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Articles Tagged with negligence

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By Kurt Maier, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley LLP

amusement park Who hasn’t enjoyed a great ride at an amusement park in the summer months? It’s a staple of summer fun and entertainment for children, teens and adults. Your trip to an amusement park should be free of worry about accidents and injuries, but it’s becoming all too common to see serious injuries inflicted because of careless operation of amusement park rides.

There certainly are well-maintained amusement parks, and there are also those that are not. You probably won’t be able to tell which one you’ve chosen by looking at them.

Kentucky amusement parks have certainly had cases of serious injuries. The one that almost everyone remembers is the 2007 incident at Six Flags in Louisville (which has since closed). A 16-year-old girl was riding the Superman Tower of Power ride when a cable wrapped around her feet and severed them. The girl’s family sued the park.

At the Louisville Zoo, a small train designed for parents and their children crashed. One man had his leg pinned under the train and had a series of eight surgeries to repair the damage. He had missed 18 months of work at the time of the lawsuit. A small child had disfiguring face injuries, and many others were injured in other ways. The claims were eventually settled.

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What happens if you’re in a funeral procession an involved in an accident? In a recent Ashland, Kentucky, case, a plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that the funeral home was at fault for the accident. The case is Christian v. Steen Funeral Home.

The accident involved a man who was a passenger in a private car that was participating in a funeral procession. The car he was in collided with another vehicle at an intersection. According to the injured man, the crash occurred because the funeral home that organized the procession failed to clearly mark the vehicles involved in the procession with flags or other markers.

Following the collision, the injured man filed a negligence lawsuit in Lawrence County Circuit Court against both drivers and the funeral home. He also accused the funeral home of negligence per se.

In response, the funeral home filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The funeral home argued that the man failed to state a cause of action, and that the funeral home did not owe him a duty of care under Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 189.378. Under Kentucky law, vehicles involved in a funeral procession do not have to be marked with any sort of special flag or other marking.

The man countered by claiming the funeral home owed him a duty of reasonable care, and the company breached that duty when it failed to require the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding to turn on his headlights or otherwise indicate the vehicle’s participation in the procession.

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chest-xray-262068-m-2In a recent Kentucky Supreme Court case, a medical malpractice suit was filed by a couple against a doctor and his practice. The doctor had performed a thyroidectomy on the wife. She started experiencing breathing difficulties the night of the surgery. She was placed on a ventilator for four days and stayed in the hospital a total of 12 days. Post-surgery, she had trouble breathing and talking. She consulted with an otolaryngologist. He diagnosed her with right vocal cord paralysis. The couple filed a medical negligence lawsuit in connection with the thyroidectomy.

During discovery, the doctor asked whether other physicians had stated that he deviated from good medical practice. The plaintiffs’ response stated that a surgeon had verified there was a departure from the appropriate standard of care to cut or otherwise alter the vocal cord. The response cited various treating physicians. The doctor filed a motion to set the case for trial. The judge set a schedule requiring the couple to disclose expert witnesses on a particular date. The order by the judge did not contain a specific deadline for disclosure of expert witnesses. It did require quick and efficient witness disclosure.

Three years after the suit was filed the doctor moved for summary judgment. He argued they had failed to identify a surgeon who would testify he deviated from the standard of care. The plaintiffs filed a motion to reschedule the trial and to get an extension of time to list experts. They argued that summary judgment was not appropriate because evidence in the depositions raised genuine issues of material fact. The woman’s medical records showed he was being treated for hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid before the surgery. She consulted with an internist because she was short of breath and had palpitations. An ultrasound showed she had an enlarged right lobe of thyroid with a small lesion. She was referred to the defendant doctor to see whether removal of the gland was appropriate. She consulted with him once before the surgery and signed a consent form in connection with it. The form explained she had a “thyroid storm.” The internal medicine doctor said a thyroid storm is an emergency condition. The appropriate treatment is hospitalization and consultation with an endocrinologist. Surgery is not appropriate. Continue reading