Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

In the wrongful death case for Lee Lindemann, filed on behalf of the Estate of Sue Ann Lindemann, the U.S. District Court ruled that estoppel blocked National Fire & Marine Insurance Co. from invoking a “declining balance” provision in its insurance policy. This was done to reduce its $1 million liability limit to $600,000, by subtracting the $400,000 National paid to the defense expenses during the two years of litigation.

National’s policy covered Dr. Erick Falconer in this wrongful death case and another defendant, Western Healthcare. In May 2013, the answer that Falconer’s attorney submitted to “Interrogatory 9,” said he was insured under a National policy that had a $1 million liability limit.

But when responding to her request for a copy of the insurance policy, Dr. Falconer’s attorneys reportedly took a shortcut: they referred back to this interrogatory answer. This maneuver meant the litigants didn’t see the policy provision that ordinarily would have reduced the liability limit by the amount of defense expenditures.

Continue reading

In 2012, Justin Dominguez, 15, was playing with friends in a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor’s house was located next to a vacant spot that contained bamboo stalks under a 13,000-volt, uninsulated power line.

Justin climbed up the bamboo stalks, which contacted the power line. He received a severe electric shock and was hospitalized. He unfortunately remained in a coma until he died approximately two weeks later. He was survived by his mother.

Justin’s mother, on behalf of his estate, sued Florida Power & Light Co., alleging it negligently chose not to remove the bamboo despite a 2008 work order and written report to the defendants’ lead arborist identifying the location as a critical removal site. The Dominguez family asserted that Florida Power & Light had a duty to clear its line of vegetation, especially bamboo, which is highly conductive and fast-growing.

Continue reading

Diego Rodrigues Matos, 26, needed a truck replacement part to use for his landscaping business. He went to a truck lot owned by Rechtien International Trucks and showed an employee there a picture of the part that he needed. The employee directed him to drive around the lot in search of a truck similar to his so that he could identify the exact part that would need to be ordered.

Matos later found a truck, opened its unlocked door, and raised the truck’s bed. While Matos was lying under the vehicle’s chassis, the truck bed descended, pinning him down and crushing his neck. Matos, a father of one minor child, died from his injuries.

Matos’s fiancé, on behalf of his estate and the couple’s child, sued Rechtien International alleging liability for, among other things, choosing not to warn that the truck bed posed a dangerous condition, failed to lock the doors of the truck located on its property, and failed to accompany Matos around the property in search of the truck replacement part. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

Continue reading

Noemi Mendez, 15, was walking home from school with her older brother Elias.  As they were crossing the street in the crosswalk, the driver of a tractor-trailer truck began turning right into that intersection. The truck hit Noemi and the trailer’s rear wheels rolled over her. She died at the scene. Noemi is survived by her brother Elias, an older sister and her parents. In addition to the death of Noemi, her brother Elias, who was 18 at the time, suffered severe emotional distress due to witnessing his sister’s fatal injury.

Noemi’s family sued the truck driver and the trucking company, alleging that the driver was negligent and chose not to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. The Mendez family asserted that Noemi and Elias entered the intersection on a green light with a pedestrian “walk” signal and that they were already well into the intersection when the truck struck Noemi.

The parties had stipulated that the truck driver was in the scope and course of his employment. The parties presented a surveillance video recorded by a corner convenience store that captured some of the events at a distance. Although the video was of poor quality, the Mendez family maintained that it showed that Noemi and her brother were at the intersection at least 30 seconds before the truck arrived in the intersection.

Continue reading

Billy Dickson was an engineer for Bell Helicopter Textron’s plant in Hurst, Texas. He held this position for the better part of 38 years. From 1962 to the late 1970s, he was exposed to asbestos through hands-on work.

He was also indirectly exposed as nearby workers sanded asbestos-containing adhesives.

Dickson, who wore no respiratory protection, was frequently surrounded by clouds of asbestos dust.

Continue reading

Plaintiff Wendy Dolin, the wife of the decedent, Stewart Dolin, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago alleging that the death of her husband, Stewart Dolin, was caused by the taking of the generic drug paroxetine, a form of the antidepressant Paxil. Stewart Dolin committed suicide at age 57 on July 15, 2010.

In the lawsuit, it was alleged that the labeling of the drug that was in existence at the time of his death did not warn of the drug’s association with an increased risk of suicidal behavior in adults. It was alleged that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer and parent corporation of this drug, had knowledge of a statistically significant 6.7 times greater risk of suicide in adults of all ages. As a matter of fact, it was alleged that the label stated the opposite – that the suicidal risk did not extend beyond the age of 24.

The prescription medication Paxil (paroxetine hydrochloride or “Paxil”) is one of the class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

Continue reading

Edgar Gonzalez was a construction worker employed by a commercial contractor.  While working at a project commissioned by the city of Los Angeles, he was  erecting a wall-forming system used to support poured concrete. Gonzalez, 30, climbed to the top of a 30-foot form panel; the panel gave way.  He fell to the ground where he suffered fatal injuries. Gonzalez was survived by his wife and two minor children.

The Gonzalez family sued Atlas Construction Supply Inc., the designer of the wall- forming system and the supplier of its component parts.  The lawsuit claimed that the system had been defective. The defendant Atlas Construction denied responsibility and maintained that Gonzalez’s injuries and death resulted from the negligence of the general contractor, the city of Los Angeles, and the crane operator who placed the wall form panel in that location.

The jury entered a verdict for $27 million apportioning liability at 55% to Atlas and 45% to the general contractor.

Continue reading

A jury found that the mesothelioma contracted by James Lester Phillips was caused in part by exposure to asbestos contained in Bendix brakes. In an appeal, Honeywell challenged the $5.8 million awarded to Phillips’s wife and surviving children.

In the published portion of the appellate opinion, the court rejected Honeywell’s claims of evidentiary error, concluding that the trial court properly admitted a 1966 letter of a Bendix employee sarcastically addressing an article in Chemical Week magazine that stated asbestos had been accused, but not yet convicted, of being a significant health hazard.

The court reasoned that the letter was circumstantial evidence relevant to the issue of Bendix’s awareness of asbestos’s potential to cause cancer. The court noted that Illinois and Florida cases holding admission of this letter was prejudicial were distinguishable because they did not include the important limiting instruction to the jury.

Continue reading

Harvey Chernikoff, who had intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia, lived with his parents and took a bus to his workshop job on a paratransit bus operated by First Transit Inc.  To safeguard passengers with disabilities from choking, the bus company’s rules prohibit passengers from eating or drinking.

However, one day, Chernikoff was eating on the bus and began choking. He was the only passenger on the bus and was seated right behind the driver. He was unable to speak with his airway obstructed, so he reached for help. More than three minutes passed before the driver noticed Chernikoff slumped in the aisle, unconscious. The bus driver, who was not trained in CPR, the Heimlich maneuver or other basic first-aid measures, called his dispatcher, which called 911.

Because of traffic, more than 8 minutes passed before an emergency medical team arrived. By that time, Chernikoff had died. He is survived by his parents and one adult brother.

Continue reading

On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, at 4:45 a.m., 22-year-old Patrycja Wysckowska fell 30 feet to her death after trying to navigate an outside ladder on the third-floor rear porch of an apartment building at 4310 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

The apartment complex is known as Park Shores and was owned and managed by the defendants, American Heritage Investment II and Group Fox Inc. The woman had reportedly had been attending a party at the building and was trying to climb up to the roof. She was survived by her parents and two siblings.

Her family filed this wrongful death lawsuit against these defendants contending that the ladder was unsafe and one of the rungs snapped while she was on the ladder causing her to fall.

Continue reading