Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a case brought by a woman and her husband after the woman was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The case, which was initially dismissed by the trial judge, required the court to decide if the trial judge was proper to make the determination that the dog did not have a propensity to bite without provocation. Ultimately, the court determined that this was a question that should have been reserved for the jury, and therefore summary judgment was inappropriate.

Dog's ProfileThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were neighbors with the defendants. About a week before the incident that gave rise to this case, the defendants’ son moved back in with the defendants and brought his dog, Rocks. Rocks was kept in a pen in the backyard, unless the defendants’ son was in the backyard. In Rocks’ first week with the defendants, he snapped twice at two different people as they tried to pet and feed him.

Later that week, the plaintiff was visiting the defendants when she gently extended her hand for Rocks to sniff her. Rocks lunged at her, latching onto her arm and causing the plaintiff to fall to the ground. After she fell, Rocks then latched onto her thigh. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of the attack, and she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, claiming that the dog attacked her unprovoked.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in which the court had to apply the recreational use statute to determine whether the defendant city could be held liable for injuries occurring at a recreational baseball game. Ultimately, the court held that the city was entitled to immunity and that the plaintiff’s argument that the city had prior notice of the field’s dangerous condition was not able to be considered on appeal because it was not argued below.

Old BaseballThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case were the parents of a boy who was playing a recreational game of baseball in a park owned and operated by the defendant city. During the game, the plaintiffs’ son slid into home plate, and his ankle and lower leg got lodged under the plate. When their son tried to stand up after the slide, he broke his leg in two places.

The plaintiffs filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city, arguing that it was negligent in maintaining the baseball diamond. In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the city argued that it was entitled to immunity from the lawsuit under the recreational use statute.

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Earlier this month, one state’s supreme court issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case alleging that the defendant hospital was responsible for leaving a four-inch piece of tubing in the plaintiff’s body after a surgery. The case required the court to discuss the burden-shifting framework applicable in foreign-object cases, ultimately holding that the framework should apply in all cases of foreign objects being left in a patient’s body, and not just in those cases where the plaintiff cannot recall who left the object in his body.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital for a colon resection surgery after it was discovered that he had several cancerous polyps. The surgery went as planned, and afterwards some drainage tubing was placed into the plaintiff’s body to help get rid of extra post-surgical fluids.

Prior to his discharge, a nurse came to remove the tubing. She pulled the tubing out, discarded it, and then sent the plaintiff home. Four months later, the plaintiff returned with complaints of pain in the area where the tubing had been. It was subsequently discovered that there was approximately four inches of tubing left in his body. Another surgery was scheduled and performed to remove the tubing.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who fell while on the defendant’s property. Because the plaintiff failed to disclose the names of her expert witnesses, the court held that the experts’ testimony was properly excluded and summary judgment appropriately granted.

StaircaseThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell on a set of stairs at the defendant’s property. The details of the plaintiff’s fall were not at issue in the court’s opinion. However, in response to the plaintiff’s allegations, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s case was insufficient as a matter of law.

After the defendant moved for summary judgment, the plaintiff presented two experts who planned to testify about the condition of the stairs as well as industry safety standards. The defendant objected to the two experts’ testimony because the plaintiff had failed to disclose them at an earlier time. Under state law, either party can demand that all parties involved in a lawsuit release the names of all potential expert witnesses. The defendant had done this earlier in the proceeding, and the plaintiff did not release any expert names. Normally, this issue arises in the context of trial, but here it was at the summary judgment stage.

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In 2016, the National Safety Council estimated that roughly 40,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents across the country. According to an insurance industry news source, this represents a 6% increase in fatalities over the previous year and reflects the highest number of deaths since 2007. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported similar numbers, with an 8% increase in traffic deaths year-over-year.

Cell PhoneIn fact, since 2007, the number of traffic deaths has dropped dramatically. It was not until 2014 that the rate of traffic deaths started to slowly increase. However, since 2014, there has been a 16% increase in the number of traffic deaths.

Those who conducted the study point to several non-problematic factors that contributed to the sharp increase, including reasonable gasoline prices and a healthy economy. However, the researchers note that even taking these factors into account, the year-over-year total increase in miles traveled was only a 3% increase. This suggests that other factors are also in play.

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Earlier last month, an appellate court in Wyoming issued a written opinion applying the “natural accumulation” rule to affirm the dismissal of a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall lawsuit against a middle school. In essence, the rule prevents a landowner from being held liable for injuries occurring from the natural accumulation of snow or ice on their property. The court’s most recent opinion explained that the application of salt or snow-melt, while it alters the original condition of the snow, does not aggravate it.

IceThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a middle-school student. After P.E. class, the plaintiff and some friends encountered a large patch of ice on school grounds. The students took turns running and sliding across the ice, seeing how far they could go and performing various “tricks” as they slid. On the plaintiff’s second turn, he slipped and fell to the ground, breaking a tooth and fracturing his nose.

The plaintiff, through his parents, filed a premises liability lawsuit against the school, arguing that it was negligent in allowing the accumulation of ice or failing to clear the ice. The trial court disagreed, determining that the school could not be held liable for the natural accumulation of ice. The plaintiff appealed.

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One of the key elements in any personal injury lawsuit is causation. In order to prove causation, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant’s allegedly negligent actions were the cause of their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, in reality causation is a contested element in many personal injury cases. A recent case illustrates how a defendant may successfully argue that their actions, even if determined to be negligent, were not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Gas GaugesA Gas Explosion Seriously Injures the Resident

The plaintiff was moving into a new apartment that was owned by a co-worker. Prior to allowing the plaintiff to move in, the homeowner contacted the local gas company and arranged for the gas to be turned on. A technician from the gas company came out to the house, but upon doing so, he discovered that the gas line had a leak in it. The technician turned the gas back off and left a warning card with a 20-year-old girl who was dating the plaintiff’s step-son.

The warning card left by the technician explained that there was a leak in the system and that it needed to be fixed before turning the gas back on. The card also explained that the technician had left the gas off, but the meter was not locked so that a plumber could turn it back on once the leak was fixed. This was in violation of the gas company’s policy, which required that meters on homes with leaking gas systems be locked by the technician when they leave the property.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case brought by a homeowner who sustained serious injuries after he fell while using the ladder manufactured by the defendant. The court hearing the case had to determine if the expert testimony provided by the plaintiff was properly admitted by the trial judge. Finding that it was, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

LaddersThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a homeowner who was using a ladder manufactured by the defendant to change a few rusty screws in the gutter above his garage. The homeowner climbed the ladder, but before he could complete the job, the ladder buckled under his weight. The homeowner struck his head on the pavement of his driveway, causing bleeding and bruising in his brain. As a result, the homeowner now suffers from seizures, dementia, and quadriplegia.

The homeowner filed a product liability lawsuit against the ladder’s manufacturer, claiming that the ladder was not designed to support a 200-pound person and that a safer and feasible alternative existed. In support of his claim, the homeowner provided two experts. One expert focused his testimony on the durability of the ladder and whether it could support a 200-pound person. This expert concluded that the ladder may not have been able to support a 200-pound person, depending on how the weight was distributed. The other expert testified that the way the homeowner had placed the ladder was proper and that more substantial support beams on the ladder could have prevented it from buckling under the homeowner’s weight.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion that upheld a jury verdict of upwards of $21 million in a medical malpractice case. In upholding the jury’s liability and damages determinations, the court rejected all of the defendant doctor’s claims of error below. As a result of the court’s ruling, the plaintiff will receive the award as delivered by the jury.

HospitalThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a woman who died while undergoing a medical procedure that was conducted by the defendant doctor. The plaintiff’s wife was seeing the defendant doctor for chronic back pain. The doctor recommended she undergo an epidural steroid injection procedure to reduce inflammation and relieve her pain. The procedure consisted of the localized delivery of steroids directly into the spine.

The plaintiff’s wife arrived with her daughter-in-law at 10:00 a.m. She was seen by the nurse at 2:45 p.m., when she was prepped for the procedure. Afterwards, she took a nap while she was waiting for the procedure to begin. Immediately before the procedure, she was provided fentanyl and versed, which were to help with any pain and assist in relaxation. The procedure began at 5:45 p.m.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Mississippi issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case that illustrates why it is important for accident victims to secure dedicated and knowledgeable counsel to assist them with their claims. In the case, Davis v. Blaylock, the court dismissed three wrongful death cases against various defendants the plaintiff alleged were responsible for the death of her father because the plaintiff had previously filed a case based on the same series of events.

Medical RecordsThe Facts

The plaintiff, Long, lost her father while he was in the care of the defendant doctors. Believing that her father’s death was caused by the negligent care he received from the doctors, she filed a series of wrongful death lawsuits against the doctors in different counties. The first lawsuit was filed on November 4, 2014.

Two weeks after the filing of the first lawsuit, Long filed a second lawsuit against a different doctor she claimed was liable for her father’s death. On the same day, Long filed a third wrongful death lawsuit against the medical center where her father was being treated. Three weeks later, Long filed a fourth wrongful death case against the same medical center, making slightly different claims.

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