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Advocates Circle Firms

Barkan Meizlish, LLP

 

Brian G. Miller Co., LPA

 

Bordas & Bordas, PLLC

 

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC

 

Christian R. Patno

 

Crandall & Pera Law

 

Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers

 

Elk & Elk

 

Garson Johnson, LLC

 

Geiser, Bowman & McLafferty, LLC

 

The Gervelis Law Firm

 

Grieco Law

 

Kisling Nestico & Redick

 

Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co.,. LPA

 

Leeseberg & Valentine

 

Leizerman & Associates, LLC

 

Lamkin, Van Eman, Trimble & Dougherty, LLC

 

Meyer Wilson Co., LPA

 

Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Co., LPA

 

O'Connor Acciani & Levy, LPA

 

Rittgers & Rittgers

 

Robert J. Wagoner, Co., LLC

 

Rourke & Blumenthal

 

Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP

 

Slater & Zurz, LLP

 

Tittle & Perlmuter

 

Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.

 

Young and McCarthy LLP

 


 

                       

 

 

OAJ BLOG CENTRAL

Jury Awards Husband and Wife $11.4M Over Workplace Discrimination

Shared by 

www.nachtlaw.com/blog


A husband and wife working for the Michigan Department of Corrections filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. The suit resulted in an $11.4 million unanimous jury verdict award. Federal law protects employees from harassment, which includes any instance of discrimination over an individual’s race, ethnicity or marital status. At the law firm of NachtLaw, P.C., we understand how reporting workplace harassment or discrimination may result in an employer retaliating against you.

When a female probation officer working for the MDOC became the subject of continuous racial slurs and harassment, she understood that not bringing attention to it only helped foster a “culture of racism.” When she attempted to file a complaint, however, a harassment counselor sabotaged her efforts. According to the Human Resource publication, HR Dive, instead of the employer fixing any of the problems, the slurs and harassment continued and the probation officer transferred to a different MDOC office. The situation did not improve, however, after she transferred to the other office.

Purportedly, her husband who worked for the MDOC as a deputy warden was forced to retire from his position after she filed a civil rights lawsuit. Her husband’s boss received a copy of the complaint, and alleged phony disciplinary charges were then brought against the probation officer’s husband as an act of retaliation for his wife’s lawsuit. The action resulted in his early retirement.

Bringing to your manager’s attention any negative issues experienced in the workplace should result in a professional response and an appropriate remedial action. The situation may otherwise develop into a hostile work environment. In situations where the hostility centers around an act of retaliation for voicing the complaint, you may need to take legal action.


Should Auto Manufacturers Focus on Backseat Passenger Safety?

Shared by Bey & Associates, LLC

www.beyandassociates.com/blog


Over time, cars have become safer and safer. A lot of safety measures have been implemented throughout the whole vehicle, but the majority of auto manufacturers focus on safety in the front seat. Should they start focusing on back-seat passenger safety to even it out and make the entire vehicle safe?

The inclination to upgrade safety features for the front seat is natural since it’s usually a more dangerous place to sit in the event of an accident. As Consumer Reports notes, on average, just under 20,000 front-seat passengers die each year in auto accidents. Comparatively, about 2,000 back-seat passengers die in crashes. Though that number is only a fraction of front seat deaths, it could always be lowered.

That’s all assuming back seat passengers will wear their seat belts, though. According to Ohio law, only front-seat drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt at all times, meaning that back-seat passengers are not legally required to wear a seat belt. In some accidents, wearing a seat belt can be the difference between life and death. If safety features in the back seat are increased, passengers should opt to use them to their full advantage.

Study Finds Backseat Less Safe in Frontal Collisions

Not buckling up is a huge problem in the back seat, but even passengers who wear their seat belts can suffer serious injuries. A recent study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that better restraints are needed in the back seats. In this study, researchers found that most back-seat passengers are hurt more severely than front-seat passengers when the car is in a collision.

Federal law states that front seats must have frontal airbags, but it doesn’t mention back-seat passengers. This same study found that the seat belts used in the back seats can actually cause injury and death in the event of a serious collision. Head injuries from crashes are also a concern because they were one of the most common injuries sustained by back-seat occupants in crashes, second only to chest injuries.

According to NBC News, back seats usually don’t have front airbags, so passengers can hit the seat in front of them in the aftermath of a car accident. Compared to the front seat, back seat seat belts don’t automatically lock when a crash begins, so the seat belt allows passengers to move more than they should. They also don’t use force limiters in the back seat, so seat belts can crush the passenger’s chest.

To combat these findings, some manufacturers, like Ford and Mercedes-Benz, have embedded airbags into seat belts so that they inflate upon impact. But this is only one step toward increasing safety for back-seat passengers in the event of a car accident.


Physicians Getting Burnt as Electronic Records are Coming in Hot

Shared by McKeen & Associates

www.mckeenassociates.com/blog


Converting to digital medical records was supposed to make your care safer and more efficient. But according to a new study, it may be sending things in the opposite direction.

strong correlation between hard-to-use electronic health records (EHR) and physician burnout has been made in a recent study. The findings reveal that software that might be handling your medical charts is contributing to heightened rates of exhaustion for doctors, which could lead to medical errors and malpractice.

Faulty systems

Offices across the country have installed EHR programs at break-neck speeds in recent years, thanks in large part to billions of dollars in federal incentives. The fast-paced rollout has left doctors trying to play catchup, the director of the Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Yale, Edward R. Melnick, told YaleNews. And those playing catchup are generally the ones spending more time staring at a computer screen than helping patients.

Technical difficulties

For every hour that a doctor sees you in their office, they might be spending up to two hours working with an EHR. Then they might add another two hours of EHR work in their personal time. And all this may not provide any payoff for you or them. Physicians still complain the structure doesn’t do much to improve the care that you receive, says Melnick. Rather, it places the focus on billing instead of communication.

Burning both ends

All these frustrations don’t come without consequences. Doctors that are worn down by convoluted systems are more likely to show symptoms of burnout, according to the study. The repercussions of this debilitating fatigue could pass on to you in many forms, such as errors in judgment, missed diagnoses and medication errors.


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Passing Illegally Could Result in Catastrophic Car Accidents

Shared by Sandel Law Firm

www.sandellaw.com/blog


Nearly every driver has become frustrated with a slower driver in front of him or her at some point. On many two-lane roadways, passing can only occur when it is safe and legal. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to wait for the way to be clear, safe and legal before they begin passing the vehicle or vehicles in front of them. This action could easily result in catastrophic car accidents involving serious or deadly injuries.

For example, the Ohio State Highway Patrol recently responded to the scene of a four-vehicle crash on State Route 173. Shortly before 6 a.m. on a Thursday morning, a westbound vehicle began passing the slower vehicle in front of it. The driver's attempt was illegal since it was over a double yellow line on the crest of the hill. Perhaps predictably, other vehicles were headed right toward his vehicle from the opposite direction.

Two of the vehicles collided head-on, and the westbound vehicle then slammed into the other westbound vehicle, which ended up in a ditch. When these three vehicles came to a rest, a fourth vehicle headed eastbound over the crest of the hill collided with the wreckage of the passing westbound vehicle. The driver of that vehicle died, and the driver of the vehicle it initially collided with suffered severe injuries.

The seriously injured driver may pursue restitution for the financial losses associated with the crash. As is the case in other car accidents in which the at-fault driver dies, the personal injury claim may be filed against the decedent's estate. Otherwise, the progression of the claim essentially remains the same as any other in an Ohio civil court.


Achieving Equal Protection against Discrimination through the Ohio Fairness Act

Shared by Cooper & Elliott

www.cooperelliott.com/blog


The law is intended to protect the rights of all citizens equally. But what happens to equal protection when the laws are inconsistent from one jurisdiction to the next? In that case, the promise of protection waivers, and the rights of certain individuals and groups become unclear.

That’s what is going on right now in Ohio regarding LGBT rights. There is, however, a potential solution on the horizon—if Ohio’s legislators can demonstrate the commitment to fairness required to enact it.

Hit-or-miss discrimination laws

Nearly half of the states in the U.S. lack a statewide law offering blanket protection of civil rights for LGBT citizens. Ohio is one of those states.

Some of Ohio’s municipalities and counties have anti-discrimination laws that address sexual orientation and transgender identity. But in localities where there are no laws covering specific instances of LGBT discrimination, there are no legal means to fight against or seek damages for those injustices.

Federal law does not fill the gap. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against employees by employers on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. This law generally only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII also fails to specifically address situations that involve housing, education, and credit.

Historically, courts are divided as to whether Title VII protections extend to gay and transgender people.

Protecting LGBT rights with the Ohio Fairness Act

The Ohio legislature has addressed the issue of statewide protection for LGBT rights, but it has not completed its task. House Bill 160 would introduce the Ohio Fairness Act. This sweeping anti-discrimination legislation is fair and needed.

Unfortunately, as of now, the bill is still only pending.

The proposed House Bill 160 aims to extend legal protection against discrimination specifically to the LGBT community. It would make it illegal for any Ohio employer, employment agency, or labor organization to discriminate against an employee or applicant based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Similar versions of House Bill 160 have been introduced over the last decade, yet none have passed. The current version of the bill had its hearing earlier this year, but the legislature, once again, failed to pass it.

In our opinion, that failure hurts all of Ohio’s citizens.

Why equal protection matters

Enacting the Ohio Fairness Act is not only the right thing to do for Ohio and its citizens. It also has real-life benefits for the people of Ohio.

As civil rights attorneys, we routinely field inquiries from people who have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation or transgender identity. While we do have resources and alternate avenues by which we can help people seek justice for discrimination, we’re not able to use the full potential of the civil litigation system for individuals who don’t live and work in one of the few Ohio localities where appropriate discrimination laws are already in effect. Passing House Bill 160 would empower us to use civil litigation to its fullest against discriminating parties anywhere in Ohio.

In addition, the non-discrimination protections afforded by House Bill 160 would be good for Ohio’s economy and business environment. By protecting the LGBT community’s right to work, the bill could only enhance the ability of Ohio businesses to attract and retain talent. That’s why House Bill 160 is backed by numerous chambers of commerce as well as Ohio Business Competes, a collective of more than 475 statewide businesses.

Since the 1960s, our society has—piece by piece—pulled down the walls of discrimination that unfairly blocked good people from basic rights and opportunities. The malicious discrimination of the past—common prejudices based on race, gender, religion, disabilities, and national origins—were remedied starting with laws that empowered enforcement agencies and set the stage for private lawsuits. The explicit statewide protections that would be afforded by the Ohio Fairness Act are no less needed, and the LGBT community no less deserving.

As the new Ohio Legislature returns to office this fall, a number of things could happen with House Bill 160.


Roadway Construction Zones Have a High Rate of Accidents

Shared by Philip J. Fulton Law Office

www.ohiocompensationlawyer.com/blog


When most people think of what types of jobs involve the highest risk for workplace accidents, they probably think of jobs that involve construction and the use of heavy machinery, and rightfully so. These types of jobs do indeed come with an increased risk of potential workplace accidents and resulting worker injuries. Roadside construction zones, according to a recent report, have a very high rate of accidents.

According to the report, in Ohio last year there were 4,600 motor vehicle accidents in construction zones. Not only does this put drivers and their passengers in danger, but it also places roadside construction workers at a higher risk of being injured in the aftermath of such a car accident. These construction workers are oftentimes only protected by the placement of reflective barrels to mark off the construction zone or, in the best-case scenarios, by concrete barriers. Nevertheless, the danger of being hurt by a car accident that takes place nearby is very real for these construction workers.

In fact, there are usually a couple of news reports each year about construction workers who are struck and killed in roadside construction zones. So, not only do these workers need to worry about injuries, they also need to be aware of the potential for a life-threatening workplace accident occurring.


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Merit Decision: Township Not Liable for High-Speed Chase Accident Caused by Police Officer. McConnell v. Dudley

Shared by Marianna Brown Bettman

www.legallyspeakingohio.com


“R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)(a) makes plain that it is the driver’s conduct and culpability in operating a vehicle—not the political subdivision’s—that determines whether the political subdivision may be held liable under the statute.”

Justice Kennedy, majority opinion

On November 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio handed down a merit decision in McConnell v. DudleySlip Opinion No. 2019-Ohio-4740. In an opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that a political subdivision’s hiring, training and supervision of a police officer does not constitute “operation of a motor vehicle” for purposes of imposing liability on the political subdivision for an accident caused by the police officer during an emergency run.  Justices French, DeWine, and Kennedy joined the majority opinion in full. Chief Justice O’Connor and Justice Donnelly concurred in judgment only, and Justice Stewart wrote a brief separate concurrence. The case was argued June 12, 2019.

Case Background

Coitsville Township Police Officer Donald Dudley, Jr. was investigating a stolen vehicle. In attempting to follow the suspects he thought were involved, he began a high-speed chase. As he approached an intersection, he was trying to radio his position and failed to notice that the light was red when he entered the intersection. A house and a tree obstructed his view to the right, so he also failed to see a westbound car driven by Renee McConnell (“McConnell”) who was on her way to work.  Dudley collided with McConnell’s car. McConnell sustained serious injuries.

McConnell and her husband and children sued Officer Dudley, Coitsville Township and its board of trustees, and the Coitsville Township Police Department (collectively, “the township”) alleging that Officer Dudley’s negligent, willful, or wanton operation of the police cruiser and the township’s negligent, willful and/or wanton conduct in establishing policies and procedures for pursuit training, and in its hiring, training and supervising of Officer  Dudley caused McConnell’s injuries and loss of consortium of her spouse and children.

Officer Dudley and the township moved for summary judgment on the basis of immunity. The trial court denied the motion. The trial court found that although Officer Dudley was operating a motor vehicle within the scope of his employment and in response to an emergency call, there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether his conduct rose to the level of wantonness or recklessness. Wanton misconduct by Officer Dudley would mean the political subdivision could be liable under R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)(a). Wanton or reckless behavior by Officer Dudley would mean he could be liable as an employee of a political subdivision under R.C.2744.03(A)(6)(b).  The trial court also found genuine issues of material fact on the claim that the township was negligent in hiring, training, and supervising its officers—which is the subject of this appeal.

The Appeal

The Seventh District Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The appeals court agreed there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether Officer Dudley’s actions constituted willful and wanton misconduct, and whether the township was negligent in training and supervising him.  But because the McConnells had failed to plead a claim against Officer Dudley in his individual capacity, the appeals court held that the trial court erred in finding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to Dudley’s personal liability.

Read the oral argument preview of the case here and the analysis of the argument here.

Key Precedent

R.C. 2744.02(A)(1) (A political subdivision is generally immune from liability for its acts and for the acts of its employees in connection with a governmental function, unless one of the exceptions within the statute applies.)

R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)(a) (Political subdivisions are liable for injury, death, or loss to person or property caused by the negligent operation of any motor vehicle by their employees when the employees are engaged within the scope of their employment and authority. But political subdivisions are immune from damages caused by a police officer operating a motor vehicle while responding to an emergency call unless the officer’s actions were willful or wanton.)

R.C. 2744.01(C)(2)(a) (“The provision or nonprovision of police, fire, emergency medical, ambulance, and rescue services or protection” is a governmental function.)

Doe v. Marlington, 2009-Ohio-1360 (The exception to immunity in R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) for the negligent operation of a motor vehicle pertains only to negligence in driving or otherwise causing the vehicle to be moved.)

Smith v. McBride, 2011-Ohio-4674 (R.C. 2744.02(B)(1)(a) applies “when an officer is responding to a call to duty, which includes responding to a dispatch for assistance out of a professional obligation to do so.”)

Pelletier v. Campbell, 2018-Ohio-2121 (Determining whether a political subdivision is immune from tort liability involves a three-tiered analysis. First, R.C. 2744.02(A)(1) grants general immunity to political subdivisions. Second, a court must determine whether any exception within R.C. 2744.02(B) is applicable that would expose the political subdivision to liability. Third, a court must determine whether any defense within R.C. 2744.03 is applicable to restore the political subdivision’s immunity.)

Township’s Proposition of Law Accepted For Review

A political subdivision is immune from liability for allegations of negligent hiring, or failure to train or supervise police officers, as such allegations do not fall within any of the exceptions found within R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) through (B)(5).

Does the Court Adopt the Township’s Proposition of Law?

The court agrees with the township that the exception for negligent operation of a motor vehicle provided in R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) does not include negligent hiring, training, or supervising the employee who drove the vehicle.

Position of the Parties

The Township

The township argues that there is no exception to immunity encompassed in R.C. 2744.02(B) for negligence in hiring, training, or supervising its employees, and, of particular significance to this case, that the exception for negligent operation of a motor vehicle provided in R.C. 2744.02(B)(1) does not include negligent hiring, training, or supervising the employee who drove the vehicle. Only the employee’s own actions are relevant in determining whether that employee engaged in willful or wanton misconduct in response to an emergency call.

The McConnells

The defense to liability for emergency calls is not implicated here because it was the township’s own negligence that caused this accident. The township failed to ensure that Officer Dudley was properly qualified, trained and supervised in how to perform a high- speed chase, and this negligence occurred before the emergency run itself, so is actionable pursuant to R.C. 2744.02(B)(1). So, no heightened willful-and-wanton standard review is even necessary.

Merit Decision

Analysis

Executive Summary

It is the employee’s conduct, not that of the political subdivision, that establishes the exception to immunity under the statute.  And there is no additional exception to the immunity statute that imposes liability on a political subdivision for its actions in the hiring, training or supervising of an employee.

 

Click here to continue reading.


How “Assembly Line Medicine” May Contribute to Medical Negligence

Shared by Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC

www.lgslaw.net/blog


For the past decade or so, and into the near future, hospitals have increased the output of their surgeons by having them schedule several surgeries in one day. Doctors will often find themselves working 14-hour days going from one room to the next and performing the most complicated parts of a surgery while they leave residents and other assistants to do the rest.

While medical review boards insist that the practice is safe, many wonder how that could be. Doctors are required to go over the patient’s charts, ensure they are getting the best quality of care, and it is not clear how that happens with the assembly line style of care.

DOCTORS AGAINST ASSEMBLY LINE MEDICINE

Not all doctors agree that the process is safe. In fact, there have been some outspoken critics of the process who contend that patient care suffers as a result of assembly-line medicine. Among their chief complaints are that patients require personalized care that they do not receive when they are the 10th patient their doctor has seen in the past hour. This is largely a response, they contend, to the corporatization of the medical industry.

When people suffer a negative medical outcome, they are entitled to pursue a lawsuit against their doctor. That does not mean that their lawsuit has merit or will be successful. In order to prove medical negligence or medical malpractice occurred, they must show that the doctor failed in his or her duty of care.

In cases in which the patient was one of 10 other patients that a doctor either saw or performed surgery on that day, the question will always be: Did the quality of care suffer as a result of the practice? The medical profession at large says no, while individual doctors have varying opinions on the practice. However, the fact that one doctor saw so many patients in one day and the patients suffered injury as a result of their care can be used as an argument against the doctor in court.


CDC Investigates Legionnaires Disease Outbreak

Shared by Crandall & Pera Law, LLC

www.injuryverdicts.com/blog


The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sent personnel to a Clermont County hospital to trace the source of a recent outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Two patients at the Mount Carmel medical facility have already been diagnosed with the potentially deadly condition. A hospital representative said that the facility was cooperating with health inspectors and is continuing to provide medical services during the investigation.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe type of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria that is commonly found in fresh water sources like lakes and streams. The bacteria thrives in hot water tanks, air conditioners and cooling towers when it finds its way into the water systems of large buildings. People usually become infected after inhaling mist that contains the bacteria. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and shortness of breath. About one in 10 of the people who become infected die of the condition.

The hospital says that it is hyperchlorinating its entire water supply to prevent the spread of the disease. Health inspectors are worried that other patients may have already become infected. An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a nearby hospital in May led to the death of a 75-year-old woman. The outbreak occurred just weeks after the $361 million facility opened its doors. At least seven medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed against the hospital in connection with the outbreak.

Hospitals are expected to take all reasonable precautions to protect their patients from deadly diseases caused by unsanitary conditions. 


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Ohio Nursing Home Neglect Can Be as Dangerous as Abuse

Shared by Plevin & Gallucci

www.plevinandgallucci.com/legal-news-blog


Horrifying stories of vulnerable elderly and disabled people being hit, unreasonably restrained, and even sexually assaulted catch the media’s attention and put families on guard. But the risks to nursing home residents go far beyond intentional violence. For those who are wholly or partly dependent on others for their food, hygiene, and medical care, neglect can be fatal. 

One of these risks was briefly in the spotlight earlier this year, when six employees and a contractor at Whetstone Gardens and Care Center in Columbus were charged with involuntary manslaughter and a mix of other crimes. One of the two patients at the center of the investigation and resulting charges died of septic shock as a result of untreated bedsores. 

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are common in nursing homes and other residential care facilities because many residents have limited mobility or are bedridden. However, the level and quality of care provided plays a significant role in determining both the rate at which residents suffer from bedsores and the likelihood of serious complications. For example, a facility providing high-quality care will ensure that residents move around to the degree they are able. Maintaining mobility has many possible health benefits, including reducing the risk of pressure sores. 

Even if a resident’s mobility is seriously limited, measures such as ensuring that a wheelchair is properly fitted and shifting the resident’s weight at regular intervals when bedridden can significantly reduce the likelihood of bedsores. When a resident does have bedsores, immediate and appropriate care can make all the difference. Neglected bedsores may have a wide range of serious consequences, including gangrene and other infections that can lead to the loss of a limb or death.

Bedsores are both serious enough and indicative enough of negligent care that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Standards (CMS) regulations include specific provisions relating to identification, avoidance, and treatment of pressure ulcers. But there are many other serious risks associated with nursing home negligence.

What is Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect has been described as “the failure of the facility, its employees, or service providers to provide goods or services to a resident that are necessary to avoid physical harm, pain, mental anguish, or emotional distress.” Neglect is not willful–withholding of the same types of goods and services intentionally or as punishment would be classified as abuse, though the impact might be identical.

Some of the most common types of nursing home neglect include: 

Falls: Falls are common among the elderly, whether in residential care facilities or living independently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about three million older Americans are treated for fall-related injuries each year. More than 280,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip fractures sustained in falls each year, and about 30,000 die. But many falls are avoidable. Nursing homes are required to conduct fall assessments on residents, and to adapt the resident’s care plan based on that risk. 

Choking: While a person of any age can choke, the elderly and people with certain diseases and disorders are at higher risk. More than half of choking fatalities occur among those aged 75 and older. The risk can be minimized in a nursing home setting by properly assessing the patient and providing an appropriate diet, including a soft or pureed diet if necessary. Staff training is also critical, since the ability to recognize signs of choking and respond swiftly and appropriately can mean the difference between life and death.

Dehydration and Malnutrition: A wide variety of factors can impact nutrition and hydration in the elderly, from loss of appetite to problems absorbing nutrients. In some cases, the cause may be as simple as an elderly person forgetting to drink throughout the day, or not having easy access to water in a facility. Nursing home staff must monitor what residents eat and drink and take note of inadequate consumption and/or any changes in body weight, skin texture, or other health issues that may indicate the resident is not getting enough nutrients or hydration.

Medication Errors: Nursing home residents in the United States suffer more than one million avoidable adverse drug reactions each year. Tens of thousands of these reactions are fatal or life-threatening. Some common causes include administering the wrong medication, administering the wrong dosage, neglecting to administer medication, or giving medication to the wrong resident.

Infections: The elderly and disabled may be particularly susceptible to infections that impact people of all ages. For example, those who are incontinent, are dehydrated, and/or are catheterized are at greater risk for urinary tract infections. And elderly people who may be experiencing cognitive deterioration may not recognize or report symptoms. But urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other common infections can be fatal if left untreated.

Be Alert for Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of neglect, both when choosing a nursing home for a loved one and during residency. Educating yourself in advance can help you recognize signs and assess risk factors. For instance, one recent study showed that neglect was more common in for-profit residential care facilities than in nonprofit nursing homes. 

Some signals to watch for include: 

  • Poor personal hygiene among residents generally and your loved one in particular;
  • Unsanitary conditions in common areas, resident rooms, bathrooms, and other areas;
  • Loss of mobility after entering the facility;
  • Decline in general health, such as signs of malnutrition;
  • Cognitive decline;
  • Unexplained injuries.

Can I Sue Uber or Lyft if a Rideshare Driver Caused the Car Crash That Left Me Injured?

Shared by Barkan Meizlish LLP

barkanmeizlish.com/blogs-news


Yes, you can generally file a personal injury claim if a rideshare driver causes a traffic accident that injures you.

Despite a series of class action lawsuits, Lyft and Uber drivers remain classified as independent contractors rather than employees of the rideshare companies for which they work. As a result, rideshare drivers are generally required to carry at least two separate forms of car insurance that cover accidents involving injuries to passengers, pedestrians, bike riders, and people in other vehicles.

Typically, the at-fault Uber or Lyft driver will be the liable party, with the rideshare company being secondary/additional. However, certain factors, like if the negligent or reckless driver was acting as an employee of a rideshare company at the time of the accident, can alter who the liable party actually is. How your case will go largely depends on which of the following scenarios describes what happened.

Were You Injured While Riding as an Uber or Lyft Passenger?

Rideshare companies require their contract drivers to carry personal car insurance coverage. Additionally, rideshare companies commonly provide, and in most states are required to provide, approximately $1-million in insurance coverage. The additional $1 million policy can apply when passengers suffer injuries in crashes a rideshare driver caused.

How much an injured passenger can claim will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the injuries, the amount of the medical bills, and the number of injured people who have valid insurance claims. The final factor comes into play because the $1 million limit covers all crash victims.

Was the Uber or Lyft Driver En Route With a Passenger When They Hit You?

Under the laws of Ohio, pedestrian, motorcycle riders, and individuals in other vehicles may not have access to the full $1 million of injury liability coverage carried by Uber and Lyft drivers. Consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced rideshare accident attorney will clarify how to maximize insurance settlements, and ensure all potential avenues of recovery have been investigated. 

Did the Uber or Lyft Driver Have the App Open but No Passenger in Their Vehicle?

Rideshare drivers who are “available” and logged into the rideshare company’s app, but have not yet picked up a passenger, are generally covered by their Uber or Lyft policy for up to $100,000 in liability. The driver’s own personal insurance may provide coverage, as may underinsured motorist provisions of the injured person’s insurance.

Did the Uber or Lyft Driver Have the App Closed and No Passenger in Their Vehicle?

Yes, you can generally file a personal injury claim if a rideshare driver causes a traffic accident that injures you.

Despite a series of class action lawsuits, Lyft and Uber drivers remain classified as independent contractors rather than employees of the rideshare companies for which they work. As a result, rideshare drivers are generally required to carry at least two separate forms of car insurance that cover accidents involving injuries to passengers, pedestrians, bike riders, and people in other vehicles.

Typically, the at-fault Uber or Lyft driver will be the liable party, with the rideshare company being secondary/additional. However, certain factors, like if the negligent or reckless driver was acting as an employee of a rideshare company at the time of the accident, can alter who the liable party actually is. How your case will go largely depends on which of the following scenarios describes what happened.

Were You Injured While Riding as an Uber or Lyft Passenger?

Rideshare companies require their contract drivers to carry personal car insurance coverage. Additionally, rideshare companies commonly provide, and in most states are required to provide, approximately $1-million in insurance coverage. The additional $1 million policy can apply when passengers suffer injuries in crashes a rideshare driver caused.

How much an injured passenger can claim will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the injuries, the amount of the medical bills, and the number of injured people who have valid insurance claims. The final factor comes into play because the $1 million limit covers all crash victims.

Was the Uber or Lyft Driver En Route With a Passenger When They Hit You?

Under the laws of Ohio, pedestrian, motorcycle riders, and individuals in other vehicles may not have access to the full $1 million of injury liability coverage carried by Uber and Lyft drivers. Consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced rideshare accident attorney will clarify how to maximize insurance settlements, and ensure all potential avenues of recovery have been investigated. 

Did the Uber or Lyft Driver Have the App Open but No Passenger in Their Vehicle?

Rideshare drivers who are “available” and logged into the rideshare company’s app, but have not yet picked up a passenger, are generally covered by their Uber or Lyft policy for up to $100,000 in liability. The driver’s own personal insurance may provide coverage, as may underinsured motorist provisions of the injured person’s insurance. 

Did the Uber or Lyft Driver Have the App Closed and No Passenger in Their Vehicle?

When a rideshare driver is neither available to take passengers nor actually working for Uber or Lyft, their own car insurance policy generally applies to any crash they cause.

So, when can Uber or Lyft be sued if the driver was not actually working for the rideshare company at the time of the accident/injury? A few of the situations in which a rideshare company could be named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit are when:

  • The company allowed a driver to operate without carrying the required coverages.
  • The company contracted with a driver who has a criminal history of driving under the influence and the wreck involved drunk or drugged driving—a situation described as “negligent employment.”
  • The company contracted with a driver who had a criminal history of sexual or physical assault and the driver assaulted you while you were a passenger.

Driver Negligence Plus Collision May Equal Neck or Spine Injuries
Shared by Leeseberg & Valentine

www.leesebergvalentine.com/blog


While it wouldn't be technically correct to say other drivers are responsible for your safety when you travel Ohio roadways, it's a fact that every licensed driver is legally obligated to adhere to traffic laws and safety regulations. Therefore, if a nearby driver is negligent, it places you and all others in the vicinity at risk for serious injury.

Many Ohio motor vehicle accidents result in neck or spinal injuries. Traumatic cervical syndrome (TCS) is a neck injury-induced biological and neurological problem. It doesn't necessarily require severe neck trauma to occur, and also doesn't mean that the sudden impact of a particular collision had to cause a whipping motion of the neck. If you're involved in a collision, it's critical that you know where to seek support, especially if you're experiencing TCS symptoms.

What are those symptoms?

Classification of TCS includes various stages of severity. Certain symptoms, such as dizziness, headache, ringing in the ear, trouble swallowing or jaw pain can occur at any stage. You might even experience memory loss after a collision that can be suggestive of traumatic cervical syndrome.

Chances of this type of injury occurring

When two vehicles collide, there is definite sudden impact, and you are at risk for any and all blunt force trauma injuries. TCS can occur regardless of what type of collision it was, meaning a t-bone crash, head-on or other. However, it's well known that this specific type of injury often occurs in rear-end collisions. Again, that doesn't mean it's not possible to suffer TCS in other types of collisions, only that it's common for rear-end collisions to result in TCS.

How soon do symptoms show?

No two patients experience TCS in exactly the same way. If a motor vehicle collision caused your injury, one of the highest priorities in the aftermath is seeking medical examination, no matter how you happen to feel. Symptoms of TCS aren't always immediately apparent. You might initially feel only minor discomfort after a crash, then realize you're not feeling as well as you thought after six or so hours pass.

In fact, many accident victims don't develop TCS symptoms for 24 hours or longer. Most people will feel some sort of discomfort or notice symptoms within 72 hours, however.

Short-term and long-term consequences

No one likes pain. The most immediate repercussion of suffering a TCS injury in a collision is physical pain. A doctor might prescribe strong pain medications to help alleviate your discomfort. If your injury is severe, it could change the rest of your life. Perhaps you would no longer be able to work. You might also need daily living assistance.

Aftermath support

Whether TCS presents in a lesser degree or worst-case scenario, you shouldn't have to be fully responsible for the financial expenses associated with your injuries if another person's negligence was the causal factor. Many Ohio accident victims seek financial recovery for their losses, then use court-awarded compensation to offset medical expenses and other costs related to their injuries.


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With Less Truckers on the Road, Will More Accidents Happen?

Shared by Bey & Associates, LLC

www.beyandassociates.com/blog


We’ve all driven past truckers on the highway or local roads. Though you might not have realized, there has been a decline in the trucking industry this year. Over 3,000 truck drivers have lost their jobs in 2019, especially truck drivers for small businesses, as reported by Business Insider.

A whopping 640 commercial trucking companies went bankrupt in just the first half of this year, which is over triple the number from the same time last year. This fall in business was caused by many factors, as told by Business Insider, including a drop in consumer spending, cost of insurance, decline in goods shipped, and the amount of drivers being over capacity.

Cincinnati Trucking Facility Closed

Bankruptcy in the trucking industry might seem like a problem that won’t hit close to home, but it already has. A facility in our own Cincinnati has gone under just like many others across the nation.

New England Motor Freight Inc. (NEMF) filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. NEMF was a privately owned trucking company based in New Jersey with many facilities across the Northeast. Its facility in Cincinnati closed, causing 43 workers to lose their jobs in our city alone, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. Across the state, a total of 269 employees are now out of work after the shutdown starting in February.

So will this decrease in truckers cause an increase in truck accidents?

Effect on Truck Accidents

You might be thinking, “Less trucks means less accidents because there are fewer on the road to cause them.” While that is a logical thought, there’s more that goes into trucking that could affect traffic when there are less of them on the road. In 2017, large truck crashes increased by 9%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That was two years ago, and with less trucks on the road this year, that could continue to rise.

Here are some of the reasons that truck accidents might increase due to less trucks on the road:

  • Overweight trucks. When there are fewer large trucks on the road, companies are forced to pack more shipments into a single unit. This makes the truck heavier because it is hauling more goods. This might seem harmless, but it actually makes the trucks harder to control, and especially harder to slow down. Not only will heavier trucks make accidents harder for truck drivers to avoid, they will also make the force of impact in collisions higher.
  • Driver fatigue. Drivers also feel more pressure to meet tighter deadlines when there are less trucks on the road. Even though truck drivers have regulations on how many hours they can drive before they have to rest for so many hours, if their deadlines are shorter than usual, they might push that envelope and drive while exhausted. This fatigue could easily lead to a commercial truck accident.
  • Speeding. When drivers are rushing to beat the clock, they might also speed to make their deadline. Speeding in a regular sized car gets dangerous very quickly, and that’s just the weight of the car. In a semi-truck, speeding is even more dangerous because you are not only hauling the weight of the truck, but also the goods in the trailer. On average, a loaded tractor trailer weighs 40 tons and needs caution while operating, so a fully loaded truck could weigh even more and require even more attention. 

Cameras in The Cab Could Cut Truck Drivers’ Distracted-Driving Crashes

Shared by Smith Law Office

www.sestriallaw.com/blog


Cameras and other technology placed in a truck cabin can detect problems and notify the driver in order to reduce distracted-driving crashes, according to a technology company.

The Nauto Prevent system is aimed at preventing truck accidents caused by distraction by informing drivers when they’ve had their eyes off the road for too long or if they’re tailgating or facing other potential risks.

“We want to help human drivers, not just rat them out to their boss,” said Nauto CEO Stefan Heck posted on techcrunch.com last year.

Nauto was founded in 2015 and is based in Palo Alto, California. The company makes “autonomous vehicle technology systems”  with an artificial intelligence-powered connected camera network and “continuous learning cloud” designed to increase driving safety and efficiency, according to Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research.

Consequences of distraction behind the wheel

FreightWaves posted a story that said a Nauto study has shown that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics underestimate distracted-driving crashes on United States roads. FreightWaves is a “data and content forum” on the freight industry based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

According to Nauto, NHTSA reports that an average of nine distracted driving crashes occur daily on U.S. roads. Most U.S. traffic information is based on police-reportable crashes, however, and not all crashes are serious enough to be reported to police. Also, drivers involved in crashes, even if distraction was a factor, often fail to tell that to police.

Many people understand distracted driving can be dangerous. Concerns about truck accidents caused by distraction have led companies to establish training for drivers that emphasizes the need to stay focused on the road.

Jennifer Haroon, Nauto chief operating officer, said that a study the company did last year, with an insurance company of commercial fleet drivers that use Nauto systems, found over 70 percent of crashes involved distracted driving.

Truck drivers using mobile phones while driving was a big factor in crashes. Other distractions that were determined to be factors in the study were people doing paperwork in the cab, or eating, drinking and talking with others in the truck.

Installing technology like Nauto’s can give managers video evidence and insights into driver behavior, which can be leveraged to help train drivers, Haroon said.

Notifying distracted drivers in real-time

The technology can identify problems that other evaluations might fail to isolate. For example, a truck driver’s hard-braking event could be because the driver was cut off by a bicycle and had to brake hard because that was the safest thing to do.

Or, perhaps the truck driver hard-braked because he or she was distracted and happened to look up just in time to see traffic in front of the truck and slammed on the brakes. 

Nauto Prevent includes algorithms that monitor a driver’s head, eyes and torso to determine if eyes are on the road, according to CCJ, a freight transport website.

Drivers get alerts if they are distracted while a vehicle is moving. A driver is not alerted for looking at a phone at a stoplight, for example. The severity of risk is based on the length of time a driver is not looking at the road and the speed of the vehicle.

Drivers hear a beep at the first sign of distraction. If they continue the behavior, the device will say “distracted.” After 4 seconds the tone becomes more severe to command their attention.


Merit Decision: Giant Eagle Gets Green Light for Motorized Carts. Barbara Rieger v. Giant Eagle, Inc.

Shared by Marianna Brown Bettman

www.legallyspeakingohio.com


“Upon review, we hold that there is insufficient evidence of causation as a matter of law to support the claims of negligence and negligent entrustment against Giant Eagle.”

Justice Stewart, opinion of the court

On September 19, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio handed down a merit decision in   Rieger v. Giant Eagle, Inc. Slip Opinion No. 2019-Ohio-3745. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Stewart, the court held that Giant Eagle should have been granted a directed verdict in this personal injury case involving an accident where a customer drove one of its motorized carts into another customer.  The case was argued April 24, 2019.

Case Background

In December of 2012, Barbara Rieger (who died August 26, 2019) was standing at the bakery counter of a Giant Eagle Store in Brook Park when her shopping cart was hit by one of Giant Eagle’s motorized carts, driven by Ruth Kurka. Rieger was knocked to the ground, injured, and taken to the hospital where she incurred $11,511 in medical expenses. Rieger sued Kurka and Giant Eagle for negligence and negligent entrustment. Ruth Kurka died before the trial, but her estate settled with Rieger for $8500.

Rieger’s suit against Giant Eagle proceeded to trial.  Pertinent to this appeal was deposition testimony from George Kurka, Ruth’s husband.  He testified that Ruth had been diagnosed with dementia before this accident, and that Ruth had never been trained on how to operate the motorized cart.  There was also evidence that Ruth had driven these carts regularly for more than a year without incident. A corporate representative from Giant Eagle testified that there are no operational instructions on the carts, Giant Eagle assumes those who use the carts know how to do so, and that warnings posted for the carts are for the cart operators. Rieger also presented the jury with evidence of 117 incidents at various Giant Eagle Stores involving motorized cars from 2004-2012.

Giant Eagle moved for a directed verdict on the negligence and negligent entrustment claims, which the trial court denied. The jury found Giant Eagle liable and awarded Rieger compensatory damages of $121,000 (which was reduced by the $8500 settlement with the Kurka Estate) and punitive damages of $1,198,000. Rieger filed a motion arguing that R.C. 2315.21, the Ohio statute capping punitive damages at twice the compensatory damages, was unconstitutional. The trial court agreed, and entered judgment for Rieger in the amount of $112,500 in compensatory and $1,198,000 in punitive damages. Giant Eagle appealed.

The Appeal

In a unanimous decision, the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirmed the compensatory damage award, but reversed the trial judge’s finding that R.C. 2315.21  was unconstitutional, and reduced the punitive damages award to $242,000. Giant Eagle appealed.

Read the oral argument preview of the case here, and an analysis of the argument here.

Key Precedent

R.C. 2315.21(C) (plaintiff cannot recover punitive damages unless there has been a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for compensatory damages.)

Gulla v. Straus, 154 Ohio St. 193 (1950) (Negligent entrustment involving the operation of a motorized vehicle requires the owner’s knowledge of the driver’s incompetence.)

Renfroe v. Ashley, 167 Ohio St. 472 (1958) (Plaintiffs must present evidence of causation before the question of causation can go to a jury.)

Strother v. Hutchinson, 67 Ohio St.2d 282 (1981) (In an action for negligence, plaintiffs must show the existence of a duty, the breach of a duty, and an injury because of the breach of duty.)

Anderson v. St.Francis-St.George Hosp.Inc. 77 Ohio St.3d 82  (1996) (Causation is established using the “but-for” test. A defendant’s conduct is a cause of the harm if the harm would not have occurred but for that conduct, citing Prosser & Keeton, Law of Torts (5 Ed.1984) 266.)

White v. Leimbach, 2011-Ohio-6238 (A motion for a directed verdict is properly granted to the moving party when “reasonable minds could come to but one conclusion upon the evidence submitted.”)

Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores E., L.P., 2014-Ohio-2998 (2nd Dist (In case involving motorized carts at Wal-Mart, appeals court held that lack of customer training on use of carts insufficient to establish lack of training caused plaintiff’s injury.)

Giant Eagle’s Propositions of Law Accepted for Review

Proposition One

For stores that provide motorized carts to disabled shoppers, the Eighth District created entirely new tort duties owed by them—a duty to warn the user about the obvious danger of a pedestrian-cart collision, a duty to train disabled customers how to operate a simple motorized car, and a duty to interrogate customers to determine whether their disability disqualifies them from operating a cart.

Proposition Two

The Eighth District has created a new standard for malice that makes the mere possibility of harm from the underlying tortious conduct—no matter how improbable—sufficient for an award of punitive damages.

Proposition Three

For accidents involving motorized shopping carts, the Eighth District created a new strict liability standard for stores by (a) eliminating the need to prove that the store’s negligence caused the accident and (b) basing that liability solely on dissimilar motorized shopping cart accidents thereby rendering the store an insurer for such accidents.

Are The Propositions of Law Adopted?

The court found that it only needed to address the third one to resolve the case and found that there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law to establish causation for either negligence or negligent entrustment.

Click here to continue reading.


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About the Blog
OAJ Blog Central showcases informative blog posts from law firms and trial attorneys throughout Ohio. 

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Recent Posts:
• Jury Awards Husband and Wife $11.4M Over Workplace Discrimination
• Should Auto Manufacturers Focus on Backseat Passenger Safety?
• Physicians Getting Burnt as Electronic Records are Coming in Hot
• Passing Illegally Could Result in Catastrophic Car Accidents
• Achieving Equal Protection against Discrimination through the Ohio Fairness Act

Keywords: Workplace DiscriminationBackseat Passenger SafetyElectronic RecordsIllegal Car PassingOhio Fairness Act, Construction Zones, AccidentsMcConnell v. Dudley, Township Liability, Assembly Line MedicineLegionnaires DiseaseNursing Home NeglectUber, LyftDriver Negligence, Neck InjuriesTruck AccidentsCab Cameras, Truck DriversBarbara Rieger v. Giant
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