Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

April 2012 Archives

An Illinois man was killed and about 100 people were hurt when high winds caused a deadly tent collapse outside a St. Louis sports bar, the Associated Press reports.

The tent collapse happened as a fast-moving storm rolled in Saturday, after a St. Louis Cardinals game at nearby Busch Stadium. Winds exceeded 70 mph, a spokesman for St. Louis' mayor said.

City officials approved the bar's tent permit, and the tent passed a city inspection that requires tents to withstand 90-mph winds, the AP reports. But now city inspectors are taking another look.

How to Sue the Police

If you believe police caused injuries, or violated your civil rights, how do you sue the police for compensation?

The answer isn't as simple as you may think. Because police are government employees, they may be able to claim immunity from being sued for performing their official duties -- unless you can prove their conduct was intentionally unreasonable.

Even if you feel your case is strong, some additional steps are required before you can sue the police. Here are some general guidelines:

KFC Must Pay $8.3M to Poisoned Girl

The Australian judge presiding over a KFC poisoning lawsuit has ordered the American-owned fast food chain to pay the family of a brain damaged girl $8.3 million.

In 2005, Monika Samaan, then 7-years-old, shared a Twister chicken wrap at one of the chain's Sydney outposts. She, her brother and her parents were subsequently hospitalized with salmonella poisoning. They quickly recovered, but she remained in a coma for six months and now lives her life as a quadriplegic.

Why Can't Minors File Lawsuits?

You've probably read about kids suing companies. In more recent years, you've probably also seen stories about kids suing their bullies. But did you know that these kids, who are all under the age of 18, have not actually filed the lawsuits themselves? They can't.

Federal and state laws generally don't permit minors to file lawsuits. This is because minors often don't have the capacity to contract, hire an attorney or sign court documents.

Who Is Liable in a Carpool Accident?

Carpool (or HOV - high occupancy vehicle) lanes are a pretty common way for people to get to and from work. All you have to do is drive in a big metro area to understand the appeal. No one likes to deal with traffic, especially when there's an accident.

Carpools help to eliminate the grind of daily commuting. But what happens if you're in a carpool accident? Are you liable for, well, anything?

The answer might surprise you.

Car Sharing Liability: Are You Covered?

As society becomes more environmentally conscious, people have begun to look for transportation alternatives that spare the air. Among the choices, ride-shares are particularly popular. That is, until car sharing liability rears its ugly head.

RelayRides is an online company that allows car owners to rent out their vehicles for $10 per hour. It handles the reservations, payment system, and background checks on renters. All owners have to do is provide their car and cash the checks.

But who's at fault when an accident happens?

A gun-safety class in Virginia backfired when a student accidentally shot himself and his wife, sheriff's deputies said. The instructor may soon be the target of a possible lawsuit.

Michael Deel, 54, of Roanoke, Va., shot himself in the hand with a .45-caliber handgun, The Roanoke Times reports. The bullet also struck his wife Michelle, 49, in the leg.

The shooting was a "stupid accident," Michael Deel told the Associated Press. But if news reports are correct, the gun instructor may need a refresher in gun-safety rules himself.

Female Sears Employees Were Filmed in Bathroom

Female employees at a North Hollywood Sears are threatening to sue the department store after learning of a fellow employee's arrest. Sears Peeper Alejandro Gamiz is accused of installing up to 60 hidden cameras so that he could film women in the store's restrooms and fitting rooms.

Sears claims it immediately contacted Los Angeles police when store security became aware of the situation. But lawyers for three employees say management didn't contact police for four months.

Move over, pink slime. There's a new potential target for food purists' scorn, and it's the focus of the first Salmonella sushi lawsuit linked to a recent nationwide outbreak.

"Nakaochi Scrape" is the term used to describe "backmeat" that's shaved off fish bones, and then added to products like ground yellowfin tuna that's used in sushi, MSNBC reports.

Nakaochi Scrape "looks like ground tuna hamburger," a lawyer for two alleged Salmonella sushi victims told MSNBC. The Scrape has also allegedly been linked to more than 140 Salmonella infections over the past two months.

Dog Died From Waggin' Train Dog Treats: Suit

According to a new federal class action lawsuit, Nestle Purina's Waggin' Train Yam Good dog treats are responsible for the death of a 9-year-old Pomeranian named Cleopatra. The furry canine reportedly ingested one chicken jerky treat a day for three days before becoming ill and eventually dying of kidney failure.

The Waggin' Train lawsuit, filed by Cleopatra's owner Dennis Adkins, claims Nestle Purina Petcare Co. and Walmart knew that the treats posed a substantial risk of illness to pets, yet still manufactured and sold them.

An Olive Garden waitress accidentally served rum to a 10-year-old boy -- a mistake the restaurant's spokeswoman called "completely unacceptable."

The boy's mother claims she ordered her son a Wildberry Frullato -- a fruit-and-yogurt smoothie -- at an Olive Garden in Indianapolis on April 19.

But instead of a smoothie, the waitress brought back a 4-ounce strawberry daiquiri that contained rum, an Olive Garden spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel. The waitress realized her mistake -- but apparently didn't tell the boy's parents right away.

Death by Coca-Cola: 2-Gallon-a-Day Habit Cited

Death by Coca-Cola. What a way to go.

Or not. Investigators believe a 2-gallon-a-day Coke habit may have contributed to the death of Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old New Zealand woman. The mother of 8 died in February from what appears to have been a heart attack.

Harris was known by her family to eat little and smoke. But she also drank so much Coke that she was suffering from low potassium and caffeine toxicity.

When children are injured, how long can they wait before they file a lawsuit? The answer depends on the type of injury, the age of the child, and where the child lives.

States have different laws about personal-injury lawsuits brought by children. But some general principles and concerns apply for child injury lawsuits across the board.

Here are three legal issues to think about when considering a child injury lawsuit:

School Pays $4.2M For School Bully's Punch

A New Jersey school district has settled its bully punch lawsuit with a former student. Sawyer Rosenstein, 18, will be paid $4.2 million for a 2006 attack that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

At the time of the incident, Rosenstein was a 12-year-old student at Eric Smith Middle School. He had been victimized before the attack and even emailed school officials begging for help. Three months later, Rosenstein was punched in the stomach by a bully. The assault caused a clot in his artery, cutting blood to his spine and paralyzing him.

The Ramsey School District reached the settlement with Rosenstein over the course of two months. As for the bully, he didn't get off any easier.

NY Film Producer Stuart Parr Named in Dog Bite Suit

A woman has named film producer Stuart Parr in a dog bite lawsuit along with an Aspen hotel. Parr, his girlfriend Allison Sarofim, and his juvenile daughter were staying at The Little Nell with their black Labrador, Babu, when the incident occurred.

Though on a leash, the dog allegedly "lunged" at Beth Fischer and bit her left hand. She's had to undergo multiple surgeries, one of which left her with a staph infection. She's asking for medical costs, lost wages and other damages.

1 Dead, 4 Missing in CA Yacht Accident

A devastating yacht accident off the cost of San Francisco has left one dead and four missing. After 30 hours, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing crewmembers, who are likely to be presumed dead.

The group, along with the yacht's owner and three other crewmembers, were participating in the Full Crew Farallones Race, which is known for its rougher water conditions. Witnesses reported seeing a strong wave sweep some crewmembers from the boat. When the others turned around to get them, a wave flung the rest into the water and slammed the yacht into nearby rocks.

Infant's Family Files Tylenol Death Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary McNeil PPC have been hit with a Tylenol death lawsuit. The parents of 2-month-old Markus Cherry have accused the companies of negligent manufacturing, selling a defective product, misrepresentation and consumer fraud.

A healthy Cherry died in April 2010 just three days after being given Concentrated Tylenol Infant Drops. Tests concluded that the medication had been contaminated with harmful bacteria.

IL Man Drowns in Swan Attack

An Illinois man who worked as a swan caretaker drowned after being attacked by an aggressive swan, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Anthony Hensley, 37, of Villa Park, Ill., was in a kayak in a suburban condominium complex's pond, where he was checking on a group of swans Saturday morning.

Unexpectedly, one of the swans attacked Hensley, who fell out of his kayak and into the water. The swan continued to chase Hensley as he struggled -- and failed -- to swim to shore, witnesses said.

Don't Lie to Insurance Companies. It's Illegal.

Ever been tempted to lie to an insurance company? Did you want a few extra weeks of workers' comp payments? Or how about a slightly larger TV?

We get it. It's tempting to squeeze out just a bit more than what you really deserve. But don't do it. Don't lie to your insurance company. Don't lie to anyone else's insurance company. If you're ever found out, you may find yourself charged with insurance fraud.

Just ask Raphael Davis, a Los Angeles firefighter turned mixed martial arts fighter.

Tax Day Linked to Fatal Car Crashes: Study

Tax Day is filled with people filling out forms, rushing to pick up tax returns and then speeding to the post office to ensure they get sent out by midnight.

It's also apparently a good day to get into a car crash. The number of fatal car crashes increases by 6% on Tax Day, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That's 13 extra fatalities.

Why? And what can you do to prevent Tax Day car crashes?

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker is being hailed as a hero, after he rescued his neighbor from a house fire -- and nearly got trapped in the flames himself, the New York Daily News reports.

"I didn't feel bravery -- I felt terror," Booker, 42, told reporters about his daring act Thursday night, when he arrived home to find his neighbor's house engulfed in flames.

A member of Booker's security detail tried to stop him from the rescue, but Booker was adamant. "If I don't go in, this lady is going to die," he reportedly said, according to the Daily News.

Legally, Booker didn't have to rescue his neighbor -- and if he'd made things worse, he could have been held liable.

NY Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Settled for $5.3M

Attorneys for a New York family have announced that they have settled a birth injury lawsuit for $5.3 million. The suit, filed against New York Presbyterian Hospital, accused medical staff of failing to provide the mother with adequate care.

On several occasions, the mother had visited the hospital for observation and treatment while pregnant. Still, she gave birth at 32 weeks, and the baby was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. The lawsuit asserted that "not enough steps were taken to prevent this premature birth."

Nail Salons Are Still Toxic, Dangerous

Non-toxic nail polishes are actually toxic.

This disturbing conclusion comes from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control, which tested 12 nail products that claim to be free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. These chemicals, known as the "toxic three," have been linked to an increased rate of cancer and birth defects.

At least 10 of the products contained toluene, while 5 contained a significant amount of at least one of the chemicals.

Bicycle Accidents Can Be Deadly, And Costly

You wouldn't expect a bicycle accident to be deadly. But they can be. Just consider San Francisco, where two people have been killed by a bicyclist in the last year.

In the latest of these incidents, the bicyclist, Chris Bucchere, went careening down a steep hill and crashed into a crowded crosswalk. He hit 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who died four days later.

Even if prosecutors decide not to charge Bucchere with vehicular manslaughter, he'll likely be saddled with a bicycle accident lawsuit.

The U.S. Navy on Monday began to compensate victims of Friday's Navy jet crash, and provided legal assistance to help guide residents through the claims process.

An F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex in Newport Beach, Va., just after noon Friday. Two crew members and five civilians on the ground were treated at hospitals and released. No one was killed, but five apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed.

People affected by the crash are eligible for an initial payment of at least $2,300, a Navy statement said, according to the local Daily Press.

And that's just the beginning.

Metal Hip Implants: FDA Wants Expert Advice

On June 27-28, the Food and Drug Administration will be asking an advisory panel of experts to take a closer look at metal-on-metal hip implants, according to a news release. Though the FDA metal hip implant investigation is nothing new, it signals that the agency may be ready to subject the devices to stricter scrutiny.

The investigation originally made the news in August of 2010, when DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recalled 93,000 XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hips. The device was experiencing a 13% failure rate.

How Not to Get Sued for Food Poisoning

You probably know about social host liability when it comes to serving your guests alcohol, but what about food borne illnesses? Can you be sued for food poisoning?

The answer is yes, so if you made it through the holidays without serving your family and friends a vat of bacteria, good for you.

But don't let that make you complacent. With upcoming summer eating, it's time to be more vigilant than ever.

A Navy fighter jet crashed into a Virginia apartment complex Friday, sending two pilots and five civilians to the hospital, WWBT-TV reports. There are no reports of deaths or missing people, rescuers said.

The F/A-18 fighter jet slammed into a cluster of apartment buildings in Virginia Beach about 12:05 p.m., shortly after it took off from a naval air station nearby, MSNBC reports. Both crew members ejected before impact.

A volunteer rescuer said he found one of the Navy crew members still strapped to his ejection seat. "I'm so sorry I crashed into your building," the crewman said, according to Reuters' report of the rescuer's account.

Woman Finds Maggots in Her Airline Snack

Airline food is nothing to write home about. In fact, it's so bad, one woman even accused it of contributing to her husband's death.

Well, Victoria Cleven is here to sully the food's reputation even more. She allegedly found maggots in her airline food last week when on a Qantas flight between Los Angeles and Melbourne.

They were in her son's food, too.

A gay Ohio teenager's t-shirt proclaiming "Jesus Is Not a Homophobe" is the subject of a federal lawsuit. His prayer for relief: permission to wear the shirt at school.

Maverick Couch, 17, actually did wear the t-shirt to Waynesville High School last year, but the principal made him turn it inside-out, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. That's standard procedure when a student's t-shirt is deemed potentially disruptive, the district's superintendent said.

Couch apparently tried to wear the shirt on a few other days as well. But the school said his shirt -- which shows a Christian fish symbol colored-in with a rainbow -- was too "indecent and sexual," Couch claims.

VA Tech Asks Court to Cap Negligence Damages

The families of two Virginia Tech shooting victims may have won an $8 million jury award in mid-March, but the chances that they recover anything close to that amount from the university are looking slim. Attorneys for the state have asked a judge to reduce that award to $100,000 each.

The request is based on Virginia's damages cap law. The Tort Claims Act limits the state's wrongful death liability to either $100,000 per claimant, or the maximum of any applicable insurance policy -- whichever is greater.

Funeral Home Prepped Wrong Body for Viewing?

It's not every day that a funeral home preps the wrong body, but it has been known to happen. And unfortunately, it happened to the family of Richard Tkacik in November 2011.

Marlene Tkacik and her daughters Pamela Clark and Bridget Lowery have filed a Pennsylvania lawsuit against Harris Funeral Home and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center. They're asking for at least $50,000 in emotional distress damages to compensate them for the chaos that ensued after learning that the funeral home had picked up the wrong body from the hospital.

Plane Crashes into FL Grocery Store

A single-engine experimental plane crashed into a Florida grocery store after takeoff on Monday.

The plane collided into a Publix supermarket and sent a ball of fire through the store. A shopper in the store estimated there were about 100 people inside at the time of the crash, MSNBC reports.

By the time emergency crews arrived, smoke was billowing from the grocery chain. Three shoppers along with the plane's pilot and passenger suffered burn injuries and were sent to the hospital.

Details on the crash have been sparse, but the eye witness accounts released so far are chilling to say the least.

An 83-year-old woman smacked her face into a see-through door at an Apple store and broke her nose. Now she's suing Apple for $1 million, claiming the tech giant's clear-glass door was clearly negligent.

Evelyn Paswall, 83, of Queens, N.Y., walked straight into a glass door at an Apple store on Long Island in December, the New York Post reports. Unimpressed by the store's sleek design, Paswall's Apple lawsuit claims the company failed to senior-proof its see-through facade.

"Apple wants to be cool and modern and have the type of architecture that would appeal to the tech crowd," Paswall's lawyer told the Post. "But on the other hand, they have to appreciate the danger that this high-tech modern architecture poses to some people."

Should You Sign a School Sports Waiver?

School sports waivers. They're required at countless middle and high schools across the country. Your kid can't participate in football or softball, tennis or track without one. And like most parents, you've probably just signed on the dotted line without a second thought.

Was this the right move?

Or do these waivers relieve school districts of any and all responsibility for your child's safety?

The killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin may lead to civil lawsuits -- for which George Zimmerman and other homeowners in his gated community may eventually have to pay.

The homeowners association at the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., where Martin was shot and killed, could face a possible lawsuit in connection with how its neighborhood watch program was conducted, a lawyer told the Orlando Sentinel.

"It's a cautionary tale for other associations," the lawyer, who specializes in homeowner-association law, said. Here's why: