South Carolina senators voted 7-4 to reject medical marijuana legislation that would have made the drug available for those with debilitating or chronic illnesses. Calling it a “pathway to recreational use,” senators say the negatives outweigh the positives. marijuana1

However, this is unlikely to be the last we will hear of this issue in the Carolinas. And while the drug is still technically illegal, it’s still one of the most widely-used substances in the U.S. Further, even proponents of legalization for medical/ recreational purposes concede the drug is an intoxicating substance that can serve to impair drivers.

So what does this mean for those who share the road with marijuana users? In many ways, marijuana use is treated the same as alcohol use. That is, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired. Specifically, S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-2930(A) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or any drugs that would impair a person’s normal faculties to the point it is unsafe to drive a vehicle.  Continue reading

Nursing home neglect is a serious problem resulting in life-altering injury and sometimes death.ballpen

Those affected by abuse and neglect in nursing homes may seek to hold these facilities accountable, and that often involves substantial settlements and jury verdicts. But in order to reduce the chances they’ll have to pay these damages – or at least reduce the amount they will pay – nursing homes have begun making arbitration clauses standard in admission forms. These agreements require patients or their representatives to sign away the legal right to sue. Instead, disputes are required to be settled through arbitration.

Arbitrators tend to decide cases more often in favor of the nursing homes, they aren’t required to follow established case law and when they do decide a case in favor of a plaintiff, the damages awarded are typically far lower than what we would see in civil court. Plus, the outcome in these cases is always confidential, so the nursing home never faces public scrutiny for its actions (or inaction).  Continue reading

The operator of a North Carolina State Fair ride that malfunctioned three years ago, resulting in the catastrophic injuries of a 30-year-old Durham resident, was sentenced to probation recently after last year pleading guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. fair1

Although the operator made his plea last year, sentencing was held off until prosecutors resolved the criminal case against the ride’s owner, who in February was sentenced to 30 days jail and ordered to pay $22,500 in restitution. The operator, meanwhile, will not serve jail time, even though he knew of the owner’s actions in installing jump wiring on the ride that bypassed safety measures intended to prevent the ride from starting without the safety handlebars in place.

Unsurprisingly, an accident occurred when the right started without the safety handlebars in place, as riders were exiting the ride. A total of five people were injured, including one man who suffered injuries to his brain, neck, skull and spinal cord. He was comatose for a full month after the accident, and now suffers from ongoing seizures. He’s also permanently blind in one eye and has been unable to return to work.  Continue reading

Attorneys general for Washington state and California have filed lawsuits against health care and products giant Johnson & Johnson over allegations the company for years misrepresented the risk of its pelvic mesh devices. woman2

According to a new report from CBS News, the attorneys general alleged the company, based in New Jersey, intentionally concealed critical information from patients, doctors and the public about how dangerous pelvic mesh implants could be. The complications are not only severe, but often irreversible.

Many patients who have received pelvic mesh implants report:

  • Urinary dysfunction
  • Loss of sexual function/ extremely painful intercourse
  • Severe constipation
  • Serious and chronic pain

Continue reading

Anyone who engages in a sport or other physical activity understands there may be some inherent risks involved. If you aren’t in shape, you could pull a muscle. If the game involves tackling, you might get knocked hard to the ground. weighttraining

Generally, injury lawsuits prohibit claims where the injured person assumed the risk of that injury by participating. But that doesn’t mean every injury sustained in sports, workouts or other physical activity is covered under this umbrella.

Take for example the recent case of Lik v. LA Fitness, recently weighed by the Nassau County Supreme Court in New York. Here, a patron is suing the gym where he held a membership after falling and suffering injury during a basketball game at the facility in January 2014. The issue was not that he fell during the game, but rather the injury he sustained when he hit the floor. Plaintiff alleges that a floor board on the facility’s basketball court was defective and therefore created a dangerous condition. As a property owner, the gym owed a duty of care to customers to ensure the site was reasonably free from dangerous conditions and foreseeable hazards.  Continue reading

Plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits are often required to submit to physical examinations of their injuries by doctors chosen by the defense. These exams are sometimes referred to as “independent medical exams,” but make no mistake: The doctor is being paid by the defense, and that is almost certainly how their opinion will skew.parkinglot2

Essentially, any time a plaintiff’s physical or mental condition is in controversy, any other party can serve notice and direct that party to undergo a physical or mental examination by a designated provider.

This was the situation in the recent case of In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P., weighed by the Texas Supreme Court. Continue reading

When students attend school or engage in activities on school property, it is assumed they will be supervised – particularly if they are engaged in a risky activity.youngboy

This was the allegation in Jimenez v. Roseville City School District, a case recently weighed by the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District. In this case, the risky activity was break dancing, a style of street dancing that is popular among youth, and associated with hip-hop and rap music. It’s an extremely physically demanding type of dance, and it does occasionally perform risky moves, such as spinning on one’s head, twisting, bending, jerking and sometimes flipping.

According to court records, plaintiff was a 14-year-old middle school student at defendant school district when he was injured while attempting to perform a flip while practicing break dancing with a group of his fellow students. The group was practicing in a classroom with the teacher’s permission, but the teacher had left the room at the time the injury occurred. Continue reading

Two children in Missouri were passengers on a school bus that collided with a pickup truck. Each of the two children were seriously injured. schoolbuswithchild1

The parents of this children separately sued a myriad of defendants in state court, including the manufacturer and retailer of the bus and its brakes. The families alleged that, among other failures, the brakes on the bus were defective and this was a proximate cause of the crash. The company that sold the bus was originally a party to each of these actions, but was later not named in amended complaints.

The cases were consolidated, went to trial and jurors found in favor of defendants. Later, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the bus retailer in federal court. However, the district court granted defense motion to dismiss on grounds the claim was prohibited based on a legal principle known as res judicata, which is claim preclusion. Plaintiffs appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Appellate District affirmed on the alternative grounds of collateral estoppel, which is a type of issue preclusion. Continue reading

With summer fast-approaching, thrill seekers across the state are soon going to be flocking to fairgrounds and parking lots across North Carolina for a myriad of state fairs, carnivals and amusements. carnival1

For most patrons, food is the main reason they come. Still, it’s estimated at least half will take their chances on a ride.

But are these rides really safe? There are numerous headlines that seem to indicate it isn’t. For example, ABC News reported a teen girl was killed after she was ejected from a spinning carnival ride at a local church parking lot. Two other teens were seriously injured. In another case out of Nebraska, a young girl was scalped when her hair was caught in a spinning ride.  Continue reading

Property owners and managers owe business patrons a duty of care to ensure the site is reasonably safe from foreseeable risks and harms that are not obvious to those guests. barsign

When it comes to third-party assaults, property owners can sometimes be held liable for these too, but only if it can be established that the risk of an attack was reasonably foreseeable. Typically, this is shown through presentation of a series of similar incidents at the same establishment or nearby. Many of these cases involve bars, clubs and taverns that serve alcohol.Anytime alcohol is involved, there is a heightened potential for risk, and these businesses must take that into account in determining an appropriate level of security.

In the recent case of Pittman v. Rivera, though, the question before the Nevada Supreme Court was whether a bar could be held liable for a disgruntled patron plowing into a group of other customers just outside the bar, hours after he’d been forcibly removed and then again denied entry upon return.  Continue reading

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