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

Negligent security played an integral role in the death of a 59-year-old woman killed in her gated community home in Davie two years ago, her family alleges. The Sun-Sentinel reports the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property management company as well as the security firm hired to patrol the gated complex of WestRidge.

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Officials say the victim, Jill Halliburton Su, was stabbed to death during a home invasion robbery in September 2014. After she was killed, her son found her partially clothed body, hands and feet bound, in her own bathtub. Nearly two weeks after the horrific crime, a 22-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder. He managed to escape from a courtroom in Broward County this past July and was on the run for six full days before he was caught. He faces the death penalty if he’s convicted, though he insists he is innocent – and actually broke out of jail in order to gather evidence to prove it.

Aside from the pending criminal case, how can anyone other than the person who carried out the crime be held responsible for it? In civil litigation, negligent security is an assertion of premises liability negligence that a person or entity owed a duty of care to provide a certain level of security to someone and in failing to do so, caused them to be at risk of harm. It can be made in any place where there was a reasonable expectation of a certain level of security that as not delivered, resulting in injury.  Continue reading

A Florida judge in Duval County has set a trial date for August next year against the makers of the Ohio-based Evenflo, a car seat manufacturer accused of improperly recommending car seats that are too big for some children. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 5-year-old girl who was severely and permanently injured in a 2014 crash in Jacksonville on I-295. carseat1

According to News4Jax, plaintiffs in this product liability lawsuit allege the manufacturer was negligent on several fronts. Among those: Designing, testing, developing, making and marketing a product that fails to provide sufficient protection to child occupants in the event of a collision. Specifically, the booster seat the manufacturer produced was marketed to children under 40 pounds. However, the seat didn’t incorporate a five-point harness system, which would strap the children in over the shoulders, around their waist and between their legs. Instead, this was simply an over the shoulder and lap belt, which plaintiffs assert is not adequate protection for a child under 40 pounds.

Plaintiffs allege the actions of this manufacturer run counter to the recommendations of both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Had the child been in a seat with a five-point harness, plaintiffs say, she would have been spared her terrible injuries. Evenflo rejects plaintiffs assertions, with a spokeswoman saying that while she could not comment on the particulars of the case, the booster seat in question – Evenflo Big Kid booster – has been sold for more than 10 years and reportedly has a solid safety rating that is compliant with government safety standards in the U.S. and Canada.  Continue reading

The National Football League has pledged more support to the study of head injuries. The professional sports organization says the goal of “Play Smart, Play Safe” is to explore ways to prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries that are known to result from playing this high-impact game. Part of the effort also involves hiring a medical doctor to serve as the league’s chief medical officer. The person hired will work with each team’s medical staff and create an independent scientific advisory board to weigh proposals for head injury research.football2

This $100 million pledge is in addition to the $100 million already pledged by the league for neuroscience and medical research. Just in the last 14 years, the agency has enacted a total of 42 rule changes in order to help protect players from head injuries. On top of that, the league has hired 29 additional medical professionals.

Some critics are wondering if this is simply another misguided attempt to assuage them following more than a decade of calls for change. Awareness of the scourge of head injuries in football really didn’t begin until 2002, when Pittsburgh Steelers’ center Mike Webster killed himself at age 50. It was at that point his physician diagnosed him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which is a type of degenerative, progressive disease that is caused by repeated trauma to the head. Continue reading

The latest government statistics on car accidents and resulting fatalities in the U.S. paints a troubling picture of the lack of safety on our national highways and roads. drive9

Last year, the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes was nearly 35,100, according to the latest numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That amounts to an increase of 7.2 percent over the previous year. To put that into perspective, the last year there was an increase that high was when Lyndon Johnson was president – way back in 1966. There were 2,348 more people killed in traffic crashes in 2015 as compared to 2014.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx lamented the increase in a press release, saying that even with decades of improved safety features and technology, there are still way too many people being killed on our roads. Fixing the problem, he said, is going to require effort from multiple sectors. His office is working to amass a coalition of safety experts, researchers, data scientists, law enforcement, technology firms, auto manufacturers and the public to help find effective ways to prevent these daily tragedies.  Continue reading

A retail property owner in South Florida is accused of creating a dangerous condition on the property that resulted in the traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury of a woman in Palm Beach. ramp

According to courtroom news coverage from Courtroom View Network, plaintiff in Sumner v. Lantana Palm Beach Retail, et al., alleges that she suffered severe injuries to her head and back in a slip-and-fall accident on an access ramp while working in Lake Worth at Lantana Square.

As her personal injury attorney explained during opening arguments, the 61-year-old plaintiff was someone who was bright, energetic, caring and productive. But after the accident, she was sent spiraling into illness and depression that has consumed her life. Once a real estate agent who actually worked on site at the property, her lawyer has likened the extent of her injury to that suffered by a shaken baby.  Continue reading

Product liability lawsuits may be on the horizon for hoverboard manufactures, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports at least 10 companies have recalled the devices. ambulance11

There are two main dangers with the devices:

  • Lithium-ion battery backs that pose a risk of overheating, smoking, fire and/ or exploding;
  • Falls.

The CPSC refers to the devices as “self-balancing scooters,” though they are more commonly known as hoverboards, even though they don’t actually “hover,” as the name might suggest. The devices sailed into popularity over the last year, and were among the top holiday gifts this past season. Yet they have been associated with serious head injuries, broken bones and burns.  Continue reading

Officers investigating drunk driving accidents have a device at their disposal called breathalyzers, which help them detect a person’s breath-alcohol concentration. Blood-alcohol concentration can also be detected through a blood test, though they may have to get a warrant for that. In cases where a driver is suspected of driving impaired by drugs, many departments have trained drug recognition experts (DRE’s) who can help ascertain this. But what if the driver was suspected of texting? iphone

It’s a common scenario, given that more than eight people die every single day in the U.S. as a result of distracted driving. Another 1,000 people are injured. In fact, it’s believed to be at least part of the catalyst for why we’re seeing rising car accident statistics in the U.S. for the first time in a decade. But “testing” for driver distraction can be tricky. Even when it involves a smartphone, calculating a person’s use and tying that with the exact second of an accident can prove challenging.

Enter the Textalyzer. It’s a device that may allow on-scene officers to test the devices of drivers involved to check for recent activity. The technology would be able to show whether the driver was texting, email or engaging in any other electronic communication that is barred under F.S. 316.305, Florida’s distracted driving law. This could prove important not just in proving the cause of a crash, but also in cases where plaintiffs may want to make an argument for punitive damages due to gross negligence.  Continue reading

Personal injury lawyers successfully worked to obtain $20 million for their client, who suffered catastrophic brain injuries as a result of a truck accident. Though they had argued for $25 million in the case, they overcame defense arguments that plaintiff’s costs for past and future care were greatly reduced by the fact that his family had pulled together to help with day-to-day necessities, as opposed to hiring a home health aid. Defendant truck driver and trucking company in Kahn v. Moore Freight Service Inc. also argued they shouldn’t have to pay as much because they had “accepted responsibility” for the crash. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While it was true the defense had conceded liability, the reality is they didn’t have much choice. The driver reportedly blew a red light, striking plaintiff and his wife, who was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash. The evidence of the driver’s negligence – and thus the trucking company’s vicarious liability – was pretty clear. To argue the defense somehow deserved to pay less in damages for admitting what was already clear is a bit misguided. As plaintiff’s lawyer put it, that would be like a driver striking a car, causing $1,000 in damages, admitting fault and then arguing he should only have to pay $50 because he admitted it. “Is that fair?” the injury attorney asked rhetorically.

Evidence during trial showed plaintiff suffered numerous injuries as a result of the trucking accident, including bleeding throughout his brain and also shearing of the nerves in the brain. This rendered him completely helpless. His neurosurgeon indicated that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being deceased, plaintiff’s brain injury was an 8. Continue reading

Tragedy struck recently on a highway in South Georgia when a tractor-trailer struck a school bus carrying 30 students, killing one and injuring 13 others.

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Authorities reported a 15-year-old girl was killed in the collision, which occurred in the southbound lanes of I-75. The crash occurred on a Monday afternoon. Investigators with the state highway patrol were still trying to ascertain the cause, though they did say charges are pending.

What they have been able to piece together thus far is that the tractor-trailer struck the rear of the school bus, which had just picked up students from a local high school and was transporting them to their homes. The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 58-year-old man from Illinois, was not injured. The driver of the bus, a 62-year-old local woman, suffered a leg injury and was taken to a local hospital in a private vehicle.  Continue reading