A Sacramento jury found Ford Motor Company responsible to the victims of a rollover crash involving a Ford E350 15 passenger van that experienced a tread separation. The jury found that the 15 passenger vans were dangerously defective and susceptible to loss of control from a tread separation. The jury also determined that Ford had information from its tire supplier, Goodyear, about defective tires that had been installed on the vans, but failed to provide information to owners of the 15 Passenger Vans that the defective Goodyear tires needed to be replaced. The jury’s award included $50 million in punitive damages in addition to $23 million in compensatory damages to the victims of the crash. Greene, Broillet & Wheeler partner Christine Spagnoli represented the family of driver Bill Brownell and injured passenger Alex Bessonov. Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer, of the Dreyer, Babich, Buccola and Wood firm represented Tony Mauro's widow, Susan Mauro and their children Cody and Michael Mauro.
NEW PORT RICHEY, FL — As co-lead trial counsel, Christine Spagnoli obtained a $25.9 million jury verdict against Ford Motor Company and the First Baptist Church of New Port Richey for the wrongful death of a 44-year-old wife and mother of four.
Michalanne Salliotte died on February 21, 2014 when a church van full of people heading to a youth camp in Georgia crashed in North Florida. Two people, including Salliotte, died and eight other people suffered injuries. While heading north on Interstate 75 in Lake City, the tread separated from the left rear tire, causing the 2002 E-350 Ford to rollover, ejecting four people.
Salliotte’s surviving husband, Jeff, and their four children sued Ford for defectively designing its vehicle with an extra row of seats without dual rear tires, making the van unstable and susceptible to loss of control.
Michalanne, who was unbelted, was ejected in the rollover. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the seatbelts were defectively designed and were inaccessible because the buckles fell under the bench seats. The attorneys also argued that the First Baptist Church negligently maintained the van and had a responsibility to ensure that the seatbelts were accessible to van occupants.
On March 15, 2018, a Pasco County Florida jury returned the verdict against the defendants, determining that Ford put the E350 Passenger Van on the market with faulty seat belts and a defective rear-wheel bustleback design.
The plaintiffs’ legal team included Frank Melton and Richard Newsome with Newsome Melton Law Firm in Orlando, FL and Christine Spagnoli with the Santa Monica, CA plaintiff’s firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP.
An emergency action plan is your school’s first line of defense when a crisis hits the school. For example, a fire might break out in the building and a school cannot adequately evacuate because no emergency action plan exists. Or a sports contest will injure a child who cannot receive adequate treatment because of an inadequate or altogether missing emergency action plan. Insufficient emergency action plans (EAPs) might open the school up to liability when students are injured.
A Sample Sports Emergency Action Plan
Emergency action plans are vital for student-athletes. In 2013, 4 percent of those who died in sports-related deaths were younger than 17, and more than 425 catastrophic injuries occurred to student-athletes. To develop an adequate EAP for athletics, school personnel should:
- Develop their EAP in coordination with the local emergency medical services (EMS) and on-site medical personnel
- Create an EAP specific to the venue and include maps or directions
- Identify necessary onsite emergency equipment, such as defibrillators, medical kits, and splint kits
- Include contact information for EMS
- Address how to transport injured student-athletes from the sporting venue to medical facilities
- Spell out how to document injuries
- Identify the personnel responsible for providing medical care and sketch out their chain of command
School personnel should review the EAP at least once a year and update it if necessary. Furthermore, the coaching staff should hold a CPR refresher each year so that they can help in emergencies.
A student could sustain almost any injury when trying to flee from the school in an emergency. For example, it is not unusual for them to suffer:
- Broken bones
- Cuts or scrapes
- Spinal cord injuries
Student-athletes also suffer serious injuries on the playing field, including:
- Heat stroke
- Head injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction)
- Hyponatremia (low sodium level in blood)
Many injuries grow life-threatening without prompt medical attention. But even a victim who survives could face months of recovery time that can cause them to miss work or fall behind with their schooling. Particularly serious injuries can also cause emotional harm, such as depression or anxiety.
Holding the School Responsible
When a school lacks an adequate emergency action plan, you might hold it responsible for the injuries you or your child sustained. In particular, you might sue the school for negligence because it did not run the school with adequate care. Although school districts generally enjoy immunity from lawsuits, California law makes an exception for negligence.
Generally, schools owe students a duty to exercise reasonable care and to discharge that duty the school may need a detailed EAP. Failing to develop an EAP—or having an inadequate one—might constitute a breach of the school’s duty, which could expose the school to a lawsuit.
Contact a Los Angeles Premises Liability Attorney Today
Parents entrust schools to take care of their children, and schools should have to compensate you for your injuries when they betray that trust. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we have sued school districts for failing to keep everyone safe. Because of the special administrative rules for suing a school district, please call us as soon as possible for a free consultation at (310) 576-1200 or fill out our online contact form.
Each month, dozens of recalled products range from furniture to clothing to computer batteries. A quick glance at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website shows that 18 products were recalled in the United States and Canada in January 2018 alone. If a defective product injured you or a loved one, California law might entitle you to financial compensation.
Proving a Product Is Defective
In California, you can receive financial compensation if a defective product injures you. Generally, you can sue anyone in the stream of commerce, such as the manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer. If you sue all of them, then you may increase your chances of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries.
If you sue under a strict products liability theory, you can prevail if you show that a defective product injured you. What makes a product defective?
- Design defect. Something about the design renders the product dangerous to use
- Manufacturing defect. A properly designed product was defectively manufactured
- Failure to warn. Insufficient or altogether missing instructions or warnings may have rendered the product defective
A recall serves as some proof of a defective product—although it is usually not enough by itself. In any event, you will need to explain to the jury what made the product dangerous and how the defect injured you—something the attorneys at Greene Broillet & Wheeler know how to do for you.
After suffering an injury, get prompt medical treatment and focus on your recovery. At the same time, do whatever is possible to preserve the product that injured you. For example, if medicine injured you, don’t flush the rest of the bottle down the toilet. If a crib injured your child, don’t throw the crib in the trash. Instead, your lawyer probably wants to see the product that injured you to identify what was wrong with it.
Compensation for Your Injuries
Dangerous products can cause catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Joint and tendon injuries
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain
These injuries might require tens of thousands of dollars in medical treatments or more, especially if you suffered severe injuries. You might also need to miss work to recover, costing you thousands of dollars more in income. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we can analyze the surrounding circumstances to identify what financial compensation you can receive, such as:
- Reimbursement of medical expenses, including hospital visits, surgery, prescription drugs, and assistive devices
- Replacement of damaged property
- Compensation for physical pain and suffering
- Damages for emotional distress such as fear, anxiety, grief, and embarrassment
The amount of compensation for which you qualify will depend on your injuries and other factors, so meet with a products liability lawyer today for a case assessment.
Speak with a Los Angeles Product Liability Lawyer Now
Consumers rely on manufacturers to make their products safe. When manufacturers fail, they and others might need to pay injured victims financial compensation. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our products liability attorneys work aggressively to represent the best interests of our clients. Contact us by calling (310) 576-1200.
Soccer is an increasingly popular sport in the United States, particularly with the young. For some people, soccer represents a safe alternative to football, which can cause concussions and other injuries. However, soccer itself presents its own dangers of traumatic brain injuries.
Soccer Head Injuries
Many people perceive soccer as a safer sport for children to play than American football. Nevertheless, soccer can cause head injuries. As the New York Times reported, at least one soccer player suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease more closely associated with NFL players. Soccer players can suffer head injuries in several ways:
- Hitting the ground after an aggressive tackle
- Taking an elbow to the head
- Running into a goalpost
- Repeated heading of the ball
- A collision of heads when two or more players attempt to head the ball
Some readers might feel surprised that simply heading the ball can lead to brain injuries. Nevertheless, scientists studying this issue have seen brain abnormalities in soccer players who are constantly heading the ball. These abnormalities can cause serious problems, such as:
- Memory problems
- Increased headaches
- Trouble sleeping
Scientists do not yet know how much force will cause brain damage, but they do recommend that players younger than 14 not head the ball.
Assumption of the Risk
By its nature, soccer is a contact sport, and most participants know that going in. For that reason, it can prove difficult to bring a lawsuit for injuries your child suffered on the playing field.
California’s “primary assumption of the risk” doctrine prevents lawsuits when the injury results from commonplace physical contact in sports. In Knight v. Jewett, the California Supreme Court considered whether someone injured in a touch football game could bring a lawsuit for injuries suffered when the defendant stepped on her hand. The court decided that the injured plaintiff could not sue. Specifically, the court held that the defendant only owed a duty not to recklessly or intentionally injure other players, and accidentally stepping on someone’s hand did not qualify.
However, playing in a sport is not a complete bar to a lawsuit. One key question was whether the defendant’s conduct was so reckless that it fell completely outside the range of ordinary conduct involved in the sport. For example, somebody deliberately punching your child will probably fall outside the range of normal conduct. But other actions—even a rough tackle—might constitute normal contact and bar a lawsuit. Another question may be whether anyone took any action to change the risks inherent in the sport or activity.
If you have questions, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler. They can help you assess whether the injury you or your child suffered stems from a reckless disregard for personal safety.
Suing a School
Another consideration is whether you have a valid legal claim against the school or sports league in which your child participates. Primary assumption of the risk will bar many lawsuits—and in some situations, you may not be permitted to sue the school even when a player deliberately attacks your child. However, you might have a valid claim in certain situations, depending on the circumstances, including:
- A defect on the field contributed to your child’s head injury
- Coaching staff trained your child improperly, which contributed to a head injury
- The school did not follow the proper procedures after your child suffered a head injury
If you have a valid legal claim, you can bring a lawsuit against the school. However, the precise process will depend on whether you are suing a public school or a private club.
Generally, California agencies and municipalities are immune from lawsuits, and this includes school districts. Nevertheless, the California Tort Claims Act allows you to bring a lawsuit against a school district for negligence, provided you give the district notice first. You should fill out a claim form within six months of the injury. If you wait too long, then you will not be able to sue.
Suing a private club is different because they are not generally immune from lawsuits. Instead of following administrative procedures, you can proceed directly to court and file your lawsuit.
In either situation, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler right away so they can help you through the situation by properly filing your complaint.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Suing a school is complicated, especially when sports-related injuries are at issue. To ensure you follow all requirements, work with Greene Broillet & Wheeler. We have extensive experience with these cases. Contact us today for your free consultation by calling (310) 576-1200.
A horrific October 2016 trucking accident is a reminder that the trucking industry requires careful oversight. Catastrophic injuries are all too common when passenger vehicles and big rigs collide. Accident victims can suffer broken bones, burns, cuts, and spinal cord injuries. In severe accidents, drivers and their passengers might die. In these tragic situations, California law may entitle surviving family members to bring wrongful death lawsuits for compensation.
Not Enough Sleep
According to federal trucking regulations, truckers cannot drive more than 70 hours in a week or more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off. The federal government adopted these regulations as a response to increased trucking fatalities in the late 1990s.
Unfortunately, inadequate sleep allegedly caused a horrific October 2016 trucking accident. According to a news account, Bruce Guilford of Georgia stopped his big rig on Interstate 10 approximately 100 miles from Los Angeles. Although Guilford stopped because of utility work, he allegedly fell asleep and failed to move his rig once the road had cleared. As a result, a tour bus carrying gamblers back to Los Angeles plowed into the back of his rig while traveling at 76 miles per hour.
The force was so severe that the rig ended up 15 feet into the bus, killing the driver and 12 passengers. The crash injured an additional 30 passengers. Guilford was charged with 12 counts of felony reckless driving causing injury and 13 counts of vehicular manslaughter. He also faces 17 counts of misdemeanor reckless driving causing injury.
According to a KESQ news story, investigators determined that Guilford had falsified his driving records to hide that he had not had sufficient rest in the previous 24 hours before the crash. Guilford pleaded not guilty.
Compensation for Victims’ Families
In a typical personal injury lawsuit, injured victims can sue the person they believe is responsible. However, when victims die, California law may entitle surviving family members to bring wrongful death lawsuits, including:
- A deceased person’s spouse or domestic partner
- A deceased person’s surviving children or the issue of deceased children
- If neither of the above are alive, then anyone who would inherit from the deceased under the state’s intestacy laws
Also, people can bring wrongful death lawsuits if they were financially dependent on the deceased, including:
- A putative spouse (someone with a good faith claim to marriage to the deceased)
- The children of a putative spouse
- The deceased’s stepchildren
- The deceased’s parents
If successful, plaintiffs can receive compensation for economic and non-economic injuries, including:
- Burial expenses
- Funeral bills
- Medical care to treat the deceased
- Lost earnings
- Lost services provided by a spouse (such as cooking or cleaning)
- Lost care and guidance
- Lost affection
- Lost sexual intimacy
Each lawsuit is unique, and surviving family members might not qualify for all of the above damages. Meet with a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney at Greene Broillet & Wheeler to review your case and identify whether you have a valid legal claim.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Los Angeles, California
With commercial semi-trucks weighing as much as 40 tons, tragic accidents, unfortunately, are unavoidable. Family members need time to grieve, but they also need to make time to protect their legal rights. Call Greene Broillet & Wheeler today at (310) 576-1200 for a free consultation, or fill out our contact form.
If you have been out walking in Los Angeles recently, you should not be surprised to see crumbling city sidewalks. According to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the city is offering as much as $10,000 in rebates to homeowners to fix the crumbling sidewalks themselves, all part of an effort to make the sidewalks accessible to the disabled. But hazardous sidewalks pose another issue to the city and its pedestrians—it is easy to fall while walking on them.
Injuries Caused by Hazardous Sidewalks
Most pedestrians can easily walk over a few cracks in a sidewalk. However, huge potholes or grossly uneven pieces of pavement can trap your feet or cause you to trip. If you fall, you can suffer any of the following serious injuries:
- Broken bones
- Other traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
Even relatively minor cuts might become serious if they get infected because of improper cleaning and dressing. Pedestrians who fall experience significant physical and emotional pain and may have to stay home as they recover, thus missing out on income from work.
Holding the City Responsible for Your Injuries
For more than 70 years, injured pedestrians could sue the city for injuries sustained because of defective sidewalks. In Lorraine v. City of Los Angeles, a woman stepped up onto the sidewalk near the intersection of Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard. After taking a few steps, her foot caught in a hole in the pavement and she fell violently forward, suffering a fracture and other injuries. After winning her lawsuit, the city appealed.
On appeal, the court upheld the judgment in favor of the pedestrian. The court stated that the hole in the sidewalk had existed for a month to six weeks, yet the city had not fixed it. Because of the hole’s size, and its presence for more than a month, the court held that the city had constructive notice that it existed, even if the plaintiff did not complain to the city before her injury.
After an injury, the best thing you can do for your case is to quickly document the surrounding circumstances. Hang on to all medical records and bills, since these will show the extent of your injuries. Also, write down how much pain you are feeling and where.
If possible, ask someone to return to the scene of the accident as soon as possible and take pictures of the broken pavement. Photos with a smartphone are acceptable. You do not want to delay since the city might quickly try to fill in the hole or rip up the broken sidewalk and resurface it. Your personal injury lawyer will find these pictures helpful when establishing the defective nature of the sidewalk.
Speak With a Los Angeles, California Personal Injury Lawyer
If you tripped and fell on an L.A. sidewalk, the law might entitle you to financial compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler are aggressive advocates on behalf of our clients, and we look forward to obtaining full and fair compensation on your behalf. Suing a municipality has special administrative rules and tight deadlines, so don’t delay contacting us. Call for your free consultation at (310) 576-1200 or fill out our online contact form.
Negligent or reckless drivers cause many accidents. But sometimes poor road repair can cause accidents, so accident victims will need to consider whether to sue the party responsible for maintaining the road. Because this is a complicated area of law, victims should schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney at Greene Broillet & Wheeler as soon as possible.
Negligent Road Repair
Road repair can create many hazards that lead directly to accidents. For example, you might crash because:
- Debris is left behind from construction cleanups
- Poor maintenance of grates or drainage systems leads to flooding, which increases the risk of hydroplaning and losing control of the vehicle
- Proper signs are missing or poorly positioned
- No notice or signs are given about road construction, or improperly placed signs block a driver’s view, causing a collision
Motorcycles, which are lighter and smaller than passenger cars, are more vulnerable to problems with the road. For example, motorcycles might crash due to:
- Broken pavement
- Grooves in the pavement
Each accident is different, and whether you can sue will depend on all of the surrounding circumstances. A California car accident attorney can review the surrounding circumstances to identify whether you have a valid lawsuit.
Onerous Red Tape
A substantial amount of roadwork is conducted by the state. Unfortunately, the state of California’s sovereign immunity often protects it from lawsuits brought against it by one of its citizens. Although sovereign immunity is not unlimited, you will need to clear some procedural hurdles before you get your day in court.
For example, before you can sue a state agency, you must file a claim with the Government Claim Program in the Department of General Services. You can download the forms from the government’s website and submit them along with the $25 fee. You must move quickly and file your claim within six months of the injury—otherwise, you may lose your right to sue. Although the state makes exceptions for missing the deadline in some situations, you shouldn’t rely on them.
After making your claim, the state will decide whether to accept it within 45 days. If it does, it will settle the lawsuit with you. If the state denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit in the appropriate court.
The lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler know how to fill out and file that paperwork for you and maximize your chances of a successful result. If necessary, they know the best ways to take your case to court.
Suing Private Individuals
In some situations, a private party will face liability for the negligent road repair. For example, you might suffer an injury on a private road owned and maintained by a private party. Some construction companies or independent contractors also work on road construction or repair projects, and they might also face responsibility for the accident.
When suing a private party, your lawsuit will proceed much as any other lawsuit would. You do not need to file a claim with a government agency. However, you might need to investigate and identify who is responsible for the road hazards that injured you.
Speak with a Los Angeles, California, Personal Injury Lawyer
Government agencies and private parties that injure drivers should pay victims compensation for their injuries. The personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler have years of experience helping accident victims bring suits against government agencies and private construction companies. Call us today for a free consultation at (310) 576-1200, or submit an email through our online contact form.
The modern automobile is a technological marvel. Anti-lock brakes allow drivers to brake on slick surfaces while retaining control of the car. Airbags keep passengers from slamming their heads into dashboards during a crash. And automatic emergency braking systems sense potential collisions and initiate braking.
But what happens if these car safety features fail? Fortunately, drivers and passengers may receive financial compensation for their injuries by suing the manufacturer.
How to Prove a Defect
Car safety features should work as advertised. When they don’t, they can cause injuries—to you and to others. However, to receive compensation, you need to do more than point to your injury. Instead, you will probably need to show that the car was defective because the safety feature did not work as designed or manufactured. If you bring a strict products liability lawsuit, you will need to pinpoint some defect, such as:
- Defective design. The car or safety feature was manufactured and assembled according to its design, but something about the design made the feature malfunction.
- Defective manufacture. Maybe nothing is wrong with the design, but the part or car was assembled in a defective manner.
In your lawsuit, you can sue the manufacturer of the part as well as the manufacturer of the car. For example, an automobile manufacturer might install anti-lock brakes made by a different company. In this situation, you might hold both the manufacturer of the part and the car manufacturer liable.
As part of a strict products liability lawsuit, you can sue anyone who moved the vehicle along the stream of commerce, including:
In California, you might also hold someone responsible for the safety failure for negligence or breach of warranty. These will require that you show a different set of facts.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you can convince a jury that someone bears responsibility for the defective product, then you can receive compensation for your injuries, including economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages if you can’t return to your old job
You might also qualify for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which covers:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
The key is gathering enough evidence to prove both economic and non-economic damages. For example, hold onto all medical bills and receipts to prove how much medical care you have paid for, as well as information regarding medical expenses paid by insurance or any other party. To prove pain and suffering, you can use testimony from your therapist or friends and family to establish how the injury has damaged your life.
Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles, California
Many manufacturers highlight their cars’ safety features when marketing to the public. As a result, consumers rely on these cars to work as expected while on the road. If your vehicle’s safety features fail, the law may entitle you to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer at Greene Broillet & Wheeler today online, or call (310) 576-1200 for a free consultation.
Self-driving vehicles promise a world of convenience, less stress, and—if you believe the hype—safer roads. However, a number of crashes have already involved self-driving vehicles. In November 2017, a self-driving bus was involved in a crash with a truck, making headlines around the country. Who will face responsibility for these crashes when no driver is to blame?
Today, human error causes more than 90 percent of all car crashes. Generally, people sue the other driver for negligence after a crash. In particular, the victim points to a sufficiently careless thing the driver did or failed to do that qualifies as negligence. For example, a driver might:
- Drive while distracted, such as texting or speaking on the phone
- Engage in aggressive driving, such as tailgating or passing at high speeds
- Get behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Fail to keep the car maintained so that it suffers a breakdown that causes an accident
You can hold a driver who failed to drive with sufficient care legally responsible for your injuries. As a result, they probably will have to pay damages for property damage, medical treatments, and lost wages.
A Driverless World
But what happens if a driver isn’t behind the wheel, or if the driver isn’t in control of the car? In this fast-approaching world, will no one face responsibility for a car accident?
In some situations, nothing will change. For example, a car owner who did not keep the car sufficiently maintained might face responsibility for the crash of a self-driving car. An autonomous car might fail to stop because its owner failed to replace the brakes, for example, and in that situation, the car owner might face responsibility for the crash—just as today.
Furthermore, drivers still retain some control over autonomous cars. Owners who decide to turn off the autopilot will still drive the vehicle, and they will still face legal responsibility for any crashes they cause.
However, in other situations, victims might need to sue the car manufacturer for designing or manufacturing a defective product. In fact, experts predict that liability will fall most heavily on manufacturers, whom victims can already sue today when their vehicles or vehicle parts malfunction. The car manufacturer Volvo has even accepted liability for crashes of its autonomous cars, in the hopes of spurring their greater acceptance by the public and by governments. In the future, cases will probably depend heavily on black box data pulled from the car that should show if the car made a judgmental mistake or otherwise failed to operate properly.
Speak with a Los Angeles, California, Car Accident Lawyer
Whether injured by a driver or by an autonomous car, the law might entitle you to compensation. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our car accident attorneys understand the devastation you feel from a car accident. Our team of attorneys will analyze the evidence and pinpoint whom you can hold legally responsible. Call us today at (310) 576-1200 or fill out our online contact form.