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In the largest furniture recall in American history, Swedish company IKEA has recalled more than 29 million chests and drawers following the third child death and dozens of child injuries in three years. child

Based on data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), not only is this furniture recall the largest that has ever been issued, the second-largest furniture recall wasn’t even close. In that case, 10 million beanbag chairs sold by nine separate companies between 1971 and 1995. In that case, at least five children had died after reportedly unzipping those beanbag chairs and swallowing the small pellets inside, choking to death. Then there was the recall of some 2.1 million folding child folding chairs after the locks kept failing and little fingers were getting pinched in the hinges.

This recall was three times bigger than the beanbag recall. Part of the problem is the way Ikea furniture is designed. It’s lightweight and has low stability ratings. These dressers have reportedly killed at least six children since 1989, beginning with a 20-month-old girl who was killed when an un-anchored, four-drawer dresser tipped over and pinned her against the floor. The cases just kept adding up from there.  Continue reading

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When a soon-to-be mother went to the hospital at 2 a.m., her pregnancy full-term, she knew something wasn’t right. Her baby boy wasn’t moving as he had in the days and hours before. But when she got there, student resident doctors at The University of Chicago Medical Center didn’t take immediate action, even when a fetal heart monitor immediately showed distress. For 12 hours, no action was taken. For 12 hours, that child was slowly suffocating. pregnantwoman

When doctors finally did initiate an emergency Cesarean section, the baby boy wasn’t breathing. He was revived and then rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and placed on life support. There, he stayed for weeks. But the damage to his brain over the course of those hours was irreversible. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He can’t walk. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He requires around-the-clock care, provided almost exclusively by his single mother.

Now, a jury in Cook County, Ill. has awarded $53 million to him and his mother, which will not only ensure his health care is covered for the next 65 years of his life, but will help to compensate the family for the pain and suffering they have endured and will endure for the rest of their lives. Some will look at a damage award of this size and characterize it as excessive. But one must consider that not only will his future medical bills top $30 million over the course of his life, but mother and son will never have a normal relationship. This boy will never have a normal life of his own.  Continue reading

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The 17-year-old didn’t want to wear the chicken suit. It was hot. It was itchy. And he’d already gotten roughed up briefly by a couple of his fellow students before the pep rally. football3

The suit was rented just for the rally as a way to mock the other team’s mascot, an eagle. But he didn’t want to go through with it anymore and pleaded with the athletic director to let him off the hook. Instead, she threatened him with the $75 cost of the rental if he didn’t keep it on and head to the pep rally as intended, where he was slated to engage in a “mock fight” with the football team. He acquiesced. It didn’t go well.

When it was all over, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that he will likely grapple with the rest of his life. Now, the school district has agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle the case after jurors found the school district 100 percent liable for the former student’s injuries. The settlement offer was extended just days after the verdict was reached, but in advance of the damages portion of the trial.  Continue reading

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Two years ago, the family of a 4-year-old boy killed in a 2011 escalator accident at the Auburn Mall Massachusetts reached a settlement with the escalator manufacturer and owner of the store where the escalator accident took place. escalator

The child was fatally injured when a guardrail on the escalator pulled him through a gap between a plexiglass divider and the escalator and he fell 18 feet onto a display case below. He died at the hospital the next day of blunt force trauma to the head.

According to recent statistics published by the American Association for Justice, this case was indicative of so many escalator accidents that happen every year in that it:

  • Involved a young child;
  • Involved a fall.

The report indicated there are a growing number of escalator injuries in the U.S. every year, most involving children or the elderly, and a significant number involving not entrapment, but falls. Continue reading

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There is no question that it is dangerous to drive a car while using your smart phone.  Whether you are sending a text, reading a text, checking your email, or doing any number of other things on your phone, you are statistically much more likely to be involved in a car accident that is your fault than if you are not using your smart phone while driving.  For this reason, many car accidents claims are filed against the drivers of these accidents.

1225930_mobile_phone_1However, according to a recent news feature from Inside Counsel, a trade publication for attorneys that work as in-house counsel for large corporations, victims of distracted driving car accidents are now filing lawsuits against the makers of specific apps that are alleged to be more dangerous and more likely to be the result of a distracting driving accident. Continue reading

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These days, when it is harder to smoke in public places, and due to all of the health problems associated with smoking in general, many are turning to e-cigarettes as an alternative.  Smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping as it often called, involves loading an electronic cigarette with a nicotine and flavor cartridge or filling it with liquid nicotine and then smoking it as normal cigarette without the need to light it.

fuego-1178889-300x225A small battery inside the device will activate a system designed to vaporize the liquid, so the user can inhale it. The user will inhale and exhale the vapor, and it is claimed that provide the desired effects of nicotine without the dangers of smoking.  In reality, there has not been much testing on the practice of vaping, and there is no long-term usage data, so scientists do not know if these claims are true. Continue reading

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Punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit in Boston are those that exceed merely simply compensation and are awarded with the intent to punish the defendant. Such damages often far exceed one’s actual losses and are intended to punish egregious or malicious action and to encourage reform or prevent the defendant – or others – from repeating their actions. wheelchair5

There have been cases in which courts have handed down eye-popping punitive damage awards, but that is usually only with the most serious of cases that involve catastrophic injury and death. The Massachusetts Legislature understands that there is unequal bargaining power between an individual claimant and, say, an international insurance company or a huge corporation. That’s why they have found that in some cases, monetary sanctions are the only to way to sway unlawful and unethical behavior.

Most of the time, these verdicts are affirmed. However in some cases, punitive damages may be deemed constitutionally excessive because they violate due process. Since 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided at least nine cases that involve the question of constitutional punitive damages limitations, with seven of those using the theory of due process violations.

The high court’s precedent on this issue holds that a punitive damage award has to be set aside if the state court:

  • Finds the award grossly excessive;
  • Fails to provide defendant with a reasonable procedure to protect form grossly excessive awards.

Continue reading

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In Boston medical malpractice cases, sometimes the term “never events” gets thrown around. It’s a reference to the types of medical errors that health professionals agree should never happen. And yet, they do. Some examples:doctor5

  • Retained surgical instruments (surgical tools, sponges, etc. being left inside a patient after a procedure);
  • Wrong surgery site (a surgeon performs surgery on the wrong limb, body part, person, etc.);
  • Urinary tract infection from a catheter;
  • Pressure ulcers (Stage III and IV);
  • Falls and trauma;
  • Surgical site infections;
  • Medication error fatalities;
  • Administration of incompatible blood;
  • Air embolisms.

Now, a recent study by Castlight-Leapfrog reveals not only are these events occurring, they are happening with alarming frequency. Although there is always some risk a patient incurs with every type of medical treatment. And just because someone suffers a poor health outcome doesn’t necessarily mean medical malpractice is to blame. However, these “never events” are so egregious for the fact that they are deemed entirely preventable. We know what causes them. We know how to stop them. And hospitals should have procedures and policies in place that are strictly followed by staffers to ensure these kinds of things never happen. Continue reading

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The Iowa Supreme Court has set for retrial the case of Alcala v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., a slip-and-fall case that involves a hotel business guest who was injured after a fall on an ice-slicked walkway on the property. icewalk

Boston residents are well familiar with the phenomenon of ice and snow during the brutal winter months. Of course, it’s not something many want to spend time thinking about at the start of summer, but it’s worth keeping abreast of legal developments on this front because it does affect many in Massachusetts for a good six months out of the year.

In Massachusetts, the 2010 ruling of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp. upended the previous slip-and-fall standard when it came to snow and ice, which was that there was no liability for naturally-accumulated ice and snow, but there was for unnaturally-accumulated ice and snow. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that a property owner owed a duty to lawful visitors in both cases to protect them from hazards arising from snow and ice. Whether a property owner’s action is “reasonable” will depend on a myriad of factors, including likelihood of injury, probable seriousness of such injuries and how great a burden it is to reduce or avoid that risk altogether.  Continue reading

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High school students are well known for engaging in many activities that the average adult would not consider safe, or for that matter even a sane thing to do. According to a recent news feature from Lehigh Valley Live, a 14-year-old girl was injured when she jumped out of a moving school bus and hit her head on the pavement. Doctors are worried the teen may have suffered a traumatic brain injury and labeled her condition as “concerning.”schoolbus

Believe it or not, the reason she jumped out of the rear door of a moving school bus is because it is a well-known tradition in the area for students to do this on the last day school each year.  However, one school official said that while the acts do occur, they are not a tradition at this particular school.  He said he is hopeful that other students will learn about the dangers of jumping out of moving school bus and not repeat this same behavior each year. Continue reading