What’s My Personal Injury Case Worth?

Personal injury value              Is my case worth
$1 million? $10 million?  We’ve all heard
the stories.  “My friend broke her
fingernail and got $150,000.”  “My
brother-in-law’s friend’s cousin’s son’s wife got $4 million when she fell at
the A & P and broke her wrist.”  “Bob
Hartman got $2.7 million because he was rear-ended by a drunk driver and the
drunk’s insurance company was afraid to go to court.” 

            How
are these crash-to-riches cases possible? 
Well, in a word, they’re not!  

Are there multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements?  Of course there are but they are based on major injuries, good liability and deep pockets.  

Click here for details about a motorcycle accident that my office settled for almost $8 Million

Urban Legends

Urban-legend-rumor             Let’s
face it, folks.  Insurance companies are
not in the business of handing out huge settlements – they’re in business to
make money and unreasonable payouts fly in the face of their business model.  Unreasonable (and unjustified) large payouts
are just not the reality, they are simply urban
legends
.

Snopes.com quells the
examples of alleged gazillion dollar recoveries from people filing outrageous
lawsuits by researching the real facts (or lack thereof).  The Stella Awards,
named for Stella Liebeck, the plaintiff in the famed McDonald’s Burn Case (read
the real story here
) was a leader in putting out annual lists of crazy
lawsuits with alleged crazy
settlements and jury verdicts – but these lawsuits are not real, they are more
examples of urban legends. 

Really, Now.  What’s My Case
Worth
?

         Reality
check everyone: Every case is different.  Your rear-end case has a different value than
your neighbor’s rear-end case.  Sonny’s slip
& fall case has a different value than Chastity’s slip & fall case.  Chester’s
product liability case is different than Field’s product liability case.

            Why?  Because every case has its own unique dynamic
based on many of these factors:

*     
People/entities involved

o      
Parties

o      
Medical providers

o      
Employers

o      
Eye-witnesses

o      
After-the-fact witnesses

o      
Expert witnesses

o      
Insurance company(ies)

*     
Facts of the accident

*     
Who’s at fault and to what extent?

*     
Injuries sustained

*     
Medical bills (past, present and future)

*     
Loss of earnings (past, present and future)

*     
Property damage

*     
Pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment,
disfigurement

 

Case Study

 Scalding Water Burns Tourist in Restaurant 

            As you know,
personal injury cases come in all shapes and sizes. There are, to name a few, traffic collisions, injuries
when someone has a slip
& fall
, product
liability
cases and premises liability
cases.  I am using this premises
liability case to illustrate the points raised in this particular article. 

Note: This story has been fictionalized and all persons appearing
in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead,
places or events is entirely coincidental. 

Boiling water              Facts: Kiki, a
30-year old female Japanese tourist visiting relatives, went to a Chinese restaurant
in Los Angeles’s famed Chinatown for a family meal.    Chinese Restaurants serving large parties
often place a Lazy Susan
on the center of the table to make it easier to serve the meal family style.  

            Early
on, the restaurant placed a teapot filled with scalding water on the edge of
the Lazy Susan.  While Kiki, with her
four-year old daughter Ling on her lap, and 11 other family members sat around talking,
the condensation began to form on the outside of the teapot.  Engrossed in conversation, no one at the
table was paying attention to the Lazy Susan or the teapot until disaster
struck.

            Suddenly,
the teapot was on its side and the contents spilled out all over Ling and Kiki.
 Little Ling began screaming and Kiki rushed
to cover her in cold water all the time unaware that her own arm was drenched
in hot water.

            Kiki
was able to save Ling from serious injury.  Although Ling was burned, the burns were first-degree
and quickly healed, leaving no scars.

            Unfortunately,
Kiki, who was wearing a long-sleeved sweater at the time, was not so lucky.  While Kiki tended to her child, the scalding
water caused her polyester sweater to literally meld into the skin of her arm.  She removed the sweater and several layers of
her skin in the process. 

            Kiki,
suffered second degree
and third degree burns
as a result.  That night she went
into shock
and was rushed to the emergency room. 

            Kiki’s
healing process was long and arduous.  She
returned home and underwent a major skin graft
where they replaced the damaged and dead skin on her arm with skin from her
scalp (and to answer your question in advance, her arm did NOT grow hair).  She has been left with permanent, unsightly
scars on her forearm.

 Who's Fault Is It That Kiki Was Hurt?

             Well,
this case had some unique twists and turns.  In evaluating this case, several of the factors
listed above had to be considered.  The
first, of course, was who was at  fault
was this incident?

            On
first blush, it appears to be the restaurant’s fault.  However, it’s important to note that the plaintiff
(the person making the claim) has the burden
of proving
that it is, in fact, the restaurant’s fault.

            Since
everyone at the table was talking when the incident occurred, we had no
witnesses who could honestly say how or why the teapot tipped over.  It was through the use of an expert witness’s forensic
analysis
that we were able to develop the viable condensation theory.

            The
expert, a physicist, based his analysis on an examination of the location, the Lazy
Susan, the dispenser from which the hot water was poured into the teapot, the
teapot itself and the depositions of Kiki and Shuau, the restaurant employee
who placed the teapot on the Lazy Susan.  Shuau testified at her deposition, under penalty of perjury,
that she was instructed by the restaurant to wait until the temperature gauge
on the dispenser was pointing to red before filling the teapot with water.  

            “What
does it mean when the needle points to red,” I asked.

            “Dangerous.”

            “Dangerous?”

            “Yes,
dangerous.”

            The
restaurant’s attorney covered his face with his hands upon hearing this admission.   It is also important to note that an employer
is responsible for the acts undertaken by its employees while in the course and
scope of their employment
. 

            This
is not to say that the restaurant’s lawyers weren’t mounting a defense.  The severity and degree of the injuries were
definite and obviously caused by the hot water dispensed by an employee of the
restaurant.  

 Who's fault             So
what could they say to mitigate their responsibility?  Simple: Kiki should have removed her sweater
sooner and none of this would have happened!  Yes, this was their defense.  (Defense lawyers ALWAYS have a trick or two
up their sleeve – click
here to read Anderson Cooper’s relevant expose
).  

There were
other family members there – why didn’t they take care of Ling while Kiki took
care of herself?  Actually, I hoped that
the defense would bring this up at trial because what juror would buy that
argument?  If anything, it would inflame
them because any parent, any human being for that matter, is going to tend to a
child before they tend to themselves.  That’s
just human nature. 

What Is Kiki Entitled To? 

Dollar sign              There
are various types of damages that someone is entitled to.  In Kiki’s case she was entitled to special
damages and general damages.  She sued
the restaurant for Negligence for her injuries as well as Negligent Infliction
of Emotional Distress for having witnessed her daughter’s injuries.  Since this writing is devoted to damages, I’m
not going to go into any detail on the actual legal theories of liability.

            Special, or economic, damages
are those that are quantifiable such as past, present and future medical bills
and loss of earnings that arise from the injury.  In this case, Kiki had about $40,000 in
medical bills incurred for the emergency hospital visit and her skin graft.  It was agreed upon by everyone that these
bills were reasonable and certainly necessary.  Therefore, she was entitled to reimbursement
for $40,000.

            General, or non-economic,
damages
are subjective damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement,
embarrassment, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of pleasure in life.  Normally, I’d put the actual figure in here upon
which we settled.  However, I’m going to
leave this to you.  What do you think Kiki is
entitled to by way of general damages
?  
Please put your answer in the comments
section!          

“Wait!” You Say!  “Didn’t You
Forgot Something?

             Just
checking to see if you were paying attention!  No, of course I didn’t forget little Ling.  That would be clumsy of me (not to mention a
tad bit of legal
malpractice
).  Thankfully Ling
suffered no permanent injuries.  She was
scared and had some blisters which healed and left no scars.  Naturally (and necessarily), she was included
in the lawsuit. 

            Ling’s
special damages amounted to $800 for a visit to a local doctor and some healing
ointments.  Again, both sides agreed that
this was reasonable and necessary.

            Again,
I’m going to leave it to you to decide her general damages. 

 Injured? Questions? Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

Firing Your Lawyer (and hiring a new one): Can You Do It?

Note: This story has been fictionalized and all persons appearing
in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, places or events is
entirely coincidental.
 


What If I Want to Change Lawyers?

You_re_fired
  

            Dan
P. called my office and asked to speak with a lawyer – he got me.  We chatted for a few minutes during which
time he scratched the surface of his difficult, painful and frustrating story.

            Mr.
P. is a South American immigrant who, along with his wife and other family
members, came to this country to raise his family of four.  For many years he went to night school while
working as a busboy to support his family. 
Eventually, through hard work and sheer determination he earned his Bachelor
of Science and Masters in psychology.  By
the time that I spoke to him, he had been in the United States for 28 years, was a
clinical psychologist and adjunct professor at a local university.      

            He
had built quite a reputation in his community and was sought after as a public speaker.  Mr. P. took great pride in his appearance
including his winning smile. 

How Mr. P. Was Injured

             One
evening he attended a lecture at a large venue. When the lecture was over he
discovered that he couldn’t remember exactly where he parked his car.  Since it was raining outside, he decided to
hop a ride in a courtesy golf cart to help him find his car.

            The
parking lot covered acres of ground.  The
roads within the lot were nicely paved and well-lit and were bordered by large,
unlit grassy knolls.  The golf car
likewise did not have lights. 

            Manning
the golf car was a young fellow – let’s call him “Bobby” — with a bit of the
daredevil in him.  Bobby decided the
quickest way to the other side of the parking lot was through the grassy knoll.
Unbeknownst to him and to Dan, there were rope barricades on the grass – i.e.,
keep off the grass!  However, in the
darkness, he didn’t see these barricades which, quite significantly, were
stretched wide and held taut by metal stanchions jammed
into the ground.

            Well,
as Bobby drove the cart at breakneck speed through the grass, he struck a rope
with the front of the cart.  The
stanchion came flying out of the ground, striking Dan P. in the mouth and
knocking out four front upper teeth.

            Dan
was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where he was examined by emergency room
doctors.  His mouth required
excruciatingly painful stitching.  He was
sent home disfigured and in pain. 

Dan P. Hires a Lawyer

             Dan
hired attorney Charles B. to represent him for his injuries and damages.  Mr. B. properly filed a lawsuit for damages
against the property owners, Bobby and the organization for whom Bobby worked.  The property owners were sued under a theory
of premises liability,
Bobby under the theory of negligence and
Bobby’s employers under the theories of negligence and respondeat
superior
.    

What Was Mr. P. Suing For?         

As you know,
Dan P. was a distinguished professor of psychology and sought after public
speaker.   However, what you might not
know is that Dan donated most of his money to various charities – he was
grateful for the opportunities that he received here in America and made it is
life’s ambition to give back even more than he received to society.  So, not surprisingly, Dan had no savings and
could not afford the dentures or dental implants that he so sorely needed. 

For obvious
reasons, he could not continue to speak publicly.  His shame and humiliation forced him into a
depression and he was unable to teach. 

There are two
types of damages which apply in Dan’s case: Special damages and general
damages
. 

Special
damages are those that are quantifiable such as past, present and future
medical bills and loss of earnings.

General
damages are for past, present and future physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of
companionship,
loss of
consortium
, disfigurement, loss of
reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity, loss of
enjoyment of life, etc.

Mr. B.
properly sued for these damages in an unspecified amount (which is appropriate
in California). 

What Happened Was Pretty Standard Until Lawyer Mr. B.…           

            The
matter proceeded through the normal course of
litigation. 
As in most personal
injury cases, a mediation was
conducted in an attempt to settle the matter before going to trial.  As far as the client Mr. P. knew, the matter
did not settle at mediation – after all, he was present there and should
know!!!

However, a few
days after mediation, Attorney Mr. B. accepted an offer without P.’s authorization!  This is a huge no-no.  Aside from being in poor taste, it is an ethical violation. 

            Although
the offer was for a large sum of money it was, in the client’s opinion,
insufficient to compensate him for the harm that he suffered. 

            So
he came to me to discuss this seemingly untenable situation.  He wanted to know if he was allowed to switch
horses in midstream and, if in so doing, he would owe fees to both his original
lawyer and his new lawyer.

            There
was another potential major issue involved here but I wanted to first address
his pressing concerns.           

Can A Client Change Lawyers While A Case Is Ongoing?

             Yes!  This is America, land of the free.  An attorney-client relationship is contractual
relationship, akin to an employer-employee relationship, where the client hires the attorney to represent him or
her.  If the client is dissatisfied, they
are certainly welcome to go elsewhere.

            Dissatisfaction,
of course, is a matter of degree and perception and can rear its ugly head in
many different ways.   There have been
many other instances where I’ve been approached by another lawyer’s dissatisfied
client and, after a thorough analysis of their situation, I didn’t accept their
case.  In most situations I realize that
their lawyer is doing a good job for them, explain my reasoning and tell them
that they should try to work it out with their present lawyer.

In Mr. P.’s
case, though, it was my belief that he was justified in wanting to find and
retain another attorney and I was willing to take his case.  He needed someone who was willing to go to
the mat for him. 

Would He Owe Fees to Both Attorneys? 

Fees in
personal injury cases are usually done on a contingency basis.  If a
client fires one lawyer and hires another, the fee remains the same.  Once the case resolves, either by settlement
or judgment,
the lawyers will work out a fee split based on what we call “quantum
meruit
.”  All of this comes
out of the proceeds of the case and does not in any way affect the client’s
bottom line.

For example,
if a case resolves for $250,000 and Lawyer #2 charges a fee of 40% or $100,000,
then that is the total fee for the case.  Immediately upon assuming representation of
the client, Lawyer #2 should contact Lawyer #1 and ask him or her for a
breakdown of the time devoted to this case and at what reasonable hourly rate
and an itemization of his actual costs. 

So, if Lawyer
#1 legitimately has 20 hours in the case at $325 an hour, then he will be
entitled to $6,500 (quantum meruit) plus
his costs (separate and apart from the fee). 
Lawyer #2 will take the $6,500 out of his fee and will a net of $93,500
in attorney’s fees.  There is absolutely no financial penalty to the client for changing lawyers!

The Other Potential Major Issue Facing Dan P. 

            I
explained to Mr. P. that by switching attorneys mid-stream because he didn’t
like the offer that was accepted not by him but by his attorney, the offering
party was going to be angered.  After
all, it was their justified belief that a settlement had been reached and
everyone could put the matter behind them. 
Armed with this information, and in spite of the potential negative
response by the defense, Mr. P. decided to go ahead and retain me.

            I
notified Sandra C., the defense attorney, of the following: that there was a
misunderstanding, Mr. P. did not authorize the settlement, that I was stepping
in as his new lawyer and we would have to commence further negotiations.

            Oh,
wow, was she upset!  Her client, the
defendants’ insurance company, cut their offer by 60% and basically told me to
pound sand.  A new battle had begun!  The motions started flying
and it looked like no settlement was in the offing.  Moral thus far: It’s not nice to fool Mother
Nature.

We began to
prepare for trial.  Expert
witnesses
were retained, more depositions taken, more written
discovery
was exchanged.     

Shortly Before Trial in the Judge’s Chambers 

            The
best part of this situation, though, was the defense attorney’s comment in the
judge’s chamber during the Mandatory
Settlement Conference
two weeks before trial.  She said “Well, Mr. P. didn’t have such great
dentition in the first place.  Sure, we
knocked out his teeth but they would have fallen out in the next couple of
years anyway.  In fact,” she said, “this
is what our dental expert will testify to.”

            Of
course I was in legal heaven at this point. 
“Have at it,” I thought.  What
jury is going to go along with such baseless vitriol?  Juries do not like to see the injured victim
attacked – especially one like Mr. P., a family man who worked his way up from
busboy to adjunct professor.  I was going
to have fun at trial. 

Defense Comes To Their Senses

             Unfortunately,
though, the defense came to their senses about 10 days before trial by way of a
very powerful tool, the Statutory
Offer to Compromise (per California Code of Civil Procedure Section 998)

and increased their initial "accepted" offer by almost double. Mr. P. decided to take it
instead of risking the uncertainty of trial.  

When Can A Client Switch Lawyers?

            A
client can switch lawyers anytime he or she wants to.  Although the client need not have actual
grounds for dismissing his or her attorney and retaining someone else, here are
some common situations that a client may encounter upon which the change is predicated: 

·        
An attorney's conflict
of interest

·        
Differing case
strategies or personality conflicts

·        
A change in the pleadings or parties of the case

·        
A change of the
court hearing the case (change in
venue)

·        
Expanded legal needs 

Whatever the reason, it is important that
the client inform their current attorney of their intention to move on.  This can be done by certified letter, e-mail
or, as often happens in personal injury cases, the new attorney will notify the
former attorney that they are now representing the client.

Further, if a lawsuit has already been
filed in the case, the court must be notified of the new representation by way
of a
Substitution of
Attorney Form
signed by the client, his/her former attorney and the
new attorney.

Mr. P. was not dissimilar in his discomfort in notifying his soon-to-be
former attorney that he was retaining new counsel. Therefore, at his request, I
notified the former attorney and asked him to send me Mr. P.’s entire file
immediately which, of course, he did. 

Does the Former Attorney Have Continuing
Duties to the Client? 

In a word, “yes.”  Immediately upon termination of the
attorney-client relationship, the attorney’s actual authority to act on the
client’s behalf is terminated.  However,
he or she still has several continuing obligations to the client:

 

·        
Protecting the Client’s Interest: If the client has not already found a new attorney, the
soon-to-be-discharged attorney must explain the potential consequences of
ending the relationship to the client, help find another attorney to handle the
case, and return the client’s property and papers to the client.  If the client has found another attorney,
then the property and papers must be delivered without delay to the new
attorney.

·        
Complying With Deadlines: If imminent deadlines are facing the client, the
attorney may be required to get the court’s permission to extend the deadline
or continue representation so that the deadline will be complied with.

·        
Protecting Confidential Information: Protecting the client’s confidence continues even after
representation ends!

·        
Treating the Client Fairly: The former lawyer cannot use information obtained
through the attorney-client relationship to take unfair advantage of the client.

 Injured? Questions? Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

 

            

Motorcycle Accident Leads to Traumatic Brain Injury, $8M Settlement

Traumatic brain injury

Just when you think you have no case, you may have a case.  I was asked to take a case where Billy, a motorcycle rider who on first impression was thought to be partially, if not all, to blame for an accident from which he suffered catastrophic injuries.  

Billy was a vibrant, young 20 something motorcycle rider who was not expected to live.  Turns out a lady turned left in front of him in a road construction zone.  Upon further investigation, I discovered that there were potentially many reasons why this accident happened – not all of which could be blamed on the left-turning lady OR Billy.  There were a lot of entities, both public and privae, involved.  
We investigated even further, filed a lawsuit against several defendants and were there for Billy and his family throughout the ordeal.  We litigated aggressively, taking dozens of depositions, hiring legal and medical experts, life care planners, pain management doctors, rehabilitation therapists.
Billy will never be the same, he suffered severe brain damage, multiple broken bones, fractures of the spine.  His family will have to take care of him for the rest of his life.
Through our passionate and zealous representation of Billy, we ultimately negotiated a settlement of just under $8 Million, which will enable Billy to receive the lifetime care he requires.
If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, please contact me immediately at
(323) 852-1100
lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger


"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

Attorney General Brown Announces $62 Million Multi-State Settlement with Eli Lilly

Eli_lilly_62_million

Eli Lilly has settled once again for improperly marketing the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.  I blogged on this subject earlier this year.  See Eli Lilly Settles Claims Over Zyprexa.  Then, later in the year, drug giant Merck settled cases over deceptive television advertisements. See $58 Million Merck Settlement To Change Deceptive TV Drug Advertisements.  Are the drug companies an evil empire?  Well, maybe so, but they are not beyond the reach of those that have our best interests in mind — i.e., Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.  Here’s the latest:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2008
Contact: Christine Gasparac: (916) 324-5500

Attorney General Brown Announces $62 Million Multi-State Settlement with Eli Lilly

SACRAMENTO—California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a record $62 million multi-state settlement with Eli Lilly and Company for improperly marketing the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa for use beyond the drug’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved uses.

“Eli Lilly put profits ahead of patients when it marketed Zyprexa for a use that had not been properly tested or approved, in many cases, putting young women at risk for weight gain, hypoglycemia and even diabetes,” Attorney General Brown said.

The settlement is the largest ever multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement. California will receive $5.6 million, the largest share of the award.

In his original complaint, Attorney General Brown alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses and failed to adequately disclose the drug’s potential side effects to healthcare providers. As a result of the settlement, Eli Lilly agreed to change its marketing strategies and to cease promotion of its "off-label" uses. Off-label uses are those not approved by the FDA when it approves the sale and use of a particular drug. Physicians are allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, but federal law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from marketing products for off-label uses.

Zyprexa is the brand name for the prescription drug olanzapine. In 1996, Zyprexa was first marketed for use in adults with schizophrenia and belongs to a class of drugs commonly referred to as “atypical antipsychotics,” which are traditionally used to treat schizophrenia. The FDA has approved Zyprexa for the treatment of acute mixed or manic episodes of bipolar I disorder and for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Zyprexa carries serious side-effects, including weight gain, hyperglycemia and diabetes.

Beginning in 2001, Eli Lilly launched an aggressive marketing campaign called “Viva Zyprexa!” As part of the campaign, the company marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses including pediatric care, high-dosage treatment, treatment of symptoms rather than diagnosed conditions and treatment of elderly patients suffering from dementia.

Stipulations in the settlement agreement require Eli Lilly to:
• Refrain from making any false, misleading or deceptive claims regarding Zyprexa.
• Require its medical staff, rather than its marketing staff, to have ultimate responsibility for developing and approving content for all medical letters and references regarding Zyprexa.
• Require its medical staff to be responsible for the identification, selection, approval and dissemination of article reprints containing more than an incidental reference to off-label information regarding Zyprexa.
• Provide specific, accurate, objective and scientifically balanced responses to unsolicited requests for off-label information from a healthcare provider regarding Zyprexa.
• Contractually require continuing medical education providers to disclose Eli Lilly’s financial support of their programs and any financial relationship with faculty and speakers.
• Provide a list of healthcare provider promotional speakers and consultants who were paid more than $100 for promotional speaking and/or consulting by Eli Lilly.
• Only provide product samples of Zyprexa to healthcare providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product’s current labeling.

Other states included in today’s settlement agreement include: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Read the Final Judgment Here.

Related Video

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at (323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

Airborne Settles False Advertising Lawsuit – Details and Claims Information

Airborne_cold_remedy Wow, it’s amazing!  Airborne, the "cold remedy" du jour, has settled a false advertising lawsuit for $23.2 Million.  What galls me is that I take Airborne.  Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but I truly believe that it works.  In the last 4 months, I started to come down with a cold twice and the symptoms literally disappeared after taking 2 doses of Airborne.  This is pretty fascinating stuff, though, and I encourage you to click on the links below for some great reading and viewing.

United Press International published the following:

CARMEL, Calif., March 4 (UPI) — A California herbal supplement firm will pay $23.2 million in a class action settlement for false advertising, one of the plaintiff groups said Tuesday.

Airborne, which advertised its supplement helped fight off colds, will refund money to consumers who bought the product, said the non-profit advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"There’s no credible evidence that what’s in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt told CNN. "Airborne is basically an overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that’s been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."

Airborne, based in Carmel, Calif., also will pay for nationwide advertising that outlines how to file for a refund.

Airborne was created by second-grade teacher who "studied the benefits herbal therapies used in Eastern medicine," the company’s Web site said.

A recorded message at the toll-free number of the class-action settlement administrator said Airborne Health Inc. admitted no wrongdoing, CNN reported.

A hearing to consider the settlement’s final approval is scheduled for June 16.

Airborne changed its advertising campaign when a plaintiff filed suit against the company in March 2006. Advertisements ceased mentioning cold-curing claims, promoting claims that Airborne helped boost the body’s immune systems.

Check out the following links, including the ABC News Video Report:

ABC News Video Report: Airborne Settles Lawsuit

On Line Claim Form

New York Times

GoGirlfriend.com

My Fox Kansas City

An Airborne User’s Opinion

Despite my protestations that Airborne actually works, for information on how to get your money from this settlement, write to the Airborne Class Action Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1897, Faribault, MN 55021-7152, call 1-888-952-9080 or visit Airborne’s Site

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The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

Case of the Dangerously Icy Sidewalk: Broken Ankle, Six Figure Settlement

Ankle_fracture Miss May T., a then 17 year old girl, slipped on black ice outside of a convenience store and suffered an excruciatingly painful bimalleolar fracture of her right ankle.  Her injuries were so severe that massive swelling ensued and the doctors were unable to operate on her ankle for over a week!  While May writhed in unspeakable pain and doctors were unable to do anything more than give her pain pills (which she was reluctant to take), the insurance carrier for the convenience store denied liability!

A massive liability dispute arose.  I hired a meteorologist, a slip and fall expert and a private investigator to get sworn statements from the convenience store’s own employees.  The sum and substance of the case is as follows:

My meteorologist advised me that weather reports attested to the fact that it had been snowing during the evening and entire night of the evening prior to the incident, possibly extending into the early morning hours of the morning of the actual incident, with the existence of sub-freezing temperatures during the night and early morning hours. The day of the accident presented mostly sunny conditions throughout the daytime hours. The incident occurred at approximately 9:00pm at which time there was an accumulation of ice from the previous night’s weather conditions which could, and should, have been treated, melted and cleared.

Private_eye My private investigator obtained sworn statements from store employees which substantiated the fact that, throughout the day, customers complained of the icy conditions on the sidewalk outside of the subject convenience store. Those statements provided testimony that the assistant store manager, Vickie, was advised a multitude of times of the customer complaints but failed to remedy the dangerous condition. Vickie repeatedly told employees that customers "just needed to be careful." Vickie further told the convenience store employees that the store had no rock salt with which to remedy the situation in its possession. However, subsequent to May’s fall, and then upon further investigation, the convenience store employees discovered that rock salt did, in fact, exist in the the convenience store storeroom. At that point, the rock salt was utilized to de-ice the subject sidewalk and thereby remedy the dangerous condition. Vickie’s failure to timely investigate and make safe a very dangerous condition was the actual and proximate cause of May’s injuries (see, for example, Langhorn Road Apartment v. Bisson, 207 Va. 474 (1996) where an apartment owner was found liable when the plaintiff fell on an accumulation of ice and snow).

The egregious and uncaring conduct of Vickie resulted in this dangerous condition persisting throughout the day and, ultimately, into the night when an unsuspecting May T. exited the convenience store, slid across the sidewalk and was stopped when her foot slammed into a concrete device which was intended to stop a moving vehicle!

Danger Where was the danger sign?  Where was the simple repair that could have saved May from such excruciating, and unnecessary pain?  The answer is: No where to be found and this lack of action on the part of the convenience store was a breach of their duty to May, their customer, to protect her from an unreasonable risk of harm.

May suffered a fracture of her ankle as well as a torn ankle ligament all of which which required major surgery with the placement of a five-hole plate with two screws above and below the fracture line.  To this day, Miss T. suffers pain in that ankle and is expected to ultimately develop arthritis.

After months, and months, of argument and negotiation, I was able to convince the insurance carrier for the convenience store that, yes, their insured did bear the responsibility in this matter.  The insurance carrier made a six figure offer to settle May T’s case. 

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The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

Rear-Ended By Drunk Driver: Leads to Surgery, Large Settlement

Rearend_collision How horrific it was for my client, Mrs. F., an innocent woman legally slowing down for a stop to be suddenly, and without warning, be rear-ended by a drunk driver.  Otherwise in great health, this lovely lady’s life was turned asunder by the flagrant disregard of a guy who was more concerned with his afternoon cocktails than the safety of other people on the road on which he drove.

The physical impact to Mrs. F’s car was so severe that it was deemed a total loss.  In particular, the insurance company felt that it would cost more to repair her car than the $30,000 that it would cost to replace it! 

Discectomy Mrs. F., was so seriously injured that she required neck surgery to remove and replace the discs in her cervical spine at two different levels in an effort to relieve the symptoms of the herniated discs in her neck.  The herniations were deemed to have been caused by this accident.

Medical Bills: Over $100,000.  The drunk driver’s insurance policy had a limit of $25,000 which was paid very quickly to Mrs. F.  However, what to do when her medical bills and pain and suffering far exceeded the drunk’s policy limits?  Fortunately, Mrs. F. was savvy enough to have Uninsured Motorist Coverage which is also known as Underinsured Motorist Coverage with a limit of $500,000.  Simply put, Mrs. F’s insurance policy "stepped into the shoes" of the drunk driver and treated this case as though they were insuring the drunk driver. 

Our office prepared a detailed settlement demand package which included all of the details of the accident, injuries, treatment (and all relevant medical reports, surgical reports, treatment reports) and what Mrs. F could now expect in her future.  With that in mind, we demanded the entire $500,000 from Mrs. F’s insurance own company under the provisions of her Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Policy.  Due to the severity of the injuries, her insurance company tendered the entire $500,000 less a credit for the $25,000 that she received from the drunk driver’s insurance carrier.

I routinely advise my clients that it is imperative that they carry as much automobile insurance as they can afford — and very importantly, Uninsured Motorist Coverage.  I hope that what happened to Mrs. F. never happens to you but, in the event that it does, it is best to be covered to the greatest extent possible.  In another posting I will discuss Medical Payments Coverage.

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle: Personal Injury Settlement

Alsp_bottle_001 A fascinating product liability case involved a wine conossieur who, while attempting to uncork a bottle of wine, was using a cork extractor which operates as follows: A needle is inserted through the cork, the user pumps the spring-loaded handle and air pressure then forces the cork out. The result is shown in the picture to your left. 

Mr. A. had owned the cork extracting unit for several years and, up to the date of his injury, had used it to uncork at least 200 bottles of wine. Although he reports that the cork is usually extracted on the fifth to seventh pump, the bottle exploded on the fourth or fifth pump on this grim occasion.  Alsp_hand_2

He reports that he immediately knew that his hand was dramatically injured because he could not feel anything and, as he held it up, blood started gushing heavily from the wound.  

It was my theory that the bottle itself was defective.  I engaged the services of a phenomenal expert, Fred Johnson, Ph.D., whose credentials as a professor of physics at Cal State Fullerton spoke for themselves.  Alsp_bottle_002 Dr. Johnson examined the bottle with the use of a high magnification microscope and determined that there were two major defects in the subject wine bottle: (1) Very uneven glass thickness and (2) an obvious glass anomaly (bubble), which weakened the bottle’s integrity, such that when the internal gas pressure was applied (in order to remove the cork) it caused a catastrophic failure of the bottle.

Mr. A. sustained serious injuries as a result of this manufacturing defect.  Alsp_hand_002_2 To whit, he suffered a laceration to the flexor tendon in the ring finger of his left hand.  Although doctors attempted to surgically repair the injury, Mr. A permanently lost the use of his finger (see photo to left)

Settlement: We were able to achieve a settlement for Mr. A against the bottle manufacturer and the store who sold it to him of over $100,000.

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com