Articles Posted in In The News

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In a great victory for people injured in Tennessee, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz lawyers Glenn Vines, Mark Geller, Kevin Graham, and Jason Yasinsky were able to ensure injured victims have the right to submit the full value of their medical expenses in their personal injury claim. This case, Dedmon v. Steelmon, was argued all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Plaintiff Jean Dedmon originally filed suit in the Circuit Court of Crockett County, Tennessee, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. As part of the lawsuit, Dedmon attached her full medical bills for hospital treatment and doctor visits caused by the accident. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an opinion in another case, West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corporation. That case dealt primarily with hospitals that filed liens (pursuant to Tennessee’s Hospital Lien Act) for the full amount of treatment billed to the patient, regardless of whether they had health insurance. While health insurance companies often pay at discounted rates due to contractual agreements with providers, the Court ultimately decided that based on the language of the hospital lien law, the hospital’s lien is limited to the discounted amount paid by the patient’s health insurance company.

Counsel for Steelman took that holding and sought to apply the principle to all of Dedmon’s medical bills. The trial court agreed and ruled that Dedmon could not submit the full amount of her medical expenses to the jury; instead, she could only submit the amounts of the contractually-agreed payments that the providers accepted from her insurance company. NST Law, on behalf of Dedmon, appealed that decision. After both sides submitted legal briefs and argued their respective positions, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling, stating Dedmon could introduce her full bills but Steelman could introduce proof contradicting the reasonableness of those bills. Steelman moved to appeal this ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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There is no doubt that ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have surged in popularity in recent years. Uber was founded in 2009, while Lyft came along in 2012. These companies serve a useful purpose – affordable transportation at the hands of your fingertips. Across the world, people use ridesharing companies to get from Point A to Point B. Ridesharing can satisfy all of one’s transportation needs – taking people to dinner, sporting events, and even to and from work each day.

When people open the Uber or Lyft app and select a ride, they trust they will be in good hands when they get inside the vehicle. After recent events, getting to a destination without an accident is no longer the top concern. Recent lawsuits have alleged Uber drivers sexually assaulted female passengers. In light of these reports, it is natural to consider whether ridesharing companies do enough to prevent these crimes in the first place, and whether they can face legal liability for their drivers’ actions.

Typically, employers are held responsible for acts of employees committed in the course and scope of employment. For instance, if you were rear-ended by an Uber driver who was transporting a passenger, Uber’s liability policy would likely pay for your losses. This legal principle of respondeat superior may not directly apply in the context of an assault. For starters, sexual assault is an intentional act, in contrast to a negligent act such as running a stop sign. Similarly, abusing a passenger does not fall within the course and scope of employment, which is to transport a passenger to their final destination. Further, Uber is notorious for classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. While the employer’s determination is not determinative, additional factors must be considered.

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A recent train crash in the Binghampton area of Memphis serves as a reminder to us all – be extremely careful when approaching train tracks. In the early hours of November 14, 2017, a train collided with a vehicle in Binghampton near Pershing Avenue and Scott Street. According to Memphis Police Department, the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene, the driver got caught between the railroad arms as she was crossing over the tracks. Fortunately, she had enough time to get out of her vehicle and out of harm’s way.

Unique Dangers Involving Trains

It takes much longer for a train to come to a stop than it does for cars and SUVs driven by private citizens. Below are interesting statistics to put all of this in context:

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Texas is taking a unique approach to combat a systemic issue in America – distracted driving. Those applying for a new driver’s license must now take additional steps than people who have tried to get a license in years past. If you are 18 years old or older, you must now take a driving skills test and one hour course on distracted driving awareness. While 16 and 17-year-old drivers have had to take their own courses for distracted driving, this is a new requirement for adults 18 and older. At this time, the Texas Department of Public Safety is planning on introducing a distracted driving course geared towards adults who are 25 years old and older as well.

Distracted driving has always come with problematic side effects, and these have magnified in recent years. Many people blame progress in technology on the increase in distracted driving accidents across the United States today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 9 people are killed each day in an accident that involves at least one driver who was distracted at the time of the crash. Just as alarming, over 1,000 people get hurt each day in these types of crashes.

Why does technology lead to more distracted driving related car accidents? For starters, people of all ages have access to a variety of personal devices that can be used at any point in time. Devices like cell phones and tablets are always tempting to use. People think they can look down at their phone to check email, send a text message, or browse social media websites like Facebook, even for a split second, and be fine. However, studies show that taking your eyes off the road to send or read a text message for just five seconds is long enough for your car to drive across an entire football field going 55 mph.

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On October 5, 2017, a federal jury in Chicago, Illinois found large drug manufacturer AbbVie, Inc. liable for injuries caused by AndroGel, a testosterone replacement therapy treatment known to cause serious medical problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. The multi-week trial was held in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. After deliberating for nearly two days, a Tennessee man was awarded over $140 million by the jury who found that AndroGel caused him to suffer a heart attack. The verdict consisted of $140,000.00 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages, as AbbVie was found responsible for negligence, misrepresentation, and concealment of AndroGel’s risks.

The plaintiff was prescribed AndroGel in 2010 for symptoms his primary care physician attributed to low testosterone levels. Two months later, he suffered a heart attack. At trial, attorneys for the plaintiff argued he suffered the heart attack due to AndroGel, and experts testified about the link between AndroGel and cardiovascular risks. Further, evidence was introduced that AbbVie failed to adequately warn consumers and their healthcare providers of the significant health risks associated with AndroGel despite known medical research. AbbVie disputed liability and minimized AndroGel’s role in the heart attack, instead pointing to pre-existing medical conditions and claiming the company complied with U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in effect at the time.

Low testosterone treatments were aggressively marketed to millions of middle-aged men for over 15 years without regard for whether they truly had the conditions for which it received FDA approval,” said Parker Trotz of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, one of the team attorneys for the plaintiff. “With this verdict, the jury sent a strong message that it is unacceptable for large pharmaceutical companies to prioritize profits over people by failing to conduct sufficient testing and knowingly hiding risks of adverse side effects to innocent consumers.”

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Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz (NST Law) is a large regional plaintiff’s personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured victims. NST has opened an office in Little Rock, Arkansas, to serve better serve clients in the greater Little Rock area, Pulaski County, and nearby areas of Arkansas, including (but not limited to) communities such as North Little Rock, Conway, Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Jacksonville, and Maumelle.

Our Little Rock office is located at:

Westedge Building

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The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the “100 deadliest days of summer” around the Knoxville area. When the school year ends, more teenagers are out on the road during summer, either enjoying their time off or driving to and from summer jobs. In fact, AAA estimates that fatal teen accidents increase by 15% during the summer months. Leading causes of those wrecks are speeding, distracted driving, and not using seatbelts.

Teen driving is not just an issue in Knox County. Nationwide, motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death for teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data shows that on average, approximately 6 teens between the ages of 16-19 are killed each day as a result of a car accident.  Further, teens in that age range are nearly 3 times as likely to be involved in a fatal wreck than drivers who are 20 years old or older.

When discussing a link between teenage driving and car accidents, the CDC lists eight “danger zones.” They include the following:

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Did you know that on average, 88% of drivers use their cell phones at some point while driving? This statistic was released in a recent study conducted by Zendrive, a company that measures driver safety. The study analyzed 3.1 million drivers between December 2016 and February 2017. The subjects made 570 million trips covering 5.6 billion miles. The study made many findings, including that drivers used a cell phone during 88% of the 570 million trips. Further, for every one hour driven, drivers spent an average of 3.5 minutes on the phone.

The study then ranked all 50 states by the prevalence of distracted driving. Here is Zendrive’s list of the 10 states where distracted driving is most prevalent:

  1. Vermont
  2. Mississippi
  3. Louisiana
  4. Alabama
  5. Arkansas
  6. Oklahoma
  7. New Jersey
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Missouri
  10. Massachusetts

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In May 2017, a jury in Missouri awarded a verdict of $110 million to a 62-year-old woman who developed ovarian cancer after using products containing talcum powder. The verdict was assessed against Johnson & Johnson, the company that manufactured the products in question, baby powder and Shower to Shower. The victim was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She sued Johnson & Johnson, alleging they hid the possibility that talc could cause cancer. The trial lasted three weeks.

Johnson & Johnson has been hit with several other large jury verdicts in talcum powder lawsuits, including some in the tens of millions of dollars. Those include verdicts of $72 million, $70 million, and $55 million.

Many lawsuits are currently pending regarding talcum powder and how it can cause women to develop ovarian cancer. Talc is a mineral, and its powder form is prevalent in certain consumer products. Women in particular have used these products for years for hygiene. The lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson knew there was a risk that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer but knowingly concealed that information from consumers for years. As a result, the product liability lawsuits filed by victims against the company seek monetary damages for developing a life-altering injury like cancer.

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Simply put, guardrails are supposed to protect cars, drivers, and passengers. At the very least, they can prevent a bad situation, such as a car or truck wreck, from turning even worse. On highways and interstates, they can prevent cars from running off the road, falling down an embankment, or veering into oncoming traffic. When not functioning properly, bad things can happen. Drivers in many states have been having serious problems with guardrails recently, and at least seven people have died as a result of deadly guardrails in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri.

One such incident occurred near Knoxville, Tennessee, when a 17-year-old girl was killed in a car accident caused by a defective guardrail. The driver veered off the road, drove into the median, and hit the end of a guardrail. While the guardrail was supposed to help absorb the impact with the vehicle, the end actually pierced through the vehicle, hitting the driver in the head.

The type of guardrail in question is X-LITE, which is manufactured by Lindsay Transportation Solutions. There are currently 1,700 of them on Tennessee roads, interstates, and highways. TDOT conducted its own investigation into this type of guardrail and found that they did not always work when cars hit them traveling at speeds 62 mph or higher. Usually, 62 mph is the standard crash test speed for guardrail ends. TDOT also found issues with the installation instructions, which, according to TDOT, “could result in the terminal performing differently from the original tested conditions.” Right now, Tennessee is accepting bids to replace all of these guardrails. Once complete, the final cost could end up being $3.5 million or more.

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