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Current Cases

Indiana Court of Appeals Rules Contractor Responsible for Subcontractor’s Negligence

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a general contractor was responsible for its subcontractor’s negligent installation of a projection screen in a high school classroom during school renovations. Our client, a high school science teacher, suffered a severe injury after a classroom projection screen came off the hooks holding it to the ceiling and struck her in the head. We alleged that screen was improperly installed with the S-hooks left open, allowing for the screen to jump off the hooks. The lower court ruled that the general contractor owed no duty to the teacher because a subcontractor physically hung the projection screen. WKW attorneys Bruce Kehoe and Chris Stevenson successfully appealed the ruling, with the Indiana Court of Appeals holding that the general contractor had assumed responsibility for its subcontractor’s negligence in its construction contract with the school. As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ruled that the general contractor must accept responsibility for its subcontractor’s negligence. This opinion helps reinforce Indiana’s commitment to job-site safety.

Failure to Perform Emergency C-Section Causes Permanent Neurological Damages in Baby

A baby suffered severe and permanent brain injury and motor function impairment when doctors failed to perform a timely Cesarean Section delivery. Our client was admitted to the hospital for an induction of her labor due to concerns for post-dates and the baby being large for his gestational age. During the course of the afternoon, there were decelerations and late decelerations leading to repeated long runs of decreased variability over the course of the evening. By midnight, the condition was truly life threatening and required emergency intervention. However, that did not happen. The on-call doctor was delayed in his management and in addressing the increasing obstetrical emergency. Finally at approximately 1:00am, the on-call doctor recognized the emergent conditions and ordered preparation for a C-section delivery, yet failed to perform the surgery until 1:42 am. The infant was born with poor Apgar scores and seizures followed. The infant’s motor activity and muscle tone were flaccid and he was diagnosed with HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy). He will indefinitely receive intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapies. He will require special education services at school and will never know what it’s like to drive a car or live independently.

Bicyclist Injury and Violation of Clear Vision Triangle

Settlements were obtained from a motorist and a homeowners association following a collision between the motorist and a bicyclist. A grouping of eight large evergreen trees at the entry to a neighborhood made it difficult for vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists approaching at right angles to see one another. The bicyclist was badly injured when a vehicle exiting the neighborhood drug him underneath the car after the impact. The bylaws of the homeowners association contained a covenant which mandated a “clear vision triangle” at such an intersection, such that any trees within that triangle had to be cut down to a short enough height so they did not interfere with the ability of those approaching at a ninety degree angle to be able to see each other. A Trial Rule 30(B)(6) deposition of the homeowners association was helpful in establishing responsibility for the violation of that mandate. The case against the homeowners association was settled at mediation following settlement with the insurance carrier for the motorist.

Vehicle Event Data Recorder Download Used in Uninsured Motorist Litigation

There were no witnesses to an intersectional collision which badly injured an elderly woman who was a passenger in a car driven by her husband. The other driver, who was uninsured, claimed to have the green light, but our clients also contended they had the green light. The uninsured motorist’s vehicle had a data event recorder which stored information such as its speed in the last twenty seconds before impact, the timing of brake application, and when it slowed and stopped. The deposition of the defendant driver revealed major inconsistencies between his testimony as to his driving actions before the impact and the information downloaded from the event recorder. That focus on credibility issues regarding his testimony led to the case being settled at mediation.

Dangerous Curve in Road Leads to Liability Settlement

A woman in southern Indiana lost control of her vehicle while trying to negotiate a curve on a wet road, crossed the center line, struck another vehicle, and died from her injuries. WKW investigated the accident, obtained numerous accident reports involving the same curve, interviewed multiple witnesses, and found that over sixty other accidents had occurred at the same curve. A homeowner adjacent to the road testified that she had to eventually take down her fence because cars kept crashing through it with such regularity after sliding off the curve. A wrongful death claim was brought on behalf of the deceased woman’s husband against the State of Indiana, based upon improper signage which failed to properly warn of the dangerous curve. The road was re-designed, and the case was settled at mediation.

Case for Injured Coal Miner Settled

A young man working in a coal mine in Southern Indiana was injured when a methane-coal dust explosion shot tiny bits of coal into his face and arms, causing severe scarring. WKW conducted an investigation, took depositions of several witnesses, and obtained numerous documents outlining safety procedures and policies. The company that owned the coal mine denied any responsibility, claiming that the coal miner’s employer, who had a special expertise in auger mining, had the responsibility for proper safety inspections. WKW contended that federal regulations and industry practice imposed a duty of safety upon the owner of the coal mine in addition to the auger mining company. The case was settled after the trial court judge denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the decision was in the process of being appealed when the settlement occurred. Videotaped interviews of the injured coal miner’s doctors helped explain the lifelong “tattooing” that the explosion left on the coal miner’s face and arms. WKW attorney Bill Winingham represented the injured miner throughout the case, including the investigation, discovery of the facts, conducting a mediation session, and arguing the summary judgment issues to the trial court judge.

Fire Loss Claim Against Insurance Company Settled

WKW has settled a case for a woman whose house burned to the ground, but whose claim was initially denied by her homeowners insurance company. The insurance company refused to pay the claim because of alleged misrepresentations made by the woman during the claims process. WKW attorney Bill Winingham developed evidence showing that the insurance company was not misled by the woman’s representations, that the woman was never suspected of arson, and that the insurance company personnel investigating the claim did not question that the woman suffered substantial loss. An insurance expert wrote a report expressing the opinion that the insurance company had acted in bad faith by denying the claim even though there was substantial evidence supporting the woman’s claim that she suffered the loss of all her property in the home when it burned. The case was settled following a federal court settlement conference.

WKW Settles Case for Brain-Damaged Woman Within 12 Months

A woman badly injured when a driver crossed the center line of a roadway and crashed head-on into her vehicle has had her case settled by WKW. The settlement occurred after a lawsuit was filed against the other driver, claiming that he was negligent in the driving of his vehicle. The settlement occurred within eighteen months of the accident and only twelve months after we were hired. The insurance company for the negligent driver originally refused to settle the case. The injured woman suffered brain injuries, spine injuries, and was totally disabled. The settlement allows her to continue living in her home and gives her financial security despite her inability to work.

WKW Settles Case for Woman Who Lost Vision in One Eye from Accident on Ice

When a woman shopping on December 23 fell on an icy parking lot in Johnson County, she and her husband came to WKW attorney Bill Winingham for help. A lawsuit was filed against the property owner and the company responsible for snow and ice removal. Deposition testimony revealed a dispute as to the facts of the accident. The injured woman said that the lot was icy and had not been treated with salt or sand, other than the sidewalk area. The defendants claimed the lot had been salted, and claimed the salting was even done by hand in between and under vehicles. The woman fell backwards on the ice and hit her head, causing retinal detachment in one eye with multiple tears, subsequent subretinal hemorrhage, recurrent retinal detachment, and permanent nerve damage in the eye.

The woman eventually lost most of the vision in the injured eye. Calculations were made as to the total amount of medical bills, and money lost from work, in addition to permanent impairment of function due to the eye injury. The case was settled following mediation, only weeks away from the scheduled trial.

Tire Failure Case Partially Settled

An accident which resulted in the death of a young woman in college, and injuries to both her parents and younger brother, has been settled with several defendants. The settling defendants are the auto parts store that sold the defective tire, a store that allegedly negligently mounted the tire on the rim, and a company that retreaded the tire. The tire suffered a tread separation on the interstate, which caused the pickup truck on which it had been mounted to cross the median, and crash into a vehicle coming the other direction on the interstate. Numerous depositions were taken out of state to establish the chain of events which led to the tragic accident. The case is continuing against other defendants, including the tire manufacturer and the company which was the licensor of the retreader.

Produce Company’s Suit Against Insurance Company Reaches Settlement

A produce company whose roof suffered partial collapse settled their case in Federal Court at a settlement conference. The company’s roof partially collapsed, causing the need to replace and repair the roof and building. The insurance company denied the claim, and said that the policy excluded coverage of such an event. The produce company contended that the insurance policy should pay, and that the produce company was losing business due to their unrepaired roof and building. WKW hired a structural engineer to evaluate the cause of the collapse, and also retained an expert in insurance affairs to give guidance on the proper interpretation of the insurance policy. The case was settled at a settlement conference toward the end of the year, thereby allowing the produce store to move ahead with the annual selling of its Christmas fruit baskets during the holiday season.

Boone County Woman Injured by Drunk Driver Obtains Settlement

A case against a drunk driver who caused injuries to a woman in a Boone County accident has been settled. The woman was driving south on State Road 421, preparing to turn left, when the drunk driver came up very fast from behind and crashed into the drivers side of her car. The woman suffered neck and back injuries, was unable to work for a period of time, and had years of medical treatment for her injuries. The defendant driver had pled guilty to driving while intoxicated, and had a prior conviction for DUI. The case was settled at mediation after medical reports were obtained from her doctors showing the multiple problems caused her by the crash.

WKW Settles Wrongful Death Case

A lawsuit brought by the family of a mother of two boys against the driver who crossed a center line and killed her has been settled. The fatal crash occurred in Hamilton County, Indiana on State Road 37 near its intersection with Allisonville Road. The defendant inexplicably crossed the center line and crashed head-on into the car driven by the young woman. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of her two sons who were deprived of her love, care, affection, and financial support. The case was settled after mediation, with the assistance of a video settlement documentary containing interviews of many of her family members and friends, describing the close relationship she enjoyed with her sons before the accident.

Woman Injured by Falling Utility Pole Obtains Settlement

A woman who was injured in Indianapolis when a utility pole crashed down onto her vehicle has settled her case following mediation against the power company. The pole had been damaged in a previous crash, and was supposed to have been repaired by the power company. The utility company recently admitted they were negligent in performing the repair, leading to the accident. The injured woman suffered a fracture of one of the bones in her neck, which never healed properly, causing ongoing pain and disability. WKW became involved in the case after the first mediation which was unsuccessful. Additional work was done by WKW which resulted in the power company admitting liability, and eventually agreeing to settle the case after a second mediation and before trial.

Case Partially Settled for Injured Motorcyclists in Four Months

A case against the driver of a car that pulled out in front of a motorcyclist and his passenger wife in Northern Indiana has been partially settled for the limits of available liability insurance within four months of the crash. WKW was able to obtain the rapid settlement by immediately requesting medical bills and records from the hospital and doctors, submitting them to the insurance carrier, and negotiating down the required payback to the health insurer who paid the medical expenses. The quick partial settlement allowed the motorcyclist to continue operation of his businesses. The case will now proceed as an under insured motorist claim, due to the serious injuries suffered by the motorcyclists and lack of enough insurance on the part of the driver of the car.

Overfilled Truck Accident Case Settled

A case arising from a truck overturning and crossing the centerline on a southern Indiana highway has been settled for a young man permanently injured in the crash. The truck which overturned had been overfilled with gravel, and was speeding around a curve when it overturned and crashed into a delivery truck coming the other way. The “black box”, or data event recorder within the defendant truck was obtained and downloaded by WKW and showed the truck was speeding when it entered a series of curves, then was still going faster than the recommended speed around the curve when the driver lost control.

Evidence was developed by WKW showing that the defendant trucking company had ignored the ongoing pattern of its trucks driving overweight on Indiana highways. The injured man suffered numerous leg fractures and was unable to return to his job as a route delivery driver. The case was settled following mediation and before trial. The damages that were claimed included future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and future impairment of earning capacity.

Power Outage at Hospital Prompts Personal Injury Suit

WKW recently filed suit against a hospital, construction company and an electrical contractor for failing to consider the potential danger of the hospital’s expansion project on the safety and well being of the patients. In this particular case, the firm will represent an individual who was under anesthesia during spinal fusion surgery when a power outage occurred, resulting in injury to his spinal cord.

Anhydrous Ammonia Suit Settled

Three years after a WKW client sustained permanent injuries to his right eye, a large financial settlement has been obtained. The case involved the release of anhydrous ammonia from an overfilled tank that resulted not just in serious eye damage, but also burns to the man’s arms and lungs.

Bone Loss Drug Fosamax Faces Litigation for Dangerous Side Effects

Fosamax is a prescription medication manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc. The drug and its generic counterpart Alendronate are used to treat osteoporosis, a condition in which the body experiences a reduction in bone mass due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. This condition often occurs in older people, especially menopausal women.

Fosamax belongs to a group of drugs known as biphosphonates, which are designed to slow down the process of bone loss by limiting the activity of cells called osteoclasts, which break down bone. First approved by the FDA in 1995, the drug is increasingly coming under fire for serious side effects from prolonged use, including significantly increased risk of fractures to the femur due to thinning of the bone structure. Some patients have experienced severe compound fractures of the femur while doing routine tasks such as walking down the stairs or jumping rope. Fosamax use has also been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw, a condition in which the bones of the jaw painfully decay and die. This dreaded result can cause the bones of the jaw to become exposed inside the mouth, leading to infection of the jaw bone.

Merck’s original package warnings gave no indication of side effects related to weakening or thinning of bone mass or osteonecrosis. After the FDA inquired into the issue in 2008, Merck updated its packaging to include language that specifies a risk of “femoral shaft fractures”. The most severe injuries have been associated with long-term use of Fosamax for five or more years.

Wilson Kehoe and Winingham has decades of product liability experience involving pharmaceutical litigation. If you or a loved one have been taking Fosamax and have experienced any significant side effects or injuries you feel were related to the use of Fosamax, we would like to hear from you. Please call us as 1-800-525-8028 for a free consultation or contact us via our website.

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