Attorney General Targets Structured Settlements

Attorney General Targets Structured Settlements

Maryland's Attorney General has proposed changes to the way  structured settlements are sold in reaction to a news story and a study that shows that recipients were paid pennies on the dollar for their settlements. Now, we have to wait to see if this legislation goes anywhere and what its final form will be.

J&J to Pay $72 Million in Talcum Powder Case

J&J to Pay $72 Million in Talcum Powder Case

Johnson and Johnson is a giant in the health products space. One of its products is Talcum powder which can be used by women for female hygiene. Talcum powder, according to Plaintiff's lawyers, causes cancer. Furthermore, J&J apparently knew or should have known about potential of the powder to cause cancer. According to the Associated Press, a 1997 internal memo from a company medical consultant said "anybody who denies” the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is "denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary,”

Use of Social Media in Trial

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN TRIAL

In a recent Court of Appeals opinion, the court discussed the use of materials derived from social media accounts. As you probably read this, you may have two or more social media accounts open on your device. From Facebook to twitter to Instagram to apps, social media has become a central part of our lives. As a consequence, important facts or aspects may be derived from posts, images and other information such as GPS location can be found on these sites. It was only a matter of time before the highest court in Maryland had to address the issue. The court came up with three potential ways to establish the reliability of such information. The court had to explore the authentication of documents related to this genre, under Maryland Rule 5-901, which provides that the “requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”
  1. Question the person who may have created and/or placed the content in the account in question.
  2. Get the social media company to verify the veracity of the content.
  3. Search the device such a computer, phone or tablet of the person who allegedly created the account in question.
To read the full opinion go here. In a famous example of the new role social media can play in a personal injury case, a suit against New York City hinged on Plaintiff's instagram photos. In that case, Plaintiff alleged injuries to her legs, but had posted pictures of herself rock climbing on instagram. The Defense did not leave any stone unturned and accessed the instagram photos and made sure Plaintiff did not delete them before they could be retrieved. The moral of the story is to be aware of you digital foot print. If you are alleging you could not work because of an injury, but you have posts of your self alone or with others doing physically demanding activities then do not be surprised if such information is used to challenge your credibility and limit your recovery. For years, insurance companies have hired investigators to follow employees out on workers compensation to catch them doing things that they should not be able to do if the injuries claimed were true. Social media content works the same way except you or your friends posts are the ones that could sink your case.  

12th Grader with Cerebral Palsy Makes a Basket

12th Grader with Cerebral Palsy Makes a Basket

A recent uplifting story from Canada profiles a 12th grader and his moment in the sun. The young man was the teams manager and in a recent game the coach asked him to suit. He did not expect much of it and was happy to ride the bench in his uniform. But soon things would change. In the fourth quarter, his number was called.  An elated young man entered the game ready to maximize his first time every playing. He certainly made the most of it with a made basket. Onlookers shouted in admiration. Cerebral palsy is a set of neurological disorders that occur in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination. Abnormalities in the areas of our brain that control muscle movements have being identified as the cause of this illness. Cerebral palsy at birth can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or trauma to the head. Although it is not easily detectable at birth, most of the children with cerebral palsy are born with it.  The most common symptoms are:
  •  lack of muscle coordination
  • stiff or tight muscles
  • walking with one foot or leg dragging;

Is there any treatment?

While there is no cure for Cerebral palsy, a variety of treatment modalities such as physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, drugs and surgery are available to help improve the life of a sick child. Medical devices from wheel chairs to speech assistance devices can be used to allow a child to live the best life possible. If you or a loved one have questions about what caused your loved one's cerebral palsy consider having a lawyer investigate for on your behalf.  

Cap on Non-Economic Damages Applies to Lead Poisoning Cases

Cap on Non-Economic Damages Applies to Lead Poisoning Cases

Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages that is onerous to victims. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for pain suffering and other loses that real but not easy to quantify. A victim in need of long term care can hire a professional to prepare a life care plan and project the cost associated with that type of care. Future earning capacity can be similarly calculated. But how do you compensate someone for the loss of a limb or worse the ability to ever walk again? This is where non-economic damages play such a vital role and have being under attack by tort reform proponents. The Court of Appeals in a 2008 opinion ruled that the cap on non-economic damages which always applied to personal injury actions arising out of a tort such as medical malpractice also extends to injury cases that result from violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. In that case, plaintiffs alleged injuries caused by lead poisoning and that the landlord knew of the presence of lead in the home. Renting  property  that is unfit for habitation is a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. The cap is in Section 11-108 of the Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. which provides: (a)(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated. (2)(i) “Noneconomic damages” means: 1. In an action for personal injury, pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other nonpecuniary injury; and 2. In an action for wrongful death, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, marital care, parental care , filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education, or other noneconomic damages authorized under Title 3, Subtitle 9 of this article. (b)(1) In any action for damages for personal injury in which the cause of action arises on or after July 1, 1986, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed $350,000. (2)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (3)(ii) of this subsection, in any action for damages for personal injury or wrongful death in which the cause of action arises on or after October 1, 1994, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed $500,000. (ii) The limitation on noneconomic damages provided under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph shall increase by $15,000 on October 1 of each year beginning on October 1, 1995. The increased amount shall apply to causes of action arising between October 1 of that year and September 30 of the following year, inclusive. (3)(i) The limitation established under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall apply in a personal injury action to each direct victim of tortious conduct and all persons who claim injury by 2 In MaryCLE, LLC v. First Choice Internet, Inc., 166 Md. App. 481, 530 (2006) we characterized, in dic ta, violations of the CPA as “tortious”. See also T-UP, Inc. v. 6 or through that victim. (ii) In a wrongful death action in which there are two or more claimants or beneficiaries, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed 150% of the limitation established under paragraph (2) of this subsection, regardless of the number of claimants or beneficiaries who share in the award. As you can see, while the cap increases in the amount of $15,000.00 every year it is still not enough to compensate victims with life altering injuries. The current limit for injuries arising on or after October 1, 2015, starts at $815,000.00 and is higher if there is a wrongful death. You can provide for treatment for lead poisoning victims and other training, but how do you compensate them for the diminished mental capacity or time lost due to an inability to be fully functional in today's society. The cap is unfair to victims, but until the law changes it is here to stay.