Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

Sues airline in tipsy escalator mishap

Floyd W. Shuler, 61, of West Virginia, is suing an airline “alleging it didn’t notify him that drinking alcohol at night might adversely affect passengers before he fell down an escalator at Southwest Florida International Airport.” “US Airways failed to warn (Shuler) and its other passengers of the increased effect that consumption of alcoholic beverages has on airline passengers who consume alcoholic beverages while in flight and while flying at night,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Fort Myers. The suit also claims the escalator stopped unexpectedly after Shuler stepped onto it and that it was improperly maintained. (Kristen Zambo, “Man sues airline after falling down escalator after drinking on flight”, Naples Daily News, Mar. 31)(see Dec. 17, Oct. 13, Aug. 8, Jul. 30, Jul. 21; many more tipple-your-way-to-court cases). Update Apr. 3: Shuler says he never intended to sue.

Virginia primitive

Amid worldwide publicity, the commissioners of rural Rhea County, Tennessee, quickly rescinded their call for legislation allowing the county to prosecute gays and lesbians for “crimes against nature”; Commissioner J.C. Fugate had asked the county attorney to find a way to “keep them out of here.” (“Rhea County Commission Rescinds Gay Ban”, The Chattanoogan, Mar. 18; “Tennessee county reverses ban on gays”, Ellen Barry, “County Rescinds Vote to Ban Gay Residents”, L.A. Times, Mar. 18; AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 19). By contrast, there’s been much less attention paid to a proposed statute nearing enactment in supposedly civilized Virginia which might serve almost as effectively in sending a “don’t live here” message to gays.

Read On…

States stomp on substitute smokes, cont’d

As we noted Jan. 13 and Jan. 23, the structure of the great 1998 tobacco robbery puts state governments under financial pressure to restrict or suppress the activities of maverick cigarette makers that do not participate in the settlement fund. Vice Squad, which has been following this issue, has recent posts detailing how this is happening in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida (Feb. 23) and Pennsylvania again (Feb. 26)(Florida is one of four states with their own settlements with the tobacco majors paralleling the 46-state main settlement).

Common Good “Five worst lawsuits of 2003”

Common Good, the organization founded by author/attorney Philip K. Howard (The Death of Common Sense, The Collapse of the Common Good) and dedicated to “Reforming America’s Lawsuit Culture”, has announced its picks for Top 5 Ridiculous Lawsuits awards of 2003, in what is intended to be a continuing annual series. Two of the five have been written up previously on this site: Blair Hornstine’s suit demanding to be made sole valedictorian of her school in Moorestown, N.J. (see Aug. 21, Jul. 12 and links from there) and a jury’s award of $10 million against the state of Washington over an assault committed in part by two foster kids in the state’s foster care program (see Nov. 24). The other three:

* Perri v. Furma Restaurant, Inc. (Illinois Court of Appeals, Jan.): “Parents can sue Chinese restaurant for hot tea burn, even though a child from their family caused the burn by spinning the lazy susan.”

* Gary Dailey v. Board of Review, et. al (Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, Nov.): “Truck driver, who lied about having driver?s license, wins suit to get unemployment benefits.”

* Ellen Hall v. Tim Henn, et. al (Illinois Supreme Court, Dec.)(unpublished opinion): “Woman who broke her arm on backyard snow luge can sue neighbor who invited her and other friends and neighbors to use the luge.” The court held that a state statute protecting landowners from liability for opening their land to the public did not apply to invited guests and that the luge could be “considered an ‘unnatural and dangerous condition’ even though the victim called and asked if she and her daughter could come over and use it.”

Med-mal roundup

Massachusetts: “The Romney administration and the Harvard School of Public Health, seeking to address soaring health care costs driven by medical malpractice lawsuits, are working on a sweeping proposal to move malpractice claims out of state courts and into a new administrative framework much like the state’s workers’ compensation system.” (Ralph Ranalli, “Malpractice plan would limit trials”, Boston Globe, Nov. 13). “Defense and plaintiffs’ lawyers agree that, in recent memory, no medical malpractice verdict in excess of policy limits has resulted in the seizure of a Connecticut doctor’s house, savings or other personal assets”, reports Thomas B. Scheffey of the Connecticut Law Tribune. But now following a series of high awards “more aggressive collection strategies may come into play” as trial lawyers at Bridgeport’s kingpin tort firm of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder are “exploring other options” with regard to collecting a $10 million judgment against a Stamford physician insured for only $1 million (“Med-Mal Awards Put Doctors on Alert”, Nov. 18). And a judge in McDowell County, W.V., has dismissed Dr. Julie McCammon’s lawsuit against the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and its former president for causing her malpractice insurance rates to rise, ruling that the defendants owed her no duty of care. (Nora Edinger, “Doctor’s suit dismissed”, Clarksburg Exponent Telegram, undated, appx. Nov. 26).

Countersue? Just try it, doc

When doctors are named in groundless malpractice lawsuits, they often want to fight back by filing countersuits or moving for sanctions. But, as American Medical News is the latest to learn, our legal system is elaborately structured to deny them any such recourse for the injury done them by the lawsuit. (Tanya Albert, “Fighting frivolous lawsuits: Doctors engage in an uphill battle”, American Medical News, Oct. 27). For a few of the rare instances in which countersuits or sanctions motions have been successful, see Sept. 6-8, 2002; Jun. 14-15, 2000; Sept. 14, 1999. More (rare successful countersuit by W.V. surgeon Saad Mossallati): Tanya Albert, “West Virginia physician caught in legal net hooks lawyer, lands settlement”, American Medical News (AMA), Dec. 2, 2002; Dorothy L. Pennachio, “The target of a ‘shotgun’ suit fires back”, Medical Economics, Apr. 11, 2003. More: see Point of Law, Jan. 10, 2005 (Pennsylvania Medical Society has begun assisting doctors in countersuits).

W. Va.’s judge-advocate?

High on the list of upcoming showdowns between the Chamber of Commerce and organized trial lawyerdom is the race for control of the West Virginia Supreme Court, which is considered to tip pro-plaintiff at present by a slender margin. Incumbent Justice Warren McGraw drew particular ire from the state’s business community when he “authored a 1999 decision that allows people who claim exposure to toxic chemicals to win huge sums of money for a lifetime of medical testing — without ever having to prove that they are sick.” “In a fund-raising letter sent out this spring, Wheeling lawyer Bob Fitzsimmons wrote, ‘Justice Warren McGraw has consistently advocated for the injured persons of our state.'” (Toby Coleman, “McGraw ahead in race, poll says”, Charleston Daily Mail, Aug. 28)(via Brian Peterson, who also (Aug. 28) wonders about that “advocated”). Update May 13: McGraw holds off challenge.