a child. Good suggestions include switching phone numbers and social media accounts, adding new privacy protections on Facebook or MySpace, providing counseling if needed and even switching schools if necessary.

But if parents want a legal option, what can they do?

Penis Amputation Negligence Suit Deemed Baseless

A lawsuit alleges that an Albuquerque law firm improperly filed a penis amputation lawsuit claiming that a nursing home patient lost his penis due to facility negligence. According to the lawsuit filed by the nursing home, the law firm did not investigate the claim and wrongfully filed a federal lawsuit in September. Not sure how they could have missed that. It seems like it would have been easy enough to... look into.

The law firm failed to properly investigate its claim that a nursing home patient, James Tracy, lost his penis because of the facility's negligence, according to a personal injury lawsuit filed by the facility.

Carnival Splendor Fire: 3 Reasons Not to Sue

A good lawyer will tell you when you have a case. A great lawyer will tell you when you don't. One maritime law expert is advising passengers of the ironically named Carnival "Splendor" not to sue over the vacation from hell. Yes, it was unpleasant and yes, you didn't get what you paid for, but an injury? Probably not.

A personal injury attorney needs to look for an actual injury before filing any paper work, and the Carnival Splendor passengers are no exception, writes USA Today. According to the report, there are three main reasons not to sue. First, as noted, to sue for injury you must have one. According to the report, the terrible conditions of the last days of the Carnival cruise included no air-conditioning, no lights, no working toilets and subsisting on Spam and Pop-Tarts instead of cruise buffet food. Unfortunate yes, injurious, no. Unless of course, a passenger tripped and fell in the dark. That might be another case altogether.

Blinded Golfer Sues Pal For Not Yelling Fore!

Suppose you are golfing with a buddy and you hit a bad shot. A really, really bad shot. As in, you hit him in the head and he goes blind in one eye. Is that your fault? Are you legally responsible?

The New York Court of Appeals is set to decide just that issue, in a case that will revolve around a concept known as assumption of risk. Under assumption of risk, a plaintiff cannot sue for injuries caused by a risk which is inherent in the activity. In such cases, absent an exception, there is no duty of care from the defendant to the plaintiff. With no duty, there can be no negligence.

Bon Jovi Roadie Suit Settled With UK Woman

How much do you think its worth to have your leg run over by a golf cart driven by a roadie for Bon Jovi? Sally Allen, 39, said £250,000 or about $400,000. The UK woman was left with a broken leg, crushed foot and dislocated toe after roadie Kevin McDonnell sped by. Allen, who was a security guard at the time, spent a week in the hospital and says she suffered depression due to the event when she could not return to work. She also says the injuries interfered with her sex life, known as a loss of consortium in the US.

Despite her troubles, a UK jury awarded the now single mother £33,000 in compensation, or approximately $53,000. Allen was dejected by the amount saying, "I have gone through hell since the accident and my marriage has broken down ... I'd no idea it would drag on this long. Now I have decided to draw a line under it and get on with my life. I can't cope with it anymore."

Parents Sue After Coach Whips Teen Players

A Mississippi high school coach is on leave after he allegedly whipped athletes on his basketball team. Coach Marlon Dorsey has admitted to "paddling" students in an effort to instill discipline. Dorsey has been suspended 28 days without pay. Parents of some of the players have filed suit in federal court.

According to the school website, there is no corporal punishment permitted at Murrah High School, but students, parents and even the coach have said this is something that did occur, reports CNN. According to the suit, one of the students was whipped "daily and sometimes more than once daily by striking him three times across his buttocks each time" with a "five to ten pound weight belt." The school released a statement saying that the matter had been dealt with. "Since this is a personnel matter, no further details will be provided to the public by the school district. We do not want to violate Coach Dorsey's privacy rights. However, you may be assured that this situation has been addressed."

Do Airport Body Scanners Pose Health Risks?

Pilots are being urged to opt out of the new body scanners at the airports due to radiation concerns. Should frequent travelers be concerned, as well?

Civilian civil rights and privacy groups have already been upset about the new TSA screening procedures and body scanners. Captain Mike Cleary, has told pilots not to submit to the new Advanced Imaging Technology screening because the USAPA believes that it may subject pilots to significant health risks. The Advanced Imaging Technology machines use radiation to create a nude-like image of the person being scanned in order to search for weapons or contraband.

Kids' Sports Injuries: 1 in 10 Get Hurt

Parents and pediatricians are seeing a rise in sports-related injuries in children. This is not just the high school football player, but kids as young as 7 and 8 who get hurt. There are some new laws in some states to address kids' sports injuries from the playing field, but even better there are things parents and coaches can do to keep players from being injured. If your child is hurt and you even have to consider a personal injury lawsuit, in many ways, it is too late.

To take a proactive approach to kids' sports injuries, proper training, equipment, strength and prevention is key, reports CBS News. Before your child even gets on the field or court, not only training and equipment, but even the right amount of rest can prevent what are known as overuse injuries. Overuse injuries include tennis elbow, Little League elbow, and shin splints, and can be prevented. If your child feels pain while playing, you might think it character-building to "tough it out." But playing through pain for children is dangerous to the body and in some situations, against the law. Children should get off the field immediately for evaluation.

FDA Unveils Gross-Out Cigarette Warnings

Did you know that smoking could kill you? The U.S. government wants to make it even more exceedingly clear with new "bolder" warnings on cigarette ads and cigarette packs. The Food and Drug Administration unveiled 36 proposed images that the public can consider through January 9, 2011. The new, sometimes gross warnings, if accepted, would be the most significant change to tobacco warning labels in 25 years.

The public is being asked to consider the new proposed cigarette warnings. If the plan moves forward, the FDA will select nine statements and images to be used no later than June 22, 2011. The new images are available at the FDA's website. The new rules would take effect by October 22, 2012.

"This is the most important change in cigarette health warnings in the history of the United States," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, The New York Times reports.

Carnival Splendor Fire: Ship Dead in Water

When they paid for their relaxing, exciting vacation on board the cruise ship the Carnival Splendor, it is a safe bet the passengers never imagined they would be without air-conditioning, telephones and for a bit, working toilets. No, this wasn't a survival course, this was supposed to be a cruise; but after a fire broke out onboard the Carnival Splendor, things changed.

The Carnival Splendor fire began in the engine room, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times. Although no one was hurt, the fire knocked out many of the power systems for the entire ship. As of Tuesday morning, the passengers were still without some of the above-mentioned amenities and, perhaps worst of all, no hot food service.

Qantas Engine Failures: Oil Leaks to Blame?

Qantas Airbus A380 was only three minutes into a flight departing Sydney, Australia when the plane began to spew pieces of metal, and was forced to make an emergency landing. The culprit for the Qantas engine failures may be oil leaks. The Qantas Airbus A380, the world's newest and largest commercial airliner, has had multiple mechanical issues in recent days as worries about flight safety continue to grow.

"We believe this is most likely the product of material failures or some type of design issue. We don't believe this is related to maintenance in any way," said Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce in a recent news conference. Qantas engines have been manufactured and maintained by luxury car maker Rolls-Royce since they were installed.

Iowa Child Injury Waivers Unenforceable

"Hey Mom and Dad, it's your friendly local school district. I've got a form I need you to sign real quick. Oh, it's just this release form for this field trip that the kids are getting ready to go on. What about that clause with the waiver of any and all personal injury claims? It's just the usual legal mumbo jumbo. Anyway, your daughter can't go if you don't sign it."

The Iowa Supreme Court put a major legal smackdown on such situations last week. The court ruled that injury release forms signed by parents for their kids' field trips are unenforceable. The parents of a 14 year-old Taneia Galloway brought the case against the school district in 2005. Galloway was hit by a car while on the school field trip. Her parents sued, but were challenged in court by district, which claimed that the waiver protected them.

Notre Dame Student's Death Could Cost Millions

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old Notre Dame student, fell 50 feet to his death while filming a football practice in windy conditions. What does the tragic incident mean financially for Notre Dame?

It could mean a judgment as high as $30 million or more, according to Forbes. The university is looking at a massive wrongful death lawsuit by Sullivan's family over the Notre Dame student's death. If the university is found negligent and responsible for the majority of the fault, the potential compensatory damages would range from $15 million to $20 million. If punitive damages are also tacked on, the university could be looking another $45-$60 million.

Wrongful death is a civil action that arises when a person is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity. A wrongful death action rests with the decedent's immediate family members, such as surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents.

Qantas A380 Grounded After Engine Explodes

Qantas Airlines has grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A380s after part of an engine fell off during a flight from Singapore to Australia on November 4. Flight QF 32 had been on its way from London to Sydney, when a major portion of one engine dislodged and fell to the ground midflight. The pieces that fell from the aircraft landed on houses and a shopping mall in Batam, Indonesia.

After reportedly hearing a loud boom, the Qantas captain calmly announced to passengers "I'm sure you are aware we have a technical issue with our No. 2 engine," reported CNN. Passengers were then informed the plane would dump fuel to lighten its load before attempting to land back in Singapore. CNN reports the "technical issue" from the Qantas accident was caused by the cowling, or covering, on the engine falling off about 15 minutes into the flight. Despite hearing noises they later described as a loud bang or booming sound, the passengers remained calm and the plane landed safely with no injuries reported.

Bedbugs Lead to Waldorf-Astoria Lawsuit

Bedbugs are taking a bite out of one of the Big Apple's most well-known, luxury hotels. The Waldorf-Astoria is now the defendant in the second of two bedbug lawsuits to be filed in a few weeks. This suit, filed by a Michigan couple, claims they were attacked by bedbugs during their stay at the New York hotel, the pests then hitched a ride in their luggage and infested their home.

David and Christine Drabicki of Plymouth, Michigan, are suing the Waldorf Astoria for the buggy "nightmare" they claim to have suffered, reports CBS News. According to the couple, they awoke after one night in the hotel, covered in bites. They were moved to another room and offered complimentary spa treatments. Upon returning home, the couple placed their allegedly infested luggage in the garage, allowing the persistent pests to infiltrate their home.

Starbucks Wins Hot Tea Case, Not in Hot Water

The largest coffee chain in the world just made a splash in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals -- over tea. The appellate court has agreed with a lower court ruling that Starbucks is not liable for burns suffered by a 76-year-old woman who spilled hot tea on her leg.

The hot food lawsuit, brought into popular culture by the Stella Liebeck suit against McDonald's back in 1994, refuses to die. Some cases are successful, many are not. According to a report by Reuters, this case began when Rachel Moltner brought her hot tea case against Starbucks after the cup she was drinking spilled onto her leg, causing burns that required a skin graft. While in the hospital, Moltner suffered additional complications and injuries.

Boston House Explodes After Gas Line Struck

A leak is believed to be the cause of a gas explosion that leveled one house and shook an entire Boston neighborhood on Wednesday morning. The blast, which occurred about 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, destroyed the home of Michael Burns. No one was at home at the time of the explosion and no injuries were reported.

According to The Boston Globe, however, Burns and his partner who share the home, have lost everything. Burns, who had left for work early that morning, received a call saying his house had been destroyed. "I just couldn't comprehend it. I just couldn't comprehend what happened," Burns told The Globe.

Arizona Bike Race, County Settle Crash Suit

Nearly two years after the actual accident, another case stemming from a terrible traffic collision during the "El Tour de Tucson" bike race has been settled. Racer Gary Stuebe was one of the riders hit when an elderly driver collided with the bikers in November of 2008. Stuebe, who suffered a life threatening brain injury, has settled his suit for $3.5 million.

The Arizona Daily Star reports the accident that hurt Stuebe and the others occurred on November 22, 2008, when William Wilson, then 91, made a turn which plowed his vehicle into 10 riders. Stuebe and others suffered a variety of injuries. The cyclists sued Wilson, Pima County, race organizers, and the officers who were directing traffic at the scene of the accident. Wilson surrendered his license before he was sentenced to three years of probation for leaving the scene of an accident.