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Articles Tagged with courts

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Lawsuits arising from 18-wheeler accidents can be very complex. One reason for this is that the tractor and trailer may be owned by or insured by different entities. This greatly complicates the path to recovery of a fair settlement or judgment for a person injured in a semi-truck wreck.

In a recent case, a rather unique issue arose. The owner of a certain tractor-trailer requested liability insurance on both the tractor and the trailer, but the insurance agent accidentally left the tractor off of the list of the trucking company’s vehicles when she sent the application to the insurance company.

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Car accidents, truck wrecks, and other motor vehicle crashes fall under the general law of negligence. In order to prove a negligence case, a plaintiff has to prove four separate elements:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each element must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is when the jury finds that the plaintiff’s version of the facts is more likely true than not. It does not require the injured person to prove beyond a reasonable doubt these elements, as in the criminal justice system, but rather only that it is more likely than not that there was a breach in a duty owed to the injured person that caused damages.

Once the plaintiff has presented his or her case at trial, and the judge has determined that he or she has made a prima facie case of negligence, the defendant has the right to offer evidence that contradicts the plaintiff’s version of the facts or impeaches the plaintiff’s testimony. The jury is the ultimate trier of fact, taxed with the duty of deciding which witness to believe when the testimony is conflicting.

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By Kyle Roby, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Even car accident cases that seem simple in the beginning can grow complicated very quickly. In a recent Kentucky fatal car accident case, who was driving the car at the time of the accident was the legal question. The alleged operator of a car involved in a fatal collision accused his passenger of being behind the wheel, even after the operator had pled guilty to manslaughter in criminal court.

It was up to the trial court – and the court of appeals, on review – to decide whether the issue was to be resolved by judicial admission or by the jury at trial.

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

It often comes as a surprise to those injured in car accidents that dealing with one’s own insurance company can be just as vexing and contentious as dealing with the insurance company of the driver whose negligence or recklessness caused the accident.

Fortunately, the law does provide some protection for insureds who have to fight with their own insurance company to get that to which they are contractually entitled. However, the threshold for success in such cases is high, and not every case results in a judgment in the insured’s favor.

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By Jessica Surber, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

When a person is injured because of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, he or she may be entitled to damages such as payment of medical expenses, reimbursement of lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.

Although it is the exception rather than the rule, there is also the possibility of punitive damages in some cases. In order to qualify for a punitive damages award, a plaintiff must show particularly egregious conduct on the part of the defendant (typically, the manufacturer, distributor, or retail seller of the product).

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shots with bottlesEarlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration announced it is requiring the manufacturers of low testosterone drugs to change the labels of their products and to conduct further studies about the drugs. The FDA says some studies have indicated there is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and even death while taking supplemental testosterone, while other studies have not. This has led the FDA to say that more research is needed by the manufacturers of the drugs as well as to require more warning labels on Low Testosterone drugs to better prepare doctors and patients for discussions about taking “Low T” drugs.

The FDA specifically called out clinics offering to treat the “signs of aging” in men which are often believed to be linked to gradually decreasing testosterone in the body. While decreasing testosterone may seem to be the culprit of fatigue or other similar problems, there’s not been enough research of the side effects of taking Low T drugs simply to fight the signs of aging. The FDA says the drugs should only be used in men who are suffering from low testosterone as a result of “disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, or brain that cause a condition called hypogonadism.”

Health care providers should make patients aware of the risk of possible cardiovascular events and even death due to taking testosterone, the FDA says.

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In Simmerman v. Ace Bayou Corp., the parents of a three-year-old sued several parties following the death of their child, who became trapped in a beanbag chair. The parents filed a product liability action against the manufacturer of the allegedly defective chair, the department store where they purchased the item, and the manager of the store in Fayette County Circuit Court. In response to the lawsuit, the defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington based upon diversity of citizenship. In general, a defendant may remove a case to federal court as long as the defendants are from different states than the plaintiff and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

Next, the parents filed a motion to remand the case back to Fayette County Circuit Court. Although the store manager was a resident of Kentucky, the remaining corporate defendants have main corporate headquarters in other states. According to the plaintiffs, the Kentucky manager destroyed diversity and required the case to be tried in state court. The store manager, however, countered that she was fraudulently joined in the case solely to defeat federal diversity jurisdiction.

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The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky recently ruled in favor of a medical device manufacturer in a products liability case in which the plaintiff did not participate in written discovery. In Johnson v. Zimmer Holdings, Inc., a man had four medical devices implanted into his body when he underwent hip surgery in 2010. Unfortunately, the man’s hip dislocated at least six times between 2010 and 2012. About two years after his initial surgery, the man underwent a second procedure to replace three of the four medical products. Following the second surgery, the man filed a products liability lawsuit in a Kentucky federal court against the manufacturer of the medical devices that were initially implanted into his body. According to his complaint, the man experienced pain, suffering, emotional distress, and unnecessary surgery as a result of the medical device manufacturer’s defective products.

Pursuant to the Eastern District of Kentucky’s scheduling order, the parties entered into the discovery stage of the lawsuit. This is a pre-trial phase of a case in which each party is entitled to request certain relevant information from the opposing side. Discovery may include depositions, interrogatory and document requests, and more. Although the medical device manufacturer served the allegedly harmed man with written discovery requests, he failed to submit any discovery requests prior to the deadline that was imposed by the court. As a result, the medical device manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment in the case.

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In Wright v. Carroll, a woman who was seriously injured in a tractor-trailer crash filed a lawsuit in Elliott County Circuit Court against the driver of the big rig that struck her automobile. In her complaint, the woman accused the semi-truck driver of negligently maintaining the vehicle. She also alleged that the wreck occurred because the truck driver operated the vehicle in a negligent manner when he lost control of the 18-wheeler and entered her driving lane after navigating a blind curve in the road. In the initial trial, the jury sided with the tractor trailer operator, but that verdict was overturned by the Kentucky  Court of Appeals due to improper jury instructions.

According to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the jurors should not have been instructed on the sudden emergency doctrine, since the tractor-trailer collision did not constitute an emergency that the driver could not have anticipated. As a result, the personal injury case was remanded for a new trial. Following a second trial, jurors again entered a verdict in favor of the truck driver. The trial court denied the woman’s motion for a directed verdict, and she appealed the jury’s decision. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the trial court should have granted the woman’s motion and ordered the lower court to hold an additional trial only on the issue of damages. The tractor-trailer driver then sought review by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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