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Personal Injury Law – The Ridiculous and the Serious

April 16, 2015 by The Parrish Law Firm

Many times when a person hears “Personal Injury Attorney,” it conjures up images of men chasing ambulances or contacting potential victims at inopportune times in the pursuit of a trivial and ridiculous lawsuit. These images are in the forefront of people’s minds in part because of the way this profession is portrayed on television and in the movies.

However, there are many scenarios in real life as well, where individuals seek compensation for ridiculous claims and there even times that they can actually find an attorney to represent them!

We have found a few ridiculous suits that have been filed and they are detailed in the first portion below.

Following the “Ridiculous” portion, are real and serious cases that demonstrate what being a Personal Injury Attorney (or victim’s advocate) represents. There are many respectable people who are unjustly hurt and need help from victim’s lawyers. Compensation will never be enough to make up for many of the injuries that some receive; however, compensation (or, money) is the only measure that our legal system has available to help these folks. The funds from an injury case provide relief to the injured and their families from mounting bills from rehabilitation, lost jobs and other medical costs.

Compensation is important for these reasons and more.

The Ridiculous

Don’t shake and drive

A man stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru, and when he attempted to reach for a few French fries while driving, the milkshake that he’d placed between his knees exploded all over his lap. Distracted, he collided with another car. The driver, who had ordered the McDonald’s shake, blamed McDonald’s for his minor injuries. His claim was that the restaurant didn’t have a specific warning on the label regarding the dangers of eating and driving. The case went all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court before being thrown out.


In 2007, Leroy Greer sued 1-800-Flowers for $1.5 million. Why? The company had unintentionally revealed to his wife that he was cheating on her. The flower company mailed a thank-you note to Greer’s home for flowers that he’d purchased for his mistress.

Woman Allowed to Sue Herself for Causing Husband’s Death

A Utah court of appeals granted a woman permission to bring a wrongful death and survival action against the driver whose negligence contributed to her husband’s death. Because she was the driver in the accident that killed her husband, Barbara Bagley is suing herself, acting in different capacities contemporaneously as the plaintiff and defendant.

She states that she was forced to use the unusual legal approach because the insurance company refused to pay her claim.

The district court dismissed the lawsuit, reading the statutory language to exclude a tortfeasor from seeking recovery for herself. The court of appeals however, ruled that the language did not restrict Bagley from suing herself, and reversed the district court’s ruling.

Defendant Bagley’s attorneys, who were provided by the insurance company, argued that the reading of the statute to allow for her to file an action against herself, was “’contrary to…basic notions of fairness and decency’ and contrary to public policy.” The court of appeals flatly rejected the argument because the defendant did not define the public policy nor cite to any Utah policy regarding the notions of fairness and decency, but instead only cited to cases outside of the state.

The Serious

Dana Carvey from Saturday Night Live – Dr. Bypasses Wrong Artery

In 2001, USA Today reported on the case brought by Saturday Night Live alumni, Dana Carvey for medical malpractice. Approximately two months after undergoing a double bypass operation that was supposed to save his life, Mr. Carvey was informed that his surgeon had bypassed one of the wrong arteries. The surgeon, who performed the surgery, stated that it had been an honest mistake and it occurred because of the unusual positioning of the artery in his heart. Dana Carvey, subsequently filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the surgeon and the hospital.

Doctors Perform Heart Surgery on Wrong Patient

It would be quite easy for most readers to dismiss this case as an anomaly; unbelievably it isn’t!– The case in this paragraph, as well as the one below, happened in the same hospital located in Rhode Island! A 67 year old woman, who was given the aka of Joan Morris, was admitted to a teaching hospital to have a cerebral angiography performed. After the procedure was completed, Ms. Morris was returned to a hospital room on a different floor than her original room. Instead of being discharged as was planned the next morning, she was whisked away to have an open heart procedure performed. After being on the operating table for over an hour, a doctor from a different department called and asked what they were doing with his patient. Once the mistake was realized, the procedure was canceled, and Ms. Morris was returned to her room in stable condition. The potential consequences of the extra surgery performed included significantly increased risks of heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding and infections.

Surgeon Drills Hole on Wrong Side of Head

Surgeons at the same Rhode Island Hospital discussed in the previous case, performed surgery on the wrong side of a patient’s head, for the third time in a calendar year. In 2007, an 82 year-old patient required an operation to stem the flow of bleeding from her brain to her skull. The procedure started off incorrectly with the surgeon drilling a hole on the wrong side of the patient’s skull. This action occurred despite the fact that a CAT scan was performed only moments before the surgery – indicating that the bleeding was occurring on the left side of the brain. The mistake was caught early in the operation; the surgeon closed the initial hole; and then proceeded to drill the hole on the correct side of the patient’s head. Although the patient survived the surgery in fair condition, two other similar incidents had occurred within the same year with one resulting in the death of an 86 year-old man.

Doctors Ignore Patient Symptoms Resulting in Death

Although the mistakes previously described are horrific enough to make any of us cringe, there are instances where a patient is unable to even be seen by a doctor before succumbing to their illnesses. One of the most well-known of this type of case is that of Esmin Green. Ms. Green visited the emergency room of Kings County Hospital, located in Brooklyn, New York. On that day in June of 2008, Ms. Green waited almost twenty-four hours to be attended to by a physician. Eventually, she collapsed on the floor of the emergency room. Others patients in the emergency room reported that employees of the hospital watched the patient lashing about on the floor, but they did nothing to intervene or alleviate the patient’s distress. Subsequently, Ms. Green died on the floor of the emergency room.

Man Remains Conscious During an Exploratory Surgery

Sherman Sizemore, a 73 year-old Baptist minister from West Virginia was scheduled for surgery to explore the cause of his abdominal pain. During the surgery, Mr. Sizemore experienced a rare condition known as anesthetic awareness. Essentially, he was able to feel all of the pain, discomfort, and pressure during the surgery. The anesthesiologists present during the surgery did not give Mr. Sizemore the general anesthetic that would have rendered him unconscious until 16 minutes after the surgery began. Family members state that the trauma of this experience led the minister to kill himself two weeks after the surgery.

Surgeons Forget Their Tools Inside Patient

Donald Church, 49, was scheduled in 2000 for surgery to have an abdominal tumor removed. The tumor was successfully removed; however a 13-inch long metal retractor was accidentally left inside of him. This was not the first time that such an “accident” had occurred in the hospital. Four other documented similar incidences had occurred at the hospital between the years of 1997 and 2000. The retractor was removed shortly after its discovery, and Mr. Church did not suffer long term health effects from the mistake. A settlement was reached between the two parties for the amount of $97,000.

Wrong Leg Amputated

Mr. Willie King was admitted to University Community Hospital in 1995 in Tampa, Florida to have his leg amputated. During his surgery, the wrong leg was amputated. The attending surgeon was fined $10,000, and his medical license was revoked for six months. The hospital paid Mr. King $900,000, and the surgeon personally paid him another $250,000.

Functioning Kidney Removed

Surgeons at the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, removed the wrong kidney from a patient during surgery. The patient was scheduled to have one kidney removed, because it was believed that the kidney had a cancerous tumor. The discovery of this horrific mistake was discovered when the pathologist on call at the hospital examined the removed kidney and found no evidence of cancer. Fortunately for the patient, the suspect kidney remained intact and functioning. Per the family’s request, no more details were released about the incident.

Testicular Cancer Risk Treatment Gone Wrong

Mr. Benjamin Houghton a forty-seven year-old patient, who had been complaining of pain and shrinkage in his left testicle presented himself for treatment. Due to concerns about the risk of cancer, the decision was made for surgeons at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center to remove it. During the procedure, his healthy, right testicle was accidentally removed. It was revealed that a chain of errors, from the patient consent form to failure of the medical staff to properly mark the correct surgical site were the cause of this mistake. Mr. Houghton and his wife, consequently, filed a $200,000 lawsuit against the hospital and the surgeons involved.

Man Dies from Ingestion of Ketchup Packets

A 36 year-old man from Arizona, who had received a traumatic brain injury and was kept alive on a life support system also experienced nightmare-like treatment during his hospitalization. His devoted wife kept him on life support when the doctors told her his case was hopeless. He eventually regained consciousness and was eventually able to speak again. Every week, on her days off, she would bring him home with her. One day when she was scheduled to bring him home, she received a call from her husband’s assisted living facility, informing her that he was vomiting. She went to pick him up and shortly upon arriving home, her husband died in her arms. His autopsy, showed that a number of foreign objects were found in his stomach and his bowels. He had ingested unopened ketchup packets, plastic bags and paper towels. These items were determined to be one of the contributing causes to his death. In the subsequent lawsuit, the jury returned an $11 million verdict against the assisted living facility.

Ask yourself the next time you hear the title of Personal Injury Attorney: “Would I not want help if I had suffered as those above had?” Chances are that you answered “yes” to this question and you would welcome the help a Personal Injury Attorney can provide! The job of the Personal Injury Attorney is a necessary and important one.

The Parrish Law Firm Personal Injury Attorney works with Northern Virginia citizens who have suffered from vehicle accidents of all types, as well as other causes of injuries, are looking for fair compensation for their damages. Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call us at 703-906-4229.

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A representative of the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC researched and wrote this article with Mr. Parrish’s consent. If you have any questions regarding the legal implications of what you have just read, please send us your question by clicking here so we can have our attorney review it.

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