The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

August 2010 Archives

As its name implies, hot chocolate is meant to be served, well, hot. But a west suburban mother has sued fast food giant McDonald's, claiming the drink was way too hot for anyone to safely drink, according to CBS Chicago.

The plaintiff, Vicki LaRocco, claims daughter Mykael Vasquez suffered serious burns and permanent scarring on her leg after spilling the piping hot beverage. The suit also claims the lid was not properly secured and that they failed to warn customers that it was hot enough to scald if spilled.

With the help of her Chicago injury lawyer, who was not named nor cited in the article, the mother filed suit against McDonald's for $100,000 plus reimbursement for her child's medical bills. The three-count suit claims damages for negligence and product liability. 

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Scott Brancheau, whose wife Dawn Brancheau was killed by a six-ton Orca (aka, killer whale) named Tilikum at SeaWorld in Orlando, has hired Chicago injury attorneys at the firm of O'Connor & Nakos.

Although details of the (potentially) pending case are scarce, it appears as if a wrongful death lawsuit is in the works.

Dawn Brancheau was killed on Feb. 24 after Tilikum grabbed her long ponytail and dragged her underwater, where she died of drowning and related trauma, according to CBS News. SeaWorld was fined $75,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) but is reportedly fighting the charges.

A recent Chicago Tribune article chronicles a battle between patients' rights advocates and the medical lobby surrounding the online posting of physicians' detailed histories, including malpractice records.   

The state posted such information online for two years ending in February. Patients could see whether a given doctor was convicted of a crime, fired by a medical institution or held liable for malpractice within a five-year window.

The New York Times reported that a second Iowa egg producer issued a recall last Friday of eggs sent to 14 states, including Illinois. The company, Hillandale Farms, said its eggs were associated with "laboratory-confirmed illnesses" from salmonella poisoning.

Anyone who has eaten the affected eggs and feels unusually ill should seek immediate medical attention before contacting an Illinois injury attorney

Hundreds of consumers have become sick from salmonella since May, the Times reported. Hillandale Farms eggs produced outside of Iowa are unaffected, while Iowa-produced eggs sold under the brand names Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms and Sunny Meadow.

Few would argue against the notion that posting a message on Facebook claiming that a classmate has had sex with animals and has turned into the devil is a form of "cyberbullying." But a New York judge ruled that it's not defamation under the law, according to a MediaPost article.

New York Judge Randy Sue Marber dismissed such a lawsuit against four teenagers who were accused of defamation. They allegedly made those and other demeaning comments about classmate Denise Finkel.

But she explains why they don't rise to the level of defamation:

"The entire context and tone of the posts constitute evidence of adolescent insecurities and indulgences, and a vulgar attempt at humor. What they do not contain are statements of fact."

General Motors announced that it is recalling more than 243,000 of its larger crossover vehicles because its second-row seat belts may feel properly latched when they are not, USA Today reported. The voluntary recall due to the seat belt defect includes the 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Arcadia and Saturn Outlook.

GM said the recall comes after the company found damaged seat belt buckles while conducting warranty work. When the second-row seats are folded back and then returned to their upright position, a piece of trim can get pushed down and potentially cause the seat belt to jam or to feel secured when it isn't.

Fenger High School graduate Jarvis Williams, former member of the Jesse White Tumblers, is suing the group for not acting appropriately when he suffered a paralyzing injury during a routine, NBC Chicago reported.

Named after Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who founded the group several decades ago, the Jesse White Tumblers regularly perform acrobatic routines at schools and in parades.

A man and his wife, aided by a Chicago attorney, allegedly swindled the man's father out of his home, according to the Chicago Tribune. Alleged victim Angelo Biondo, a decorated World War II veteran, filed a lawsuit against the attorney who drafted the legal documents but no criminal charges have been filed.

His Illinois injury attorney was not cited in the article; the lawsuit accuses attorney Gary R. Williams of legal malpractice.

Two years after the death of comedian and Chicago native Bernie Mac, surviving wife Rhonda McCullough has filed a wrongful death malpractice suit against the doctor who last treated him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.   

South Side dermatologist Rene M. Earles kept Bernie Mac at his clinic for nine hours instead of calling an ambulance, even though his vital signs showed a need for urgent care, the suit alleges. He died in a hospital two weeks later from complications related to pneumonia.

Chicago injury lawyers representing Rhonda McCullough did not return reporters' calls.

A mother whose daughter claims her school bus driver fell out of the moving vehicle while opening the door to vomit has filed suit against Illinois Central School Bus, according to the Chicago Tribune. The 13-year-old girl suffered a fractured ankle when the bus went into a ditch.

Maybe it was an especially twisty road, who knows; but opening the door and leaning out of a moving bus you're supposed to be operating? Granted, these are just allegations at this point and no mention was made of traffic citations or disciplinary action by the driver's employer.

The suburban Chicago village of Crestwood, which was sued over its used of a tainted water well, has settled with residents over several years of water bills, according to the Southtown Star. They thought they were only getting Lake Michigan water and fought to get reimbursed.

But that doesn't mean the town's legal problems are over. Countless Illinois injury attorneys remain hard at work to get their clients compensated for injuries and even deaths blamed on Crestwood's alleged negligence.

Crestwood's roughly 11,000 residents drank tap water contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals for more than two decades, even though they were told the unusually cheap water was safe, according to a 2009 Chicago Tribune article. Records obtained by the newspaper found that town officials secretly pumped water from a contaminated well.

Although accused pedophile Daniel McCormack eventually was defrocked by the Catholic Church, yet another alleged victim has stepped forward and filed a lawsuit for alleged abuse by the former priest, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The ex-priest was repeatedly shuttled to different church assignments even after sex abuse allegations surfaced.

The latest victim, a 19-year-old man identified only as John E. Doe, claims Daniel McCormack sexually abused him while he was a sixth-grader at St. Agatha's parish from 2001 to 2002. The complaint, prepared by the victim's Illinois injury attorney, goes into graphic details about the alleged abuse:

Chicago Ridge mother Cathleen Miller has been indicted on four counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual abuse after allegedly molesting five minor boys, and allegedly having sexual intercourse with two of the boys, the Southtown Star reported. 

The fifth, unidentified boy to step forward is only 12 years old; the other boys are between the ages of 14 and 15. The 12-year-old's family has filed a civil lawsuit but the specific claims were not disclosed, nor was the family's Illinois injury attorney cited in the article.

Cathleen Miller was arrested on July 13. County prosecutors say the boys were given alcohol and marijuana at her home, then molested. Two of the five boys, who were friends of her 14-year-old daughter, allegedly had sexual intercourse with the 40-year-old woman.