In this IssueJanuary 2010

  • Trampoline Dangers – Injured Gymnast Awarded $25.5 M

A Florida jury has awarded $25.5 million to a former gymnast who crushed his spinal cord and was rendered a quadriplegic after performing a high-level gymnastics move on a trampoline-type apparatus at a Jacksonville gym. Shane Downey was 26 years old and a former gymnastics coach for Team USA at the Olympics when he walked into North Florida Gymnastics and Cheerleading Center on June 2, 2000. While performing a maneuver on a linear trampoline called a Tumbi Track, he landed improperly and fell on the base of his neck, breaking the area near his spinal cord. Now 32 and living in Texas, Downey sued the gym for failing to supervise him while he used the equipment.

  • Trampoline Dangers – Product Liability Cases

OK, you read our Newsletters so you are light years ahead of the general public concerning what legal issue pops out on this one. You must be thinking, didn’t Downey assume the risk by getting on the Trampoline? Yes, but the gym failed to tell Downey and others that the trampoline used was not manufactured or made to withstand the type of move Downey made on the machine, which led to his tragic injury. This case highlights that it is not enough for us to show that a person was severely hurt on someone’s property – we must also prove the business knew or should have known there was something dangerous about the condition of the equipment used. Legally these are called product liability cases. Please call with any questions you have regarding defective equipment or products that cause someone to be injured on someone’s property.

  • Police Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Will Determine Privacy of Government Workers Messages

A California policeman used his city-issued text messaging pager to exchange hundreds of personal messages, some of a “sexually explicit” nature. Did he have a right to expect those messages would be kept private? The Supreme Court decided that it will determine whether a police officer has a “reasonable expectation” of privacy on his official wireless two-way text-messaging pager. At issue is how far a government employer may go to monitor the private communications of its workers when they believe that the use of such equipment is being abused. And the Court will explore whether service providers can be held liable for providing those communications without the consent of the sender. Courts have said that private communications – even when delivered or transmitted through a public portal – are generally protected from “unreasonable search and seizure” such as handwritten letters sent in sealed envelopes through the U.S. Postal Service. This is a huge issue in the Law not only for policemen but for all government employees.

  • $300 Million Record-Setting Tobacco Verdict

After just 3 hours of deliberations, a six-person jury in Broward County, Florida has awarded a plaintiff suffering from severe emphysema, $300 million against Philip Morris. For many years, the tobacco companies fought these cases by saying it’s unclear whether smoking even causes cancer (huh?), and even if it does, that the smoker voluntarily chose to smoke the cigarettes in the first place. However, internal tobacco company records have proven that they committed fraud on the public by withholding information from the public about the addictive nature of their product. Nothing inflames a jury more than when it finds out a big corporation is defrauding the public in order to make obscene profits.