Brent Adams & Associates Legal Blog
Our North Carolina legal blog covers personal injury news, accident information, medical malpractice reports, lawsuits, and other topics of interest for those who are dealing with their own North Carolina legal issues. Updated daily, our NC injury attorneys hope this blog helps readers stay connected to legislation changes and informed when it comes to significant NC court decisions.
A pilot from Plymouth, Massachusetts suffered fatal personal injuries in a small airplane crash in South Carolina.
On the afternoon of January 18, 62-year-old Kenneth Thode was killed instantly when the Cessna 172 Skyhawk he was piloting crashed into a small trailer in a mobile home park in North Myrtle Beach. A New Hampshire woman inside the trailer was killed instantly.
Patrick Dowling, a spokesman for the city of North Myrtle Beach, said that Thode might have been practicing “touch and go” landings at the airport when the crash took place around 1 p.m.
The victim in the trailer was 70-year-old Eva Sullivan, Dowling said. Her husband survived the crash. He was released from the hospital after undergoing treatment.
With recent weather resulting in ice being all around us: on the roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots, Charlotte’s MEDIC, says that it responded to nearly 60 calls on January 11 for falls involving personal injuries.
In the case of a person falling on ice, one may wonder who is at fault: the person who fell, or the property owner for not clearing the ice.
One Charlotte attorney said that ultimately, the duty falls upon the person to “look to see where you’re going.” He said that during this time of year, he receives multiple calls from folks who’ve been injured from falling on ice. His response is that in North Carolina, there is a standard known as “contributory negligence,” which, in basic terms, means that if the injured party is even one percent at fault, he or she will not recover damages.
N.C. is one of only three states that still use the contributory negligence standards. Now, the majority of states use a standard called “comparative negligence,” which has a more generous threshold for fault. Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida have a “no fault” standard, in which falling on ice can be the direct responsibility of the home of business owner.
According to one insurance agent, homeowner policies may cover a weather-related injury if it occurs on a person’s property, but they should discuss it with their agent first, as every case is different.
A Fayetteville lawmaker has sponsored a bill that would bring an end to contributory negligence. Opponents have criticized the bill as “costly and controversial.”
Authorities said that a fire at McCotter’s Marina in Beaufort County resulted in personal injuries to three people and damage to at least 25 boats on the morning of January 7, according to authorities.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the 911 call was made at about 12:30 a.m. Upon crews’ arrival at the scene, they said the north dock was engulfed in flames.
It took seven fire departments more than five hours of work to extinguish the blaze.
Beaufort County Director of Emergency Management John Pack said that investigators determined the fire to have been caused by an electrical fault. No details were provided.
Authorities said that the majority of the boats damaged were a total loss and about 100 feet of the covered dock was also destroyed.
Authorities said that three people received treatment for injuries including burns and hypothermia. At least one woman jumped into the water to escape the fire.
Fayetteville fire officials say a former WRAL News photographer and his wife sustained personal injuries on the night of January 3 after a scuba tank fell in their garage and exploded.
Family friends said that 47-year-old Rick Allen suffered severe burns over 20 percent of his body and required amputation of his left forearm. Hospital officials say he was listed in critical condition at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
Allen’s wife, 53-year-old Cindy Burnham, a photographer with The Fayetteville Observer, was on the other side of the wall when the explosion took place, facing a mirror. She suffered cuts when the glass shattered.
Allen, an avid scuba diver, was walking between his cars around 11:30 p.m. when he suddenly knocked over a metal oxygen tank, fire officials said.
A couple has filed a personal injury suit against Marriott International.
According to a suit filed on November 29 in West Virginia’s Kanawha Circuit Court, Christopher Kessler was a guest at a Marriott hotel in Charleston, West Virginia on January 30 and was unable to see a serving tray that had been placed against the wall because of mood lighting.
Kessler said the serving tray had slid down the wall onto the carpet and he stepped on it because he was unable to see it.
The suit claims the tray then “became a ski, causing plaintiff to slide and fall to the floor.”
Kessler said the alleged incident caused him to suffer injuries to his right elbow, lower back, and other body parts.
The suit alleges negligence on the part of Marriott for failure to remove the serving tray.
Kessler alleges that the defendant tendered a $3,500 “good will gesture,” in exchange for a full and complete release of any and all liability. But he said no offer was ever made to cover expenses or accept responsibility for the necessary care and treatment absent full and complete release. He said he respectfully declined the gesture.
Kessler and his wife, Sherri Kessler, seek compensatory damages.
A man has filed suit against the City of Nitro, West Virginia, alleging that he sustained personal injuries in a fall at the Nitro City Park.
In a suit filed in West Virginia’s Kanawha Circuit Court on December 10, Steve Cummings says he was fishing at Nitro City Park on October 19, 2009, when he slipped and fell.
The suit alleges negligence on the part of the defendant for failure to inspect the lakeside and make it safe for visitors.
Cummings claimed that because of Nitro’s negligence, he slipped and fell at the side of the lake, causing him to sustain serious injuries.
Cummings seeks compensatory damages.
A woman has filed suit against three individuals for the personal injuries she sustained when she allegedly fell in a hole in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
On December 8, Judy and Thomas J. Davis filed suit in Illinois’ Madison County Circuit Court, naming Vicki Rehlen, Janelle McCoy, and Arno Sponeman as defendants.
The suit alleges that Judy Davis was at the Wal-Mart in Glen Carbon, Illinois on July 15 when she stepped into a hole while attempting to load bags into her automobile.
Davis alleges that she experienced permanent injuries to her lower extremities, extreme pain, mental anguish, disability, and impaired earning capacity and incurred medical expenses.
Thomas Davis seeks damages for loss of his wife’s support and services.
The suit said the named defendants bore the responsibility of inspecting, maintaining, and reporting or repairing dangerous conditions at the parking lot.
The suit alleges negligence on the part of the defendants for allowing a hole to develop, failure to properly inspect the parking lot, failure to properly train employees, failure to maintain the parking lot, failure to barricade the hole, failure to warn of the hole’s presence, allowing the foundation for the hole to grow, and failure to report unsafe conditions to others.
The plaintiffs seek damages in excess of $100,000, plus costs, in the two-count suit.
A woman seeks damages in excess of $75,000 in a suit alleging that she sustained personal injuries after being run over by a row of shopping carts.
On December 13, Jo Ann Funk filed suit in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas, naming Sam’s East Inc., doing business as Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. doing business as Sam’s Club, as a defendant.
The suit claims that on September 12, 2009, Funk was standing in the foyer area of a Sam’s Club store in Tyler, Texas with her back to the entrance as she prepared to take a shopping cart.
Funk claims she was run over by a long train of shopping carts that were being pushed through the entrance doors at a high rate of speed.
The suit alleges negligence on the part of the defendants for operation of the shopping cart train at an excessive rate of speed, failure to maintain a proper lookout, failure to operate the shopping cart train in a safe manner, failure to timely apply its braking system, failure to have appropriate safety policies and procedures in place for the operation of shopping cart trains, and failure to provide appropriate instruction to employees concerning safe operation of the shopping cart trains.
Funk seeks damages for physical pain and impairment, mental anguish, medical costs, interest, and costs of suit.
A woman has filed suit against Dollar Tree Stores Inc. and Weingarten Realty Management Co. for the personal injuries she sustained in an alleged fall at their store in Texas City, Texas.
Karen Woodworth filed suit in Texas’ Galveston County District Court on December 20, alleging that she tripped and fell on the welcome mat while entering the front doors of Dollar Tree on May 27.
Woodworth alleges that the mat in question contained indented and unlevel parts that exacerbated her injuries, increasing the damage caused by the alleged incident.
The suit said that after falling, Woodworth’s knee slammed into the concrete floor and her momentum carried her into a nearby display table, causing her and its contents to fall to the floor.
One of the cashiers at the store attempted to assist Woodworth to her feet, but the suit says it was several minutes before she was able to lift herself to her feet, wobbling in pain.
Woodworth says she wasn’t aware of the condition of the mat and the store had no warning signs posted in the front. She said the knee she injured required medical treatment and physical therapy.
Woodworth seeks unspecified damages.
A man from Mississippi has filed suit against his employer, alleging that he sustained personal injuries while working on one of its vessels.
In a suit filed in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas on December 1 naming Ensco Offshore Co. as a defendant, Travis Dion Chambliss alleges that he was injured while aboard the Ensco 82 on May 27.
Chambliss said that a pallet that was being lifted fell on him, causing injuries to his neck and head.
The suit alleges negligence on the part of Ensco and claims the vessel was not seaworthy.
Chambliss seeks damages in excess of $75,000 for his injuries plus mental anguish and loss of wages.
Signs advertising sales or specials may be a common sight in retail stores, but a woman from Orange, Texas claims a particular plastic sign at a J.C. Penney was not clearly visible, resulting in her sustaining personal injuries when she tripped and fell over it in 2008.
In a suit filed in Texas’ Jefferson County District Court on December 21 by Wilda Stewart, along with her husband Ray, J.C. Penney is accused of negligence in its placement of the sign in a high traffic area.
According to court records, Stewart was shopping at the J.C. Penney store at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont, Texas, when she tripped on a clear plastic sign “that had been placed in a main traffic area,” resulting in her falling to the ground, landing shoulder-first on a center concrete support post adjacent to the bedding area.
The suit says that the part of the sign Stewart tripped on “was not clearly visible and constituted an unreasonable risk of harm.” The suit notes that the sign wasn’t attached to the floor or any other structure and could have easily been moved by anyone.
Stewart seeks damages for past and future mental anguish, impairment, medical expenses, and pain. Her husband seeks damages for lost consortium.
A man sustained personal injuries on December 20 after being butted several times by a bull in a pasture off Rosehill Road in Fayetteville
The identity of the victim was not immediately made available. He received transport to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, according to neighbors.
The incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. in a small pasture on Flora’s Lane, a dirt road beside the Westarea Fire Department on Rosehill.
Cumberland County tax records show the owner of the land the pasture is located on as John A. House Life Estate.
Eyewitness Emma Trumbo said she was visiting her daughter, whose residence is adjacent to the pasture, and with her grandchildren as they fed two calves that are kept in the same pasture as the Black Angus bull. She noticed the bull was out of the pasture and in a strip of woods between the two wire fences behind her daughter’s home.
Trumbo said her daughter went to notify the owner, who walked over to the bull and used a small stick of wood to attempt to force it back and behind a gate. She said the bull then began butting the man about six or seven times, knocking him about 25 feet from where the initial impact occurred. He landed on a piece of chain-link fence lying on the ground.
Police said that on the night of December 13, a woman sustained fatal personal injuries when she was struck by a train in Raleigh.
According to authorities, Rebecca Smith Vasquez was struck by a Norfolk Southern train around 10 p.m. at Granite Street and Carolina Pines Avenue. She was apparently sitting on the tracks.
Multiple media organizations reported that another woman was fatally struck by an Amtrak train she stepped in front of in Kannapolis earlier that day.
That woman was identified by police as 18-year-old Concord resident Stephanie Nichole Ennis.
It has been determined that a Michigan woman who suffered a broken hand while reaching for toilet paper may file suit against a restaurant over her personal injury.
The Michigan Supreme Court is divided over the case. The liberal majority says a jury should determine whether the dispenser created an unreasonable risk of harm at a Texas Roadhouse in Taylor, Michigan.
However, the three conservative justices argue that there should not be liability over ordinary accidents.
The woman, 58-year-old Sheri Schooley, called the incident “a bizarre story.” She said the dispenser’s cover fell on her right hand, breaking it.
Schooley said the injury has caused her to be unable to perform her duties as an administrative assistant because she is unable to type. She also said her bowling average dropped by 40 pins because she was forced to swap hands.
A lower court refused to dismiss the suit.
The parents of a young boy have filed suit against a Beaumont, Texas Sutherland’s, claiming the company is responsible for the personal injuries their son suffered when he fell out of a shopping cart.
On November 12, Connie and Edward Stunkard filed suit in Texas’ Jefferson County District Court.
Court papers say that on February 19, 2009, the minor child was in a shopping cart at the lumber store when he “fell from the cart and sustained injuries.”
The suit does not specify how the child fell and if his parents were supervising him at the time. The suit also does not list any negligent acts on the part of Sutherland’s.
The Stunkards seek damages in excess of $75,000.
The trial of a roofer’s personal injury suit was set to begin after the Thanksgiving holiday in Illinois’ Madison County Circuit Court.
The trial of the case, brought by plaintiff Anthony Lovsey, began on November 29.
Lovsey filed suit against Rehkemper and Sons Inc. and Home Structures Inc. for damages of more than $50,000, plus costs.
Lovsey alleges negligence on the part of the defendants for failure to provide him with a safe workplace.
According to the suit, the defendants’ negligence resulted in him being knocked from the roof of a building he was working on in December of 2005, causing him to suffer injuries to his back and leg, in addition to other injuries.
Rehkemper filed a third party complain in the suit against Home Structures in March 2009, also denying Lovsey’s claim.
However, Rehkemper claims that if it is found liable for any damages, Home Structures must bear a commensurate percent of the fault and damages.
A CSX Transportation conductor who suffered personal injuries has been awarded $10 million by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
In the case, Owensboro, Kentucky resident Richard Burden was injured in 2007 while releasing the vertical handbrakes on a tank car at night. While dismounting the car, he fell, suffering a fractured leg, a neck injury requiring surgery at three disc levels, a lower back injury, and a traumatic brain injury.
The suit claimed that since the injury, Burden had been unable to work and had been adjudicated totally unemployable.
The November 10 award was reduced by 10 percent for contributory negligence, meaning Burden received a total of $9 million.
Burden's award on Nov. 10 was reduced by 10 percent for contributory negligence, netting him a total of $9 million.
Burden’s attorney noted that before the trial, CSX offered a settlement of $600,000.
A man from Boone County, West Virginia has filed suit against Charleston Area Medical Center, alleging that he sustained personal injuries on the premises.
According to the suit he filed in West Virginia’s Kanawha Circuit Court on October 29, Timothy Lee Miller was a patient at the hospital on October 31, 2009. He was taking a shower in the bathroom when cleaning staff entered his room and began cleaning the floor with a chemical cleaner and water.
Miller said that he was unaware of the staff cleaning the floor and slipped and fell upon exiting the bathroom.
The suit claims the cleaning staff did not place any signs in or around the room to indicate that the floor was wet and/or slippery.
Miller said that the fall caused him to land on his right arm, fracturing the distal radius and requiring orthopedic surgery and other treatment.
The suit said the hospital had a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises free from hazards and a duty to warn non-trespassing invitees of hazardous conditions and breached its duties by failing to do so.
Miller seeks compensatory damages and pre- and post-judgment interest.
A man from Lewis County, West Virginia has filed a personal injury suit against the heavy equipment manufacturer he alleges manufactured a roller that defectively failed to turn off when it flipped on its side, causing burning oil to spew onto the man.
In suit he filed on October 1 in Lewis Circuit Court, James R. Stutler, Jr. said that he was operating a roller machine manufactured by Terex on October 6, 2008, when the incident took place.
The suit says the portion of the highway Stutler was working on gave in, causing him and the roller to tumble down a hillside. The roller “did not land in a vertical position” and “did not shut its motor off,” resulting in the roller continuing to operate, spewing boiling oil onto Stutler’s body.
Stutler said the accident caused him to suffer third-degree burns to his body, requiring substantial medical care and resulting in permanent scarring, extreme pain and suffering, mental anguish, annoyance, and inconvenience.
Stutler faults Terex for his injuries, claiming the company was negligent in its failure to provide an adequate mechanism to shut the Terex roller when it was no longer upright.
Terex denies responsibility, saying Stutler’s injuries were the result of a superseding cause.
Stutler seeks attorney’s fees, costs, and other relief the court deems just.
Terex wants the complaint dismissed and wants to be awarded costs, attorney’s fees, and other relief the court deems just.
The parents of a minor boy have filed a personal injury suit against Walmart and a bicycle manufacturer, alleging that they are at fault for the front wheel of the child’s bicycle falling off as he was riding it, causing him to fall onto his face.
Stephanie and John Klug filed suit in West Virginia’s Wetzel Circuit Court on the behalf of their minor son, identified only as C.M.K., naming Walmart and Pacific Cycle as defendants.
The Klugs said the incident took place on October 4, 2008 while their son was riding his Mongoose XR-75 bike on a paved road in a New Martinsville, West Virginia city park.
The suit said that while the boy was riding the bike, the front wheel “suddenly broke free from the front bicycle fork,” causing him to fly over the handle bars and land face-first on the pavement. He sustained severe and permanent injuries and experienced pain, suffering, mental anguish, and a loss of ability to enjoy life, according to the suit.
The Klugs claim Walmart was negligent in its defective assembly of the bicycle, which resulted in the boy’s injury. They claim Pacific Cycle was negligent by allowing Walmart to assemble and market its products.
The defendants argue that the incident was the result of an accident, rather than their negligence. They seek to have the complaint dismissed and be awarded costs of suit, including attorney’s fees.
In their two-count complaint, the Klugs seek damages for their son’s injuries, medical expenses, interest, costs of suit, and other relief the court deems just.
Authorities say a 27-year-old man from Johnston County died and his friend sustained serious personal injuries in an ATV accident on November 20.
Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said that Four Oaks resident Thomas Murphy was found dead on the morning of the accident after he apparently lost control of the ATV and crashed.
Amaon said that Murphy’s passenger, 20-year-old Savannah, Georgia resident Jessica Wadsworth, was knocked unconscious and sustained serious injuries in the crash.
According to Amaon, the two were riding in woods owned by Johnston County Community College in the southern part of the county near Turkey Pen Ridge Road.
Amaon said that the pair was found when Murphy’s brother became concerned around 6:30 a.m. when Murphy didn’t show up for work. He repeatedly called their cell phones, eventually reaching Wadsworth, who told him they’d both been injured.
Amaon said that Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene. Wadsworth received transport to WakeMed with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
A man suffered fatal personal injuries on November 21 when an Amtrak train struck him in the Lemon Springs community, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Captain Jeff Johnson said the incident had been ruled a suicide by investigators.
Johnson said that 24-year-old Lemon Springs resident William Shoemaker had recently moved from Vermont to Lee County. At the time of the collision, he was laying on the railroad tracks.
Johnson said the incident took place shortly after 10:30 p.m. near Greenwood Road.