“Defendants improperly used a ‘sticky substance’ such as double-sided tacky tape to increase friction on the banister and deter concertgoers from sliding down it,” according to the complaint against the owners of Buffalo’s Tralf Music Hall. “Unfortunately, this ‘sticky substance’ caused decedent Dr. Verma to lose his center of gravity and caused him to drop in between the staircase and the wall.” The lawsuit also says the theater’s owners knew that alcohol was served on the premises. The deceased was a 28-year-old medical doctor reportedly serving as a first-year resident. [Courthouse News, WIVB]
In a case combining intentional product misuse, obviousness of risk, and extensive warnings, the Texas high court declines to look for some exception you could drive an aerial work platform through [Deborah LaFetra, Pacific Legal Foundation]
After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a quick, high-profile round of on-camera media interviews by Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson helped establish the public narrative that officer Darren Wilson had stopped Brown and Johnson for no better reason than walking in the street, and that a peaceable Brown had been gunned down while trying to surrender with his hands in the air. To put it mildly, several key elements in this account were not well supported by the investigations later conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and others, and Johnson’s version of events was further put in shadow by the revelation that before the police stop he had accompanied Brown into a convenience store where Brown committed a strong-arm robbery of cigars later handed off to Johnson. At any event, Johnson has now filed a lawsuit against the town and against Wilson for being stopped and for the subsequent gunfire: Johnson wasn’t hit, but says he was endangered by the shots. [NBC News] Meanwhile, the chairman of the large law firm of Winston & Strawn will receive $1,300 an hour to represent Ferguson in the Justice Department probe. [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
“A JetBlue Airways Corp. pilot whose erratic behavior forced the diversion of a flight from New York to Las Vegas in 2012 sued the airline for $14.9 million, claiming it shouldn’t have allowed him to fly. … [Clayton] Osbon claims in his complaint that a ‘complex partial brain seizure’caused him to run down the plane’s aisle, screaming about religion and terrorist attacks before he was restrained by passengers. He said JetBlue’s failure to ground him before the flight caused him public embarrassment and the loss of his career and reputation.” [Bloomberg]
Glasgow, Kentucky: “A former Glasgow police officer is suing a Barren County gun store after being handed a loaded gun from under the counter and accidentally shooting his finger off.” [WBKO]
Sad on multiple levels [AP]:
[Omaha assistant city attorney Tom] Mumgaard said courts in Nebraska have decided cities must protect people, even if they make poor choices.
Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.
I’d say there’s more than one kind of downhill toboggan momentum we might want to worry about. Commentary: Lenore Skenazy (“If we believe that ‘whenever possible’ = ‘imagining all possible dangers, no matter how remote, and actively preventing them all, all the time, even by drastic decrees,’ then we get a society that puts 100% safety above any other cause, including fairness, convenience, exercise, rationality — and delight”); Ira Stoll (“This is the sort of story that you’d think might build some political support for tort reform.”).
“A Long Island woman says in a lawsuit that her 29-year-old son died in a drunken driving crash because police decided not to arrest him on DWI charges earlier that night…. Restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday’s is also named in the lawsuit, because [the late Peter] Fedden was drinking there before the two crashes, according to [Fedden family lawyer Harry] Thomasson.” [NBC New York, auto-plays]
New Jersey: Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Dennis O’Brien has granted summary judgment to the defendant law firm of Wolff, Helies, Duggan Spaeth and Lucas and dismissed Thomas Hickey’s suit over his injuries in falling off a reclining chair in its office during a deposition. Hickey’s lawyers had argued that the law firm as owner and maintainer of the chair was negligent not to check its settings for safety before each use. The court found that whatever hazards might inhere in the chair’s low-tension setting, Hickey had been sitting in it for 90 minutes which was “sufficient time for him to learn the chair was designed to tilt and to appreciate its tension setting.” [Ashley Peskoe, NJ.com]
“A man who fell off a cliff while intoxicated can sue the people who brought him there and waited hours to get him help, a California appeals court ruled.” [Jeff Gorman, Courthouse News]
Nigel Sykes, currently serving a 15-year sentence, is suing employees of Seasons Pizza in Newport, Del. who allegedly tackled him as he was robbing the pizzeria at gunpoint. His suit, filed without a lawyer, asks in excess of $260,000, saying employees of the dining establishment beat him up and poured hot soup on him. “While U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson tossed out several of Sykes’ claims, she allowed the case to move forward against the pizza employees, two arresting officers and Seasons.” Sykes, whom police linked to a series of robberies at a bank and various retail establishments, had filed an earlier suit with different factual allegations which was dismissed on procedural grounds. He has also claimed that he should be allowed to take back his plea in the criminal case, arguing in a motion, “I’m not good at making good choices.” [Sean O’Sullivan, Wilmington News Journal]