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In the opinion filed on June 5, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court found that Six Flags could properly be held liable for Joshua Martin’s life-changing injuries sustained in a brutal attack at a bus stop outside Six Flags Over Georgia in 2007. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals in that the jury was authorized to find Six Flags liable for the breach of duty, but disagreed as to the appropriate rationale for the finding. Mr. Martin’s argument for recovery was based on a theory of premises liability, which is codified under Georgia statutory law, O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, and states “where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”

In premises liability cases the extent of the duty owed to the plaintiff depends upon the plaintiff’s “status,” or whether the plaintiff was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. This inquiry is crucial in determining the degree of care owed to persons entering the premises. Invitees enter onto the premises based upon an express or implied invitation and for a purpose relating to the owner’s interests or activities, and the owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries caused by activities on his land. In this case, the jury found that Mr. Martin was an invitee, so Six Flags had a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries resulting from his presence on their premises.

The sort of injuries that owners must take reasonable care to prevent are classified as those which are reasonably foreseeable. To show that the type of injury suffered was reasonably foreseeable, injured plaintiffs will often show that other victims suffered the same or similar injuries in the past; that there was a high probability that such injuries would result; or that the injury suffered was one that would not have occurred but for negligent acts of the owner. In Mr. Martin’s case, all three of the above indications of foreseeability were present. About one year prior to the attack on Mr. Martin, Six Flags was the site of a gang-related drive-by shooting, in which no employees of Six Flags who were injured would give a statement, presumably because of their gang affiliations. Thus it was not only foreseeable that an invitee could be injured because of gang activity on their premises, but it was highly probable.

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The multinational medical goods and pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was recently hit with a third damages verdict over $50 million this year relating to talcum powder. The plaintiff, Deborah Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago following her use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene for over 40 years. The jury awarded Ms. Giannecchini the $72 million verdict after only three hours of deliberation, indicating that the jury felt compelled to send Johnson & Johnson a strong message.

The plaintiff’s main argument was based on products liability, failure to warn, negligence and conspiracy theories. In short, the plaintiff argued that Johnson & Johnson was aware of decades of studies that indicated the use of talc increased the users chances of developing ovarian cancer and declined to add warning labels. Moreover, it was alleged Johnson & Johnson actively sought to conceal the known dangers by disseminating outdated or misleading information to the public, and internal documents showed that Johnson & Johnson was advised by a consultant that the company had made “outright false,” “inaccurate” and “questionable” statements about the risk of long-term exposure to talc. These allegations show a wanton or reckless disregard for the value of human life, and are likely the facts that gave rise to the award of punitive damages in this case. Punitive damages are meant to “punish” the offender, and are only proper in cases in which the defendant acts with a reckless disregard for human life, or otherwise acts egregiously.

Despite being slammed with two other verdicts, each worth over $50 million, there are no indications that Johnson & Johnson sought a settlement to prevent another staggering verdict. Clearly, Johnson & Johnson put too much faith in its defense, that ovarian cancer had no single cause, relying upon both the FDA and CDC’s determination that talc-based products were safe. In cases where the decisions of multinational corporations are subject to scrutiny by twelve members of the local community, an argument that “the government said it was okay” will not be very persuasive. Members of the local community are extremely unlikely to feel empathy towards a corporation that earned $74 billion in revenue in 2014, but refused to include a few additional words on their products. In the plaintiff’s attorney’s opening statement, he presented the case to the jury as an opportunity to effect the behavior of a worldwide corporation for the benefit of the millions of invisible citizens whose voices would never be heard. These and similar cases present unique opportunities for the citizens of local communities to effectuate meaningful social change, if allowed by the facts.

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I was recently alerted to a DUI incident involving a celebrity and thought it would be an interesting addition to my blog.  From my cursory investigation, most of the information regarding this incident is listed on Radar Online; a site mostly dedicated to celebrity gossip and related issues. After reviewing this incident, the facts revealed that the celebrity had a long criminal history that demonstrated a pattern of drinking alcohol while operating a vehicle, fleeing accidents and failing to render aid to the victim. As such, the facts of the recent crash and criminal history are ripe for a legal analysis.

On April 24, 2017, Chris Soules, a former contestant on The Bachelor, was involved in a hit and run while operating his 2008 Chevrolet Silverado in the small rural town of Aurora, Iowa.  The area of impact was on a roadway which was straight without any possible visual obstruction. Specifically, Chris Soules was operating a large truck that rear-ended a tractor being operated by Kenneth Mosher.  Chris Soules got of his vehicle to check on Mosher (and attempted CPR) and called 911 around 8:20 p.m.  The 911 recording reflects a frantic Chris Soules noticed blood

(booking photo credited to Special To The Register)

car-crash-300x169This morning, a motorist, Javarius Exum, (25), was in a stopped 2009 Dodge Charger on I-75 North in Henry County, Georgia. For reasons unknown, Mr. Exum stopped his vehicle in the far right hand lane of I-75 North.  The AJC article indicates that the vehicle was disabled – yet, I suspect that is an assumption at this point.

(Photo credited to Georgia Department of Transportation)

A passing motorist noticed Mr. Exum’s stopped vehicle, called 911 at approximately 4:18 a.m., and notified authorities that the Dodge only had brake lights activated.  Roughly, three minutes later, a bus from Tennessee that was also traveling northbound was unable to get into the left lane (to the left of Mr. Exum) and struck Mr. Exum’s vehicle from the rear.

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In Georgia, dog bite law used to require that the victim prove the following: (1) that the animal was dangerous or vicious; (2) that the owner knew that the animal was dangerous or vicious; and (3) that the owner carelessly managed the animal or let it run free. This established law became known as the first bite rule which meant that every dog was entitled to one free bite before being labeled as a dangerous or vicious dog under Georgia law so as to establish liability and fault against the owner. Technically, a victim had to prove a prior bite by the dog to show the jury that the dog was dangerous and vicious.  However, as of today, the Supreme Court of Georgia, in a unanimous decision, held that victims of a dog attack need not prove evidence of a prior actual first bite by the dog to establish liability under O.C.G.A. 51-2-7.

In Steagald v. Eason (Ga. SC S16G0293), a father and mother allowed their son (Eason family) to bring home a pit bull as a pet.  The parents required that the son build a dog pen in the back yard.  The son did so, and the pit bull came to live at the home.  On the first day that that pit bull was in the backyard, it growled and snapped at the mom as she tried to feed the dog. Later that same day, the dog growled, barked and snapped at the father as he extended his hand close to the dog.  About a week later, the son was playing with the dog in the back yard and the dog was not confined to the dog pen, although he was on a lead.  A female adult neighbor just happened to walk into the back yard through the gate and approached the dog and extended her arm.  The dog jumped at the neighbor, bit her arm, and latched onto it.  The neighbor tried to run away but slipped and fell down.  While she was down on the ground, the dog bit and latched onto her right leg.  According to the case facts, the woman sustained serious injuries as a result of the attacks.

At some point in time, the woman filed suit against the Eason family for medical bills, injuries and pain and suffering against the parents under O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 which allows for damages against an owner or keeper of a “vicious or dangerous animal.”  The neighbors set forth that the pit bull was dangerous and vicious under the code section as the dog was involved in two snapping incidents against the parents a week before the actual dog bite as proof that the Eason family knew the pit bull had a propensity to bit and attack without provocation.  The Court of Appeals noted that the evidence did not indicate any prior attacks on people or animals and that snapping amounted to “merely menacing behavior” and affirmed summary judgment for the Eason family.

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Among other rules of the road, Georgia’s rule related to left hand turns is set in stone: thou shall yield to oncoming traffic prior to making a left hand turn.  In fact, the Highway Administration estimates that roughly 22% of wrecks are caused by left hand turns alone.  And, UPS made notice of an estimate that a left hand turn adds on an additional 30-45 seconds to a road trip.  Apparently, through creating its own software and maps, UPS has been able to avoid left hand turns that saves UPS from 6-8 miles per route, 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year,  emission pollution equivalent to over 21,000 less passenger cars per year and 10 millions of gas each year.

But, wait, there’s more. A study determined that right hand turns only cause about 1.2 % of all crashes.  And, out of all crashes that occur whilst turning or crossing an intersection, 61% relate to left hand turns as opposed to 3 % as to right hand turns.  If you read further, you discover that left hand turns are three times more likely to result in a fatal wreck.  Thus, if you are a pedestrian, it is probably better to use a sidewalk to the right of moving traffic.

I have been practicing personal injury law for over 25 years.  I represent motorists that have been injured by the negligence of drivers that have made left hand turns.  The law in Georgia, O.C.G.A. 40-6-71, basically mandates that drivers intending to turn left must yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction irrespective if that vehicle is in an intersection or so close to one that it is a hazard.

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Dogs have for the longest time been referred to as man’s best friend and indeed they are. At least in most cases they are man’s best friend.  No other animal can be compared to the loyalty of a dog to his/her  master.  In fact, nothing can be said to befriend man more than a dog. Dogs have been considered by many as exceptional gifts that only a handful of people would have the capability of understanding. A dog would do anything and everything for its master till its last breath.  There are many reported cases in which we get to read about dogs that have saved their owner’s life and/or  children from a catastrophe or criminal.  In most instances, the dog of the home is considered as one of the members of the family.  From experience, a dog’s love is unconditional. It seems to love for better and/or for the worse. The dog is indeed man’s best friend.

Irrespective of the love, there are some certain breeds of dogs that have over time acquired the reputation as vicious dogs. These dogs are considered as being violent and are in most cases capable of causing very serious harm up to and including death. These breeds are the main focus of our blog today. Would you want to find yourself in a position where you are being confronted or attacked by your very own dog? Alternatively, would you want a dog that bites your guests or even your family members with or without provocation? This blog article therefore assists you in knowing some of the different dangerous breeds of dogs.  This way, if you intend to buy a dog at any point in time, you will be well aware of the risks.

  1. Pit Bulls

Tired at the wheel

Tired at the wheel

The holidays are here and I know most of us are excited because we get to travel, and have fun as well as adventure. The excitement and anxiety that comes with holiday travel makes most of us not to sleep well yet we are supposed to be behind the wheel.

Well, worry not because I’ve got good news for you this holiday season!

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Auto-Insurance Claims – contemporary perspectives

In today’s dynamically complicated claims regime, more and more individuals are said to be hiring attorneys to represent them in their cases. There are many reasons that have been advanced for the progressive change. The Insurance Research Council conducted a study to find out the exact percentages of persons represented in personal Injury Protection cases to be 36%. This was a five (5) % increase from 2012 and close to 20% in the 1970s. In reality, this can be alluded to the increase in public awareness about legal issues and civilian control over the law. In the examination of the 2012 study, several factors as associated with the involvement of attorneys come to play. Represented claimants had issues as listed below that would lead to other legal issues as reported:

  • First, represented claimants were likely to receive treatment in pain from a hospital or clinic and also undergo MRI scanning and imaging for injuries that were similar to unrepresented claimants.

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Personal Injury Lawyer Super Lawyer

Recently, the results of the 2016 Super Lawyer awards were published and Attorney Kevin Ford was pleased, once again, to have been selected as one of the few Super Lawyers in Georgia. Attorney Kevin Ford stated that “The award is the end result of thorough preparation of the case from beginning to end for mediation or trial for my injured clients.” The award and distinction is evenly important as only the top 5% of the lawyers in Georgia are named in Super Lawyers.

Georgia Super Lawyer Designation