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The saturation of social media in modern society has been aided in part by the instantaneous gratification received via smartphone technology. People everywhere connect globally to automatically share anything from deep philosophical musings to the most mundane details of everyday life. It should come as little surprise then that it’s an issue that has come up in civil courtrooms across the country. Specifically: How do we keep jurors from publicly engaging about the cases they are charged with deciding, particularly while the proceedings are ongoing? phone

Part of the role of a Fort Myers personal injury lawyer is to carefully vet jurors who might oversee a case that goes to trial. We also have to occasionally monitor social media accounts to determine not just whether a juror may have engaged in misconduct by posting details or opinions about the case, but whether these actions may have prejudiced the plaintiff in a way that could warrant a mistrial or a new trial. We must be vigilant in protecting our clients’ rights.

In the recent case of Murphy v. Roth, before Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, a plaintiff in an automobile accident lawsuit sought a new trial after it was revealed a juror in the case had been engaged on social media about his jury duty as well as his thoughts about the perceived greed of “everyone” trying “anything” to get money.  Continue reading →

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A grieving Florida widower is suing the property management company as well as the security company for the gated community where he and his wife lived, claiming these entities were negligent in providing security to their community. The case was filed after the brutal stabbing death of plaintiff’s wife in a Davie home invasion robbery.window

According to The Sun Sentinel, a 22-year-old man is accused of breaking into the couple’s home in September 2014, tying up and assaulting the 59-year-old victim, stabbing her to death and then leaving her body in the bathtub, where her adult son later discovered her. The accused is awaiting trial and faces the death penalty if convicted. He made headlines over the summer after he escaped from a Broward County courtroom and was on the run for six days. A number of others were later arrested in connection with assisting his escape.

While it may seem odd that anyone other than decedent’s killer could be held responsible for her death, a claim of negligent security asserts that a defendant had a duty to protect her and failed. Continue reading →

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A construction contractor in Florida has been slapped with $200,000 in fines by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration for repeated, serious and willful violations related to unsafe fall protection and ladder safety practices. Although it’s likely this fine will be reduced upon settlement (which is how most of these cases end), the fact is, falls remain one of the most serious – and common – preventable risks on Florida construction sites. constructionsite1

That’s why it’s not really surprising that, according to, numerous Florida construction firms have been fined for these violations in recent weeks. Those include:

  • A roofing company in Jacksonville cited for fall protection violations for the fourth time just in the last 12 months. The St. Augustine contractor has been fined $128,000.
  • A large home-building company with operations in South Florida was cited for violations in North Florida that involved failure to ensure a carpentry contractor was using the right fall protection measures while they were working at a height that exceeded 25 feet. The subcontracting workers were also using the very top step of a ladder to reach the roof trusses – which is extremely dangerous and counter to what we know about safe ladder practices.
  • A Miami contractor was fined $53,000 for failing to train workers and exposing them to openings that dropped more than 18 feet.
  • A contractor in Jacksonville was fined $145,000 for failure to properly extend a ladder and allowing workers to install roof sheathing without using proper fall protection.

Continue reading →

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A Florida Gulf Coast University student was killed recently in a Fort Myers car accident, making him the 75th person to die on Lee County roads in 2016. The 20-year-old student was killed on Michael G. Rippe Parkway, near the intersection of Briarcliff Road, shortly before noon when his passenger vehicle was rear-ended by a dump truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. driver1

WINK News reported the victim, Ryan Wendler, had been an Eagle Scout who worked at Moe’s Southwest Grill while earning his degree in sociology at FGCU. He had recently started volunteering at a local soup kitchen and Meals on Wheels. Authorities say he was stopped at a red light when he was struck by the truck, driven by a 75-year-old man from Cape Coral. Investigators are exploring whether speed might have been a factor, and charges may be filed depending on the outcome of that investigation. It’s not clear which company owned the dump truck, but it should be noted that companies can face vicarious liability for the negligence of an employee who was either working at the time of a crash or driving a company vehicle off-the-clock.

The 74th traffic fatality in Lee County happened just a couple of days earlier, when a Punta Gorda man reportedly suffered a medical event before losing control of his vehicle while traveling northbound on I-75 just north of Daniels. The News-Press reported the vehicle, a Cadillac DeVille, drifted off the shoulder, through a wire fence and then slammed into a sound barrier wall and numerous trees. The driver of that vehicle died after he was transported to Gulf Coast Hospital Medical Center, though it isn’t clear if that was the result of the underlying medical condition or due to injuries sustained in the wreck.  Continue reading →

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Recently in Georgia, a University of Athens student was struck and killed by a driver allegedly under the influence of drugs when she slammed into the 25-year-old cyclist. The graduate assistant was reportedly on a night bike ride with a group of cyclists, several of whom were injured and tossed into a nearby ditch. One of the other cyclists injured was listed in serious condition. The riders had been traveling single-file when a woman in a sport utility vehicle traveling the opposite direction reportedly crossed the center line and hit three of the riders. bicyclists3

Investigators were later told by the 31-year-old driver that she’d been looking down at her cell phone when the crash happened. Her toddler was also in the back seat of the vehicle, and police suspect the defendant was on drugs. She was arrested on charges of first-degree homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs, failure to maintain lane and improper use of a mobile phone while driving.

Although this incident happened in Georgia, it’s a familiar scenario across the south and in urban areas in particular, where bicyclists and motorists are more likely to encounter one another. Florida has historically had the most bicycle fatalities nationwide. The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that there were 139 bicycle deaths in Florida in 2013. Not only was that more than any other state, it was also one of the worst when population was factored in – 6.99 pedalcyclist fatalities per 1 million population. Wyoming was actually No. 1, but it had a total of 5 bicycle deaths the entire year (to Florida’s 139), The only other state that even came close was Arizona, with a rate of 4.31 bicyclists deaths per 1 million. Bicycle deaths in Florida account for 5.6 percent of Florida’s total traffic fatality count — also worst in the nation. Continue reading →

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Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sought to heighten awareness of unsafe vehicles and vehicle components and the devastating toll it takes on our roadways. The agency’s “Safe Cars Save Lives” bus tour involved a large bus making its way across the country – including to South Florida in Tampa and Miami – to inform motorists and others about the potential for danger when driving a vehicle that’s either been recalled or is not properly maintained. caringarage

Key points of the campaign include:

  • Understanding and following vehicle recalls;
  • Tire maintenance and safety;
  • Child safety seats;
  • Heatstroke in vehicles (particularly involving infants and children).

The agency focused its efforts on Florida, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana because these are the states where motorists face the most danger. The heat in the South makes our motorists and children especially vulnerable to some issues. For example, while heatstroke is definitely an issue in northern states during the summer, South Florida residents have to be aware of this risk for most of the year. On top of that, vehicle recalls related to exploding Takata airbags have been tied to exposure to heat. Same thing with the life of tires. That means places like South Florida are especially vulnerable.  Continue reading →

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Jurors recently awarded $4.6 million in damages to a woman who suffered personal injury after she was stuck by a needle in a Target shopping center parking lot. hypodermicneedle

Initially, the woman’s attorney offered to settle with the retail giant for $12,000. That offer was flatly rejected, so the South Carolina litigator took the case to trial – with great success. Although it’s probably the retail chain will appeal, if the award stands, it will be one of the largest personal injury verdicts in that region, according to the local clerk of courts.

According to USA Today, the incident happened in a store parking lot in May 2014. Plaintiff said she had just gotten out of her vehicle when she looked up to see her 8-year-old daughter picking up a hypodermic needle. Swiftly reacting, plaintiff swatted the needle away from her daughter. As she did so, the needle struck the palm of her right hand.  Continue reading →

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The Virginia Supreme Court reversed a $20 million product liability verdict favoring a woman seriously injured when her Mazda convertible rolled over. Justices ruled trial court abused discretion in allowing plaintiff’s expert witness to testify, and further, defendant manufacturer had no legally recognized duty to design or supply a soft top to a vehicle that would provide protection to occupants in the event of a rollover crash.


This was a major decision, particularly given that, with interest, the actual payout in this case would have been well over $30 million.

The injury lawsuit stemmed from a single vehicle accident that occurred when the 26-year-old driver swerved to avoid an object on a dark roadway. The object reportedly flew off the back of a truck ahead of her. She took the risk of swerving because there was no oncoming traffic on the two-lane road. This led her up a slight grassy incline. Her convertible rolled, landing upside down, with the driver’s side up against a tree. The convertible top was up, but the force of impact caused the windshield to separate from the roof. When it collapsed inward, her head was forced down so severely it caused a condition known as hyperflexion. Continue reading →

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When you purchase a bicycle helmet, you are making a commitment to safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 818 bicyclists died on U.S. roads last year – an increase of more than 12 percent – the highest uptick since 1995. Another 45,000 were injured. Research from the same agency revealed helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.bicyclehelmet

In order to be effective, bicycle helmets need to meet certain criteria. Bicycle helmet standards are set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These set minimum impact absorption requirements (via drop heights on various surfaces), strap strength jerk, roll-off risks and coverage.

Despite these very specific requirements, there continue to be some manufacturers that fail to ensure their products meet these standards before sale to consumers.  Continue reading →

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Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal affirmed a recent judgement in favor of an injured worker who prevailed in a third-party lawsuit against a large fast-food chain after suffering an eye injury while cleaning equipment in the restaurant. While normally work-related injury claims would fall strictly under the purview of workers’ compensation, this was a third-party claim because the injured plaintiff did not work directly for the defendant. Rather, his employer was a contractor of the fast-food chain. This was the reason plaintiff was able to file – and prevail – in a workplace injury lawsuit, despite the fact the incident occurred in the course and scope of employment. cleaning2

Although the court affirmed judgment, it did reduce the overall amount of damages, finding the awards for past and future medical damages to be excessive and unsupported by facts. Still, this did not significantly reduce plaintiff’s total damage award which was $838,00 (or 90 percent of liability) plus $100,000 in attorneys fees and costs.

Plaintiff in Burger King Corp. v. Lastre-Torres suffered severe eye injury while cleaning the hood of a fryer. He was reportedly using a degreaser to accomplish this job, and some of that chemical dripped down into his eye. He alleged he’d requested a face mask numerous times prior to his injury, but his requests had been refused by his employer. As the appellate court noted, this was disputed by defendant, who presented evidence that inspections were done weekly and masks for cleaning were on site. Nonetheless, the appellate court noted, it was not in a position to re-try the facts – only to review potential abuses of discretion and errors of law.  Continue reading →