Month: November 2020

The Importance of Increasing Trucking Insurance Minimums

Crashes involving commercial trucks can cause severe and long-term injuries to drivers and occupants. The cost of lost wages, hospital stays, surgeries, physiotherapy, and various other necessary past and future medical care can easily exceed $1,000,000. Commercial truck insurance minimums need to provide adequate liability coverage for these crashes, but the current minimum liability insurance only requires $750,000.

This amount has shown disparity between the needs of victims and what companies have to have for coverage given that this amount has not changed in nearly 40 years. But pursuant to the INVEST in America Act, an amendment to the bill which was passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in June would raise the minimum liability insurance of commercial motor vehicles to $2,000,000, something that is past due for many reasons.

How a Texas ‘Fender Bender’ Truck Accident Morphed Into a $32 Million Nuclear Jury Verdict

On a quiet September afternoon in 2013, a minor fender bender between a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck barely disrupted life in the tiny East Texas town of Ore City.

Joshua Patterson was driving his pickup to a church luncheon when the vehicle was sideswiped by an FTS International Services tractor-trailer driven by Bill Acker. Both drivers pulled over and, during a friendly exchange, reported no injuries. Over a handshake, Acker offered an apology and accepted blame for the mishap. After local police visited the scene, the drivers went on their way.

Later that evening, Patterson’s neck felt sore. The next day, his father advised him to visit a doctor. And retain an attorney.

Nearly five years later in a Texas courtroom, that seemingly uneventful drive-away accident resulted in a $101 million jury award against FTS.

The award was reduced to $32 million by the trial judge.

While now in the hands of the Texas 12th District Court of Appeals, this civil action against FTS remains one of dozens of so-called “nuclear” verdicts against motor carriers, defined as awards in excess of $10 million, that in recent years have been on a steep rise.

It’s true that FTS, a Texas oil field service company based in Fort Worth, owned some liability in the case. The company’s driver was shown to be at fault, and trial testimony demonstrated that FTS had knowingly put a risky driver behind the wheel.

$73 Million Settlement Reached in UCLA Gynecologist Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The University of California system has agreed to pay $73 million to more than 5,500 women who were patients of a former U.C.L.A. gynecologist who has been charged with 20 felony counts of sexual assault.

The settlement terms were made public on Monday in a class-action lawsuit against the university system and the physician, Dr. James Heaps. The suit was initiated by seven women who say Dr. Heaps sexually abused them during medical examinations.
In the settlement, the university system and Dr. Heaps do not admit wrongdoing, which is not uncommon. The settlement in the lawsuit, which was approved by the university system’s Board of Regents, still needs a judge’s approval.

The civil suit, which was filed in October 2019, is separate from the criminal case against Dr. Heaps, who was employed at the student health center at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1983 to 2010. Dr. Heaps, 64, worked at U.C.L.A. Health from 2014 to 2018. He was initially charged in June 2019 and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Elizabeth A. Kramer, a lawyer for the women who filed the lawsuit, said in an email on Monday night that the sexual abuse was pervasive.

“The settlement, if approved, will provide real and immediate compensation to thousands of women — no less than $2,500 and up to $250,000, or more in extraordinary circumstances,” Ms. Kramer wrote. “In a case involving widespread sexual misconduct, a class settlement compensates survivors who otherwise would not have come forward to seek relief from the courts, through a respectful and confidential process.”

Under the terms of the settlement, the University of California system will pay the entire amount.

“The incidents described in the lawsuit reflect alleged conduct that is contrary to our values,” U.C.L.A. Health said in a statement on Monday. “We thank the individuals who came forward and hope that this settlement — which is still subject to court approval — is one small step forward for the patients involved.”

California Man Gets $9 Million for Unauthorized Penis Surgery

If you are having a hard time contemplating how “unauthorized penis surgery” can happen, you are not alone. I had the same reaction when I first saw the headline about this case. But as explained below, unauthorized penis surgery is something that actually happened to a man in California and he got a malpractice award of $9 million.

Paul Shanley, ‘poster boy’ of clergy sexual abuse scandal, dead at 89

Paul R. Shanley, a defrocked priest and convicted child rapist who became one of the most notorious figures in the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal, died of heart failure on Oct. 28 at a Ware hospice facility, according to state officials.

The 89-year-old had been living in Ware since his release from prison three years ago after serving 12 years for repeatedly raping a boy in the 1980s.

“Children are now safer because of the passing of Paul Shanley,” said Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented dozens of Shanley’s victims in civil claims against the church and described him as “one of the poster boys of clergy sexual abuse throughout the United States and the world.”

Garabedian said Shanley’s victims feel cheated because he died

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