The Maryland Litigation Blog

Facts and Opinions.
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Three Ways a Lawsuit Can Save Your Life

By Stephanie Yanovich

A wife and mother electrocuted in front of her children. A toddler crushed by a dresser. A young woman paralyzed by a faulty vehicle. They all suffered horrifically due to negligence. And the resulting lawsuits made the world safer for you.

Tort reform advocates – the lobbyists, politicians, and corporate executives who want to make it harder for injured people to recover damages through lawsuits – will argue the opposite. They claim the civil justice system is overwhelmed by frivolous filings from greedy plaintiffs just out for a cash grab.

But the facts say otherwise: only 2% of injured Americans ever file a lawsuit, and the majority of lawsuit judgments in favor of plaintiffs are under $6,000.

When injured people do pursue justice, we all benefit. Their lawsuits expose dangerous business practices, and executives are forced to make changes that save lives. Hundreds of civil cases over the past 50 years have held companies accountable this way. How?

 

1) Lawsuits Improve Safety Oversights

In 2009 Carrie Goretzka was killed outside of her Pennsylvania home when a power line snapped and electrocuted her for 20 minutes in view of her two young children. Her family sued the utility provider, West Penn Power, on the grounds that the company’s failure to properly clean and splice its power lines caused the accident. West Penn Power also allegedly neglected to repair power lines that had previously fallen into the Goretzka’s yard.

While the Goretzka family eventually received a settlement of $105 million, their lawsuit also significantly benefitted public safety. Evidence of West Penn Power’s negligence uncovered at trial resulted in an enforcement agreement with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). The company pledged to retrain its workers in proper power line installation and schedule regular inspections to prevent further tragedies like the death of Carrie Goretzka.

 

2) Lawsuits Expand Product Recalls

When two-year-old Josef Dudek’s father went to check on him during naptime, he made a horrifying discovery – the boy was trapped underneath an IKEA dresser that tipped over on top of him. Josef died later that day.

A year later, in 2018, Josef’s parents filed suit against IKEA in California civil court. They alleged that the company had not properly notified them of a product recall for the dresser that killed their son. During litigation, hundreds of tip over events involving similar IKEA dressers were uncovered. These incidents resulted in injury to 91 children.

The case ultimately settled for $46 million. In addition to remitting damages, IKEA agreed to restructure its product recall protocol to make more consumers aware of the defective dressers, potentially saving many lives.

 

3) Lawsuits Institute Protective Legislation

Rebecca Burgess was rendered a quadriplegic in the late 1970’s when the Ford Pinto she was riding in exploded after a front-end collision. She filed a lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company, arguing that its failure to include airbags in its vehicles contributed to her injury. At the time, airbags weren’t mandated for vehicles in the U.S. The automotive industry fought fiercely against proposed legislation that would require their installation on the grounds that it wasn’t cost effective, despite evidence that airbags significantly reduced driver impact in a crash.

But Burgess’ lawsuit launched changes. After a ten-day trial in 1984, her case settled for $1.8 million. The settlement attracted media attention and led to similar lawsuits from injured motorists. In response to the public pressure, the automotive industry finally started offering airbag equipped models. By 1997, Congress passed legislation requiring airbags for all U.S. vehicles – a law that has saved tens of thousands of lives.

 

These case studies make it clear: lawsuits make us safer. Injured people don’t just want financial restitution. They want assurance that other people won’t suffer the way they have. That’s how companies are held accountable. That’s how true justice is achieved.

How Johnson & Johnson Is Unloading Its Talcum Powder Lawsuits

By Stephanie Yanovich

Ovarian cancer. Lung cancer. Mesothelioma. These deadly conditions are all linked to asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral found in underground deposits. It tends to form near talc, another naturally occurring mineral used in cosmetic products such as creams, lotions, and powders. Because of the potential for cross-contamination, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that companies […]

Connecticut Couple is Awarded $37.6 Million for Botched Fertility Procedure

By Stephanie Yanovich

Justice was finally served last week for a Connecticut couple who endured the devastating effects of an improperly performed fertility procedure. According to the civil complaint filed with the Hartford District Superior Court, a woman became pregnant with twins in 2013 after being artificially inseminated with donor sperm at the University of Connecticut Health Center […]

West Virginia Jury Awards $10.8 Million in Birth Injury Lawsuit

By Stephanie Yanovich

Justice was finally served last week for a West Virginia child who reportedly sustained devastating brain damage during birth. According to the district court complaint filed by her parents on her behalf, Aubrie Hysell did not receive adequate oxygen during the labor and delivery process at Raleigh General Hospital in 2010. She was later diagnosed […]

Florida Jury Awards $120 Million

By Byron Warnken

Last week, justice was finally handed down to a Florida man who sustained life-long injuries in a 2015 car accident. Jacob T. Rodgers became permanently paralyzed when a Gainesville Regional Utilities worker in an SUV ran a stop sign and hit the pickup truck he was riding in. A jury awarded Rodgers $120 million and […]

January 2021 Medical Malpractice Cases in and around Baltimore

By Byron Warnken

Below are Baltimore area medical malpractice cases that were filed in circuit courts in Maryland in January 2021.  This is meant to be a near comprehensive list, not including cases filed in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County, as those counties report statistics into the MD Judiciary Case Search in a different format. There were […]

DECEMBER 2020 MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS IN AND AROUND BALTIMORE MARYLAND

By Andrew Mazan

There were about 24 medical malpractice suits filed in the month of December. Some hospitals are listed as co-defendants in suits against individual practitioners, and vice versa.  These are for cases listed as medical malpractice or med mal, excluding PG County and Montgomery County which do not break out their statistics or list cases as […]

Industry Giant Johnson & Johnson Is Facing Mounting Legal Challenges

By Byron Warnken

by Stephanie Yanovich For over a century, medical supplier Johnson & Johnson has billed itself as a family friendly household name supplying the familiar comforts found in millions of medicine cabinets. Tylenol, Band-Aids, and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo are just a few of the items produced by the company that conjure soothing images of wounds healed, […]

NOVEMBER 2020 MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS IN AND AROUND BALTIMORE MARYLAND

By Andrew Mazan

There were about 22 medical malpractice suits filed in the month of November. Some hospitals are listed as co-defendants in suits against individual practitioners, and vice versa.  These are for cases listed as medical malpractice or med mal, excluding PG County and Montgomery County which do not break out their statistics or list cases as […]

OCTOBER 2020 MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS IN MARYLAND

By Andrew Mazan

There were about 31 medical malpractice suits filed in the month of October. Some hospitals are listed as co-defendants in suits against individual practitioners, and vice versa.  These are for cases listed as medical malpractice or med mal, excluding PG County and Montgomery County which do not break out their statistics or list cases as […]