Paul Edlund

Attorney at Law

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Minnesota Inmate Settles Negligence Suit 

negligence suitThe Minnesota Department of Corrections has agreed to pay an inmate $130,000 to drop a negligence suit after the prisoner suffered permanent neurological damage under the facility’s care.

Erick Thomas suffered a serious medical episode back on the evening of February 1, 2012, but many in the prison assumed he was lying about his injury. Thomas began experiencing neck pain while in his cell, and a few hours later he was unable to some of his body parts. He called for the nurse, who said he was only suffering from back spasms. She gave Thomas some ibuprofen but wrote a note at the end of her shift saying she believed he was a “faker.”

Thomas later fell out of bed and was unable to get up. His calls for help went unanswered for more than an hour before guards arrived. Once in his cell, an officer told Thomas “he would be sent to the hole if he did not get up off the ground.”

The officer consulted with the on-call doctor, who informed the guard to move Thomas to his bed. Thomas later attempted to use the toilet, but he fell during the process and remained on the ground until the morning shift change, the lawsuit alleges.

It wasn’t until the next on-duty doctor arrived that Thomas received the attention he needed. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance where it was later revealed he had a large hematoma compressing and displacing his spinal cord. He was later diagnosed with Brown-Sequard syndrome.

Thomas said he still has not regained feeling on the right side of his body, and his suit against the DOC claimed the facility and its staff acted negligently in providing him with care. Thomas’ attorney said the $130,000 settlement is just the tip of the iceberg. They plan to file a suit against the on-call doctor and his medical staffing agency.

Paul Edlund comments

The Minnesota prison system has had several suits of this nature in the past several years. They contract out their medical care to for-profit businesses who care more about their bottom line than going out of their way for the patients

Because these patients happen to be prisoners, most people turn a blind eye unfortunately. But the reality is that prisoners deserve quality medical care, just as regular citizens. Until this care model changes, these issues will likely persist.


Los Angeles Jury Awards Giants Fan $14 Million in Injury Suit

LA DodgersA Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled that the Los Angeles Dodgers were partially responsible for failing to maintain a large enough security presence during the first game of the 2011 season when a visiting fan was severely beaten in the stadium parking lot.

Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan who traveled to Dodgers stadium to watch his team take on the Dodgers on Opening Day in 2011 was involved in an altercation with two Dodgers fans in the parking lot after the game. Stow was severely beaten during the fight, and he was later placed in a medically induced coma. Stow and his family sued the Dodgers for lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and non-economic damagers on the grounds that the team failed to provide the necessary security for a season opener featuring two bitter rivals. The suit sought damages in excess of $65 million.

As we’ve discussed before, juries are tasked with determining “fault percentages” in personal injury cases. Sure, the Dodgers could have provided better security, but the incident certainly never would have happened without the attackers, and sometimes even the victim is partially liable. In this case, the jury decided that the two attackers – Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood – were 75 percent responsible for Stow’s damages. The Dodgers were found 25 percent responsible for Stow’s injuries. In total, the jury awarded Stow $13.9 million for his injury.

The team’s attorney said they didn’t agree with the verdict, but they respect the decision.

“The Dodgers do not agree with every part of the verdict, but we certainly appreciate the fact this jury spent a lot of time wrestling with substantial evidence, and clearly tried to come to the right decision,” said club attorney Dana Fox. “This unfortunate incident was caused solely by Sanchez and Norwood and, unfortunately, Mr. Stow, but we respect the jury’s decision.”

It’s uncertain if either the Dodgers or Stow will appeal the decision.

Paul Edlund comments

This is an unusual case. The organization is paying a lot of money and also accepting responsibility for injuries sustained by a fan that was beaten on their property.

Typically, this would be an issue to pursue against the attackers, rather than the owners of the property on which the beating took place. However, it seems that this is part of a much larger issue of violence in and around the Dodgers stadium, which is why you see the team taking responsibility.

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