Former University of Pennsylvania undergraduate student, Lorna Bernhoft, recently settled with an off-campus apartment complex owner for injuries she sustained after falling 20 feet through a raised skylight opening.
In 2010, Ms. Bernhoft was attending an event at the apartment complex when she fell through an open skylight on the fourth floor that was only covered with flex board and carpet. The 20 foot fall resulted in Ms. Bernhoft becoming a paraplegic. The $11.6 million dollar settlement was reached days before the case was set for trial. The high settlement number likely compensates Ms. Bernhoft for her extensive injuries, the future medical care she will need for the rest of her life and the high amount of fault placed on the defendants.
Through discovery, it was revealed that the building owners and student tenants were aware of the opening and did nothing to safeguard against the potential hazard. Premises liability law mandates that the person who is in possession of land or premises, whether it is the landowner or a tenant, is responsible for certain injuries suffered by persons who are present on the premises. One such responsibility is the responsibility to safeguard against defective conditions on the premises that are known or should be known.
Accidents such as these are avoidable. It is unreasonable in light of the circumstances of this case, that the landowner and the tenants on the building who knew about the defective condition not to warn against this harm. Any cost of safeguarding the area is offset by the potential harm to tenants and their guests.
If you or anyone you know has been injured by a dangerous condition on the premises of an owner/occupier, contact the attorneys at Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a free confidential consultation regarding your potential claims.
A class action suit comprised of 10 women and 1 man in Washington State has been filed against the Puyallup Police Department for its policy of video recording DUI suspects undressing and changing into jail clothes. Video recordings have also been taken while women have used the toilets.
The class action complaint specifically alleges that individuals were forced to strip naked and change into jail clothing as male officers watched and recorded them without their knowledge.
The City of Puyallup stands by its policy. City Attorney Kevin Yamamoto believes that the video evidence is legal and is evidence that the police department acted professionally and appropriately in the situations complained of.
The City of Puyallup mandates the “safety” camera to maintain a safe and efficient jail, however, it has become a disturbing trend in today’s society where the government and regulatory bodies think that safety concerns can override an individual’s freedom. Violations to one’s privacy in the name of safety are still a violation of one’s constitutional rights.
In California, generally, there are four types of causes of action: 1) Public Disclosure of Private Facts; 2) Intrusion into Private Matters; 3) Misappropriation of a Person’s Name or Likeness; and 4) Portraying a Person in a False Light.
The elements of intrusion into private matters are (Miller v National Broadcasting Co. (1986)
187 Cal. App. 3d 1463):
1. An intentional intrusion, physical or otherwise
2. into plaintiff’s private life, seclusion or solitude
3. that would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person; and
4. it is the cause of an adverse effect on he plaintiff.
If you or anyone you know has been unlawfully videotape/recorded, contact Khorrami, LLP for a confidential consultation.
Red Bull is being sued for $85 million in the company’s first wrongful death lawsuit. 33-year old Brooklyn native, Cory Terry, died of a heart attack in 2011 after drinking a can of Red Bull during a basketball game. Terry was a construction worker from Bedford-Stuyvesant who was a healthy, active, nonsmoker and an avid Red Bull drinker.
Terry’s family is bringing a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf, alleging that his death was due to the negligence and/or misconduct of Red Bull. Terry’s lawyer claims that Red Bull contains “extra stimulants” that “are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on.”
The complaint cites nine fatalities worldwide that have been linked to Red Bull and cites scientific studies that the beverage carries potential health hazards, especially for adolescents and people who exercise. Between 2004 and 2012, the FDA received 21 reports from doctors or hospitals connecting Red Bull with a long list of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, etc. The FDA has previously confirmed 18 deaths that had a suspected link to energy drinks, and in a 2009 federal study, 13,000 emergency room visits were associated with the consumption of such beverages. Both Monster and 5-Hour Energy have been allegedly tied to fatalities in the past. Dr. Daniel Fabricant, director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the FDA, said the agency was still researching the effects of caffeinated drinks.
Red Bull declined to address any particular case. But a spokeswoman says the company has sold some 35 billion cans in 165 countries over the past 25 years “because health authorities across the world have concluded that Red Bull Energy Drink is safe to consume.”
If you or someone you know has been injured by the consumption of an energy drink, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
The family of Rosa Esparza has brought suit against Six Flags Entertainment following her death. Ezparza had been riding the Texas Giant rollercoaster when she fell out of her seat. Her children had to continue the ride until it ended, not knowing if their mother was dead or alive. Six Flags denies any wrongdoing, stating that it followed all safety guidelines, and asserting that the ride’s safety features were designed by an independent contractor.
The family’s complaint states claims based on wrongful death and negligence. In Six Flag’s answer it denies the validity of the family’s claims, and points toward the aforementioned independent contractor as relieving them of liability. Further, the defendant has a certificate of compliance from the state of Texas issued for the very ride in question only a few months before the accident. Apparently, a limit switch on the safety harness malfunctioned, allowing Esparza to be thrown from the ride during one of the many loops of the Texas Giant. Six Flags also claims that its employees handled the situation appropriately when the children finally got to the end of the ride.
It is unclear whether any laws have been violated, as Six Flags alleges that it followed all applicable safety standards, and was therefore not negligent. If this is the case, the Esparzas will be unable to recover from Six Flags, but may be able to seek compensation from the independent contractor that designed the defective harness.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to another’s negligence, please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a free consultation, as you may be entitled to relief.
A California jury recently found that Toyota Motor Corporation was not liable in what is being referred to as a “Bellweather” case for lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration. The case involved the death of 66-year-old Noriko Uno in 2009. Uno was driving her Toyota Camry when she was hit by another driver prior to speeding out of control into oncoming traffic and crashing. (Source, autonews.com)
The Noriko Uno case is just one of several hundred lawsuits alleging damages from unintended acceleration issues filed in the wake of Toyota’s 2009-2010 recalls of nearly eight million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. (Source, motortrend.com) The recalls were meant to address sticky acceleration pedal and pedal entrapment issues, particularly those associated with ill-fitting driver’s side floor mats. (Source, nhtsa.gov) However, the issue in the Noriko Uno case, and other cases still pending in State and Federal Courts across the country, is whether Toyota’s electronic throttle control system (“ETC”), or lack of a brake override system, caused an unintended acceleration problem. (See, autonews.com, motortrend.com)
The jury’s findings that Toyota’s electronic throttle and breaking control systems did not contribute to Ms. Uno’s crash are in line with reports coming out after lengthy investigation. For example, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an exhaustive ten month examination into reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The investigation included analysis of Toyota’s ETC system by NASA engineers. Both NASA and the NHTSA concluded that there was “no evidence that a malfunction in (Toyota’s) electronics causes large unintended accelerations.” (Michael Kirsch, Principal Engineer at the National Engineering and Safety Center “NESC”; Source, nhtsa.gov.)
While the result could indicate further success for Toyota in future cases, it is important to consider the grave dangers associated with unintended acceleration. Problems with ill-fitting floor mats and improperly designed acceleration pedals remain a serious issue. To date, Toyota has issued massive recalls and paid over $1 billion in settlements for cases of unintended acceleration potentially caused by such defects. (Source, usatoday.com)
The auto industry as a whole has also benefitted. The NHTSA, along with NASA, issued recommendations for additional safety regulation of the auto industry in the wake of the Toyota investigation. The recommendations included requiring brake override systems, standardized keyless ignition systems, and event data recorders (similar to “black boxes” on airplanes) on all automobiles available for consumer purchase. (See, nhtsa.gov)
It is extremely important that the automotive industry continues to prioritize your safety. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to a defective automobile, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential discussion about your rights and potential remedies.
It is an unfortunate reality in California that most drivers, if not all, will be involved in a car accident either as the driver or passenger of a vehicle. However, bicyclists are a subset of “drivers” that are often forgotten, even though they often face the most devastating consequences due to collisions.
The litigation of bicycle accidents is too easily lumped into general personal injury practices, yet the differences between pure motor vehicle accidents and bicycle accidents are not properly addressed. Attorneys can maximize results for their clients by understanding some key aspects of a bicycle collision case.
ONE: The injuries are much more serious.
Generally, injuries sustained by bicyclists are more serious than the whiplash and soft tissue injuries that are commonplace in motor vehicle accidents. Bicyclists typically sustain such injuries as Colles type wrist fractures, clavicle fractures, Humerous (arm) fractures, shoulder dislocations (both glenohumeral and AC), and rotator cuff tears, coupled with more serious orthopedic injuries.
Such serious injuries and should be documented properly. It is recommended that you use a professional document retrieval service. Using a retrieval service demonstrates that the claim is serious and that the personal injury attorney is willing to take extra effort and spend a bit of money to document injuries fully.
Moreover, an Independent Medical Exam (IME) or physical capacities work up should be considered mandatory in every case. An IME can often uncover poor or atypical outcomes and allow the increased disability to be addressed by the defendant at the demand or litigation stage.
TWO: The laws are different – but not that different.
A very effective approach to litigating such cases is to analyze a bike crash that occurs on the road similarly to that of a motor vehicle. Motorists habitually think differently when they see a cyclist pedaling in the traveled portion of the roadway. Typically motorists either try to provide extra deference and caution to avoid a collision with the biker, or they are irked by the delays that these cyclists can often cause. Either way, while most of us are accustomed to treating bicycles differently, it is best to treat them the same as any other vehicle. A cyclist is afforded all the rights and responsibilities required of any other motorist.
THREE: Be Aware of Bias – Insurance companies (and juries) think about these cases differently.
With regard to insurance companies, bicycle cases are treated differently because cyclists are not required to carry bicycle insurance. Unfortunately, the downside to this is that when a cyclist is struck by a motorist, they often are deprived of the resources available to a motorist carrying even a minimal policy.
Additionally, while the practical issues are important, it is likely that the most difficult obstacle you will face representing cyclists is the subtle prejudice that many people have regarding bikers. The truth is that most adults, even in bike friendly areas, simply don’t ride bikes. Insurance companies capitalize on this and consistently offer less for the same injuries in bike cases, which forces these cases to trial.
With these points in mind, the results from a bicycle case will be maximized leaving the client and attorney fulfilled and satisfied with the ultimate resolution of the case.
If you or anyone you know has been a involved in a vehicle accident, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for guidance and a confidential consultation.
As a consumer, you entrust companies, often large multi-national corporations, with your day-to-day safety in the products that you buy. However, many products sold today, such as contaminated food, chemical-based household products, vehicles and appliances contain dangerous hidden defects which can cause serious injury.
When a product you are using causes you injury due to a defect or an inadequate warning that the manufacturer supplied with the product, you may have a product liability claim. Product liability claims can get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries, but can also involve long and complex legal proceedings.
Here are five things you can do to protect and help streamline your product liability claim:
- Receive Thorough Medical Treatment: It is important to seek immediate and ongoing medical treatment for your injuries. A reputable doctor will not only help you get better, but will be in the best position to help you understand the full nature of your injuries.
- Keep The Defective Product: The product is your physical evidence! Keep it, along with all packaging, receipts, manuals and labels. Do not alter the product or attempt to fix it. If the product is perishable, take a few pictures before you have to throw it out.
- Use Your Camera: Take date stamped photos of your injuries, the defective product and the surrounding scene where the product injured you. These will be valuable as an aid to your memory if you are required to testify at a later date.
- Keep A Record Of Your Expenses: You are responsible for keeping track of the economic impact the defective product has on your life. Moreover, you must prove your damages at trial. Keep an ongoing journal of the losses and expenses you incur.
- Hire A Law Firm With A Proven Track Record In Product Liability Cases: A skilled and experienced team of lawyers with a firm that handles product liability cases will be able to investigate and discover the parties responsible for your injuries, and will hire appropriate experts to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
The law understands the importance of protecting consumers from defective products. California, for example, was the first state in the Union to hold manufacturers strictly liable for the defective products they sell. (See the landmark holding in Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc., 59 Cal. 2d 57 (Cal. 1963).) Since then, nearly all states in the Union have followed suit.
If you or someone you know has suffered serious injury from using a defective product, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP to discuss your potential product liability claim.
A couple of weeks ago, another lawsuit was filed against Pfizer, the manufacturer of the popular cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in California. Kathleen Davis, a Shasta County, CA resident, alleges Pfizer was negligent and failed to warn consumers.
In January 2010, Davis began taking Lipitor and used it as directed. Like many other Lipitor users, Davis used the drug to lower her levels of low-density lipoprotein and as a preventative measure to decease her risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In October 2011, Davis was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Davis believes her Lipitor ingestion caused her diabetes. In her lawsuit, Davis alleges that “despite its knowledge of data indicating that Lipitor use is causally related to the development of type 2 diabetes and/or blood glucose levels diagnostic for type 2 diabetes” Pfizer still marketed and promoted the drug.
Davis further alleges on August 11, 2011, the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products of the FDA requested that Pfizer make labeling changes based on the FDA findings. Pfizer allegedly made the suggested changes nearly six (6) months later. They added the following language into Lipitor’s Warnings and Precautions section: “Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been report with HMG – CoA reductase inhibitors, including Lipitor.” Before this warning change, Lipitor’s label did not warn patients about the potential relationship between changes in blood sugar levels and Lipitor use.
Davis’ lawsuit follows many other lawsuits filed against Pfizer. While Lipitor was a very popular drug for several years, many consumers are beginning to question it’s safety. If you or someone you love has been injured by Lipitor, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.
An Oregon women recently received a $725,000 jury verdict for injuries she sustained after slipping and falling on the sidewalk in front of a downtown Eugene antique store.
The 52 year-old woman was walking with friends along the sidewalk when she turned around to speak to a friend and slipped on loose gravel, located at the store front.
Accounts of the incident reveal that the woman’s feet were literally taken from under her body and she fell with her legs straight up in the air. Medical doctors likened the woman’s fall to that of a person who fell from a two-story building.
The woman sustained significant injuries, including a broken wrist, as well as fractures and several herniated discs in her back. However, the most notable injury the woman sustained was the development of a condition called traumatic fibromyalgia. Traumatic fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome in muscles and joints that cause extreme fatigue.
Evidence showed that the gravel that caused this incident had migrated from a nearby unpaved section of the store that created a dangerous condition. The lawsuit alleged that the building owner was negligent in allowing such a dangerous condition to remain.
Generally, businesses are responsible for the injuries suffered by people who come to the business for almost any purpose. Business and building owners, who invite the public to come to their place of business, have a responsibility to their customers and potential customers to protect them and prevent any dangerous conditions that could potentially hurt them.
As a result, the woman received a verdict of $550,000 for economic loss which include items such as paid medical expenses and wage loss. Also a verdict for $175,000 was given in general damages for the pain and suffering the woman had to endure.
If you or anyone you know has been injured by a dangerous condition at a restaurant or other business location, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
In a recent police brutality case in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, a jury award one of three Vallejo residents $50,000 for the mistreatment he received at the hands of several Vallejo City Police Officers.
Plaintiff, Jason Deocampo was walking with two friends through the Vallejo’s Country Club Crest neighborhood on March 28, 2003. As one friend was placed into custody, Deocampo and his other friend were told to move away. According to Deocampo, as he was retreating, he was followed and accosted by one of the three police officers on the scene.
Deocampo testified that officers hit him in the legs and back with their batons. Defense attorneys for the police officers claimed that Deocampo and his friends made threatening gestures. Mr. Deocampo’s lawsuit alleged a host of civil rights violations, including racial discrimination, false arrest and imprisonment and excessive use of force. Mr. Deocampo is a Native American and his two friends were African American. All three police officers sued are White. Nonetheless, a jury only found that the police officers used excessive force in their treatment of Mr. Deocampo and denied recovery for the other 11 causes of action against the police officers.
Based on the allegations, the Constitutional rights of Mr. Deocampo and his friends were violated. Every person has the right to be free from unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures. While public safety is a concern, and the police are tasked with keeping the public safe, there is a fine that cannot be crossed. Here, the jury decided that line was crossed. Suits like these make institutions such as the police department aware of their conduct and hopefully, when enough people speak out and assert their rights, a change will occur.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of police brutality and have had your rights violated, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for guidance and a confidential consultation.