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Over the past month, the topic of sexual assault has received heavy media attention after it was revealed that a major Hollywood producer had allegedly been sexually assaulting actresses for many years. After this initial revelation, the floodgates of sexual assault allegations seemed to have been opened, with accusations being leveled against other Hollywood celebrities, business executives, and even a former president. These types of incidents are normally handled through the criminal law system, but there are several avenues in which the victims of sexual assault can also recover through civil actions.

Below, we’ll take a look at the differences between criminal and civil actions for sexual assault and then examine a few types of civil actions that are available to victims.

Difference Between Criminal and Civil Actions for Sexual Assault

Paige Gasper, a 21-year-old student at Sonoma State University in California, has filed the first of what is likely to be many lawsuits relating to the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1. The shooting, carried out by Stephen Paddock, left 58 people dead and 500 more wounded in the worst mass shooting event in United States History. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Clark County District Court, named several defendants, including Mandalay Bay and its owner, MGM Resorts; Live Nation, the concert promoter; and the maker of “bump stocks,” the device Paddock used to make his guns mimic automatic weapons. Since Gasper’s lawsuit, there have been at least two more filings in the same court over the shooting: a class-action claim by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence against the manufacturer and sellers of bump stocks in Nevada, and a petition asking the court to take control of Paddock’s estate.

Gasper was with a group of friends the night of the shooting when she was shot in her right underarm. After she was trampled by others trying to escape, another concert attendee took her to a truck that raced her and a group of other people who had been shot to a hospital. She was the only passenger who survived. After being treated for fractured ribs and a lacerated liver in an intensive care unit, Gasper returned to her family in California, where she is still recovering. Her lawsuit claims that MGM Resorts “breached their duty of reasonable care” and failed to keep the hotel “in a reasonably safe condition” because it did not monitor people coming into the hotel and did not respond quickly enough to Jesus Campos, a security officer whom Paddock shot and wounded about six minutes before he began firing on the concert crowd. It also claims that MGM, which also owns the concert venue, and Live Nation did not design, build, or mark adequate emergency exits and failed to “properly train and supervise employees in an appropriate plan of action in case of an emergency.”

Although the victims’ need and the public’s demand for justice, in this case, are high, the plaintiffs in these types of cases face an unfortunately high bar to recovery. Lawsuits after mass shootings have largely struggled, due to a federal law that shields gun manufacturers and sellers from civil claims brought by victims of gun violence. Congress passed the law, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, after significant lobbying from the National Rifle Association in 2005. While liability against MGM and Live Nation will be fairly easy to establish, a decision placing liability on gun manufacturers would be “unprecedented,” according to Timothy D. Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University. “No plaintiff has ever obtained an unreversed jury verdict in a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer for an injury arising out of the criminal use of a weapon,” Lytton said. “The argument,” he added, referring to the justification of the 2005 law, “is that the industry’s not responsible for gun violence — criminals are responsible.”

NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson has told a congressional panel that before parents sign their children up to play football, they should be informed that the sport can cause long-term neurological damage, even to players who do not have obvious concussion symptoms. Carson, other former NFL players, and brain injury researchers spoke at an October 13th forum organized by House Democrats to explore what, if anything, Congress can do to make the nation’s most popular spectator sport safer for its players.

The congressional forum is the latest in a string of high-profile inquiries into the physical effects that football can have on its players. The largest study of this kind was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System. Researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players at all levels and found that nearly 88 percent of the brains, 177, showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The study’s most concerning finding was that three of 14 who had played only high school football had CTE, as did 48 of 53 college players. This study indicates that the effects of CTE on football players are being felt far beyond the professional realm, and at all levels of play.

Carson, who is a former linebacker who made nine Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl in his 13-year career with the New York Giants, now devotes much of his time to raising awareness of head trauma and said that he will not allow his eight-year-old grandson to play football. “Every parent should be informed. They should be informed as to what risks they are subjecting their kids to,” said Carson, who was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in 1990. “Understand that your child could be subject to a neurological injury that could affect them for the rest of their lives.”

When a person is injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the injured person has an obligation to take reasonable steps to minimize the effects of their injuries. This is known as the “plaintiff’s duty to mitigate damages.” This rule denies a personal injury plaintiff the right to recover any part of his or her damages which the court or a jury finds could reasonably have been avoided. A personal injury plaintiff’s obligation is to act in a way that an ordinary, reasonable person would have in a similar situation. Further, an injured person must act in good faith and with due diligence in the exercise of ordinary care and reasonable judgment when selecting a doctor or treatment for his or her injuries and in seeking alternative employment. A defendant in a personal injury suit will often attempt to reduce the number of damages that the plaintiff can recover by showing that the plaintiff failed to take reasonable steps to reduce his or her loss following the injury.

Below are four of the most common ways that personal injury plaintiffs can inadvertently sabotage their damages awards.

  1. Choosing Not to Have Surgery

Before we get into the specifics of how to give a deposition, it might be helpful to explain what a deposition is. During the pre-trial stage of the litigation, each side must go through a process called “discovery” to learn facts and gather evidence that will deter define their strategies and avoid delays once the trial begins. Depositions are a part of the discovery process. At a deposition, the opposing side’s attorneys will ask the witness, or deponent, a series of questions about facts and events related to the lawsuit, and the entire deposition will be recorded word-for-word by a court reporter. The reporter is present throughout the session and will produce a transcript at a later time. All parties to a case may attend a deposition, including the deponent’s attorneys. The attorneys for the deponent may make objections to some of the questions being asked by the opposing counsel, but, generally, the deponent is obligated to answer all questions.

A deposition could be as short as an hour or as long as a week or more and, depending on the facts of the case, can be quite stressful for the deponent. As such, it is important that the deponent and his or her lawyer prepare adequately before a deposition. Below, we’ll share a few tips that will help your deposition go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Always tell the truth: This is the most important element to any deposition. Lying in a deposition constitutes perjury, which is a felony. It can also damage your case if the truth comes out later at trial.

Millions of people go out for dinner or a beer every day without incurring an injury from the food they are consuming. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you put your trust in the hands of the bartender or chef on duty. One thing that you would not expect is to leave with an injury derived from ingesting a dangerous chemical. A man whose esophagus and stomach were severely burned when he drank a beer tainted by a caustic chemical at an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino restaurant has been awarded $750,000 by a jury. The jury awarded the man, Richard Washart, $650,000 for pain and suffering and $100,000 for emotional distress caused by the accident, according to his attorney Paul D’Amato. The incident occurred at McCormick & Schmick’s, a popular chain of seafood restaurants, inside Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City.The chemical in question was a caustic agent that the restaurant used to clean its beer tap lines.

Washart, who is a former Ocean City, New Jersey police lieutenant, said he took a sip of the beer he had been served and noted that he immediately felt a burning pain in his mouth, throat, and stomach. After this, he went to the bathroom, where he experienced the first of six rounds of projectile vomiting. He tried to drink water from a faucet but was unable to do so because of the pain in his mouth and throat. A short time later, he began vomiting blood and was taken to a hospital. A doctor informed him that he had never seen a patient survive with such severe burns to their esophagus and stomach.

McCormick & Schmick’s shifted the blame for the incident to the company it uses to clean its beer lines, Kramer Beverage Co., which denied being at the restaurant when Washart drank the beer. Washart’s attorney also faulted Kramer Beverage, noting that the company doesn’t follow industry recommendations to use pH testing strips that cost 15 cents each to check beer after lines have been cleaned. But he also said the restaurant violated New Jersey’s Adulterated Food Act by serving a tainted brew.

A startling number of people are affected by drunk drivers, and in some cases, are able to collect significant damages for their injuries. A West Virginia jury has awarded more than $1.5 million to a woman who suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of a drunk driving accident that occurred in December of 2014. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young woman against the drunk driver and the Beallsville, West Virginia American Legion. The young woman, who was 21 at the time of the accident, alleged the drunk driver was a patron of the bar and that the bar continued to serve her alcohol after she became visibly intoxicated. The victim was traveling home after dropping off a friend from a day of Christmas shopping when she was involved in a head-on collision with the drunk driver.

The black box recovered from the drunk driver’s vehicle showed that she was traveling 70 miles per hour when her vehicle went over the center line of the highway and hit the victim head-on. The drunk driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was found to be more than two times the legal limit at the time of the crash. The victim was life-flighted to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, with bleeding on the brain, a ruptured spleen, lacerated liver, broken arm, dislocated elbow, fractured femur, and other serious injuries. She still suffers from long-term physical and non-physical health problems and significant scarring as a result of the crash. She will require medical treatment for the rest of her life.

The victim’s attorney stated that “the people of Monroe County delivered a strong message to drunk drivers and the business who [sic] serve visibly intoxicated patron; it’s not okay, and you will be held accountable.” Similar to many states, including Georgia, West Virginia has a dram shop law that holds businesses accountable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron. These types of laws also hold businesses responsible for serving anyone under the age of 21 who is involved in a drunk driving crash. Georgia’s dram shop law imposes liability on any person who:

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.

A Louisiana mother has filed suit against Walgreen’s after two different stores allegedly incorrectly filled her daughter’s medication. According to the claim, the plaintiff and her minor child were at the Walgreens at 4600 Westbank Expressway in Marrero Louisiana, on Sept. 26, 2016, when the first incident took place. The suit states that the plaintiff was picking up medication prescribed for her daughter’s seizures but she was given the wrong medication. The child began to show symptoms and was admitted to a hospital, where she was treated for an overdose of the incorrect medication. On May 30, the plaintiff went to a Walgreens at 2001 Carol Sue Ave. in Gretna and after returning home saw that there were two types of pills in the bottle. Her claim accuses Walgreen’s of negligence by failing to take the proper care, failing to warn of danger, and overall negligence of the employees who filled the prescription incorrectly.

How Common is this Problem?

This case raises an interesting question—how often do pharmacists incorrectly fill prescriptions, and what can you do about it if they do? While estimates vary, it’s believed that one percent to five percent of prescriptions filled in U.S. pharmacies involve some kind of error. According to Gerald Gianutsos, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, a prescription label with incorrect directions is the most frequent type of prescription error, but, occasionally, a patient will also receive either the wrong dosage of the correct medication or the wrong medication altogether. Many drugs have names that sound similar and that use similar spellings, and when they’re arranged alphabetically on the pharmacy shelf, “it’s very easy to grab the wrong one by mistake and look at it real quick … and think that you’re dispensing the right drug,” Gianutsos says.

In a series of end-of-term decisions by the Supreme Court, one decision has quietly made it harder for plaintiffs from diverse states to sue an out-of-state defendant in a class action lawsuit. The case, titled Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court, alters the rules governing the procedures whereby a particular state’s courts can exercise jurisdiction over litigants who do not live in that state. Before we discuss the case at issue, we’ll first give a general overview of how courts decide which cases they can hear.

A Primer on Personal Jurisdiction

In International Shoe v. Washington, the Supreme Court held that a particular state court (known as the “forum state”) could exercise jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants if the defendant had “minimum contacts” with the state. In subsequent cases, the court found that there are two ways of finding “minimum contacts.” The first is “general jurisdiction,” which requires the defendant to have “systematic and continuous contacts” with the forum state such that the defendant is at “home” in the state. If the defendant’s actions meet this test, then he or she can be sued for any actions in the state. The second is “specific jurisdiction,” which allows lawsuits against an out-of-state defendant only if the suit “arises out of or relates to the defendant’s contact with the forum” state.

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