Articles Posted in Michigan

Average settlements in Michigan

Average settlements in Michigan

Below are sample verdicts and settlements in Michigan traffic accident cases in 2013. These verdicts can help you get a better understanding of the value of personal injury vehicle crash claims in Michigan. That said, take these verdicts with a grain of salt. No two cases are exactly alike. I have been doing this a long time and there is no average personal injury and, importantly, you should know that these cases were not exactly pulled at random.

  • Snyder v. Greenhouse Birth Center | 2014 | $5,000,000.  An infant is born with organ failure and severe brain damage following a breech delivery performed by a mid-wife.  He is hospitalized for thirteen days before he sadly passes away. The parents file suit against multiple parties including the midwife who told the parents that it was safe to attempt a vaginal delivery of a breech baby outside of the hospital setting.  Each party dropped out, one by one claiming bankruptcy, except for the midwife who failed to respond to the Plaintiffs’ allegations.  The Plaintiffs won a default judgment against the midwife in the amount of $5 million dollars.  The midwife, however, carried no insurance to cover the verdict.  So, sadly, $5,000,000=$0.

The estate of a 21 year Michigan man killed in a alcohol-related, double-fatal pickup-truck crash has sued the driver, two bars, and the victim’s father who owned the vehicle.

Such a sad story here. The deceased’s mother, as representative of her son’s estate, is suing the driver and her deceased son’s father (who owned the subject vehicle), as well as the two establishments that the deceased and the driver had been drinking at that evening.

After leaving the establishments, the deceased gave his father’s keys to the driver, who eventually lost control and crashed into an oil-change shop killing the 21 year old man as well as 26 year passenger that had been out with them that night. The driver was drunk and it has been estimated that he was driving between 78 and 86 mph in a 45 mph zone when he lost control.

In Beyer v. K-Mart, the Michigan Court of Appeals was faced with an ultra classic slip and fall case. The Plaintiff sued K-Mart after slipping and falling on a puddle in its store.

Defendant moved – shocker! – for summary judgment – arguing “Hey, we didn’t know the puddle was there.” Plaintiff maintained there was a dispute of fact as to just how long the puddle was there and whether defendant was on constructive notice of this ostensibly dangerous condition. Specifically, plaintiff argued that because defendant produced no evidence of the condition of the puddle and the time of the fall, he should get an adverse inference jury instruction that the puddle had been on the floor long enough to establish constructive notice.

Plaintiff also argued in its response to the motion – and on appeal – that the condition of the puddle created a factual dispute as to whether someone else made tracks through the puddle before plaintiff. Why would this matter? Well, plaintiff maintains that if the puddle tracks were made, the puddle may have existed for a sufficient duration to attribute constructive notice of the puddle to defendant.

The facts of the case don’t provide any information as to how serious the injuries in this case were. I suspect they were pretty serious – because these lawyers were reaching pretty deep. I admire the effort. But it did not fly here.

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Sometimes, it is hard for lawyers to keep track of what claims have to be brought within an individual case before they lose their rights to assert those claims in subsequent litigation. Is this a permissive counterclaim? A compulsory counterclaim? Does this claim really arise out of the same operative facts? While there are not as many gray areas as some lawyers suggest when defending their legal malpractice claims, it can be a bit complex.

So lawyers have two choices: (1) learn the law, or (2) bring every claim that you can bring in the instant action. The lawyers in Webb v. Zurich learned this lesson the hard way. A Michigan U.S. District Court judge in this case stopped a lawsuit in its tracks, finding that the new 2012 lawsuit – which sought coverage from Zurich for environmental contamination remedial costs – is precluded by a 2010 lawsuit because Plaintiff had a duty to amend the 2010 complaint to add the new claims, but failed to do so.

When in doubt, add the claim. There are very few instances where there is a downside to this and just too many where failing to do so has the downside of those claims being lost forever.

The 6th Circuit on Monday affirmed summary judgment in a bizarre lawsuit against a Michigan medical examiner accused of improperly disposing of the plaintiff’s mother’s body.

Technically, a medical malpractice claim, this case was anything but. The decedent was a 88 year-old woman who hit her head in a nursing home and died two weeks later in the hospital. After her death, the medical examiner performed an autopsy in an effort to determine when the head injury caused the woman’s death. The doctor returned the body but kept the brain for further study. When the family learned that the brain had been kept and then disposed of, she filed a lawsuit.

The District Court certified a question to the Michigan Supreme Court on the issue of a next-of-kin’s property interest in a decedent’s organs following an autopsy. The Michigan high court shot down plaintiff’s claim, finding that a decedent’s next of kin does not have a right under Michigan law to possess the brain in order to properly bury or cremate the same after the brain is no longer needed for forensic examination. So when the case came back, the trial court granted summary judgment.

  • Family of 15 Year Old Drowning Victim Sues

    The family of a 15-year-old boy who drowned at a Michigan camp last summer has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the camp and several camp employees.

    According to the suit, the victim, along with other boys, was swimming after 10 p.m. in an area of the water that was not illuminated. A lifeguard lost sight of the boy, who had gone under. Unbelievably, he was underwater for almost 30 minutes before police and camp employees found him.

Steve Gursten writes today about Michigan’s new law for teenage drivers. Michigan is following the national trend to limit the hours teens drive to keep them off the roads at times they typically cause accidents and by limiting the number of people teens can drive (also a risk factor for fatal car accidents for teens).

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The Michigan Supreme Court was asked to determine last week whether a plaintiff satisfied the notice of intent requirement under Michigan law when her malpractice lawyers mailed the notice of intent to file a claim to the doctor’s prior address. The doctor did not receive the notice until after the deadline.

The Michigan high court decided to elevate form over substance, concluding that plaintiff satisfied the mandates of MCL 600.2912b(2) because the statute states that proof of mailing constitutes prima facie evidence of compliance with Michigan law.

You can read the full opinion here.

The Michigan Supreme Court is banning all electronic communications by jurors during trial, including the nearly essential for human life “tweets” on Twitter, text messages and Google searches. This will require Michigan judges for the first time to instruct jurors not to use any handheld device, such as iPhones or Blackberrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations.

The National Law Journal reports that In Florida, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Scott Silverman in declared a mistrial in a civil case after discovering a witness — a company executive — was texting his boss on the stand during a side bar conference. “I never had this happen before,” Judge Silverman stated. “This is completely outrageous.”

I appreciate the problem. Logistically, taking away cell phones from people in 2009 is going to be a problem. A good number of jurors – usually a minority, but still – are angry about spending the time required to serve in the first place. This is not going to help matters. I’m am in the minority of injury lawyers who think that the existing rules that already incorporate all of the real concerns we have should be underscored in the instruction to the jury but that we should otherwise leave things as they are.

A Michigan jury awarded $1.8 million to the family of a woman in a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor and Gratiot Medical Center in Alma.

Plaintiff, age 42, was admitted to the hospital for abdominal pain and had her gall bladder removed in a laparoscopic surgery two days later. She later died from sepsis and a perforated pouch at the beginning of the large intestine.