Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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White, pregnant with her tenth child, was charged with federal bank fraud. She failed to appear and was taken into custody when she was 35 weeks pregnant. The U.S. Marshals arranged for her housing at JCDC, which had a full-time medical staff and a relationship with an obstetrics practice. White’s intake form indicated an October 18 due date. Her blood pressure was high. No medical history was taken. White did not disclose that with her ninth pregnancy, she had an emergency cesarean section at 34 weeks. White signed a release but JCDC did not obtain her prenatal care records. For 10 days, White had multiple contacts with medical staff. She told a nurse that she was not having any problems. White then refused to be seen and signed a refusal form. Days later, White awoke with pain and called for assistance at 5:10. An ambulance arrived at 5:22. White arrived at the hospital at 5:52. White again denied having any complications or chronic medical problems. At 6:07, the nurse was unable to find fetal heart tones. At 6:13, the doctor ordered an emergency cesarean section. J.L. was delivered at 6:33. White had suffered a complete abruption of the placenta which stopped the flow of oxygen to J.L., who has severe, permanent disabilities. The abruption likely occurred in the ambulance or at the hospital, because J.L. would not have survived had it occurred earlier. Her father sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671, alleging medical malpractice. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. Placement and retention of White at JCDC fell within the discretionary function exception to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity. There was no indication that White needed immediate care before the morning of J.L.’s birth, when staff promptly called for help. View "Lipsey v. United States" on Justia Law

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Arun Gopalratnam purchased an HP laptop computer that contained a DynaPack battery pack with Samsung lithium-ion battery cells. Months later, the Menomonee Falls Fire Department responded to a major fire in a basement bedroom of the Gopalratnam’s home. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters discovered Arun deceased on the floor of the room. Am autopsy classified smoke inhalation as the cause of death, with no evidence of pre-fire injury or disease, and no drugs or alcohol in Arun’s system. Special Agent Martinez concluded that the fire originated in the basement bedroom where Arun’s body was located. Martinez excluded multiple potential sources of the blaze (electrical and gas meters, electrical distribution panels, gas-fueled furnaces, electrical plugs, light switch, and ceiling light fixture) but could not ascertain the fire’s ultimate cause. He did not eliminate a possible mattress fire. The remains of Arun’s HP laptop, cell phone, and the laptop battery cells, were in the debris. In the Gopalratnams’ suit, alleging negligence, strict products liability, and breach of warranty, the plaintiffs claimed that a defective battery cell in Arun’s laptop caused the fire. The district court granted motions to exclude plaintiffs’ expert witnesses on causation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court applied the proper legal standard: The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert. The experts failed to account for other possible explanations. View "Gopalratnam v. ABC Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Madden, suffering from morbid obesity, respiratory acidosis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, was admitted to the V.A. Hospital several times before his last admission on December 28, 2007. The Hospital placed Madden in respiratory isolation. On the same day, Madden’s wife described him as “not being himself,” and unsuccessfully requested the presence of a staff member in the room with Madden at all times. The Hospital allowed Madden to sit in a wheelchair because of his difficulty with lying in bed. Madden consistently reported that he was feeling fine, with a few comments about shortness of breath. On January 1, 2008, Madden was found unresponsive in his wheelchair. It took the Hospital 25 minutes to resuscitate him; Madden had suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest. On January 25, Madden was transferred to a long‐term care facility. He never regained consciousness and died on January 8, 2010. Madden’s estate filed a wrongful death suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in favor of the government, agreeing that the government’s expert’s opinions were supported by medical records, relevant literature, data, studies, and medical explanations; while the government successfully impeached the family’s expert, a family friend, for lack of consultation of relevant medical literature and even Madden’s medical records. View "Madden v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Krik has lung cancer Krik smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes every day for 30 years. From 1954-1960 Krik also worked aboard navy vessels removing insulation produced by Owens‐Illinois, which he claimed exposed him to asbestos fibers. For two weeks, he worked as an independent contractor at Mobil’s Joliet refinery replacing heaters that Krik claimed were insulated with asbestos. In his suit against Owens and Mobil, a jury found that cigarettes were the sole cause of Krik’s cancer. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court's exclusion of testimony from Krik's expert concerning theories that any exposure to asbestos fibers whatsoever, regardless of the amount of fibers or length of exposure constitutes an underlying cause of injury to the exposed individual. The court also rejected a claim that he was denied a fair trial when Mobil, with the knowledge of Owens, hired a private investigator to secretly conduct an interview of a sitting juror’s acquaintance, to verify and investigate information revealed by the juror. Neither issue was prejudicial and denied Krik a fair trial. View "Krik v. Exxon Mobil Corp." on Justia Law

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Smith was transported from the Rock Island County Jail to the federal courthouse for arraignment. U.S. marshals took Smith to an interview room to meet his lawyer. The Marshals Service inspects the interview rooms weekly. On the detainee’s side of the room, there is a metal stool attached to the wall by a swing-arm. According to Smith, when he sat on the stool it “broke,” causing him to fall and strike his head; he saw that bolts were missing. A nurse examined Smith and noted that his speech was slurred. She had him taken to the emergency room. He was treated for a stroke and continues to suffer adverse effects. Smith filed an administrative tort claim, which was denied. Smith then brought suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2671, relying on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to impute negligence to the government. The district court rejected the theory, noting that Smith’s fall occurred at 11 a.m., so it was possible that others could have already damaged the seat or that Smith fell without the stool having malfunctioned. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The fact that a detainee is left alone to confer with his lawyer does not defeat the notion that the room and its contents remain within the control of the government. The sort of malfunction that Smith has described is the kind of hazard that the government may be expected to guard against. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff began his military career in 1983, serving in the Indiana National Guard, the Army, and the Army Reserve. He was a Captain and served in combat in Iraq. In 2007-2011 he sustained several injuries and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He was placed on reserve status while a Physical Evaluation Board evaluated his fitness for continued military service. When retired from the army on grounds of physical disability in 2014, Futrell became eligible for a monthly government pension. Had paperwork been processed, he would have also received incapacitation payments during the gap between his release from duty and his retirement; he received no government payments between December 2011 and January 2013, causing him severe financial and emotional distress. In 2013, the government paid him an amount that covered the incapacitation payments that he should have received, but did not compensate for his distress. He filed suit against under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2674. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the suit as barred by a Supreme Court holding that the Act is unavailable to a member of the armed forces who “while on active duty and not on furlough, sustained injury due to negligence of others in the armed forces.” The alleged harms all relate to military benefits and were committed by military base staff. That he was on reserve status is irrelevant. View "Futrell v. United States" on Justia Law

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While working on his employer’s roof, Cripe was exposed to fumes from PUR‐FECT LOK® 834A, a glue made by Henkel. and containing methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Cripe claims that exposure to MDI caused him neurological and psychological problems, which could have been avoided by better warnings. The district court granted Henkel summary judgment, ruling that a toxic‐tort claim under Indiana law depends on expert proof of causation and that the Cripe had not produced such evidence. Cripe identified only one expert—Robinson, a specialist in the language of warnings, who disclaimed any opinion on causation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Cripe had not disclosed treating physicians as experts under FRCP 26(a)(2)(A). The fact that Robinson attached the physicians’ reports to her own did not indicate that they would function as experts. Rule 26(a)(2) requires more than disclosure of a potential expert’s name; documents attached to Robinson’s report did not contain any of the required information. Most of the physicians’ evaluations summarized Cripe’s symptoms and proposed treatment without discussing causation. None suggested a mechanism by which MDI would have caused the symptoms. By contrast, Henkel provided the district court with a comprehensive evaluation of MDI prepared by the World Health Organization. View "Cripe v. Henkel Corp." on Justia Law

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In 1952, the patent for a “Composite Fire Door,” issued to Owens‐Illinois. The patent claims never specifically mention asbestos, but describe a fire door with a “core of inorganic, rigid, fireproof, lightweight material of a substantially uniform apparent density and consistency throughout.” In 1956, Owens‐Illinois licensed the patent to Weyerhauser’s predecessor. Until 1978, its Marshfield, Wisconsin plant produced fire doors that used asbestos as a thermal insulator. The plaintiffs were all employees of that Marshfield plant and developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of their claims as covered by the exclusive remedy provisions of Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation Act, Wis. Stat. 102.03(2). The court rejected an attempt to avoid that bar by recharacterizing their injuries as occurring off the job based on a “public nuisance” theory involving ambient asbestos. The court characterized the claims against Owen‐Illinois claims as frivolous. View "Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co." on Justia Law

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At the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Ford was treated by Dr. Parks‐Ballard, a Family Christian Health Center employee. A 2015 federal complaint alleged that Parks-Ballard failed to properly diagnose and treat Ford, who was eventually diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries including permanent disability. Because Family operated with money from the Public Health Services, a government agency, the 2015 suit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2675(a) and the United States was the defendant. In determining that the claim accrued as of August 2010, the district court took judicial notice of a state court medical malpractice claim filed in August 2010 by Ford against Ingalls, Parks‐Ballard, and Family, including virtually the same allegations as the FTCA complaint. Ford voluntarily dismissed that complaint. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, based on the two-year statute of limitations. Regardless of Ford’s alleged mental disabilities, the 2010 complaint reflected an awareness that Ford’s injuries were caused by the defendant (through its agents). Ford’s claim was not presented to an administrative agency until 2015. View "Watkins v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendants jointly employed as a supervisor, Brian Cooper, a man with a known history of sexually harassing, verbally abusing, and physically intimidating his female subordinates. Plaintiff also alleged that the joint employers failed to take reasonable steps in response to female employees' complaints and to misbehavior that more senior managers observed. For five years, Cooper verbally abused and controlled one subordinate, Alisha Bromfield. Cooper used his supervisory authority to require Alisha to come on a personal trip with him by threatening to fire her or cut her hours if she refused. During the trip, Cooper strangled Alisha to death and then raped her corpse. Alisha was seven months pregnant at the time. The court explained that Illinois law permits recovery from employers whose negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of their employees causes injury. The court concluded that the unusually detailed complaint plausibly stated such claims and that the Illinois courts would apply this general principle to the claims arising from Alisha's murder. View "Anicich v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury