Recently in wrongful death Category

February 20, 2013

Toddler Deaths Prompt Million Dollar Baby to Recall Dressers

dresser.jpgYoung children love to climb. They can climb onto anything, including tables, bookcases, chest of drawers, TV stands, and open oven doors. They can climb quickly, when you turn your back, when you run to the bathroom, when you put them in their room for a nap.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that at least one child dies every 2 weeks as a result of suffocating while trapped under a piece of furniture that has turned over on to them. In addition, CPSC staff estimates that more than 22,000 children 8 years old and younger were treated for injuries at local hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from tip-over incidents between 2008 to 2010.These are tragic and unnecessary deaths. Parents understandably feel responsible and guilty after something like this happens. But how is a parent supposed to know about this danger?

The reality is that most parents do not know about the potential danger posed by these innocuous pieces of furniture, but the manufacturers of these products know only too well about the lurking dangers. Children have been dying and parents have been suing these manufacturers for this very problem for over a decade.To sell these products without the necessary safety equipment to make them safe for children is incredibly callous and unconscionable because these manufacturers know that if it is not "if" these tragedies are going to happen, but "when" and "how often."

This week, Bexco Enterprises Inc., dba Million Dollar Baby of Montebello, Calif. is announcing a voluntary recall of 18,000 children's four-drawer dressers. The CPSC and Million Dollar Baby have received two reports of deaths associated with these dressers. One child's parents filed a lawsuit in California as a result of their child's death. That case recently settled, and it is suspected that the voluntary recall is one of the terms of the settlement.

This dresser recall involves "Emily" style four-drawer dressers with model numbers M4712, M4722, M4732 and M4742 and similar "Ryan" dressers with the model M4733. The recalled dresser measures 33-inches high by 20-inches deep by 40-inches wide and is a part of the DaVinci children's bedroom furniture collection.

The recalled dressers were sold at JCPenney and independent juvenile specialty stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, BabiesRUs.com, BabyUniverse.com and other online retailers from January 2006 through June 2010 for around $300.

While the Million Dollar Baby dressers met voluntary safety standards when first produced, a May 2009 voluntary industry standard, and subsequent revisions published in October 2009 and November 2009, required that tip-over restraints be sold with the dressers. The restraints attach to the wall with screws, framing or other support to help prevent dresser tip-over entrapment hazards for small kids. Million Dollar Baby is offering free retrofit kits with tip-over restraints to consumers who have older dressers.

Consumers can contact Million Dollar Baby to receive a free retrofit kit that contains a wall anchor strap, which attaches to the dresser and wall to help prevent the dresser from tipping. The kits can be ordered by visiting the firm's website at www.themdbfamily.com/safety2 and click on Safety HQ or call toll-free at (888) 673-6652 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

January 7, 2011

Texting While Driving Claims Another North Carolina Teen's Life

chocowinity-teen-killed-in-accident.jpgAnother North Carolina teenager has tragically died as a result of texting while driving. WITN news just reported that yesterday afternoon at 3:42pm, Sarah Edwards appears to have glanced down at her cell phone to read a text message. That distraction caused her Honda Accord to drift across the yellow line into the on-coming lane where it struck the rear tandems of a tractor-trailer logging truck. She died instantly. The collision occurred on Chandler Road in Beaufort County. Her cell phone records show that she read a text message one minute before the first of several 911 calls were placed reporting the collision.

Ms. Edwards, 18 of Chocowinity, was a senior at Southside High School in Washington. Her funeral is this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pamlico Memorial Gardens in Washington.

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December 8, 2010

Chewing Tobacco Lawsuit Nets $5 Million In 1st Ever Settlement

Big Tobacco recently paid $5 Million to settle a wrongful death claim to the Estate of Bobby Hill. A resident of Canton, North Carolina, Hill died from mouth cancer in 2003 at the young age of 42. He had been dipping since age 13. Altria makes and sells Skoal and Copenhagen. This is the first settlement of its kind in the smokeless tobacco arena.

Many familiar with the cigarette litigation say that this settlement will cause plaintiff's lawyers to start filing more cases against the smokeless tobacco giant. Hill dipped tobacco made and sold by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co -- which Altria acquired in 2009. The deal was struck before the acquisition. A spokesperson for Altria says this was a special situation, honoring the prior deal, and the tobacco giant does not plan to settle any other pending cases.

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November 28, 2010

Car Strikes And Kills Female Cyclist In Asheville

bike crash.jpgFriday evening, around 6:30pm, a car driven by Patricia Harvey, 48, struck a bicyclist from behind causing a tragic crash on Piney Mountain Drive off of Chungs Cove Road in east Asheville. Police have indicated that the cyclist, Tami Rene Leaven, 35, died at the scene from massive head injuries.

Police say that Leaven did not have any lights on her bike, although the law does not require a bicyclist to have a light on the rear of a bicycle - only a reflector that can be seen from 200 feet behind. Most bicycles are sold with a reflector that satisfies state law in this regard. Police have not said whether the bike ridden by Leaven had the required reflector. A police spokesperson said that the area where the collision happened on Piney Mountain Drive was a dark section of road and not well lit.

In North Carolina, the law requires motorists to see what can be seen and to keep a proper lookout. It is unclear at this time whether Leaven was visible to motorists approaching from behind or not. If the bicycle she was riding did not have the required reflector, then Harvey may not have seen her in time to avoid the collision. If the bike did have a reflector visible from the rear, then the question will be 'why did Harvey fail to see it?' These are questions the District Attorney's Office must grapple with, and the DA will have to decide whether the facts justify bringing criminal charges against Harvey.

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November 14, 2010

Robbinsville Pit Bull Attack - Who's Responsible? Dogs, Owner or Town?

pit-bull-attack1.jpgPeople are rarely attacked by vicious dogs, but when those attacks happen to young children or the elderly they can be deadly. Particular breeds, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas and German shepherds are publicized as being more aggressive and dangerous than other breeds. While that is probably true, there is no question that pit bulls have been bred to be aggressive and strong.

A two year old Robbinsville boy remains in critical condition after being attacked and mauled by as many as 6 pit bulls that lived at the child's grandmother's home. The Asheville Citizen Times reported that the incident took place around 3:15pm last Saturday at a house on North Main Street across from the Robbinsville Elementary School. Neighbors and teachers at the school reported having seen the dogs running lose in town.

Someone at the school had complained to Town officials recently when he saw the dogs running down the sidewalk after a couple of kids on bikes. In the rural town, no leash law existed to prohibit a dog owner from allowing their dog to run loose. Approximately one week prior to the attack, the Robbinsville Town Council had considered passing a leash law but failed to do so. The mayor pro tem, Bobby Smith, admitted to feeling guilty that they did not already have such a law. A simple leash law might have prevented this tragedy.

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November 6, 2010

War Hero Dies After Being Hit By Asheville Bus

Asheville Bus Hit Pedestrian.jpgAfter traveling all over the world and serving his country in three wars, David Stroupe, 86 of Leicester, died Friday while still being treated for injuries he received after being struck by an Asheville Transit Authority bus. The bus collided with Stroupe in the Westgate parking lot outside of Earth Fare.

An eyewitness, Karess Walker, of Asheville told authorities that Stroupe "was just coming out of the corner and he just stopped in the middle of the road." From her view, Walker felt that Stroupe "must have assumed the bus was going to stop. But it kept on going, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, please don't hit the man.' I thought he was going to stop right before it got to the man. But he just ran him right over."

Stroupe suffered a head injury and a foot injury in the incident. When the bus finally stopped, it landed on Stroupe's foot. EMS transported Stroupe to Memorial Mission for emergency treatment.

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October 14, 2010

Safety Violations Caused Young Mother's Death in Pitt County Flatbed Trailer Crash

trailer safety violation.jpgEarly Tuesday afternoon, John David Ross, 29, of 2909 Royce Lane, near Winterville, drove his roofing crew toward a job site on northbound NC Highway 43. Behind Ross' Chevrolet pick-up truck was a home-made flatbed trailer loaded with shingles and other roofing materials. The investigating State Trooper said that the trailer lacked proper safety devices required by state law, such as a properly sized hitch pin and safety chains connecting the trailer to the truck.

As Ross' truck and trailer crested a short hill, the trailer suddenly detached from the truck and veered into the oncoming lane. Tragically, Lisa Langemann, 27, of 2005 Wallace Lane and her two young daughters were headed southbound in their SUV on NC Highway 43 at the same time. Langemann must have seen the trailer coming because witnesses say the SUV swerved to the right to try and avoid the collision, but the out of control trailer struck the SUV head-on. After the sudden impact, the SUV hit a ditch and flipped over.

Langemann died at the scene. Her 8 year old daughter is listed in serious condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital, and her one month old daughter was treated and released. Her family is devastated by her loss. Langemann was a second grade teacher at Bethel Elementary School in Pitt County. She was in her third year of teaching at the school. The teachers, administrators and students were shocked when they learned of the wreck.

Langemann's family could pursue a wrongful death claim against Ross and his roofing company. Given the type of safety violations that caused this crash, pursuing such a case could help provide for the care and upbringing of her two young children. While financial compensation could never bring back this wonderful teacher and mother, it might make a difference in her childrens' lives. While Ross certainly feels terrible about what happened, he is still legally responsible for the outcome.

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October 6, 2010

Mandy Kirkconnell - A Tragic Loss For The Asheville Community

manie kirkconnell.jpgLast Saturday morning, shortly before 3a.m., an intoxicated Jennifer N. Kessler, of Arden, drove her vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 240 in Asheville. As Kessler neared the Brevard Road exit, her vehicle collided head-on into a vehicle operated by Mandie Kirkconnell, 29, of Asheville. Kessler suffered serious injuries, but Ms. Kirkconnell died at the scene. This is the second wrong way collision in Asheville this year.

As a result, authorities have charged Kessler with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger. She faces prison time for what she did.

Kirkconnell was a remarkable woman who positively touched every person with whom she came in contact. A devout Christian and a talented musician with an incredible voice, Ms. Kirkconnell was very active in her church at King of Glory Christian Church in Swannanoa as well as at many other churches in the Asheville area, including Relate Church and the Melchizadek House of Prayer.

Kirkconnell's friends say that in light of her strong faith and belief in the healing power of the love of Christ, she would want everyone to forgive Kessler for her horrible mistake in judgment. A tall order for even those with a strong faith. Those who knew her were clearly blessed if but for the short time she was here.

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September 26, 2010

Former Crew Chief Kohuth Cops Plea Deal

Nascar crew chief.jpgFormer Nascar Ultra Motorsports pit crew chief, Timothy Kohuth, 49, pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Murder last week in Iredell County Superior Court. As a result, he will spend at least the next 9 years in jail. The maximum he could serve is 12 years. The plea deal arises out of the fatal crash Kohuth caused in 2008.

On July 31, 2008, Kohuth drank to the point he was severely intoxicated and then drove a rollback wrecker on Brawley School Road, crossed the center line, and then collided with a vehicle driven by Wesley Worden. The head-on impact killed Mr. Worden instantly and severely injured his wife, Gail.

At the plea deal hearing in court, District Attorney Sarah Kirkman said, "Witnesses said he got out of the truck and a 24-ounce beer fell out of his lap." After the crash, EMS took Kohuth to the hospital, but he refused to take either a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in his blood. State Troopers sought and obtained a search warrant and forced Kohuth to submit to a blood test. Approximately six hours after the fatal crash and after receiving a substantial amount of IV fluids, the test showed Kohuth's blood alcohol level to be .08, the legal limit in North Carolina.

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August 27, 2010

North Carolina Tractor-Trailer Driver Faces Lengthy Sentence For U-Turn

NC Truck Driver U-turn.jpgA North Carolina tractor-trailer driver is in jail in Jefferson County Wisconsin for making an illegal u-turn that caused a motorcyclist to crash into the side of the big rig and die.

Jeremy M. Pearce, 39 of Henderson, N.C., was charged with homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle following the crash he caused on Highway 16 near Hustisford Road in the town of Ixonia on August 16, 2010 at 1:10p.m. Pearce originally denied to investigators that he was trying to make a u-turn and claimed he was only trying to make a left hand turn on Hustisford Road, but investigators felt a u-turn was in progress given the location of the tractor trailer after the crash - it was parked across Highway 16.

When investigators interviewed Pearce a second time, he admitted that he was making a u-turn at the time of the deadly collision. He also acknowledged that it was against the rules of his truck company to make such a maneuver.

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August 16, 2010

Fatal Crash On NC Highway 43 Near New Bern Blamed On Hydroplaning

dump truck wreck.jpgLast Friday afternoon just after 4 pm, a 2004 Nissan Maxima driven by Temikia Gooding, 23, of Kinston, hydroplaned on a rain slick highway near New Bern, crossed the center-line, rotated counter-clockwise, and was struck by a large dump truck driven by Charles White, 49, of New Bern.

The front of the dump truck impacted the Maxima on the passenger's side of the vehicle. The driver of the Maxima and her passenger, Alsheen Wooten, 27, of Vanceboro, were killed in the crash. The truck driver reported that the Maxima suddenly crossed into his lane of travel, and that he did not have time to avoid the collision.

The Maxima was traveling north on NC Highway 43, and the dump truck was traveling south.The investigating North Carolina State Trooper concluded that the driver of the Maxima was driving too fast for the rainy conditions. The investigating Trooper indicated that no charges would be filed against the driver of the dump truck. Knowing what to do if your vehicle hydroplanes is critical for safe driving on wet roads.

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July 31, 2010

Laura Fortenberry's Death Should Lead Lawmakers To Change North Carolina Law

Laura Fortenberry.jpgThe recent death of a Gaston County teenager, Laura Fortenberry, age 17, should lead North Carolina lawmakers to change the current law regarding how long a convicted drunk driver must wear an ankle alcohol monitoring bracelet.

Last Sunday night, on the Dallas-Cherryville Highway around 9 p.m., a habitual drunk driver, Howard Pasour, 28, of Bessemer City, tried passing several vehicles on the two lane road. While making the passing maneuver, the drunk driver crashed head-on into the vehicle in which Ms. Fortenberry was riding as a passenger. Ms. Fortenberry was killed in the crash.

The drunk driver has three previous convictions for drunk driving. His last conviction for DWI was last year in 2009. When he got his driver's license back this time in November, 2009, a judge ordered that he wear a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet so that authorities could keep track of his whereabouts and make sure that he was not driving drunk. So where was the monitoring bracelet?

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July 26, 2010

Truck Strikes Motorcycle Near Rockingham, North Carolina on US 220

motorcycle crash near rockingham.jpgOn Saturday afternoon, a pick-up truck driver failed to see an oncoming motorcycle before making a left hand turn and caused a severe collision. The pick-up truck driver, Doris Collins, 70, of Nicole Lane, in Rockingham, North Carolina was headed southbound on U.S. Highway 220 in Richmond County just before the crash.

A motorcycle driven by Doug Franklin, 35, of Greenfield Road, in Hamlet, North Carolina was headed northbound on U.S. 220. Also on the motorcycle was a young juvenile passenger.


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The northbound motorcycle had the right of way, but the southbound truck crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the motorcycle.

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July 21, 2010

Winston-Salem Jury Awards $6 Million Against Sports Bar & Drunk Driver

tanker explosion.jpgA wrongful death claim brought by a Forsyth County, North Carolina widow on behalf of her deceased husband recently resulted in a $6,000,000 jury verdict. The case is Roadway Express and Constance Sue Horn, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Mark Joseph Horn v. Mickey Joe Hayes and The Inzone, Inc.

In the early morning hours of March 7, 2004, Mark Horn drove his Roadway Express tractor trailer northbound on US Highway 52. At the same time, defendant Mickey Hayes, who had been drinking at The Inzone sports bar for several hours prior to entering the highway, was racing another vehicle headed northbound on US Highway 52. Witnesses reported observing the racing cars traveling at speeds over 100 miles per hour. As defendant Hayes came up behind Mr. Horn's tractor trailer, he attempted to pass him in the emergency lane on the right hand side of the highway.

As defendant Hayes got along side of the tractor trailer, both vehicles were approaching a bridge, and defendant Hayes veered in front and cut the tractor trailer off at the last minute. Mr. Horn swerved and crashed through the bridge, and his tractor trailer exploded and burst into flames as it impacted the roadway below the bridge. Mr. Horn died in the crash.

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July 10, 2010

Four Witnesses Watched Trucker Hit Cary Motorcyclist on I-85

Cary Motorcyclist.jpgThe North Carolina State Highway Patrol reported that four (4) separate witnesses called them about the horrendous crash caused by tractor-trailer driver Michael Gray Rigsbee, 38, of Creedmore. Rigsbee struck a motorcycle ridden by Sean Christopher Newman, 38, of Cary near mile marker 220 in Henderson, North Carolina. The collision sent Newman into the median. Newman was thrown from his motorcycle, and authorities say he was killed instantly.

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