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Massachusetts Teen Convicted of Motor Vehicle Homicide by Texting

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on June 7, 2012

In what’s sure to be a landmark texting while driving case with far-reaching implications, a teenager has been the first person ever to be convicted under Massachusetts law for motor vehicle homicide by texting.

The initial incident took place way back on February 20 of last year.  It was then that the convicted individual was piloting his vehicle down local Haverhill Street and the automobile reportedly drifted past the center dividing line.  The vehicle crashed directly into a truck going in the other direction.

The driver of the truck died shortly thereafter, and defense attorneys failed to make the case that the crash did not lead to the fatality.  The sister of the victim stated that severe head trauma sustained in the crash ensured the driver’s dead.  The accused testified that he had his phone on the seat next to him and wasn’t texting, but rather was distracted by looming homework.

That argument failed to hold water.  The teen was charged with a litany of offenses, including negligent operation of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle homicide, using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle, and a lanes violation.

This story truly illustrates how dangerous texting while driving can be, and it shows that the action can have repercussions for everyone involved in a crash, from the people injured to those who caused the accident.  Human life is far too delicate to needlessly compromise by sending a text.

Kroger Pays Out $2.3 Million in Slip and Fall Lawsuit

By PSB Admin on January 26, 2012

Slip and fall cases can be expensive to the companies being sued, but they can be even more so when the offending company is found to have tampered with crucial evidence.

A man from Douglasville, Georgia, has won a $2.3 million lawsuit against the Kroger Co. grocery chain. The plaintiff had slipped on crushed fruit in the deli area of a Kroger store and fell onto his back. As a result, his lawyer said that the man suffered a spinal injury, requiring multiple surgeries totaling $135,000 and losing his ability to work.

What especially got Kroger into hot water was their apparent destruction of crucial video evidence of the slip in question. Kroger lawyers claimed that tapes are only saved for 17 days and the tapes from that day had been erased. They also provided sample images to prove that the camera did not even point in the direction of the fall.

However, a demonstration of the cameras proved that the camera was actually centered on the spot where the fall took place. The judge found that Kroger had destroyed the critical video evidence, and a jury came back with the $2.3 million verdict.

As a personal injury lawyer in Riverside, I’ve dealt with a number of slip-and-fall cases. Being able to provide the proper evidence is all-important in such cases. If you’re ever involved in an unfortunate accident, keep track of everything that happens, and a Riverside personal injury lawyer like myself will hopefully be able to help.

Children’s Clothing Retailer to Pay Fine Over Drawstrings

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 2, 2011

In a news release Thursday, the U.S. Product Safety Commission announced that Sunsations Inc. as agreed to pay a $60,000 civil penalty to resolve agency allegations that the Virginia Beach, Va., company knowingly failed to report safety issues with children’s apparel sold by the firm.

The CPSC claims that Sunsations sold children’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings at the neck from March 2008 through November 2010 but failed to comply with federal law by notifying the safety agency of the presence of the drawstrings. Drawstrings on children’s upper outerwear pose a strangulation hazard that can lead to serious injury or death.

In December 2009 and in March 2011, Sunsations recalled more than 15,000 children’s sweatshirts sold in Sunsations stores in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. While Sunsations has agreed to the settlement, which has been provisionally approved by the CPCS, the clothing retailer denies regulator allegations that the firm knowingly violated the law.

As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, consumer safety is something that I am very aware of; I hope that no children were injured by wearing one of the sweatshirts. Because of my experience as a product defect lawyer, I know that the effects of a dangerous product can range from inconvenience and frustration to injury and sometimes death. I encourage consumers to think “safety first” when evaluating products for purchase.

Mother of Blind Man Gets $17 Million in Wrongful Death Case

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on August 17, 2011

The mother of a blind man killed after falling between cars of Los Angeles’s Metro Blue Line train—having mistaken the gap between cars for a door—was awarded $17 million in a the wrongful death lawsuit, report news sources.

The Los Angeles jury unanimously decided that Metro was negligent in the death of 48-year-old Cameron Cuthbertson, as was the train operator who, continued to drive until the end of the line—seven additional stops—after the accident and failed to adhere to operation protocols. Metro intends to appeal the jury decision.

Cuthbertson’s mother was represented by Brian Panish of Panish Shea & Boyle in the wrongful death suit that alleged that the transportation agency was negligent for not taking adequate measures to ensure the safety of seeing-impaired passengers, namely failing to erect barriers that would prevent blind passengers from stepping between cars. It was argued that the omission was especially egregious given the heavy reliance of the blind on trains.

Cuthbertson, a lay minster who became legally blind after developing glaucoma in his 20s, died January 28, 2009. He was en route to a church in Long Beach when he attempted to board a train at the Blue Line’s Del Amo station. He mistook a gap between the cars for a door and fell to the tracks. As he attempted to climb back on to the platform, the train pulled away, crushing him.

Protective barriers were installed immediately after Cutherbertson’s death.

As a Los Angeles wrongful death attorney, I am glad that we were able to help Mr. Cutherberson’s mother receive the compensation she deserves in the wake of this tragedy.

Blue Line Accident Verdict Awards $17-million to Blind Man’s Family

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on August 1, 2011

The Los Angeles Times has reported on the record $17 million Panish Shea & Boyle verdict. Here is the Los Angeles Times article concerning the recently decided wrongful death suit of Cuthbertson v. LACMTA.

A Los Angeles jury Friday awarded $17 million to the mother of a blind man who died after he fell between the cars of a Metro Blue Line train, having mistaken the gap for a door.

The jury unanimously found that the agency was negligent in the death of 48-year-old Cameron Cuthbertson, who was on his way from his Compton home to a church in Long Beach. Jurors also found that the train’s operator, who despite radio calls and shouting passengers continued to drive for seven additional stops until the end of the line, was negligent.

Cuthbertson, a lay minister who developed glaucoma in his 20s and became legally blind, was killed on the morning of Jan. 28, 2009, at the Blue Line’s Del Amo station. The three-car train departed as he was trying to climb back onto the platform, crushing his body. The entire incident was captured on multiple security cameras, and shown repeatedly to the jury at trial, attorneys said.

Cuthbertson’s attorneys argued that Metro had failed to install protective barriers between the cars in spite of what they contended was a well-known danger for the blind. All of Metro’s lines other than the Blue Line, its oldest, had the barriers. They said the oversight was particularly egregious given how much the blind rely on trains.

Barriers were installed immediately after Cuthbertson’s death.

“The evidence was overwhelming that for 19 years, the MTA failed to protect the disabled and visually impaired,” said attorney Brian Panish, who represented the man’s mother, Mary Cuthbertson.

Panish also said the operator, Rosie Haynes, had stopped the train more than two feet away from where she was supposed to, leading Cuthbertson to mistake where the train’s door might be. Additionally, Haynes was required to dwell in the station for longer than she did, shaving off seconds that could have allowed the man to escape harm, Panish said.

Metro attorneys contended that the propriety of the train’s design was not a question that should have been put to a jury.

James Reiss, who represented the agency, said Metro was immune from being sued based on a design that had been approved by the state when the line was built in 1990.

“Metro maintains it was not negligent or otherwise responsible for Mr. Cuthbertson’s death, and there are strong grounds for appeal,” the agency said in a statement released after Friday’s verdict. The statement said Cuthbertson’s was “the only fatal incident involving a sight-impaired passenger on any Metro Rail line in two decades of operation.”

Reiss also said the Blue Line was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect, and was therefore not subject to its requirements.

Panish Shea & Boyle Announces Record $17 Million Verdict against Los Angeles County

By PSB Admin on July 30, 2011

Brian Panish of Panish Shea & Boyle has another successful verdict!.The following was taken from Business Wire.

Panish Shea & Boyle Announces Record $17 Million Verdict against Los Angeles County for the Death of a Blind Man Killed by a Metro Train

Cuthbertson v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency

On January 28, 2009, Cameron Cuthbertson, a 48 year-old legally blind man, attempted to board a three-car train on the LA Metro Blue Line in Compton, California. Mistaking the gap between the second and third cars as the doorway of a train car, he stepped off the platform and into the gap, falling onto the tracks below. While attempting to climb back onto the platform, his body was crushed and severed when the train began to move prematurely, and Mr. Cuthbertson died from the injuries.

Mary Cuthbertson, the man’s mother, courageously brought the lawsuit against the County to make trains safer for blind people. Today a Los Angeles jury awarded her $17 million. For over 100 years, the hazard presented by gaps between train cars has been a well-known issue affecting visually impaired persons using transit systems throughout the country.

Mrs. Cuthbertson was represented at trial by Brian Panish and Deborah Chang of the California law firm Panish Shea & Boyle. Mr. Panish said of the verdict: “This verdict is a monument to the visually impaired residents of Los Angeles, and the world. There is no reason accidents like this should happen when there have been devices protecting the blind from the gaps between train cars for over 100 years. This verdict will be heard around the world, and will create change. Cameron Cuthbertson and his mother and family are heroes.”

CUTHBERTSON v. LACMTA
Case No. BC413070
Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County
The Hon. Yvette Palazuelos, presiding

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