Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

November 2011 Archives

A woman who sought treatment for an eating disorder is suing her therapist, claiming he hypnotized her into falsely believing she was raped and belonged to a satanic cult.

Lisa Nasseff, 41, of St. Paul, Minn., accuses psychotherapist Mark Schwartz and the Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Mo., of medical malpractice, Courthouse News Service reports.

Nasseff received 15 months of anorexia treatment, which included “careless and negligent” use of hypnosis that took advantage of her frail mental state, her lawsuit alleges. The hypnosis allegedly led to false memories such as Nasseff’s membership in a satanic cult, her participation in satanic rituals such as eating babies, and being the victim of multiple rapes.

Anthrax Victim's Family Settles for $2.5M

Ten years ago, photo editor Robert Stevens died after inhaling anthrax sent through the mail to American Media in Florida, the publisher of tabloids such as the Sun and the National Enquirer. He was the first of about 17 different anthrax victims. Four others died, while the rest were sickened.

The FBI later connected the attacks to a government scientist who committed suicide when investigators began closing in.

The family has now settled with the U.S. government for $2.5 million over Stevens' death. Stevens' wife, Maureen, had alleged that the government was negligent. The family had previously sought $50 million, reports CNN.

Study Links Soccer 'Heading' to Brain Damage

A recent soccer study has found that "heading" a ball may cause brain damage to some players, reports CBS News.

Researchers found that players who frequently headed balls - more than 1,000 or 1,500 times a year - displayed some abnormalities in MRI scans that appeared similar to brain damage caused by car accidents.

For some players, this may means it may be possible that you could suffer damage to your brain if you head a ball more than a few times a day.

A member of Florida A&M University's famed marching band is dead, and investigators say a notorious FAMU hazing ritual likely led to his death.

Robert Champion, 26, a drum major from Atlanta, was found unresponsive in the band's bus after a football game in Orlando. Champion had vomited and complained he couldn't breathe before he died Nov. 19, the Associated Press reports.

Before that, investigators say Champion was subjected to a hazing ritual -- probably forced to walk through a "gauntlet of fists" on the bus, ABC News reports.

Dozens of victims of August's Indiana State Fair stage collapse are suing country music duo Sugarland, saying the band had the power to cancel the show -- but failed to consider spectators' safety.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 22 by relatives of four people killed and 44 others who were hurt in the collapse, claims Sugarland was negligent in allowing their concert to proceed despite severe weather warnings, The Indianapolis Star reports.

An appeals court has cut back a woman’s multimillion-dollar award against one of the nation’s leading exercise-equipment companies. Still, the Cybex lawsuit award — now reduced to $44 million — could bankrupt the company.

The Cybex lawsuit began seven years ago, when a physical therapist’s legs were crushed in a workplace accident.

The therapist, Natalie Barnhard, had been using a Cybex leg-extension machine to perform arm and shoulder stretches when the 600-pound machine — which was not nailed down — fell on top of her, The Buffalo News reports.

Is Medical Malpractice Reform Coming Soon?

If there's anything that injured plaintiffs and hospitals can agree on, it might be that medical malpractice lawsuits are time consuming and costly. Medical care providers, patients, and policy makers have all argued for medical malpractice reform.

Their wish may be granted soon, if a pioneering new approach by a New York judge takes hold.

Judge Douglas E. McKeon, an administrative judge in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, started his approach in 2002 when he made an agreement with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. The corporation operates 11 public hospitals. The program has been funded in part by a $3 million grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

His method is called "judge-directed negotiation," and at is relatively simple at its core.

Owner Sued by Victims of Stolen Car Crash

George Hinnenkamp is baffled--and justifiably so. He's being sued by the victims of a stolen car crash, and he wasn't even driving the car. In fact, he owns the car and had already reported it stolen by the time of the alcohol-fueled crash.

Joseph Dinwiddie, a man often hired by the 91-year-old to do odd jobs, had taken the car without permission. Even so, passengers Nicole Cunningham and Delano Oscar think it's Hinnenkamp's fault. They have asked for a combined $220,000.

And chances are they won't get it.

2 Occupy Protestors File Excessive Force Suit

Two New York Occupy protestors have started a lawsuit against the NYPD. Heather Carpenter and her fiance Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga claim that the police violated their civil rights when they unlawfully detained them and used excessive force during their arrest on October 15.

Carpenter and Jimenez-Artunduaga were demonstrating against Citibank. The protest moved indoors at a local branch in Greenwich Village.

Carpenter was a Citibank account holder, but had decided to close her account after she found out the bank would soon be charging her a $17 monthly fee unless she maintained an account balance of $6,000 or more. She claims she left the bank after she closed her account, and started filming police and protestors.

UC Davis has placed its police chief and two police officers on administrative leave after campus police pepper-sprayed student demonstrators at an Occupy Davis protest last week.

Two pepper-sprayed protesters were taken to the hospital and eleven others were treated on site, The Los Angeles Times reports. Video of the pepper spraying incident was posted online and has gone viral.

Critics of campus police say their actions will likely lead to civil lawsuits by pepper-sprayed victims alleging excessive force.

Been in an Accident? There's an App for That

They say there's an app for anything these days - and it looks like they're right. Have you ever been in a car accident? There's an app for that. Don't remember what to do after an accident? There are apps that will help you with that too.

It may seem strange but perhaps it was just an eventuality. Many Americans are addicted to their smartphones now and most people are bound to have their phones on hand when they're driving.

So what exactly are your options?

Will Your Snow Globe Ignite a House Fire?

During the chilly holiday season, most Americans with fireplaces and stoves will tend to them with care. After all, starting a blaze wouldn't be a good way to start off the new year. But, did you know that a Hallmark snow globe can also start a fire? Stephen and Florence Hajek found out about this the hard way.

The Hajeks' Michigan home was destroyed in 2008 after a $100 Hallmark's Jumbo Snowman Snow Globe started an inferno.

The Hajeks actually own two Hallmark stores, and had been storing some Christmas items in their garage -- including two of the defective decorative orbs. Their insurers have now filed claim, asserting that the defendants, both Hallmark and the Taiwanese company that sold the products, were negligent.

Are you wondering how a snow globe can cause a fire?

Bed Bug Class Action Suit Filed by 300 Tenants

What to do if your bed is infected with tiny pests that can chew on your flesh as you sleep. About 300 current and former residents of two apartment buildings in Des Moines, Iowa have filed a bed bug class action lawsuit against the owners of two apartment buildings.

The buildings, Elsie Mason Manor and Ligutti Tower, are for the elderly and disabled.

Residents say that they were bitten by the pests. They also lost property, as they had to discard furniture that was badly infested. Some residents also say that they suffered a more emotional cost.

Emergency Room Laws: You Have Rights

There are times when you or a loved one will need emergency medical treatment. This means that most Americans will need to know some basics about emergency room laws and your rights.

The first thing you should know is that under federal law, most hospitals cannot deny you treatment even if you can't pay.

This law covers most medical facilities because it extends to all hospitals that participate in Medicare. This includes a vast majority of healthcare facilities. But just because they cannot deny you care does not mean you are freely given all services.

How to Sue a Hotel for Bed Bugs

They’re icky. They’re itchy. They make you want to burn everything you own.
They’re bed bugs and if you have them, you’re likely miserable to be around.

And if you got them from a hotel, you’re probably feeling a bit litigious
right about now. You want to know whether you can sue a hotel for bed bugs—the bites and the monsters you accidentally brought home.

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”—but not everyone will be successful.

Lawyers are taking action in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal at Penn State. Civil suits may soon be filed against Sandusky, his charity The Second Mile, Penn State, and anyone who failed to report the abuse -- including former head coach Joe Paterno.

Civil lawsuits are usually heard after criminal cases are concluded. Though civil suits may take years to play out in court, they could result in multimillion-dollar judgments for sex abuse victims, one lawyer told The New York Times:

"The damage to the victims is so profound -- pain, suffering and perhaps lifetime injuries -- that juries usually are unbridled as to how to calculate the damages," said Harold Goodman, a Philadelphia lawyer who has represented multiple clients in similar cases.

Lawyer Sues Airline Over Cockroaches on Plane

Forget snakes on a plane, we're talking cockroaches on a plane.

A lawsuit filed by Harry Marsh and his fiance Kaitlin Rush alleges that their Air Tran Airways flight was plagued by cockroaches. The couple flew from Charlotte to Atlanta on September 15, and witnessed the roaches crawling through vents and luggage compartments.

To make matters worse, they allege that the flight attendants ignored their complaints and suggested that they keep quiet.

$100M Awarded in Miami Priest Sex Abuse Case

A jury has awarded an unprecedented $100 million in the Miami priest sex abuse case involving Rev. Neil Doherty.

Andres Susana, 40, had testified to his encounters with the priest while he was a 14-year-old runaway. Doherty befriended him and other teens with free food and advice, which later turned to marijuana and cocaine.

Next came the sexual abuse.

Chantix's Suicide Side Effects Worse Than First Thought

Chantix's suicide risks are higher compared to other smoking-cessation treatments, according to a new study appearing in the journal PLoS One.

The drug aims to help individuals quit smoking. But the side effects of the drug may make it more dangerous than previously realized.

Chantix, or varenicline, is reportedly 8 times more likely to be linked with suicidal behavior and other psychiatric side effects like depression compared with other nicotine replacement products.

CO Trucker Wins $10M in Walmart Slip and Fall

Former truck driver Holly Averyt has earned herself $10 million in a Walmart slip and fall lawsuit. The Colorado Supreme Court confirmed the jury award earlier this week, which originally came in at $15 million.

It was reduced as the result of a state-imposed cap on non-economic damages.

Averyt suffered from debilitating back injuries as a result of a grease spill in the Greeley Walmart's loading dock. Though permanent and painful, it was ultimately Walmart's courtroom behavior that led to such a large award.

Here’s a legal opinion that a Tennessee mother may have found hard to swallow: You can’t sell chickenpox lollipops through the mail.

The U.S. Attorney in Nashville went public with that warning, after learning about Wendy Werkit’s fledgling business on Facebook. She’d set up a page to sell suckers — laced with a germy layer of saliva from her pox-stricken kids.

The goal: For other parents to expose their children to chickenpox — giving the kids immunity without getting vaccinated.

And it wasn’t just lollipops. Werkit also offered to ship spit and infected q-tips — all for $50, with overnight shipping.

Junk Food Addiction: The Next Tobacco-Type Litigation

Junk food addiction may soon lead to a new breed of litigation: junk food lawsuits.

"This could change the legal landscape," Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, told Bloomberg.

Brownell indicates that she believes new findings about the addictive nature of our favorite "bad-for-you" foods may lead to tobacco-type litigation. Skeptics should understand what junk food does to your brain.

The first Reno air race lawsuit has been filed from the air race crash that killed 11 people and injured more than 70 in September.

A Texas widow has sued for $25 million for the wrongful death of her husband, Craig Salerno, 50. He was one of the hundreds of spectators on hand when a modified vintage plane crashed into the tarmac.

So why file suit in Texas, more than 1,500 miles away?

Mich. Boy Killed Doing Pull-Ups When Wall Collapsed

Williamston High School freshman Gabriel Corbett was killed last week when a cinder-block wall collapsed in the boys' locker room.

The 14-year-old Michigan resident had reportedly jumped and grabbed the top of the 8-foot wall so that he could do a pull-up. Minutes later, the wall collapsed, burying him and causing him to go into cardiac arrest.

Police have declared the incident an accident and an autopsy is in the works. In the meantime, school officials will continue to investigate.

Train Moved Too Soon, Threw Lawyer Underneath

Most people who are thrown under a train don't live to tell the story. But Patricia Biswanga appears to be one lucky lady.

The Delaware County, Penn. attorney claims that she was thrown under a train at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Train Authority's (SEPTA) Eddystone station.

As she struggled to pull her luggage from the car, she felt the train begin to move. She was thrown off-balance, and ended up falling into the train bed between the platform and rails.

Two cars passed over her.

Freaky Halloween Storm Blamed for 11 Deaths

The powerful Halloween storm is to be blamed for 11 deaths. The "freaky" nor'easter storm was unprecedented in scope, catching millions of Americans off guard.

Some communities in Massachusetts received 27 inches of snowfall - in October.

The October storm was unexpectedly wet, rainy, and plentiful. The storm felled trees and power lines, sending thousands of Americans into the dark. 800,000 customers in Connecticut were without electricity Monday.