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Drivers Are Addicted to Distracting Activities – Automakers Aren’t Helping

August 13th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Car Accidents, Negligence, Personal Injury

Drivers Are Addicted to Distracting Activities - Automakers Aren't Helping
Emerging technologies are cool and useful, but they can also take drivers down a path of distraction that leads to increased crashes.  Driving while distracted is illegal in 47 states, including Pennsylvania; but people are addicted to their gadgets and technology, and new cars have more of these than ever. As a result, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been studying how to minimize the driving distractions they say kill 3,500 people and injure 390,000 in U.S. crashes every year. According to the Washington Post the study showed that new vehicle technology involving buttons, touch screens, gesture controls, heads-up displays, and voice commands are often not safe when used while the vehicle is in motion. For example, distractions from Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto shaved crucial seconds from the time that drivers could get their eyes back on the road. The AAA survey found that almost half of drivers said they make calls and 35 percent sent a text or email while driving. In the less than 4.5 seconds it takes to send a text, a vehicle going 55 mph covers more than the length of a football…


August 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Dean v. Bowling Green Brandywine, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 762 (July 2, 2018) Panella, J.  The Act applies to voluntary inpatient treatment of mentally ill persons.  The Act does not define the term “mentally ill person.”  Andrew Johnson was 23 when he voluntarily applied for admission to Bowling Green Brandywine Treatment Center.  He was suffering from an addiction to opiates and benzodiazepines.  He died at the hospital.  The question was whether the various people sued received the immunity provided by the gross negligence standard?  Dr. Rana provided psychiatric evaluation.  Because Dr. Rana was engaged in the diagnosis, evaluation, therapy or rehabilitation of mental illness in Johnson, the trial court did not err in concluding that Dr. Rana was covered by the limited immunity provided by the MHPA.  As to Dr. Duncklee and Dr. Plumb, emergency room physicians who treated Johnson after he had been transferred by ambulance, the record is far from clear as to whether they had diagnosed and treated Johnson for mental illness.  The trial court erred in applying limited immunity under the MHPA to Johnson’s claims against Dr. Duncklee.  Dr. Plumb also indicated Johnson’s medical history included…


August 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Laura L. Maas v. Presbyterian, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 752 (June 29, 2018) Bowes, J.  The facts giving rise to this cause of action are as follows. On May 29, 2008, Terrence Andrews attacked and killed Lisa Maas, a neighbor who lived four doors away in his Oakland apartment building. Mr. Andrews had a long history of mental illness. He had been an inpatient at Mayview State Hospital, where he was diagnosed with, inter alia, paranoid personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. He had attempted suicide on several occasions and suffered opioid and cocaine dependence. In 2006, he was transitioned to the CTT, and placed in a personal care home. It was at that location that defendant Michelle Barwell, M.D., a psychiatrist who worked with the CTT, first saw him. Four days later, Pittsburgh Police responded to a call of a possible domestic dispute at Hampshire Hall. The officers observed Mr. Andrews, covered in blood, leaving the fourth floor apartment of eighteen-year-old Lisa Maas, a Pennsylvania Culinary Institute student. Ms. Maas was dead due to multiple stab wounds from scissors. Mr. Andrews told police that he did it, and asked…


August 7th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Mulberry Square Elder Care and Rehabilitation Center v. Department of Human Services, 2018 Pa. Cmwlth. LEXIS 352 (July 26, 2018) Simpson, J.  Mulberry Square Elder Care and Rehabilitation Center (Nursing Facility) petitions for review from an order of the Secretary of the Department of Human Services (Department).  The Secretary affirmed the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals’ (BHA) order adopting the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) recommendation denying relief and rejecting Nursing Facility’s billing practice.  Specifically, the Department disallowed Nursing Facility’s practice of recouping unpaid copayments from residents eligible for medical assistance by billing the Department for the copays as medical expenses.  The Department also concluded this practice constituted balance-billing prohibited by applicable law.  Nursing Facility argues the Department did not promulgate a regulation explicitly precluding its billing practice.  Discerning no error below, we affirm.

Roy J. Burkett v. St. Francis Country House, 2018 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 45 (August 1, 2018) Rau, J.

August 6th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Wrongful Death

In this case, Roy Burkett, Jr., son of decedent, had to rush his mother into hospice care where she later died.  Suit followed.  The court found that the mandatory binding arbitration clause is unenforceable because it was unconscionable under the circumstances.  Further, defendant Arch Diocese of Philadelphia did not even sign the admissions agreement and therefore was not binding.  Therefore, the survival action, as well as the wrongful death action, can go forward.  The evidence was that there was a very quick signing of the document, no meaningful discussion.  It was told that the mediation was “voluntary.”  The court found that Mr. Burkett credibly testified that the administrative person did not explain the mandatory arbitration clause or what arbitration was.  The court found that Mr. Burkett did not understand that signing the admissions agreement with a mandatory binding arbitration clause meant that he would be giving up his mother’s right to a jury trial for claims she would have.  He did not opt out of mandatory binding arbitration clause because he was not aware that it was a possibility.  There was insufficient explanation.  It was a grievance procedure and it…

School Bus Safety Reminders for All Drivers

July 30th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Car Accidents, Personal Injury

School Bus Safety Reminders for All Drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers school buses to be the safest way to transport schoolchildren, but tragic school bus accidents do happen. Thousands of children are injured each year in preventable school bus collisions that can result in serious and debilitating injuries and death. School bus drivers may not be trained professionals.  They may or may not have the requisite experience.  School bus drivers can be negligent like anyone else.  Crashes may be caused by other drivers, defective buses, poor weather, or by parents and children who do not follow safety rules. If you, your child, or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a school bus, you may be entitled to a settlement to cover medical, hospital and rehabilitative expenses past, present and future, current and future lost wages and loss of wage horizon, loss of life’s pleasures until the time of death, disfigurement and emotional distress. Property loss may be covered.  All negligent parties, including the school bus driver and the school district, may be liable.  Cases against school districts is difficult because of Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity laws. Parents may sue on behalf of…


July 25th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

Carletti v. Commonwealth, 2018 Pa. Cmwlth. LEXIS 317 (July 17, 2018) Pellegrini, S.J.  This case was a bicycle accident involving a hump in the roadway.  The question is whether the bicycle rider applied his front brakes and went over the handlebars or whether he applied the brakes properly but instead was injured because of the hump in the road.  The court found that there was adequate constructive notice because the Commonwealth knew of the hump in the road.  The court therefore said there was constructive knowledge.  The government can be charged with constructive notice of a dangerous condition of a roaday, but it has to be apparent upon reasonable inspection.  The language explains that constructive notice can be just the fact that the problems was there for a while and was noticeable.  The court then says that the expert testimony was sufficient that it was the bump that caused the injury, not the biker hitting his front brakes only.  However, the problem was that the jury was not sufficiently instructed concerning deposition testimony that was never admitted into evidence.  There was a Mr. Kauffman who testified.  The judge let it…


July 24th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

GAS DRILLING-FRACKING-INTERSTATE COMPACT- Wayne Land and Mineral Group v. Delaware River Basin Commission, No. 17-1800 (3d Cir. July 3, 2018) Jordan, C.J.  Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC, a company that wants to obtain natural gas by fracking reserves in Pennsylvania,1 appeals from the dismissal of its complaint for failure to state a claim. Wayne sought a ruling in the District Court under the Declaratory Judgment Act that an interstate compact does not give the Delaware River Basin Commission authority to review Wayne’s proposed fracking activities. The Commission argued in response that Wayne’s claim was properly dismissed as unripe, that Wayne lacks standing, that there has been no final agency action, and that Wayne has not exhausted available administrative remedies. The District Court rejected those arguments but nevertheless denied Wayne’s request for relief and dismissed the case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), after determining that Wayne’s proposed activities constituted a “project” subject to the Commission’s oversight, according to the unambiguous terms of the interstate compact. Because we conclude that the meaning of the word “project” as used in the compact is ambiguous, we will vacate the order of…

People Worry About Self-Driving Cars

July 17th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Car Accidents, Personal Injury

People Worry About Self-Driving Cars
Does the idea of self-driving cars on the road send shivers down your spine?  You are not alone.  According to three different surveys, while most Americans are resigned to the fact that autonomous cars will be common within 15 years, 74 percent do not expect to have one, and two-thirds say they wouldn’t want to walk or ride a bicycle near one. The surveys show the misgivings people have about the expected increase in self-driving vehicles and the challenges that automakers face in marketing them. The results also point to a need for safety reassurances from federal regulators. Recent crashes involving the new technology have made the public even more skittish. One highly-publicized example occurred when a self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. A test driver from Uber was behind the wheel of the car at the time, but the car was driving automatically. Also, in Arizona a Waymo test vehicle with a human at the wheel crashed when another motorist swerved into it last month. If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a crash that involved…


July 13th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Civil Rights

Minarsky v. Susquehanna County, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18189 (3d Cir. July 3, 2018) Rendell, C.J.  Thomas Yadlosky, the former Director of Susquehanna County’s Department of Veterans Affairs, made unwanted sexual advances toward his part-time secretary, Sheri Minarsky, for years. She never reported this conduct and explained in her deposition the reasons she did not do so. Although Yadlosky was warned twice to stop his inappropriate behavior, it was to no avail. The County ultimately terminated Yadlosky when the persistent nature of his behavior toward Minarsky came to light. Minarsky seeks to hold Yadlosky, her supervisor, liable for sexual harassment, and her former employer, Susquehanna County, vicariously liable for said harassment. At issue in this case are the two elements of the FaragherEllerth affirmative defense that Susquehanna County has raised. In granting summary judgment in favor of the County, the District Court held that the elements of this defense had been proven as a matter of law. We conclude that given the facts of this case, the availability of the defense regarding both the first element, whether the County took reasonable care to detect and eliminate the harassment, as well…

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