Ron Miller is an attorney who focuses on serious injury and wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and products and premises liability. If you are looking for a Maryland personal injury attorney for your case, call him today at 800-553-8082.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision last week, in Choudhry v. Fowlkes 2019 WL 5677904 (Md. App., Nov. 1, 2019) is probably the most significant new development in Maryland personal injury law in 2019. Choudhry articulates a new 3-part rule for when plaintiffs in wrongful death cases can recover economic damages for loss of “household services.”

I love this case because it is a virtual treatise about how to put together a loss of household services case in Maryland.  I don’t love the case because I think it raises the bar higher for making such a claim than most Maryland Circuit Court judges have been applying.

Loss of Household Services

Last week, I summarized a recent bench trial in a birth injury case.  I find these bench trial decisions to be extremely useful and informative. They provide a unique perspective on what facts and testimony really matter in a birth injury case. In a jury trial, you just get a verdict. You do not get any meaningful explanation as to what mattered and why. Appellate opinions focus on the law and not so much on the resolution of factual issues. These bench trial decisions are like detailed case studies that allow us to see how the facts were presented by each side, how the expert testimony was weighed, and exactly how the fact-finder reached their decision.

So I looked for another birth injury case with the judge as the decider of fact. I found Coleman v. United States, 200 F. Supp. 3d 1350 (M.D. Ga. 2016), another Memorandum Decision from a birth injury bench trial in federal court.

The plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and their injured child, J.D. The healthcare providers involved in this birth injury case were employees of a federally funded health clinic in Albany Georgia. The federal government assumes liability for malpractice claims against federally funded clinics, so the United States was the named defendant.

This week I was reading through recent appellate decisions from birth injury cases across the country and I came across a unique written decision from the federal court in Chicago in Zhao v. United States 2019 WL 3956412 (S.D. Ill. 2019).

This was a fairly typical birth injury case in which the baby suffered nerve damage due to a failure to diagnose fetal macrosomia and the mishandling of shoulder dystocia during delivery. What makes this case somewhat unique is that unlike most birth injury cases that get tried by juries, this case was resolved with a bench trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (because it was against the United States in this case).

At the end of the trial, the judge awarded the plaintiff $8.2 million in damages, but more importantly he wrote a very detailed Memorandum and Order basically analyzing the entire case.

Juul is facing lawsuits on multiple fronts. Our lawyers are focusing on vaping injury and vaping addition cases in young people who plaintiffs’ lawyers argue were targeted by Juul.

There is a vaping crisis in the country that snuck up on everyone.  There are stories every week about the growing number of vaping-related illnesses and injuries appearing at hospitals. According to a recent Washington Post article, there are now 18 reported deaths related to a mysterious vaping illness, along with over 1,000 other possible cases of vaping-related injuries.  It may well be that many of these specific cases have little to do with Juul.  But this crisis has everyone taking a close look at Juul.

Picture showing someone vaping

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My firm handles birth injury malpractice cases.  We have cases all over the country.   Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious types of injuries we see in these cases.  If you are a birth injury lawyer and you do not get emotionally invested in cerebral palsy cases, you do not have a pulse.  Even defense lawyers who would shoot a puppy to get some minuscule evidentiary advantage at trial, usually have great empathy for the child and the family even if we disagree about why the injury occurred.

Cerebral palsy is a permanent physical and often cognitive disability in which the brain cannot control parts of the body. Cerebral palsy is not a disease. It is a static injury to the brain that occurs during childbirth or pregnancy. It is a non-progressive motor impairment that does not get better or worse over time. (Although some children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy have seen that diagnosis change before age 5.)

I usually do not write about legal issues that do not relate to personal injury cases.  But Maryland’s red flag law has gotten so much attention and there is SO MUCH incorrect information out there, I feel like writing a post about it. 

Reaction to the seemingly endless stream of mass shootings across the country has generated unprecedented political pressure for gun control laws. Last year, Maryland became one of a handful of states that responded to this pressure by enacting new laws aimed at curbing random gun violence.

Last September the Maryland legislature passed a new type of gun control law which is commonly known as a “red flag” law. Maryland’s red flag law was signed by Governor Hogan took effect on October 1, 2018. Maryland’s red flag law is one of the toughest in the nation and one of the most frequently invoked.

I love minor league baseball games.  I’ve been to a few Delmarva Shorebirds games.  It really is a fun environment.

One thing I really like?  Any kid that really wants a baseball is going to get one at the game one way or another.  The Frederick Keys, Bowie Baysox, and the Aberdeen Iron Birds (I’m told, I have not seen an Iron Birds game but the stadium is awesome).

There is an interesting lawsuit in Wicomico County involving Jared Breen, a little known former minor league prospect of the Baltimore Orioles.  He is suing the Delmarva Shorebirds and Wicomico County after his career was cut short by a collision with an unpadded wall. The Orioles drafted Breen in the 24th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. After being drafted, Breen began his minor league career playing shortstop for the Delmarva Shorebirds.

In Stracke v. Butler the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a pair of ambulance paramedics from the Baltimore City Fire Department were immune from liability because their actions in transporting a man to the hospital were not “grossly negligent.”

This case involves the scope of immunity provided by the Maryland Fire & Rescue Company Act, Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 5-604 and its applicability to employees Baltimore City Fire Department employees who treated the patient that ultimately died.

I don’t like the gross negligence law we have in Maryland. I think § 5-604 is well-intended but ultimately foolish.  But I have a hard time arguing that the court did not follow Maryland law.

Last month, Maryland’s Court of Appeals upheld a $7 million verdict to the plaintiff in an asbestos case even though there was no direct evidence that the defendants had installed the asbestos products at issue. In Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust v. Busch, a 6-1 majority held that direct evidence of exposure to a specific defendant’s asbestos products is not necessary. Rather, a defendant’s liability for asbestos exposure can be based on circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences.

Facts of the Case

police brutality pg countyThe underlying facts are fairly typical of most asbestos cases these days. The plaintiff (70-years-old at the time of trial) worked for 30 years as an HVAC technician. He primarily installed thermostats, sensors, and temperature control systems. The plaintiff himself never directly worked with asbestos, but he was sometimes around other people who were using asbestos.

A mass tort that has been getting a lot of attention from lawyers around the country in recent weeks is Xeljanz blood clot lawsuits.

Xeljanz now has a boxed warning, the FDA’s most severe safety warning, for DVT and pulmonary embolisms.

These conditions can be fatal.  This is a big deal for Pfizer’s blockbuster drug.

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