Articles Posted in States

Under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 8541 et seq., political subdivisions in Pennsylvania, including public schools, receive a broad degree of governmental immunity under Pennsylvania tort law. But there are specific exceptions. In the recent case of Brewington v Philadelphia School District, the state’s high court expanded the “real property exception” to governmental immunity.

Case Facts

A nine-year-old boy was engaged in a relay race during his gym class at a Philadelphia elementary school when he tripped and fell. As a result, he was propelled into the concrete gym wall where he hit and cut his head causing him to lose consciousness. Soon after, doctors diagnosed him with a concussion that prevented him from attending school for nearly two months after the incident and experienced continuing headaches and memory problems for years after. The gymnasium wall in its surrounding entirety lacked any kind of padding to cover the concrete and provide at least some degree of protection.

boy-on-dock-2019-300x200In February 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Child Victims Act into law. It extends the statute of limitations for victims of child abuse.  Child sex abuse victims are now allowed to file criminal charges against their abuser before they turn 28. Victims are allowed to file civil charges against their abuser before they turn 55. Previously, victims had to file both civil and criminal charges before they turned 23. The law also allows a one-year period for individuals to file cases that happened longer than what the statute of limitations would have allowed. It also requires judges to have some training on how to handle child sex abuse cases.

What are statutes of limitations, and why do we have them?

Statutes of limitations (SOL) are a predetermined period of time that the state is allowed to charge someone with a crime. Different crimes have different extended periods of time when one can file charges against someone. However, the same crime may have a different SOL depending on the state. There are SOL laws because of concerns that witness testimony might be unreliable. A victim may not necessarily remember enough about their abuse that the jury may not find them credible. Physical evidence may also deteriorate over time, which further questions credibility.

In October, a birth injury malpractice verdict was awarded against a Minnesota midwife which demonstrates the very real dangers of failing to accurately estimate the fetal size and weight before delivery. The plaintiff, a mother from a small town in Eastern Minnesota, sued the certified nurse midwife from Allina Health negligently mishandling the delivery of her son in January 2016.

This was the plaintiff’s second child and throughout her pregnancy, she repeatedly told her midwife at Allina Health that the baby felt considerably larger with this pregnancy. The midwife reassured her that the baby was normal sized and estimated that he would be around 6 pounds at birth. Unfortunately for the midwife, this weight estimate turned out to be disastrously wrong.

Fetal Macrosomia

In Oakland County, Michigan, a jury awarded a $130 million settlement on behalf of a boy suffering from cerebral palsy. The jury found two medical technicians liable for causing the child’s severe and permanent brain damage that resulted in cerebral palsy. The $130 million incident was one of the largest jury settlements in Michigan history.

The Facts of the Case

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the boy and his mother in 2016. The child was 2 months old when the injury occurred in 2006. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the child requires help getting in and out of the bathtub. The boy’s mother is a full-time caregiver for her son.  These are tough cases.  You can hear about 1,000 of them but every time it is like you are hearing the facts for the first time.  It is heartbreaking.

This post is about a large verdict in Georgia after an awful circumcision mishap caused a boy serious and permanent injuries.  In this post, I talk about this tragic case and I also take a deep dive into the statute of limitations in Georgia in birth injury cases.

The Big Verdict

A jury in Clayton County, Georgia awarded a mother and her four-year-old son $31 million for a circumcision gone wrong. This incidence of malpractice took place at an OB/GYN and pediatric clinic. This is a big verdict for the most common surgical procedure in the country and one that is rarely the subject of a malpractice lawsuit.

 car collisionThe average verdict in a personal injury case in Minnesota is $271,577. The national average is $885,600.

Does this mean Minnesota juries are not sympathetic to personal injury victims? I think it might, actually. In fact, I think the statistics might actually underestimate how stingy Minnesota juries can be.

Why? The biggest driving force in personal injury verdicts is car accidents because is the most common type of personal injury case. So the state’s law in dealing with car accident claims is going to make a more meaningful impact on personal injury statistics.

The purpose of this post is to discuss a cerebral palsy verdict for an injury that occurred in 1984 and to explain the statute of limitations in birth injury cases in Washington in 2018.

malletjustice-300x200A Saratoga County, Washington jury awarded $43.5 million to a woman who sued the former Bellevue Maternity Hospital in Niskayuna for severe brain damage she suffered during her birth in 1984.

While the Plaintiff is blessed with above-average intelligence with a degree from Arizona State University, she uses a wheelchair and lacks motor skills due to the brain damage from cerebral palsy.

New York City
Jury Verdict Research’s recent study finds that the compensatory median award for personal injury trials in New York is $287,628, dwarfing nationwide median is $34,550.

New York has favorable juries, particularly in its urban areas. But the reality is that this number is distorted by the lack of smaller and midsized car accident lawsuits. Under New York’s no-fault law, an insurance company is required to pay drivers, passengers, and pedestrians up to $50,000.00 for their legitimate economic and medical losses but does not provide for pain and suffering. Only permanent injuries cases can recover more than $50,000. This leads to fewer lawsuits in smaller cases – of which there are many – which increases the overall award in New York.

This page looks at the settlement and trial value of personal injury cases in Calfornia.   This page was last updated on February 21, 2019.

Jury Verdict Research found that the average money damage award for personal injury trials in California is $1,814,094. The median verdict, perhaps a better statistic, is $114,305. Other interesting facts from the study:

  • The median verdict in a wrongful death case is $2,212,936, compared to the national average of $1,450,000

Below is a list of GEICO settlements and verdicts in Oregon in 2016.  GEICO is not a company we are fond of, underscored by this 2019 California appellate opinion.

  • Oregon: $120,000 Verdict. An adult female is driving in the left lane of a three-lane, one-way road when she is struck by a vehicle attempting to make a left turn from the center lane. She was insured by GEICO, and filed a claim to recover underinsured motorist benefits. GEICO argues the extent of her injuries, but a jury awards her $1,991.69 for economic damages and $73,008.31 for non-economic damages.
  • Oregon: $99,978 Verdict. The plaintiff is traveling on an off-ramp in front of the defendant’s vehicle. The plaintiff stops her vehicle at a stop sign. She inches out to look at traffic, and the defendant’s vehicle strikes the rear of her vehicle. The plaintiff suffers a left shoulder injury requiring surgery as a result, as well as thoracic and lumbar sprains. The defendant is insured by GEICO, and ordered to pay $74,978 in medical expenses, $20,000 in lost wages, and $5,000 in non-economic damages to the plaintiff.