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pistol-and-bullets-300x200In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7901 (2005), et seq., (“PLCAA”)into effect. The PLCAA prevents gun manufacturers and dealers from being sued in relationship to the production and/or sale of firearms, subject to a few exceptions. Historically, these exceptions have been construed narrowly, and as a consequence, manufacturers and dealers have been immune to most types of lawsuits.

The PLCAA permits certain commercial suits, such as a contractual dispute or a claim for breach of warranty. § 7903(5)(A)(iv). Further, immunity does not extend to the defective design or manufacture of a firearm. § 7903(5)(A)(v). Gun manufacturers are subject to the same rules as any other manufacturer of consumer goods. If a manufacturer places a firearm into the stream of commerce which malfunctions due to defective parts or improper assembly, or if it was designed in a dangerous manner and poses an unreasonable danger when operated, the manufacturer can be held liable for resulting injury.

Other exceptions apply when dealers provide firearms to people who should not have one in their possession. One such exception involves negligent entrustment. § 7903(5)(A)(ii). The PLCAA defines negligent entrustment as the act of supplying a firearm to someone the seller knew, or should have known, would likely injure others with the gun. § 7903(5)(B). Similarly, if a dealer knowingly provides a gun to a person intending to commit a crime of violence or engage in drug trafficking, the dealer is susceptible to suit. § 7903(5)(A)(i).

gavel-214x300In 2018, Michigan signed Public Acts 180 and 181 into law, providing victims of sexual assault more time to file both civil claims and criminal complaints. The legislation was spearheaded by a group of sexual assault survivors led by Rachael Denhollander. Denhollander is the first woman to come forward with allegations against gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar assaulted numerous gymnasts under the guise of providing medical treatment and is currently serving a 175-year sentence in a Florida federal prison.

Under the new laws, the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases was extended. The former law required a lawsuit to be filed within three years of the assault. This was amended to allow suit any time before the survivor of sexual assault turns 28-years old. Under the new provision, the perpetrator need not be convicted of criminal conduct in order to be sued.

The law also opened a 90-day window for suit against perpetrators of sexual assault by an individual who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct, and who admitted to either (1) being a physician in a position of authority over the victim and using that authority for coercion; or (2)  engaging in purported medical treatment that is considered unethical. The 90-day window applied to assaults occurring after December 31, 1996. This provision is apparently tailored to permit lawsuits against Nassar, as both the time constraints and specific elements coincide with the facts of his case.

man-holding-phone-yelling-300x200Few things are more validating than winning a contested court case. Your dispute has been reviewed by a judge and jury. After considering all the facts, the Court has found in your favor. Along with the feeling of vindication, you may have been awarded a money judgment. Insurance companies pay quickly. On the other hand, individual litigants—some unbound by ethical concerns—can make obtaining payment more difficult than obtaining the judgment in the first place.

After entry of the judgment, judgments debtors have 21 days to make payment. However, if the judgment debtor doesn’t pay within that time period, what happens next? Debtor’s prisons are illegal, so a Court doesn’t have the authority to put someone in jail for disobeying the order. What comes next if the judgment debtor doesn’t pay?

After the 21-day period expires, you can return to court and request an order of either garnishment or seizure. Seizure is where a court officer takes property owned by the judgment debtor, selling it to satisfy the judgment. Garnishment is receiving payment from a third-party who is holding an asset for the judgment debtor. If you garnish wages, the employer will send you periodic installments. If you garnish a bank account, the bank will send you a lump sum.

road-man-broken-car-6078-300x200Buying a car is typically a stressful, yet exciting experience for most people. That sense of excitement can quickly turn to frustration when the vehicle purchased begins having mechanical trouble. Frustration can devolve into anger when the dealer repeatedly makes ineffective repairs, sometimes delaying action or denying responsibility all together.

Each state and the federal government have enacted “lemon laws” to provide redress where a purchaser is saddled with a vehicle that doesn’t meet quality and performance standards. Unfortunately, not all situations are covered by a lemon law; moreover, every state’s, as well as the federal, version of the law is different.

Generally, lemon laws protect purchasers of new motor vehicles from defects or conditions that substantially impair the value of the vehicle and where the manufacturer has failed to resolve the problem after been given a reasonable opportunity to perform repairs. However, various jurisdictions define “new motor vehicles,” “substantial impairment,” and “reasonable opportunity to repair” in a number of ways. There are also a number of variations in the scope and breadth of relief available.

We live in a digital world, where each person’s documented past is accessible at the stroke of a key and click of a button. This powerful technology can literally save a life—medical records can be accessed in seconds, assisting in diagnostics and preventing allergic reaction. On the other hand, anyone with access to the internet can rummage through your past, including the most challenging and difficult moments. For many people, some serious mistakes led to criminal conviction. In the past, the decision to disclose was a delicate balance of transparency versus privacy, with the choice ultimately residing with the individual. That choice has been stripped away, and we wear our past on our sleeves.

Even the bored and nosey next-door neighbor can sneak a peek behind your curtains.

For those with shame over their criminal record, know that you are not alone. It is estimated that over 30% of the adult population has a criminal record of some sort. That is one in three of all Americans. The next time you are in a group of people, look around and do the math—even if you have a clean record, someone close does not. The number of people with serious convictions are likewise staggering. When only looking to those convicted of a felony offense—a crime punishable by more than one-year imprisonment—the figure is shockingly high, nearly 10% of the population. These statistics are sadly skewed against minorities in our country, comprising a disproportionate segment of the incarcerated population.

Newborn-gentle-300x200Neocate baby formula is designed for children with difficulty digesting common proteins for a host of reasons, including serious illness. Where traditional baby formula contains long, complex proteins, “elemental formulas” are comprised of amino acids—the building blocks of larger proteins—which are more readily digestible. Despite being an effective product to deliver protein, it does not provide the amount of phosphorus necessary for healthy bone development, ultimately leading to bone fractures and the skeletal disorder rickets. Since Neocate is a “product” for the purposes of an action in tort, strict liability attaches and those injured need only demonstrate that the product was defectively designed.

Nutricia, a subsidiary of Groupe Danone, manufactures Neocate, which is one of the most popular elemental formulas on the market. As with traditional baby formula, Neocate is designed to be “whole nutrition,” i.e., the manufacturer’s intent is for the Neocate to be the only nutrition consumed by the child. Consequently, Nutricia had the duty to ensure that the product was properly formulated to provide all necessary nutrients.

Neocate was popular and widely prescribed, as it proved effective in providing nutrition to sick infants and children. However, in 2015, physicians began to notice high instances of broken bones and rickets associated with Neocate. Rickets is a condition where children develop soft or brittle bones, sometimes caused by a severe phosphorus deficiency. Nutricia was made aware of the problem no later than October of 2015 but did not begin researching phosphorus deficiency—hypophosphatemia—in relationship to Neocate until 2016. When it undertook this research, the company instructed physicians prescribing Neocate to monitor each patient’s blood phosphorus level.

hospital bed

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A catheter is a medical device, essentially a tube, used in a wide range of medical procedures.

Certain catheters are designed to access veins and arteries. Vascular catheterization allows a physician to perform certain diagnostics that are otherwise impossible, such as sampling blood directly from the heart; measuring blood flow in the heart’s chambers; or evaluating blockages or abnormalities in the blood vessels outside the heart, such as the arms and legs.

collision

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John Roman Images

On July 19, one man was killed in a Michigan car accident involving a semi-truck and a law enforcement vehicle. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the fatal crash occurred in Dewitt, at the intersection of Old US-27 and Cutler Road. The crash occurred around 8:30 in the evening.

Evidently, a state trooper was pulling onto Old US-27 when the trooper’s vehicle clipped the side of a passing semi-truck. The trooper’s car spun out of control, crashing into an oncoming motorist’s vehicle head-on. The motorist’s vehicle ended up in a ditch along the road’s edge, while the trooper’s car remained on the road. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene, and the trooper was hospitalized with serious but non-life threatening injuries. The trooper is expected to recover. Evidently, the trooper was responding to a call reporting retail fraud. The accident is currently under investigation.

hoverboard

Photo credit: maxbelchenko / shutterstock.com

As a general matter, companies are responsible for the safety of products that they make, sell, market, and distribute. When a product is unreasonably dangerous or defective in any way, each of these parties can typically be held liable for any injuries caused by the product. However, Michigan product liability law is vast, and many cases arise in a legal gray area.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard one such case involving a purchase on Amazon.com. In that case, a family purchased a hoverboard for their son from Amazon. It was undisputed that Amazon did not own the hoverboard, and that a third party listed the item for sale on Amazon’s website. However, the item was shipped in an Amazon box from a warehouse owned by Amazon, and the plaintiffs believed that they had purchased the hoverboard from Amazon.

red light

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While the duty of responding police officers is primarily to make sure that anyone who was injured in an accident receives the medical attention they need in a timely manner, law enforcement is also responsible for investigating the crash. Of course, detectives investigate Michigan car accidents to determine whether any of the parties involved broke the law. The question often arises whether a law enforcement investigation is sufficient in a personal injury case.

Police officers are humans and, as a result, can make mistakes. In addition, officers are subject to biases and are not typically experts in car accident cases. Thus, many personal injury victims realize that the investigation conducted by police officers was not as thorough as they would like. In some cases, an officer may fail to photograph the scene or record all the necessary information. However, in some cases, an officer’s conduct goes beyond a small oversight. A recent case acts as a good example of a situation where responding police officers failed to conduct a fair and complete investigation.

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