April 5, 2014

New Mexico Federal Court Rejects Defendant's Attempt to Disqualify Plaintiff's Witness in Slip-and-Fall Case

In a recently released ruling by the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, the Court rejected a defendant's motion to prevent an expert witness from testifying for the plaintiff in a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit. In Coll v. BNSF Railway Company, the Court agreed with the arguments made by the plaintiff that the testimony of an expert in floor safety would be relevant in the slip-and-fall accident lawsuit that they had filed.

attention-521304-m.jpgThe Accident

On March 18, 2009, an employee of the Defendant Railroad Company slipped and fell down the steps of a locomotive and severely injured his elbow and shoulder. The employee was unable to continue working after the injury. By September of 2009, he had recovered and was able to return to work. When he requested compensation from the company, they offered him only $800 and he refused. The Plaintiff in this case was the appointed trustee of the injured employee, and pursued a personal injury claim against the Railroad Company.

The Lawsuit

As the case made its way toward trial, the Plaintiff proposed to present the testimony of an expert on floor safety. He would testify that the Railroad Company had not constructed or maintained the steps on the locomotive up to the relevant standard of care, and were therefore responsible for the employee's injuries. The Defendant argued that because the proposed expert testimony was from an expert on floor safety, and not train safety, that his testimony would not be relevant or helpful to the fact finder.

Continue reading "New Mexico Federal Court Rejects Defendant's Attempt to Disqualify Plaintiff's Witness in Slip-and-Fall Case " »

March 13, 2014

Recent New Mexico Appellate Court Decision Harmful to Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, Increases Importance of Quickly Consulting an Attorney

In a disappointing decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in October of last year, a plaintiff's bad drug and medical malpractice claim against his doctor was dismissed because the statute of limitations expired before the suit was filed. The Court's ruling in Chavez v. Delgado, 2014-NMCA-014 (2014), is important because it determined that the three year statute of limitations period for a medical malpractice claim begins when an injured plaintiff is prescribed an allegedly harmful medication, and not when he or she suffers a related injury or dies.

magic-pills-1418156-m.jpgDangerous Drug Interaction May have Caused Man's Death

According to the Court's recitation of the facts, Jose Chavez was prescribed the generic version of Zocor by his doctor on November 11, 2008. When prescribing the medication, Dr. James Delgado failed to notice a dangerous drug interaction between Zocor and another of Mr. Chavez' prescribed medications. On December 3, 2008, Chavez filled the prescription for Zocor and began to take the medication. After consuming the dangerous combination of drugs, he became ill and was hospitalized with drug induced rhabdomyolysis. Within 14 months, Jose Chavez was dead.

The Liability for Mr. Chavez' Death

Mr. Chavez was survived by his wife and multiple children, the plaintiffs in a suit against the doctor and clinic for medical malpractice. The lawsuit alleged that before he prescribed the Zocor, Dr. Delgado had a duty to check for harmful interactions with Chavez' other medications. The family claimed Delgado was liable for Chavez' illness and death, and requested damages as a result of the doctor's negligence. In their defense, Dr. Delgado and the clinic argued that the case be dismissed because it was not filed within three years of the date that Dr. Delgado wrote the prescription for the Zocor.

Continue reading "Recent New Mexico Appellate Court Decision Harmful to Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, Increases Importance of Quickly Consulting an Attorney " »

March 8, 2014

New Mexico Driver Collides With Another Vehicle and Crashes into a Light Pole, Killing One and Injuring Three

In a tragic accident last month, one woman was killed and three others were injured when their car clipped another vehicle and smashed head-on into a light pole. According to a report by a Fox affiliate KFOX15, the driver was speeding and drove through a red light at an intersection in Anthony, New Mexico, when he struck a car that was stopped at the traffic light and veered into a light pole. None of the occupants had their seat belts on, and the front seat passenger was ejected from the car and died on the scene. The other occupants were severely injured and airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas.

According to the report, the car was speeding by at least 15 miles an hour when it entered the intersection, and there was no evidence that the driver applied the brakes before crashing. Police believe that the driver was drunk at the time, and that his intoxication played a role in the accident.

old-power-1306782-m.jpgDrunk, Negligent, and Reckless Driving in New Mexico

In New Mexico, drivers face various penalties for driving recklessly and causing injury, death or property damage. The driver from last month's accident can face criminal penalties for drunk or reckless driving, battery, and manslaughter. Additionally, the driver may be financially liable to the injured passengers and the family of the deceased woman. If the driver of the car had auto insurance, his insurance company could also be liable for damages. Accidents caused by drunk or reckless driving result in significant costs, and unfortunately the victims of these accidents can rarely afford the expense.

Continue reading "New Mexico Driver Collides With Another Vehicle and Crashes into a Light Pole, Killing One and Injuring Three " »

March 5, 2014

"Dram Shop Laws" in New Mexico

Drunk driving accidents occur at a startling rate across New Mexico, injuring hundreds of New Mexicans each year. While the reasons behind drunk driving accidents vary, many times people over consume alcohol at clubs or bars and then get in their car and cause an accident. Awhile back, the State Legislature of New Mexico decided that it needed to hold these establishments liable for the over serving of their customers. These laws are called "Dram Shop laws," and they allow the victims of New Mexico drunk driving accidents to sue the establishment that over served the person who caused the accident.

wine-glasses-1245416-m.jpgNew Mexico's Dram Shop Laws: Madrid v. Brinker Restaurant Corporation

In a recent case in front of the Court of Appeals of New Mexico, the court had the opportunity to explain Dram Shop laws and how they apply in personal injury cases. In the case of Madrid v. Brinker Restaurant Corporation, Madrid was the passenger on a motorcycle that Sanchez was driving. At some point, the motorcycle got into an accident with a van, when the van failed to stop at a stop sign. The driver of the van, whose blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury with a motor vehicle while driving under the influence was sentenced to six years in prison.

Continue reading ""Dram Shop Laws" in New Mexico " »

February 27, 2014

New Mexico Appellate Court Opinion Discusses the Adoption of the Doctrine of Circuity in a Recent Negligence Case

The doctrine of circuity is a legal doctrine that some state and federal courts across the country have adopted to conserve valuable judicial resources. At its heart, the doctrine serves to prevent a plaintiff from seeking damages from a defendant with whom that plaintiff does not have a valid course of action. The recent case of Loper v. JMAR illustrates the principle well:

animals-grazing-1431466-m.jpgLoper, a dairy farmer, hired JMAR to build a new dairy. In turn, JMAR sub-contracted out all of the electrical work to Snyder. After the dairy was built and Loper began operations, he noticed that milk production was much lower than it should have been. Loper looked into several potential causes of the low milk production with no luck, until he hired a different electrician to examine the fences. According to Loper's expert, the way in which the dairy farm was wired resulted in stray electricity that adversely affected the herd's milk production. Loper filed a lawsuit against both JMAR and Snyder claiming negligent construction of the dairy.

As the lawsuit commenced, JMAR sent a letter to Snyder demanding indemnification from the lawsuit. Essentially this letter demanded that Snyder admit that the error was on his part, and that JMAR had nothing to do with the improper wiring of the fence. Soon thereafter, Loper settled out of court with Snyder, who was then dismissed from the suit.

Continue reading "New Mexico Appellate Court Opinion Discusses the Adoption of the Doctrine of Circuity in a Recent Negligence Case " »

February 26, 2014

Head On Collision Kills Two on Old Las Vegas Highway

Earlier this month, in a tragic accident out of Sate Fe County, two people lost their lives in a head on collision. According to a report by the Santa Fe New Mexican, the collision occurred around 11 a.m. on Old Las Vegas Highway, near the intersection with Old Pecos Trail.

danger-795594-m.jpgApparently, the driver of a GMC Yukon was heading west on Old Las Vegas Highway when the driver of the Yukon lost control of the vehicle when she over-corrected. The Yukon ended up leaving the lane in which it was traveling, crossing the center median, and entering the eastbound lane of traffic. As the Yukon entered the eastbound lane, it collided head on with a Ford Taurus.

The driver of the Ford Taurus was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Yukon was taken to the hospital where he later died as well. Police are not sure what caused the accident and are awaiting the results from the autopsies. However, police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were involved. Both drivers were wearing their seat belts.

Continue reading "Head On Collision Kills Two on Old Las Vegas Highway " »

February 10, 2014

New Mexico Mom Injured After Jumping in Front of Drunk Driver to Save Her Son

Earlier this week, in a feat that could only be described as heroic and tragic at the same time, a New Mexico mother ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, pelvis, tailbone, several broken ribs, and two broken arms after she jumped in front of a drunk driver who was just about to hit her son and another young person. According to a story by the New York Daily News, the woman explained her decision as her "momma bear instincts" kicking in.

Thumbnail image for burnout-409860-m.jpgApparently, her son had been involved in a minor car accident and she came to his assistance. While they were on the side of the road, a driver swerved up onto the sidewalk, heading for the group of disabled motorists. The woman jumped in front of the vehicle and took the impact.

After the driver came to a stop and saw what he had done, he got back into his car and drove away. The woman's son, however, was able to get the man's license plate number and police had no problem finding him shortly thereafter. He has since been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated and Causing Great Bodily Harm By Vehicle.

Continue reading "New Mexico Mom Injured After Jumping in Front of Drunk Driver to Save Her Son " »

February 4, 2014

Distracted Driving Accident Claims the Lives of Two New Mexico Men

Last week, a tragic head on collision left two dead and one injured just outside Carlsbad, New Mexico. According to a report by the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the accident occurred on Eddy County Road 605 shortly after 6 a.m. Apparently, a Toyota Tundra was heading southbound on the highway and a Ford Focus was heading northbound. The accident occurred in the northbound lane, when the driver of the Tundra veered over the center line.

mobile-phone-in-hand-1307593-m.jpgBoth the driver and the passenger in the Ford Focus were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the Tundra was also taken to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.

According to the driver of the Tundra, he was getting over to pass a water truck when the accident occurred. However, police could not find a water truck at the scene and the driver's story could not otherwise be verified. Police determined that inattentive driving was a contributing factor to the accident and cited the driver for careless driving and for driving without a seatbelt. Police also determined that alcohol was not a factor in the fatal accident.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving Accident Claims the Lives of Two New Mexico Men " »

February 3, 2014

New Mexico Man Charged with Second Fatal Motorcycle Accident

In a tragic accident last week, a New Mexico man crashed his pick-up truck into a motorcycle, killing the driver and injuring the driver's 11-year-old daughter. According to a report by the Huffington Post, a witness had called police about the driver twice earlier that day; once for erratic driving and once for fighting with a neighbor. Shortly after the second call to police, witnesses report the man's truck crossing the center line into oncoming traffic and colliding with a motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle was pronounced dead at the scene.

harley-davidson-14844-m.jpgIn 2006, the man was charged with another fatal DUI and served 6 years in prison as a result. In that accident, the same driver failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with a motorcycle carrying two passengers. One of the drivers was killed and the other was paralyzed. In a remarkable yet tragic coincidence, the victim in the most recent accident was the brother of the judge who sentenced the driver for the first accident.

Motorcycle Accidents in New Mexico

No matter what kind of motorcycle a rider chooses, the reality is that the bike won't fare well in an accident with a larger vehicle. In fact, each year hundreds of New Mexico residents are injured or killed in motorcycle accidents many of which are due to no fault of the motorcyclist. Motorcycle accidents, like other accidents, can be caused by a number of things, but the most common reason for motorcycle accidents is that the other driver fails to notice the motorcyclist.

Continue reading "New Mexico Man Charged with Second Fatal Motorcycle Accident " »

January 23, 2014

New Mexico Man Dies in Iowa Accident Involving Slippery Roads

Earlier this week in Iowa, two men were killed in a rollover accident on Highway 30. According to a report by Omaha.com, one of the men was from Corrales, New Mexico and the other from Plant City, Florida. Apparently, shortly after 7 a.m. the driver of the vehicle lost control of the vehicle and it ended up in a ditch. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the accident is still under investigation; however, police believe that icy winter roads played a part.

icy-conditions-1-929304-m.jpgEven in New Mexico, Slippery Roads Can Be a Hazard

Snow-covered, icy roads are not what most people think of when they think about New Mexico. However, the truth is that parts of our beautiful state do see some significant winter weather for several months out of the year. During these times, it is critical that drivers reassess their driving strategies to account for the condition of the roads and their decreased ability to control their vehicles and come to a complete stop.

When roads are wet, slippery, icy, or snow-covered, the responsible driver will slow down to account for differences in the car's handling. This may mean to drive at a speed that is less than the posted speed limit. In fact, in New Mexico a driver can be cited for traveling the speed limit, if the conditions do not warrant such a speed.

Continue reading "New Mexico Man Dies in Iowa Accident Involving Slippery Roads " »

January 23, 2014

New Mexico Man Caught Driving While Intoxicated for the Eleventh Time

Last month, a New Mexico man was arrested for the eleventh time for driving under the influence. According to a report by KRWG, the man was on his way home from work when he realized that he was traveling down a one-way street. Once he realized that he was doing so, he attempted to make a U-turn, but instead rolled his sport utility vehicle.

thirsty-night-846050-m.jpgBy the time police arrived, the driver had crawled out of the car and was drunkenly stumbling about the crime scene. When he was tested for alcohol, the officers discovered that his blood alcohol content was .20, over twice the legal limit in New Mexico. The man was booked and was held on $15,000 cash-only bail. The suspected charges he will face are: Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, Careless Driving, and Failure To Have Proof of Registration or Insurance.

Drunk Driving Kills in New Mexico

In New Mexico, drunk driving cases are all too common. In 2011, the most recent year surveyed, there were over 2,300 accidents where alcohol was a factor. Of those, 1,000 accidents resulted in some kind of bodily injury and 131 accidents resulted in one or more deaths.

Continue reading "New Mexico Man Caught Driving While Intoxicated for the Eleventh Time " »

January 20, 2014

Rare Jury Verdict Reminds Drivers in New Mexico and Nationwide to Drive Sober

1381283586mxllq morguefile username DodgertonSkillhause.jpgA Bakersfield, California man was recently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder in connection with a fatal traffic collision in a construction zone. 32-year-old Jerad Cross was convicted of killing a 45-year-old Clovis man when he rear-ended his stopped vehicle while under the influence of prescription medication and other drugs. According to authorities, the force of the impact forced the deceased man's pick-up truck underneath the trailer of a semi-truck.

The local District Attorney's Office apparently chose to pursue a rare murder charge because Cross was driving on a suspended motor vehicle operator's license at the time of the collision. Previously, Cross was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding on at least five occasions, and he was allegedly involved in at least three other at-fault crashes. Immediately prior to the deadly accident, Cross purportedly crushed and snorted prescription medication in an effort to increase the effect of the drugs. He also apparently smoked methamphetamine the night before the accident.

At trial, Cross argued he was not guilty of second degree murder because he failed to understand he was endangering others when the wreck occurred. Prosecutors claimed Cross was well aware of the risks because the label on the drugs he took cautions against driving while taking the medication. Following two weeks of testimony, jurors convicted Cross on the murder charge as well as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a vehicle with a suspended driver's license.

Continue reading "Rare Jury Verdict Reminds Drivers in New Mexico and Nationwide to Drive Sober " »

January 7, 2014

New Mexico Appeals Court Holds Uninsured Motorist Lawsuit Barred by Claim Preclusion

file841272198500 morguefile username Jusben.jpgThe Court of Appeals of New Mexico has held that a family's lawsuit seeking uninsured motorist benefits was barred by claim preclusion. In Pielhau v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., Jared Pielhau was unfortunately killed in a single-vehicle traffic wreck in 2004. At the time of the deadly crash, the vehicle Jared was riding as a passenger in was uninsured and Jared's parents owned five vehicles that were insured by State Farm through four separate policies. Following the accident, the Pielhaus sought to collect financial compensation as part of the uninsured motorist coverage on two of their vehicles. After State Farm refused to allow the Pielhaus family to stack coverage, the couple filed a lawsuit against their insurer and their insurance agent. That case was later settled and dismissed with prejudice.

In 2011, the Pielhaus sought to recover uninsured motorist coverage from the individual insurance policies that were in effect on each of the family's remaining three vehicles in 2004. Prior to Jared's fatal accident, however, the Pielhaus rejected uninsured motorist coverage on each of the three policies. After State Farm failed to respond to the Pielhaus' request for uninsured motorist compensation, the couple filed a lawsuit for damages in district court. According to the Pielhaus, their rejection of uninsured motorist coverage was invalid pursuant to subsequent New Mexico caselaw.

After filing the second case, the family asked the court to grant a motion for partial summary judgment against State Farm. The trial court granted the motion and the Pielhaus voluntarily dismissed their remaining claims. State Farm then appealed the case to the Court of Appeals of New Mexico.

Continue reading "New Mexico Appeals Court Holds Uninsured Motorist Lawsuit Barred by Claim Preclusion " »

December 26, 2013

Another Medical Negligence Jury Verdict Issued Against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe

file000381741411 morguefile username ronnieb.jpgA Santa Fe jury has issued a $1 million award in yet another medical malpractice lawsuit filed against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. In Jiron et al. v. Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, et al., Zelda Jiron was treated at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center for severe abdominal pain in 2010. After Jiron was admitted to the hospital, she was apparently given multiple doses of a powerful narcotic pain reliever. Sometime following administration of the drug, a medical professional employed by the hospital purportedly attempted to examine Jiron. Instead, the hospital employee purportedly left Jiron's room after discovering the patient was sleeping. About 20 minutes later, Jiron's husband, Simon, found her foaming at the mouth, twitching, and turning purple. He called for help and Christus St. Vincent medical staff resuscitated Jiron. Later, the hospital reportedly discovered that Jiron suffered a cardio-pulmonary arrest.

As a result of the incident, Jiron filed a medical negligence lawsuit seeking more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Christus St. Vincent in a New Mexico federal court. Her husband also sought damages for loss of consortium that directly resulted from the woman's near death event. At trial, Jiron argued that hospital doctors should have monitored her condition more closely after administering the potent drug. Jiron, who is apparently morbidly obese, also alleged that the drug is known to cause breathing issues in both sleeping and overweight patients. Additionally, Jiron provided testimony that the medical professional who found her sleeping has a history of improperly dosing her patients and that the hospital worker changed information in Jiron's medical chart after she was resuscitated.

Following five days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Jiron for $250,000 in compensatory damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. The jurors, however, elected not to award financial compensation for loss of consortium to Jiron's husband.

Continue reading "Another Medical Negligence Jury Verdict Issued Against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe " »

December 19, 2013

Santa Fe County Jury Says Hospital Acted Negligently in Connection With 20-Year-Old's Death

file0001300605042 morguefile username click.jpgIn mid-December, a Santa Fe jury issued a $2.25 million wrongful death verdict against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in connection with the death of a young woman in 2008. In Christopherson v. Christus Health, et al., a 20-year-old woman sought emergency medical treatment for stomach pain that was purportedly related to pancreatitis at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. The hospital apparently transferred Mercedes Christopherson to an Albuquerque hospital where she was treated for about one week. Four days after Chistopherson's release from the Albuquerque hospital, she again sought treatment for severe stomach pain at Christus St. Vincent.

After she returned to Christus St. Vincent, Christopherson was treated with a short course of antibiotics. Although the young woman suffered a fever during her hospital stay, she was reportedly discharged without any further antibiotics treatment after only one week. At the time of her discharge, Christopherson's oxygen-saturation levels were apparently dangerously low. In addition, the 20-year-old was released despite that she purportedly tested positive for an inter-abdominal infection.

According to the lawsuit, Christopherson was given a prescription for a pain relief patch when she was discharged from Christus St. Vincent. The drug provided through the patch is a narcotic that may depress a patient's respiratory system. About 18 hours after she was released, Christopherson reportedly became unresponsive. The young woman was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent where she was unfortunately declared brain dead at despite efforts to resuscitate her. Less than two days after her discharge from the medical facility, Christopherson died as an apparent result of septicemia.

Continue reading "Santa Fe County Jury Says Hospital Acted Negligently in Connection With 20-Year-Old's Death " »