Recently in Personal Injury Category

July 10, 2015

Chavez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA - Gross Negligence Standard


A woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was hit by a piece of work-out equipment at her local gym has been granted the go-ahead to proceed to trial with her case.gym1.jpg

An appellate court in California ruled in Chavez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA that plaintiff had the met the minimum standard of proof for gross negligence necessary to overcome summary judgment favoring the defense in a case where plaintiff had previously signed a waiver of liability.

That waiver of liability indicated plaintiff agreed to hold the gym harmless for any injury she may suffer as a result of gym employees' negligence. Gym argued this was an absolute defense. However, if plaintiff could show gym acted with gross negligence (as opposed to ordinary negligence), she could overcome this assertion and proceed to trial.

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June 30, 2015

Eight Cases of E. Coli at South Carolina Daycare Center Confirmed


There is no question that when we drop our children off at daycare each morning, we are putting a lot of trust in the daycare operator to do everything possible to prevent any injuries. Injuries at daycare facilities can happen in a variety of ways. Some cases involve a child not being properly supervised while eating or drinking, and the child chokes on the food. Other cases involving inattentive daycare staff allowing children to bite or otherwise assault each other. There are also many cases involving foodborne illness.

escherichia-coli-1018465-m.jpgAccording to a recent report from WBTW News 13, officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Controls (DHEC) has just confirmed an eighth case of E. coli, which has been traced to a now-closed daycare in Greenwood. While there are more cases possible, there has been one confirmed death of a child as result of an E. coli infection from the suspect daycare facility.

One of the owners of the daycare facility made a public statement, saying they volunteered to close the business as soon as the source of the outbreak was confirmed, and they have been working hard to clean and sterilize the building. DHEC officials say they have not identified how the E. coli strain became introduced to this particular daycare, but they are aware that four of the eight cases involved the same exact strain of E. coli bacteria. Some of the E. coli victims worked at the daycare facility, and the remaining victims were children enrolled at the center.

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June 27, 2015

Amusement Park Safety in the Carolinas


This summer, families across the country will look forward to spending their days at local amusement parks. These places can be a lot of fun and there is often a lot more to do that just go on thrill rides. There are variety of family-friendly shows, water attractions and even nightclubs for the parents.

jubilee-coaster-764424-m.jpgMany will travel to big amusement parks outside of North and South Carolina, like Disney and Busch Gardens, but many will go to large parks in the Carolinas, like Carowinds in the Charlotte area.

While roller coasters aren't the only source of entertainment, they are still a reason many people come to these theme parks each year. Amusement park operators are aware of this and are constantly competing with each other to attract more tourists by boasting the newest, biggest, and scariest roller coasters. However, according to a recent news article from Market Watch, some of these news rides can pose a serious safety risk to riders.

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June 25, 2015

Tainted Ice Cream Isn't the Only Source of Listeria


Over the past two months, the news media has focused quite a bit on food safety and food product recalls in relation to the recent problems Blue Bell Creamery faced when most of their ice cream product line contained a significant risk of listeria contamination. In that case, it was originally believed to be a single ice cream scooping machine used only for novelty products that was responsible for the contamination. However, later safety testing revealed widespread listeria contamination in multiple production centers, and the recall was expanded from only novelty products to virtually all ice cream.

ice-cream-dipper-584463-m.jpgBut ice cream is not the only product that can pose a serious risk for listeria, and, according to a recent news feature from Consumer Reports, there are steps many in the foodservice industry can do to prevent food poisoning. It should be noted, ice cream products pose an added safety risk because of the longer periods of times a container of ice cream can sit in a consumer's freezer. This makes recalls much more difficult to organize.

Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) is a strain of bacteria naturally found in water, soil and decaying vegetation. It is found in many animals, and these animals essentially serve as carriers for the bacteria and often have no symptoms of any listeria-related illness. When those animals are killed for their meat or processed for the production of dairy products, anyone eating the meat or dairy can become infected with the disease.

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June 15, 2015

Ten Injured When AC Unit Falls From Crane in NYC


According to a recent news article from WTSP, an air conditioning unit was being lifted on a crane in New York City when it fell to the ground and injured 10 people. Witnesses say the air conditioning unit was an extremely large commercial size unit that was being lifted by crane to the top of a skyscraper on Madison Avenue.

harbour-crane-1428745-m.jpgThe air conditioning unit was 28 stories above street level when it fell and landed in the middle of crowded Madison Avenue just before 11 a.m. The falling air conditioning unit injured 10 people. Authorities say eight of the ten victims were passengers of passing cars and pedestrians walking on the street below, and the remaining two victims were construction workers involved in the installation of the air conditioner. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement following the incident and said nobody was directly struck by the air conditioner itself, as all of the injuries were caused by debris from the unit after it crashed onto the street. He said all injuries were minor, and all victims were taken to local hospitals, where they received treatment.

Police and building inspectors are conducting an investigation into how the air conditioner managed to fall 28 stories to the street below. They believe the crane itself was and still is in good working order and said that is all they could say at this time. From those comments, people are obviously assuming operator error in securing the payload or moving the crane boom may have played a role in this rather unusual accident, but, it should be noted, there has been no finding of liability on anyone's part as of the time this article was released.

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June 12, 2015

Dre Beats Speaker Recalled Due to Burn Hazard


In recent years, wearing large studio style headphones has become extremely popular. One of the main brands people associate with the popular trend is Dre Beats, which were first marketed by hip-hop recording artist and music producer Dr. Dre. Various recording artists, athletes, and Hollywood celebrities are using these headphones, and, as a result, these fairly expensive (around $200 to $400 a pair) headphones have been flying off the shelves of electronic stores, and Apple recently acquired the brand.

stereovision-491558-m.jpgAccording to a recent article from Sound Guys, Apple has announced it will be voluntarily recalling its Dre Beats Pill XL due to problems with "overheating." Overheating is a relative term, since there have been allegations that the units heated up to the point where people were burned, and the products actually caught on fire.

First, it should be noted, the Beats Pill XL is a pill-shaped speaker, and not a pair of headphones like the other Dre Beats products, which people actually wear on their person. While the reports have ranged from minor overheating to physical burns, Apple has stated it does not want to take any chance with regard to customer safety and has voluntarily recalled the entire run of production for this item.

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June 10, 2015

Woman Suffers Life-Threatening Injury at Baseball Game


Going to a baseball game can be a lot of fun for the whole family, especially at one of America's great old ballparks like Fenway Park in Boston, which is home of the Red Sox. However, if you sit close to the field, there is always some risk of being injured. As the warning before every major league game states, you should be careful to look out for objects flying into the stands, which can result in serious injury.

fenway-242077-m.jpgAccording to recent article in USA Today, a woman was sitting behind home plate at Fenway Park with her 8-year-old son watching the Oakland As play the Boston Red Sox, when she was seriously injured by part of a broken bat, which came flying into the crowd.

Victim was seated watching the game while Oakland's third baseman, Brett Lawrie, was up to bat. He swung at the pitch, his bat shattered upon making contact with the ball, and part of the bat flew into the stands. The blunt end of the broken bat barrel hit victim on her forehead. She suffered what first responders, who were already on hand at the park, stated was life-threatening blunt force injury. She was bleeding profusely from her head, while EMT's worked to control the bleeding. Once she was stable enough for transport, she was taken by ambulance to nearby Beth Israel Deaconess hospital to undergo emergency surgery.

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June 1, 2015

Coba v. Tricam Indus., Inc. - Ladder Fall Liability Verdict Upheld


After a jury issued a conflicting verdict in the product liability case of Coba v. Tricam Indus., the defense made a crucial error: They did not object to it right away.
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It was only after that the defense pressed the trial court for a reconsideration, pointing out the discrepancy. Specifically, defense noted the jury found the product in question - a ladder - was not defectively designed, but still decided the defendant manufacturer was strictly liable for the injuries of decedent who fell from it.

Trial court denied consideration, but a Florida appellate court reversed, citing the "fundamental nature" exception to the widely accepted rule that defense must challenge inconsistent verdicts with a timely objection. However, the Florida Supreme Court reversed, siding with trial court on this issue and finding the $1.5 million verdict (reduced by 80 percent per a finding of comparative negligence) should be upheld.

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May 18, 2015

Medical Device Developed in North Carolina May Help Accident Victims


In today's world, medical science and technology has developed to a point where more accident victims can live much the way they did prior to suffering a serious debilitating accident.

broken-leg-xrayseries-1-978477-m.jpgAccording to a recent report in The Charlotte Observer, some of this new technology is being developed in North Carolina. Specifically, a new leg-mounted device aimed at helping injury victims is being developed. The new device, which has been described as groundbreaking, is designed to use a carbon-fiber exoskeleton worn on a patient's legs and aids them in moving their legs back and forth during walking. What makes this device so remarkable is that it does not contain any motors with a power source, because designers believed this would make them to heavy to wear all day.

The way they work is a patient attaches the lightweight to device to his or her leg below the knee. There is also a crutch of some sort behind the patient's calf and a spring by the patient's ankle. There is a Kevlar cable that connects these elements, and a support is also placed in a patient's ordinary shoe. When a patient takes a step, the crutch engages the spring by compressing it, and then in uncoils, causing it to help propel the patient's leg forward. The mechanism then resets itself and starts again with each step. Essentially, it takes less physical energy to walk.

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April 10, 2015

Limones v. Lee County School District - Automatic Defibrillator Responsibility in Schools


The Occupational Health & Safety Administration reports an estimated 460,000 people in the U.S. die of sudden cardiac arrest every year. Of those, nearly 10,000 are children and many have no prior sign of heart disease.
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That is more than the number of people who die from guns, breast cancer, cervical cancer, motor vehicle accidents, Alzheimer's disease, suicide, prostate cancer, house fires and HIV - combined. However, having an Automated External Defibrillator nearby when someone suffers from sudden cardiac arrest can increase the survival rate by almost 70 percent. It's required equipment for firefighters and paramedics.

Nineteen states - including South Carolina - require it in schools. (North Carolina is not among those.) Some even require them in all government buildings, health clubs and other facilities, and "Good Samaritan" laws have been passed in order to protect people who try to use them on someone who may be dying in order to encourage swift action.The chance of survival declines 10 percent for every minutes defibrillation is delayed. Meanwhile, the average response times for first-responders is 8 to 12 minutes nationally.

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April 8, 2015

Johnson v. American Towers - Cell Companies Not Liable for Third-Party Attack in South Carolina


In general, courts do not hold one person or entity responsible for the negligent or criminal actions of another. iphone1.jpg

But of course, there are always exceptions. In civil cases, sometimes the courts will allow an entity or person who owes a special duty of care to a victim and who failed in that duty, thereby allowing a third party to take advantage, to be held responsible. These cases require very specific criteria to be met. Usually, we see it in premises liability cases where a landlord or nightclub owner or school owed a duty to tenants/patrons/students to protect them and failed to secure adequate security, resulting in third-party violence (rape, assault, etc.).

In the South Carolina case of Johnson v. American Towers, LLC., reviewed recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, plaintiff made a novel assertion regarding a third-party attack. Injured plaintiff accused a cell phone company of negligence after a prison inmate, using a contraband cell phone, ordered an attack on victim, a prison guard, at the guard's home. The guard was shot multiple times at the behest of this prisoner.

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April 4, 2015

Hodson v. Taylor - Paralyzed Swimmer Can Sue Owners of Boat and Lake


Boating accidents in North Carolina inevitably rise as the weather warms and more people take to the water. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reports the number of boating accidents has hovered around 155 the last several years, while fatalities have ranged from 21 to 25 between 2009 and 2012. Additionally, another 100 or so were injured and required medical attention.
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July is the peak month in which accidents occur, with most fatalities and serious injuries attributed to a fall or jump overboard.

That's exactly what happened to plaintiff in Hodson v. Taylor, a teen who was on a private lake in a boat owned by a friend's parents. The teens were unsupervised and consuming alcohol, according to court records, when he jumped into the murky lake and struck the shallow bottom, rendering him paralyzed. He hadn't realized that part of the lake would be so shallow. There were no warnings, and they had stopped several times earlier at different locations to swim with no issues.

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March 26, 2015

Book v. Voma Tire Corp. - Faulty Tire Lawsuit to Proceed


A state supreme court has granted approval for a defective tire lawsuit to proceed in state court against one of China's largest auto parts manufacturers.
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The case stems from severe injury suffered by a teen worker when a reportedly defective tire exploded at his father's auto repair shop.

In Book v. Voma Tire Corp., the Iowa Supreme Court flatly rejected the claim by Doublestar Dongent Tyre Company that it could not be sued in state court because the company didn't operate in that state -- its tires were shipped through a distributor in Tennessee.

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March 15, 2015

Brown v. Jacobs - Duty to Warn in Third Person Assault Case


While our laws generally seek to avoid punishment of one person for the actions of another, there are some exceptions, particularly as it relates to a failure to protect or warn someone from a known or foreseeable danger.
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As injury lawyers, we see this a lot in premises liability law, where, say management at an apartment complex failed to install working locks, which in turn allowed dangerous intruders to gain access. There have been other cases of negligent security against bars or nightclubs that failed to hire adequate crowd control to keep everyone safe, and someone was injured in a fight.

More rarely, there are cases against individuals for failure to warn of a danger posed by another individual, but usually, those cases only succeed when knowledge is clearly established and the danger was clear and specific.

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March 4, 2015

Grebing v. 24 Hour Fitness - Waivers of Liability as Defense


Waivers aren't just for parasailing and white water rafting. A growing number of gyms, spas and other facilities that might otherwise be deemed "low risk" are requiring patrons to sign a waiver agreeing to forfeit their right to legal action in the event of injury - even when the facility is unsafe or the staff negligent.
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There are numerous misconceptions when it comes to liability waivers and releases. For a long time, there was the notion that waivers were not worth the paper upon which they were written. This is not true, as liability waivers can indeed limit the degree to which a plaintiff can collect damages for negligence, if not totally eliminate it in some cases.

However, neither is it true that liability waivers offer total protection to all service providers and facilities under every circumstance. Some of the limitations of waivers that can adversely affect their effectiveness include failure to adhere to certain language requirements, the existence of gross negligence, injury to a non-signing spouse and injuries involving children.

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