The Maine Supreme Court is currently deciding whether a paper mill worker who was left suicidal by narcotic painkillers should receive workers’ compensation benefits for medical marijuana. It is the first time that the court has considered this question. The plaintiff, Gaetan Bourgoin, won a ruling from the state’s workers’ compensation board two years ago saying that the paper mill’s insurer must reimburse him for medical marijuana. He contends that marijuana is both cheaper and safer than narcotics. However, Twin Rivers Paper Co. and its insurer appealed the ruling, arguing that paying for pot use, even for medical purposes, could expose the company to prosecution, since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Now that medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, insurers across the country have been confronted with the problem of whether they should cover medical marijuana. Compounding this problem is the byzantine tangle of state laws on reimbursement. For example, five states – Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico – have found medical marijuana treatment is reimbursable under their workers’ compensation laws, according to the National Council for Compensation Insurance. Florida and North Dakota, meanwhile, passed laws this year excluding medical marijuana treatment from workers’ compensation reimbursement.

This issue is a bit more complex in Georgia. While patients who are suffering from certain conditions are legally authorized to possess low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana are still illegal, meaning that doctors are not allowed to prescribe it. Although nothing in Georgia’s workers’ compensation law specifically bars legal marijuana treatment, the law does state that insurance companies only have to pay for medical treatment that is authorized by a medical provider. Thus, because doctors cannot prescribe marijuana, workers’ compensation insurance companies do not currently pay for it in Georgia.

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.

A Colorado woman has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming that an employee improperly served her a cup of hot tea at a drive-through window, which caused the tea to spill, severely burning her and killing her dog, who was in the car at the time.

The plaintiff, Deanna Salas-Solano, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages from the coffee company, according to the complaint her lawyers filed in the US District Court for the District of Colorado. The incident occurred in September of 2015, when Salas-Solano visited the drive-through window of a Denver Starbucks and ordered a Venti hot tea. According to her complaint, she did not specify that she wanted her drink extra hot. When the Starbucks employee handed her the cup of tea, its lid was not secured, it lacked a hot-cup sleeve, and it was not double-cupped, which is Starbucks’s standard procedure for serving hot tea. The complaint also alleges that the beverage was unreasonably hot. Once she took the cup of tea into her hands, the hot temperature began to burn them, the complaint states. Hot tea then began to spill out of the cup through the unsecured lid and onto her body, which caused her clothing to melt. The tea caused severe burns to Salas-Solano, which caused her to experience intense pain on her stomach, legs, and lap.

Possibly the most disturbing aspect of the incident concerns the plaintiff’s dog. When Salas-Solano began to scream and writhe in pain after the tea spilled, her dog, Alexander, jumped into her lap and caused the rest of the tea to spill onto his body. The dog was then taken to an emergency veterinarian, and died shortly after form injuries caused by the hot tea. Salas-Solano was also taken to a hospital, where she was treated for severe burns and, the following day, underwent skin-graft surgery for “2% total body surface area second-degree burn injury to the abdomen and bilateral thighs,” according to the lawsuit. She has since reportedly suffered permanent scarring, loss of feeling and emotional distress, among other things, the suit states.

When most people think of personal injury lawsuits, they probably imagine that the plaintiff is suing to recover for physical injuries. While the vast majority of injuries for which most plaintiffs seek recovery are physical, not all of them are. Occasionally, a plaintiff has suffered from emotional injury so severe that he or she may be entitled to legal recovery. There are two situations in which a plaintiff may be able to recover for purely emotional damages with no corresponding physical damages. They are:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), and
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress (NEID)

The latest automotive technology—driverless vehicles—promises a world where accidents caused by human error are a thing of the past. Several companies, most notably Tesla, have made great strides towards bringing this future into reality, but, as of 2017, we are not quite there yet. Most vehicles equipped with self-driving technology sold today are what are known as semi-autonomous vehicles, in which a human driver is still the primary operator of the vehicle, but the vehicle can assist the driver with a variety of tasks, including automatic braking, self-parking, and lane detection. While these technologies are a promising start toward completely autonomous vehicles, they still have their limitations, which were tragically illustrated last year when an inattentive driver’s over-reliance on his Tesla Model S sedan’s semi-autonomous driving system caused a deadly crash.

Joshua Brown, 40, was traveling on a divided highway near Gainesville, Florida using the Tesla’s automated driving system known as Autopilot when a truck driver made a left-hand turn in front of him. The vehicle did not recognize the oncoming truck, which resulted in a fatal collision. Tesla stated that it told drivers of the Model S vehicle that the automated systems should only be used on limited-access highways where there are no vehicles suddenly turning into the car’s path. Despite this warning, however, the company did not incorporate protections against using Autopilot on other types of roads.

The Model S is a level 2 on a self-driving scale of 0 to 5. Level 5 vehicles can operate autonomously in nearly all circumstances. Level 2 automation systems are generally limited to use on interstate highways, which don’t have intersections. Drivers are supposed to continuously monitor vehicle performance and be ready to take control if necessary. In its investigation of the Brown accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the car’s cameras and radar weren’t capable of detecting a vehicle turning into its path. Rather, the systems are designed to detect vehicles they are following to prevent rear-end collisions.Investigators also found that Brown had his hands on the car’s steering wheel for only 25 seconds out of the 37.5 minutes the vehicle’s cruise control and lane-keeping systems were in use prior to the crash. As a result, Brown’s attention wandered and he did not see the truck turning into his path.

In the summer of 2009, a man walked into an Old Navy store in downtown Chicago where his girlfriend worked, pulled out a gun, shot her to death, and then killed himself. Police called the incident a “domestic dispute.” Not only did Old Navy have to deal with the public relations nightmare the incident caused, the family of the murdered employee soon filed a lawsuit against the company. The suit alleges that the shooting could have been prevented and that store management knew of threats against the employee and failed to act. It also alleged that the store’s security measures were outdated because the boyfriend was able to enter the store through a private employee entrance and then gain access to a restricted employee area, where he committed the murder-suicide.

Incidents of workplace violence such as this one have become an increasingly problematic phenomenon in recent decades. According the bureau of Labor Statistics, 11,613 people were killed between 1992 and 2006 in incidents of workplace violence. On average, 1.7 million people are victims of violent crime while working or on duty in the United States every year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as “any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting.” The workplace can be any location “where an employee performs any work-related duty.” This includes buildings, parking lots, clients’ homes, and travel to and from work assignments.While it would seem that the blame for workplace violence would most naturally fall on the perpetrators, employers also face various legal liabilities when their employees or customers are victims.

There are several methods by which an employer can be held liable for incidents of workplace violence, outlined below.

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.

Esteemed Lawyers - ELOA
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Badge
Georgia Trend
Best Lawyers
Super Lawyers Badge
AV Preeminent - Martindale-Hubbell
Top 100 Trial Lawyers
Litigator Awards
Atlanta Bar Association
American Bar Association
State Board of Workers' Compensation
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
State Bar of Georgia
Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb