Articles Posted in Real Cases

Picture this: you are driving through your town late on a Saturday night. Suddenly, something comes out into the road. It’s a person. You try to swerve, but it’s too late. You know you have made contact.

Auto-Accidents-With-Pedestrians-InvolvedThat is almost exactly what happened on January 17, 2015. A 73-year-old woman was walking in her town of Gatesville, Texas. When she tried to cross the street, a silver car driven by a 17-year-old boy hit her. When the police, EMS and fire department arrived, they pronounced her dead at the scene.

Whether you are driving on the highway or through a school zone, you always need to be on the lookout for pedestrians. Though it is unlikely that someone would want to try and cross a busy highway, you never know who might get out of their car on the side of the road. Hitting a pedestrian will land you in boiling hot water and can lead to both civil and criminal lawsuits. Therefore, you need to be very careful when driving anywhere you suspect pedestrians may be more common.

In a surprising turn of events, a Las Vegas hospital filed a defamation lawsuit against an attorney who represents a client in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. Robert Cottle, a Nevada personal injury attorney, filed the medical malpractice lawsuit against Summerlin Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas alleging negligence in regard to a tuberculosis outbreak at the hospital last year that affected patients, staff and visitors of the hospital. At least 60 people tested positive for tuberculosis.

The medical malpractice lawsuit names 15 doctors and 7 nurses. During a May 13 news conference, Cottle told the story of the plaintiff, Ruben White, who lost his wife Vanessa White and his twin daughters to tuberculosis. Vanessa died in July 2013 after giving birth to twin daughters, Emma and Abigail. Neither Vanessa nor her daughters were tested for tuberculosis even though Vanessa presented symptoms associated with the disease.

The hospital’s defamation lawsuit stems from comments made by Cottle, during the May 13 news conference. With regard to the medical malpractice lawsuit, Cottle stated that there may have been a motivation to find a cause for her condition besides tuberculosis. If the cause was a different infection, the state government would not be needed to investigate. He went on to say a tuberculosis diagnosis invites oversight and opens up a can of worms.

Patients rely on doctors and other medical professionals to maintain a standard of care when providing medical services. While instances of medical malpractice are not uncommon, some acts are so negligent that patients have no alternative but to file suit against the responsible parties. This is the case of a California woman, Carol Critchfield, who suffered four years from the negligence of medical staff during a routine surgery before she received the medical attention she needed.

In 2007, Critchfield was admitted to Simi Valley Hospital for a hysterectomy. She was a relatively healthy 56-year old woman undergoing a routine procedure. However, rather than recovering from her operation as expected, Critchfield began to experience problems shortly after being released from the hospital. Three days after coming home, she began waking up each morning dehydrated and nauseous. When she began to experience severe pain, her apprehensive husband took her to the emergency room. The emergency room personnel did not take Critchfield’s complaints very seriously. They took x-rays and concluded that it was nothing more than constipation. Critchfield was sent home.

One year later, Critchfield again had to be taken to the emergency room but this time she was experiencing blurry vision, fainting and heavy perspiration. The emergency room staff’s diagnosis was gastrointestinal issues and they advised her not to eat spicy foods. By 2011, Critchfield experienced bleeding in addition to the other symptoms she continued to experience. Suspecting an ovarian cyst, her gynecologist recommended that she have her ovaries removed. It was at this time that the surgeon discovered a sponge that had been left inside her during the previous surgery. Scar tissue had developed around the sponge. In order to remove the sponge, the surgeon had to remove a large section of her intestine.

Do not worry if your lawyer says that your case is not worthy of being taken to the court. You should look for another personal injury lawyer. There is no shortage of lawyers out there. However, not all lawyers are ready to invest the time and effort to handle your case. Read on to find out more about what you should do if your lawyer drops your case.

Most personal injury attorneys work on contingency basis. Your lawyer will have to negotiate with the lawyer of the opposing party in order to recover the right amount of compensation. So, the role of the lawyer is very important in this case.

Some attorneys, however, take slam-dunk lawsuits. This means they take only those case that they can easily win. This type of lawyers does not want to spend the required amount of time and effort to research the case. It goes without saying that complicated cases are not easy to handle.

V. ECONOMIC DAMAGES
Past Economic Damages:
Meridian Resource Company $ 21,454.67
Valley MRI & Family Imaging Center $ 1,306.80
Central Anesthesia Medical Group, Inc. $ 100.32
Northern California Cardiology Associates Med. Grp. $ 32.00
Mark Hambly, M.D. $ 658.26
Jeff Jones, M.D. $ 2,693.00
Randall Armstrong, MD $ 220.00
Roseville Memorial Hospital $ 1,079.27
EMPI $ 73.75
HealthCare Clinical Laboratories $ 406.00
Sutter General Hospital (deductible) $ 1,508.13
Ramnick Clair, M.D. (estimate) $ 1,200.00
Roseville Delta Emergency Physicians $ 354.92
St. Joseph’s Medical Center $ 6,461.25
Smallie Chiropractic $ 944.35
Roseville Physical Therapy $ 1,186.00
Richard Harty, P.T. $ 270.00
Prescriptions $ 1,595.57
Total Past Medical $ 41,544.29
Past Wage Loss $ 67,465.56
Future Wage Loss $ 674,655.60
Total Wage Loss $ 742,121.16
Richard Harty, P.T. $ 360.00
Roseville Physical Therapy $ 1,200.00
Surgery $ 125,000.00
Medication $ 41,760.00
Physical Therapy $ 50,112.00
Total Future Medical $ 218,432.00
TOTAL ECONOMIC DAMAGES $ 1,002,097.45

Copies of her bills are referenced herein.

Please note, Ms. Rich’s wage loss and medical damages are increasing weekly.

VI. PUNITIVE DAMAGES

As discussed above, defendant, Paul Stevens, had already signed a document acknowledging the subject dog Franz was a vicious dog that had to be restrained. Despite this and with a conscious disregard for the safety of others, Paul Stevens permitted the dog to run free and attack Ms. Stevens.

We have sued Mr. Stevens for punitive damages. As you know, punitive damages, if awarded, must be paid personally by Mr. Stevens. It will not be paid by his insurance.

A failure by Allstate Insurance Company to settle this case will expose Mr. Stevens to financial ruin.

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(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

Defendant driver, Bobbi Jones, had driven this trip 17 of the 19 years that it had taken place, and prior to this year she had never had a problem. This year, however, despite all the problems that defendant driver caused, she still believed her driving was up to par. In her deposition taken on May 15, 2007, she testified:

“Q. Now, in the other 16 years you drove, do you recall making any driver error?

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

Since the attack, Ms. Rich tried to return to work approximately one week post-incident and has tried to work intermittently since the incident, but has been unable to return to her full duties over the past 12 months because of her back and leg pain. She continues to receive significant medical care. Dr. Shortley stated the following about her past and future employment:

“Ms. Rich was working long hours prior to the dog attack March 17, 2006… Because of the persistence of her pain and neurologic loss in spite of reducing her workload it is probable that Ms. Rich will not be able to return to the work schedule he enjoyed before the dog attack. Therefore it is probable that he will not be able to work the number of hours and will have wage loss that will be ongoing into the future.”

Dr. Shortley’s report is referenced herein.

On average, Ms. Rich earned $6,437.40 per month before the attack at her home office law practice. After the dog attack she earned $5,450.27. Therefore, she had a $987.13 loss per month. Financial records are referenced herein.

By March 30, 2006, Ms. Rich earned $26,640.34 ($8,880.11 average per month) from her local office practice before the attack, and by May 2006 her year-to-date income was only $35,910.34. She only earned $9,270.00 in April and May, or $4,635.00 per month after the attack. Therefore, she has earned approximately $4,245.11, less per month from this portion of her practice. Those financial records are referenced herein.

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(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

2. Olivia Stark further testified about all the incidents caused by defendant JONES:
“Q. After Bobbi slammed on the brakes the first time, did you overhear any kind of complaints about her driving?
A. By the end of the trip, people were starting to wonder.
Q. Can you tell me what people were saying?
A. They were talking about the number of incidents we had this trip, and calling
it ‘the bus trip from hell.’
Q. And the incidents that you refer to are the two times she slammed on the
brakes, and the other time when she – –
A. The windows.
Q. – – the windows?
A. Yes.
Q. Anything else?
MR. COLLINS: She testified to the bus trip delay because the driver left the lights on.
Q. BY MS. LI: Other than the lights, the windows, and the two braking incidents, was there anything unusual about the trip that stood out?
A. That was enough.”
(Depo. of Olivia Stark, pp.28:22-29:18)

Mr. Stark, an experienced bus driver, testified that defendant JONES was not focused as a bus driver on this trip.

“Q. And in fact, you rode with her the first year, and she drove like an experienced bus driver?
A. Yes.
Q. This year, when Nanacy got hurt, she wasn’t driving as well as she drove before, true?
A. True.

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(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

At the time Ms. Rich was examined by Dr. Shortley, it was Dr. Shortley’s opinion that surgery was “almost a medical certainty.” However, since that appointment Ms. Rich was examined by Praveen Mummaneni, M.D. with the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF. Dr. Mummaneni is recommending surgery. In his report it states:

“Assessment and Planning: The patient, who is a pleasant, 55-year-old right-handed woman presented to my office today at the UCSF Spine Center with complaints of postoperative low back pain radiating down her left leg. Her leg pain supersedes her back pain, and review of her postoperative lumbar MRI with and without contrast, as well as her lumbar CT with post-myelogram CT revealed a recurrent left L4-5 nucleus pulposus. Postoperatively the patient has failed conservative therapy in the form of formal physical therapy with injections. In accordance with the patient’s wishes, she wishes to undergo a reoperative left L4-5 diskectomy. I have gone over the indications, risks, benefits, and alternatives including death, and I have recommended that we obtain a new MRI with and without contrast prior to scheduling surgery. Once this is obtained, we will proceed with a reoperative left L4-5 microendoscopic diskectomy. In the interim, I have instructed her to notify me immediately should any problems arise beforehand that warrant my attention.

Dr. Mummaneni’s records are referenced herein.

Ms. Rich has a pre-surgery consult and MRIs at UCSF on March 11, 2007. Dr. Shortley in his previously quoted report estimates the cost of future surgery to be $125,000.00. Plaintiff will miss additional time from work.

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(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

On October 19, 2006, Tim Stark and Olivia Stark were deposed. Their condensed depositions are referenced herein. Mr. and Mrs. Stark were passengers on the bus trip. Mr. Stark is a licensed, experienced bus driver, and he was seated directly behind defendant JONES when the incident occurred. Mr. and Mrs. STARK testified that JONES slammed on the brakes too hard, causing NANCY to fall:
Q. And you’re a bus driver?
A. I’ve been one, yes.
Q. You’re qualified to drive a bus?
A. Yes.

(Depo. of Tim Stark, pp.35:25-36:3)

“A. That would be when a car pulled in front of us, and Bobbi slammed on the brakes and Nancy fell.”
(Depo. of Olivia Stark, pp. 15: 12-13)
“A. In other words, I’ve been driving for years. The front of the bus dipped down fairly severely because he braked so hard.”

(Depo. of Tim Stark, pp. 24:14-16)

“Q. And so you’re sitting right behind the driver that morning, and you see this whole thing unfold ahead of you, and see Bobbi slam the brakes, right?
A. Yes.
Q. She could have lightly put on the brakes, and the car would have passed in front of the bus without incident?
A. Yes.”
(Depo. of Tim Stark, pp. 36:18-37:3)

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