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  • Ky. Supreme Court Asked to Allow Damages in Wrongful Death Case Involving Early-Term Fetus

    Posted on August 22nd, 2011 Edward A. Brutscher No comments
    Kentucky State Capitol

    Kentucky Supreme Court

    The Courier Journal reports on the case of Desiree Amber Stevens who, along with her 14 week old unborn fetus, was killed when another driver caused a horrific crash.  The driver and Progressive Direct, Steven’s insurance carrier, settled the wrongful death claim filed on her behalf by her father, Thomas Stevens.  However, both the driver and Progressive Direct refused to pay damages for the wrongful death of  Steven’s fetus.  Circuit Court Judge Thomas Jones upheld this decision, writing; “Harsh as it seems, damages for a nonviable fetus are not recoverable.”

    The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the Judge’s ruling, the second time in two years it has denied damages for the negligent death of an early-term fetus.  This decision is in accordance with other Kentucky decisions that have rejected damages for a nonviable fetuses, generally defined as those that are less than 24 weeks.  Tom Stevens has now asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

    Perhaps Mr. Steven’s attorney, J.T. Gilbert, said it best; “It is important to protect the rights of anybody who is injured and to hold the wrongdoer accountable.”

    Had the conduct of the offending driver been criminal, she could have been convicted of a homicide under Kentucky’s fetal homicide law.  It seems completely arbitrary for Kentucky to hold that the death of an unviable fetus can form the basis of a legal action against someone, but that same act, if only negligent, cannot.

    It is time for Kentucky to join that the other nine states who recognize the right to recover damages for the negligent death of a fetus, regardless of whether or not it is viable.

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  • Class Action Lawsuits Could Cost Toyota Billions

    Posted on March 9th, 2010 Edward A. Brutscher No comments

    More Trouble for Toyota

    MSN reports on an AP article documenting the recent spate of lawsuits against the automaker by consumers who claim their vehicles have decreased in value since the massive recall ordered last fall.  At least 89 class action  lawsuits have been filed around the country.  Experts believe such lawsuits could ultimately cost Toyota 3+ Billion, yes billion, dollars.  This does not include those lawsuits claiming personal injury or death from defects.

    The consumers allege that Toyota knew about safety problems but hid those problems from consumers who purchased their cars.  They site to recent decisions by such companies as Kelly Blue Book to reduce the resale value on recalled vehicles by 3.5 percent.  While this is not much, with an estimated 6 million recall victims, a certified class getting just $500 per member could reach into the billions.

    Toyota of course denies that a vehicle will depreciate much if repaired quickly at no cost, which they offer.  However, the issue still remains over whether or not Toyota has identified the problem of sudden acceleration.  Toyota continues to deny that electronic computer controls are to blame, but car owners continue to complain of sudden acceleration after the vehicles have been repaired.  You can read the entire article, here.

  • Veil of Secrecy Surrounds Toyota Black Boxes

    Posted on March 4th, 2010 Edward A. Brutscher No comments
    More Trouble for Toyota

    More Trouble for Toyota

    The AP reported on Toyota’s efforts to block access to black box information that could explain crashes blamed on sudden unintended acceleration.  The AP investigation found that Toyota was inconsistent and even contradictory in revealing what the black boxes record.  According to the report; “Toyota’s “black box” information is emerging as a critical legal issue amid the recall of 8 million vehicles by the world’s largest automaker. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said this week that 52 people have died in crashes linked to accelerator problems, triggering an avalanche of lawsuits.”

    You can read the entire article recapping the AP’s investigation here.

    I previously posted on Toyota’s problems back in mid-February.  At that time, I posted that more information was likely to come to light before Toyota’s problems faded from public view.  Looks like I was correct.  Toyota’s public image has certainly taken a hit.  Not only should we question Toyota’s reputation as an automaker who makes better more dependable cars, but perhaps more importantly, its reputation as an automaker that makes safer ones as well.

    I’ll make another prediction.  Before this issue is over, embarrassing evidence will come to light showing that Toyota has known about the problem of sudden acceleration for years, but that it has tried to hide the problem from regulator’s and customers for some time.  Stop back by for results on my prediction in the weeks to come.

  • Courier Journal Article Highlights Winters & Yonker Case

    Posted on February 28th, 2010 Edward A. Brutscher No comments
    Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

    Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

    The Courier Journal has written an article on the lawsuit recently filed by a former client against Winters & Yonker.  The article looks in depth at the claim made by Sharon Langford.  The article focuses on the relationship between the law firm and the medical providers who treated Ms. Langford and the potential conflicts of interest that arise.  You can read the entire article here.

  • Lawmaker Alleges Toyota Withheld Evidence in Lawsuits

    Posted on February 27th, 2010 Edward A. Brutscher No comments
    More Trouble for Toyota

    More Trouble for Toyota

    Things have not been going well for Toyota and it looks like things just got much worse.  The AP has reported that House oversight committee chairman Edolphus Townes accused Toyota of “deliberately withholding key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.”  Towns wrote that Toyota chose to enter hefty settlements with plaintiffs to avoid disclosing the database, which the lawmaker said was referred to as the “Books of Knowledge.”

    Toyota said in a statement that it is confident it acted appropriately in product liability lawsuits and it looks forward to addressing Towns’ concerns. The automaker said it is not uncommon for companies to object to demands for documents made in lawsuits. “Consistent with that philosophy, we take appropriate steps to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets,” the statement said.

    You can read the entire article here.

    If true, the article discloses another example of corporate business choosing profits over people.  These allegations along with those by the NHTSB that Toyota did not disclose problems to regulators continues to create a portrait of a company that hid significant safety problems with its vehicles at the expense of gaining market share and becoming the number 1 automaker in the world.  Toyota’s path to number 1 is littered with the bodies of people who bought their cars.  Next time you hear someone talk about frivolous lawsuits and tort reform, you might want to mention Toyota.

    I am glad these Plaintiff’s received hefty settlements, unfortunately, their silence contributed to Toyota’s ability to hide problems for a much longer time, presumably at the expense of other people injured or killed by their products.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more information comes to light showing that Toyota knew about the unintended acceleration problems with its vehicles but didn’t take any comprehensive action to warn its customers about it.  I do know that you can disclose information in lawsuits in a manner which protects the “confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets.”  Toyota’s decision to settle those cases instead of disclosing that information, speaks for itself.

  • Winters & Yonker, PSC Sued by Former Client

    Posted on February 22nd, 2010 Edward A. Brutscher No comments
    Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

    Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

    The former law firm Winters, Yonker & Rouselle, now known as Winters & Yonker, PSC and its principal attorneys, have been sued by a former client in Jefferson Circuit Court.  The law firm, along with 1st Physicians Rehabilitation, Inc. and its owner, are alleged to have had a relationship whereby the medical provider would refer clients to the law firm, who would then instruct the client to have all future medical treatment provided by facilities owned and operated by the medical provider who referred the client.

    The Complaint alleges that neither the law firm nor the medical provider disclosed the true nature and extent of the relationship.  Furthermore, the client alleges that she was told by the law firm not to use her health insurance to pay for treatment.  The end result were medical liens held by the medical provider in higher amounts then the client otherwise would have paid had she used her health insurance.  When her settlement was reached, the client received less money then either the law firm or the medical provider, after payment of fees and expenses and medical liens.

    The ultimate gripe by the client is that her lawyers and the medical providers were not acting in her best interest, but in their own interest to her detriment.  Of course, allegations in the Complaint give only the Plaintiff”s side of the story.  You can read the entire Complaint, here.

    While there is nothing unusual about medical providers and attorneys referring clients in need of their services to one or the other, the purpose of these referrals should be for the benefit of the client.   If these allegations are true, they go well beyond the acceptable bounds of referral practice.

    If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident and need the services of an accident attorney or a medical provider who specializes in accident injuries, do not be afraid to ask your lawyer or doctor if they know someone who can help.  However, if you have questions about the treatment you are getting from your medical provider or the advice you are getting from your lawyer, you should ask your doctor or lawyer to address those concerns immediately.  Don’t wait until your case is settled to find out the impact those concerns might have on your case.