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Articles Tagged with liability

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By J.A. Sowell, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Snow is beautiful when you’re tucked inside with hot chocolate and have nowhere to go. But that’s not the case for most of us. You may have a doctor’s appointment, work duties or errands to run that demand you leave the house before the snow is gone.

In most cases, businesses do a nice job of getting out and clearing snow and ice from sidewalks and steps to keep their own employees and customers safe. You might wonder what your own duties are at home or at your business. Are you required to clean your sidewalks? What about your steps?

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file0002014909352 morguefile xandertStryker is the maker of the Rejuvenate modular hip system. Many people who have had the Stryker modular hip system implanted have had it removed and replaced, and many of those have sued Stryker to seek compensation for injuries caused by the faulty hip system.

These cases have been making their way through courts and have been combined into several large cases. Cases are pending in state courts in New Jersey, Florida and several other states, and in federal court in Minnesota. To pay those injured by the hip system, Stryker established a compensation fund of $1.45 billion. That amount could grow as cases continue to mount against Stryker. More than 8,000 people have sued Stryker seeking compensation for injuries – but time is running out.

Those who are interested in obtaining a settlement from this fund have limited time to seek compensation, and need to consult with an attorney right away. The settlement date is November 3, 2014, so patients need to show that revision surgery occurred prior to that date to participate in the compensation fund.

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file451236551507 morguefile username jadeIn Big Spring Assembly of God, Inc. v. Stevenson, a youth minister for a church organized a camping trip with several teens. At one point during the trip, the minister took two children to his apartment in his personal automobile. While returning to the campground, the minister apparently allowed a 13-year-old to drive the vehicle. Sadly, the child lost control of the car and caused a wreck. The child died as a result of his injuries.

Before law enforcement officials arrived, the minister allegedly asked the surviving youth to state the minister was driving at the time of the fatal accident. The child initially complied with the minister’s request but later admitted to police that the deceased 13-year-old was behind the wheel when the crash took place. After that, the estate of the deceased child filed a vicarious liability lawsuit against the church that employed the minister and sought damages as a result of the organization’s alleged negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the man. The decedent’s parents also sought damages for loss of consortium.

A trial court found that both the minister and the child committed negligence as a matter of law and asked jurors to apportion damages over the child’s death. Since Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state, the amount of damages an at-fault defendant is required to pay will normally be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the injured or deceased person. Although the jury determined the church was not vicariously responsible for the minister’s negligence because he was acting outside of the scope of his job duties when the deadly wreck occurred, it did hold the organization liable for its negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of him. As a result, jurors awarded the child’s estate $1 million in damages and attributed 80 percent of the fault to the minister’s actions. Since the jury found that the child was 20 percent to blame for his wrongful death, the damages award was reduced to about $800,000. The child’s parents also received approximately $60,000 for their loss of consortium claims.

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building-682774-mIn an unpublished 2013 case, a couple sued a window screen manufacturer and the owners of an apartment building. Their toddler fell through an open window and died. A Kentucky trial court dismissed their claims, and the couple appealed. The issue in the case was whether a manufacturer of the screen that was in the open window owed the family the duty to warn or design its screens such that the child’s fall would be prevented.

The child who died was in a fourth-floor apartment in which his grandmother lived. The window was open, but the screen was in place. The window sill was 7 inches above the floor.

The screen did not have any warnings on it. Other screens in the building did have a label that warned parents that their child should not be near the open window. The toddler’s parents brought a wrongful death action against defendants including the window manufacturer and owners and managers of the apartment building. Continue reading