Missouri Supreme Court Overrules Trial Court In KC Royals Hot Dog Case

Yahoo Sport reported earlier this week that the Missouri Supreme Court made a surprise ruling that could change the way major league sports franchises are held liable for the safety of fans. In this case, a spectator at a Kansas City Royals game was hit in the eye by a hot dog that was being tossed to fans by the team mascot. The injured fan ended up filing suit for his injuries, which included having to repair a detached retina. The team argued at trial that they were not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries based on the “baseball rule,” which protects teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by events on the field, court or rink.  For example, major league sports franchises are not liable for injuries caused by a foul ball, broken bat or hockey puck that goes flying into the stands. The theory behind this common law rule is that foul balls and the like are an inherent risk that come with attending a sporting event and fans should be aware of this risk and their surroundings. The Missouri Supreme Court overruled the trial court and held that the “baseball rule” does not apply to a mascot tossing hot dogs to fans in the stands.

The state Supreme Court said the risk of being injured by a tossed hot dog is not an inherent risk of watching a baseball game. ”That risk is no more inherent in watching a game of baseball than it is inherent in watching a rock concert, a monster truck rally, or any other assemblage where free food or T-shirts are tossed into the crowd to increase excitement and boost attendance,” the court said in its 36-page ruling.

The plaintiff in this case will get a new trial, and the Royals will no longer be able to argue the “baseball rule,” defense. Though the jury, which held the plaintiff 100% liable in the first case, could render the same verdict the second time around. The question will be whether the Royals – – and their mascot employee – – were negligent by tossing hot dogs to unsuspecting fans. The Royals will continue to argue that the plaintiff/fan was at fault as he was not aware of his surroundings at the time of the accident. This will be a question of fact for the jury to answer. Fortunately for the plaintiff, the Royals will no longer be able to argue that they are immune to liability based on the “baseball rule.” It will be interesting to see if other states will follow the Missouri ruling for accidents that may happen involving team mascots or other happenings not directly related to action on the field.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an Illinois personal injury accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

National Safety Council Reports Auto Accidents Leading Killer Of Teens

Last month the National Safety
Council (“NSC”) issued a press release regarding teen safety. The
report stated that car crashes are the leading
cause of death for teens in the U.S., and teens crash at three times the rate
of more experienced drivers. Possible reasons for the spike in these crashes
include:

  • Summer driving tends to be more
    recreational and not as purposeful, such as driving to see friends rather
    than driving to
     school or work
  • Teens could be carrying friends
    more frequently and passengers increase the risk of a fatal crash
    involving a teen driver by at least 44 percent
  • Teens may stay out later at
    night, when crash risk is higher
  • With warmer weather and clearer
    conditions, teens may be tempted to speed
  • More drivers are on the roads.
    Americans drove more than 780 billion miles between June, July and August
    in 2013, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

There’s a lot at stake here and it’s
not just teen lives. Their erratic driving can affect the lives of other
drivers, passengers and pedestrians, regardless of age. I think one step would
be more intensive classes and possibly raising the age to drive to 17. Another
step could be stricter penalties if a teenager is ticketed for texting and
driving, especially if a car accident or injuries from a car crash are a result
of the texting. Parents should also take an active role and drive with their
children to ensure they are doing the right things behind the wheel and
following the rules of the road.

If you or someone you love has been
seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then
call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report In Tracy Morgan Truck Crash

USA Today reported today that the National Traffic Safety Board
(“NTSB”) issued a preliminary report in the Tracy Morgan truck accident case, which doesn’t bode well for the defendant driver or his
employer, Wal-Mart. The report stated that a preliminary
review of the data showed that the truck was traveling at 65 mph for the 60
seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van. NTSB
investigators are correlating these data with the physical evidence. The speed
limit at the traffic accident scene was 45 mph. The speed limit had been
lowered from 55 mph due to construction in the area.  

It was previously
reported nationally (and on this blog) that the driver had not slept for 24
hours prior to this crash. The NTSB report is now saying that electronic
log data show that Roper “had logged 9 hours 37 minutes of driving time
when the crash occurred. With respect to the maximum 14-hour consecutive duty
period for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the driver had logged 13 hours 32
minutes at the time of the vehicle collision.”

Although it’s early, it appears that
the truck driver was negligent in this case and will be responsible for the
damages he caused to Tracy Morgan and the other passengers in his limousine.
Further, Wal-Mart is ultimately on the hook for the damages as they are
responsible for any negligent actions caused by one of its drivers during the
course and scope of their employment. 

If you or someone you love has been
seriously injured in a Chicago truck accident or Chicago car crash, then call
Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation
at 312-614-1076. 

No Injuries Reported In Last Night’s CTA Orange Line Derailment

There was CTA Orange line derailment
during rush hour yesterday in the downtown loop, which luckily, did not cause
any injuries to its passengers. The actual track, just south of the Van Buren
stop, suffered quite a bit of damage. When one of the wheels became derailed,
it cut the rail fasteners and wood atop the
inner track of the Loop ‘L’ structure, sending wood and steel raining to the
pavement from State to LaSalle along Van Buren.

No injuries have
been reported but due to the damage to the track, there were hours of delays
right during the busiest time of day for train commuters.

The CTA has not had
the best year, publicity wise, so far in 2014. Several months back, a blue line
train operator admitted to dozing off while pulling into O’Hare airport. As a
result, the train did not stop in time and the emergency brake did not activate,
causing the train to derail and crash up into the upstairs escalator.

Hopefully this will
be the last derailment we see in Chicago for a while. This derailment appears
to be a mechanical issue rather than human error. Though no official report
from the CTA has been released regarding the cause of the CTA train derailment. 

If you or someone
you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident or Chicago bus accident,
then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076. 

Trucker Safety Laws Called Into Question Following Tracy Morgan Truck Accident

Over the weekend a fatal truck accident in New Jersey claimed the life of one person and critically injured
three others, including famous comedian, Tracy Morgan. Court papers filed in
charges made against the truck driver who allegedly caused the traffic accident,
claim that he had been awake for 24 hours prior to the accident.

Interestingly, a few days prior to
this accident, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment  that would suspend a requirement that truck drivers rest for at least 34 consecutive hours — including
two nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. — before beginning their next work
week. The so-called “restart” regulation was among a number of
changes that took effect last summer
 with the aim
of reducing driver fatigue. The new rules also limit the maximum average
work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum
of 82 hours, and require drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight
hours of a shift.

The measure was pushed by Sen. Susan
Collins (R-Maine). The amendment it still needs to be adopted by the full
Senate and reconciled with appropriations legislation drawn up in the House.

This new bill is laughable and I see
very little chance of it passing the full Senate. Especially now that truck
driver fatigue is being pushed to the forefront after this tragic
accident. 

So what can be done to prevent
situations like this where the driver feels squeezed to meet his or her
deadline? The transportation companies – – and in this case Wal-Mart – – need
to heed the responsibility. Trucking companies are already responsible for the
negligent actions of their drivers. In this case, both the Wal-Mart and their
driver will be sued in civil court for the death of one passenger and the
injuries, bills and lost wages of the 3 others that were injured.  Is this
enough to prevent companies from putting their drivers in a time crunch where
they are missing breaks and/or sleep? Instead of rolling back the measures (as
discussed above) that were implemented last year, I think the Senate should
consider penalizing companies who ignore the federally regulated timelines.
Lives could be at stake.

If you or someone you love has been
seriously injured in a Chicago truck accident or Chicago car crash, then call
Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation
at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Presses Forward Towards Goal Of More Bike Lanes

Chicago officials
continue to press forward towards their goal of 100 miles of bicycle lanes
throughout the city. Currently, Chicago has about 50 miles of bicycle lanes
throughout the city. There are designated lanes, which are blocked by a
separate parking lane, on stretches of Dearborn in the downtown loop and on
Milwaukee Avenue. The city spent about
$2.7 million last year designing and building bike lanes, at a cost averaging
$67,000 per mile, according to the 
Chicago Department of Transportation.
There are plans in the works for an additional 40 miles of bike lanes to be
implemented within the next year. Chicago has set a goal of increasing the
citywide bicycle commute-to-work rate to 5 percent, up from about 1.6 percent
currently, or about 26,300 average daily bicycling trips, according to U.S.
census and other data.

The Chicago
Tribune
 had an interesting
article over the weekend that discussed some of the concerns from bicyclists
have about where the designated bike lanes will be installed. Specifically, on
Lake Street, which is narrow, often littered and covers multiple bridges. 

The question remains as
to whether bicyclists and motorists will be safe from each other once these
additional bike lanes are added. I think the lanes that are protected by the
additional parking lane are very effective as it adds a distinct barrier
between the two. In other words, motorists and pedestrians know that those
lanes are for bicyclists only and hopefully provide awareness and respect towards
the bicyclists. I will be interested to see statistics for bicycle accidents
once all of the new lanes have been added for a period of time.

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car crash, then
call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076. 

GM Denies Reuters Report Linking Them To 74 Traffic Deaths

Time reported today that General Motors
(“GM”) is standing by its’ initial stance that their faulty ignition
is only responsible for 13 traffic fatalities. This statement was made in
response to a report from Reuters, which concluded that the faulty ignition in
GM vehicles was actually responsible for the wrongful deaths of at least 74
individuals.  
Reuters
calculated its number using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a
government database that contains traffic accident reports from U.S. law enforcement
agencies. GM, however, says it uses more detailed information when
investigating accidents.

GM and Reuters both looked at accidents wherein drivers or
passengers in the front seat were killed in head-on vehicle collisions with one other
vehicle during which the GM vehicle’s airbag did not deploy.

GM recalled 2.4 million vehicles over the past several months
after it was discovered that a problem with their ignition switch caused cars
to shut off while driving, disabling power steering, anti-lock brakes and airbags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not
comment on the Reuters figures, but it previously said the final number of
deaths will likely be higher than 13.

I will be following this story closely to see if additional
wrongful death lawsuits arise as a result of GM’s faulty ignition. GM is also
looking at consumer protection class action lawsuits based on the recalled
products.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a
Chicago car accident was a victim of an auto defect accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at
312-614-1076. 

Illinois Supreme Court Hears Red Light Camera Class Action

Last month the Illinois
Supreme Court heard arguments on the controversial red light camera ordinance
enacted by the city of Chicago back in 2003. Plaintiffs for the class argue
that cameras were approved and installed by the city prior to the state legislature
passing a law that would allow this type of ticketing system at
intersections. 

The
suit contends the technology’s implementation conflicted with state statutes
that sought to keep driving policies consistent across Illinois. It also says a
subsequent state law enabling Chicago’s ordinance — and the installation of
cameras in collar counties and the Metro East area near St. Louis — was
arbitrarily localized and, therefore, in conflict with the state constitution.

The
lawsuit further argues that since the state law (which was passed in 2006) only
applies to Chicago, surrounding collar counties and St. Louis Metro East
counties, it violates that state constitution because which prohibits
“special” or “local” laws in cases when a more general law is possible. The
lawsuit states: “because (the law)’s designation does not distinguish on
the basis of municipal population, congestion, traffic patterns or vehicle
accidents, cities like Springfield and Peoria, pedestrian-dense college towns
like Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington and rapidly-growing suburbs like Oswego,
may not enjoy the financial and claimed safety benefits of red-light cameras
because they are in the ‘wrong’ counties.”

If the
Illinois Supreme Court agrees with the plaintiffs’ arguments, then there will
be thousands of $100 refunds coming back to Illinois citizens.

I find
this lawsuit fascinating because it is looking at a constitutional question as
to whether these laws are valid. I think the more important question  is whether the cameras actually make intersections safer. Are there fewer
car accidents in these areas since the installation of the cameras? Opinions
vary on this matter. The city says, yes, that car crashes and traffic fatalities are down in these specific areas. As I’ve written on this blog
before, there have been studies around the country that the cameras actually
make intersections more dangerous and this is nothing more than a revenue
generator for cities and counties. I’m looking forward to seeing the ruling
from the state Supreme Court.

If you
or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.