Golfer Greg Norman Injured in Chainsaw Accident

According to recent news report from CNN, professional golfer Greg Norman was hospitalized after being injured in a chainsaw accident. Norman had posted pictures of himself with the chainsaw on the social media platform Instagram with a caption that it was time trim the sea grapes and that you should never pay someone to do a job you can do yourself.

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgLater that same day, Norman posted another photograph showing himself in a hospital with an air cast on his arm. In this photograph he told viewers that he was lucky to be alive, to always respect chainsaws, and the he still had the use of his left hand.

It has been reported that he injured himself while using the chainsaw and required surgery to repair the resulting nerve damage. He is expected to make a full recovery.

While it appears that Norman will be okay when his arm heals, our injury attorneys in Boston know accidents involving power tools and heavy machinery often end with more tragic results.

While there are many occasions where the injury was truly an accident for which nobody was at fault, there are also times when the injury is the result of a defectively designed tool, or the result of the manufacturer failing to adequately warn users of dangers the company knew or should have known about.

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Inmate Died of Heat Exposure in NYC Jail: On Section 1983 Claims

According to a recent story from WTOP news, an inmate at Rikers Island New York City jail died from excessive heat while in his cell. It is being reported that the decedent, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, had been homeless since his separation from the military and was suffering from schizophrenia.

1409592_gavel_2.jpgDecedent had been prescribed antipsychotic medication, which doctors know increases a patient's sensitivity to heat, to treat his mental disorder. He had not been checked on for at least four hours when he was found dead in his 104-degree jail cell, which was not air-conditioned. He was lying at the foot of his bed in a pool of blood and vomit. Speaking on a condition of anonymity, a jail official said he basically baked to death.

The decedent was at Rikers Island after being arrested on misdemeanor trespassing and could not make bail, so he was being held until trial.

As our injury lawyers in Boston know, when a person is injured or killed in a state-run facility such as a prison, nursing home, or hospital, plaintiffs may be able to file a type of lawsuit in federal court known as a Section 1983 Action.

This is short for Section 1983 of 43 United States Code. This section allows a person to sue state employees acting on behalf of the state in federal court for a civil rights violation. "Civil rights" is often an ambiguous term, but it has come to include treating people in a state facility in a negligent way that results in injury or death.

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"Hot Coffee" Documentary Details How Tort Reform Movement Gathered Steam

Almost certainly, you have heard of the 1990s case involving the woman who was awarded millions of dollars after spilling takeout coffee in her lap. The case was upheld as an example of how absurd our justice system had become, how out-of-control juries were getting and why civil justice reform couldn't come soon enough.
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However, there are a lot of things you probably don't know about the case. This includes the fact that news of the outcome was manipulated by corporate interests as part of an ongoing public relations campaign to severely undercut public access to and benefits from civil court. It became the catalyst for a wave of damage caps enacted by state legislators, as well as the start of more companies using mandatory arbitration agreements to force people to settle their disputes out of court. The public was told these steps were in their bests interests, because high damage awards to injured parties resulted in higher costs to them for everything from auto insurance to health care to their next cup of coffee.

Our Boston personal injury lawyers know this is patently false, as is the idea that the plaintiff in the so-called "hot coffee case" was out for a quick payday. All of this is the subject of a new documentary entitled, "Hot Coffee," available on DVD and Netflix streaming.

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Adams v. Laboratory Corp. of America - When Laboratories Fail to Properly Diagnose

Medical malpractice comes in many forms, one of the most common of which is failure to diagnose.
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Sometimes, this is a failure on the physician's part. He or she did not follow acceptable standards of care when making or attempting to make a diagnosis. (The fact that he or she was wrong isn't usually enough to prove the case; a plaintiff needs to prove the doctor breached the industry standard of care for his or her field.)

However, there are some occasions where failure rests on the shoulders of the laboratory that processed and analyzed the bio-samples. Our Boston medical malpractice attorneys recognize that while these technicians may not have gone to medical school, they and their employer can still be sued for medical malpractice because of their role in the health care industry.

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Carl v. Muskegon County: On §1983 Claims for Civil Rights Violations

Carl v. Muskegon County is an appeal filed in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This case involved a plaintiff who suffered a psychotic break while working as a home healthcare provider. He allegedly urinated on one patient's head and tried to pour liquid soap on another.

He was arrested and charged with abuse of a vulnerable-adult and held at the county jail as a pretrial detainee. Due to his strange behavior and the nature of the offense, the plaintiff was given a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he was a danger to himself or others at the jail.

According to court records, the county jail used an outside contractor for all mental health services at the facility. The county selected this contractor. While two of the contractor's employees where performing the evaluation, they indicated plaintiff was "floridly" psychotic. They also noted that the anti-psychotic medication he was currently taking was not very effective. Finally, they recommended that he be transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

Plaintiff was also diagnosed with paranoia, because he saw a glowing light in his cell that was tugging on his brain. But because employees who examined the plaintiff were not medical doctors, but rather limited-licensed psychologists, they did not have the authority to order an involuntary commitment of a patient, regardless of his or her mental state. They chose to ask for help from a doctor who was working as an independent contractor to the jail's mental health services provider.

This doctor knew the plaintiff was on anti-psychotic medication prescribed by other workers. During evaluation, plaintiff denied all things to which he admitted during the first evaluation. He denied being depressed, denied any suicidal or homicidal ideations, and denied all symptoms that he discussed in the first evaluation. The doctor described the plaintiff as pleasant and cooperative and determined that he was not in need of additional mental health services.

Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the doctor and other employees of the home health care company were negligent in not properly treating his condition. This suit was filed in the United States District Court under 42 U.S.C. §1983. As your Boston personal injury lawyer can explain, this is known as a civil rights violation case.

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Henkel v. Norman: Adequate Warnings in Premises Liability Cases

In Henkel v. Norman, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Texas, a mail carrier was injured after he fell on ice one January day. According to court records, plaintiff was delivering mail on a day that was colder than normal. The National Weather Service had issued a hard freeze warning through the weekend.

icewalk.jpgThe plaintiff walked on the sidewalk in front of some homes and walk on the lawns of other homes when delivering mail. When his accident occurred, he was walking through defendant's lawn. Defendant was standing at the door when plaintiff arrived so she took the mail from him. When he turned around to leave, defendant said "don't slip." Despite her warning, plaintiff slipped and fell on the ice.

Plaintiff denied having seen any ice on the defendant's lawn prior to his fall. He sued defendant on claims that homeowners were aware of the ice accumulation on their property and did nothing to remove it or warn people of the danger of the ice.

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment and trial judge dismissed the plaintiff's case. The judge ruled that there was no dispute of material fact at issue in this case and that the defendant had explicitly and in no uncertain terms warned the plaintiff to be careful about the ice right before he fell.

As your Boston personal injury lawyer can explain, a motion for summary judgment is a motion to dismiss a claim, or the entire case. The moving party (normally the defendant) asserts that there is no genuine dispute as to material facts. Essentially, they are saying that if you take all of the facts in the best light of the non-moving party, the non-moving party (normally the plaintiff) still cannot win the case. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a motion for summary judgment is contained in Rule 56 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

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Lindner v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.: Diversity Jurisdiction in Federal Personal Injury Lawsuits

Lindner v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a couple who were driving under a railroad bridge when a train derailed above them. The train derailment caused the bridge to collapse and land on the couple's vehicle. Both occupants of the car, husband and wife, were killed in the tragic accident.

train.jpgThe decedents' son filed a wrongful death action against the railroad alleging that the accident was due to negligence. As your Boston personal injury attorney can explain, a wrongful death action is a type of negligence case typically filed by one or more of the surviving heirs of the decedent in the name of the estate.

This case was filed in federal court. A personal injury can be filed in federal court if it implicates a "federal question" or there is diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy (claim) is more than $75,000. In this context, diversity of citizenship means that the plaintiff(s) and defendant (s) reside/operate in different states. Here, the plaintiffs were from Illinois and the railroad had its headquarters in Delaware. Many companies have their headquarters in Delaware, due to the state's laws being favorable to corporations.


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Vesely v. Armslist LLC: Wrongful Death Actions and Sales of Guns Over the Web

Our Boston wrongful death lawyers understand that in some cases, proving a relationship between a plaintiff and third party may require significant litigation.

UF_charges_DC.jpgVesely v. Armslist LLC, a case heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a woman killed by a man she met on an internet dating website. The man attempted to pursue a romantic relationship with the decedent, but she declined his advances.

After being rejected by the victim, the man purchased a .40 caliber handgun from a man in Seattle via an online classifieds page created to facilitate the purchase and sale of weapons. The website featured several disclaimers that stated owners of the site are in no way involved in any transactions between parties and that they in no way guarantee the legality of any transaction conducted via the website.

According to the website, any person who engages in a transaction is responsible for following all state and federal laws pertaining to the sale of guns and ammunition, and if a party has any questions, they should contact the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) directly.

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Gregory v. Cott: On Assumption of Risk in Personal Injury Cases

Your Boston personal injury lawyer understands that assumption of risk is a commonly asserted defense to negligence actions.

elderly-cane.jpgGregory v. Cott, an appeal argued before the California Court of Appeals, involved a healthcare worker who was injured by an Alzheimer's patient in her care.

The husband of an 85-year-old woman who suffered from the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease hired an home healthcare agency to provide care for his wife. The plaintiff was assigned to treat the patient in her home. The plaintiff had worked with patients suffering from the disease in the past and had been trained in caring for people with Alzheimer's disease.

According to the record, the plaintiff was aware that late stage patients are prone to violent physical outbreaks. She knew that patients were prone to biting, kicking, and scratching those around them. Her responsibilities including bathing the patient, transporting her, and she was also to help perform light housekeeping. The plaintiff was washing dishes on this day and was cleaning a large kitchen knife. Her patient hit her from behind and reached into the sink.

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Hill v. United States: On FTCA Personal Injury Lawsuits

Hill v. United States, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a plaintiff who was serving a five-year sentence in prison when another inmate attacked him. He was hit with a metal object and lost vision in one eye. Eventually, the eye had to be removed by doctors. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The lawsuit was filed pro se.

hospital-bed-2-65899-m.jpgAs your Boston personal injury lawyers know in rare cases a person will choose to represent himself or herself in court. When this happens, the unrepresented party is known as a pro se litigant.

In Hill, the basis for the lawsuit was that the BOP was negligent by allowing the prison to become overcrowded and by failing to safeguard the prisoners in the overcrowded environment.

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Massachusetts Hot Air Balloon Crashes Power Lines, Bursts Into Flames

According to a recent article from CBS Boston, a hot air balloon crashed into power lines in Clinton, Massachusetts. Witnesses saw the hot air balloon flying extremely low over their neighborhood when it flew into power lines and caught fire. There were five or six passengers in the balloon who authorities said suffered burns ranging from minor to severe.

hot-air-balloon-serie-623175-m.jpgMany of the witnesses thought the passengers were all dead when the balloon crashed. Fortunately, the accident was not fatal. The cause of the accident is unknown, as is the reason the balloon was attempting to land in the town. Local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) are investigating the cause of this balloon crash.

The National Weather Service stated winds were fairly mild and there were no substantial weather events at the time of the crash. Around 600 people were left without power after the accident due to the power lines catching on fire. The power company was able to restore service within a few hours.

As your Boston personal injury lawyer understands, injuries resulting from recreational activities can often lead to complex litigation. It is likely the passengers were required to sign some type of waiver before boarding the balloon. However, Massachusetts courts are often willing to void liability waivers, depending on the language of the contract and the facts of the situation.

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Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al.: On Informed Consent in Medical Malpractice Cases

Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al. was a medical malpractice case argued before the Delaware Supreme Court. The plaintiff fell off a ladder and injured multiple ribs and suffered other injuries from the accident.

673854_doctor_patient_relationship.jpgAs your Boston medical malpractice attorney can explain, many cases deal with the issue of informed consent.

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Donahue v. Ledgends, Inc.: Release Forms in Personal Injury Cases

In Donahue v. Ledgends, Inc., an appeal argued in the Supreme Court of Alaska, a woman broke her tibia during a class at a rock climbing gym. According to court records, she fell about four feet from a bouldering wall and broke her leg.

blind-climber-865934-m.jpgThe gym required her to read a warning and sign a waiver before taking the class. The waiver purported to release the gym from liability for any injuries suffered by participants in the climbing class. The defendant moved to dismiss the case on summary judgment, claiming the signed release barred them from any liability.

Our Boston personal injury lawyers understand that many clients sign long and complex waivers without being given a real opportunity to read or fully understand what they were being asked to sign.

The trial court ruled the waiver signed by the plaintiff contained all of the statutorily required language and dismissed her claims against the defendant. The judge also ruled the Uniform Consumer Protection Action violation she had asserted did not apply to personal injury cases.


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McCormick v. Chippewa: The Personal Injury Settlement Offer as a Contract

In McCormick v. Chippewa, Inc., the plaintiff was working on an Alaskan commercial fishing boat when he injured his back pushing a net reel. He was given an over-the-counter pain medicine as the sole treatment for his injuries. Later that same evening, he went to bed, and, due to rough seas, he fell out his bed and hit the floor. When he hit the floor, he hit his head and suffered further injury to his back, according to court records.

fisher-boat-1111108-m.jpgThe following day, the plaintiff stated he was dizzy from the fall and in more back pain than he had been the day before. He was eventually treated for his injuries at a medical facility in Anchorage.

He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the boat owner and captain, alleging negligence in the operation of the boat both in causing his injury and in failing to treat his injury properly after it occurred.

As your Boston personal injury attorney can explain, insurance companies will often present their version of what occurred in a way that seeks to limit the maximum they are required to pay under a liability policy.

In McCormick, the defendants had an insurance policy that had a $500,000 per occurrence policy limit. This means $500,000 is the maximum they will pay for any single accident. This policy also had what is known as a cannibalizing clause, which means any money spent investigating the claim or defending the claim would be subtracted from the policy limit.

The plaintiff's attorney worked out what he apparently thought was a settlement for $1.5 million. The letter he sent released the defendant from liability in exchange for paying the policy limits on the accidents that occurred over three successive days. It was the plaintiff's contention that the initial accident involving the net reel was one accident, the falling out of bed injuring his head was another, and subsequent injury to his back was the third.

The defendant's insurance company sent a check for around $450,000. This was the total for what they claimed was one occurrence at the policy limit of $500,000 minus expenses.

The plaintiff's attorney rejected this check on two occasions and both parties request that the court enforce what they each respectively believed to be the terms of the settlement. The plaintiff demanded $1.5 million while the defendant demanded they accept the original check minus the additional money spent to enforce the settlement.

The plaintiff filed discovery requests in attempt to determine the defendant's attorney's state of mind when agreeing to the settlement. The defendant sought an order of protection from the court. The court ultimately denied the plaintiff's discovery request on grounds that the attorney's state of mind was not relevant to the case.

On appeal, the court found that the state of mind of the defendant's attorney was relevant and reversed and remanded the case so that the plaintiff could propound discovery from the defendant.

The appellate court reasoned that what the parties believed at the time the settlement agreement was reached was very relevant. In order to have a valid contract, there must be a meeting of the minds.

If you are injured in an accident in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment -- 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

McCormick v. Chippewa, July 30, 2014, U.S. Supreme Court of Alaska

More Blog Entries:

New England Boating Accident: Father and 2 Children Rescued, August 2 2012, Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Blog


Durban v. Waverly Sales Company: Assumption of Risk in Negligence Actions

Durban v. Waverly Sales Company, an appeal argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, involved a woman who attended a horse auction with her husband. The arena was set up in such a way that there were bleachers erected around the show floor. The plaintiff and her husband were sitting in the bleachers on the northeast side. During the auction, she left her seat to go the restroom.

the-horse-1439653-m.jpgIn order to get to the restroom, the plaintiff had to walk down an alley created at the northeast end of the arena between the bleachers. This is the same alley that the horses were led down after they were sold. While returning from the restroom, the plaintiff tripped and fell to the ground. At this point, an employee opened a door overhead that caused a horse to become startled.

The startled horse trampled the plaintiff, and she was very seriously injured. The plaintiff sued the defendant for personal injury, claiming that the show presenter was negligent for arranging the seats in such a way that people had to walk down the same alley as the horses. Additionally, she alleged the worker's negligent opening of the door that startled the horses.

Our Boston personal injury lawyers know that companies often do whatever they can to get a case dismissed.

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