October 2007


A jury in Tampa, Florida awarded a 16 year old high school student $4 million after he suffered permanent injury to his arm while playing in the schoolyard, according to TBO.com.  The boy, who suffered permanent nerve damage to his arm, had dreamed of becoming a surgeon.  A nerve was torn in the boys arm and he suffers from paralysis and deformity, and has had surgery to insert screw in his arm.   

The boy was a student at the Hillel School.  He was participating in a game of football in the schoolyard when a school bully jumped on him, causing damage to his arm.  The school was sued under a theory of lack of supervision.  The jury found the school had negligently supervised the boys on the playground in granting the $4 million award. 

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Article on CNN regarding what victims of the CA wildfires can expect when they ask their insurance companies to help them by providing the services they paid for under their insurance policies. If the experience is anything like the gulf coast experience after Katrina and Rita, watch out. Tactics such as lowball offers, denials of valid claims, higher insurance premiums and long time policy holders dropped are likely around the corner for many.

CNN also has an article on strategies for dealing with insurers who try to lowball. Good tips.

Also, a trial lawyer in California has offered pro-bono legal services for fire victims who are getting the run around from insurance companies and need legal advice. His website is here.

Addendum: Looks like FEMA learned from its experience with Katrina.  FEMA decided that rather than doing a terrible job dealing with the press, like director Brown did during Katrina (see article in Times Picayune), they would set up a press conference where FEMA staffers played the role of news media and lob softballs for FEMA officials to knock out of the park (see story here at CNN).  Don’t know why FEMA would pull this stunt, don’t know who thought they would get away with it, but wow, that is a big one.

And another story, on LAW.COM about the possible lawsuits related to this tragedy.

A Mississippi tort reform group, Mississippians for Economic Progress paid a fine for violating state lobbying laws.  The group failed to file mandatory expenditure reports for two years, according to a story in the Clarion Ledger

 The following is a quote from the group’s website: “the process of hiring outside counsel to work on the state’s legal business should be open and transparent instead of being conducted behind closed doors.”  I guess the MFEP did not the law that required them to be transparent and open about the way their own funds are used applied to them?!? 

Hypocrisy is nothing new for tort reformers, who push for restrictions on normal people filing lawsuits, but don’t ask for the same restrictions on lawsuits by the big businesses that fund the reform drive. 

The CPSC has announced several new recalls including:

Albert Halloween Skull pails – the paint on the eyes, nose and teeth contain high levels of lead paint. Especially disconcerting because the pails are filled with Halloween candy.

Guidecraft Children’s Puppet Theater – surfaces of the wooden panels on the theater are covered with lead paint. This toy is sold in catalogs, on websites, and in specialty stores.

Antioch Cool Clip Bookmarks – paint on the Cool Clips contains high levels of lead. The clips are sold at book, gift and card stores across the country.

J.C. Penney Breyer Stirrup Ornament – the paint on the surface of this horse shaped ornament contains high levels of lead. The ornament is sold at J.C. Penney’s stores across the country.

Millions of toys have been recalled in the last year because they contain hazardous levels of lead paint.  According to a story in the LA Times, no one knows the answer.  Consumer and environmental advocates are worried about the disposition of the recalled toys.  Consumer advocates are worried the toys will end up on store shelves in this country or another country.  Environmental activists worry the lead tainted toys will end up in landfills and contaminate groundwater.  The materials are obviously toxic, but the CSPC has no guidelines as to how recalled products are to be handled. 

This is something that should be addressed by government. 

Article in the Lexington Herald Leader about a bad faith trial against Allstate.  A former Allstate claims casualty manager, Debbie Niemer, took the stand in a case against Allstate, testifying about Allstate’s claims handling strategies.  The lawsuit, filed in Kentucky, alleges a pattern of bad faith in Allstate’s handling claims under Kentucky’s insurance laws. 

Niemer’s testimony involved Allstate’s practice of allegedly bullying injury victims into taking reduced payments for pain and suffering, such as using dehumanizing tactics aimed at maximizing Allstate’s bottom line.  Neimer also testified that Allstate does not include information in their claim file that would be damaging to their low ball analysis of the claim – a practice aimed at innoculating the file against bad faith lawsuits (this shows their knowledge they are in bad faith).  Niemer also recounted instances where Allstate altered numbers in the computer analysis of a claim, when the computer came up with a number that was too high.  The claims of this former Allstate employee are shocking if they are true.

Follow up on my previous post regarding this product.  There is a new article in the New York Times regarding the hazards of Flexipel Stand N’ Seal.  Article is about a consumer who bought the product after 80 people had reported adverse health effects from exposure to the product.  The CPSC, the manufacturer of the product and the retailer all failed to remove the product from store shelves after 80 people reported adverse health effects.  A recall was issued in 2005 but the product remained on store shelves for a full year after the recall.   

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