Articles Posted in Montana

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed an $850,000 award to the parents of a baseball player who tragically died after being struck by a ball hit with an aluminum baseball bat.

If your kids are playing baseball – particularly if they are pitching – you have thought about these facts. An 18-year-old boy is pitching in an American Legion baseball game and gets hit in the head. Just an awful case that makes you question whether or not your kids should be playing any sport. There is no completely safe game.

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Medical malpractice is a hot issue in Montana as its legislature considers various malpractice related bills. What struck me is this quote:

Robert Stears, a diagnostic radiologist from Billings, said he gets calls from doctors far too often that end with “Bob I’m sorry I had to order this test. I know it’s going to be normal, but you know how it is.” Stears said covering bases in his line of work often means exposing patients to undue radiation for tests that have a one-in-a-thousand probability of finding an illness.

So our friend Bob agrees to expose patients to undue radiation because he wants to help the referring doctor cover himself to avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit. Bob, do you realize what you are admitting here? Other than me, does anybody?

A report released last week by the Manhattan Institute — “Greater Justice, Lower Cost: How a ‘Loser Pays’ Rule Would Improve the American Legal System” — says making personal injury lawsuit losers pay the winner’s legal expenses would improve the fairness of our legal system.

“The integrity of our legal system is under assault. Establishing loser-pays rules and other tort reforms can help restore citizens’ faith in the bedrock of society — justice, fairness, and the rule of law,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani wrote in the preface to the report. (With the election over, Giuliani is apparently capable of complete sentences that do not contain 9/11. I am a little surprised.)
I have not given the issue any thought. I think the problem is that it presents an intimidating bar for Plaintiffs who have been the victim of someone else’s negligence in a case that is not clear cut. Do we want to discourage those suits? —–

A U.S. District court jury in Missoula, Montana awarded a Bigfork doctoral student $5.3 million, finding Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company acted in bad faith. This verdict, which included $3.5 million in punitive damages, is the largest bad-faith insurance verdict in Montana history.

Plaintiff, a 32-year-old salmon ecologist, suffered brain injuries in a head-on collision. Her insurance policy included $1.5 million in uninsured motorist benefits.

Why did the jury find bad faith in Fireman’s Fund’s refusal to pay? Well, in the four years after Fireman’s Insurance received notice of plaintiff’s, it did virtually no investigation at all. Fireman’s Fun collected one lousy page of her medical records, never sought a statement from the Plaintiff, or requested an IME or did anything to support their denial.

A Billings, Montana jury awarded $1.2 million dollars on Friday to a former BNSF Railway employee, who suffered a spinal injury two years ago. The jury found that BNSF had violated the Locomotive Inspection Act. The award was $840,000 in lost wages and $360,000 for pain and suffering.

Fredric A. Bremseth, a Denver lawyer who handles a lot of railroad cases apparently, represented the Plaintiff. Michelle Friend, a Billings, Montana lawyer, represented the railroad.

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