September 30, 2015

Study: Correlation Between Product Safety and CEO Stock Options

A new study conducted by researchers at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame suggests there is a noteworthy correlation between offering substantial stock options to the CEO and future product recalls.
Published in the Strategic Management Journal, the findings indicate that these stock options, which are often used by boards of directors as a way to encourage CEOs to go after high-risk initiatives, can quite often result in a higher percentage of safety problems.

From the board's standpoint, they want higher-risk initiatives that have the possibility of earning their shareholders more money. But CEOs tend to naturally be naturally more reticent to take chances. Stock option pay is one way boards try to balance this tendency.

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September 27, 2015

Concert Injury Lawsuit Seeks Damages for Harm in Mosh Pit

A New Hampshire woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she suffered disabling dental injuries after she was punched in the mouth during an out-of-control mosh pit in which she was attacked by a drunk 19-year-old.
That young man was arrested and later convicted of assault. But that didn't help the victim, who says her teeth were loosened in the incident. She's suffered numerous surgeries and infections. She can't chew hard food. She can't chew chewy food. She can't chew at all with her front teeth. Eventually, she's going to need false teeth and there will be extensive ongoing treatment needed. She says the punch also exacerbated a pre-existing condition.

So who pays for this? She could certainly take to task the 19-year-old, and it's probable he'd be found to have some liability. But whether it actually be worth it financially is questionable. He's unlikely to have many personal assets, and he probably doesn't have any insurance that would cover an incident like this.

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September 23, 2015

Newly-Uncovered Asbestos Liability Could Cost Chemical Company

When Germany-based chemical company BASF acquired a manufacturing firm nine years ago for $5 billion, it was aware that had been prior product liability cases against the company for asbestos exposure.
The smaller firm had been in the talc-mining business, and as the years wore on, those who worked in the mines, their family members and some in the public began to get sick. Some filed lawsuit once they learned that there was asbestos in the mine, which causes a number of latent diseases, primarily mesothelioma, asbestosis, COPD and lung cancer.

In the early 1980s, the company was sued by an individual who alleged they were harmed by the asbestos in the mines. During the deposition phase of the proceedings, officials with the company conceded there was asbestos in the mines. However, soon after that, before the case could go to trial, the company entered a confidential settlement agreement. The records were sealed. And from that point forward, the line from the company and its legal team was that there was no asbestos in the mines.

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September 21, 2015

Special Needs Student Dies on School Bus, Investigation Launched

The family of a 19-year-old special needs student say he was left alone for nine hours on that bus, most likely waiting for instruction from a bus driver or teacher on what to do. But with no one apparently realizing he was missing, he just sat and waited.
It was one of the hottest days on record in Southern California, where this incident took place. Temperatures reached the triple digits.

He was supposed to arrive at school at around 8:30 a.m., and then return home at 3:30 p.m. But when the severely autistic man never arrived home as scheduled, his mother called the school district to alert them to a problem.

It was only at that point that bus workers returned to that bus and found the man slumped over in the rear aisle, unresponsive. Several bus drivers rushed over to begin resuscitation efforts, and then firefighters stepped in soon after upon arrival. However, the victim was already deceased.

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September 19, 2015

Defective High Chair Manufacturer Fined $3.5 Million

The manufacturer of many popular children's products has agreed to pay $3.5 million in fines to settle a case in which federal authorities alleged the company failed to report to federal regulators on a dangerous defect on one of its high chairs.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that phil&teds created an unreasonable risk of serious injury to children with its MeToo high chair. Not only was the product defective, the agency stated, the company intentionally made claims that were false or misrepresentations when the CPSC investigators first launched an inquiry in 2011.

But despite that hefty figure, it's likely the company will only be forced to pay a $200,000 penalty. That's because all but this much of the fine has been suspended, based on sworn depositions by company leaders that the firm can't afford to pay any more than this without closing shop.

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September 16, 2015

South Carolina Boating Accident Lawsuit to Settle for $1 Million

After a 9-year-old South Carolina girl was forced to have her right thumb amputated following a boating collision, the boat operator who created the large wake that allegedly caused the crash is preparing to settle the case for $1 million.
Defendant in this federal lawsuit happens to be the tourism leader in Myrtle Beach, who is also the managing partner of a resort company, for whom he was operating a yacht at the time of the collision.

Although $1 million may sound like a substantial amount for the loss of a single digit, one must consider all of the many actions that have now become impossible or extremely difficult without it. Simply holding a cup or writing one's name has become arduous. As she gets older, it may be difficult to drive a vehicle, and there will probably be certain jobs she will be unable to perform. In that light, that $1 million sounds more reasonable, particularly once all the medical bills are factored in.

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September 14, 2015

$3.5 Million Product Liability Verdict Reversed

Those who work within the manufacturing industry often rely heavily on large machinery to help them do their jobs. They have a right to expect those machines were thoughtfully designed and carefully manufactured so as to keep workers who use them safe.
When that does not happen, workers usually have two options of civil remedy. The first is workers' compensation benefits. Workers file these through their employer to cover their medical costs and a portion of lost wages while they recover. Critical injuries may warrant longer-term benefits, and a death usually entitles dependent relatives to workers' compensation death benefits. Workers cannot additionally sue their employers for negligence. Workers' compensation is almost always an exclusive remedy against an employer, as well as co-workers.

The second option for recovery is third-party liability. When a work-related accident was the result of a defective or dangerous machine, careful analysis by an experienced injury lawyer can help determine whether this is a viable option. These cases are often complicated, and, as the recent case of Kirkbride v. Terex USA reveals, they can present significant challenges. But when they are successful, injured workers may have the security of lifelong financial stability, with covered medical expenses and compensation for loss of earning capacity.

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September 11, 2015

Castro v. City of Thousand Oaks - Dangerous Pedestrian Crossing Sites

A mother was crossing the street with her two daughters, 3 and 6, as well as a family friend, age 5, and another girl, age 2, who was being pushed in a stroller. They approached a crosswalk at an intersection, pressed the button, waited for a signal and, when they were given the "all clear," they entered the roadway.
Seconds later, an unlicensed driver barreled through the intersection, barely braking before striking four of them. Only the 2-year-old, whose stroller the mother pushed away seconds before impact, was spared. The woman and the other three children were seriously injured - the 6-year-old critically.

As they continue to recover, the mother has filed a lawsuit against the city, for allegedly creating a dangerous situation at the intersection and failing to take the proper steps to make that intersection safer, despite knowing the conditions. In Castro v. City of Thousand Oaks, before a California appellate court, she argued the city should be liable for creating a "dizzying" amount of signals that confused drivers, and also for giving pedestrians a false sense of security. She also noted there was no median or "safe haven" in the middle of the busy road for pedestrians who suddenly found themselves in danger.

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September 8, 2015

Spady v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist. - Dry Drowning at Public School Swim

The case of Spady v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist., involves the drowning of a 15-year-old public school student of a rare form of asphyxiation known as "dry drowning" or "secondary drowning."
According to court records, the teen didn't want to go in the pool during gym class, but all students - even non-swimmers like himself - were required to do so through the duration of the class or else suffer a poor grade. Non-swimmers were allowed to venture into the deeper end while holding onto the edge of the pool.

This is what the teen did, and as he got closer to the deep end, he bumped into another group of students at the deep end and went under. Friends said he emerged in a panic, but quickly climbed out of the pool. The teacher allowed him to sit on the bench for a time, and then went to check on him. The teen didn't want to go back in, but the teacher, not noting any physical distress, said he had to unless he wanted his grade to suffer.

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September 6, 2015

Dodgen et al. v. PJ Trailers Manufacturing Inc. - Fatal Truck Accident Lawsuit

The family of a Texas woman killed in a commercial trailer accident has filed a lawsuit alleging the company that manufactured the truck failed to take a basic safety precaution that could have saved her life.
In Dodgen et al. v. PJ Trailers Manufacturing Inc., plaintiffs allege that had the trucking company installed underride guards on the side of the truck, as well as conspicuous side markings, the crash could have been avoided entirely.

The law does not require side underride guards, but the National Transportation Safety Board has been issuing warnings about this safety hazard since 1968. Most recently, the NTSB released a safety recommendation in the spring of 2014, suggesting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require underride side guards for all vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds.

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September 4, 2015

Bradley v. Ameristep Inc. - Tree Stand Injury Lawsuit to Proceed

One would think the most dangerous aspect of hunting would be the firearm. Or perhaps even the wild animals. But in fact, one of the leading causes of injury for hunters is the tree stand.
Tree stands - also sometimes referred to as "deer stands" are platforms used by hunters. They are secured to the tree in order to raise the hunter up higher for a better vantage point.

However, there are many cases every year in which a hunter falls from one of these stands, resulting in severe or sometimes even catastrophic injuries. Not all tree stand falls may be ripe for litigation. But if the reason the hunter fell has to do with a defective design of the tree stand product, compensation from the manufacturer may well be in order.

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September 1, 2015

North Carolina Day Care Sued for Child Injury, Abuse, Neglect

The parents of a 5-year-old boy have filed a lawsuit against a day care alleging a teacher at the center hit the child, pushed book cases at him and then allowed another child to taunt and strike him.
The Winston-Salem day care center is accused of negligent hiring of the teacher and also for negligent supervision of her actions. The two teachers accused in the case are now facing criminal charges, and they are reportedly no longer employed at the center.

As reported by the Winston-Salem Journal ,the center was the subject of a previous complaint of child abuse and neglect a month before this incident reportedly occurred.

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August 29, 2015

Spierer v. Rossman - No Duty of Care Owed by Missing Student's Friends

In any civil tort lawsuit, plaintiffs are required to prove each element of basic negligence.

These elements are:

  • Defendant owed a duty of care;

  • That duty of care was breached;

  • Plaintiff suffered harm as a result of that breach;

  • Proof of monetary losses.

If any one of these points isn't proven, plaintiffs cannot collect damages from defendant.

In the recent case of Spierer v. Rossman, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled friends of a missing college student owed no duty of care to her on the morning she disappeared. The court, while expressing deep sympathy for the parents, say there are no decisions under Indiana state law (where this incident occurred) that allows persons to be held liable for the actions of their social peers absent additional factors that aren't present in this case.

The appeals court ruling was an affirmation of an earlier dismissal by the circuit court.

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August 27, 2015

State ex rel. Beisly v. Hon. Perigo - Civil Justice for Criminal Wrongs

An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. are victimized by crime annually, and the consequences of that crime often extend far beyond the individual act. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates victims - and those who survive them - are left with substantial costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, lost wages and property damage.
Every year, those costs stack up to $450 billion.

But the criminal justice system is not designed to compensate victims of crime for their losses. True, some cases do result in orders of restitution. But the victim has little control over the proceedings, and the goal of the criminal justice system is punishment of the offender, not restoration of the victim.

This is why many victims of violent crime (and/or their surviving loved ones) may seek justice through the civil court system. In this forum, victims have a greater amount of control. They can seek financial compensation. They can hold offenders directly accountable. They can also pursue action against other third-party responsible parties, such as businesses, apartment complexes and shopping centers that failed to have adequate security. They may also pursue a civil lawsuit even if the criminal action sputters out and fails to result in a conviction.

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August 24, 2015

South Carolina Group Homes Face Abuse Allegations

A number of group homes in South Carolina have received millions in taxpayer funding the last few decades, despite dozens of allegations of abuse involving those in their care.
A few have been forced to shut down, but others remain open.

One of those now shuttered was in Belton. The group home for troubled youth received an estimated $1.5 million annually in state funding. And yet, according to a recent investigation by the Post and Courier, the facility was investigated more than three dozen times for alleged abuse and neglect of the children there since 2000.

However, it wasn't until a personal injury lawsuit was filed by one of the former residents, now a 23-year-old man, that the facility actually closed its doors. His lawsuit alleges he was raped and tortured by staff members and their friends. He claims he reported the abuse to a social worker and another employee, but nothing was done. Eventually, he said, he just gave up. And he wasn't the only one - and neither was that facility.

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