Legal News

NC AG: E-Cig Company Targeted Kids

FindLaw Injury News - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:05

E-cigarettes and vape pens have been under fire for a while now. One reason for the concern are the injuries users have suffered due to exploding devices. Another reason for the concern is the questionable marketing strategies of these companies, which many believe target teenagers. In fact, the North Carolina Attorney has sued Juul for targeting youth.

Not the First and Probably Not the Last Lawsuit

This new lawsuit isn't the first for Juul, and many other lawsuits also claim that the products are marketed and designed to be attractive to teens. This recent lawsuit, however, is the first one to be filed by a state attorney general.

The North Carolina Attorney General said that the company's marketing targeting youth "while downplaying the potential harm its products can cause, resulted in an 'epidemic' of vaping among minors." The lawsuit is seeking civil penalties and requesting the North Carolina State Court to require Juul to limit the flavors that it sells in the state. It's also requesting that Juul be required to delete data for customers under 18 years of age.

Given the intense scrutiny that Juul and other brands have been under, it's probable that other states will follow in filing similar lawsuits -- especially since the North Carolina Attorney General says he shared the information from his investigation with other states.

Additional Pressure from Federal, State, and Local Governments

These lawsuits aren't the only issues that Juul and similar companies are facing. The federal government passed laws in August 2018 that make it a crime to sell or give out samples of e-cigarettes to people under 18 years old. Additionally, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will no longer allow convenience stores to sell flavored e-cigarette products.

Aside from the North Carolina Attorney General filing a lawsuit, other states have also taken actions to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes. Many states have included them in their smoking bans and regulations for public areas. Some cities have also become involved in trying to reduce the use of e-cigarettes among teens. For example, Los Angeles asked for an injunction against e-cigarette companies that market to minors on social media and sell their products without verifying the customer's age.

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When Mannequins Attack, and Other Clothing Store Injuries

FindLaw Injury News - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 10:05

We've all been there, strolling Men's Warehouse, shopping for a tuxedo, when a mannequin suddenly leaps of a display, knocking you to the ground, causing a concussion. But according to Melinda Scalzo's lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania last week, this wasn't some random attack.

This particular mannequin was overloaded with unwanted tuxedo jackets, and the store failed "to ensure that display mannequins were anchored to a base or other surface such that they could not fall over on top of customers." Now Scalzo and her husband are suing the store for unspecified damages.

Mannequin Mayhem

"She has endured and may continue to endure pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, mental anguish and emotional and psychological trauma," the lawsuit, naming Tailored Brands, Inc. and The Men's Wearhouse, Inc. as defendants, claims. Weight from tuxedo jackets placed on a mannequin allegedly caused it to fall on her while she was shopping in April 2018, causing ongoing head and vision injuries.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Scalzo "suffered a concussion, chronic post-traumatic migraine headaches, cognitive impairment, dizziness, sleep difficulty and other health issues resulting from the crash," according to court filings, and "needed surgery to repair her vision and the incident exacerbated mental health disorders." And her husband, Justin, is apparently a co-plaintiff, claiming loss of consortium with his wife. Men's Wearhouse has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

Retail Risk

Any manner of injury, from your basic slip-and-fall, to your off the wall mannequin attack, can happen in a retail store. And retailers, large and small, can be held liable for injuries that occur on their premises. If you've suffered a shopping injury, you may be able to file a personal injury claims under premises liability laws, which require store owners to exercise reasonable care to ensure a store's premises are reasonably safe from hidden dangers or hazardous conditions.

To prove a retail store is legally responsible for your injuries, you generally need to prove:

  • The store owner knew (or should have known) about a dangerous condition on their property;
  • The owner did not regularly inspect the store for dangers, or provide adequate maintenance;
  • That you wouldn't have been injured if there was not a dangerous condition on the property;
  • There was a relation between the dangerous condition and your injury; and
  • That you suffered actual "damages" as a result of it.

Premises liability lawsuits can be complicated. For help with your injury claim, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.

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3 Things to Know Before Your Kids Go to Summer Camp

FindLaw Injury News - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:05

School's out soon, which means kids will be on their way to summer camps in the coming weeks. Most of us have fond memories of camp, and they can provide an educational summer adventure for your kids. But that adventure doesn't always come without risk, and maybe even the odd injury. There are things that parents can do, however, to make camp as safe as possible for their children.

Here are three things you can do before your kids go off to camp this summer.

1. Know the Camp

Unfortunately for parents, there is very little standardized oversight for summer camps, and what oversight there can vary by state. For instance, not all states require camps to be licensed, and 28 don't require criminal background checks for camp employees. This means it's up to parents to do their own research to ensure the camp is safe.

You should first make sure the camp is accredited, as the accreditation process requires camps to pass numbers health and safety tests. You should also inquire about the camp's staff: how they hire, train, and review staff, how old are the counselors, and what is the counselor-to-camper ratio? Also, do they have medical or emergency-trained staff on site? And while much of this information can be gleaned online through camp websites and internet reviews, nothing beats an on-site interview with camp managers.

2. Know Your Child's Limitations (and Make Sure the Camp Knows, Too)

Every camp is different and will involve different activities; some of which suit your child's skills and abilities, and some of which may not. Obviously if your child is struggling to swim well, a lot of water time will be a serious risk. And if your child is still using training wheels, a mountain biking excursion will probably be too much.

Similarly, if your child has any medical conditions or issues -- from asthma to allergies -- make sure camp staff are well aware. You'll also want to know that the camp has emergency protocols in place that address your child's specific needs.

3. Know What to Do If Your Child Is Injured

As we said, you want to know that a camp can care for your child in case of an emergency. And you'll also want to know what to do after an accident. Part of that is knowing who is responsible for summer camp injuries. The other part is talking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options if your child is injured at summer camp.

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Tesla Autopilot Kills Again?

FindLaw Injury News - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 09:05

Tesla's autopilot feature may be the stuff of science-fiction fantasy, but it?s turning out to look more like one of those dystopian stories where the robots rise up and take control. After all, there have been more than a few autopilot-related fatalities since the feature was released.

It was recently discovered that in the fatal Tesla accident in Florida this past March, that not only was the driver speeding, the autopilot feature was engaged when the vehicle crashed into a semi-truck trailer, ripping the roof right off the car and killing the driver. And while Tesla maintains that the autopilot feature is safe so long as there is an attentive driver still behind (and holding) the wheel, this, and other autopilot crashes, have raised some serious questions for the eclectic electric automaker. Shockingly, in the Florida fatality, the driver reportedly had only taken his hands off the wheel for eight seconds.

Autopilots Don't Need Maps

Apparently, according to one commentator, a significant issue with Tesla's autopilot is the fact that it does not rely on detailed maps. Instead, the car creates its own details while driving using a multitude of sensors. Other companies exploring autonomous driving seem to disagree with this concept, and are opting to use both sensors and detailed maps.

Basically, it's suggested that if the data from those sensors was used in conjunction with data from detailed maps, some of these Tesla autopilot crashes could have been avoided. There have been two crashes where Tesla vehicles auto-piloted underneath semi-truck trailers, which could have been avoided, potentially, if the vehicle was able to cross-reference a map to see that the trailers were obstacles that shouldn't be there, and not something like an overpasses.

Autopilot at Your Own Risk

With all the new automotive technology waiting right around the corner, it's clear that people who want to use features like autopilot, shouldn't put blind trust into the early versions of the tech. Being an early adopter of a technology that can kill or injure you and others means being extra-aware of the risks. This also means that the person who engages autopilot is still liable for any damages and injuries caused by an accident their vehicle causes. Tesla also is looking at liability, potentially, as well, as these recent cases are likely to spawn wrongful death lawsuits against the company.

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5 More States Target Purdue Pharma, Sackler Family With Opioid Litigation

FindLaw Injury News - Fri, 05/17/2019 - 10:05

There have been no shortage of entities filing lawsuits related to the ongoing opioid epidemic: the City of San Francisco, several counties in West Virginia, the States of Florida and Ohio, and even the Cherokee Nation. And now you can add Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia, and Wisconsin to that list.

Those five states joined at least 39 others in litigation against Purdue Pharma, claiming the drug manufacturer illegally marketed and sold its opioids, escalating a nationwide epidemic of addiction, abuse, and overdoses.

Misleading Marketing

"Purdue's marketing of OxyContin was like an octopus," according to the latest lawsuit. "It reaches into each different segment and level of the health care system and unfurled Purdue's false, misleading and deceptive messages about the claimed safety and benefits of OxyContin." The suit claims the drug company engaged in unfair, deceptive, and unlawful practices in the marketing of OxyContin.

"Purdue Pharma is responsible for a public health crisis that has profoundly affected patients, their families, our communities, and our health care system," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. "The company and its executives were recklessly indifferent to the impact of their actions, despite ever-mounting evidence that their deceptions were resulting in an epidemic of addiction and death."

The latest filing also names former Purdue president Richard Sackler and his family, while other opioid lawsuits target drug distributors such as AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, and still others allege drug stores like Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS failed to monitor prescriptions from their stores.

Mixed Messages

Opioid litigation, thus far, has been met with some mixed results. Oklahoma, for instance, reached a $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family in March. But a North Dakota judge rejected that state's argument that Purdue Pharma's conduct created a public nuisance, instead ruling that the company "cannot control how doctors prescribe its products and it certainly cannot control how individual patients use and respond to its products, regardless of any warning or instruction Purdue may give."

If you or a loved one has been over-prescribed OxyContin or another opioid, and developed an addiction or suffered an overdose, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.

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Single Racial Slur Not Enough to Prove Emotional Distress

FindLaw Injury News - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 07:05

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision may leave quite a few people wondering just how in the world it is possible that a Domino's Pizza employee calling a customer the n-word doesn't lead to civil liability in court.

The case involved a customer of Domino's Pizza who received his pizza pie only to discover that it was burnt. He drove the pizza back to the store so that the pizza makers could make it right. When the employee refused to provide a refund or discount, the customer and the employee got into an argument, and the employee called the customer the n-word. The customer was rightfully offended by the employee's extreme conduct, and filed a lawsuit alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, which is a cause of action in many personal injury lawsuits.  

Not Distressing Enough in PA

Although the Pennsylvania courts did recognize that the term is highly offensive, and that the employee was wrong for using it, the court also explained that a single utterance, or the use of insults, during a verbal fight, does not rise to the level of legal liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress. That claim requires one person to act in a way that is extreme and outrageous, and for that action to cause another person severe emotional distress. And although some states may have other laws that could apply, this type of claim, often called IIED, is more common than you might expect.

The court rejected the customer's argument that the established precedent that was relied upon to dismiss his case was outdated. Although the court recognized that over the last few decades the n-word has taken on even stronger pejorative connotations and is now considered hate speech rather than an insult, it explained that only the state's Supreme Court, or the state legislator, could change it and the precedent was clear.

Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the state Supreme Court rejected his appeal, leaving only the U.S. Supreme Court, which only takes a small number of cases each year, as his final chance for an appeal. No statement has been issued as to whether a SCOTUS appeal is planned.

If you have suffered severe emotional distress due to the intentional actions of another person, talk to a personal injury lawyer to find out what your options might be.

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How to Identify Nursing Home Injuries, and What You Can Do About Them

FindLaw Injury News - Wed, 05/15/2019 - 08:05

If our elderly loved ones can't be in their own home, or ours, we want to know that they are safe and well taken care of. But that isn't always so simple if we live far away or can't visit as often as we like. And, for many reasons, nursing home residents can be reluctant to report negligence or abuse. So, what are some common nursing home injuries or signs of neglect, how can you identify mistreatment, and what can you do if a loved one has been injured in a nursing home or hospice care facility?

Here's what you need to know:

1. Is a Nursing Home Neglecting Your Loved One? Here's How to Tell

Physical signs of injury are only one indicator of elder neglect or abuse, and they may not be immediately obvious to friends or family members. You may also want to watch out for weight loss or dehydration, unclean clothing or living areas, anxiety or fearfulness of caregivers, depression, withdrawal, or unwillingness to talk, among other unusual behavior.

2. Nursing Home Slip and Fall: Can You Sue for Negligence?

It's one of the most common causes of injury for elderly people, even outside of nursing homes. So you would think elder care facilities would be especially careful. Does that make them more liable for slip-and-fall accidents on their premises? Possibly -- many states place a heightened duty of care on nursing homes when it comes to protecting their residents from injury and ensuring their premises are safe.

3. When to Sue a Nursing Home for Bedsores

Bedsores are also a common nursing home injury, and can be a clear sign of neglect. While minor (or Stage I) bedsores may only be a mild irritant that can heal without much difficulty, a more severe pressure sore is likely to be considered malpractice or negligent care, especially if a patient is immobile.

4. Traumatic Facial Injuries Common in Nursing Home Residents, Study Finds

A recent study found more than 100,000 facial injuries in nursing home settings in just 5 years, citing structural elements and transfers to and from bed facilitating the greatest number of falls. Older women were especially vulnerable, and sustaining a greater proportion of injuries as they got older. Lacerations and other soft-tissue injuries were the most common injuries listed, and fractures occurred in over 12 percent of the examined cases.

5. Nursing Home Injuries: Considering a Lawsuit?

If you've identified that a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, what can you do about it? While you may be able to file a civil suit for negligence or medical malpractice, some states also have criminal statutes that may apply as well.

Contact a local nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your legal options.

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Jury Awards California Couple $2B for Cancer Caused by Roundup Weed Killer

FindLaw Injury News - Tue, 05/14/2019 - 09:05

Scientists can't seem to agree on glyphosate. The popular weed-killer ingredient was deemed "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organization in 2015, but the EPA in 2017 said it was "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans." And then a new study suggests people exposed to large doses of the chemical have a heightened risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

But while scientists may not be able to say that glyphosate definitively causes cancer, juries have been happy too. An Alameda County, California jury became the third to rule against Roundup weed killer manufacturer Monsanto in a cancer lawsuit, this time to the tune of $2 billion in damages.

Damage and Damages

Normally, such a huge verdict would be reserved for a class action lawsuit covering many plaintiffs. But in this case, it was just one couple: Alva and Alberta Pilliod were awarded $1 billion each in punitive damages for claims they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup for more than 30 years to landscape their home and other properties. The jury also hit Monsanto with an additional $55 million in collective compensatory damages.

In March, San Francisco jurors in a federal lawsuit ruled that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing Edwin Hardeman's non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and awarded him $80 million. And in August of last year, another San Francisco jury awarded $289 million to a fourth plaintiff, but judge later reduced the payout to $78 million on appeal. Monsanto was acquired by Bayer last year, mere months before the first Roundup verdict.

"Bayer is disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based," the company asserted.

Science Roundup

As we noted above, studies are somewhat split on Roundup's safety. Two of the expert witnesses who testified in Hardeman's case cited the latest study linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. According to the study's author, Rachel Shaffer, people who are highly exposed to glyphosate are 41 percent more likely to contract NHL than the overall population. Determining that the chemical is to blame for someone's cancer is often only the first phase of a trial -- juries must also decide how liable the manufacturer will be. Bayer continues to claim "glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer." Lawyers for many plaintiffs, on the other hand, claim they have evidence that Monsanto attempted to manipulate public opinion and science to minimize Roundup's health risks.

Legal Steps

These are far from the only lawsuit claiming Roundup causes cancer. Some 11,000 Roundup suits are pending in American courtrooms, around 760 of which are in front of the same judge as Hardeman's. His is considered a "bellwether" trial which could impact how those other cases proceed, although Bayer contends the jury finding "has no impact on future cases and trials because each one has its own factual and legal circumstances."

Product liability cases can be complex, especially those that attempt to link products to cancer diagnoses. If you think a particular product is responsible for your cancer, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.

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