The Atlanta Injury News Blog

September 2010 Archives

Although a New York judge's recent ruling concerning the privacy of material posted on Facebook or MySpace is based on state law, it also has nationwide implications. The Suffolk County judge in a personal injury case ruled that social network info otherwise protected behind privacy settings can be used as evidence in court, a Wall Street Journal blog reported.   

Judge Jeffrey Arlen Spinner based his ruling on an interpretation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), which federal lawmakers are in the process of updating, according to Forbes.

Craig Gillen, the lawyer defending embattled Atlanta pastor Bishop Eddie Long, went on the offensive against his client's accusers for "attempting to try their lawsuits in the media," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He also blasted Atlanta injury attorney B.J. Bernstein, who is representing the alleged victims.

Bishop Eddie Long, an outspoken anti-gay activist, is the target of lawsuits by three former male members of his megachurch alleging sexual abuse.

Although Yamaha faces about 700 wrongful death and related injury lawsuits attributed to its golf cart-like Rhino off-road vehicles, the company has managed to deflect liability in all but one, The Oregonian reported. Only four cases have gone to trial, while the rest have been quietly settled out of court.

The only verdict in favor of the plaintiff was handed down in May, as described in a press release issued by the Georgia personal injury lawyers representing plaintiffs Roger and Glenda McTaggart.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs a $317,000 award for damages after Roger McTaggart sustained a crushed left leg when his Rhino tipped and rolled over. Yamaha's Rhino design was found to be defective and the company negligent.

If Douglasville City Council votes in favor of an ordinance to ban the popular but often dangerous pit bull breed from its city limits, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it would be one of the first cities in Georgia to have a pit bull ban. Originally scheduled for a vote earlier this week, council members decided to delay it for at least two weeks.

The majority of the seven-member City Council said they wanted to proposed law to be reviewed by both the American Kennel Club and the Humane Society before they vote on the measure.

Existing pit bull owners would be "grandfathered" in, but would be required to register their pooches; otherwise, they face a fine of up to $500. Those pit bulls also would have to be kept indoors or kept in a covered pen or behind a 6-foot fence. Pit bulls that are out public will be required to wear a muzzle.

There's more than one way to get by in this prolonged period of economic distress, but faking an accident in order to file a fraudulent lawsuit is probably not the best option. Villa Rica police said James Burton intentionally walked into a car as it was backing up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, as reported by the Atlanta CBS affiliate.

Police arrested James Burton, described by reporter Hena Daniels as a homeless man, soon after the incident.

Suspects are innocent until proven guilty; but several eyewitnesses and surveillance video from the Wal-Mart parking lot certainly help back police claims. He has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, which are both misdemeanors.

The popular prescription drug Avandia, used to treat high blood-sugar, has been banned by the European Union and has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack. Doctors can't prescribe the drug to new patients unless they explain these risks in detail, while existing patients are to be switched to alternatives, according to a CNN article. 

So why hasn't the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) banned Avandia, as has the EU?

That's a good question and has a complex answer. Atlantans who believe they have been negatively impacted by the drug may of course contact an Atlanta injury attorney; in fact, a flood of lawsuits in Europe is precisely what prompted the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to ban the drug outright.

Which is more entertaining: the hit reality television show "Real Housewives of New Jersey" or their dubious off-screen misadventures? Maybe we're just kidding ourselves by suggesting there's a line between the two worlds.

The latest bit of news from the privileged but manic lives of the show's cast is an update in the increasingly nasty defamation suit against Danielle Staub by ex-husband Kevin Maher, as reported by E! Online.

The Ohio Supreme Court was asked to determine whether Bluffton University's insurers are liable for the fatal 2007 Atlanta crash of a bus carrying the school's baseball team, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Seven people were killed, including five baseball players, when a chartered bus carrying the team plunged off an interstate ramp and landed on the highway below on March 2, 2007. The driver and his wife also died.

Stephen T. LaBriola, a lawyer representing the parents of one of the victims, said the question is whether the Bluffton University insurance policy covers the bus and its driver.

Abbott Laboratories issued a recall of roughly 5 million cans of a particular kind of Similac-branded infant formula two days ago due to the presence of a small beetle in some its products, CNN reported. But a follow-up CNN article reported that the company's phone hotline and Similac recall Web site both became too overwhelmed to handle the flood of consumer inquiries

Many frustrated parents trying to see if the Similac powdered formula they purchased was part of the recall were greeted with a busy signal or Web site problems. CNN reporters experienced the same technical problems when making repeated attempts to call or access the site. 

Any Atlanta parents who believe their child has been injured by the recalled product may consider calling an Atlanta injury attorney for advice after seeking medical attention, as with any product recall.

A third plaintiff has stepped forward with allegations that prominent Atlanta-area "megachurch" pastor and outspoken anti-gay advocate Bishop Eddie Long sexually abused him, according to CBS News. The new plaintiff's name was not released but is being represented by Atlanta injury attorney B.J. Bernstein, who also is the lawyer for the other two accusers.

New revelations into the case include the surfacing of photos the pastor allegedly sent to his accusers, in which Eddie Long can be seen wearing spandex and gym clothes while standing in his bathroom.

It's unclear at this time how the photos became public.

A jury awarded plaintiff Harlen Akins $40,000 in his DeKalb County assault and battery lawsuit against hip-hop musician Kid Rock, as reported in the Toronto Sun and elsewhere. Harlen Akins, with the help of his Atlanta injury attorney, convinced a jury that the musician was at the center of a drunken Waffle House brawl that left the plaintiff injured.

So why is Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, so relieved with the way the case turned out?

Two men have sued Atlanta-area megachurch pastor and outspoken anti-gay activist Bishop Eddie Long for alleged sexual abuse, CBS News reported. The men claim he coerced them into sexual relationships while they were minors in his congregation.

Atlanta injury lawyers representing the two plaintiffs, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson, said they filed suit in DeKalb County Court earlier this week. The suit makes the following claims:

"Defendant Long has utilized his spiritual authority to coerce certain young male members ... into engaging in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification."

The family of slain 18-year-old Corey Ward is pressing on with its efforts to sue former Atlanta police officer Raymond Bunn after the Georgia Supreme Court said they couldn't sue the ex-cop for wrongful death, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Raymond Bunn shot and killed Corey Ward on July 14, 2002 but sought and received immunity under state law by claiming it was done in self-defense. The victim's family is not at all convinced Corey Ward had threatened the officer's life.

The family's Atlanta wrongful death attorney was not quoted nor cited in the article, but the plaintiffs vowed to take the case all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

Four out of every 10 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the United States lack evidence of medical error or actual patient injury, according to a study conducted by Harvard University researchers (PDF) and cited by American Medical Association president Cecil B. Wilson in The Washington Post.

The study looked at a random sample of 1452 closed malpractice claims from five liability insurers.

Most claims of physicians' negligence are legitimate, as any Atlanta malpractice lawyer would insist. But the study highlights a troubling trend of frivolous claims, especially in light of still-rising health insurance premiums and curtailed coverage.

Katherine Jackson, whose pop star son Michael Jackson unexpectedly died last year, sued concert promoter AEG for allegedly failing to provide the late singer with proper medical care, the BBC reported. The suit, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, did not specify damages.

The legal actions left in the wake of Michael Jackson's death likely are being closely watched by Atlanta injury lawyers.

The Jackson family matriarch, the legal guardian of Michael Jackson's three children, is suing on their behalf and claims eldest son Prince Jackson suffered severe emotional distress after witnessing his father's last moments.

Can Political Attack Ads Be Defamatory?

Texas television news station KBTX reported on the recent accusation by GOP congressional candidate Bill Flores that a so-called "attack ad" by Democratic rival Rep. Chet Edwards is false and defamatory. While politicians denounce negative ads that target them all the time, this is unique in that Bill Flores seems willing to take it to court.

As campaign season heats up less than two months before the Nov. 2 general election, campaign ads tend to get only nastier. The Georgia gubernatorial race between Republican Nathan Deal and Democrat Roy Barnes is no exception, as Fox Atlanta reported. 

But if Nathan Deal ran a particularly false and accusatory ad against Roy Barnes, arguably a public figure, could Roy Barnes hire a Georgia injury attorney and file suit for libel?

Detroit musician Kid Rock, known for his country-fried hip-hop style, took the stand late last week to defend himself in a lawsuit stemming from a drunken 2007 fight at Decatur Waffle House, the Associated Press reported.

The plaintiff, event promoter and caterer Harlen Akins, told the court he still has no clue what prompted Kid Rock and his entourage to beat him up. And Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, said he only "gave it to him verbally" during questioning by Harlen Akins' Georgia injury attorney.

A Georgia woman was in critical condition as of last Tuesday after a parasailing mishap resulting in her being dragged at a high speed into a wooden pole, Tampa, Florida's ABC affiliate reported. Alejandra White and her fiancĂ©, Shaun Ladd, had been vacationing in Clearwater Beach.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Alejandra White has passed away from the injuries that she sustained from the accident.

It's not clear whether or not Alejandra White's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit; but since the accident took place in Florida, or if the family has retained the services of a Georgia injury attorney licensed to practice in the neighboring state.

Derek Lombardi, the captain of the boat pulling the woman in the parasail, said he was devastated and had prayed that she would make a full recovery.

The case of undocumented immigrant Karina Garcia, reported by the Courthouse News Service, is partly within the realm of employment law. She claims employer Shaw Industries knew she was an undocumented worker but only distanced themselves from her after she suffered an injury and filed for worker's compensation.

Shaw allegedly called the police and tried to get her deported, which she said resulted in one count of criminal forgery (60 total) for each weekly worker's comp paycheck she signed under an assumed name for a little more than a year.

With the help of Atlanta injury attorney Brent Savage, who also is handling her employment law complaints, Karina Garcia sued Shaw for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and compounding a felony.

Democrat Roy Barnes, Libertarian John Monds and Republican Nathan Deal discussed their views on a variety of health care issues during last month's Georgia gubernatorial debate hosted by the Medical Association of Georgia, the Associated Press reported (published in the Macon Telegraph).

Among the issues debated by the candidates was whether or not lawmakers should seek a constitutional amendment for medical malpractice caps on jury awards. The Georgia Supreme Court earlier this year struck down a law that limited jury awards for pain and suffering to $350,000.

While most Atlanta malpractice lawyers argue that malpractice insurance premiums represent just a tiny fraction of overall health care costs for patients, GOP candidate Nathan Deal supports such an amendment.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced an expansion of its voluntary recall of fixed side cribs, according to an article by WPTV News in West Palm Beach, Florida. The original recall of Simplicity branded cribs was announced in April but now includes the Sorelle "Prescott" brand of cribs by the same manufacturer.

One death attributed to the recalled fixed side crib has been reported, a 1-year-old who suffocated after he became trapped between the mattress and the crib frame. Also, 29 other incidents of collapsing cribs were reported.

You may want to contact an Atlanta injury attorney if your child has been injured by one of the recalled products.

George D. Houser, who operated Forum Group Corp. and subsidiary Forum Group at Moran Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rome, was ordered to pay $43.5 million in a wrongful lawsuit, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The defendant, a Harvard Law School graduate, served as his own Georgia injury attorney in the three-day trial. After the jury read its verdict, George Houser was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs to serve a 2-day jail sentence for contempt of court, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Along with wife Rhonda Washington Houser, he also faces federal charges of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid out of more than $30 million.