An Ohio woman was recently awarded a $1.2 million verdict after a jury trial in a personal injury claim against a grocery store, based on injuries that she sustained when another customer lost control of a motorized shopping cart and crashed into her. As a result of the collision, the woman hit her head and suffered serious head and neck injuries. According to a news report covering the case, the woman’s claim alleged that the grocery store did not adequately show its customers how to use the motorized carts safely and negligently caused her injuries. After the parties were unable to agree on settlement terms, the case was submitted to a jury, which awarded the woman over $1.2 million.

Shopping AisleBusinesses Can Be Held Accountable to Customers for the Negligent or Intentional Actions of Other Customers

The recent $1.2 million jury award demonstrates that businesses and other responsible entities may be legally accountable for the actions of their customers in the event of an injury or death. Businesses have a legal duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for customers while they are open to the public. Businesses that provide potentially dangerous machinery or activities have a responsibility to ensure that people participating are able to do so safely. Businesses may have a duty to train or educate customers about the use of potentially dangerous equipment, and if they fail to do so, they may be held accountable for creating a hazard to other customers in the event an injury occurs. In certain circumstances, businesses or property owners can even be held accountable for the intentional conduct of a customer if the property owner should have reasonably anticipated the risk of the customer’s conduct occurring.

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An Illinois court recently published an opinion reversing a lower appellate court’s ruling in favor of the defendant in a medical malpractice and wrongful death claim. The plaintiff’s claim had been dismissed by the district court because it was filed after the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims appeared to have run. The state high court disagreed with the lower court’s ruling that the claim was time-barred and applied what is known as the “discovery rule” to the plaintiff’s claim, ultimately extending the statute of limitations to permit the plaintiff’s claims to be heard. Since the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case was reversed, he may receive compensation through a settlement or trial on his claim that the defendant’s negligence resulted in his mother’s death.

DoctorThe Plaintiff’s Mother Died Nine Days after Having a Procedure Performed by the Defendants

The plaintiff in the case of Moon v. Theis is the son of a woman who died of apparent respiratory depression while under the care of the defendants on May 29, 2009. The plaintiff’s mother was a patient of the defendant whose condition worsened after having a perineal proctectomy performed by the defendant earlier in the month. The plaintiff filed the first medical malpractice complaint against the defendant on May 10, 2011, which alleged the defendant failed to properly treat his mother’s respiratory distress. In February 2013, during proceedings related to that lawsuit, the plaintiff obtained a CT scan of his mother from before her death and discovered other acts of alleged negligence by the defendant that appeared to contribute to her death. In March 2013, the plaintiff filed a separate wrongful death lawsuit against the defendants, alleging that the defendant’s previously undiscovered negligence was a cause of his mother’s death and seeking compensation on her behalf.

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All fatal traffic accidents are tragic. However, those that involve a drunk driver and a young victim feel particularly devastating. Lawmakers and police do everything they can to enact and enforce laws that deter drunk driving, but there is no substitute for good judgment. In fact, drunk driving is such a problem in New Mexico that between the years of 2002 and 2013, over 1,200 people lost their lives due to alcohol-related accidents. Furthermore, New Mexico’s per capita rate of death in drunk driving accidents is 30% higher than the national average.

CocktailSadly, nothing can be done to bring back someone who lost their life in a drunk driving accident. However, the family of the victim may be able to hold the responsible party accountable through a civil wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death cases in New Mexico are technically brought by the administrator of the deceased’s estate. However, they are brought for the benefit of the surviving family members, usually a spouse, children, or grandchildren. In order to prove a New Mexico wrongful death case, the person bringing the lawsuit must show that the defendant’s negligent act caused the death of their loved one. In the case of a drunk driving accident, this is often proven through evidence of the driver’s intoxication.

23-Year-Old Man Killed in Wrong-Way Drunk-Driving Accident

Earlier this month, a young man was killed in a drunk driving accident on Interstate 25. According to one local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred at around 11:30 in the evening in Santa Fe.

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The Alaska Supreme Court recently rejected a plaintiff’s challenge to a jury’s verdict in a personal injury case that had denied the plaintiff relief and found the defendant was not operating his vehicle negligently when the accident occurred. The state high court ruled that the jury could have reasonably concluded that the accident was not the defendant’s fault and that he should not be held accountable for the injuries allegedly suffered by the plaintiff in the accident. Based on the latest appellate ruling, the plaintiff will most likely not be compensated for the injuries that she suffered in the crash.

Snowy RoadThe Defendant Slides on Ice and Crashes into the Plaintiff’s Vehicle at an Intersection

The plaintiff in the case of Marshall v. Peter was a woman who was struck from behind by the defendant’s vehicle while she was waiting to make a left-hand turn at an intersection. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the parties agreed that the road conditions were icy at the time of the accident, and the police officers who responded to the crash cited the defendant for causing the accident by making an improper start. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant after the accident, alleging that he negligently failed to account for the road conditions and maintain a safe following distance from the plaintiff, causing the accident and her subsequent injuries.

The Jury Finds that the Defendant Was Not Negligent

After trial on the plaintiff’s claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the defendant had operated his vehicle with due care considering the conditions at the time, and the accident was an unavoidable and minor result of uncontrollable conditions, rather than the defendant’s fault. In response to the verdict, the plaintiff asked the court to enter judgment in her favor notwithstanding the jury’s findings, but the trial court rejected her request. The plaintiff then appealed that ruling to the state supreme court, arguing that the defendant should be liable for the accident as a matter of law and that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable.

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The Supreme Court of Idaho recently released an opinion that affirmed a jury’s award of nearly $4 million to a plaintiff, based upon allegations that his wife’s death was caused by a liposuction procedure that was negligently performed by the defendant. The defendant had appealed the verdict, based in part on allegations that the trial judge improperly commented on the plaintiff’s evidence at trial, which illegitimately influenced the jury’s decision. As a result of the appellate court’s rejection of the defendant’s arguments made on appeal, the defendant will be required to pay the entire judgment awarded to the plaintiff.

StethoscopeThe Plaintiff’s Wife Died After an Unknown Bacteria Was Introduced into Her Body During a Medical Procedure

The plaintiff in the case of Ballard v. Kerr was a man whose wife passed away after allegedly contracting an infection during a liposuction procedure that was performed by the defendant. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the defendant failed to properly disinfect and sterilize certain medical equipment that was used in the procedure, introducing bacteria into her body and causing the infection, which ultimately resulted in her death by septic shock approximately four days after the surgery.

The Jury Finds the Defendant’s Negligence Was the Proximate Cause of the Woman’s Death

After a two-week trial on the plaintiff’s wrongful death claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $3.8 million in economic and non-economic damages. The jury additionally reached the conclusion that the defendant was more than simply negligent and acted recklessly in causing the woman’s death, which resulted in additional damages being awarded to the plaintiff.

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The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently published a decision affirming a jury’s verdict for the defendant in a personal injury and product liability lawsuit that was filed against a retailer by a woman who was injured in a bicycle accident. The woman’s claim, which was ultimately rejected by the jury, was that the defendant sold her a bicycle with defective brakes and should be held accountable for injuries that she suffered shortly after purchasing the bike. Because of the appellate opinion affirming the jury’s verdict, the plaintiff will not be compensated for the injuries she suffered in the accident.

BikeThe Plaintiff Is Injured in a Crash Shortly After Purchasing the Bike from the Defendant

The plaintiff in the case of Applebaum v. Target Corporation is a woman who purchased a bicycle from the defendant and injured her shoulder when she crashed the bike on a hill during her first ride. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the bicycle in question had been previously returned by another customer before the plaintiff bought it, and she alleged that the rear-brake assembly should have been repaired before the bike was sold to her. After her injury, the plaintiff filed a product liability claim against the defendant and the bike’s manufacturer, alleging that her fall was caused by the defective brake assembly that was not properly repaired before she bought the bike.

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A division of the Court of Appeal of the State of California recently published an opinion reversing a trial court ruling that had prevented an accident victim from pursuing a negligence claim arising from injuries he suffered in a crash allegedly caused by a paramedic who was responding to a medical emergency. The trial court previously rejected the plaintiff’s claim because it was not filed within California’s one-year statute of limitations for negligence claims against a medical professional. The appellate court determined that the plaintiff’s car accident claim should not be restricted by the statute of limitations for professional negligence and remanded the case back to the trial court to proceed toward a trial or settlement.

AmbulanceThe Defendant Ran a Red Light While Responding to an Emergency and Injured the Plaintiff

The plaintiff in the case of Aldana v. Stillwagon is a private citizen who was injured when his vehicle was struck by the defendant as he drove through an intersection. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was a paramedic and was driving a standard pickup truck en route to a medical emergency when he failed to stop at a red light and crashed into the plaintiff, who had the right of way at the time of the accident. Based on the injuries suffered in the accident, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant approximately 17 months after the crash.

The Plaintiff’s Suit Is Dismissed Based on a Special Statute of Limitations

In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant argued that California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act contained a statute of limitations that barred the plaintiff’s claim. Under California law, a victim of professional negligence by a medical provider must file a claim within one year from the date the injury was discovered. Since the defendant was working as a paramedic and responding to an emergency at the time of the crash, the trial court determined that the plaintiff’s claim was subject to the one-year statute of limitations and dismissed the case, resulting in the plaintiff’s appeal.

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Late last month, the Nebraska State Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision granting a grocery store summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit brought by an injured patron. According to the opinion, a customer injured herself after she slipped on a piece of watermelon on the store’s floor.

Wet FloorApparently, there were individuals in the grocery store providing watermelon samples at the time of the accident. The injured woman claimed that the store was negligent in several ways and that the store’s negligence resulted in her injuries. The grocery store moved for summary judgment and argued that they did not know of or create the dangerous condition. The lower court agreed with the defense and stated that although it was clear that watermelon samples were being distributed by the grocery store, that alone was insufficient to support a claim for negligence.

The plaintiff appealed this decision to the state supreme court. The plaintiff argued that the grocery store should have known that a customer may have dropped the watermelon. However, the court held that one could not reasonably conclude that the grocery store created the hazardous condition or even knew about it. The court found that, despite the plaintiff’s contentions, there was no proof that the grocery store had constructive knowledge of the dropped watermelon. In sum, the court held that since there was no evidence that substantiated a claim of constructive knowledge or the creation of a dangerous condition, the lawsuit should be dismissed.

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A state appellate court recently published an opinion in a medical negligence case stemming from a 2011 surgery. The case was brought by a couple after the wife underwent surgery at a local hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke. Approximately two years after the surgery, the couple brought a claim against the manufacturer of the medical device that the respondents used during the procedure. This lawsuit did not name the doctor who performed the surgery or the hospital where it was performed.

White CoatSeveral months later, and after the three-year statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. The couple wanted to add the doctor and hospital as new parties to the lawsuit under a medical malpractice theory. The hospital and doctor moved for summary judgment and argued that the statute of limitations barred the lawsuit because although the original case was filed before the statute of limitations had expired, the amended complaint naming them was untimely. The district court granted these motions, and the couple then appealed. The appellate court held that the defendants were correct and that the case against them should be dismissed

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A state appellate court recently decided that a personal injury case involving an underinsured motorist claim should be remanded back to the trial court, due to ambiguities in the insurance contract. The main issue that was being disputed was a clause in the insurer’s policy that required that an underinsured motorist claim must be brought within three years, although the policy also stated that the insured individual must first exhaust the underinsured’s insurance policy.

Signing a ContractIn this case, a mother and her two sons were involved in a serious car accident with an underinsured motorist. The mother filed a lawsuit against the other driver, and her own insurance company also filed a complaint against the driver. The insurance company was seeking damages for payments they made as a result of the accident. However, the other driver’s insurance policy coverage was minimal. The mother filed a claim with her own insurance company as well because the other driver’s policy was insufficient to cover her damages. However, since this was done more than three years after the accident, the insurance company filed a motion to dismiss and argued that the claim was barred by the requirement in the contract that all claims be brought within three years.

The trial court denied the insurance company’s motion, and they then appealed. The court affirmed the trial court’s decision and found that the policy was ambiguous and should be construed in favor of the plaintiff.

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