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  • Study Shows Concussions in Young Athletes Increasing Dramatically

    The problem of concussions in athletes is an issue that has been receiving lots of press lately, in large part due to the new found understanding of the seriousness of these types of head injuries. In the past, concussions were believed to be mild injuries, requiring little if any follow up attention. However, as we’ve discussed in recent blog posts, the exact opposite is true: concussions are serious brain injuries that can have lasting, long term effects. And, it’s not just adult athletes that are affected. In fact, as explained in this Science Daily blog post, concussions in school age athletes are on the rise as well: A new study from Hasbro Children’s Hospital finds visits to emergency departments for concussions that occurred during organized team sports have increased dramatically over a 10-year period, and appear to be highest in ice hockey and football. The number of sports-related concussions is highest in high school-aged athletes, but the number in younger athletes is significant and rising. Surprisingly, this large increase in injuries was noted despite a decline in student participation in school athletics. As noted in the blog post, an outstanding issue in regard to student athlete concussions is the lack of comprehensive, universal return-to-play guidelines that would establish procedures to be followed prior to allowing injured students to return to the playing field. However, as we discussed in this recent post, Congress is considering passage of the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act which would remedy this problem. If passed, the Act would establish preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures for injured school-age children suffering from concussions. Concussion are not “mild” traumatic brain injuries, but rather, are serious injuries. What is important is that these injuries, in both adults and children, are now recognized as an issue deserving of additional attention and study. Hopefully, the new found attention will reduce the frequency of concussions and encourage better treatment of those who are injured. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Illinois Court Holds Dram Shop Act Inapplicable in Automobile Accident Lawsuit

    Generally speaking, in Illinois, lawsuits may not arise from the sale or gifting of alcoholic beverages, since the Dram Shop Act (S.H.A. 235 ILCS 5/6-21) preempts all alcohol-related liability claims. However, where the claim is based on legal theories independent from the defendant’s provision of alcohol, the Dram Shop Act does not preempt the lawsuit. This issue arose in a recent case, Hicks v. Korean Airlines Company, 2010 WL 3290997 (Ill. App. 1 Dist.). In Hicks, an employee of Korean Airlines was involved in car accident following a dinner with colleagues. She had been drinking at the dinner before the accident occurred. As a result of the accident, both the Korean Airlines’ employee and the driver of the other car involved in the accident were killed. The estate of the driver of the other vehicle brought a personal injury lawsuit on her behalf. In the lawsuit, it was alleged that Korean Airlines was liable for the deceased employee’s action under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Specifically, it was alleged that Korean Airlines was liable for its employee’s action in operating her motor vehicle while intoxicated since she was acting within the scope of her employment duties at the time of the accident. The court noted that contrary to the defendant’s assertions, the plaintiff’s theory of liability was not premised on the provision of alcohol to the employee, but rather was based on the theory of respondeat superior. Accordingly, the court concluded that where there were material issues of fact “regarding whether Kim’s actions were within the scope of her employment, the Dramshop Act does not preempt a claim that Korean Air is vicariously liable under the theory of respondeat superior, as Kim’s alleged negligence is independent of which entity supplied alcohol to her.” As such, the plaintiff’s claim survived and the lawsuit moved forward, allowing her estate to seek recovery for her unfortunate and untimely death. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Congress Considering Passage of Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act

    In a prior post, we discussed traumatic brain injuries and how concussions, once described as “mild” traumatic brain injuries, are anything but. More and more medical research is showing that concussions are serious injuries with lasting effects. The issue of the seriousness of concussions and the ramifications for athletes is becoming a hot topic. Both professional athletes and school-age athletes are at risk. For that reason, as explained in this post from Point of Law, Congress recently considered legislation intended to establish concussion management guidelines for school-aged children. In early September, The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a field hearing regarding the proposed “Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act.” In the CRS summary, the Act is described as follows: Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to: (1) establish concussion management guidelines that address the prevention, identification, treatment, and management of concussions in school-aged children, including standards for student athletes to return to play after a concussion; and (2) convene a conference of medical, athletic, and educational stakeholders to establish such guidelines. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to states for: (1) adopting, disseminating, and ensuring the implementation by schools of the guidelines; and (2) funding implementation by schools of computerized preseason baseline and post-injury neuropsychological testing for student athletes. Directs the Secretary to require states to utilize, to the extent practicable, applicable expertise and services offered by local chapters of national brain injury organizations. The passage of this Act would be important for two reasons. First, it would help to educate the public about concussions and would dispel the myth that they are “mild injuries.” Second, it would likewise serve to protect school-age children by establishing preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures. Concussions are serious injuries and this Act will help to highlight this fact and aid in the prevention and treatment of concussions in child athletes. Let’s hope that our legislators in Congress have the wisdom to recognize the many benefits that this piece of legislation offers to the most vulnerable of our society: our children.

  • Consumer Safety Groups Want Car Rental Companies to Fix Recalled Cars

    When you rent a car, you assume the vehicle has been properly maintained, don’t you? And wouldn’t you expect that a car rental company would only rent vehicles that had been fixed following safety recalls? Well, if that’s the case, perhaps you need to lower your expectations. Because currently, car rental companies have no obligation to provide you with cars that have been repaired following a safety recall. Not exactly reassuring, is it? Two consumer safety groups are trying to rectify this problem, as explained in a recent New York Times blog post: Two consumer safety groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission to order Enterprise Rent-A-Car to start fixing every vehicle with a safety recall before renting them to consumers. The groups say the request highlights the lack of a requirement that rental companies must fix recalled vehicles before renting them. In early August, the two groups filed a joint petition with the FTC, asking that the FTC investigate the situation and require that Enterprise Rent-a-Car, one of the largest car rental agencies in the U.S., refrain from renting cars  that are subject to safety recalls  and have not yet been repaired. The goal is to prevent rental car accidents, such as the one that occurred when Jacqueline Houck and her sister, Raechel, were killed when their rental car caught fire. A safety recall had been issued on the car a few months before the accident, but Enterprise failed to follow up and seek repair of the vehicle. As a result of their admitted negligence, power steering fluid leaked into the engine department, resulting in a fire in the engine department and the sisters’ subsequent, tragic deaths. The girls’ parents brought a lawsuit as a result of the accident and were awarded $15 million by a jury. After the verdict, the girls’ mother asked:“Why is the rental-car industry allowed to rent those cars, and not only rent them, but not even disclose to the public that these cars are recalled and not repaired?” she said in an interview. “It just doesn’t make sense.” She’s right. It doesn’t make sense. Hopefully, now that a petition has been filed, the FTC will take steps to ensure that this type of horrific and preventable accident never occurs again. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and[READ MORE…]

  • Judicial Impartiality Threatened in Illinois

    In February 2010, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride voted, along with 3 other justices, to overturn an Illinois law that placed monetary caps on damages awarded in Illinois medical malpractice cases. Medical malpractice caps had been struck down in two prior Illinois Supreme Court decisions, as well. Justice Kilbride is up for reelection this year, after serving 10-year term as an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. However, in sharp contrast to the typical reelection process of a Supreme Court Justice, his decision regarding medical malpractice caps is now coming back to haunt him, as conservative special interest groups rally against his reelection to the bench. The Chicago Tribune adeptly explains the situation that he faces in a recent article: Usually Illinois judges up for retention don’t run against anyone, and the ballot simply asks voters whether they want to keep the jurist on the bench by marking “yes” or “no.” No Illinois Supreme Court justice has ever not been retained. But this year negative politics are creeping into one retention race with the election more than two months away. Conservative activists are targeting Thomas Kilbride, whose 10-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court is up, setting up a potentially nasty and expensive retention battle that voters have never seen before. This departure from normal reelection practices is distressing and unfortunate. In essence, partisan political groups are attempting to penalize an Illinois Supreme Court Justice for doing his job and impartially applying the law and legal precedent. The ability to be objective is an absolute necessity in order for judges to do their jobs correctly. Ideally, political leanings and philosophy should have no impact on judges’ decisions on the bench. Instead, their job is to impartially review and apply the relevant statutes and prior case law and issue a decision based solely on the facts of the case. The attempts to influence his reelection are motivated purely by political goals. Instead of questioning his  judicial abilities, his detractors instead are seeking to penalize him for issuing an impartial ruling that negatively affected a political issue of importance to them. This attempt to influence future judicial decision making by making an example of Justice Kilbride is nothing less than shameful and has the potential to severely impact the integrity of the judicial process in Illinois. Let’s hope this attempt to block his reelection is unsuccessful, if for no other reason than to[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Court Holds Private Landowner Is Not Liable for Plaintiff’s Injuries

    In Gilmore v. Powers, No. 1-09-1478, the First District Appellate Court of Illinois, Sixth Division, addressed the issue of whether a private landowner owner or the City of Evanston was liable for maintenance of a walkway that straddled the city-owned parkway in front of the defendants’ house. In this case, the plaintiff was the co-owner of a moving company hired by the defendants to move furniture into their new home. The plaintiff was injured while moving the defendant’s belongings into their home when she tripped and fell on a stone walkway that was located between the curb of the street and the sidewalk. The sidewalk was admittedly owned by the City of Evanston. In reaching its decision, the court first noted the general principle of law that, while private landowners owe a duty of care to provide a reasonably safe means of ingress and egress from their property, they  generally owe no duty to ensure that a public sidewalk or parkway abutting that property is in a safe condition. The court then acknowledged that if abutting landowners assume control of a public sidewalk or parkway for their own purposes, they may be held responsible for the condition of a public sidewalk or parkway. However, the court concluded that in the case at hand, there was no evidence that the defendants took any actions that would show that they were using the parkway for their own purposes. They didn’t use it as their sole means of ingress and egress to their property, nor did they block it in any way that might prevent the public from using it. Likewise, the court determined that the defendants’ maintenance and use of the walkway didn’t make them liable for its upkeep since “(a)ppropriation does not occur merely because a landowner uses the walkway more than the public at large.” Accordingly, after analyzing a number of City ordinances and concluding that the ordinances which might have created a duty on the part of the defendants were inapplicable, the court held that ” no duty existed requiring defendants to maintain the walkway at issue in a safe condition as a matter of law.” Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • New California Law Permits Lawsuits Against Those Who Serve Alcohol to Minors

    Over the last month we discussed two different Illinois personal injury cases addressing the liability of parties who provided alcohol to someone who then left the premises and caused a deadly automobile accident. This is an issue that is becoming more frequently litigated, in part because of the tragic consequences–which are especially apparent when the person who was served alcohol is underage. In response to this issue, California governor Arnold Shwarzenegger recently signed into law legislation that would allow civil lawsuits against adult who permitted alcohol to be served to underage minors who then were injured or killed as a result of being intoxicated. As explained in this SFGate article, the intent of the law is to protect underage youths: “Governor Schwarzenegger was pleased to sign AB2486 because parents and adults have a responsibility to protect children and underage youth from alcohol,” said the governor’s deputy press secretary Matt Connelly in a written statement. “Adults that knowingly provide alcohol to a minor place both the minor and the larger community at risk. AB2486 enhances the seriousness of that offense and broadens the penalties against any parent or adult that knowingly provides alcohol to a minor.” By expressly allowing lawsuits against adults who knowingly serve alcohol to underage youths, the state of California has sent a strong message that will undoubtedly discourage this practice and help to prevent the tragic results that can occur when inexperienced youths make poor decisions after drinking alcohol. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Northern District of Illinois Rules on Lawsuit Alleging Adverse Reaction to Motrin

    At issue in a recent Illinois products liability lawsuit was whether the manufacturer of Motrin was liable for an adverse reaction to its product. In Robinson v. McNeil Consumer HealthCare, 2010 WL 3156548, the plaintiffs brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The facts in this case are very unfortunate. One evening, the primary plaintiff, Ms. Robinson had a headache and took a dose of children’s Motrin, which she had previously purchased for her children. Shortly thereafter she noticed a rash on her chest that became worse as the day passed. She soon became feverish and took another dose of the Motrin. Her rash and fever worsened and she continued to take the Motrin. She was later hospitalized by her physician and was diagnosed with TEN (toxic epidermal necrolysis), an especially severe form of SJS (Stevens-Johnson syndrome). TEN is a very severe disease that causes severe blistering and consequent sloughing off of skin over much of the body, and also causes serious damage to the mouth, eyes, throat, and esophagus. Ms. Robinson lost her vision in one eye and now has severely limited vision in the other. She is expected to eventually lose sight in that eye as well. In addition, she required multiple operations to her throat and esophagus and over 60% of her skin sloughed off. One of the issues considered by the Court was whether Ms. Robinson was contributorily negligent.  Unfortunately for Ms. Robinson, the Court concluded that she was, and thus her claim was barred under Virginia law (which the court also concluded was the applicable law in this case): Mrs. Robinson appears to have been the party who could have avoided the injury at lower cost, assuming for the moment that her developing TEN was caused by the Motrin. For the evidence of McNeil’s negligence in selling Children’s Motrin, with or without a prescription and with or without additional warnings, was slight…(Thus)…there was enough evidence that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent to bar her claim… An unfortunate outcome to a very unfortunate case. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

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