The manufacturer and distributors of blood-thinning drug Xarelto are, as of this juncture, facing more than 9,000 personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits – and more are continuing to pile up. pills

Defendants Bayer AG (a German company) and distributor Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a U.S. company that is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) are accused of failing to adequately warn the public of the possible danger associated with the drug. Many of those who have filed lawsuits alleged the drug caused them to suffer severe bleeding in their intestines or brain, resulting in severe side effects that ranged from hospitalization to death.

A U.S. District Court in Louisiana is overseeing a multi-district litigation that involves more than 7,000 cases. Of those, four are slated to be heard in the next 12 months. The outcome of these so-called bellwhether cases will determine whether defendants are likely to settle future cases (because it’s unlikely defense will prevail) or whether they will continue to fight the litigation. Those four bellwhether cases stem from cases in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. In addition to those 7,000 pending cases, there are another 1,000 Xarelto lawsuits pending in a Delaware multi-district litigation and another 1,000 before a state court in Pennsylvania. Continue reading

There has been much news lately about defective or dangerous products that may cause injury – Exploding airbags. Exploding phones. Exploding hoverboards. These concerns are legitimate, but the products that cause the most injuries are those that are seemingly much more benign. Take shopping carts, for cart

A study published by researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio reports some 24,000 children are injured annually as a result of shopping carts. That’s 66 children every single day treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. for injuries related to shopping carts. From 1990 through 2011, researchers tallied nearly 531,000 children suffering shopping cart injuries – many severe, including head injuries caused by falling from the cart. This was even after the shopping cart industry passed voluntary safety standards in 2004.

But it appears children aren’t the only victims. A Northeast Ohio woman recently won her personal injury lawsuit – and was awarded $1.3 million – for injury caused when she was mowed over by a motorized shopping cart, operated by a fellow customer.  Continue reading

Central to every injury lawsuit in Florida is the evidence. The truth is important, of course, but in the end, it’s more about what you can prove. That’s why motions to suppress are so important – if one party can suppress evidence from another, they have a better shot at winning. But what if one side negligently fails to preserve relevant evidence?scaffolding

This is called spoliation, and it happens quite a bit, unfortunately, particularly when a plaintiff doesn’t file a lawsuit right away. That’s because there is certain evidence naturally in defendant’s possession – i.e., security tapes, vehicles, product parts, etc. If a key piece of evidence is lost or destroyed, plaintiff is going to face significant hurdles in proving the case. It could even mean the case can’t be proven. But that does not mean plaintiff is necessarily without remedy. Courts have wide latitude and authority to sanction for spoliation of evidence. The primary limit on this authority is that discovery rules on evidence are only applicable to acts of spoliation that happen either while a lawsuit is pending or following a court order. Additionally, more courts are beginning to adopt the federal standard for evidence spoliation set in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC.

The Zabulake standard requires the imposition of a litigation hold once the party “reasonably anticipates” that a lawsuit may arise from the incident.

The recent construction accident case of Schaefer v. Universal Scaffolding & Equip. LLC is an example of the type of remedy a plaintiff may have even when the evidence is destroyed. Plaintiff was a construction worker who was seriously injured when, as he alleges, a defective piece of scaffolding fell and hit him on the head. Continue reading

Statutes of limitations are pertinent to any personal injury lawsuit filed. Although these limits vary from state-to-state, the purpose is to avoid giving those injured an unlimited window in which to file a claim. In Florida, F.S. 95.11 allows for up to four years to file an injury lawsuit based on negligence (though only two years if it’s medical negligence). There are of course some caveats and exceptions, but usually, you’re not going to be able to successfully file anything beyond that four-year cutoff. cruiseshipdocked

Cruise ship injuries are different. Although these cruise ships are docked at Florida ports and that’s where most paying customers board, most of these companies are actually headquartered in other countries (usually the Bahamas). The applicable law that governs the statute of limitations would be Maritime Law, which usually gives injured persons three years to file a lawsuit. However, courts have said it’s perfectly legal for cruise ship companies to prohibit injury lawsuits against their companies after one year from the date of the incident. That is just one year for adults who are injured on cruise ships. Children may have up to three years, though if the child turns 18, he or she has to file the case within one year of turning 18.

The recent case of Chang v. Carnival Corp., recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, dealt with the issue of cruise ship injury and this statute of limitations, as well as the issue of the proper forum in which to file these claims.  Continue reading

Three years ago, Rebecca Forkey was a 24-year-old woman heading to the gym, training for a bodybuilding competition. Little did she know, her physical fitness is likely what kept her alive in a car accident that would have killed most people, her doctors now say. Driver

The Missouri woman is now quadriplegic. She hopes one day to regain some use of her hands and arms. Her physical therapy is intensive, and while she makes strides, she’s likely to remain permanently disabled the rest of her life.

Now 27, the East Bay Times reported she just secured a $24 million settlement against the employer of the so-called “Good Samaritan” who nearly killed her while trying to do the right thing.  Continue reading

American users of smartphones (which is almost everyone at this point) are rarely without these devices. According to Mashable Tech, the average person spends about three hours daily socializing on social network applications on their mobile devices – which is more than twice the amount of time they spend eating. Indeed, every passing thought – even mundane life experiences – have become the subject of user engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others. So it’s not at all surprising that jurors are tempted to post about the experience as it’s happening. After all, they do it with every other element in life. iphone1

The problem is that it can conflict with the constitutional right of parties in a lawsuit or criminal case to receive a trial by a jury that is both fair and impartial. Part of that means only considering the evidence presented to them in court. But when social media feedback and information on the case is readily available at their fingertips, some jurors find the temptation too much to avoid. The U.S. Supreme Court held in the 1982 case of Smith v. Phillips that it’s virtually impossible to shield jurors from every possible influence or contact that could theoretically affect their vote. Still, prejudicial influences and occurrences need to be prevented whenever possible. When they do occur, courts need to carefully examine the effect on the case and whether either party was deprived of fair proceedings as a result, which could be grounds for a new trial.

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently grappled with this very issue in Murphy v. Roth, a personal injury lawsuit filed after a car accident involving plaintiff and defendant.  Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court has settled a dispute among appellate courts in the state over whether nursing home defendants may compel arbitration in cases where the agreement was signed by a friend or family member. Essentially, unless there has been a court order investing that individual with those legal powers, the agreement won’t be enforceable. oldhands2

The decision in the case, Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, resolves a dispute between the Third District Court of Appeals and other state appellate courts. The 3rd DCA had ruled an arbitration agreement signed by a nursing home resident’s son was valid and enforceable because the father was mentally incapacitated and the son was serving as his representative. However, the state high court ruled the father’s mental capacity should not factor in to whether the son had legal standing to sign the arbitration provision in his nursing home admission papers.

According to court records, the father was admitted to the nursing home back in 2009. His son signed his admission paperwork, including the arbitration contract.  Continue reading

Dominique Sharpton, daughter of American civil rights activist Al Sharpton, has come under fire after a number of social media posts emerged showing her hiking, dancing in high heels and traveling to Miami. None of this would likely be noteworthy to the public, except for the fact that almost two years ago, she suffered a personal injury in a trip-and-fall accident on the streets of New York City. pothole2

Sharpton has insisted the pictures do not show the whole picture. And of course, she’s probably right. The fact is, what we post on social media doesn’t give a full and accurate view of our entire lives, particularly our emotional suffering or our physical pain. Nonetheless, defendants in personal injury cases will be quick to scour these accounts for any sliver of information that might contradict the injury claims made by the plaintiff.

In Sharpton’s case, she says the heels she could wear only for a very short time. That hiking trip? She had to stop numerous times and received a great deal of help from friends. She doubted whether she would make it to the top. Continue reading

Getting a workout is supposed to be beneficial to our health. However, there is growing evidence that certain equipment at the gym could be offsetting some of those benefits. treadmill1

Every single year, thousands of Americans are suffering serious injuries – including torn muscles, strained backs and broken bones – and even death from:

  • Falling off exercise equipment
  • Pushing weights that are too heavy
  • Dropping heavy weights

Of course, many who join a gym or exercise understand there may be some inherent risk in using certain equipment. However, when injuries occur, the question often becomes whether that risk was unreasonable. In some cases, there may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit. This would apply in cases where, for example, the equipment was defective or the manufacturer failed to warn of some danger that was known but not obvious. However, many of these cases involve some form of premises liability, when it’s alleged the gym failed to maintain adequate distance from other pieces of equipment. In the latter type of lawsuits, plaintiffs often must first overcome challenges posed by their previous signing of liability waivers as part of their membership. Usually, this involves asserting gross negligence, which liability waivers do not protect against.  Continue reading

A slip-and-fall accident plaintiff in Missouri sought a retrial after learning that a juror who weighed her case engaged in misconduct by Googling the weather on the exact day of her injury. The Missouri Supreme Court, in its review of Smotherman v. Cass Regional Medical Center, ruled that while litigants are entitled to a fair trial, “No court can guarantee a perfect trial.” bathroomsign

That said, juror misconduct is not a recent problem. Even though jurors have strict instructions not to seek information outside what they are given in the courtroom, some still do so anyway. It has become easier in recent years, however, as the internet and smartphones have given us easy, instant access to almost any sliver of information we’d ever want to know. Jurors also have the ability to instantly communicate with friends and send out texts, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and more in between breaks. This has meant that outside influence on jurors is not just a problem on big, high-profile cases.

Although sequestration – or keeping jurors isolated during trial – is sometimes used in serious, high-profile criminal cases, it’s not economically feasible to do it in civil lawsuits. That means your personal injury attorney needs to be vigilant about recognizing it and calling it out. The sooner it can be addressed, the better.  Continue reading