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Miranda Miller
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End-of-the-month news roundup

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A California woman has filed a malpractice suit against her personal injury lawyer for allegedly failing to explore all avenues of legal recourse after her February 2011 car accident. Now that the statute of limitations has run out, it’s too late to sue the state of California for not maintaining the flooded highway where the collision occurred. The defendant’s lawyer disputes that the state could have been held liable.

The plaintiff may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, but her personal injury firm, who promises, “We’ll fight for you,” in its commercials, settled with the other driver’s insurance company for $15,000. The lawsuit states that a paralegal, an assistant, and a negotiator handled her case. “At no time during the entire representation…did a single attorney perform any work or legal investigation,” it says.

Last week, a judge greenlighted another California woman’s case against Medtronics. The FDA approved the medical device maker’s Infuse bone graft for use in the lower spine and in some dental procedures, but the company promoted it for off-label uses. According to the judge’s ruling, the plaintiff submitted evidence proving that Medtronic violated federal law and FDA regulations by paying consultants to train doctors – including her own – to use Infuse for these off-label uses.

“Medtronic argued that the lawsuit should have been summarily tossed due to preemption, which is the legal notion that FDA approval of a device supercedes state law claims challenging safety, efficacy, or labeling,” according to Pharmalot writer Ed Silverman.

Preemption does not apply, however, when a company markets its product for non-approved surgeries.

A Pennsylvania woman has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of her husband, a construction worker. Benjamin Alvarez lost his balance and fell 11 feet, where he struck his head on concrete blocks, because the reciprocating saw he was using broke into pieces. He suffered injuries to the head, neck, and spinal cord and died days later from cardiac arrest.

His widow is suing the pawn shop that sold the saw, the owners of the construction site, and the construction companies. OSHA has cited both contractors for safety violations in the past, including failure to provide fall protection measures, yet “Alvarez was not provided with a safety belt, body harness, body belt, lifeline, guardrails, safety net or other form of personal fall arrest system,” according to the Pennsylvania Record.

And, lastly, an Alabama police officer currently faces four civil rights lawsuits. Yesterday, Reason.com blogger Mike Riggs wrote about one incident that took place at an October 2011 high school football game.

Apparently, 75-year-old Dudley Benson asked his friend, Kathy Sanford, to photograph his grandson’s last football game at the school. As Sanford snapped pics from the sidelines, Officer Lowell Adam Hadder approached her and threatened to take her to jail if she didn’t return to her seat.

Sanford rejoined Benson in tears.

When Benson pursued the officer to ask why she wasn’t allowed to take pictures from the sidelines, Hadder ejected the man, who was recovering from broken ribs and shoulder surgery. Outside the gate, Benson told the officer that Sanford suffered “physical and emotional issues” due to a car accident. More specifically, Sanford suffered a brain injury and walks with a cane.

When Hadder returned to the game, he saw her taking pictures from her seat. Allegedly concerned that she may be taking his picture, he ejected her, too. In the parking lot, he grabbed the 90-pound woman’s arm, forced her to the ground, and handcuffed her for criminal trespass.

At her trial this spring, the officer confirmed that this is what happened. Sanford was found not guilty.