TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Monday, May 16, 2016

Med Mal Data from South Dakota

The Argus Leader has compiled what it calls a first-ever glimpse at South Dakota med mal cases.  It sounds very similar to med mal data from the U.S. as a whole:

The analysis of South Dakota data show that the vast majority of claims made against health providers are dismissed or withdrawn without any payment.

In 2014, insurers reported 163 claims that were either filed or closed. Of those, 28 were dismissed. Another 24 were closed with no payment amount recorded.

In 2015 there were 148 claims filed or closed with the Division, and 48 of those were closed without payment.

In 2014, insurers paid nearly $10.9 million on 27 settlements and one jury verdict. In 2015, that number dropped to nearly $6.4 million on 18 settlements.

In those two years, the largest settlement was $3 million. The average settlement was $367,654. The settlement amounts only reflect what insurance companies paid. They do not include additional amounts paid by health providers.

But getting those settlements can take years for injured patients or their surviving loved ones. The $3 million settlement, for example, took nearly four years from date of injury to settlement.

The full story is here.

May 16, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Study: Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

Two physicians at Johns Hopkins have conducted a study concluding that medical errors cause approximately 250,000 deaths every year in the United States, the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.  CNN has the story, including links to the study itself.

May 5, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lawyers to File Negligence Claims Against EPA for Flint Water Contamination

Lawyers for residents of Flint, MI have filed administrative complaints, required as a step to suing government agencies, against the EPA for damage caused by lead in the water.  The complaints reference an alleged email from an agency expert warning about the problem in June 2015.  Reuters has the story.

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Defects in Guns

About two weeks ago, Bloomberg BNA had a piece on defects in firearms.  No agency has the authority to force a recall, meaning voluntary recalls by manufacturers and class actions are the only effective methods.  Class actions are rare.  Victor Schwartz is quoted extensively on "regulation by litigation."

April 25, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

UT: Children Under the Age of 5 Cannot Be Liable for Negligence

The Utah Supreme Court recently adopted a bright-line cutoff for liability for negligent children, following R3 by setting the limit at 5 years old.  The case involved a 4 year old who threw a rubber dolphin at his babysitter.  Unfortunately, the dolphin hit the babysitter in the eye.  She had just had a cornea transplant and the accident blinded her.  The Volokh Conspiracy has the story.

April 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Suit Against Gun Maker in Newtown Massacre Allowed to Proceed

Back in February, I reported about a suit brought by families of the children murdered in Newtown against gun manufacturers.  The plaintiffs, attempting to get around the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, advanced a negligent entrustment theory.  The judge has now ruled that the claim may proceed.  The New York Times has details.

April 18, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CO: Strict Privity Rule Upheld for Legal Malpractice

The Colorado Supreme Court held attorneys owe no duties to non-clients, such as the beneficiaries of a will, absent allegations of fraud, a malicious or tortious act, like negligent misrepresentation.  JD Supra Business Advisor has details.

April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 11, 2016

PA: Bill to Extend Sexual Abuse Statutes of Limitation Approved by House Judiciary Committee

In the wake of the grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, the House Judiciary Committee approved the removal of statutes of limitation in sex crimes and extending the statute of limitations until the victim turns 50 years old for civil cases.  There was, however, no provision for a 2-year retroactive window to allow past victims to sue.  Pennlive has details.

April 11, 2016 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Agriculture-Related Torts

For a couple years, I have posted torts items from Roger McEowen at Iowa State's Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation.  Roger is now with Washburn's law school and produces the Washburn Agricultural Law & Tax Report.  Check it out.

April 6, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

UVa Swim Team Hazing Lawsuit Settled

A former member of the UVa swim team and five team members have settled a federal hazing lawsuit.  The five team members issued an apology but continued to deny the more egregious allegations, which included locking the former team member in a bathroom and subjecting him to sexual assault.  They acknowledged their actions caused plaintiff hardship.  Virginia Lawyers Weekly has the story.

March 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 28, 2016

TN: Office-Sharing Lawyers Potentially Vicariously Liable for Malpractice

A federal judge in Tennessee has ruled an unincorporated association of attorneys sharing office space is not entitled to summary judgment for a claim of vicarious liability for legal malpractice.  Bloomberg BNA has the story.

March 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hulk Hogan, Sex Tapes, and Privacy

At Slate, Amy Gajda has a piece on Hulk Hogan's verdict against Gawker, focusing on public disclosure of embarrassing private facts.  She goes through the Restatement and discusses precedents regarding balancing privacy with freedom of the press.

March 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lexology: Justice Scalia's Legacy on Products Liability, Class Actions, and Punitive Damages

At Lexology, Anand Agneshwar and Emily May of Arnold & Porter recap Justice Scalia's legacy from a torts perspective.

March 22, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 18, 2016

PA: $4.2M Jury Award for Nuisance in Gas Drilling

Last week, 2 Pennsylvania families won a $4.2M jury award against fracking operators for contaminating their wells.  Plaintiffs' fracking verdicts have been rare, with the 2014 Parr case in Texas ($2.9M) leading the way.  BNA Bloomberg has the story, with an emphasis on whether this verdict will embolden potential plaintiffs.

March 18, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

PA: Doctor, Hospital Settle Med Mal Case

Representatives of the young doctor who died of complications from a blood clot and the hospital that treated her have settled their med mal case for an undisclosed amount.  The Scranton Times-Tribune has details.

March 8, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

PA: Jury Seated in Med Mal Trial of Doctor Against Hospital

In 2013, a 26-year-old doctor who was a member of The Commonwealth Medical College's charter class, died of complications from a blood clot at the hospital in which she was about to start her pediatric residency.  Suit filed on the doctor's behalf alleges negligent treatment.  Jury selection took 2 days as a pool of 70 was reduced to 16.  The trial is expected to be long and involve numerous witnesses.  The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader has details.

March 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

IN: House Panel Approves Med Mal Cap Increase

The House Judiciary Committee, 11-1, approved a $400,000 increase in the med mal cap, to a total of $1.65M.  It would gradually increase every 4 years until 2031, with a final cap of $2.25M.  The bill now goes to the full House, but may have trouble in the Senate.  KSL.com has the story.

March 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dismissal Motion in Sandy Hook Families' Suit Against Gun Manufacturers

Yesterday a judge in Bridgeport Superior Court heard arguments over dismissing the lawsuit filed by families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting against manufacturers of the AR-15.  In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which broadly shields gun manufacturers from liability.  One of the exceptions to immunity is negligent entrustment:

In a 48-page brief arguing against dismissal of the case, attorney Josh Koskoff is trying to establish that the common law theory of negligent entrustment applies to the introduction of the AR-15 into the market by the Bushmaster Firearms International, the manufacturer of the weapon used by Adam Lanza in his shooting spree inside the school that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead.

"Their argument is what is negligent here is not selling the gun by the gun shop but what is negligent here is releasing the weapon into the market in the first place," Georgia State University Law Professor Timothy Lytton said.

In his brief, Koskoff argues that the AR-15 has no business being sold to civilians, that it was made for the military and "is built for mass casualty assaults" and to deliver "more wounds, of greater severity, in more victims, in less time."

A ruling is not expected soon.  The Hartford Courant has the story.

February 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

PA: Crash on I-78

This past Saturday morning on Interstate 78, there was a terrible 64-vehicle crash that injured 73, including 3 fatalities.  Many people cited a "whiteout" of snow as one of the causes.  Weather, however, is a relatively rare cause of automobile accidents.  According to local data, nearly 80 percent of accidents occur when there is no rain, sleet, fog, or snow.  There were 109,000 accidents in 7 local counties between 2009 and 2014 and less than 6% of them occurred during snow or sleet (nationally, AAA states that 3.4% of accidents occur on snow-covered roads).  On the other hand, aggressive driving was a factor in 64,000 of 109,000 accidents, and distracted driving was also a large contributor.  Pennlive has details.

February 18, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ProPublica: "When a Brain Surgeon Becomes a Malpractice Attorney"