Recently in Wrongful Death Category

June 4, 2015

Genie Industries, Inc. v. Matak - Construction Death Lawsuit Weighed


When a person is injured or killed at work, typically workers' compensation or workers' compensation death benefits is the first - and sometimes only - avenue of compensation available. hardhat.jpg

In most cases, workers' compensation bars any other form of payment from one's employer, even if the company was in some way negligent for the accident.

However, there are sometimes cases in which third parties may be held liable too. This could be the property owner, other contractors and sometimes product manufacturers or distributors. This was the case in Genie Industries, Inc. v. Matak, where a worker was killed after falling from an aerial lift.

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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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March 30, 2015

Anderson DUI Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Driver, Bars


A civil lawsuit filed by the family of one of three youths killed in a deadly DUI accident in Anderson late last year names not only the alleged drunk driver, but also the establishment that reportedly served him alcohol.
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The 17-year-old crash victim was killed in the November 2014 wreck, along with a 22-year-old man from Greenville and a 20-year-old woman from Iva. Additionally, the 12-year-old sister of the 17-year-old decedent was critically injured.

The families of the other victims have also joined the lawsuit, which alleges at least two bars served alcohol to the suspect driver in the hours before the fatal crash. Relying on the Dram Shop law, plaintiffs alleged the bars violated state law when they served alcohol to a person who was clearly intoxicated.

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March 21, 2015

Uriell v. Regents of UC - $550K Lawsuit for Failure to Diagnose


A California appellate court recently upheld a $550,000 medical malpractice verdict for the wrongful death of a woman whose doctor failed to timely diagnose her with breast cancer.
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The cancer was reportedly already in the later stages when she scheduled her first appointment for a small lump. But the doctor, after reviewing a mammogram and an ultrasound, indicated the patient had benign cysts and should simply cut back on caffeine. The patient, with a long familial history of fatal breast cancer, returned 18 months later with other symptoms. By then, the cancer was so far progressed, there was not much treatment could do. She died little more than a year later.

Her family sued the doctor and the hospital in Uriell v. Regents of UC, arguing defendant doctor breached the applicable standard of care for declining to order an MRI or biopsy after that first appointment, given the patient's genetic propensity to develop the disease.

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February 19, 2015

Eriksson v. Nunnink - Equine Injuries Compensable Under Limited Circumstances


Horses are beautiful, stoic creatures to which many people are understandably drawn. However, they can also, by virtue of their size and nature, be very dangerous animals. In some cases, contact with horses or involvement in equestrian activities can result in serious injury or death - even in a fairly organized setting.
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Succeeding on a claim of liability for horse-related injuries in North Carolina is difficult because of the provisions in Chapter 99E of the North Carolina General Statutes. This is also sometimes referred to as the "Equine and Farm Animal Activity Liability Act."

Basically, the law states owners and sponsors of activities can't be held liable for injury or death of a participant that results from the inherent risks of horse-related activities. Inherent risks are defined as dangers or conditions deemed an integral part of engaging in equine activity. So if a horse is startled by a sudden movement, sound or activity and kicks you, resulting in injury, that may not be compensable because horses are known to behave unpredictably to such stimuli, so it would be considered an inherent risk.

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January 31, 2015

Martin v. Dematic - Wrongful Death Lawsuit to Proceed


In any civil court case, there are strict deadlines by which certain things have to be done - from filing to discovery to trial.
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Courts do have some degree of discretion, but usually, if either side misses a deadline without just cause, it could mean severe repercussions, up to and including dismissal of the case or judgment favoring the other side.

One of these rules that holds fairly standard across the board is that plaintiffs have to name all defendants in a given action prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time one has to file a claim before the opportunity is forever lost.

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January 19, 2015

Wannall v. Honeywell, Inc. - Mesothelioma Claim Standard Shifts, Affecting Cases


In asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, there are varying standards across the country on what courts will accept as proof of causation. carrepair.jpg

While it's generally accepted that exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, asbestos and lung cancer, what's usually in dispute is the level of exposure necessary to result in illness. Specifically, the question arises to what extent exposure to a defendant's certain product caused or contributed to plaintiff's or decedent's illness and/or death.

It's also important to note these standards are somewhat fluid and prone to change as the medical understanding and legal theory on this complex issue evolves.

We saw this recently in the case of Wannall v. Honeywell, Inc. before the U.S. Court of Appeal for District of Columbia Circuit.

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December 2, 2014

Black Friday Injuries and Retailer Liability


In the weeks leading up to the notorious "Black Friday" for bargain-seeking shoppers, media sources reflected on past incidences of injury, even death related to stampedes, fighting, and brawls between customers and employees. In the event that a shopper is injured onsite, who is at fault? Can a consumer take action against a shop owner or corporation if they have suffered an injury? Black Friday attracts shoppers from all over the nation and has even spread to the UK. It is the busiest and most publicized commercial day of the year, but has also resulted in serious injuries and poses risk to consumers as well as retail employees.

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The National Retail Federation reports that there were over 90 million consumers participating in online and in-store Black Friday events. Those who decide to brave it in the masses could face potentially dangerous conditions. While many retailers will invest in a few extra security guards--they are not always sufficient or able to properly manage large crowds. A website found at www.blackfridaydeathcount.com tracks the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred as a result of Black Friday mobs. Individuals who have suffered a Black Friday injury do have the right to take action to collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and additional personal losses that may have been incurred.

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November 11, 2014

May and Hill v. Melrose South Pyrotechnics, Inc. - Trial Slated in Fireworks Tragedy


Trial is slated to begin this month in the case of a 2009 explosion of a truck containing fireworks on Ocracoke Island that killed four workers and seriously injured a fifth.
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Earlier this year, plaintiffs in May and Hill v. Melrose South Pyrotechnics, Inc. won a substantial victory at the North Carolina Court of Appeals when the court declined to dismiss the case simply because defendant labeled decedent's as employees. The court found such a ruling would be premature. That will be decided as a matter of fact by the jury, as opposed to being decided as a matter of law by a judge prior to trial.

The question of the relationship between the workers and defendant pyrotechnic company is an important one because if they were employees, as defendant asserts, any claims for recovery would be limited to workers' compensation law. However, if the workers were independent contractors, as alleged by plaintiffs, they are not bound by the exclusive remedy provision of workers' compensation benefits.

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November 6, 2014

Aycock v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. - Product Liability Litigation


North Carolina is the site of many tobacco-based industries, including giants Lorillard (Greensboro) and R.J. Reynolds (Winston-Salem). While these industries have in some ways benefited the local economies, they have also resulted in countless people nationwide contracting serious and often fatal illnesses. What's worse, for a long time, these companies concealed the extent to which their products were harmful.
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It's for this reason tobacco companies have been the subject of thousands of lawsuits from former smokers and relatives of those who died after suffering a smoking-related disease.

Just last year, the North Carolina Attorney General announced the state would be receiving a total of $211 million from tobacco companies (R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard) for smoking-related health care costs among taxpayers.

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October 30, 2014

77-Year-Old Woman Killed in Tragic Swamp Boating Accident


Tourists and visitors to the Southeast region may be put at additional risk if they are unaware of their surroundings or attempting new recreational activities. According to reports, a 77-year-old North Carolina woman drowned in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia after she fell out of a boat in the Suwanee Canal. The woman was visiting the swamp with her husband at the time of the accident. Authorities reported that the Efland woman was staying with her husband at the Laura S. Walker State Park while visiting the swamp.

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Drowning and boating accidents are common along the coast and on inland streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the Southeast. According to reports, the victims' husband stopped to look at something and had turned off the engine. When he restarted the motor, the boat lurched forward, "standing on end" and they both fell backwards out of the boat. Police reports indicate that the husband tried to help his wife, but she become entangled in the boat's propeller and suffered fatal injuries. The accident occurred approximately 7 or 8 miles down from the boat basin where they launched. After initial calls for help were made, local law enforcement officials, fire and rescue personnel, as well as officers from U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service and the State DNR responded to the scene. Though attempts were made to revive the woman, she was pronounced dead at the refuge by the Ware County coroner.

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October 29, 2014

Family Awarded $97 Million for Death of South Carolina Mayor


The family of a South Carolina mayor who was shot by a police officer has been awarded $97 million in a wrongful death case. According to reports, the mayor was shot and killed after he complained about the officer's aggressive behavior. The wrongful death verdict was considered a success for the family who tragically lost their loved one in a preventable crime. The mayor was shot in the chest with a revolver belonging to an officer in May 2011. The mayor was shot on a small dirt road and, according to local authorities, the officer still has not been charged with the crime.

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The tension between the mayor and the officer grew after the mayor objected the arrest of an employee in his construction business. The family sued the officer and the town of Cottageville, alleging that it should never have hired the officer due to his checkered past and troubled employment history. An attorney representing the officer alleges that the mayor had bipolar disorder and was enraged when he confronted the officer. A defense attorney claimed that the officer only shot the mayor in self-defense.

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October 16, 2014

Temple v. Mary Washington Hospital: On Discovery Motions in Medical Malpractice Cases


Temple v. Mary Washington Hospital, a case from the Supreme Court of Virginia, involved a medical malpractice case filed in the name of decedent. According to court records, decedent went to defendant's emergency room complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. Four hours after getting to the hospital, he was deceased.

ekg-293359-m.jpgAfter filing the personal injury case, plaintiff, through counsel, requested certain discovery from defendant. Included in these requests were copies of defendant's policies and procedure related to how a patient in decedent's condition should be treated by hospital staff. Defendant responded to plaintiff's requests for production of documents, claiming these documents were not relevant to the lawsuit and were privileged documents.

Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery, requesting that the trial judge order defendant to produce the requested documents. The trial judge found that these documents were not relevant, as they would not lead to discoverable evidence, agreed that they were privileged, and denied the motion.

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September 30, 2014

Davis v. Brickman Landscaping - Fire Death Negligence Standard of Proof High


The death of two children in a horrific hotel fire sparked a civil lawsuit brought by their parents, after they learned a storage closet beneath the stairwell lacked a fire sprinkler, as is required under state fire codes.
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Our Spartanburg wrongful death attorneys know in negligence actions where municipal building and fire codes may have been breached, the attorney handling the case must have extensive experience. Statutes regarding these matters can be convoluted, and when it's alleged someone died as a result of a violation, there is a lot at stake.

In Davis v. Brickman Landscaping, Ltd., the primary question before the New Jersey Supreme Court was whether plaintiff's expert witness testimony was adequate in showing the defendant, a private company that employed fire sprinkler inspectors, breached the applicable standard of care in carrying out its duties. Because of the complexity of state and local fire codes, an expert witness was required in the case, and the one produced by plaintiff reportedly failed to adequately attest to the alleged breach of industry standards. Therefore, dismissal of the claim was upheld.

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September 28, 2014

Gregory v. One Republic Home Protection - Wrongful Death Claim Denied


The verdict favoring a home warranty company, sued for wrongful death by the mother of a Greensboro man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his home in 2008, has been upheld by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The mother/plaintiff alleged the warranty company was negligent in hiring a heating/cooling company with a poor business quality record. The firm had been on probation by the North Carolina Board of smokealarm.jpgExaminers of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. Later, the same company was the target of a complaint alleging incompetence that nearly resulted in a customer's new home catching fire.

Our Greensboro wrongful death lawyers understand that while plaintiff sued on a host of negligence theories, including negligent retention and vicarious liability, the two at issue upon appeal were two claims dismissed prior to trial - Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practice and breach of implied warranty. The appellate court ultimately indicated the directed verdict for defendant on the UDTP claim was proper, and the plaintiff failed to properly preserve the grant of directed verdict on the breach of implied warranty claim.

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