Johnson & Johnson has faced several lawsuits over the past year alleging that Johnson & Johnson knew there was a link between their antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, and abnormal breast growth. Risperdal is a very powerful antipsychotic drug that Johnson & Johnson peddled to pediatric doctors for use by children even though the drug lacked certain approvals from federal regulators. Thus far, Johnson & Johnson has been hit with four separate jury trials all alleging that Johnson & Johnson not only knew that children prescribed Risperdal could develop a condition known as gynecomastia, but also that Johnson & Johnson failed to properly warn and/or disclose the risks of abnormal breast growth in adolescent boys prescribed Risperdal.

The Previous Three Jury Trials

In February 2015 the first Risperdal case was taken to a trial by jury. The jury returned a $2.5 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs determining that Risperdal did in fact cause the plaintiffs injuries and that Johnson & Johnson failed to provide proper warnings. In the second case, the jury was less convinced as to the causal link between the drug and the plaintiff’s adverse condition. While the jury did agree that Johnson & Johnson failed to provide adequate warnings, the jury was not convinced that Risperdal caused the plaintiffs to develop abnormal breast growth. As such, the second jury awarded no damages against Johnson & Johnson. The third case began October 15, 2015 and the trial is still ongoing. Lead counsel for the young man who developed female breasts after taking Risperdal as a child stated recently that “Risperdal [is] a powerful antipsychotic drug which was promoted and marketed even though it wasn’t indicated for children.”

The Fourth Jury Trial

The Fourth, and most recent, lawsuit alleged the same claims as its predecessors; failure to warn doctors and patients of the risk of gynecomastia in boys. At the heart of the fourth lawsuit was Nicholas Murray, a young man who began taking Risperdal in March of 2003. Murray continued to take Risperdal for five years, even after Johnson & Johnson made a labeling change in 2006. When Murray was first prescribed Risperdal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had only approved Risperdal to treat schizophrenia in adults. Despite a lack of approval by the FDA, Johnson & Johnson illegally marketed and promoted Risperdal for use in children from the 1990s through 2005. In fact, Johnson & Johnson’s marketing campaign was so egregious that in 2013 Johnson & Johnson settled with the United States Department of Justice to the tune of $2.2 billion amidst allegations related to its 1990-2000 illegal marketing campaign. In 2006, however, the FDA expanded Risperdal’s approval to also treat irritability in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. As such, Johnson & Johnson changed its labeling of Risperdal to comply. The fact that Murray continued to take Risperdal in the face of Johnson & Johnson’s labeling change made Murray’s failure to warn claim much harder to prove than his successful predecessors. However, despite this impediment, the jury awarded Murray $1.75 million in damages relating to his disfigurement and mental anguish.

If you or a loved one has taken Risperdal you should have your claim evaluated by a legal professional as soon as possible. Complex litigation against large pharmaceutical companies demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by Risperdal or any other drug or medical devicecontact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information. All cases are handled under a contingency fee, which means there are no fees or expenses unless we obtain a recovery for you.

Volkswagen has recently been hit by a wave of skepticism as news of the company’s emissions scandal shocked the United States. Volkswagen Group, also known as Volkswagen Aktiengasellschaft, is the second largest car manufacturer in the world. In addition to the well-known Volkswagen brand, the company also sells cars under its subsidiary brands such as Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Audi, and Porsche. As of May 2015, Volkswagen Group was valued at a substantial $126 billion, ranking 67th on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands.

What cars are affected by the emissions scandal?

In early 2014, two students and two professors at West Virginia University received a $50,000 grant to study the emissions tests on three diesel cars: the VW Passat, the VW Jetta, and the BMW X5. The studies revealed that the BMW X5 performed at or below federal emissions standards. However, the Volkswagen test subjects did not fare so well. The VW Passat exceeded U.S. emissions standards by a factor of 5 to 20, while the VW Jetta exceeded U.S. emissions standards by a factor of 15 to 35. In May of 2014, the West Virginia scientists reported their findings to the EPA.

The EPA immediately began looking into the emissions tests for Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel (TDI) engines sold in the U.S. since 2009. To date the EPA has determined that 482,000 cars in the U.S. were affected, and almost 11 million vehicles worldwide. U.S. cars that were affected by the faulty emission standards include: the 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, 2009 to 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI, 2012 to 2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, 2013 to 2015 Volkswagen Beetle convertible TDI, 2010 to 2015 Audi A3 TDI, 2010 to 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI, 2012 to 2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI and 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI.

How did Volkswagen evade emissions standards?

Every car sold in the United States must pass rigorous environmental testing. In order for a car to pass the emissions standards in the U.S. the car’s nitrogen oxide emissions must not exceed .07 grams per mile. Emissions regulators test a car’s nitrogen oxide emissions levels by hooking the car up to a dynamometer, which is more or less like a treadmill for vehicles.

Volkswagen developed what is called a “defeat device” which is software that is embedded in the vehicle that senses when the car is being tested for emissions and simply adjusts the vehicle’s engine performance and emissions to pass the test. However, when the car is driven under normal conditions and not running the defeat device, the vehicle operates at up to 40 times more than the allowed emissions standards.

“Defeat devices” are not new to the EPA and the rules do not ban the use of wholesale defeat devices. A Defeat device is defined as an “”auxiliary emission control device (AECD) that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system under conditions which may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal vehicle operation and use.” US Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 86.1803.-01). The EPA can approve the use of defeat devices; however, the EPA has to know that they are being used. In the case of Volkswagen, they never told the EPA that their cars were using a defeat device to evade emissions testing.

What are Volkswagen’s next steps?

Volkswagen has already set aside approximately $7 billion to handle potential fines and recalls. However, the EPA has recently stated that fines could reach as high as $18 billion, almost $37,500 per recalled vehicle. In addition to paying EPA’s fines, Volkswagen will also have to recall all the affected vehicles and modify their emissions systems, likely drastically diminishing the vehicle’s driving dynamics and slashing the vehicle’s fuel economy. Volkswagen stated publicly that recalls are planned to begin in January 2016 and should be completed by the end of the year.

What lawsuits are currently being filed?

Class action lawsuits stemming from the emissions scandal have already begun to be filed. Causes of action vary but most are citing fraud, breach of contract, loss due to diminished value, false advertising, and violation of consumer protection laws. In Alabama, lawsuits have been filed against Volkswagen of America, Inc. by dealers and consumers alike. On September 23, 2015, buyers of the Volkswagen Jetta “clean diesel” brought a class action fraud suit in the Northern District of Alabama alleging that Volkswagen had fraudulently installed software in the car to turn off the emissions control system when not undergoing emissions testing. Then, on October 2, 2015, Serra Nissan/Oldsmobile Inc. brought an anticipatory suit alleging fraud against Volkswagen for causing them to unknowingly sell cars that did not comply with emissions standards.  On that same day a class action was filed in Northern District of Alabama alleging that Volkswagen fraudulently installed a “defeat device” in their clean diesel cars that only turns on the emissions control while the car is undergoing emissions testing. Another class action was filed in the Northern District alleging violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act for falsely marketing diesel cars as being “green” and environmentally friendly.

The law firm of Hollis Wright is not currently representing any individuals affected by the Volkswagen scandal. However, our law firm has extensive litigation experience in Motor Vehicle Accidents and Defective Vehicle and Components cases. If you or someone you know has been harmed in an automotive related accident please do not hesitate to contact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information and an evaluation.

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What are IVC filters and when are they used?

Intra Vena Cava (“IVC”) filters are small spider-like devices that are implanted in the veins of patients in the hope that the filters will stop blood clots from reaching the patient’s lungs and other vital organs. IVC filters are designed to capture blood clots that occasionally break free from the deep veins inside a patient’s body before the blood clots can reach the patient’s lungs and cause a decrease or a complete stoppage of blood flow to the patient’s lungs. However, hundreds of reports from across the nation indicate that the devices may fracture or break after implantation resulting in serious injuries and in some cases death.

IVC filters are usually implanted in patients who are at risk for having a sudden blockage of a major blood vessel, known as a pulmonary embolism, and are either unable to take anticoagulants or the patient has taken anticoagulants but they have failed to properly prevent the patient’s blood from clotting. The IVC filters are supposed to be a safe alternative which prevents blood clots from forming in a patient’s blood vessels. However, in April of 2015, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study comparing the treatment of patients presenting with an acute pulmonary embolism and a high risk of recurrence using a retrievable IVC filter plus anticoagulants versus using anticoagulants alone. The study revealed that “the use of a retrievable inferior vena cava filters plus anticoagulation compared with anticoagulation alone did not reduce the risk of symptomatic recurrent pulmonary embolism at 3 months.” Furthermore, the study suggested that patients with IVC filters may be twice as likely to suffer from a serious, and sometimes fatal, pulmonary embolism than patients who were prescribed anticoagulants alone. Therefore, the study suggests that IVC filters should not be used in cases where patients can be treated with anticoagulation.

Are you at risk?

At the center of the litigation is C.R. Bard Inc., (“Bard”) a manufacturer and marketer of medical technologies in the fields of vascular, urology, oncology, and surgical specialties. Bard marketed the Bard Recovery IVC Filter in 2003, but a couple of years later, in 2005, Bard removed the Bard Recovery IVC Filter from the market and replaced it with the new and improved Bard G2 IVC filter stating that the new filter included “enhanced fracture resistance.” However, since 2005, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has received hundreds of reports that both the Bard Recovery and the Bard G2 IVC filters have fractured and failed after they have been implanted in the patient. In some cases, the “legs” of the filters have broken or fractured, allowing the legs of the device to travel through the bloodstream and into other organs of the body. Other cases have found that the entire device has become dislodged and migrated intact through different parts of the patient’s body. These device failures have caused significant bodily injuries and complications to patients all across the country.

In 2010, the FDA issued a warning letter to doctors, notifying them of the potential dangers associated with retrievable IVC filters and that such devices should be removed as soon as the patient is no longer at risk for a pulmonary embolism. In 2014, the FDA issued another warning stating that patients are at increased risk the longer the IVC filters remain implanted. Then, in July 2015, the FDA issued a warning letter to C.R. Bard Inc. for misbranding a device that was used to remove the Recovery IVC Filter as well as quality system violations at Bard’s Arizona and New York facilities.

What is the current status of the IVC filter litigation?

As a result of the FDA’s multiple warnings, lawsuits have been filed across the country alleging that faulty IVC filters have caused severe harm and even in some cases death. Class action lawsuits have been filed in California and Pennsylvania alleging that C.R. Bard, Inc. and its subsidiaries are liable for negligence, failure to warn, design and manufacturing defects, breach of implied warranty and negligent misrepresentation. In October 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel overseeing Multidistrict Litigation consolidated lawsuits into Multidistrict Litigation No. 2570 in the Southern District of Indiana. However, additional cases are still pending in state and federal courts across the nation.

If you or a loved one has received a Bard Recovery IVC Filter, or a Bard G2 IVC Filter you should have your claim evaluated by a legal professional as soon as possible. Complex litigation against large pharmaceutical companies demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by a Bard IVC Filter or any other drug or medical devicecontact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information. All cases are handled under a contingency fee, which means there are no fees or expenses unless we obtain a recovery for you.

On Monday, August 28, 2015, a Geneva County jury awarded $3.8 million in damages to three people who were struck by a car driven by a “buzzed” driver. The accident occurred on October 15, 2013. Randell and Donna Heard were driving from Hazel Green, Alabama to Panama City Beach, Florida when 16-year old, Timothy Joel Thomas, ran a stop sign and crashed into their vehicle. The collision seriously injured Randell and Donna Heard as well as a 16-year passenger in Thomas’ vehicle.

During trial, Thomas testified that he may have consumed between one and three tallboys before getting in the vehicle and driving down the road. The evidence proved that Thomas’s blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was .059, which is well under the legal limit to charge Thomas with Driving under the Influence (“DUI”). In Alabama the legal limit of intoxication for a DUI depends on the person’s age. For anyone that is under the age of 21, such as Thomas, the legal limit for a DUI is having a blood alcohol content of .02% or higher. For anyone 21 years of age or older the legal limit is .08% or higher. Therefore, although Thomas did not face criminal charges for DUI, he still faced civil liability for the damages that he caused by driving buzzed. Generally, buzzed driving is classified as driving with a blood alcohol content between .01 to .07, and although technically you may be under the legal limit, driving while buzzed can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk.

In fact, the attorney’s representing the 16-year old passenger of Thomas’ car stated that “buzzed driving” played an integral part in the case. After deliberating for less than an hour and a half the jury found Thomas liable and returned a $3.8 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. Randell Heard received $850,000 in compensatory damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. Donna Heard received $450,000 in compensatory damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. The 16-year old passenger received $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. This case stands as a reminder that even though you may not feel intoxicated, if you are going to drink, drink responsibly, because under the law in Alabama if you drive buzzed you may be subject to civil liability.

Even though buzzed drivers can be subject to civil liability, it is not stopping drivers from having a few drinks and getting behind the wheel. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) did a study on drunk driving in Alabama. The study revealed that about one out of three traffic deaths in America involve a drunk driver. In Alabama specifically, from 2003 to 2012, 3,190 people were killed in car wrecks involving a drunk driver. Recently another study was conducted which showed that in 2014 there were 260 deaths that were the result of drunk driving accidents. Those 260 drunk driver fatalities account for 30.5% of the total traffic fatalities in the State of Alabama for 2014, which is an 8.3% increase from 2013. Drivers who are buzzed or over the legal limit are more likely to be the sole blame for fatal car crashes than sober drivers. A recent study, found that there is no dramatic change between buzzed driving and drunk driving. Meaning that as between a driver that is buzzed and driver that is over the legal limit there was no drastic change in drunkenness or no swift downturn in driving skills. This just goes to show that there is no safe combination of drinking and driving. At no time is it safe to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car. Buzzed driving can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. So if you are going to drink, drink responsibly. Call a taxi cab, have a designated sober driver, or just stay home.

The law firm of Hollis Wright is currently representing numerous victims who have been injured as the result of a drunk driver.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by a drunk driver, contact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information and evaluation. And remember, buzzed driving is still drunk driving.

In the past month, at least three new lawsuits have been filed over birth defects parents allege were caused by Zofran, the popular anti-nausea medication prescribed for off-label use during pregnancy by mothers.  This case, filed in California Superior Court on March 30, 2015, follows two others: one filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on February 12, and another in the District of Massachusetts on February 16.  Each case alleges congenital abnormalities, including heart defects, after the mothers were prescribed Zofran for nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy…a use not approved by the FDA when the drug was approved for market.

The court cases allege, among other things, that the maker of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, has received more than 200 reports of birth defects in children who were exposed to Zofran during early pregnancy.  Glaxo is also being accused of improperly marketing Zofran to treat pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, and one lawsuit even notes that Glaxo previously agreed to pay $3 billion to settle charges with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the marketing of a number of other medications.  This prior settlement with the U.S. government included allegations that Glaxo had improperly marketed Zofran to treat morning sickness…the very same claim now asserted by the plaintiffs.

Recent research by scientists with the University of Colorado, Stanford University, and London’s Royal Free Hospital reveled that when taken during pregnancy, Zofran does in fact cross the placenta to reach the developing fetus, and remains longer with the baby than the mother due to a longer half-life (i.e., the elimination rate of the drug in the body).  This was not the first study done regarding these issues.  A previously published study from the journal Clinical Pharmicokinetics, showed that samples taken from 41 women given Zofran prior to surgical pregnancy termination procedures revealed much higher concentrations of the drug within fetal tissues than was anticipated.

If you or a loved one has taken the drug Zofran during pregnancy, or have a child with a congenital abnormality, birth defect, or heart condition after taking the drug, you should have your claim evaluated by a legal professional as soon as possible.  Complex litigation against large pharmaceutical companies demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by taking Zofran or any other drug or medical devicecontact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information.

Big Pharma has taken it on the chin recently in several trials across the country, with juries awarding millions in damages to individuals who’s health and lives were ruined by defective drugs rushed to market with “reckless indifference” to the health and safety of patients.  Amid growing concerns over FDA oversight, and lack of transparency in the testing and studies for new drugs, two juries in the last 30 days in Philadelphia have awarded $2.5 million against Johnson & Johnson for claims associated with use of its long marketed Risperdal medication, while Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. was hit with $2.3 million in damages to a former teacher who developed bladder cancer after using the company’s diabetes drug, Actos.

The Takeda award amounted to $300,000 in compensatory damages for the plaintiff’s medical expenses, as well as an additional $2 million for pain and suffering related to his cancer diagnosis.  This is the not the first case where Takeda has been accused of, and found liable by a jury, of endangering the health and welfare of potential patients and users of its drugs.  On April 7, 2014, Takeda and Eli Lily where hit with a $9 billion jury verdict related to the same drug, Actos, for failure to disclose and warn of the drug’s potential to cause cancer.  On appeal, that award was cut to $36.8 million; however, this recent award is the fifth jury award against Takeda related to Actos.  Juries in California and Maryland have also awarded a combined $8.2 million against Takeda for its handling of the drugs.

Another Philadelphia jury ordered Risperdal drug manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, to pay $2.5 million to a 20-year old autistic man from Alabama who developed size 46 DD breasts as a young teenager due to his long time prescribed use the drug.  This condition, called gynecomastia, was never warned about the manufacturer, who now faces thousands more lawsuits in Philadelphia, California, Missouri, and other locations across the US.  Juries aren’t the only problem for J&J related to Risperdal however; in 2013, the company paid $2.2 billion to settle federal and state criminal and civil charges related to illegal marketing of the drug.  Gynecomastia is the growth or enlargement of male breast tissue. The psychological and social injuries can be devastating — especially when gynecomastia affects adolescent males. Many doctors recommend surgery to reduce breast tissue. In mild or moderate cases, liposuction may be an effective option. In severe cases, however, a surgical procedure called a mastectomy may be necessary to remove breast tissue and excess skin.

If you or a loved one has taken the drug Actos, you should be aware of the following symptoms potentially associated with bladder cancer: bloody urine, pain with urinating, increased urge to urinate, and unusual back pain.  Complex litigation against large pharmaceutical companies demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by taking Actos, Risperdal, or any other drug or medical devicecontact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information.


Civil law can generally be divided into two categories: substantive and procedural. Many substantive laws are commonly experienced and understood by the general public. For instance, the tort of negligence is present in everyday occurrences such as car wrecks, and breaches of contract can occur in virtually any type of business dealing. Procedural laws, on the other hand, are often much more mysterious to a layman, simply because they regard the actual nuts and bolts of how a lawsuit is administered by a court.

An example of procedural law exists in the distinction between state courts and federal courts. Most lawsuits are handled in state court, because the only way a federal court can hear a suit is if (1) the parties to the lawsuit are from different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, or (2) the case primarily involves an issue of federal jurisdiction, rather than state jurisdiction. Though this may sound basic enough, there can be much dispute. If the case is held in federal court, there may also be a dispute as to which state’s laws the court should apply.  This issue most commonly arises when the accident or injury happens in one state, but the lawsuit is filed in a different state because of where the plaintiff and/or defendant reside.

A federal court case in the Northern District of Alabama currently being handled by the law firm of Hollis Wright provides a nice illustration of the juggling act between substantive and procedural laws. In this case, the plaintiff, a resident of Alabama, is suing the manufacturers of a surgical robot for injuries he sustained while undergoing surgery in Tennessee. The defendants did not dispute that the case should be held in federal court; rather, they maintained that the federal court should apply Tennessee’s statute of limitations, which is only one year, over Alabama’s, which is two years. If the federal court employed Tennessee’s statute of limitations, the plaintiff would have been time-barred from bringing his suit.

According to Judge Madeline Haikala, “[a] federal court sitting in diversity [i.e., parties from different states where the dispute is for more than $75,000] applies the substantive law of the state in which the court sits, including the state’s choice-of-law rules.” Alabama’s choice of law rules say that the court should apply the substantive laws of the state where the injury occurred – in this case, the substantive law of the State of Tennessee.  Already, this is quite a confusing piece of law, and it illustrates the need for plaintiffs to hire experienced attorneys who can navigate the tricky legal road. However, still the question of whether Tennessee’s statute of limitations should be considered substantive or procedural needed to be addressed. The one-year statute of limitations came from the Tennessee Products Liability Act.

“By legal tradition, most statutes of limitation are deemed procedural rather than substantive.” However, the federal court cited some Alabama Supreme Court cases where statute of limitations were deemed substantive. These cases made a distinction between statutes that merely have a limitations period, and “statutes of creation,” which actually grant plaintiffs an entirely new “legal right” (claim) that was not previously available to them before the statute was enacted. According to the Alabama Supreme Court, a statute of creation contains “a statute of limitations [which] is so inextricably bound up in the statute creating the [new legal] right that it is deemed a portion of the substantive right itself.” The TPLA was enacted by the Tennessee legislature in 1978, however, product liability claims had been brought in Tennessee for many years before 1978. Accordingly, the federal court determined that the TPLA did not actually create any new legal right, thus, it could not be regarded as a substantive “statute of creation.”

Determining that the TPLA’s statute of limitations was procedural rather than substantive, the federal court determined that Alabama’s two-year statute of limitations was applicable. “[T]he law of the forum [the state where the federal court sits] . . . governs procedural matters.” The federal court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, finding that Tennessee’s substantive laws, and Alabama’s procedural laws would apply in the case.  This issue is currently being handled by Carter Clay, a partner with the law firm of Hollis Wright, and this victory secured the continuing viability of his clients’ claim against the defective product manufacturer.  This illustration stands for the greater point that a plaintiff should consult the services of an experienced law firm with the expertise to handle such complicated legal matters.

The law firm of Hollis Wright is currently representing numerous individuals who have been injured by defective medical devices.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by a defective medical device or product, contact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information and evaluation.


Additional contributors: Tyler Flores

On Monday, November 3, 2014, a Kalamazoo, Michigan-based orthopedic device manufacturer, Stryker Orthopedics and Howmedica Osteonics Corp., agreed to pay at least $1.43 billion to settle lawsuits pending around the United States.  The lawsuits were filed by thousands of patients who received two (2) different defective hip implants, which were recalled by Styker in 2012 due to corrosion and other various problems.  Defective hip litigation has seen several large settlements over the past few years, with John & Johnson agreeing to a $2.5 billion settlement just last year to settle some 8,000 lawsuits from patiets alleging that the company’s metal ball-and-socket hip implant caused them injury or had to be replaced or removed entirely.

The Styker settlement will include all pending state and federal claims, and will include plaintiffs from 39 different states.  The claims include corrosion which occurred in the patients’ bodies causing illness, as well as removing and replacing the implant with a new device, a procedure known as a revision.  According to attorneys who lead the settlement negotiations,   “[t]he settlement represents one of the largest medical device settlements with an unlimited compensation fund.”  Stryker expects to make most of the payments under the settlement by the end of 2015.

The law firm of Hollis Wright is currently representing numerous individuals who have been injured by these Stryker productsComplex litigation against large medical device manufacturers demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by a defective medical device or product, contact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information and evaluation.

While Halloween is a night of fun, the special circumstances surrounding trick-or-treating and parties mean a variety of opportunities to commit actionable negligence. Here are a few thoughts on protecting yourself from liability on Halloween:


  1. Don’t leave open candles anywhere outside. While your sidewalk may look great lined with real lanterns, this creates a foreseeable risk that someone could accidentally knock them over or that a child’s costume could catch fire.


  1. Keep pets inside. Even if your dog is normally well-behaved, strangers, Halloween costumes, and props can cause your dog to get scared or territorial and lead to a dog bite incident. Especially if your dog has had a history of biting (even one time), a dog bite could expose you to liability.


  1. Beware of the “pop-out and scare.” Many homeowners like to add to the atmosphere of Halloween by dressing up as a monster and popping out from the side of a porch or from behind trees or bushes to scare trick-or-treaters. If you choose to engage in this fun, ensure that the “scare zone” is away from stairs or any other tripping hazard.


  1. Be watchful of your child’s costume props. If your kid’s costume comes with pointed or sharp props—think swords, bow-and-arrows, etc.—consider buying plush or softer props or only using the props at home for pictures. If your child accidentally harms another child with a toy sword, you could be held liable for negligent entrustment or negligent supervision.


  1. Label candy with allergens. If you are giving out candy with peanuts, be sure to either label the candy or tell parents of trick-or-treaters.


  1. Provide a safe terrain. Ensure that the walking areas leading up to your front door are safe. Fix loose boards or uneven areas of concrete, and remove roots that trick-or-treaters could trip over. If you don’t afford to fix these issues before Halloween, make sure the area is well-lit.


  1. Avoid social host liability. If you host a party on Halloween night, you run the risk of being held liable as a social host if one of your guests, after leaving your party, drives drunkenly and injures someone. A “Bring Your Own Beer” policy may not shield you from liability. As safe alternatives, offer to call taxis for intoxicated guests or provide a place for intoxicated guests to sleep.

Have you been injured while driving or riding in a GM manufactured vehicle? As of August 2014, GM has set up a settlement program to compensate persons injured in several recalled cars. The problem noted in the recall is an ignition defect which cuts power to the airbags, power steering, and brakes. In these cases, the ignition switch moves out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. These issues can cause an accident or make an accident far worse. As of September 22, 2014, the official death toll from the ignition defect stands at twenty-one (21). 143 alleged death claims have been filed, out of 675 total filed claims.

The affected models include:



Chevrolet Oldsmobile Pontiac




CTS(2003-2014) Camaro(2010-2014) Alero(1999-2004) G5(2007-2010)





Deville(2000-2005) Cobalt(2005-2010) Intrigue(1998-2002) Grand Am(1999-2005)






Grand Prix









Monte Carlo (2000-2007)


If you were injured while driving or riding in one of these vehicles, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The compensation expert hired by GM to manage the recall settlement has stated that GM will only accept claims until December 31, 2014. The settlement manager has also stated that GM has not placed a cap on the payments, so anyone with an eligible claim has an opportunity to recover damages. Those with an eligible death claim will automatically receive $1 million in addition to the awarded amount.

Eligible claims must meet the following criteria:

  • The injured party must have been a driver of or passenger in one of the car models (and years) listed above;
  • There must be a physical, personal injury—GM is not compensating for property damage;
  • The airbags must not have deployed—if the airbags deployed, then this ignition defect was not the cause of the accident.

Finally, the compensation program will not consider driver negligence in determining eligibility for a settlement award.  The law firm of Hollis Wright is currently representing numerous clients with potential GM claims.  Complex litigation against large pharmaceutical companies demands specialized legal experience.  If you or a loved one believe you have been harmed by a transvaginal mesh device, contact the firm of Hollis Wright for more information and evaluation.


Additional authors: Alison Almeida