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Traffic Court in Maryland

April 22, 2014 1 comment

Disclaimer:  The following is my personal rant, not that of my firm, partner, family or anyone else.

As many of you know the person who hit and killed my sister in law while she was riding her bike is contesting the traffic tickets she received. last Thursday we along with about 100 people showed up to show support for my brother in law and his family. The trial was continued based upon the representation of the Def. attorney that one of the witnesses feared for his safety. There was no evidence produced, the attorney did not testify as to claims and the witness was not present to testify as to the supposed fear. Based upon these claims the judge granted a postponement. There were 3 other witnesses in the court room (2 police officers and another independent witness who stopped following the crash) who apparently felt no such fear.

The defense attorney is running for state’s attorney in Maryland and he posted his version of what occurred on his Facebook page (which I have set out in part below along with my comments in bold).   I wonder if his platform includes if you are scared to testify I will let you slide and we will not prosecute anyone just forgive them.
“The Whitney DeCesaris trial involving the bicyclist fatality was indeed postponed yesterday; however, it was solely caused by the palpable anger in the room exhibited by certain persons in the cycling community, which intimidated a key witness in this case, causing him/her to fear for his/her safety.”

There was no anger in the courtroom, in fact it was probably one of the quietest I have seen in my almost 30 years of trying cases across the country. The intimidated “key witness” is identified by Mr. Simmons (the Defense attorney) in his post. There was no evidence that he was intimidated other than comments made to the Court by the defense attorney supposedly as an officer of the Court. I say supposedly because the term “palpable anger” describing the room must have been another room. If it were as he suggests the Judge would have taken steps to clear the Courtroom, she did not. The judge would have requested the bailiff to instruct the gallery to quiet down or be removed, she did not (probably because there was no anger and no one speaking). There was a comment made by Mr. Simmons that the witness heard people yelling his name. That is true. It was Mr. Simmons calling to see if he were present. So we have a representation by Mr. Simmons that a witness feared for his safety.
“However, when certain forces are at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating witnesses, parties, and officers of the court, this system of justice becomes just like every other system of injustice in the world today.”

Apparently the palpable anger in the courtroom escalated to “forces at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating” not only witnesses (actually only one if you believe Mr. Simmons to the entire system. I am surprised the SWAT and riot squads were not called out to quell this uprising in traffic court.
“This tragic event has brought two families together in the most horrible of circumstances. Mrs. DeCesaris, a nurse, stopped and immediately rendered care to Mrs. Cunningham, assisting Dr. Richard Garden with CPR. Dr. Garden took charge of her care while Mrs. DeCesaris administered mouth to mouth and attempted to manage Mrs. Cunningham’s bleeding until emergency services arrived. Dr. Garden and Mrs. DeCesaris were the only people who engaged, doing all they could to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life. Assuming for just a second, that this accident was not preventable, has anyone thanked Mrs. DeCesaris for trying to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life? Plenty have demonized her. Dr. Garden for his good deed has been intimidated by the some cycling advocates, because his testimony supports the premises that this accident was not preventable. Has anyone ever said thank you to Dr. Garden?”

Mrs. DeCesaris would never have needed to render care to Mrs. Cunningham had she not struck her bicycle from behind. How would you propose the thank you be worded Mr. Simmons? As to Dr. Garden (whom I never mentioned by name but you for whatever reason felt compelled to put his name out for all to see – a witness whom you claim was threatened ) I have actually spoken to him on two occasions and thanked him for all he tried to do and told him the family thanked him as well.
“Regardless of what history will ultimately reveal to us about this incident, one thing is sure: healing only begins with forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there can be no peace. Forgiveness is indeed for the forgiver and not the person receiving it.”

Forgiveness is generally the result of someone asking to be forgiven not where the person continues to blame everyone (anyone) else for their actions. With that said, I have forgiven her, but that does not mean she should not be held responsible for her actions in as anyone else.

I am sure it is just a coincidence that the delay will probably push the trial past your primary election for State’s Attorney, but look on the bright side, if you don’t make it in politics you can always become a fiction writer.

 

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E-Filing in Fort Bend County

November 20, 2013 1 comment

I know some of you are like me who have trouble e-filing. Whether it be do to the technology, costs or otherwise it is here and we will have to deal with it. Fort Bend District Clerk, Annie Rebecca Elliott is doing everything she can to make the transition smooth. The new eFiling portal is called TexFile. If you have been using Texas.gov it will cease and not be available after November 25, 2013. Here is some additional information from our District Clerk:

In an effort to make this transition as smooth as possible, our office will be simultaneously accepting eFilings via the TexFile portal and Texas.gov until November 25, 2013. We strongly encourage filers to start using one of the Electronic Filing Service Providers (EFSP) certified by the OCA (LINK) to accept filings through the TexFile portal prior to that date. This will allow my office to assist with any technical problems that may arise as Texas.gov will cease to exist after November 25, 2013.
In order to submit eFilings via the TexFile portal, your firm must choose and register with an EFSP. Once an EFSP has been chosen, please visit their website for specific instructions/FAQ’s.
There are certain business processes specific to the Fort Bend County District Clerk’s Office that will need to be followed in order to ensure that your filings are transmitted successfully. The District Clerk E-Filing Business Process – Frequently Asked Questions are available for your review at the following LINK.
If you have any questions or need further assistance, just give us a call at (281) 633-7630 or (281) 341-4509. We will be happy to visit your office, assist you through the process and answer any questions you may have along the way.

The best news about this is the Fort Bend District Clerk is great about helping you with the transition to eFiling. Did you read the last sentence above–They will come to your office to help you learn the process. That’s right your office. Now that’s service.

Judges Gone Wild or Let’s Require every doctor be sued in a slip and fall

Texas requires an expert report in a health care liability claim. Under Chapter 74 a claimant shall provide the other side expert reports, with a curriculum vitae of each expert listed in the report for each physician or health care provider against whom a liability claim is asserted. Each defendant physician or health care provider whose conduct is implicated in a report must file and serve any objection to the sufficiency of the report not later than the 21st day after the date it was served, failing which all objections are waived.

So what is a health care liability claim, well according to the Texas Supreme Court, an assault is a health care liability claim which requires the filing of an expert report defining the action and breach of health care. (Texas West Oaks Hospital, LP v. Williams, 371 S.W. 3d 171) A slip and fall on wax in the Lobby of the hospital by a person who was leaving after visiting a patient is a health care liability claim according to the 14th Court of Appeals in Ross v. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. Both of those cases determined that an expert report detailing the violation of standard of health care standards was required. Both cases were lost due to the lack of an expert report.

I can see it now on Saturday Night Live, a surgeon is giving his expert opinion on the health benefits of buffing wax in a clockwise vs. counter-wise motion. I’m sure doctors have nothing better to do than to be sued and deposed over how the cleaning staff applied the wax to the lobby floor. Apparently the Supreme Court values doctors’ time and education at the level of floor cleaning because according to them that is a health care issue. As it currently stands, it appears that the only people who are exempt from this insanity are the people who are actually working in the facility (patients and even visitors of patients have been determined to be seeking the health benefits of getting assaulted or learning the health benefits of improper wax application). I believe the staff, employees and doctors of a hospital or medical facility would not be subject to this insanity if they were injured in a slip and fall as they would not be claimants under the construction of the Act.

So what is the solution (other than to have the legislature inform the Supreme Court that they have lost their minds if they think a slip and fall case is a health care claim)? Who would even be qualified to present an expert report that would meet the requirements under Chapter 74 (Health Care Liability Claim)? I don’t want my doctors spending their time on the health benefits of wax, coefficient of friction of various waxing compounds and how that impacts the health care of anyone. I can see a situation where a person injured by a simple slip and fall or other basic negligence act in a medical facility will have to sue every medical provider under the reasoning of the Court. If applying wax to the floor is a health care issue then who is responsible for the decision as to the medical standard of care for applying the wax, your doctor, the nurse, the doctor who was a consultant or gave a second opinion and how can you possibly even meet the standard to provide a report if no one is qualified to provide one.

Here is a solution that seems to have eluded our Texas Supreme Court – common sense. A slip and fall is a slip and fall not a medical malpractice case which requires doctors to be sued and waste their time responding to a lawsuit because of the actions of a cleaning service and interpretation by the Texas Supreme Court that it is a health care claim. Since the Court has gone down this path, it appears the only hope for common sense will be from the legislature to explain that claimant means a person who was harmed while receiving health care, not for walking on the floor. Hopefully this will happen before more cases are dismissed for not providing expert reports which are impossible to obtain, before doctors are sued and their time wasted due to a ruling which everyone (other than the Supreme Court and insurance companies for the hospitals) understand is crazy.

Texas Supreme Court Rules for Dismissals and Expedited Actions

New Rules from Texas Supreme Court

            As of March 1st we will have a few new rules impacting civil cases in Texas, but in an the Supreme Court has decided to make the rules and decisions retroactive by adding the language under paragraph #3:

“Rule of Civil Procedure 91a and Rule of Evidence 902(10)(c) apply to all cases, including those pending on March 1, 2013.”  (emphasis added).

Rule 169 and amendments to TRCP 47 and 190 apply to cases filed on or after March 1, 2013.

We need to understand the rules to get a good handle on what they mean to our cases currently filed and those to be filed on or after March 1st.   First up: Rule 91a.  Skip over the fact that we have had rules to handle baseless causes of action for about as long as Texas has been around, let’s see what it does (I have summarized what I believe are the key parts):

Rule 91a Dismissal of Baseless Causes of Action

91a.1               A party may move to dismiss a cause of action on the grounds that it has no basis in law or fact.

A cause of action has no basis in law if the allegations, taken as true, together with the inferences reasonably drawn from them, do not entitle the claimant to the relief sought.

A cause of action has no basis in fact if no reasonable person could believe the facts pleaded.

91a.2               The motion must state:        

  1. That it is made pursuant to this rule;
  2. Must identify each cause of action to which it is addressed; and
  3. Must state specifically the reasons the cause of action has no basis in law, no basis in fact, or both.

91a.3   The motion must be filed:

  1. Within 60 days after the first pleading with the challenged cause of action was served on movant;
  2. Filed at least 21 days before the motion is heard; and
  3. Granted or denied within 45 days after the Motion is filed.

91a.4               Response to Motion must be filed no later than 7 days before hearing.

91a.5               If the Movant files a withdrawal of the motion or the respondent files a nonsuit of the challenged cause of action – The court may not rule on the motion to dismiss.

If the respondent amends the challenged cause of action at least 3 days before the date of the hearing, the movant before the hearing date may file a withdrawal of the motion or an amended motion directed to the amended cause of action.

Except by agreement of the parties the Court must rule on a motion unless it has been withdrawn or nonsuited.

Any amended motion restarts the time periods.

91a.6               Hearing:

Each party is entitled to at least 14 days’ notice of hearing;

The court may (not required) to have oral hearing;

Court may not consider evidence in ruling on motion and must decide motion based solely on the pleadings.

91a.7               Attorney Fees and Cost of Court – Required

The Court must award the prevailing party on the motion all costs and reasonable and necessary attorney fees.  The Court must consider evidence regarding cost and fees in determining award (only evidence allowed).

91a.8               No impact on Special Appearance or Motion to Transfer Venue

91a.9               Rule is in addition to other procedures that authorize dismissal.

So if you file a Motion under rule 91a someone is going to be paying attorney fees and costs.   I find it hard to believe that someone would file a pleading that would meet the requirements to dismiss a claim under this section.

Rule 47 Amended:

Now any pleading claiming damages must include (everything as before) and the following:

A statement that the party seeks:

  1. Only monetary relief of $100,000.00 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees; or
  2. Only monetary relief of $100,000.00 or less, and non-monetary relief, or
  3. Monetary relief over $100,000.00 but not more than $200,000.00; or
  4. Monetary relief over $200,000.00 but not more than $1,000,000.00; or
  5. Monetary relief over $1,000,000.00

A party that fails to plead one of the above amounts may not conduct discovery until such is amended to comply.

Rule 169 Expedited Actions:

Apply to all claimants (not counter-claimants) that Only monetary relief of $100,000.00 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees.

Does not apply to Family Code, Property Code, Tax Code or Chapter 74 actions.

If you fall under this section you may not recover more than $100k, other than post-judgment interest.

Removal the Court from Expedited Process:

The Court must remove case from process:

  1. On motion and showing good cause by any party; or
  2. If any claimant seeks any non-monetary relief

A pleading (amended, supplemental) that would remove the suit from the expedited process may not be filed without leave of the Court unless it is filed before the earlier of 30 days after discovery period is closed or 30 days before the date set for trial.

If suit is removed from the expedited process the court must reopen discovery under Rule 190.2(c).

Expedited Actions Process

Discovery – Rule 190.2

  1. Discovery period begins from date suit is filed until 180 days after first request for discovery is served on any party.
  2. Depositions No more than 6 hours for examination and cross in oral depositions.  Parties may agree to expand limit to 10 hours. Court may modify deposition hours.
  3. Interrogatories No more than 15 served on any party, other than asking to identify or authenticate specific documents.
  4. Request for Production No more than 15 served on any party.
  5. Request for AdmissionsNo more than 15 served on any party.
  6. Request for Disclosure– In addition to those under 194.2 a party may request disclosure of all documents, electronic information, and tangible items that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support it claims or defenses.

(If a case is removed from the expedited process, the discovery period reopens and discovery must be completed under 190.3 or 190.4 whichever applies.  Any person previously deposed may be redeposed.)

Trial Setting: 

            The Court must set the case for a trial date that is within 90 days after the discovery period ends.  The Court may continue the case twice, but not to exceed a total of 60 days.

Time limits for Trial:

            Each side is allowed no more than 8 hours from jury selection through closing.  On motion and showing of good cause the court may extend it to a maximum of 12 hours per side.  (Time spend on objections, bench conferences, bills of exception and challenges for cause to a juror are not included in the time limit.)

ADR:

            The court may refer the case to ADR once (unless the parties have agreed not to) the procedure must:

  1. a.      Not exceed a half day;
  2. b.      Not exceed a total costs fo 2x applicable filing fees;
  3. c.       Be completed no later than 60 days before trial setting.

 

 

Expert Testimony:

            A party may only challenge the admissibility of expert testimony as an objection to summary judgment evidence under Rule166a or during the trial on the merits.  Does not apply to motion to strike for late designation.

 

Medical Records Affidavit are now under TRE 902(10)(c) which is the approved form for a prima facie proof of medical expenses by affidavit post Haygood v. Escobeda.  

 

             

Texas Supreme Court Ruling Benefits Drunks and Careless Drivers

Texas Supreme Court allows drunk drivers and others who cause car wrecks to reduce how much they will have to pay. Drunk Drivers get benefit of your premiums for health Insurance by getting credit for the negotiated rate.

This should have been front page news in papers across Texas this past week as our Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case Haygood v. Escabedo. Did you see a single paper discuss this ruling? Have you heard any of the radio or TV talk shows discuss this case? Why not? Where is the outrage?

I hear comments from people every month who call me about a workers compensation claim, medical malpractice or other issues. I tell them I can’t handle it because the law has made it almost impossible. They almost invariably tell me that it wasn’t supposed to impact their case only those frivolous ones. When I ask them why they weren’t mad and outraged when the laws were being passed or the Supreme Court was “interpreting” them, they always say it didn’t impact me so I didn’t pay attention. The only outrage about our rights being taken away nationally and in Texas seems to be coming from the trial lawyers. I am proud to be in the outraged group.

So what has the Texas Supreme Court done in its latest piece of judicial activism? Their twists and turns distort the law so much it would make a contortionist envious.

The Court’s decision in Haywood v. Escobedo allows the person or company who harms you or your family to benefit from the health insurance you have paid premiums for all these years.

The Court argues there ruling is necessary to prevent a “windfall” to the claimant (that would be the person injured, maimed or killed by the drunk or other reckless driver to us normal people).

They also argue they are just interpreting the law as the Texas legislature wanted. Hard to believe that is the case when the legislature actually tried to repeal the law they are “interpreting” the session after they passed it as they realized what it truly was — which is a windfall for the drunks, reckless drivers and their insurance companies. However Governor Perry vetoed the repeal of the bill so it is still on the books.

So here we are with an Activist Court that needs to protect the drunks and insurance companies, but how? They have already overturned virtually every jury verdict for any Plaintiff that comes their way. So rather than wait until a jury hears all the evidence and votes to compensate the injured person, they have decided to limit what the jury can hear so the compensation will be even lower and the insurance companies will have to pay less, make more profits and be able to contribute to all the expensive political campaigns.

Here is how the Court accomplished this with their latest decision: Let’s start with a situation where you are hit by a drunk who has a policy of $50,000.00. You are taken by life flight to the hospital where you stay for a week. You then have to go through rehabilitation. After about four months you are mostly better. You missed a month of work and still can’t do everything, but hopefully you will get where you can sleep through the night and play with your kids without having to tell them Daddy needs to rest. You have worked hard for years and paid for your health insurance at the cost of some vacations you wanted to take, but you knew how important it was for you to provide coverage for you and your family in case a situation like this happened. The medical bills were over $100,000.00, but because of your group plan they managed to reduce the total to $35,000.00 and since you met your deductible earlier in the year, you don’t owe anything else.

You send the bills to the drunks’ insurance carrier and ask that they pay the $50,000.00 policy limits because your medical bills alone are over $100k. Pretty straight forward right? You shouldn’t even need to get an attorney to settle this case. The operative word there is shouldn’t.

The reality is the insurance company will tell you we don’t owe $100k in medical because we get to take credit for your health insurance premiums and negotiated rate so all we will owe is $35k and we don’t think all of that is related because we know you hurt your neck 15 years ago when you were putting in fence posts and saw a chiropractor one time so we think all your neck issues are related to that and not this head on collision. So with the paid amount being $35k and us taking out some of the neck issue which we believe is not related (and because we can), we are willing to settle your case for $28,500.00.

What gives them the right to get the benefit of your paying premiums all those years: “Home Office” which is what they consider the Texas Supreme Court. Why shouldn’t they? They have won virtually every case that makes it there. Now the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the only evidence a jury may consider in determining medical expenses are those amounts which were actually paid or will be owed by the person injured. So all those years of paying premiums and making sacrifices for you and your family to be covered is now benefitting the person who caused the wreck. The jury is not allowed to hear about how the bills were over $100k and because you had insurance it was reduced to $35k. They are not allowed to hear about the premiums you have paid to make that reduction possible. They may not even be allowed to hear about the deductible if it was met before this wreck. All because our Supreme Court has determined that it would be a “windfall”. How is it they never seem to be have a problem when insurance companies have a windfall of profits.

So if you happen to serve on a jury or hear about someone on a jury who talks about how this person was in a wreck but only had xxx in medical you can be fairly certain that it is at least 3x that amount of actual medical charges.

For my lawyer friends we know there are also significant issues regarding how Section 18.001 will be impacted and other battles over what constitutes paid –Is a deductible to be considered? Co-pay?

Some of you may know that I spent my senior year of high school attending gymnasium in Germany (which is the German equivalent of our U.S. high school). One of the things required in history classes was a complete study of the Nazi takeover both in political and military terms, which included the apathy and violence. The rational was if you never forget you will never repeat. If you were to ask someone who lived through that time how they could let it happen they would tell you it was not a sudden change. Rights were taken away one by one and it always was something that didn’t concern them. If someone was complaining about this or that they didn’t care because it didn’t impact them. Until one day it did. Then it was too late. Everyone asked how could “they” let this have happened? And then it became clear they were the “they” who allowed it.

As always I welcome comments.

Jury Duty

February 16, 2011 3 comments

When I was kicking around blog topics with different people, I was provided with several great topics. The one which gets today’s effort is jury duty. Why you ask, did jury duty rise to the top of all the other topics? That is easy. A Judge suggested I should write about jury duty. Judge wins. Jury duty is it.
Jury duty is really an honor and privilege that we have. Yet it is constantly being attacked. You have no doubt heard the arguments about how a “crazy jury” awarded x amount of money on some case. But never do you hear from the actual jurors who heard the evidence and came up with their verdict. I am a firm believer in the jury system and have found they usually end up doing the right thing. Understand this is from one of those rare lawyers who has actually won and (gasp!!) lost cases at trial. Based upon the ads I see and talk around the Courthouse, I may be one of only a handful of lawyers in the Fort Bend, Brazoria, Harris, Galveston, Matagorda, Waller, (or for that matter all of Texas and the U.S.) to have ever lost a case. It is also strange that some people believe that juries should be done away with completely in personal injury cases where a person’s livelihood is on the line, but firmly believe in juries deciding whether a person should spend the rest of their lives in jail or be executed. Maybe it’s just me but I believe a jury panel which could decide if I live or die is capable of deciding if the person that hurt me in a wreck should pay for my damages.
So—let’s talk about jury duty.
Why did I get this notice (summons) and what am I supposed (have) to do?
State law sets the process for selecting potential jurors. In Texas, each county gets a list from the State of people who are registered to vote, have a Texas driver’s license or a Texas identification card. You do not need any special skills or legal knowledge. People are then chosen randomly from that list. You may or may not get additional information with the summons such as a questionnaire requesting some basic information to fill out and bring with you or mail back ahead of time. Some counties have I-Jury Online Impaneling (it is the selection process – not being made part of a wall) and if your county has that you can respond on line and potentially save yourself a trip to the Courthouse.
What if I just don’t answer summons?
Bad idea. You can be subject to a contempt action that can result in a fine of not less than $100.00 or more than $1,000.00. (Texas Gov’t Code – 62.0141)
Ok. Got the summons and I will show up. Does that mean I will be on a jury?
No. There are still several things which have to be determined to see if you are qualified to serve as a juror. The first step outlined above gets you in the selection hopper; the following are REQUIRED to qualify you as a juror.
1. Must be at least 18 years of age;
2. Be a citizen of Texas and of the County in which you are to serve as a juror;
3. Must be qualified to vote in County in which you are to serve as a juror – do not need to be registered, just qualified (you could legally vote if you wanted);
4. Be of sound mind and good moral character;
5. Be able to read and write;
6. Not have served as a juror for six days during the preceding 3 months in County Court or during the preceding 6 months in District Court;
7. Not have been convicted of, be under indictment or other legal accusation for, misdemeanor theft or a felony.
If you meet all the above requirements, you are qualified to serve as a juror, but there are some exemptions which you may claim. You may choose to serve even if any of the following apply, but you are not required to:
1. Over the age of 70;
2. Have legal custody of a child younger than 10 and serving on the jury would leave the child without adequate supervision;
3. Are a student at a public or private secondary school;
4. Are enrolled and in actual attendance at an institution of higher learning;
5. Are an officer or an employee of the senate, house of representatives, or any department, commission, board, office or other agency in the legislative branch of government;
6. Have served as a petit juror in the county during the 24 month period preceding the date you are required to appear for this summons. (Only if county has at least a population of 200,000)
7. Are the primary caretaker of a person who is an invalid and unable to care for himself (does not apply to healthcare workers); or
8. Have been summoned for service in a county with a population of at least 250,000 and you have served as a petit juror in the county during the 3 year period preceding the date you are to appear for jury service.
Jury Selection:
If you made it through the qualification process and have no exemptions (or have chosen not to take them) that still does not mean you will actually serve on a jury, but you will be able to be on a jury panel from which the actual jury will be selected. The selection process is usually a day or less, but in some rare cases can take several days. You and your fellow panel members will be taken to a courtroom where the judge, lawyers and parties will be able to ask questions to determine if you are the proper person to serve as a juror in that particular case.
Juror Oath:
At some point in the process all prospective jurors are given an oath in which they swear or affirm to tell the truth when answering questions. If there is a question which you would be embarrassed to answer or is extremely private, you can ask to go up the judge to give your answer, but you need to answer it truthfully. I usually ask jurors if they would want someone like them being on a jury which was judging a case where they were the party. Not answering questions truthfully and completely generally can not only be grounds for contempt, but may actually get you on the jury. I realize that some people try to get out of jury duty by lying. You don’t have to lie. Tell them the Judge and lawyers the truth and you will probably scare them enough to not select you.
Jury:
Make it through the process and are selected to be on the actual jury. Don’t be upset. You should be proud that you were one of only a handful of citizens who were chosen out of the entire county to be able to decide a case which will impact the lives of all those involved. Thank you for taking your responsibility and duty seriously.

Responsibility

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Toyota admits that its black-box recorder readers have a software error that can cause wrong speed readings.

SUV’s have warnings that state avoid sudden turns, but don’t define what that is or how you are to avoid them if someone pulls out in front of you, or if a child runs out in front of your car.

Child safety seats were found to be incorrectly installed 75% of the time by NHTSA in 2009.

What do all these have in common? The manufacturers know of a defect or problem, but rather than fix the problem and save lives they continue to try and blame the driver and parent.

The buzzwords “personal responsibility” is something that manufacturers love to throw out when they are discussing a case. The driver needs to take responsibility. The parent needs to take responsibility.

I have an idea. How about the manufacturers start taking responsibility and fix the problems instead of spending millions of dollars on lobbyist, defense attorneys and advertisements in trying to shift the blame. They have known of the problems for years and yet do nothing about them. Stop blaming your customers and look in a mirror. If any other business was having 75% of their customers not using a product correctly they would probably get the hint that they need to change something. The problem for drivers and parents is that the manufacturers are able to blame them because a jury generally only sees that one case, and not the hundreds or thousands of other claims or lawsuits regarding the same issue filed across the country. The manufacturers can imply this was just a freak accident or this one driver just failed to handle the situation. In those rare instances in which the Courts allow the jury to know about the other incidents the juries usually award significant damages. Does the manufacturer admit they did something wrong and vow to correct the problem and apologize to the family? Do they thank the plaintiffs and jury for helping them become aware of a dangerous defect which is maiming and killing people? No. They generally talk about how the jury was misguided and they how they will appeal this miscarriage of justice. Here’s a solution. Take some responsibility, fix the problem, save the families from having to deal with the sorrow of their children, parents and other family members being injured or killed because you choose to ignore a problem.

Thanks to my brilliant partner for the idea for this blog topic.