A devastating fire in Oakland, California in a decrepit warehouse called the Ghost Ship has left families of 36 people in mourning and a whole community reeling. The incident highlights the imperative nature of fire safety codes, which have done much over the last several decades to improve the well-being of occupants in large, crowded structures, from theaters to apartment buildings. Some of the biggest unanswered questions at this point revolve around whether the building was up-to-date on fire codes and, if not, what was known or done by city fire officials to press for repairs. warehouse

Property owners and managers have a responsibility to make sure their sites are reasonably safe for those who are legally there. The degree of that duty varies depending on the victim’s purpose on the property. For example, paying customers are owed the highest duty of care, while those who are on site to further their own interests are owed a lesser duty. Even those who are trespassing are owed some protection, though exactly how much varies by state and other case-specific facts.

Here, city fire officials haven’t indicated how often code inspectors visited the site or whether it was ever flagged for violations or for the fact that it was (likely) being used for purposes other than what its zoning allowed. Although this was designated as a warehouse space, witnesses and investigators have indicated it was being used for a myriad of different purposes, including not just storage but art galleries and mini-residences. On the night of the fire, the warehouse was being used for an underground concert. It’s not clear who organized, promoted, or was responsible for that event.  Continue reading

An attorney for the family of a woman who died in a nursing home after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease has indicated a likely nursing home negligence lawsuit, asserting the facility didn’t do enough to prevent the spread of the deadly bacteria. laboratory

The 86-year-old patient at the New York nursing home reportedly died in late October, just days after her son was informed that she had contracted the Legionella bacteria. The decedent had endured several bouts of what health care workers thought was pneumonia. She was finally diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease by staffers at the hospital where she was transported when her condition worsened. Doctors released her from the hospital after several days, telling her son there was nothing more they could do for her. As the plaintiff would later learn, four others at that same nursing home had tested positive for the Legionella bacteria.

The Legionella bacteria causes infections that can result in either Legionnaires’ disease, which is a progressive pneumonia with a two- to 10-day incubation period, or Pontiac fever, which has a one- to two-day incubation period and causes a flu-like illness. It’s an aquatic organism, meaning it thrives in warm water and is spread into the respiratory system through contaminated droplets. Cases of the disease have been linked to cooling towers, showers and faucets, hot tubs, respiratory therapy equipment, room air humidifiers, and potable water systems. Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable not just to exposure to the disease, as a result of living in close quarters with shared water systems, but also to falling extremely ill from that exposure, due to weakened immune systems and co-morbidity. Those who are over the age of 50 in general have a high risk, as do those dealing with renal disease, blood cancers, and recent organ transplants.

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Victims of violent crimes must often deal with great trauma that reverberates long after the immediate danger is over. The criminal justice system seeks accountability from the perpetrators of those crimes, who are seen to have not just violated the victim’s rights but also the rules and laws of society. Meanwhile, the civil justice system is a forum where victims can seek compensation to help them in their journey to become whole again. Of course, our Spartanburg injury attorneys understand no amount of money takes away the pain and suffering. But it can help with the healing. It is also another means by which to hold a defendant accountable for his or her crimes.sad face

This is the approach being taken by a Spartanburg woman who was recently discovered by authorities after having been held captive in a storage container on a 100-acre plot owned by her former boss for nearly three months. She and her boyfriend were allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint by her former boss, who then is accused of fatally shooting her boyfriend and then physically attacking her throughout the course of her captivity. The 30-year-old victim was reportedly kept in chains in the container. After she was discovered, her boyfriend’s body was found. The former boss is now accused of killing six others, including four in a previously unsolved 2003 killing at a motor sports shop and a husband and wife who went missing in 2015. He is in jail awaiting trial on numerous felony charges.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff has filed a civil lawsuit to recover damages from her former boss, who owns a business and several properties.

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A man died at a North Carolina hospital, and his widow later sued the facility and staffers for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress. But her claim didn’t meet the stringent requirements under the state’s medical malpractice guidelines, spelled out in Rule 9(j).  The plaintiff argued this wasn’t a medical malpractice claim. hospital

It may seem strange at first glance, but not every negligence claim pertaining to a hospital is founded on an assertion of a deviation from the applicable standard of care. It’s an important distinction because the proof burden for medical malpractice cases is much more stringent, and expert witnesses are a must. If your claim is not rooted in medical malpractice, there is no need to spend the extra time and expense building that kind of case.

The case of Norton v. Scotland Memorial Hospital, et al. began with the tragic and unexpected death of a man in Laurinburg in 2012. According to North Carolina Court of Appeals records, the decedent was a married father of two children (who were also named plaintiffs in this action). He was fairly active and in good health, but he went to the hospital one day in July, complaining of abdominal pain. His condition worsened. He was transferred to the intensive care unit, where he was placed on a ventilator and not long afterward died. It’s not clear from the complaint whether the decedent died while at Scotland or after he was transferred to Duke University Health System (another named defendant). Duke’s lawyers contend the decedent’s body was transferred to their facility after his death.

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Many Americans and visitors rely on buses and shuttles as a form of daily transportation. Others seek them out for long-distance travel or on short trips around airports and hotels. These vehicles – and those entrusted to drive them – are supposed to be safe. All too often, though, we are reminded of cases in which they are not, proving how vulnerable we are in bus accidents.bus

Recently, an appeals court in California affirmed a decision by a trial court in Gee v. Greyhound Lines, Inc. to set aside the dismissal of a plaintiff’s bus accident claim and allow her to proceed in her quest for damages.

According to records from the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District in Sacramento, the plaintiff filed her claim in July 2012, alleging that she suffered injuries from a motor vehicle accident in July 2010, in which she was a passenger on a commercial bus. The driver, now deceased, was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed, causing the bus to slam into two other vehicles before colliding with a tree. The plaintiff stated claims for general negligence, intentional tort, and product liability. She reportedly suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result of the bus accident and sought compensation for medical expenses, wage losses, loss of earning capacity, and punitive damages.

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A burn injury victim may proceed with part of his product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of a paint removal product that reportedly burst into flames when he was using it as directed. fire extinguishers

A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co. held that while the trial court was right to grant summary judgment to the defendant on the “failure to warn” claim, the claims asserted on grounds of strict liability and negligence should be allowed to proceed.

Product liability cases can be complex and typically require a law firm with extensive experience and ample resources. Such claims can proceed on a number of legal theories, but each must meet very specific criteria. Although there are federal statutes governing the standards to which product makers and distributors are held, many of these cases are filed in state court and are based on state-level standards, which can vary by jurisdiction.

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The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, backed by the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, guarantees the right of private citizens to possess firearms. It’s a hotly debated issue but one that legally is seen as largely settled.gun

One issue that is somewhat less certain is the liability of those who manufacture and deal arms. In 2005, Congress passed a law known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal statute that extends broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers in both state and federal courts. Generally speaking, the statute forbids qualified civil liability actions against gun manufacturers or dealers stemming from the criminal use or lawful misuse of a firearm. However, there are six exceptions to this blanket civil immunity, which involves things like transferring a gun while knowing it will be used for a violent crime, engaging in negligent entrustment, knowingly violating the law, or making or selling a gun that is defective.

A number of cases have cropped up recently that seek to push the boundaries of the PLCAA. One of those cases was decided late last year by a jury in Wisconsin, which ordered a gun store to pay $5 million in damages to police officers injured when they were shot by a suspect wielding a firearm purchased at the store. The officers had been trying to stop a bicycling 18-year-old, who opened fire on the cops, causing them serious injuries. It was later revealed the gun dealer had violated federal laws in selling the gun to the teen.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled that a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from the latent discovery of a surgical sponge was properly dismissed for a failure to file within the statute of limitations period. surgery

Normally in medical malpractice lawsuits, patients have just three years to file a lawsuit from the date of the alleged medical error. However, if the injury could not have been discovered right away, the plaintiff may have one year to file a lawsuit from the date the injury was discovered – or reasonably could have been discovered, assuming that is within four years of the alleged medical malpractice. Even so, cases involving retained surgical sponges – as with all other foreign objects unintentionally left in one’s body after surgery – are unique. In those instances, the lawsuit has to be filed either within:

  • One year of the date on which the object was discovered, or
  • Within 10 years of the date the surgical error was made.

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A diner in Texas is suing a restaurant in Galveston for personal injuries after he allegedly suffered a terrible allergic reaction during a meal in which he was served shrimp. food

According to the SE Texas Record, the plaintiff alleges he informed the waiter at the seafood restaurant of his allergy to shrimp. He ordered the crawfish etoufee and fried oysters, and he specifically informed the server that there could be no shrimp or shrimp residue on the plate. The water insisted the dishes the man ordered did not contain shrimp. The plaintiff’s food arrived, and almost immediately after he began eating, the plaintiff began to suffer an allergic reaction. He couldn’t breathe. An ambulance was called, and emergency responders took him to a local hospital, where he received a shot that saved his life.

His wife later learned that the waiter allegedly forgot to convey the message about the shrimp allergy to the kitchen staff. It is this breakdown of communication that will likely be the strongest piece of evidence in the plaintiff’s favor. The fact is that restaurants, grocery stores, and other companies don’t necessarily have to make sure they have food that will fit your dietary needs, even if the potential for a serious allergic reaction exists. However, if a patron discloses an allergy to the restaurant, the restaurant then has a duty to either comply with the request or warn that they are unable to comply.

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A North Carolina couple is suing the Greenville Health System in South Carolina, as well as a doctor, two medical service providers, and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse for profound and permanent injuries they alleged were inflicted on the couple’s premature newborn son.baby

According to WYFF NBC-4, the baby suffered from six broken ribs, bleeding on the brain, and retinal hemorrhages after being in the care of one nurse in particular. Although she was not charged criminally, she was fired. An internal investigation uncovered another prior case in which an infant in her care wound up with a broken arm. She had blamed that injury on the baby’s mother, whom she said was careless in dressing the child.

Now, the parents of this baby say he has been left with profound and potentially permanent physical and mental disabilities as a result of wrongdoing and negligence by the hospital staff.

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