A California appellate court recently reversed a trial court’s ruling to deny a government agency summary judgment on immunity grounds in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from an accident involving a rope swing at a public park. ropeswing

In County of San Diego v. Super. Ct., the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, ruled trial court erred in denying the county’s motion for summary judgment, as it was immune from personal injury litigation based on California Government Code Section 831.7, which deals with hazardous recreational activity. The statute says that if someone is engaged in hazardous recreational activity (in which one knows or reasonably should know there is a substantial risk of injury to onesself) on public property, the government can’t be held liable.

North Carolina has similar statutes, spelled out in NCGS 99E-24 and NCGS 99E-25. Those laws say that if a person is engaged in hazardous recreational activity, he or she assumes the known and unknown risks associated with this activities – including legal liability for injury or death. There is a personal responsibility to act within the limits of his or her ability and purpose of the design of equipment, maintain control of his or her person and refrain from acting in a way that may cause or contribute to death or injury to oneself or other people. Failure to do so is negligence, and no governmental entity will be liable when a person voluntarily engages in hazardous recreation activities on public property. Continue reading

The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed a $200,000 judgment in favor of a tenant who was injured when the railing on the stairway of his apartment building collapsed during ordinary use.stairway

In Mansfield v. Real Estate Plus Inc., jurors did not hold the management company responsible for the injury, though the firm was named as a defendant. However, it did find the landlord had a duty to inspect and repair the defect, and plaintiff was not contributorily negligent for his own injuries. Defendant landlord appealed that verdict, but the appellate court rejected his arguments.

Plaintiff’s case was well-established in this premises liability action, which was originally tried in Craven County Superior Court. Key elements of such cases include:

  • A duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation (breach caused injuries)

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The family of a 71-year-old Ohio woman who died after suffering numerous severe pressure sore wounds has been awarded $1 million in damages against the nursing home in charge of her care. oldhands5

In Lang v. Beachwoode Point Care Center, before the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, plaintiff, as representative of decedent’s estate, alleged that not only did the nursing home neglect to provide her with proper care resulting in the wounds, they failed to appropriately respond in treating those wounds, didn’t notify her family of her deteriorating condition and didn’t alert her physician to a problem. By failing to provide her with adequate supervision, adequate nutrition or appropriate care levels, plaintiffs caused her severe injury, pain and suffering and ultimately, death. Her family also asserted damages in the form of mental anguish and loss of consortium.

Jurors ultimately agreed with those assertions, awarding $440,000 in compensatory damages, which will help to cover medical bills and funeral expenses. In addition, $560,000 in punitive damages was awarded. Such an award is intended to punish defendant for especially egregious or grossly negligent conduct.

In North Carolina, NCGS 1D-15 only allows punitive damages in cases where claimant proves defendant is liable for compensatory damages AND at least one of the following aggravating factors are present:

  • Fraud
  • Malice
  • Willful or wanton conduct

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A Winston-Salem woman previously employed by a daycare is facing legal action in both criminal and civil court after an incident of alleged abuse at the center involving a 5-year-old boy. daycare

The 32-year-old defendant was arrested in June on charges of intentional abuse of a child inflicting serious injury, negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, assault on a child under 12 and misdemeanor child abuse charges.  According to her arrest warrant, defendant slid the child across the floor of the day care center and then held him while instructing another child to hit him repeatedly.

Authorities say the young boy was covered in scratches and bruises across his body, including on his torso and arm, as a result of the attack.

Two months after the woman was arrested, plaintiffs – parents of the child – filed a civil lawsuit against both the worker and the day care center. Continue reading

A jury in Georgia has ordered medical device manufacturer Wright Medical to pay $11 million in the first federal trial concerning the Conserve hip implant. Of that sizable award, $1 million was in compensatory damages, intended to compensate plaintiff for losses, and $10 million was in punitive damages, intended to punish defendant. skiing

Jurors concluded not only was the hip implant defective and unreasonably dangerous, but that manufacturer misrepresented the safety of those products. For this, jurors determined defendant was 100 percent at fault for plaintiff’s injuries.

Plaintiff, who spent nearly 50 years as a children’s ski instructor and led a very active lifestyle, was advised by doctors to undergo a hip replacement in 2006. Her doctor, based on what he’d been told by manufacturer, told her the metal-on-metal hip replacement model was her best bet. But as we have discovered with so many hip replacement devices, this one failed prematurely. Continue reading

A police officer in Maine suffered a broken ankle while attempting to arrest a person at an off-campus student housing complex near The University of Maine. police

Now, he is taking action against the property owners, who own a site where a party of 300 to 400 students happened on the first Saturday of the 2014-2015 school year. In Angelo v. Campus Crest at Orono LLC, plaintiff alleges the property owners were negligent for failure to have adequate police presence or private security to make sure such a large gathering wouldn’t happen in the first place, or at least that large groups of people weren’t drinking alcohol outside the apartments.

The lawsuit mentioned a similar party took place at the same complex shortly after it first opened back in 2012. It houses a total of 620 students. Continue reading

Late last year, a woman filed a lawsuit against Dollywood, a theme park owned by entertainer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment.amusementparkswing

Now, the Tennessee defendants in Brown v. Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. have fired back, alleging plaintiff is to blame for her own injuries. Where plaintiff asserts the park is negligent for failure to maintain a working lock mechanism on a motorized swing ride, defense asserts plaintiff voluntarily left the ride before it was finished, jumping to the ground and causing her own injuries.

Although this kind of defense – known as comparative fault – is a challenge that is often raised in personal injury lawsuits across the country, it can be especially damaging here in North Carolina. That’s because we, along with just three other states plus the District of Columbia, adhere to a system of pure contributory negligence. Under this principle, plaintiff may not recover damages if his negligence proximately caused his injury. This is true even when defendant shares more of the blame than plaintiff. Continue reading

We instinctually seek to protect children from harm. We make sure they can’t reach an open flame or touch the sharp edge of a blade. We keep guns out of reach and we clear coins and other small choking hazards from the hands of toddlers. blinds

Window cord blinds, on the other hand, don’t look all that dangerous. In homes throughout the country, these products are silent killers. The danger, as as been proven time and again, is that there is a risk the cord can get wrapped around a child’s neck, causing strangulation.

Although the industry has insisted that its own voluntary manufacturing guidelines and educational programs were enough to curb the danger, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is renewing its fight to ban blinds with potentially dangerous cords. Continue reading

A $6.6 million verdict in favor of an asbestos injury plaintiff was reinstated after the Florida Supreme Court ruled an appellate court had wrongly reversed the trial court’s conclusion of the case. dust

Plaintiff in Aubin v. Union Carbide Corp. was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Plaintiff claimed he was exposed to the toxic material by way of a product called SG-210 Caldria, a product designed and manufactured by defendant. He had worked as a construction supervisor at his father’s firm between 1972 and 1974, overseeing construction of a residential development in South Florida, and claimed it was during this time he was exposed to the dust during the sanding and sweeping of drywall compounds and ceiling texture sprays, which contained SG-210 Caldria.

At the time, plaintiff asserted he did not know the compounds he was working with contained asbestos, and therefore had no idea he was at risk of developing the serious illness. Continue reading

Halloween is an exciting time for families with young children as well as college students and recent graduates. While these two groups obviously have vastly different ideas as to what constitutes the perfect Halloween party, one thing they do share is a love of Halloween decorations. This includes carved real pumpkins, plastic pumpkins, spider webs, lights, candles, smoke machines, and anything else
you can imagine.

1250811_halloween_related.jpgWhile these decorations can really add a lot to the festivities and be a lot of fun, according to a recent article in Claims Journal (as insurance industry trade publication), they can also serve as a potential fire hazard. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that between the years 2006 and 2010, there were 900 reported cases of home fires where the primary point of ignition was a decoration. Of these 900 home structure fires, one person was killed and 41 civilians were injured. The agency separates civilians from firefighters when reporting statistics, since firefighter deaths would skew the data, as they involve lots of additional variables.
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