Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Research from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business suggests that the risk of fans being hit by foul balls or errant bats at baseball games has increased in recent years and, as such, it may be time to reconsider the “Baseball Rule.”

What is the Baseball Rule?

The Baseball Rule is a legal doctrine that immunizes baseball teams and stadium owners from liability and has been in effect for over 100 years. Generally, the Baseball Rule limits the landowner duty of care owed to spectators to providing a reasonable protection in the form of screening behind home plate. Spectators who choose to view the game in an unscreened area assume the open and obvious risk of being struck by balls entering the stands during the ordinary course of play. This legal doctrine has been adopted by a majority of the courts in this country generally as a practical matter. It avoids creating a potential lawsuit for every ball entering the stands and striking a spectator. Without the Baseball Rule, each spectator injury would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis based on the particular circumstances of a particular game in each stadium setting. Naturally, this scheme would flood the courts with personal injury claims. The Baseball Rule avoids that outcome by imposing a bright-line rule: If you choose to sit in an unprotected seat, you assume the risk of getting struck by a baseball.

2017 was a watershed moment of sorts for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, with many women (and men) coming forward to report inappropriate behavior by their superiors that long went unacknowledged. The wave of accusations that have come out in recent months has spread to seemingly every corner of our society—the media, the entertainment industry, and even Capitol Hill. We have previously published an article outlining the various civil actions available to victims of sexual abuse, but, in this post, we will define what behavior constitutes sexual harassment and what to do about it if it happens to you.

What Behavior Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

Under federal law, there are two forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment requires that a person in authority demands that subordinates tolerate sexual harassment as a condition of getting or keeping a job or job benefit, including promotions and raises. Hostile work environment harassment is grounds for legal action when the conduct is unwelcome, based on sex, and severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive or offensive work environment. Courts analyze several elements in determining whether a hostile environment harassment claim is valid, including:

In the United States, we are a nation of dog lovers. There are an estimated 78 million dogs living in the United States, and approximately 44% of all households in the United States own a dog. That’s a lot of dogs running around. While the vast majority of dogs in this country live up to their title of Man’s Best Friend, not all of them do. Sadly, many dogs endure neglect and abuse at the hands of their owners, which often have the effect of making the dogs more aggressive than they would naturally be.

Below, we’ll go over what you should do if you are bitten by a dog and what legal options are available to you.

Steps to Take if You are Bitten by a Dog

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that originated in Africa in the 1940s and was initially detected in monkeys. It was later identified in humans by 1952. From the 1960s to 1980s, Zika virus infections were found mostly in Africa and Asia and were typically accompanied by only minor illness. Now, however, the Zika virus has become a full-blown epidemic in many South and Central American countries and has even made its way to the United States. Zika virus during pregnancy is often the cause of congenital brain abnormalities in the fetus, including microcephaly, and the Zika virus is also a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome. The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, but can also be spread through blood transfusions and sexual activity.

Below, we’ll examine three ways that you may be able to hold someone else liable if they were responsible for your Zika infection.

Employer Negligence

In the realm of personal injury law, the kinds of cases we see most often are those in which someone has committed a negligent act that caused someone else harm. In most cases, the perpetrator of the harm did not intend to cause the harm to the victim but was acting in a way that made them legally liable for the harm. For example, very few people intentionally try to crash their cars into other vehicles, but car accidents are often the result of a lapse of judgment on the driver’s part. If that lapse of judgment rises to the level of negligence—for example, they were texting and driving and not paying attention to where they were going—then it can expose the person to liability.

While most people do not intend to harm others with their actions, there are some cases where that is exactly the perpetrator’s intent. These types of actions are called intentional torts. Below, we’ll take a look at a few different types of intentional torts.

Assault and Battery

A Texas woman has sued Victoria’s Secret in federal court, alleging that she suffered third-degree burns after one of its hoodies touched a stovetop burner and burst into flames. Samantha Burke says in her lawsuit that, on November 21, 2016, she was heating up some soup on her gas stove while wearing a hoodie from the company’s PINK apparel line. While moving the soup from the burner to the countertop, she states that she smelled something burning and realized that the drawstring on her Victoria’s Secret PINK hoodie had caught fire. As she set the soup on her kitchen counter, she saw flames on the right side of her body. Hearing her scream, Burke’s husband yelled at her to drop to the floor and roll. She did so, but the flames did not go out immediately. Instead, she and her husband put the fire out with their bare hands.

Doctors who treated Burke after the accident diagnosed her with third-degree burns and put skin grafts on them before placing her in an airplane splint, a device that fixes the patient’s arm at shoulder level to aid in the healing process. Burke states that she spent several weeks in the splint, which forced her into a posture that made her body ache, and pain medication provided her little relief. Even sleep provided no relief, she claims, as she had recurring nightmares of being trapped in a fire in her home. The problems persisted even after she thought she had improved enough to return to work. Burke claims that, while she was giving a presentation in a light sweater at work one day, the seater irritated her skin so badly that her skin began to bleed. Alarmed by this development, she returned to her doctor, who informed her that her burns had reached “maximum improvement,” meaning that she will be stuck with scarred skin that cannot be exposed to heat or sunlight for the rest of her life.

In her complaint, Burke is claiming damages based on theories of products liability, gross negligence, negligent design, and failure to warn. She also wants Victoria’s Secret to pay her hospital bills. This is not the first time that Victoria’s Secret has found itself in legal trouble over flaming garments. The company has been sued 19 times since 2004, including four class actions, by women alleging products liability and claiming they were either burned when a candle caught their lingerie on fire, they suffered allergic reactions to lingerie, or bras injured them and left scars.

A man who was temporarily blinded in one eye—and who may lose the eye altogether—after a foul ball struck him in the face at Wrigley Field this summer has filed a personal injury suit against the Chicago Cubs and Major League baseball. The suit alleges that the two parties failed to install enough safety netting at the field to protect him and other plaintiffs and seeks at least $50,000 in damages. The plaintiff, 60-year-old John “Jay” Loos, said he has undergone three surgeries to repair his severely damaged left eye and the five bones in his face shattered by the foul ball that struck him as he sat down the first base line during a game between the Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 29.

Loos’s lawsuit comes at a time of increased scrutiny and criticism of the MLB’s safety practices. Many are calling on major league teams to extend their safety netting farther down the lines to protect fans sitting there like the netting that protects the fans sitting behind home plate. The MLB has acknowledged that fans would like the option to sit behind netting. “It is important that fans have the option to sit behind protective netting or in other areas of the ballpark where foul balls and bats are less likely to enter,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “This recommendation attempts to balance the need for an adequate number of seating options with our desire to preserve the interactive pre-game and in-game fan experience that often centers around the dugouts, where fans can catch foul balls, see their favorite players up close and, if they are lucky, catch a tossed ball or other souvenir.”

The suit also comes on the heels of another incident in New York, in which a two-year-old child was struck in the face by a line drive foul ball at Yankee Stadium. After the girl was hit in New York, Manfred said the MLB has worked with teams to expand netting in ballparks before and would “redouble our efforts on this important issue.” A spokesman for the Chicago Cubs said the team had not seen the lawsuit but declined comment. Days after the child was struck in New York, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said the team would extend the netting already in place by at least 30 feet down lines. And on Monday, an attorney for Loos, Colin Dunn, said he’d contacted the Cubs and was encouraged by what they said, but declined to elaborate further.

The family of a Massachusetts woman who died in childbirth nine years ago has finally been awarded $4 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Court documents show that 36-year-old Marie Gabriel-Gelin, of Stoughton, was pregnant in 2008 with her fourth child and was admitted to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth for a cesarean section delivery. Gabriel-Gelin had become anemic during her pregnancy, which placed her at a higher risk of encountering life-threatening complications during a cesarean-section, according to court records. Attorneys for her family claimed at trial that, during the procedure, one of the doctors punctured her bowel, which had to be repaired by a vascular surgeon. Gabriel-Gelin lost a substantial amount of blood as a result of this incident and other complications and required close monitoring afterward.

Following Gabriel-Gelin’s operation, her doctor ordered blood products in the event that she would need a transfusion, but did not provide any instructions on when or how that should be done before signing her over to one of his colleagues. Soon after, the lawsuit claimed that she began hemorrhaging, and a transfusion was ordered, but the transfusion did not contain the materials necessary to help her blood begin clotting. As a result, she began to foam at the mount and went into cardiac arrest. Her medical team ordered more transfusions and worked to control the bleeding, even going so far as to perform an emergency hysterectomy, but Gabriel-Gelin died soon after. Her cause of death was determined to be “pulmonary amniotic fluid embolism following cesarean delivery of intrauterine pregnancy.”

“The defendants were aware,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued, “that since [Gabriel-Gelin] had lost a substantial amount of blood during delivery and that she was anemic, she was at risk of a life-threatening condition if she lost any more blood. Nevertheless, they failed to order immediate and aggressive treatment of Ms. Gelin’s hemorrhage including immediate intraoperative and postoperative transfusions of blood, plasma, and other agents to prevent death due to post-partum hemorrhage due to uterine atony. By the time blood products and plasma were ordered and administered, it was too late to prevent her cardiac arrest and death.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on the Federal Aviation Administration to remove its medical certification exemption for commercial hot air balloon operators, saying it contributed to a July 30, 2016, balloon crash in Texas that killed 15 passengers and the pilot. The board found on October 17 that the balloon pilot’s “pattern of poor decision making,” combined with his own impairing medical conditions and medication use, led to the crash.

On the day of the accident, the balloon hit power lines before crashing and burning in a field near Lockhart, Texas. The pilot, Alfred Nichols, launched in fog and then descended through clouds that impaired his ability to see and avoid obstacles, according to the NTSB. Nichols took Valium and oxycodone that likely affected the flight, investigators said. He flew with enough Benadryl in his system to have the equivalent blood-alcohol content of a drunken driver, investigators said.The weather forecast about two hours before the 7 a.m. launch of the balloon showed clouds as low as 1,100 feet above the ground. A crew member for Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides said there was fog near the launch site. A passenger photograph taken about four minutes before the accident showed the balloon flying above a dense cloud layer that extended all the way to the horizon. The balloon hit power lines while descending about 44 minutes after launch, which caused the basket to separate from the balloon itself, allowing the burner assembly to cause a post-crash fire.

“This pilot should not have been flying — never mind carrying paying passengers,” said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the board. “The pilot’s poor decisions on the day of the accident were his and his alone, but they affected those who flew with him.” Nichols had previously operated balloon-ride companies in Missouri and Illinois. Numerous customer complaints against Nichols’s companies were reported in those states dating back to 1997. Customers told the Better Business Bureau that their rides would get canceled at the last minute and their fees never refunded.Nichols also had at least four conditions for drunk driving and had twice spent time in prison.

At least four lawsuits have been filed against a nursing home in Florida that was the site of eleven deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The facility, known as the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Florida, lost power during Hurricane Irma, which subsequently knocked out the facility’s air conditioning. All victims of the tragedy are believed to have died from heat-related conditions or from existing conditions that were exacerbated by excessive heat.

The first lawsuit, filed by the family of 94-year-old Rosa Cabrera, is based in negligence and seeks unspecified damages. Cabrera, a diabetic with weight problems, had her left leg amputated last year and her right leg amputated in March of this year, just one month before she was placed in the nursing home. In their lawsuit, the Cabrera family said that, as a double amputee, she suffered injury, pain, and distress inflicted by the center’s staff, who should have known that she could not care for herself or escape the “horrific conditions” at the nursing home. Stuart Grossman, the Cabreras’s attorney, said that Cabrera was assured by the rehab center’s staff that she would be safe from the storm as Hurricane Irma approached Florida. Instead, the home placed her in unnecessary danger that could have cost her her life. He said that the center’s conduct far surpasses a failure to meet a standard of care because Cabrera was forced to endure unbearable heat when the staff did not immediately respond to the escalating medical emergency.

The nursing home, which has had its operating license suspended since the incident and is under criminal investigation by state and federal regulators, has defended its procedures before, during, and after the storm. In a timeline, the center said that two Florida Power and Light (FPL) transformers—one that powers the building’s life safety systems and the second the air-conditioning chiller—flickered and came back on on the afternoon of September 10th during the storm, but then the power to the AC chiller went down and did not come back online. Nursing home operators said they contacted FPL, state regulators, and even Governor Rick Scott’s cell phone, but received no assistance. They said the staff set up 10 spot coolers and fans on the first and second floors, and eventually obtained additional spot coolers from Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street.But the rehab center’s administrator also admitted in the timeline that they did not call 911 to deal with the medical emergency and failing patients until 1:30 a.m. on September 13th, three days after the air conditioner went down. Five patients had already suffered cardiac arrest or respiratory distress by 4:45 a.m. on that day.

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