Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

March 2012 Archives

Can Trayvon's Family Sue Zimmerman in Civil Court?

Even if Florida prosecutors never bring criminal charges against George Zimmerman, can Trayvon Martin's family sue Zimmerman in civil court?

This is the latest question being asked of Trayvon's parents, even though they appear to be focused on finding criminal justice for their son. Nonetheless, it's an important one -- and one this blogger would ordinarily answer with a resounding "yes."

However, Florida law complicates the issue, and may just prevent such a suit.

Spike Lee's Zimmerman Tweet Could Lead to Lawsuit

Someone should probably take away Spike Lee's Twitter account. Never one to shy away from racial controversy, the longtime director took to the microblogging site to voice his opinion on the Trayvon Martin shooting. But instead of engaging in political discourse, he seems to have caused a big mess.

He retweeted what he thought to be George Zimmerman's address. The home actually belongs to an elderly couple, one of which currently suffers from a heart condition.

Did Conn. Gov. Know Chimp Was Dangerous?

A woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee is trying to sue the state of Connecticut and has implicated Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Charla Nash was attacked and severely injured by the chimp when it broke free from the home of Sandra Herold, the chimp's owner. So how does the Governor fit in? Malloy reportedly knew the animal was dangerous, Nash told the Hartford Courant. Nash said Malloy, as then mayor of Stamford, Conn., knew Herold possessed the chimpanzee back in 2003, when it first escaped her custody.

Nash's attorneys face an uphill battle to get permission to sue the state. Why? Due to sovereign immunity.

Model Lauren Scruggs Sues, Gets $200K Offer

Though settlement negotiations are still ongoing, model Lauren Scruggs has sued the owner and insurance carrier of the small plane that left her without a hand and blind in one eye. The 23-year-old was injured in December after she exited the plane and accidentally walked into the front propeller.

Legal liability is actually not at issue in the suit. Instead, Scruggs is asking a Texas court to interpret the Aggressive Insurance Services policy that covers Shell Aviation's plane and pilot. The two companies say they only owe her $200,000, while she says she is entitled to significantly more.

Gay Prom Proposal Got GA Teen Fired, Lawsuit Says

A former student body president at Alpharetta High School in Georgia has filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the school of violating his First Amendment right to express unpopular viewpoints.

Reuben Black, 18, says the school removed him from his elected role after he offered what some are calling a "gay prom proposal." Black suggested that the school change "Prom King and Queen" to "Prom Court." He felt the gender-neutral term would be more inclusive of LGBT students.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. But that's not the case for Eric Giray, who claims he was beaten by a school bully eight years ago -- and has just filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the school and the alleged bully.

Giray, now 19 and a sophomore at Brandeis University, alleges a fellow student bullied him for years while they attended the Calhoun School, a prestigious institution on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Giray's suit names the bully and the school, which Giray claims was negligent, the New York Daily News reports.

So why did Giray wait eight years to sue the school and his alleged bully?

Buy Season Pass, Waive Your Ski Injury Claim?

If you've ever read the contract associated with your ski resort season pass, you know you've agreed to waive your right to sue the resort for its negligent actions. This is pretty standard. However, it seems the industry is getting a bit more clever, and is adding an additional waiver.

Mountain Creek, New Jersey's largest ski resort, requires season pass holders to waive liability for all past injuries. If you're injured during the 2011-12 season, you can't file a ski injury lawsuit and obtain a season pass for 2012-13.

If you do, you risk having your lawsuit dismissed.

Baylor University's Sigma Chi fraternity is being sued in connection with a Texas teenager's alleged binge drinking. Megan Helal, 19, was found unconscious after a frat party and later died, Waco's KXXV-TV reports.

Helal, a freshman at Navarro College, was dating a Sigma Chi fraternity member at Baylor. The couple attended a frat party held at a bar, where Halal tossed back 10 to 17 drinks within a two-hour span, the lawsuit by her parents asserts.

Helal's boyfriend found her unconscious after the party, and she died at a hospital. An autopsy blamed Helal's death on natural causes -- specifically, a heart condition -- but her parents don't agree.

New iPad Too Hot to Handle, May Pose Injury Risk

Is the new iPad too hot? Some consumers think so.

Apple fan forums are being inundated with complaints about the new high-powered device. Some users claim the backside of the iPad is “uncomfortably warm” while others say it’s too hot to hold.

One Dutch website even claims the new iPad is almost 10 degrees hotter than the iPad 2. Apple, however, asserts that the new iPad operates “well within [its] thermal specifications.”

A Colorado man suffocated after being buried alive under "several tons" of pinto beans, in a deadly workplace incident that could lead to a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Raymond Segura Jr., 56, of Morgan County, Colo., was crushed when a huge pile of pinto beans collapsed at a warehouse in northeastern Colorado, The Denver Post reports.

Segura was buried under a pile of beans 15 to 20 feet high. It took more than 50 rescuers about an hour to dig Segura's body out from the pile, according to the Post.

A Texas pastor called a “cat killer” for allegedly throwing his neighbor’s cat off a bridge is being sued for negligence in the cat’s untimely death.

Pastor Rick Bartlett of Bastrop, Texas, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after joggers found the 12-year-old cat, Moody, at the bottom of a bridge, the Huffington Post reports.

But the cat’s owners aren’t waiting for the results of Bartlett’s criminal case, which is making its way through the courts. They filed a civil lawsuit that reveals new details about the pastor’s alleged animal abuse.

Infants seriously hurt in staircase injuries are often being carried by a parent or caregiver, a new study finds. Multitasking may be to blame for the accidents, researchers told CNN.

For children under 1 year of age, nearly 25% of stair injuries occurred while the child was being carried, according to researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Their study, which looked at stair injuries involving children under 5 between 1999 and 2008, appears in the journal Pediatrics.

"The staggering statistic is that we continue to see a child, on average, every six minutes in this country rushed to a hospital emergency department with a stair-related injury," the study's author told CNN.

CA Man Sues for Right to Wear Thong in Public

Discrimination between the scantily clad sexes is now on the docket at a Southern California federal court. A 30-year-old gay man has filed suit against the city of San Diego, accusing its police department of selectively enforcing the city's public nudity law.

The San Diego thong lawsuit arises from an altercation at the city's 2011 LGBT Pride Festival. Officers arrested plaintiff Will Walters for wearing what he describes as a "gladiator type kilt over black underwear."

Girl, 3, Thrown From Carnival Ride at TX Rodeo

A three-year-old girl was thrown from a carnival ride last week at RodeoHouston, a yearly event near the Texas city. The child was riding the spinning contraption when she slipped under the safety belt and bar, eventually falling to the ground.

Questions remain about the incident as representatives of both the rodeo and the family tell conflicting stories. RodeoHouston says the girl crawled under the safety mechanisms, while a family attorney claims she wasn't properly belted in.

The State of Virginia may appeal an $8 million jury award in a wrongful-death lawsuit tied to the Virginia Tech massacre. The main issue: a state law that caps jury awards at $100,000.

A jury Wednesday awarded $4 million each to the families of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson, two Virginia Tech students who were among 33 shot and killed in the 2007 massacre, the Associated Press reports.

Jurors found that officials at Virginia Tech, a state university, were negligent in not warning the campus that a gunman was on the loose. A spokesman said the school was "disappointed" with the verdict, and is considering an appeal.

A fire at Las Vegas' Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino left one man with critical injuries and forced guests to evacuate the building's top floors, firefighters said.

The Golden Nugget fire was intentionally set, a hotel spokeswoman told the Associated Press. Flames broke out on the unoccupied 22nd floor of the popular downtown hotel Thursday morning. Sprinklers put out the flames about 8:30 a.m.

About 60 guests were forced to evacuate rooms on the 21st and 25th floors, the spokeswoman said. The three floors in between are being renovated, and are supposed to be unoccupied.

CA Schools Liable for Sexually Abusive Teachers

School sex abuse lawsuits just got a whole lot easier to file in California. The state's highest court has ruled that parents and students can sue school districts for negligently hiring, retaining and supervising abusive employees.

The ruling involves the 2007 molestation of a 15-year-old boy by a female guidance counselor at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita. The school district argued that its administrators could not be held responsible for the woman's actions as they were outside the scope of employment. The California Supreme Court unanimously disagreed.

How to Sue Someone in Small Claims Court

Small claims court is an attractive option for those seeking small amounts of money. You can sue for an injury and for only a relatively small fee.

The only concern is that you’ll likely have to represent yourself . A number of states don’t permit lawyers in small claims court, and the rest encourage litigants to go at it alone.

If you’re a little hesitant about this part, don’t worry. Here’s how you prepare for small claims court.

George Soros Cash Offer a Bribe or Settlement?

As reported back in August, billionaire George Soros was sued by his ex-girlfriend, Brazilian actress Adriana Ferreyr. The 28-year-old accused him of emotional trauma and of reneging on a promise to buy her a New York City apartment. She asked the court for $50 million.

Now Ferreyr's cousin, attorney Mauricio Carneiro, is accusing Soros and his attorney of offering him $250,000 to convince her to drop the suit. He's calling it a bribe. Soros' attorney calls it a settlement.

Which is it?

Better Science Means More Toxic Mold Lawsuits

Toxic mold lawsuits have historically been met with speculation. Much of this was the result of the science — differing opinions on causation and whether visible mold automatically implies the presence of toxins. Some even went so far as to claim mold litigation was based on "junk science and hysteria."

However, a recent ruling from a New York appeals court suggests that prevailing opinions about mold science may have changed. At least when it comes to the courts.

Can 'Fake Pot' Makers Be Sued?

A fake pot lawsuit may be brewing in Wyoming, where at least three individuals are thought to have ingested a bad batch of synthetic marijuana. State health officials believe a small outbreak of kidney failure is linked to the legal substance, which is also known as "spice" and "K2."

The three were hospitalized after coming down with severe stomach and back pains, as well as vomiting. Two others reported similar symptoms earlier in the week, but officials have yet to track them down.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide platforms for users to engage in public, interactive conversations. But if an online comment is hurtful and false, it could set the stage for a defamation lawsuit.

There are two types of defamation: Libelous comments are in writing, while slanderous statements are spoken. In the age of status updates, podcasts, and YouTube, both types can potentially apply in social-media defamation cases.

Defamation suits generally require the victim to prove certain elements. Here are three tips if you're considering an online defamation lawsuit:

NYC Multiple Amputee Wins $18M from City, Hospital

How much is a hand worth? What about a foot? An eye?

All of these body parts are invaluable, but when it comes to the law, they have a price. For Tabitha Mullings, that price is $17.9 million. The mother of three sued New York City and Brooklyn Hospital Center for a medical error that left her a quadruple amputee and blind in one eye.

After three years, the defendants agreed to settle the claim, worrying that the so-called NYC amputee would garner too much sympathy from a jury.

CVS Caremark is apologizing after a New Jersey pharmacy mistakenly gave children cancer medication instead of fluoride pills, the Associated Press reports.

Children in as many as 50 families may have received the breast-cancer treatment drug Tamoxifen instead of chewable fluoride tablets as prescribed, according to CVS Caremark.

Only a few children ingested the cancer pills mistakenly dispensed by a CVS pharmacy in Chatham, N.J., the company says. New Jersey's attorney general's office is looking into whether any laws were violated, the AP reports.

Law student Sandra Fluke can "definitely" sue Rush Limbaugh for slander over the talk-show host's ugly remarks on his radio program, legal experts say. Fluke seems to be leaving her options open.

"I've certainly been told I might have a case," Fluke, 30, told The Daily Beast on Friday, "but it's not something I've made any decisions about at this point."

The next day, Rush Limbaugh apologized for calling Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" over the air. Liberal activists are clamoring for legal action.

Can A School Be Sued for a Shooting?

School shootings can leave communities devastated. They can also leave aching parents looking for a place to lay the blame. As such, school shooting lawsuits have become a common part of mourning, popping up almost immediately after one of these horrifying events.

Many of these suits focus on the school. Victims feel educators and administrators should have done more. While these feelings are valid, do they form the basis of a good lawsuit? Can a parent successfully sue a school for a shooting that killed or injured their child?

Dating Websites Sued by Fallen Soldier's Family

Though he was killed in 2007 while stationed in Iraq, Army Lt. Peter Burks' image is anything but forgotten. His family has sued dating websites and, accusing the sites of misappropriating the fallen soldier's likeness.

A photo of Burks appeared on both sites in December, accompanied by an advertising slogan declaring he was a "Military Man Searching for Love." His parents were furious to learn that their engaged son was being used to promote online dating.