Personal injury lawusits are often contentious and end in out-of-court settlements. But they’re also where some of the oddest stories can emerge.
In reviewing the personal injury stories in Chicago that we covered in 2012, our 10 most popular posts included everything from miracle resurrections to gangrenous testicles. Good times.
1. McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit Strikes Again, and Again
Ronald McD’s coffee is the stuff of legend, and not due to its taste. No, nearly every person old enough to remember 1992 remembers the lawsuit that came and went after a woman burned her genitals due to a loosely-lidded coffee cup. The case became a cause célèbre for tort reform and parody for sitcoms. The caustic coffee struck again in 2012, leading to two burned victims and more lawsuits.
2. Westwood College Lawsuit: Sued for Giving Out Useless Degrees
You’ve heard the annoying commercials about college degrees from no-name schools. They promise an affordable education that will set you off on a new and exciting career path in criminal justice! Unfortunately for students of Westwood College, a for-profit chain of colleges in the Chicago area, they aren’t accredited by any local associations. This meant the degrees, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, were utterly useless.
3. Alive Boy Pronounced Dead by Hospital, Parents May Sue
“He’s alive!” It’s not the stuff of Frankenstein, nor was it a laughing matter. A local hospital pronounced a boy dead after cardiac arrest. Hours later, he was “miraculously” resurrected after his parents continued to fight for a cardiac ultrasound. This post suggested a medical malpractice lawsuit, which was exactly what the parents ended up pursuing in October.
What was the hospital’s defense to their apparent negligence? They claimed it was an example of the Lazarus phenomenon, which is a spontaneous return of heart function. In the entire history of medicine, only 38 known cases have been reported.
4. Plastic Surgery Patients’ Names, Breasts Revealed Online
A botched web-design job led to a number of female patients’ breasts, labeled with their names, being revealed to the world. Web developers set up the sites and the doctors’ staff were supposed to upload the content. Unfortunately, someone forgot to remove the names from the photos, which the patients agreed to allow as examples of the doctors’ work. We dug up a federal law that states that website providers are not liable for the content published by others.
5. Skinny Jeans Can Harm Testes; The Law of Comparative Fault
Did you know that those awful skinny jeans that the Biebs is rockin’ can actually cause permanent damage? Medical experts have found that the overly restrictive denim can cause numbness and nerve damage in the thighs, and in extreme cases, testicular torsion and gangrenous testicles. We answered the important question: what effect does a person’s fashion choices have on their ability to successfully sue?
6. Pepsi Defends Mouse in Mountain Dew Lawsuit
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Guy goes to a vending machine, cracks open a can of Mountain Dew, and tastes a rotting mouse. Yeah, it’s gross. And according to Pepsi, it’s absolute baloney. Their expert argues that Mountain Dew is so acidic that by the time Roland Bell drank it, more than a year after the production date, the mouse would have been an unrecognizable glob of dissolved jelly. DO THE DEW!
7. OMG! Groupon Deal, Yelp Review, Defamation Lawsuit
A Groupon deal gone bad leads to a Yelp! review, hurt feelings, and a defamation lawsuit? Cecilia Groark purchased a Groupon from Bottled Grapes in Albany Park. Unhappy with the way it worked out, she posted a negative Yelp! review. The business owner responded to the complaint by questioning her maturity and allegedly starting a blog where the author, writing as Groark, admitted to being a prostitute and a drug addict. She’s now suing the owner of Bottled Grapes for defamation. This post explores the difference between negative opinions and false facts. One is grounds for a lawsuit. The other — not so much.
8. CDC Attacks (Defames?) Fast Food With Questionable Stats
We’re lawyers with a bit too much experience with fast food. So when the CDC published an infographic that claimed that the average size of a soda had increased to six times its size from the 1950s to today, we were skeptical. We looked at the numbers, pointed out their false statements, and discussed locally headquartered McDonald’s chances in a potential defamation lawsuit against the CDC.
9. BP Has Bad Gas: Lawsuits Filed Over Broken-Down Cars
Dirty gas led to a number of disabled vehicles in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, after BP refilled their stations with foul fuel. The gas clogged fuel systems and led to a recall and another publicity nightmare for BP. We told drivers what steps they could take in the short term, such as contacting BP, and what long-term legal steps were available, like a class-action lawsuit.
10. Carly Rae Jepsen: Sex Tape, Maybe?
You can’t talk about 2012 without mentioning Carly Rae, who’s song “Call Me, Maybe” was played ad nauseam throughout the summer and parodied to death on the Internet. In July, Perez Hilton posted screen captures from what appeared to be the young pop star in the throes of lovemaking. Jepsen denied that she was the person on the tape. If it really is a mislabeled tape, could the damage to her good-girl reputation be sufficient for a defamation lawsuit?
That’s all for 2012. Curious about 2013? Our legal predictions include more lawsuits from the Boy Scouts’ perversion files and potentially more lawsuits against the Chicago police. Stay tuned.