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Archive for the tags: wrongful death
  • Minnesota Bridge Collapse

    The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last November 2011 that the State of Minnesota could proceed with its claim against Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., the California firm that designed the Minnesota bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145 others.  The State’s claim against Jacobs Engineering Group (Jacobs) is based on the fact that the bridge was designed by a firm that Jacobs acquired in 1999.  The bridge collapse was found to have been caused by a design error that led to inadequate load capacity. More than 100 lawsuits were filed in 2009 and, pursuant to the Minnesota Tort Claims Act, the State of Minnesota has paid more than $37 million to victims of the bridge collapse.  The State has also sued URS Corporation, the firm hired to inspect the bridge in 2003, and Progressive Contractors Inc., the company who had performed repairs on the bridge.  Both of these companies have also filed claims against Jacobs, the design firm, seeking contribution, indemnity and reimbursement for their liability under a Minnesota law that allows injured victims to make a statutory claim for reimbursement in the event of an accident.  The court dismissed these claims, however, due to a ten-year Statute of Repose, which provides that a company is immune from liability ten years after construction of the bridge.  Since the bridge was built in 1967, liability of Jacobs with respect to the claims of URS Corporation and Progressive Contractors expired in 1977. Despite the fact that the indemnity claims of URS and Progressive Contractors against Jacobs were dismissed, the State of Minnesota’s claims against Jacobs were not dismissed.  The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the State’s claims for reimbursement could continue due to a Minnesota statute that retroactively revived the State’s claims despite the expiration of the State of Repose deadline.  Specifically, Minnesota statute 3.7394 allows the state to recover from any responsible third parties any payments made from the emergency relief fund despite any statute to the contrary.  Accordingly, the State is permitted to seek reimbursement for the payments made to victims of the bridge collapse despite the time limitations in the Statute of Repose. Impact of Court’s Decision The Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the case to proceed against Jacobs Engineering could have far reaching effects.  Despite a Homeland Security Report issued in April of 2011 revealing that nearly 12 percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient and[READ MORE…]

  • Lawsuit Filed in Connection with Yellowstone Bear Mauling

    A $5 million wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the federal government by the widow of a man mauled by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park in June.  The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Wyoming on October 25, 2011, alleges that researchers negligently trapped the bear along a trail close to cabins and prematurely removed signs warning the public of their work with bears in the area.  As a result of their negligence, the plaintiff alleges a 430-pound male grizzly bear mauled Erwin Erwin Evert of Park Ridge, Ill., who had been in the area. Evert’s family claims that the government failed to take appropriate precautions to warn Evert, who was had been staying in his cabin about 6 miles from the entrance of Yellowstone, of the researchers’ work and study of the bears in the area.  The lawsuit alleges that the researchers were negligent in providing proper warnings by removing warning signs three days too early and failing to warn Evert of their work in the area, despite the fact that they saw Erwin at his cabin at least twice during the course of their research.  Researchers are required to warn the public about traps and about any potential for grizzly bear confrontation, pursuant to study team guidelines. The bear attack occurred on the same day that two of scientists had trapped and tranquilized the bear.  The lawsuit alleges that the researchers left the bear before it was fully awake, which is a violation of study team policy. An investigation found that the researchers had removed the warning signs after they completed their research work and returned to the trailhead.  The investigation report also revealed that Evert, a botanist, was aware of the ongoing scientific research and was planning to “catch up with the guys” to learn more about their research. It is important for visitors to national parks to understand the dangers of their surrounds and to take the appropriate safety precautions.  The Chicago wrongful death law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is committed to providing exceptional legal services to the victims of catastrophic accidents and their families. 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. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful[READ MORE…]

  • Do Damage Cap Laws Pass Constitutional Muster?

    Nearly 30 states currently limit the amount of damages that can be received in a medical malpractice lawsuit, according to the American Medical Association.  States with damage caps vary wildly in their limitations and the types of damages that are limited.  For instance, California limits non-compensatory damages at $250,000, while Nebraska limits total damages at $1.75 million. In 2005, an Illinois law invoked limitations on non-economic damages at $500,000 in lawsuits alleging medical malpractice, including wrongful death, against a physician, and $1 million in lawsuits against a hospital.  In 2010, however, the Illinois Supreme Court deemed the damage cap to be unconstitutional because it interfered with the authority of judges and juries to reduce verdicts. Similarly, a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Indiana as a result of a catastrophic stage collapse that killed seven people challenges the constitutionality of the Indiana damage cap.  The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that Indiana’s damage cap of $5 million violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses, as well as the Indiana Constitution. Some state legislatures have recently proposed tort reform initiatives that would invoke damage caps.  For instance, earlier this year, the Tennessee legislature approved comprehensive medical malpractice tort reform that limits non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, to $750,000 in most cases; caps punitive damages at two times compensatory damage or $500,000, whichever is greater; and prohibits punitive damages in most products liability lawsuits.  Similarly, the North Carolina Senate approved a tort reform bill that would cap non-economic damages at $500,000. On the other hand, Virginia proposed legislation to raise the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases from $2 million to $3 million and would increase the amount by $50,000 every year until 2031, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by the governor on March 31, 2011.   Given the overwhelming support for the Virginia bill, however, it remains uncertain whether the veto will stand or whether the bill will pass. Medical malpractice damage caps undoubtedly hurt patients and the general public by failing to hold doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals financially responsible for their injuries or deaths that they have caused.  The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to protecting the rights of victims of medical malpractice and their families. 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…]

  • HBO’s “Hot Coffee”: The Perils of Tort Reform

    Part of HBO’s summer lineup includes “Hot Coffee,” a documentary that investigates the principles behind tort reform and how it “threatens to restrict the rights of everyday citizens and undermine the civil justice system.”  The documentary, which aired on June 27, was directed and produced by Susan Saladoff, a former public interest lawyer and first time filmmaker. The documentary highlights the importance of our country’s civil justice system and focuses on the ways that tort reform threatens the system.  The series discussed four high profile lawsuits, beginning with the infamous McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit in which a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.86 million when she sued McDonald’s after spilling hot coffee on herself in 1990 and suffering severe burns. The documentary includes “man-on-the-street” interviews in which each of the respondents expressed an initial opinion that the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case was egregious, at least to some degree, on the part of the plaintiff.  After being shown gruesome photos of the plaintiff’s burned pelvic area, however, the respondents’ opinions seem to vacillate. The series goes on to showcase three other exceptional lawsuits and political tactics: (1) the case of a 16-year-old whose severe brain injury was due to medical malpractice but whose damages were limited to only 1/5 of what the jury determined his family was owed due to the state’s cap on malpractice damages; (2) the smear campaign against Justice Oliver Diaz, an anti-tort reform state supreme court justice from Mississippi; and (3) the case of a young Halliburton employee who was drugged and raped while deployed in Iraq and sought civil damages against her employer but was denied a jury trial due to a mandatory arbitration clause in the employment agreement she had signed. The documentary’s overarching theme focuses on how the public, consumers and voters are being fooled by the arguments of tort reform advocates.  Our civil justice system and the Constitution afford us the right to a jury trial, but tort reformists are attempting to remove, or severely restrict, this right through measures such as damage caps and mandatory arbitration. The film exposes Corporate America’s manipulation of the public to think that “freeloaders” have flooded the civil justice system and that the majority of civil lawsuits are frivolous – until, that is, they have been wronged and their access to the civil court system is restricted.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are[READ MORE…]

  • Do You Know Where Your Candy is Made?

    Who doesn’t love great chocolate? I know it is a weakness of mine. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing where your sweets come from. In today’s economy many people are making chocolates, toffees, and baked goods out of their own kitchens and selling them. Food that is manufactured in a commercial setting is governed by food safety and sanitation rules, but food produced out of a home kitchen is not regulated.

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