The Maryland Litigation Blog

Facts and Opinions.
Feel free to disregard the opinions.

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.

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, […]

The Biggest Problem with Medical Malpractice

By Byron Warnken

What is the biggest problem with medical malpractice? The plainitffs and their lawyers would have you believe the real problem is too much medical negligence and a lack of accountability from doctors. The doctors, their insurance companies, and their lawyers would have you believe the real problem is frivolous lawsuits.  “If only we could get […]

Should Tort Reform Include Capping Insurance Company Profits?

By Byron Warnken

I’m not sure exactly why businesses suggest we need tort reform.  I think a large part of the thinking revolves around insurance premiums being so high.  Premiums are so high.  The cost of lawsuits is so substantial. I think that’s what they talk about. I am a person who likes to make sense out of […]

Maryland Appellate Courts Hand Down Slew of Defense Oriented Opinions

By Byron Warnken

The Maryland Court of Appeals and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals have published a number of defense oriented opinions in Maryland civil injury cases, just in the last two weeks.  For lay people, this means the injury lawyers on InjuryLawyerDatabase.com are losing cases.  In fact, they are losing cases previously won at the trial […]

Hip Replacement Lawsuits in Maryland

By Byron Warnken

There was an article on Bloomberg this week about hip replacement lawsuits in Maryland state courts.  The first case appears to be going to trial in circuit court in Prince George’s County.  The case is against Depuy, a subsidiary of J&J, or Johnson and Johnson for all you literally literal lawyers.  This caused me to […]