Articles Posted in California

As the Baltimore Ravens prepare to battle it out next week with the San Francisco 49ers, a very different type of football related battle begins. The family of Junior Seau, a former linebacker for the NFL, filed suit today against the NFL. The family claims that Seau’s suicide last May was the result of a brain disease, brought on by repeated blows to the head during his twenty year career.

Seau, 43 at the time of his death, died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. Earlier this month, it was determined that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain disease that can follow multiple hits to the head according to the National Institutes of Health.

This is not the first of its kind. Last June, more than eighty lawsuits involving thousands of former players who suffered concussions and brain injuries were consolidated into one master complaint. The lawsuit accused the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries. Among the illnesses cited were dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Nursing homes have made a furious effort in recent years to end run the tort system with arbitration clauses. The large nursing home chains have been at the forefront of this movement, incorporating draconian provisions that require the resident to waive their constitutional right to a jury trial in exchange for admission, often with provisions that limit damages and discovery about what really happened in the first place. In states that allow for punitive damages in nursing homes, these arbitration agreements seek to deprive victims of the right to claim those damages.

California has stood up to the nursing homes – at least on some level – by enacting legislation, passing legislation to void nursing home agreements that require arbitration brought “against the licensee of a facility who violates any rights of the resident or patient as set forth in the Patients Bill of Rights in Section 72527 of Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, or any other right provided for by federal or state law or regulation.”

California’s law makes sense. But it just does not go far enough. All nursing home arbitration claims should be voided on their face. Let’s be honest: arbitration agreements in nursing home cases are oppressive. There is an unbelievable amount of inequality in terms of bargaining power. The day you walk into a nursing home is not usually one of the better days of your life. Usually it happens after your inability to care for yourself has reached a critical mass. Now you are expected to have the lucidity to fully appreciate the ramifications of an arbitration agreement? My gosh, that scene should be in a legal dictionary next to the term “unequal bargaining power.”

It amazes me the extent to which every state has very different law on survival action and wrongful death cases. I remember the first time I had a case in West Virginia back when I was defending pharmaceutical companies. The basis for damages in a survival action and a wrongful death claim were pretty much the exact opposite of how it works in Maryland. Today, we turn to a California lawyer who handles a lot of these claims, to give some thoughts on the nuances of wrongful death in his jurisdiction. It is Mike’s ball from here.

When a person is fatally injured due to the careless, reckless, negligent or intentional actions of another person, entity, employer or manufacturer, this is called, in California as in most other states, a wrongful death. This is a statutory claim alleging that a fatality occured due to a wrongful act or negligence, it is important to consult an law firm that focuses on this area of the law and has the resources to prepare a wrongful death claim.

Time can be crucial in any legal action, to preserve evidence and interview witnesses, which are important factors in a negligent fatal accident. Investigating and preserving evidence will involve investigators, accident reconstruction experts and medical experts, who are able to evaluate the evidence collected, as well as the cause of the death. So if you think you might have a claim, you should retain counsel as soon as practicable.

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You will be happy to know that a personal injury lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles Dodgers will be permitted to proceed even though the Dodgers are in bankruptcy. Plaintiff’s lawyer had called the Dodgers efforts to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims as despicable. Arguably, he is a little dramatic but there is no reason why such a claim should not be able to proceed, bankruptcy or no, because the Dodgers are still a real asset that can pay any injury claims.

The plaintiff’s bigger hurdle is going to be the team’s claim that they cannot demonstrate that security staffing caused his injuries and that the team had no knowledge of any inappropriate conduct by the assailants prior to attack.

A wrongful death lawsuit has been in California against a shuttle bus company after the death of an elderly man with dementia who died after going missing. Ten days after he disappeared, a man walking his dog found Chin’s body lying face down off the side of a path near the VA Hospital.

Awful story. Where is the negligence? Good question. This lawsuit claims the shuttle bus dropped the man off and the wrong location and he wandered off.

Okay. But how does this involve the shuttle company? The complaint becoming lost in the San Francisco area. The suit accuses the bus driver and shuttle company of “elder abuse and negligence” in failing to ensure the 73 year old man’s safety. “The bus driver had an obligation and a duty of care to walk Chin to the door and ensure his safe arrival due to Chin’s dementia,” according to plaintiffs’ lawyer.

A California woman has sued Honda alleging Honda exaggerated the miles per gallon she could expect. A small claims judge agreed with her.

After purchasing a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, the Plaintiff expected that her vehicle would get the 50 miles per gallon that it advertised. Instead, it was only getting around 30, and never got more than 42 (personally, I’d be thrilled if my car got 30 miles per gallon, let alone 42). So she sued, asking that Honda pay for her trouble and the extra money that she spent on gas.

The judge ruled that Honda misled her when it claimed that its Civic hybrid could drive up to 50 miles on a gallon of gas, and awarded her more than $9,800 in damages.

More than five years after the gory photographs of a teenage girl killed in a horrific automobile accident were released on the internet, her family’s lawsuit has come to an end. The deceased girl’s family filed suit against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for broadcasting graphic photographs of the dead girl’s body over the internet, photographs which can still be found today.

The tragic story begins with the teen having driven her father’s Porsche without his permission, and ends in a senseless accident with her body being maimed and nearly decapitated. After reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, the teen clipped another vehicle, swerved, and struck a toll booth. She was so badly disfigured that her family was not permitted to view her body. Sadly, they would be given the chance thanks to two CHP dispatchers who took it upon themselves to leak the photographs. The photographs, never intend for public viewing, appeared on thousands of websites. Unbelievably, many websites mocked the girl as a spoiled rich girl, who got what she deserved. She was nicknamed “Porsche Girl.” The family even received anonymous taunting messages.

The family filed suit claiming an invasion of privacy. A Superior Court judge initially threw out the family’s lawsuit, concluding that the agency had not breached any legal duty to the family, as the law did not recognize the right of family members to sue for invasion of privacy involving photos of the dead at the time. But that changed in 2010 when the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the decision. For the first time in California, the court established that surviving family members have a right to sue for invasion of privacy in such cases.

Another day another Medicaid fraud settlement. In this one, Shield Healthcare, a California medical supplier, paid $5 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleged that Shield submitting inflated bills to California’s Medicaid program. The suit claimed that the company submitted false claims and evaded the regulation’s upper billing limit. (I’d be curious how they did that. You have to admire the scope of the evil).

In a related story, California is going bankrupt.

A Jury Verdict Research study found that the average personal injury verdict in California is 1,635,327. The median, which takes out huge verdicts like one in the study for over $100 million, is California.

California juries are tougher on liability: plaintiffs receive damages in 45 percent of cases that go to trial.

Last December, Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals agreed to stop selling Darvocet in the U.S. after the evidence of cardiac injuries from Darvocet reached critical mass. Darvocet lawsuits are now being filed in massive numbers. Yesterday, in San Francisco, Plaintiffs’ Darvocet lawyers argued that all of the federal Darvocet cases should be centralized in an MDL which is sort of, but not really, a class action lawsuit.

These are the main points made in Darvocet lawsuits:

  • Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals concealed their knowledge of Darvocet’s risks from plaintiffs, the medical community, the FDA, and the American people.