Personal Injury News: Pick of Last Month: Feb-2019

Thursday, Jan 24, 2019

In what appears to be the largest personal injury settlement in Washington state's history, the city of Seattle and its insurers paid $65.75 million to the family of Brooke Taylor, a lawyer, who suffered a brain injury when her car collided with a Seattle Fire Department ambulance in 2016.

Taylor's income was a significant factor in determining the amount of settlement. According to the claim, on April 24, 2016, while she was driving her Porsche 911 Carrera towards the west on Seneca Street through a green light,  a Seattle Fire Department aid unit heading north on Fourth Avenue crashed into her car. The aid car hit Taylor's sports coupe in the left rear quarter panel which resulted in it to go counter-clockwise spin and bang into a traffic signal box and a tree which was near the northwest corner of the intersection. While the city-employed driver said he had activated the lights and siren, he was actually required by Washington law to only proceed through a red traffic light after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation. Taylor claimed that the driver did none.

Taylor was taken to Harborview Medical Center after she suffered a traumatic brain injury due to the accident. Her family filed claims for damages in September 2017, and the parties agreed to settle the case in October after a judge approved the settlement on December 27. After the fatal accident, the Seattle Fire Department revised their training and instructions for the drivers of the aid-car.

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

Hampton Roads Regional Jail, its former medical provider and the state have agreed to pay nearly $3 million to the family of Jamycheal Mitchell, a 24-year-old inmate who died at the regional jail on August 19, 2015, which sparked outrage throughout the nation.

As per the additional documents released by the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, the former medical provider will have to pay $1.8 million of the proposed $3 million settlement, another $875,000 will be paid by the Regional Jail, and $325,000 will be paid by the state. If the settlement gets approved by the court, plaintiff attorneys will get $1 million. An additional amount of $58,690.77 will go to plaintiff attorneys to compensate them for the costs incurred during the case preparation. Of that, $27,512.50 will go to experts.

The remaining $1.94 million will be divided among the surviving members of  Mitchell's family after a judge decides upon the settlement in a hearing. Mitchell’s parents and seven half-siblings have not reached on a common agreement yet.

Mitchell was arrested for stealing snacks worth $5 from a Portsmouth convenience store, and four months later, he succumbed to death in the regional jail. His family claimed in the lawsuit filed the following year that Mitchell who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was beaten, starved, ill-treated, and ultimately left to die in his cell. According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, probable cardiac arrhythmia accompanying wasting syndrome of unknown etiology was the reason for Mitchell's death.

Monday, Jan 21, 2019

On January 3, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo awarded more than $630,000 to Marcus Lomax, a former seaman who claimed he got injured while working aboard a vessel owned by Marquette Transportation.

In May 2015, Lomax's face was injured while using a grinder on the underside of an overhead deck aboard the M/V Ross Salvaggio. According to the lawsuit filed, the grinder hit a rust pocket, making Lomax lose control of the grinder when it jerked back and hit his face knocking him down right away. Lomax cited the Jones Act and claimed negligence, unseaworthiness and maintenance, and cure in his lawsuit.  As per the court documents, "the Jones Act creates a cause of action for negligence when a seaman is injured in the course of his employment. An employer is liable under the Jones Act if the negligence of its employees played any part, even the slightest, in causing the injury or death for which damages are sought." Lomax was awarded $138,835.50 for past loss of earnings, $318,106.64 for loss of future earning capacity, $65,250 for medical expenses in the future, and $112,500 for general damages.

The expert testimony for Lomax stated, Marquette was responsible for not providing adequate safety equipment to Lomax for grinding rust spots located above the head; grinding the rust spots with a 7-inch grinder was an unsafe way of working; the vessel's unseaworthiness was a crucial factor for Lomax's severe condition. Marquette's marine ergonomic expert testified had Lomax been wearing a face mask at the time of the accident, the grinder would have hit the mask and not his face, thereby circumventing the mouth injuries.

Friday, Jan 11, 2019

The State of Virginia paid $20.7 million to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that a birth injury compensation program was wrong in asking participants to submit Medicaid claims for the lifetime care of severely disabled children.

The  Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program was established more than 30 years ago to safeguard doctors from medical malpractice lawsuits and stabilize health insurance premiums. The program paid out the money in October to end an investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Roanoke County couple, Ted and Roni Arven, sued the state program in 2015, in an attempt to receive and pay for their son Cody's care, who was severely disabled at birth in 2013. The settlement recovers the money federal government spent on Arvens as well as other affected participants in the birth injury program during the 11-year period. The program has admitted 255 people since its creation, among them 59 have died. Gentry Locke, the law firm that represented the couple was also given an undisclosed amount as legal fees by the program. More than $4.1 million of the settlement funds were paid to the Arvens, who alleged that the state program was incorrect in asking them and other families to apply for Medicaid as a primary source of fund for the care, even as the federal law says, the program to act as the payer of last resort.

Tuesday, Jan 1, 2019

The parents of a 3-year-old girl who fell to death at an Anaheim hotel in 2015, reached a tentative settlement, ending the lawsuit blaming the hotel's owners and the property management company for the incident.

Attorneys representing the parents, Jesus Martinez Avila and Alejandra Sandoval Duran, filed a settlement notice on December 21, 2018, regarding the wrongful death in Los Angeles Superior Court which claimed that negligence at the Embassy Suites caused the death of their toddler, Stephanie Martinez.

The family stayed at the hotel during their visit to Disneyland, and while the mother was showering, the child rushed from the fifth-floor walkway in an indoor courtyard. In an attempt to reach to her family members sitting in the courtyard downstairs, Stephanie climbed over the railing; as per Stephanie’s cousin, seeing her dangling at the railing, the mother screamed that is when the toddler let go off the railing and plunged into the courtyard. The attorneys stated the hotel owned by Urban Commons Frontera and UCF 1 and managed by Brighton Management was "dangerous, defective and unsafe." It is not clear if the settlement terms would become public after the agreement is brought before a judge.

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