A woman who used Google Maps to mark a walking route is suing Google for injuries she sustained in an accident. The Utah woman claims that the route took her along a highway, where she was hit by a car. An article about the suit claims Google Maps' directions marked the route as hazardous, but this warning may not have been visible on the BlackBerry she used. Her suit has been filed in Utah District Court and seeks damages of over $100,000.00.
Newsnet5 reports that Local Greater Cleveland RTA police officers will soon be carrying tasers with cameras and microphones. Each of RTA's 13 police vehicles will be equipped with the new weapons, which can record black and white video for up to 2 hours. RTA's innovative use of these unique cameras in unprecedented locally, but RTA hopes it will help with crime on public transportation.
The Ohio Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of caps on noneconomic and punitive damages, recently enacted by 125h General Assembly SB 80. Under SB 80, noneconomic damages in personal injury suits are limited to $350,000. See ORC 2315.18. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium and mental anguish. Punitive damages are limited to two times the amount of compensatory damages from the same defendant, and can be reduced by prior awards of punitive damages against the defendant in other lawsuits based on the same tortious conduct. See ORC 2315.21
These issues are before the Ohio Supreme Court upon certified questions from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case is Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson, Case no. 2006- 1212. Melisa Arbino filed a product liability action against Johnson & Johnson, claiming she developed medical problems after using the Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch. The Ohio Supreme Court briefs can be viewed via the following link: Ohio Supreme Court Online Docket.
Attorney General Marc Dann filed suit against lead paint manufacturers, similar to the suits already filed by cities such as Toledo and East Cleveland. See our prior post: East Cleveland Suing Lead Paint Manufacturers. These suits aim to declare lead paint a public nuisance, and require manufacturers to remove lead paint from homes and other buildings. The Attorney General's suit covers all areas of Ohio that have not previously filed a lead paint suit, and may eventually encompass the cities that have already filed suit. See State Files Suit vs. Paint Makers by Peter Krouse and Olivera Perkins, The Plain Dealer, Apr. 4, 2007; Ohio Lawsuit Targets Paint Industry , Toledo Blade, Apr. 4, 2007.
The case is Ohio v. Sherwin-Williams, Franklin County Common Pleas Case No. 07-CV-004587. The docket can be accessed at the Franklin County Recorder's web page.
The AG asserts that his suit is not affected by Am. Sub. SB 117, because the suit was filed before SB 117's effective date. SB 117 prohibits nuisance lawsuits against manufacturers. The status of SB 117 is uncertain, because while Taft allowed the bill to go into law without his signature, incoming governor Strickland vetoed the bill. See our prior posts: Republican Legislators Sue to Overturn Strickland Veto and Incoming Governor Vetoes CSPA Limits. However, the paint companies will argue that SB 117 was merely a clarification of prior statutes, and the prior statutes demonstrate an intent to disallow nuisance suits against manufacturers.
Fehrenbach v. O'Malley, 2007-Ohio-971: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations for parents to file a loss of consortium claim for injury caused to their child by medical malpractice begins running when the child reaches the age of 18. The statute of limitations is one year, so the parent has until the child reached age 19 to file a complaint. Prior to this decision, the parent had to file their claims within one year of discovery of the injury or termination of the physician/patient relationship, while the child could file their claims up to one year after their eighteenth birthday. Time Limit for Parents To Bring Own Claim Based on Child’s Injury Does Not Run Until Child Reaches 18, Ohio Supreme Court Opinion Summaries, Mar. 21, 2007. Malpractice Limit Overturned by Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer, Mar. 22, 2007.
In what plaintiff's lawyers believe is one of the first lawsuits of its kind, plaintiff sued the manufacturer of a contrast agent injected for an MRI. He alleges that the drug, Optimark, caused him to develop nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Optimark and similar contrast agents contain the metal gadolinium. The FDA is currently investigating the link between gadolinium and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in patients with kidney problems. The plaintiff suffers from Wegener's disease, which causes kidney inflammation. The case is Walker v. Tyco Healthcare Group, Federal Northern District of Ohio Case No. 1:07-cv-00741. Patient suing Drug Maker by Mike Tobin, The Plain Dealer, Mar. 19, 2007.
Hicks v. Allen , 2007-Ohio-693: The Eleventh District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, which held that sovereign immunity applied to a sheriff's deputy who kept a police dog at his home. The dog knocked down an elderly neighbor when the deputy was getting ready to leave for work. The court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the deputy was acting outside the scope of his employment. Additionally, sovereign immunity does not apply because ORC 955.28 imposes liability upon the owner, keeper or harborer of a dog.
The political subdivision was immune under ORC 2744.03(A)(3), which creates immunity when injury results from an employee's exercise of discretion with respect to policy making, planning or enforcement powers. ORC 955.28 does not expressly impose liability upon a political subdivision.
The concurring and dissenting opinion of Judge O'Neill states that there was also a genuine issue of material facts as to whether the deputy acted recklessly. If the deputy acted recklessly, this would deprive him of an immunity defense. O'Neill disagreed with the majority's finding that the employee was engaged in a discretionary policy making function.
The concurring and dissenting opinion of Judge Grendell states that the uncontroverted evidence shows that the deputy was acting within the scope of his employment. Additionally, case law has held that ORC 955.28 does not impose liability upon political subdivisions who harbor dogs. Thus, ORC 955.28 can not impose liability on political subdivision employees either.
The Ohio General Assembly introduced a flurry of bills last week, some of which are summarized here:
HB 61 MILITARY CUSTODY DETERMINATIONS - To prohibit a juvenile court from making custody determinations or modifications in a case in which one of the parents is called to active military service with any reserve component of the United States armed forces or Ohio militia.
HB 13 SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS - To prohibit the inclusion of Social Security numbers on motor vehicle registration renewal notices
HB 30 TRAFFIC LAW PHOTO-MONITORING - To require any local authority that enforces any traffic law by means of traffic law photo-monitoring devices to erect signs on every highway or freeway that is part of the state highway system and that enters that local authority, informing inbound traffic that the local authority utilizes traffic law photo-monitoring devices to enforce traffic laws.
HB 41 SECURITY SYSTEMS - To require the licensure of persons operating security systems companies, to provide for the registration of individuals performing specified types of security systems work, to provide for the requlation of security systems companies and employees, and to establish the Security Systems Advisory Board in the Department of Commerce
HB 45 WILD/EXOTIC ANIMALS - To require persons who possess dangerous wild animals or exotic animals to obtian a personal possession permit and to establish requirements regarding the possession and care of dangerous wild animals and exotic animals
SB 54 INSURANCE COVERAGE - Prohibit certain insurers from limiting coverage for injuries occurring as a consequence of an insured's use of alcohol
SB 59 MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE - Establish pilot program mandating arbitration for claims of medical negligence.
BILLS PERTAINING TO CRIMINAL LAW:
HB 22 ANIMAL CRUELTY - To increase certain penalties for cruelty to animals and to require a child under fifteen years of age who commits cruelty against a companion animal to undergo psychological counseling.
HB 15, SB 23 : INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE/TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
SB 9 FELONY SEX OFFENSE PROSECUTION - To permit a prosecution of felony sex offense or kidnapping offense involving a victim under 13 years of age to be commenced at any time after the commission of the offense.
HB 57 SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION - To provide notice to a long-term care facility and its residents when a registered sex offender indicates an intent to reside or registers an address within the facility's specified geographical notification area.
In Philip Morris USA v. Williams (Feb. 20, 2007), Case No. 05-1256 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the damages awarded to a smoker's widow in her lawsuit against cigarette maker Philip Morris. The compensatory damages in the case were $600,000 and the punitive damages were 97 times the compensatory, ie. $79.5 million. The Supreme Court did not hold that the amount of punitive damages was unconstitutionally large, but reversed because jurors were urged to punish the defendants for injury to all the smokers in the state. Punishing a defendant for injury to those not before the court amounted to taking of property without due process. Supreme Court Tosses Award in Smoking Case by Mark Sherman, Associated Press, The Plain Dealer, Feb. 21, 2007; Supreme Court Limits Punitive Awards, Backs Altria by Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News, Feb. 20, 2007; Court Limits Punitive Damages by Lyle Deniston, SCOTUS Blog, Feb. 20, 2007.