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Earlier this month in New York, an appellate court handed down a decision broadening the liability of treating physicians when they administer medication to a plaintiff in the hospital. In the case, Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital, the court held that prescribing doctors may be liable to a third party when they fail to warn a patient of the potentially intoxicating effects of the medication they recently administered.

drugs-1328529The Facts of the Case

A woman (“the Patient”) drove herself to the hospital and was treated by the defendant doctors. The Patient was provided an opioid painkiller, as well as a benzodiazepine intravenously, and then discharged about an hour and a half later. On her way home from the hospital, she crossed over a double-yellow line and crashed into the plaintiff’s bus. The plaintiff was injured as a result and filed suit against the treating physicians as well as the hospital that employs them. The case does not involve the Patient herself.

The plaintiff alleged that the treating physicians were liable for his injuries because they were negligent in failing to warn the Patient that she may not be safe to drive after having been administered the medication. Key to that claim was the determination of whether the defendant doctors had a duty, owed to the plaintiff as a third party, to warn the Patient of the effects of the medication.

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Following a New Mexico police misconduct Judge Theresa Baca awarded $4.25 million to the family of a man fatally wounded by an Albuquerque Police Department officer in 2009 and criticized the department’s training methods as “designed to result in unreasonable use of deadly force.”

Andrew Lopez was nineteen years old and unarmed when he was shot and killed by an APD officer on February 8, 2009. The Lopez family, who was represented by the Albuquerque personal injury attorneys, Fine Law Firm, received no offers of settlement before trial.

The Albuquerque Police Department had contended that Andrew Lopez had an automobile ashtray in his possession and that the APD officer who fired the fatal shot believed that the ashtray was a gun. In addition, at least one Albuquerque Police Department officer contended that Andrew Lopez was in the process of “committing suicide by cop.”

One of the greatest challenges for an Albuquerque injury attorney is the task of placing a monetary value, or commodifying, serious injury or death. In wrongful death cases, for example, we represent families for whom no amount of money could even approximate making them whole. Nevertheless, even in these catastrophic cases, it is our professional duty to pursue the prospect of a monetary settlement. It is difficult for our clients to avoid feeling that commodifying their loss is commodifying their loved one’s life.

In an article entitled “Commodification in Law,” Philosophy Professor Nick Smith discusses the moral and ethical questions raised by the valuation of injury in the legal system. Much of his article is devoted to the theoretical impact of legal commodification on social and political systems, but he identifies two issues that apply directly to plaintiffs in wrongful death cases.

1. According to Professor Smith, commodification tends to reduce or oversimplify human life by “translating concrete particulars into abstract classifications.” The danger here is that the character and nuance of someone who dies wrongfully–the very aspects of a life that make it so precious–wash away in the effort to convert the loss of that life into a dollar amount.

I recently came across the dramatic brain injury training kit. It is a resource designed to assist people cope with victims of such injuries. The site does a good job explaining a dramatic brain injury victim’s difficulty in handling daily activities. According to the resource, a traumatic brain injury victim will have a hard time with rational reasoning, money management, memory, fatigue, smell, taste, as well as a full laundry list of things we take for granted.

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The website also includes numerous statistics about traumatic brain injuries such as the major cause is from serious car accident. In addition, men are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than women and they most often occur in 15-25-year-olds. The severity of the traumatic brain injury is not always measured by the force of the impact, but rather the length of time that the victim suffers post-traumatic amnesia.

In addition, the treatment for dramatic brain injury generally includes three separate phases. Acute management, community reintegration, and finally social rehabilitation. The impact of a New Mexico traumatic brain injury both on the victim and family is great during each of these three steps and the stress placed on friends and family cannot be ignored after the rehabilitation process is complete.

Some Texas law enforcement officers may have some explaining to do after a police shooting that occurred in Clovis, New Mexico. The officers were chasing a suspect and began doing so in Texas. At some point the chase crossed into New Mexico and ended when the officers shot and seriously injured the subject.

New%20Mexico%20Police%20Shooting.jpgNow, the mother of the shooting victim, a Portales resident, is speaking out that her son was unarmed at the time he was shot. If true, this could pose a serious problem for the officers involved in the shooting. The New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog has previously posted articles about the standards that govern New Mexico police chases. Not surprisingly, there is a similar test that applies to the use of force by New Mexico police officers.

To summarize the test, New Mexico police must use force comparable with the harm they are facing. Essentially, if the officer is threatened with deadly force, must New Mexico standard operating procedures allow the use of deadly force. When an officer uses inappropriate force, there may be a basis for a New Mexico police misconduct case.