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Iowa Residents Sue Corn Plant

A corn plant, Grain Procession Corporation, emits so much pollution that it has damaged homes, cars and property across Iowa City, Iowa.  As a result, 11 residents filed a lawsuit alleging that the plant spews harmful chemicals and matter for miles as the wind blows.  This blankets cars and homes with soot, causing metals in everything from play sets to air conditioning systems to corrode.  The residents are seeking class action status on behalf of the 17,000 residents who live within three miles of the plant.

Not only do residents have to frequently clean their belonging, but they also have to breathe this polluted air on a daily basis.  Residents waited for years for the company to stop air quality violations, but finally decided to file a lawsuit.  The attorney found dangerously high levels of acetaldehyde and sulfuric acid at homes and parks in the area.  The lawsuit claims that the company is negligent in trying to stop the pollution and prevents the residents from enjoying their property.

The lawsuit alleges that the plant emitted excess particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, failed to maintain and repair equipment to stop pollution, failed to obtain construction permits and committed other air and water pollution control violations.  The plaintiffs are seeking civil penalties along with compliance of the law.

Hospitals Financially Ruin Patients in North Carolina

Joyce Jones was admitted to the hospital with serious abdominal pains.  She had no job and a minimal heatlh insurance policy.  However, a social worker at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy told her that the hospital had a fund to help patients like her.  As a result, she thought her bill would be minimal.  However, she soon received a bill for $34,000.  In 2006, the hospital sued her and won, putting a lien on her small home.

This hospital is one of two in North Carolina who still sues patients, despite the fact that on average they make a profit of $300 million a year and are tax exempt, saving them from paying millions in taxes.  To put this in perspective, out of the 40,000 lawsuits filed by NC hospitals, 12,000 were from this hospital.  When looking at most of the lawsuits filed by the hospital, most of the defendants, or patients, were uninsured and that a significant number of them should have qualified for free hospital care.

In Jones’ case she offered to pay $10,000 and go on an installment play to repay the rest.  However, the hospital rejected the offer, furthering proving that they were not willing to work with her at all.  Now, many are wondering why hospitals are sueing so many patients when they could not only afford to help but also when their missions are that of charity.

Veteran Dies after Brutal Asbestos Depositions

John Johnson died a few months ago from mesothelioma, a disease caused by asbestos exposure.  Johnson was a Marine veteran.  He sued multiple companies he believed responsible for his condition, but never went to court.  Now, the family is asserting that the lawyers drove Johnson to his death by putting him through brutal series of depositions just so their clients could save money.

Despite the fact that his doctors stated that 12 hours of depositions over a few weeks would be all that Johnson could handle, an LA judge allowed the companies he was suing a total of 25 hours.  As a result, Johnson put off returning to the hospital so that he could go to every session.  In the last session, his face contorted in paid, he gasped out answers and in less than 40 minutes he collapsed.  The very next day he died in the hospital.  This reduces their recovery in or out of court by as much as 70%.

Johnson’s family, lawyers and doctors assert that they have no doubt that the defense lawyers stretched out the process with the hope he would die before they went to trial.  Essentially, the defense lawyers pushed him to his death.  Johnson worked as a carpenter, auto mechanic, and plumber from 1961 until 1990.  He was very athletic, water skied, motorcycle raced and cycled.  Then, in 2010 he couldn’t catch his breath.  He went to the hospital, the surgeon opened him up and told him to go home and die.

Boating Accident Kills One and Injuries Another

Recently, a 21-foot ski boat in Lake Lanier struck a couple’s boat killing a 59-year-old man, Stephen Jones, and seriously injuring the woman.  Steven Parker and Ashley LeBlanc were the occupants of the ski boat.  They were crossing the lake just after midnight when they struck the other boat.  Multiple rescue boats immediately started to look for the couple’s boat and the Gwinnett Police Aviation Unit helped as well.  Approximately thirty minutes later, the couple’s bodies were found.

Investigators are now going over the two boats to determine who is at fault for the fatal accident.  They are looking at gauges, safety light bulbs and send away for blood tests.  This is not the first fatality on Lake Lanier this year though.  This is the third.  They have yet to state whether the people on the ski boat were on drugs or alcohol.

Family of Woman Killed Sues

A woman was killed in a construction accident in Southboro last year.  The family now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against National Grid.  National Grid was conducting a test drive of a truck trailer-backhoe because they thought there was a problem with the combination.  The backhoe fell on the car, killing a woman.  Her daughter and two grandchildren were also injured.

The trailer jackknifed, the backhoe rolled off and toppled onto Wang’s minivan.  However, the plaintiffs argue that the National Grid truck should have never been on the highway because the company knew it was dangerous.  However, the company drove the vehicle on I-495 anyway on a busy Friday afternoon.

Defamation Case Dismissed

On Monday, a Baltimore County Circuit Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Midei against St. Joseph Medical Center.  He is seeking damages against his former employer, the hospital, over a scandal in which he was accused of performing unnecessary heart stent procedures.  The plaintiff’s attorneys portrayed him as a scapegoat for the hospital’s own turmoil and argued that the case should be allowed to go to trial.

However, St. Joseph’s lawyers contended that the suit was invalid because Midei had signed a release absolving the hospital of responsibility when he resigned in November 2009.  Midei was placed on leave in May 2009 as accusations of unnecessary procedures surfaced.  The hospital warned 600 patients by letter that their stents might have been unneeded and more than 200 have since filed lawsuits against Midei.  As a result of all the publicity, Midei has not been able to get a new job.  He was seeking $60 million for each of four counts in the lawsuit.

Former Teacher Sues St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School

Emily Herx, a former teacher at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, sued the school and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese in federal court for firing her because she underwent in vitro fertilization.  This lawsuit comes after the EEOC found the diocese violated her civil rights, specifically sexual discrimination, as well as violating the Americans with Disabilities Act as infertility is considered a disability under the law.

According to the lawsuit, she was fired for “improprieties related to church teachings or law.”  However, Herx, as a language arts teacher, was not required to complete training in the Catholic faith nor is she a minister.  Her supervisors said nothing during her first round of treatment, but during the second she was asked to meet with the Reverand John Kuzmich, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.  During this meeting, the pastor told her he feared that her treatments would cause a scandal and had already filed a complaint about the treatment from another teacher.

The lawsuit asserts that her being fired is solely on her treatment as she received high marks as a teacher.  Furthermore, the pastor communicated this as well.  During a meeting after she was told her contract would not be renewed, Herx was told she was a “grave, immoral sinner.”  However, Herx knowing that the Catholic church condemns destroying embryos, stated that she nor her physician ever destroyed a single embryo.  Finally, male teachers have undergone medical treatments such as vasectomies or whose spouses receive fertility treatments and have not been fired for such actions.

Herx is seeking compensation for her financial losses and emotion distress, as well as punitive damages.

Student Receives Four Million in Paralysis Case

A New Jersey school district agreed to pay $4.2 million to settle a suit with a student who was paralyzed after being punched in the abdomen by another student during a bullying incident.  The bully, Sawyer Rosenstein, caused him to suffer a rare injury called an infarct.  This is where a rupture of an artery occurs above the navel.  This caused him to be paralyzed below the waist two days after the assault.

However, this was not the end of his trauma.  This caused him to undergo 19 surgeries over the next five years, including a complete spinal fusion in 2008.  That procedure failed and he had to have the hardware bone at every level of his spine removed and re-fused in 2011.

The student who bullied him had a history of bullying prior to the incident.  The bully had acted out violently towards several students; however, he was never disciplined according to the New Jersey Law Journal.

North Carolina Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Ford

The Supreme Court in North Carolina recently ruled in favor of Ford over its seat belt system product defect in the Taurus.  The court overturned the ruling in the Court of Appeals, which had also reversed the decision of a trial court.  The issue was whether the product modification defense, provided to manufacturers and sells in product liability actions, applies only if the one who modified the product is a party to the litigation.  The current law, protects manufacturers and sellers from liability for injury proximately caused by modification made by someone else to their product without their consent.

In 2003, a wife and husband were driving their children to school.  After making a U-turn the car started to accelerate rapidly.  Both the wife and husband struggled with the steering wheel before the car went up and over a curbed island and slammed into a concrete base of a light pole.  At no point did the wife apply the brakes.  As a result of the incident, all in the car suffered injuries, the kids suffering the worst injuries.  The son had to have emergency life-saving surgery as a result of the injuries he sustained and the daughter suffered injury to her spinal cord.

The plaintiffs claimed that Ford’s seatbelts caused the more serious injuries.  They argued the seat belts did not fit correctly or hold them in place during the crash.  However, the jury concluded that the plaintiffs could not sustain an unreasonable design claim for the seatbelt with regard to Cody, but did so with Cheyenne.  However, because her enhanced injuries were caused by a modification of the car, it relieved Ford of its liability.  The next court, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs stating that the plaintiffs were entitled to a directed verdict on Ford’s affirmative defense under the current law (99B-3).  Finally, the Supreme Court reversed the Appeals court ruling and stated that their ruling was not supported by the text of the statute.

Evos Slalom Glider Recalled

The Evos Slalom Glider playground equipment has been recalled after serious injuries were sustained by various children.  Recently, a couple filed a lawsuit against Landscape Structures, the playground equipment manufacturer, as a result of their daughter breaking her arm on the slalom glider slide.  The plaintiffs claim that the six-foot-high slide lacked a platform on the top and does not have sides or handles, making children fall.

The plaintiffs are seeking $7,500, which is the cost of medical treatment for their daughter’s injuries.  A total of 16 injuries from the slide have been reported.  Consequently, the manufacturing recently issued a recall of the slide and is no longer selling it.