Burns v. City of Centralia: On the Duty of Care in Negligence Actions

Our slip and fall attorneys in Boston understand the importance of establishing a duty of care is owed in a negligence lawsuit.

broken-sidewalk-2-1090214-m.jpgIn Burns v. City of Centralia, a case from the Illinois Supreme Court, plaintiff was injured when she tripped and fell on uneven sidewalk. Plaintiff drove to an eye clinic for an examination. When she arrived at the clinic location, she chose to park on the street, rather thank parking in the clinic parking lot. She had done this on nine prior visits to the eye clinic.

While walking from her car to the clinic, plaintiff stubbed her toe on the uneven sidewalk. After stubbing her toe, she tripped and fell to the ground, injuring her arm, knee, and leg. According to court records, plaintiff saw the sidewalk defect and had been aware of it from her visits. There was testimony that there was no way you could miss this defect in the sidewalk. During her walk to the clinic, she was focused on the door and the steps leading up to the door.

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Jentz v. Conagra Foods, Inc.: On Personal Injury Cases involving Multiple Defendants

Our personal injury attorneys in Massachusetts know independent contractors who are injured on the job are typically not covered by workers' compensation insurance and may be required to file a civil lawsuit.

1095707_fire__fire_4.jpgJentz v. Conagra Foods, Inc., a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a grain bin that exploded in 2010, injuring three workers. The jury, after trial that lasted more than two weeks, awarded plaintiffs $180 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The defendant who owned the grain bin argued that liability should rest with a company hired to fix problems with the bin before the explosion occurred.

The appellate court noted that explosions are a constant danger in grain storage bins. Grain bins produce combustible dust and carbon monoxide that can explosively oxidize to carbon dioxide when a heat source is introduced. Decaying grain can give off enough heat to start the explosive reaction.

Prior to the explosion, company employees noticed a burning smell coming from a bin containing wheat pellets. The company hired defendant, who specialized in fixing "hot bins" at grain storage facilities. The work did not begin immediately because the grain bin owner was trying to get the company to work at a lower rate and started contacting competitors.

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Carnival Ride Claims Life of 8-year-old

In the last days of summer, people are trying to make the most of what is left of the warmer weather. For some families, that means going to a county fair or local carnival.

1334532_ambulance.jpgAccording to a recent news article from British publication, Mail Online, an eight-year-old girl was killed while riding on a carnival ride called Air Maxx 360. This was first time carnival promoters had used the particular attraction, but it is said to have been used throughout Australia in the past without incident.

The ride is a typical cardinal attraction where riders are seated in cars that are lifted up and twirled around a spinning tower. One witness said that the victim was wearing her safety harness, but it looked as if she was slipping out of her seat. At one point, she was hanging on the ride by her legs and trying to block her face with her hands as she was violently spun around.

When she could no longer hold on, she was thrown about 30 to 45 feet from the ride at a height of about 30 feet off the ground. She died after hitting the pavement. She was taken to a local hospital by EMTs, but it was obvious to witnesses that the victim was fatally injured. She was pronounced dead a short time after arriving at the trauma center.

Authorities are saying that there will be an extensive investigation into the exact cause of the accident, but it will take some time due the complexity of the events and the number of witnesses involved.

Our attorneys who handle personal injury claims in Boston understand that people are putting their trust and lives in hands of amusement companies every time they go on a carnival or amusement park ride. The public believes that the company has done everything possible to provide a thrilling ride while never placing a rider in any real danger.

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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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