Articles Posted in Personal Injury

empty jury boxMedical products are intended to make our lives better, to address illnesses and physical conditions, and to help medical professionals render the best medical care that they can provide. And while many medical devices are successful in helping to facilitate these goals, there are a number of devices that end up doing more harm than good. In some cases, the harm results from a manufacturer’s failure to design the device in a reasonably safe manner. In some cases, the harm is a result of a company’s negligence. In others, the harm results from a company’s desire to prioritize profits over patients’ health and safety.

One of the most discussed dangerous medical products in recent news is pelvic mesh. There are a variety of manufacturers that have developed pelvic mesh products. In general, the device is intended to support damaged or weak tissue. They’ve also been used to address stress urinary incontinence in women. The device is also often known as vaginal mesh or surgical mesh.

Recently, a jury in Pennsylvania awarded a plaintiff a $20 million verdict in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson involving one of its pelvic mesh products. The plaintiff alleged that she received the company’s product during a surgical procedure to address her stress urinary incontinence. After one month, the woman reported experiencing severe discomfort and pain. It was later determined that the mesh product began to erode. Her treating physicians performed a number of surgeries to repair the damage, but they were ultimately unable to remove all of the mesh shards.

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single use coffeemakerThere are many appliances that provide convenience and luxury in our modern lives. For those of us who have to have our morning cup of coffee, single-cup coffee makers like the Keurig coffee machine provide an excellent aid. What many consumers fail to realize, however, is that these appliances and many others, such as washing machines and pressure cookers, pose serious threats to our safety, particularly if they contain design defects or manufacturing defects.

According to a recent report, a consumer in Massachusetts experienced $100,000 worth of damage to her home after her coffee maker allegedly caught fire. After her insurance company paid the claim pursuant to her homeowner’s insurance policy, the insurer filed a lawsuit against Keurig, seeking compensation. The insurer is claiming that the machine, a Model K70 according to Keurig’s inventory, suffered from a defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous. There has been at least one other report indicating that a Keurig machine has caught fire.

Although this lawsuit only involves property damage, a defective coffee maker that is prone to catching fire poses serious health and safety risks to consumers. If the coffee maker catches fire during the early morning hours when people are sleeping in a home, they can suffer injuries like smoke inhalation, burns, or even death. A consumer may also suffer serious burn injuries when attempting to extinguish a spontaneous and unexpected fire within the device. And many of these single-use coffee makers are common in office buildings and other retail complexes, putting workers and shoppers in serious danger should the building catch fire.

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water park rideIn a recent case from the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District, the plaintiff suffered a devastating hand injury while riding a waterslide located at an amusement park operated by the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in its operation of the waterslide and that it failed to provide sufficient warnings to guests about the potential hazards. She also argued that the defendant did not perform adequate maintenance of the waterslide to ensure that it was in good working order. The plaintiff also asserted a claim for res ipsa loquitur, alleging that the circumstances surrounding the incident and the way it occurred would not normally occur without negligence. In response, the defendant alleged, among other things, that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

During the discovery phase of the litigation, the plaintiff requested the identities of certain personnel who were operating the waterslide at the time of the incident. In its initial response, the defendant indicated that the personnel could not be identified. Additional information obtained during discovery indicated that an incident report regarding the accident may have been generated, but the defendant indicated that it could not identify any such report.

The plaintiff filed a motion requesting sanctions against the defendant for failing to produce the report and failing to identify the witnesses, seeking a number of items of relief. The defendant contested the motion, stating that the court should order a mistrial, require the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for attorney fees, or set a new trial date.

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Essure Coil DeviceModern medicine provides many benefits that improve the lives of millions of people. For all of the advancements and breakthroughs in medicine, however, there are occasional instances in which a device, drug, or other product ends up causing more harm than good. Recently, many women have come forward reporting adverse health consequences associated with the Essure device, with several patients requiring revision and removal surgeries to address their conditions.  The device is marketed as a less invasive, permanent sterilization procedure for females. Developed by Conceptus, which is a company owned by Bayer AG, it features flexible coils inserted in the fallopian tubes. Roughly three months after insertion, tissue forms around the coils, which prevents sperm from reaching an egg and achieving fertilization. The device is not intended to be removed and is seen as a permanent measure.

According to some reports, over 9,000 removal procedures have occurred since 2009 as results of punctures in fallopian tubes or the uterus and shifting of the coils. Some of the adverse health events identified in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s adverse events database include reports of fetal death, miscarriages, and other issues. Other women have required hysterectomy procedures in order to remove the broken fragments from the device. So far, 15,500 adverse event reports associated with Essure have been filed.

Although the device received FDA approval, the FDA cautions women to consider permanent birth control carefully and has required the maker of Essure to revise the label to include a boxed warning and decision checklist for patients. Since 2013, at least one public interest group has pressured the FDA to revoke approval of Essure and to require it to be removed from the market. Instead, the FDA invoked a label change that now requires the packaging to state that the device can cause a number of conditions, including organ perforation, chronic pain, and allergic reactions. In the meantime, the agency has indicated that it will continue to examine the risks and dangers associated with Essure.

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monochrome ticking clockIn a recent opinion from the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court, the plaintiff appealed an order dismissing a complaint she filed in November 2013, alleging that the defendant was liable for negligence, civil battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The dismissal was based on the lower court’s finding that the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered damages as a result of sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant, beginning when she was 16 years old. The defendant alleged that the abuse occurred at overnight church camps where the defendant was a church leader and in charge of the church’s youth group program. More specifically, the plaintiff contended that in the summer of 1996, when she was 16 years of age, the plaintiff had conversations with the defendant about pursuing a mentor-mentee relationship. According to her complaint, the plaintiff was seeking spiritual guidance and mentorship in these conversations. Soon after these conversations, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant began engaging in inappropriate physical contact and other uninvited advances. The complaint lists multiple specific instances of sexual abuse and contends that the incidences ceased around 1999, when the plaintiff was 20 years of age.

The plaintiff’s complaint states that the plaintiff did not report the incidences to anyone, fearing the repercussions that might occur. The defendant had also threatened to commit suicide in the event the plaintiff reported the incidences or shared them with anyone. In 1999, the plaintiff reported experiencing anxiety, nightmares, sadness, and other emotional conditions related to the abuse.

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yellow taxi drivingAn Illinois appellate court for the Fourth Division recently rendered a holding in a dispute involving a motor vehicle collision. The facts of the case are as follows. The defendant was a cab company operating in Chicago. On the date of the accident, one of the defendant’s drivers was parked in a cabstand across the street from where the plaintiff was having dinner with a client. After dinner, the plaintiff got into the driver’s cab and instructed him to take him to his home in a southwest area of Chicago.

During the ride home, the driver lost control of the minivan on a clover leaf exit ramp. The vehicle went airborne approximately 32 feet, struck the ground, and skidded into a grassy drainage area, where it slammed into a concrete retention wall. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that as a result of the accident that ensued, the plaintiff suffered severe traumatic brain injuries.

There was conflicting testimony offered regarding whether the driver was exceeding the speed limit at the time he lost control. The posted speed limit on the highway was 55 miles per hour, and the speed limit on the clover leaf exit was 25 miles per hour. The plaintiff’s accident reconstructionist testified that the van was traveling 60 to 70 miles per hour on the highway and decelerated to only 58 miles per hour on the clover leaf. The defendant’s expert testified that the driver was likely traveling 53 or 54 miles per hour on the clover leaf.

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people playing footballIn a recent decision from an Illinois appellate court in the Second Division, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against a number of defendants, alleging that the defendants were negligent in their failure to diagnose their son’s head trauma symptoms following a high school football game. The plaintiffs filed the action as individuals and as plenary co-guardians of their son, a disabled person.

The plaintiffs specifically alleged that the defendants failed to assess their son for head trauma symptoms immediately after he suffered “a significant blow to the head,” failed to evaluate their son for a concussion until the end of the game, and failed to identify the signs of brain trauma that their son was exhibiting.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the basis that the complaint sounded in healing arts malpractice and that the plaintiffs were required to comply with certain sections of the Illinois code. Although the trial court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, it certified three questions to the Illinois Supreme Court.

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stop sign postIn a recent opinion from the Second District of the Appellate Court of Illinois, the plaintiff appealed a lower court’s ruling granting the defendant summary judgment based on the doctrine of judicial estoppel. According to this widely recognized legal principle, a party is precluded from taking a position in a legal proceeding that is contrary to a position he or she has taken in an earlier legal proceeding.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff asserted three causes of action against the defendant, alleging that he suffered injuries while shopping at the defendant’s store. Before filing the complaint against the store, the plaintiff and his wife filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. In the filing, the plaintiff stated that he had no “[o]ther contingent and unliquidated claims of any nature” and denied having any “other property of any kind not already listed.” Some time thereafter, the plaintiff amended the bankruptcy petition to list the alleged claim against the store as a potential claim of an unliquidated nature. As for an estimated value of the claim, the plaintiff listed $15,000. The plaintiff chose this amount based on section 12-1001(h)(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure, which provides an exemption for a debtor to receive payment not exceeding $15,000 on a claim for personal injury to the debtor.

The bankruptcy court discharged the plaintiff’s petition before the plaintiff initiated the lawsuit against the store. In response, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims, stating that the plaintiff had no standing to sue because the rights to the claim belonged to the bankruptcy trustee. In response, the plaintiff stated in an affidavit that at the time he filed for bankruptcy, he was unsure whether he would pursue legal action against the store. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on judicial estoppel.

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In Atchley v. University of Chicago Medical Center, the plaintiff was a delivery driver who was making a delivery of two pallets of beverages at the defendant’s premises. The plaintiff backed his truck up to the dock space, but he soon discovered that the dock lever that would raise the dock to the same level as the truck bed to create a ramp was not working. No other docks with levers were available, so the plaintiff used the air suspension system in his truck to lower the bed as much as possible. A small gap remained, however. The plaintiff then used the motorized pallet jack to unload the pallets, but the jack got stuck in the gap. The plaintiff obtained a steel dolly that he then used to try and free the jack. In the process, he fell and fractured his ankle.truck

The plaintiff and his wife filed a negligence and premises liability claim against the defendant. The defendant raised contributory negligence as a defense to the plaintiffs’ claims in its answer. The defendant then filed a motion for summary judgment, which the lower court granted, based on its conclusion that the danger presented by the gap was open and obvious and that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. It also concluded that the malfunctioning lever was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The plaintiff appealed, and the reviewing court ultimately reversed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendant. First, the appellate court analyzed whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty. There are four factors a court will consider in determining whether a party owes another party a duty. The court evaluates the reasonable foreseeability of the resulting injury, the likelihood the injury would occur, the magnitude of the defendant’s burden in preventing the injury from happening, and the consequences that could result from placing a burden on the defendant. For a condition or potential injury to be deemed open and obvious, a reasonable person in the victim’s position with ordinary judgment, perception, and intelligence must be able to recognize both the risk and the condition.

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bike on trailIn Corbett v. The County of Lake and The City of Highland Park, the plaintiff alleged that she sustained serious injuries when she was riding her bike on a path located in Lake County. Following the accident, the plaintiff filed a claim against multiple defendants, alleging that they were responsible for her injuries, which resulted from defects in the bike path. The plaintiff named the County of Lake and the City of Highland Park as defendants. Both defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which the trial court granted based on the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the Act).

The plaintiff filed an appeal challenging the trial court’s order granting the City’s motion for summary judgment. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants were in control of the bike path and were responsible for its maintenance. The City was responsible for maintaining certain sections of the path. Prior to the date the accident occurred, the defendants were on notice that weeds and other vegetation had grown through the asphalt, rendering portions of the path bumpy, elevated, or broken. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants were willfully indifferent to the danger that this created.

In its answer, the City asserted that it had immunity under section 3-107(b) of the Act, which states, “Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a condition of . . . [a]ny hiking, riding, fishing, or hunting trail.” According to the city, the bike path constituted a riding trail. The plaintiff rejected this interpretation, stating that Illinois courts have interpreted the meaning of a riding trail differently from the City’s proposed interpretation.

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