TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

NY: Gov. Cuomo to Sign Amended Lavern's Law

The state legislature and Governor Cuomo have reached a deal on Lavern's Law, the only bill remaining from the last session on which Cuomo has taken no action.  The Daily News reports:

Gov. Cuomo and state legislative leaders have struck a deal for the medical malpractice bill known as Lavern’s Law to be signed into law.

Cuomo plans to sign the bill this week, after the Legislature votes to amend the version it passed in June. The bill would start a 2 1/2-year window to bring malpractice cases involving cancer when the patient discovers the error. Currently, the clock starts when the mistake occurs — meaning patients may lose their chance to sue before they even find out there’s been an error.

Under the amended version, people whose statute of limitations ran out in the last 10 months will get a six-month window to sue. The bill the Legislature passed offered a window for cases going back seven years.

The changes also make it more clear that the new rules apply only to cancer, not other illnesses.

The full article is here.

January 30, 2018 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

WY Recognizes Intrusion Upon Seclusion

On Tuesday, the Wyoming Supreme Court recognized intrusion upon seclusion.  According to the opinion, there is now only one jurisdiction in the U.S. that has not taken a stand on the invasion of privacy torts.  Of the other 48 states, only 2 have explicitly refused to adopt intrusion upon seclusion.  The case involved allegations that a rent-to-own company installed software on laptops without plaintiffs' knowledge.  The software allegedly could be used to remotely access the laptops’ cameras, capture the content of the laptops’ screens and log keystrokes entered on the laptops.  KPVI has the story.

December 21, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TX: PI Lawyer Reported to Spend $4M on Son's 18th Birthday Party

Seems reasonable.

The ABA Journal has details.

December 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

GA: $26M Med Mal Verdict in Columbus

A Columbus, GA woman brought suit against a hospital and one of its physicians based on an allegedly botched neck surgery.  After the surgery, among other injuries, the plaintiff went blind, suffered brain damage, and was confined to a wheelchair.  Following a two-week trial, the jury awarded $26 million in damages.  The Ledger-Enquirer has the story.

December 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Parks on Tort Law and Fraternity and Sorority Hazing

Gregory Parks (Wake Forest) has a piece in The Huffington Post about the tort duties of fraternities and sororities with regard to hazing.  The issue is relevant in Pennsylvania due to the February death of a pledge at a Penn State fraternity.  Stacy Parks Miller, the Centre County District Attorney, has been aggressive in prosecuting numerous members of the now-defunct fraternity where the death occurred.  The pledge is on tape (the tape having been recovered by the FBI after allegedly being deleted by a fraternity member) being given 18 drinks in 82 minutes.  Other footage shows fraternity members not seeking help during the course of an entire night for the unconscious pledge who suffered several falls. 

Parks focuses on tort law.  After discussing custom in the "industry," Parks continues:

Regarding hazing, fraternities and sororities have reached a point—and probably did so long ago—when what is expected of them should be heightened. No longer should they be able to say that they’ve done their best or that their approaches are consistent with others in their industry. At its most basic level, what should be expected of fraternities and sororities is that they have harnessed, internalized, and employed the totality of research on hazing. They must also engage with hazing researchers and consultants who employ hazing research and hazing prevention best-practices. You can’t say that you’ve adequately attempted to address hazing and are grossly ignorant of the research on the topic and haven’t engaged with those grappling with the issue.

November 27, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 24, 2017

PA: Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction to Prevent State from Dissolving Med Mal Insurer and Taking its Money

Two weeks ago, I reported that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was attempting to use surplus funds from a med mal insurer that was created by state law, but was not a part of state government.  Pennsylvania, trying to balance its budget, passed a law requiring the Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association (JUA)  to turn over $200M of a $268M surplus by December 1.  If it fails to comply, the law abolishes the JUA and transfers its money to the Department of Insurance.  Now Judge Christopher Conner has issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from carrying out that action.  The judge's order puts the issue on hold until a federal trial can be held.  PennLive has the story.

November 24, 2017 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

PA: State Senator Introduces Bill Banning Non-disclosure Agreements in Sexual Assault and Harassment Cases

Sen. Judy Schwank introduced a bill in the Pennsylvania Senate designed to prevent sexual offenders from settling cases without exposure:

Schwank's proposal, rolled out at a Capitol press conference Wednesday, would bar any contract or out-of-court settlement from containing provisions that:

* Prohibit disclosure of the name of any person suspected of sexual misconduct or any information relevant to a claim.

* Would block reports of such claims to an "appropriate person."

* Requires the destruction or expungement of related evidence.

The bill would, however, grant a shield of confidentiality to victims making allegations of abuse, giving them rights similar to juveniles in a child welfare case who can have cases brought through their initials or other identifiers.

California is the only state with such a law.  Opponents argue the bill would discourage defendants from settling these cases.

Pennlive has details.

November 17, 2017 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2 Women Sue Uber for Sexual Assault; Allege Inadequate Background Screening

One woman from Florida and one from California filed suit against Uber on Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco.  The women alleged they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers and the cause was inadequate background screening and monitoring by Uber.  The suit seeks class action status, and:

It asks the court for unspecified damages to compensate the women, and also seeks court-ordered safety measures including fingerprint background checks for drivers and a panic button on the Uber app that would alert the company and authorities to safety problems.

The lawsuit was filed by the New York firm Wigdor LLP, which is suing Uber in a separate case on behalf of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India. The firm also is suing Fox News on behalf of employees who allege race discrimination and sexual harassment.

The New York Post has the story.

November 16, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

PA: Can the Commonwealth Use a Med Mal Insurer's Surplus to Balance the Budget?

The Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association (JUA) was created by state law in 1975, but the entity is not a part of state government.  The JUA was founded as a last-ditch insurer for doctors at a time when malpractice insurance was in the first of several cyclical crises.  It has a surplus of $268M.  Pennsylvania, trying to balance its budget, passed a law requiring the JUA to turn over $200M of the surplus by December 1.  If it fails to comply, the law abolishes the JUA and transfers its money to the Department of Insurance.  The JUA has sued Governor Tom Wolf in federal court, asserting the seizure is an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.  The Inquirer has details.

November 10, 2017 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Culhane on the Texas Shooting Victims Suing the Federal Government

At Politico, John Culhane analyzes the potential case against the federal government for the failure to enter the shooter's domestic violence conviction in a national database that would have prevented him from legally purchasing a gun.

November 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Should Facebook Notify People Who Saw Fake Russian Posts?

This issue was debated on Capitol Hill and beyond last week, and included analogies to tort law such as the "post-sale duty to warn" in products liability. Reuters has details

November 7, 2017 in Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

KY: Judge Declares Med Mal Panels Unconstitutional

Earlier this year, the Kentucky legislature passed a law requiring med mal cases to go through a panel of doctors prior to going to trial.  A state judge ruled Monday the law was unconstitutional and issued an order banning the state from enforcing the law.  The state has announced it will appeal the ruling.

WKMS has details

November 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Maniloff on Haunted House Suits

Randy Maniloff of White and Williams in Philly has this column in USA Today about tort suits against haunted houses.  Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 27, 2017

OK: Med Mal Certificate of Merit Requirement Ruled Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled the state's med mal certificate of merit requirement unconstitutional.  This is the third time the court has rejected a certificate of merit requirement, striking down laws in 2006 and 2013.

The court says the statute created "a costly, meaningless and arbitrary barrier to court access" and infringed on the district court's authority.

U.S. News has the story.

October 27, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Robot Patrols Grocery Store to Prevent Slip-and-Falls

We have heard a lot about technology changing tort law in the form of autonomous vehicles. Now Giant Foods is experimenting with a roving robot in its grocery stores.  "Marty" has a number of skills:  he can check prices and help with stocking.  His main job, however, is to scan the aisles for potential slip hazards on the floor.  If the technology is successful, we may have safer stores and fewer tort cases.  PennLive has the story.  Youtube has video.

October 13, 2017 in Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Study: Patients Satisfied with Communication-and-Resolution Programs

A study (with a small sample) published in JAMA Internal Medicine found the majority of patients satisfied with communication-and-resolution programs, a more cooperative alternative to litigation in the med mal context.  Only 2 of the 40 patients interviewed felt the process was "unfair".

When it came to compensation, 16 of the 27 patients and family members who received any compensation were satisfied. Those who were not satisfied with the compensation tended to be dissatisfied with the overall communication process.

AJMC.com has more details.

October 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Witnesses of Las Vegas Shooting File Suit Against Manufacturers of Bump Stocks

Witnesses to the mass shooting in Las Vegas have filed a would-be class action lawsuit against manufacturers of bump stocks, the device used by shooter Stephen Paddock to accelerate gunfire from his semi-automatic weapon.  Causes of action include negligence, infliction of emotional distress, products liability, and public nuisance.  The suit seeks a court-supervised psychological monitoring program for the class plaintiffs, paid for by defendants, as well as punitive damages.  The ABA Journal has details.

Do bump stocks fall under the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act? Bloomberg

October 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

KS: Med Mal Cases Increase

The number of medical malpractice cases filed in Kansas between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 increased to 276 from 248 the prior fiscal year.  The number of cases filed in Kansas in the early 2000s hovered between 300 and 400.  Many jurisdictions have seen years of decreases.  Settlement figures are near a 10-year average.  The Topeka Capital-Journal has details.

October 4, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WA: Court Retains No-Emotional-Distress-for-Pets Rule

The Washington Supreme Court let stand an appellate court decision rejecting a pet owner's claim to emotional distress damages for witnessing a difficult euthanasia.  The American Veterinary Medical Association News has the story.

September 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Damages | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2017

NY: Fans Sue Barclays Center

Steep incline + inebriation = "exceedingly dangerous".  The New York Post has the story.

September 18, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)