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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case brought by the owner of a Mazda Miata against the car’s manufacturer. In the case, Holiday Motor Corporation v. Walters, the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer breached an implied warranty of merchantability by not creating a soft-top convertible that was capable of withstanding a rollover crash. Ultimately, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claims and imposed judgment for the defendant car manufacturer, based on the fact that the manufacturer did not have a duty to create a soft-top convertible capable of withstanding a rollover crash.

MiataThe Facts of the Case

Walters was driver her 1995 Mazda Miata on a two-lane road when she noticed a large object fall off the truck in front of her. In an attempt to avoid the object, Walters steered the car to the left, across the oncoming lane of traffic, and off the side of the road. As the car left the roadway, it traveled up a slight incline that caused the vehicle to roll over. Eventually, the car came to a stop with the car upside down leaning partially against a tree.

A good Samaritan stopped to render assistance to Walter, who was trapped inside. He testified at trial that when he arrived on the scene, the car was lying flat on the ground upside down. Only the rear of the car was slightly elevated. Walters sustained serious back and neck injuries as a result of the accident, and she filed a product liability case against Mazda. She argued that the soft-top convertible should have been able to maintain its integrity during the accident.

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Earlier this month, an Alaska appellate court was asked to reverse the decision of a lower court that had determined a jury’s verdict in favor of the defense was appropriate, given the facts of the case and the standard of review. Ultimately, in the case of Marshall v. Peter, the court did uphold the jury’s verdict.

Wet RoadOverturning a Jury’s Verdict Is a Difficult Task

When a party to a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t like the result of their trial, they can ask a higher court to review the lower court’s decision to see if the trial judge made a mistake. Depending on what a party is complaining of on appeal, there may be one or more standards of review that the appellate court will use to make its decision. One of the most difficult standards of review for a party to meet on appeal is that of overturning a jury’s verdict. In essence, an appellate court would have to determine that “no reasonable juror” could have decided the case in the way the jury did in order to reverse a jury’s verdict. A recent example of one plaintiff’s request for review is described below.

Marshall v. Peter:  The Facts

Marshall was stopped at a red light, and Peter was directly behind him, while both were waiting to make a turn. When Marshall started to pull off, Peter released his foot off the brake and began traveling behind him. However, Peter never pressed the gas. Marshall then stopped, surprising Peter. Peter tried to put his foot on the brake in time but slid on the icy pavement right into the back of Marshall.

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One state’s appellate court recently released an opinion that reversed a lower court’s ruling to enforce the state’s medical malpractice statute of limitations against a plaintiff who was injured in a crash allegedly caused by a paramedic who was on duty at the time of the collision. The district court’s ruling that the plaintiff’s claim against the paramedic was subject to the shortened statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims was rejected by the court of appeals, which found that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was not a medical malpractice claim and should be subject to the standard statute of limitations for general negligence cases. After the recent appellate ruling, the plaintiff’s claim will return to the district court to proceed toward a trial or settlement agreement.

AmbulanceThe Plaintiff Was Injured While the Defendant Responded to an Emergency Call

The plaintiff in the case of Aldana v. Stillwagon is a man who was injured in an auto accident when his vehicle was struck by the defendant’s truck after he allegedly ran a red light en route to supervise a medical emergency. The defendant, who works as a paramedic supervisor, was working at the time of the crash and driving a specially designed pickup truck that included emergency flashers and a siren, although neither was in operation at the time of the accident.

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Medical professionals have it ingrained in them throughout their many years of training to always wash their hands as well sanitize any instrument that comes into contact with their patients. This is extremely important for these professionals, who spend the majority of their time in an environment rife with all kinds of things that can cause illnesses or infections.

StethoscopeThe importance of proper sanitation cannot be overstated. And that is why it has become a part of the duty that a doctor, nurse, or hospital has to its patients. Thus, if a patient is negligently exposed to dangerous bacteria while in the care of a medical professional, that patient may be entitled to seek financial recovery from the negligent party to help them cover the costs they have incurred, as well as compensation for any decrease in the quality of their life.

Ballard v. Kerr:  Negligent Sterilization Leads to Patient’s Death

The facts giving rise to this case are tragic. Ms. Ballard planned on surprising her husband with a cosmetic surgery while he was away on military service. She consulted with the defendant doctor about a procedure that would remove fat from her midsection and redeposit it in her buttocks. The doctor told her she would be a good candidate, and the procedure was scheduled.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall case against a grocery store because the plaintiff was unable to present sufficient evidence that the accident was caused by the store’s negligence. In the case of Edwards v. Hy-Vee, the court determined that there was insufficient evidence to show that the defendant grocery store caused the dangerous condition that resulted in the plaintiff’s fall, and there was also insufficient evidence that the store employees even knew of the condition’s existence.

Watermelon SlicesThe Facts of the Case

Mrs. Edwards was with her young daughter, shopping at a grocery store operated by Hy-Vee. On her way out of the store, Edwards slipped and fell on what appeared to be a piece of watermelon. As she got up, she noticed that a Hy-Vee employee was handing out watermelon samples just a few feet away.

Edwards filed a premises liability lawsuit against Hy-Vee, arguing that the grocery store should be liable for her damages. She made two main claims. First, she asserted that the grocery store caused the dangerous condition leading to her fall. Second, she claimed that even if the store didn’t cause the condition to be present, it was negligent in failing to clean it up in a timely manner.

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Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals issued a written opinion stemming from a disagreement between an accident victim and his insurance company. In the lawsuit, Etherton v. Owners Insurance Company, the plaintiff ended up with more than he originally asked for because the jury determined that the insurance company should be held for the plaintiff’s injuries as well as for failing to pay out on the plaintiff’s claim in a timely manner.

ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, Etherton, was involved in an accident with another driver. The accident did not cause a lot of property damage, but Etherton required three back surgeries as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident.

He filed a claim with both the other driver’s insurance and his own insurance company, Owners. The other driver’s policy limit was lower than the amount necessary to cover his injuries, which he estimated to be about $1,000,000. Etherton settled with the other driver’s insurance company for $250,000 and then asked his own insurance company to make up the difference.

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Earlier this month, an Arizona appellate court issued a written opinion that addressed an issue common in many personal injury cases here in Georgia. Specifically, the court addressed a defendant’s ability to ask the court to add an additional defendant whom the initial defendant believed was at least partially at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Smashed HoodCramer v. Starr:  The Facts of the Case

Ms. Mungia was involved in a rear-end accident. The driver of the other car was Cramer. After the accident, Mungia immediately experienced back pain. She consulted with a chiropractor for some time before deciding to undergo a back surgery in hopes of correcting the lingering pain she was experiencing. However, the surgery was not successful, and it may have exacerbated Mungia’s back pain.

Mungia filed a lawsuit against Cramer, seeking monetary compensation for all the injuries she sustained, including those arising from the allegedly negligent medical care provided by the doctor who performed the surgery. Only Cramer was named in the lawsuit. However, before the trial began, Cramer asked the court to name the doctor in the lawsuit as well, arguing that the doctor was at least in part responsible for Mungia’s injuries.

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Earlier this month in Michigan, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case, answering the question of whether photographic evidence of an uneven sidewalk taken 30 days after the injury was sufficient to raise a question regarding the defendant’s liability. In the case, Bernardoni v. City of Saginaw, the court ultimately concluded that the evidence submitted by the plaintiff was not sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense, and it affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Feet on PavementThe Facts of the Case

Ms. Bernardoni was injured when she fell after tripping on two uneven slabs on concrete on a sidewalk in Saginaw, Michigan. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the City, alleging that the City was negligent in maintaining the sidewalk and that the City’s negligence contributed to her injury. Along with her claim, she submitted a sworn affidavit stating that it was her belief – although she was not certain – that the dangerous condition existed for at least 30 days prior to her fall. She also provided the court with pictures of the uneven sidewalk that were taken by her husband about 30 days after her fall.

The City responded with a request for the court to dismiss the case under the theory of governmental immunity. The City argued that, in general, government organizations are immune from lawsuits arising from potentially negligent acts made in furtherance of government business. Furthermore, the specific facts of this case did not give rise to the “highway exception” to government immunity.

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Earlier this month, a Michigan appellate court issued a written opinion in a government liability case arising from uneven pavement that allegedly caused the plaintiff to trip and injure herself. In the case, Kozak v. City of Lincoln Park, the court determined that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to the court to prevent dismissal at the summary judgment stage.

HighwayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed this negligence lawsuit after she tripped and fell while crossing a street in Lincoln Park, Michigan. Evidently, as she was approaching the middle point of the roadway, there were two concrete slabs that were not perfectly lined up, leaving a three-inch elevation differential.

In a pre-trial motions hearing, the defense asked the court to dismiss the case, based on the immunity that government agencies have when carrying out government functions. In response, the plaintiff cited a state statute that specifically exempts the maintenance of a highway from governmental immunity. This “highway exception” requires governments in control of roadways in the jurisdiction to ensure that they are “reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” The exception also creates a cause of action against the government agency for anyone injured as a result of the government’s failure to comply with the requirements.

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Earlier this month, a California court of appeals issued an opinion of interest to anyone injured while on or near the property of another party. In the case, Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church, the court allowed a plaintiff’s premises liability case to proceed against a church after injuries the man sustained while crossing the street to attend a church service. This is an interesting opinion because the church was in no way in control of the road where the plaintiff sustained his injuries.

Pavement

The Facts of the Case

The defendant in the case, a church, operated two parking lots. The primary parking lot was directly adjacent to the church. However, once that lot filled up, volunteer parking attendants would direct traffic to the overflow lot, which was across a busy five-lane road. Once at the overflow lot, churchgoers were able to park but were not provided any assistance in crossing the road to get back to the church.

On the day in question, the plaintiff was directed to park in the overflow lot because the primary lot was full. He parked his car and attempted to cross the busy five-lane road to get to the church. However, as he did so, he was struck by a car, causing a serious injury. The plaintiff then filed a premises liability case against the church, arguing that the church was negligent in directing churchgoers to park in the overflow lot without providing them assistance to get back to the church safely.

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