Everybody gets an award these days!

Most of us have seen the email floating around for the “Stella Awards,” named for Stella Leibeck, the 79 year old woman who had third degree skin burns and skin grafts in her crotch who had the gall to ask McDonalds to help her with her medical bills.  Though these awards are meant to highlight “frivolous” cases, many are actually fictitious or trumped up.

You really are a winner.

Now come the Hazelwood Awards, so named for Capt.. Hazelwood of Exxon Valdez fame.  These awards highlight corporate greed and malfeasance.  This year’s winner is the hospital in Florida that performed unnecessary surgeries in order to bill for them.

What does this mean to you:

Corporations and insurance companies often put profits before people, notwithstanding what their slick commercials and handsome spokesmen would have us believe.

It can wait

 

As noted earlier this year, April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Since then, though, the number of deaths from texting while driving just in Ohio – not to mention nationwide – continues to rise.

At least she’s got one hand on the wheel…

There is a new resource available at EndDD.org.  It shares the real-world story of Casey Feldman who was struck and killed by a texting driver as she crossed the street.  EndDD.org also has a checklist of pledges, which can be especially helpful for teenage drivers.

What does this mean to you:

Ohio’s texting while driving ban went into effect at the beginning of September.  Not only is it now against the law, its just dangerous.  Put down the cell phone while driving.  Nothing is that important.  It can wait.

 

Think inside the (jury) box

 

While not all jury deliberations are watched by hordes of people in underground bunkers with wiretapping equipment and video monitors like those in movie The Runaway Jury, they are serious nonetheless – and meant to be secret.  But in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, jurors posts or internet research about a case can have dire consequences.

I cannot believe it. An iPhone 4?!?

Judges around the country are concerned.  In one case, a juror’s Tweets may have even let a murder off of death row.  Some states have outlawed the practice.  There are proposals online for jury instructions to help steer jurors in the right direction.

What does this mean to you:

Our civil justice system depends on fair and impartial jurors deciding cases based on the facts presented.  Trial lawyers should keep abreast of these constantly evolving technologies to best represent their clients.

 

That is NOT normal

I am not sure if this video is a critique of engineering standards, politicians, or just Australians.  Nonetheless, it seems to illustrate the often odd, and sometimes belligerent, lengths some will go to in order to deflect personal responsibility away from themselves.

The front fell off.

What does this mean to you:

As wacky as this video seems, corporate decision-makers and insurance adjusters often don’t like to admit reality when there is money at stake.  That’s why a lawyer’s ability to take depositions of these folks in litigation and put them under oath is a powerful tool.

Add one more to the list

When we think of things that are dangerous to children, generally things like strollers or cribs come to mind.  But products designed for adults pose a dangers to little ones as well.  I stumbled on this tragic story about unstable furniture, like dressers, cabinets, and chests, that can tip over and pin children down, often with disastrous consequences.

Child climbing a dresser

What does this mean to you:

As parents, we can’t assume that only “kids products” pose dangers to kids.  To anticipate what children might get into, we have to to think like they would and approach common situations as they would.  Come to think of it, that might not be a bad way to approach life anyway for purposes of our health, business success, and mental acuity.

On guard!

Human beings make mistakes.  If we didn’t, there would never be a need for any kind of safety device – from a seat belt in a car, to blade brake on a saw, to a guard on a piece of industrial machinery.  Engineers and product designers know this fundamental truth and are supposed to take it into account when designing things.  If they don’t, that’s on them.

That would ruin your day.

It hasn’t been released yet what happened this month to the woman in Barberton, Ohio who’s hair became snared in a machine that cuts off metal pipe.  Amazingly, she survived, but only after her scalp was ripped from her head.  Was the machine properly guarded?  Did it use electronic eyes (like on your garage door) that detect a person moving or hinge-actuated interlock switches  – either of which can automatically shut off the machine’s moving parts.  That way, if the machine fails, it fails to a safe state, i.e., it fails safe by design.  Or, were there guards on the machine that, at some point, were taken off?

What does this mean to you:

While manufacturers of dangerous products can be responsible for injuries caused by those products, generally your employer is not.  However, if the employer removes a safety guard, that employer may still be responsible for injuries caused on the job.