Articles Posted in Nevada

Plaintiffs’ lawyers lose yet another “savings statue” case in Nevada. Malpractice lawyers just file too many cases way too late. This is a dangerous practice in any personal injury case because there are too many things that can go wrong filing a lawsuit at the last minute. But the problem is particularly pronounced in medical malpractice cases.

In Wheble v. Grzeda, the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit without attaching an expert affidavit as required by Nevada law (and Maryland). Plaintiffs then filed a new complaint after the statute of limitations had passed reasserting the dismissed claims.

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A medical malpractice suit was filed against a hospital in Las Vegas in a case that sounds like a Nurse Jackie episode. Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges that he suffered catastrophic injuries including brain damage that leaves him comatose and blind as a result of the negligence of a drug addicted nurse.

There are more details on the story here, albeit in a press release from plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer.

Median jury awards in motor vehicle tort trials dropped to $17,000 in 2005 from $41,000 in 1992. I don’t know about you but this underscores to me that auto accident verdicts are not driving car insurance rates.

The picture is different in medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits. Product liability trials had median awards at least five times higher in 2005 than in 1992. Medical malpractice trials median awards more than doubled to $682,000 in 2005 from $280,000 in 1992.

I realize this data is a bit dated – 2005 – but that is how we typically get personal injury statistics… a little dated.

The Orlando Sentinel (via Overlawyered) has an interesting article taking a detailed look at statistics surrounding theme park lawsuits. This is not your garden variety media article of a legal trend. It has detailed breakdown of the lawsuits filed against theme parks, and through statistics and interviews, sets the game plan of Disney theme parks, and I think to a similar but lesser extent, its brethren when facing a lawsuit: wage elongated war, make discovery brutal for accident lawyers and their clients, and settle the cases you think you might not win – particularly those cases you might prolifically not win.


Nevada’s medical malpractice reform in 2004 is leading to another problem: Nevada medical malpractice cases with doctors who are refusing to settle cases. The Nevada Supreme Court in Las Vegas is looking to take matters into their own hands to avoid the backlog of medical malpractice lawsuits: a “settlement marathon.”

Two judges will be assigned to conduct 18 malpractice settlement conferences per week on malpractice cases currently pending in Clark County District Court, to try to reduce the 400 pending medical malpractice lawsuits.

In 2005, the doctors’ lobbyist (MEDCHI) outsmarted Maryland malpractice lawyers and won the battle of public opinion as to whether there was a malpractice crisis in Maryland. This led to medical malpractice tort reform, which created separate non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice cases in Maryland.

Maryland malpractice lawyers were not the only malpractice lawyers to get fooled. In 2004, television ads of doctors in Nevada walking out of the state resonated with Nevada voters, leading to a ballot initiative that placed a $350,000 cap on malpractice damages for pain and suffering. Las Vegas malpractice lawyers have noticed that the cap has understandably emboldened doctors’ medical malpractice lawyers, who have refused to settle legitimate malpractice lawsuits because they do not fear the outcome at trial. Moreover, voters now realize that doctors in Nevada are no longer accountable. Accordingly, the Nevada legislature, like the Maryland legislature, is considering a bill to roll back tort reform by eliminating the cap and by increasing the statute of limitations from two years to five. AB495 was introduced only last week by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Gook luck to malpractice victims in Nevada and Maryland in getting these bills passed.

The San Jose Mercury News has an article on tort reform in Nevada. The story profiles a man who cannot find a lawyer because of Nevada’s cap of $350,000 in pain and suffering (noneconomic) damages in medical malpractice lawsuits in Nevada.

What is almost as bad is Nevada’s statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases which has been reduced to 1 year.

The Mercury News points out that the median salaries for general surgeons in this area of the country are $292,000, according to, compared with $235,000 for OB-GYNs and $158,000 for family practitioners. Which indirectly states the obvious: why are we sacrificing justice so doctors can pay less in medical malpractice insurance premiums?

A federal jury in Nevada last week awarded $60 million to a Las Vegas man who alleged Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. and the Unum Group denied in bad faith his claim for disability benefits.

This is one of those “be careful what you wish for” cases. In a previous trial, a jury awarded Plaintiff $11.6 million, but it was overturned on appeal. So the case was tried again and the second jury awards five times what the first jury awarded.

I would love to know what the settlement offer was in this case.

An interesting editorial yesterday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal regarding the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners posting medical malpractice lawsuits filed against Nevada doctors. Apparently, the Nevada Board stopped posting this information about three years ago on its website. No one paid any attention until the recent southern Nevada’s endoscopy clinic crisis.

You might think a medical malpractice lawyer would be unequivocal that this information should be made public. I appreciate the argument in this regard. But I do not know that it is necessary to post information about the filing of a lawsuit because some medical malpractice claims are groundless (or course, many medical malpractice defenses are groundless too but that is for a different blog). Of course, medical malpractice lawsuits are public information so anyone can post information about the filing of a lawsuit. The question is whether government agencies should be the conduit of this information.

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is demanding that the information be put back up and that three members of the Nevada Board resign because of—surprise!—conflicts of interest. I’m inclined to agree with Governor Gibbons, but it is a slippery slope of attaching meaning to the mere filing of a lawsuit.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported yesterday on a case pending in the Nevada Supreme Court which may have a major impact on the extent to which stadium owners can be held liable when fans are injured during sporting events.

The Turner Case

Five years ago, plaintiff Kathleen Turner (not the actress) was struck by a foul ball while she was sitting in a mezzanine seating area at Les Vegas’ Cashman Stadium. Turner’s attorney claims that the beer garden area, where fans can not see the baseball game being played on the field below, created a false sense of security for the spectators. Ms. Turner was struck in the face by a foul ball and lost consciousness. She suffered a broken nose and had to undergo reconstructive surgery.

Trial Court Ruling

The trial judge found that the Defendant did not breach any duty of care to Plaintiffs to protect them from harm.  The court further found there was no duty in this case for the Defendant to protect Plaintiff Kathleen Turner from the foul ball. Moreover, the trial court found that even if there were any such duty, the foul ball is a known and obvious risk. Plaintiff appealed.

The Defense Argument

injured fans sports eventsThomas Dillard, the lawyer representing the park’s owner, argues that this case involves an implied assumption of risk. He states that although Ms. Turner could not see the game, she was repeatedly made aware of the risk of stray balls in the stadium. The stadium posts warning signs at the entrance to the park, screens, and plexiglass are installed in certain areas to protect fans, every ticket bears a notice of liability, and there are even warnings issued over the park’s public address system. He failed to add that common sense also tells you of the risk of a foul ball when you go to a baseball game.

The Nevada Supreme Court will decide whether or not implied assumption of risk can apply to Ms. Turner’s case, and in doing so, Nevada may become one of the many states that abide by the “baseball rule.”

The article seems to think the ruling is relevant to whether major league baseball comes to Nevada. I think it overstates the economics of the outcome of this case. This issue of baseball in Nevada involves one thing: gambling.

My Hypothetical

Generally speaking, we presume fans to have assumed the risk of getting hit by a baseball at a baseball game. In the Sports Law class that I teach, I argue that the best scenario for a plaintiff’s verdict would be if you came to the game and specifically requested a ticket safe from a potential foul ball and you still get hit by one. Like many of my best law school hypotheticals, this has probably never happened and could never be proved even if it did.

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