Under Georgia law, anyone who is physically injured by the negligent or reckless conduct of another person or entity is entitled to hold that person financially responsible for the “damages” caused by the injuries. Damages are intended to make the plaintiff whole by restoring them to the position they were in before the injuries. In Georgia, personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to 3 different categories of damages:
Many states are trying to carve out malpractice caps and different standards of care for emergency room doctors in medical malpractice cases.
The thinking starts out okay. Emergency department doctors should be given the benefit of the doubt because things are happening so quickly. But ER doctors are always getting the benefit of the doubt from jurors. There is statistical evidence of this.
More importantly, the standard of care already bakes in the fact that things are sometimes happening at the speed of light in the ER. That is why reasonableness is always based on all the facts and circumstances. Continue reading
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.
I’m amazed at how many smart, well-informed people are under the impression that if an accident occurs on a business’ property, the business is automatically liable for any and all damage. In the real world, slip and fall cases present much bigger hurdles to climb.
Georgia Slip and Fall Cases Never Sees Courtroom
Last week, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s summary judgment order denying a plaintiff relief in the case of Warner v. Hobby Lobby, a case illustrative of these challenges, even in a comparative negligence state like Georgia.
This was a years-old post about an awful — just absolutely awful — product liability case involving a jet ski. But it is 2020 and people will not care about that case like they did when it was news. So I converted the post to the settlement value of jet ski injuries. Our first has handled a number of maritime death cases and we have a sense of how these case work.
Here are some results in jet ski cases we have found in other jurisdictions around the country.
A federal judge in Georgia dismissed a slip-and-fall case against Walmart finding that the company owed the woman no duty to keep its store safe from water hazards. In Chapman v. Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart’s Customer Service Manager began instituting rainy day procedures. Employees were instructed to place carpeted mats in the inside vestibule, inspect the vestibule and front store area throughout the morning for dampness, dry off shopping carts, hand out umbrella bags, and use brightly colored cones to warn customers of possible water on the floor. When the plaintiff entered the store, the rain had ceased, but the weather remained damp. She entered the vestibule to grab a shopping cart, not looking down at the ground while doing so. On her way to the carts, she slipped and fell. Upon falling, she noticed a puddle on the ground. Plaintiff brought a slip-and-fall case in federal district court, alleging Wal-Mart acted negligently by failing to keep the store free of puddles and for failing to adequately warn her of puddles. Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment. Georgia law requires an unusual accumulation and a lack of reasonable inspection and cleaning in order for a plaintiff to recover in a slip-and-fall case. Georgia courts recognize that rainy weather and subsequent dampness and puddles are commonplace in Georgia. Courts therefore only want to reward plaintiffs when stores somehow have superior knowledge of the water hazard, given that the risk of puddles, even inside a store, is common knowledge of ordinary citizens. In these instances, stores must only exercise ordinary care towards customers, meaning that they only need to protect against unreasonable risks of harm. A puddle is generally not seen as an unreasonable risk given how common it is. In addition, stores only have the duty to warn when they have superior knowledge in slip-and-fall cases. As puddles during rainy weather are common knowledge, it is an uphill battle for rainy weather slip-and-fall plaintiffs to prove superior knowledge. In its motion, Wal-Mart argued that: (1) Chapman was aware it had just rained and that it was damp outside, (2) Chapman admitted that it was not unusual for store entrances to be damp on rainy days, and (3) the Customer Service Manager had inspected the floor five minutes prior to the fall and found no water. Chapman failed to provide evidence to support her case in her response. To make this case work, you have to put forth some evidence. Specifically, the plaintiff’s lawyer failed to offer any evidence that: (1) an unreasonable accumulation of water existed on the floor and (2) Wal-Mart acted unreasonably in its inspection or cleaning procedures. The law is, and it should be, that plaintiffs have to show actual negligence, not just that someone got hurt. The court found that Wal-Mart had exercised ordinary care in keeping its store safe and dry and did not breach a duty to warn Chapman of any hazards. Therefore, the court granted Wal-Mart’s motion for summary judgment.
A federal judge in Georgia granted the United States’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the 10-year North Carolina statute of repose barred claims for plaintiffs’ alleged exposure to solvents and benzene in public water at Camp LeJeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina. Plaintiffs were exposed to these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from 1957 up until 1987.
New May 2022 Lawsuit Update: The Camp Lejeune lawsuit is about to be revived by the Camp Lejeune Justice Act which is poised to be passed by Congress this month. This bill would allow victims to file a water contamination lawsuit. This will likely lead to the formation of an MDL Camp Lejeune class action lawsuit before the end of spring.
Then, along comes this draconian statue of repose. Unlike the statute of limitations, the statute of repose starts running whether or not you are aware of any defect and may toll even before you are injured.
The Court of Appeals of Georgia, Georgia’s intermediate appellate court, wrote about a topic I touched on two years ago. In an extremely short opinion, this Georgia court was faced with the question of how far lawyers can go in referencing biblical passages in the Bible or other religious texts. The Defendant in Powell v. State appealed his conviction for aggravated assault. Defendant only had two issues on appeal. The first was an evidentiary issue the court did not have to address because the defense attorney did not actually object to the question at trial.
The second issue on appeal was more interesting: to what extent can lawyers use the Bible and other religious texts or quotes from religious leaders at trial? Given what I guess was inconsistent statements made by the witness, the prosecutor said in closing:
[L]et me call your attention to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, four books of Bible, first four books in the New Testament. They all have a little minor inconsistency between each of them, here and there, and that’s because of perspective. But what do we call those four books of the Bible, ladies and gentlemen? We call them the gospel truth, ladies and gentlemen, the gospel truth.
Four NFL players have filed a lawsuit claims they have brain injuries from concussions suffered while playing in the NFL. Clearly, the most prolific player is Jamal Lewis, who is one of the best players the Baltimore Ravens have ever had. Dorsey Levins, another extremely accomplished running is in lawsuit along with Fulton Kuykendall and Ryan Stewart. The common thread between the players? They all live in Atlanta so they found the same lawyer to bring their claim.
Earlier this month, 12 former NFL football players filed a concussion related lawsuit against the NFL about its concussion policies. If these concussion lawsuits are successful, you have to wonder how the NFL will survive. One win by one player would lead to thousands of claims.
I feel for the players. I really do. But I don’t like the lawsuits. The NFL does not manufacturer a product about which it has unique knowledge of the risks. Opinions vary on the degree of the risk and those opinions are continuing to evolve with modern science. But everyone has equal access to the literature and people have a right to choose the course they want to take.
The First Division Georgia Court of Appeals overturned directed verdict in a carbon monoxide brain injury lawsuit after the trial court made multiple errors on what are frankly, some pretty basic issues.
First, the trial court erred in jury selection. Two possible jurors said they could be biased yet no effort was made to follow up with those prospective jurors to inquire about the bias. This is a no-brainer. Jurors at risk for bias have to be examined and bias concerns must be resolved. This is made pretty clear in Being a Judge 101. Apparently, this case was in a Mayberry-like town and both jurors were biased in favor of the defense lawyer, who they knew, and said they would be biased in favor of deciding the case. Check this out:
JUROR: I’m a CPA in Cordele.
[LAWYER]: You know—
JUROR: I mean, he’s my client and my attorney, so you know I’ve worked on many occasions with him.
[LAWYER]: I’m not sure this is-I don’t want to be inappropriate with the question, but is he your current client?
[LAWYER]: Is it on a personal basis?
JUROR : Yes.
[LAWYER]: Well, I’ve asked a few times, but I’m going to have to ask again if that would—he’s your client, would you be inclined to try to find in his favor?
JUROR : What do you think? Of course. (I love this. What do you think?)