There was an article in the New York Times two weeks ago entitled “Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers Why Don’t They?” The article asked if it is easy to disable the phone at road speeds, why don’t phone makers do that and cut down on texting and driving. My short answer is an effort to auto disable phones when moving at vehicle speeds would have inherent flaws that could open the phone maker up to legal liability that does not exist if they don’t even try. Moreover, the failure to save us from our own stupidity is not the job of the manufacturer.
None of us want dangerous products on the market. Cigarettes are dangerous, but so long as there are warnings, we can put on our big boy pants and smoke ourselves to death. Knives are supposed to be sharp; we know to be careful with them. We will not tolerate baby cribs with slats so wide that babies can choke to death. We will not accept poisonous drugs. We will not accept aircraft with substandard welds.
Cell phone use in cars whether it is music apps, maps, email or texting, is rampant. The technology is addictive from a sociological perspective, but not in the way that cigarettes are with chemicals added to addict the customer. They are just very sticky technologies. So now lawyers are filing suits against technology manufacturers claiming they should protect the consumer and the motoring public from themselves. The problem with holding them responsible is their decisions are not bad enough to be the proximate cause of the crash. The cause is the driver being careless enough to use technology that everyone knows is dangerous.
By Special Correspondent, Julia Simon
In Atlanta and many other cities there are confusing guidelines for leftover food donation that often cause hunger, waste, and anger among restaurateurs and the homeless. According to UNEP (The United Nations Environment Programme) about 20 pounds of food per person, per month is wasted each month in North America alone, Adding up to about 30-40% of America’s food supply.
Many restaurants and bakeries, like Panera Bread or Subway, bake bread fresh each day and are forced to trash leftovers at the end of the day for a couple of reasons. The National Coalition for the Homeless states that from Jan. 2013 to Oct. 2014 21 cities have passed confusing laws that scare restaurant owners about the potential for being sued if someone gets sick from spoiled food.
Justice Thomas needs to retire. He has truly shown his derriere in his latest dissent in Foster v. Chatham. The basic facts of the case are as follows:
- In 1987 a black man was convicted of raping and murdering a woman.
Because we handle a large number of premises liability cases, we frequently get calls on cases that involve injuries or death from children playing in residential swimming pools. Under most circumstances, trespassers on someone else’s land are going to find it very difficult to recover for any injury suffered while on that property. However, most homeowners would be surprised to hear that they could be held liable if a trespassing child made their way into their land and drowned in the backyard swimming pool.
The legal doctrine that provides for this exception is called the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. Under this exception to the normal rules about trespassers, Georgia Courts have recognized that children don’t always have the capacity to understand unfamiliar dangers or appreciate the risks presented by unfamiliar property. Under this particular doctrine, a landowner has a duty to keep their property free of dangers that are accessible and could cause harm to trespassing children. Gregory v. Johnson, 249 Ga. 151 (1982) is a Georgia Supreme Court case that says this doctrine also applies to swimming pools.
So when is a homeowner with a swimming pool responsible when a neighborhood kid sneaks in and accidentally drowns in the pool? The Gregory Court says five conditions have to be met:
Our firm represented Heather McCarty, a passenger in a Mercedes driven by a young driver who was using the Snapchat speedometer filter to get a selfie going 100 mph. Heather, who was pregnant at the time begged the driver to slow down, but the driver rear ended another vehicle at high speed. The crash injured both McCarty and the other driver, Wentworth Maynard. Our firm owner, Christopher Simon has analyzed the case that other lawyers have filed against the driver and Snapchat and it provides thought-proving analysis on how we want app developers to approach product design going forward.
A little over a year ago, we reported on the case of 6 year old girl who was severely injured by a foul ball at a Braves game in 2010. Her parents were originally suing the owners of Turner Field for negligence related to the absence of safety netting around the field that would have protected fans from dangerous foul balls entering the stands. We wrote an article discussing how the Court of Appeals allowed the head injury case against the Atlanta Braves to proceed, even though decades of case law said that the spectator takes the risk. The Court essentially said that because a minor cannot assume the risk, the minor still has a case for injury at a game, even if the adult does not. This case is now in the news again because the plaintiffs are expanding the scope of the suit by adding Major League Baseball as a defendant in the case, in addition to the owners and operators of the stadium itself.
The addition of this national entity is intended to bring up an ugly issue for the entire sport- performance enhancing drugs. The plaintiffs’ theory of liability is that a juiced-up player is going to hit balls harder and faster than a non-enhanced player would under the same circumstances. Furthermore, Major League Baseball is well aware of this epidemic but has done nothing to protect its fans from the consequences of its players conduct as it relates to foul balls, thus creating a greater likelihood for fans, such as the 6 year old girl in this case, to be injured by an errant ball. Most interesting is the fact that the player who hit the ball in this case was none other than Melky Cabrera, who served a 50 game suspension two years after this particular incident for testing positive for performance-enhancing testosterone. However, whether Major League Baseball actually owed a legal duty to the injured girl in this case is a question that remains unsettled
Car accidents with police officers can present numerous challenges for those injured in the crash. Chief among these challenges is the issue of sovereign immunity, which can make it quite difficult to pursue a claim against a negligent officer if they are operating within the course and scope of their duties. If an officer is in pursuit of a suspect or responding to a call for help and their blue lights are flashing, it is hard to bring an injury claim if you are struck and injured by a police cruiser during such an incident. Likewise, injuries resulting from crashes resulting during a police pursuit have an entire body of law protecting the officer if they are following department guidelines.
A recent Georgia case, however, illustrates one situation in which a claim is not be barred by immunity issues. Last week, two Paulding County teenagers were killed in a wreck involving a Georgia State Trooper traveling at a high speed for no apparent reason. The crash occurred on the night of Saturday October 3 on U.S. 27 northbound in Carroll County. The trooper, who was not on an emergency call, not responding to an accident, and not trying to stop a vehicle, was merely on patrol traveling over 90 mph on a stretch of road where the speed limit is 55pmh. Data from the crash shows that he was going 91 mph only five second before the fatal impact. The unfortunate victims in this tragedy were sitting in a Nissan Sentra, attempting to turn left in front of the path of the police cruiser, clearly not realizing that the trooper was traveling at such a high rate of speed. The trooper applied his brakes in an attempt to avoid the impact and had slowed to 68 mph just prior to the collision, but it was too little too late. Both backseat passengers in the Nissan were killed and the two other teenagers suffered serious injuries.
Sovereign immunity is waived for most vehicle accidents involving cities, counties and the state. State claims in particular are governed by the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The cap for GTCA claims is $1,000,000. See GTCA Liability Policy.