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Georgia Personal Injury Law Blog

Tainted peanut butter may give rise to defective products claims

On Aug. 20, the U.S. Department of Justice began contacting victims sickened by peanut butter packaged at a Georgia plant in preparation for possible criminal charges. According to the manufacturer of the peanut butter, ConAgra, the DOJ is pursuing a case against them under the Crime Victims' Rights Act for their part in an outbreak of salmonella poisoning attributed to their products.

The 2006-07 incident at the heart of this investigation occurred largely in Tennessee after several people came down with Salmonella infections after eating contaminated peanut butter labeled as Peter Pan and Great Value products.

Georgia lawsuit filed over service members' missing vehicles

When military families relocate, as they often do multiple times, it's essential that their privately-owned vehicles make it to their new location. However, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Georgia, too often they are not getting there on time or cannot be located at all. The suit was filed against the company recently contracted by the Department of Defense to transfer service members' POVs when they move to or from their assignments overseas.

In fact, according to an Aug. 19 email from a senior Army official, approximately 70 percent of vehicles shipped by the Georgia-based company International Auto Logistics have not arrived as scheduled. Both the U.S. Transportation Command, also known as TRANSCOM, and the Army's Surface Deployment and Distribution Command have search teams working around the world trying to locate POVs that did not arrive at their designated location.

Georgia businesses selling liquor may be liable for DUI crashes

When people are injured or killed in a car accident as the result of a drunk driver, we all know that the person who was under the influence is often held responsible both criminally and civilly. As we note on our website, loved ones may be entitled to uncapped punitive damages. However, responsibility may actually go beyond the driver.

Georgia has what are called dram shop liability laws. Under these laws, businesses that sell or serve liquor may also be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death. This includes restaurants, bars, nightclubs, liquor stores, gas stations and anywhere where a person can obtain alcohol.

Keeping defective products away from our children

During the course of our sons' and daughters' childhoods, we will buy them thousands of products -- including toys, clothes, furniture and car seats, just to name a few. We assume that the manufacturers of those products make safety a top priority. However, millions of products used by and around children are recalled every year due to safety issues.

According to the website Safekids.org, the top seven recalls currently include everything from storage chests to pacifier holding clips to lamps to car seats. Graco, which makes child safety seats and restraints, has three items on the list.

Feds go after Georgia hospital in False Claims Act lawsuit

On Aug. 8, the federal government filed a lawsuit against a Savannah, Georgia, hospital for its role in an allegedly fraudulent scheme to collect Medicare reimbursements based on referrals from doctors. According to the lawsuit filed in the U. S. District Court at Savannah, the leadership at Memorial Health Inc. recognized that their hospitals revenues were dwindling in 2007. Allegedly, the acting chief executive officer at the time recruited a trio of doctors and paid them higher than average salaries to drive more business to the hospital.

The government has alleged that there was an improper financial relationship that violated the law between the new doctors and the hospital because of their prohibited patient referrals. The lawsuit alleges that the three doctors were paid salaries and given other compensation packages that were well in excess of fair market value.

Former University of Georgia athlete killed in truck accident

Officials at the University of Georgia believe that it was a flat tire that ultimately led to the death of one of their former champion sprinters. According to police, the former UGA athlete had been traveling along Interstate 75 somewhere near Cordele, Georgia, when his vehicle became disabled. It was there in the southbound lane on the night of July 28 that a tractor-trailer struck the young man's vehicle from behind. The impact of the accident through the victim from the vehicle. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends of the victim at UGA speculate that the victim was on his way home to Jacksonville, Florida, at the time of the accident. The former sociology major graduated in 2013 after having captured several SEC and NCAA titles in his capacity on the university's track team. In fact, the victim still holds three school records and was on track to become a professional representing American track interests in international competition.

Who can file a whistleblower case in Georgia?

The Georgia Whistleblower Act was designed to fight government waste, fraud and abuse. It protects public employees who disclose such fraudulent or illegal activity in any state entity or program from termination, retaliation or discipline by an employer. As FindLaw notes, Georgia's whistleblower law does not apply to private employees.

State employees employed in the legislative, judicial and executive branches are granted this protection. So are those who work for state agencies, commissions and other entities.

Firefighter equipment accidents may spark class action lawsuit

Georgia residents expect that firefighters will have all the tools and equipment required to help rescue them in the event of a fire. Few of us give any thought to whether or not the equipment used by firefighters is safe for their operation and could indirectly hinder them from saving us.

That is exactly what some firefighters are now suggesting after a recent series of accidents involving a ladder truck extension device used on trucks owned by several Atlanta-based firefighting companies. On July 22, three Hall County firefighters suffered injuries during a training exercise in which the ladder attachment bucket failed and caused them to fall 44 feet to the ground. One of the firefighters has since been released from the hospital, but the two others still remain under care.

What is your recourse if your Georgia car is a lemon?

Georgia, like other states, has a "lemon law" to help protect consumers who have purchased a new vehicle that turns out to have mechanical problems or serious defects that cannot be repaired. According to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, the primary goal of the law is to mandate vehicle manufacturers to repair defective products. If the problem cannot be fixed, the manufacturer is required to either replace or buy back the vehicle.

Our "Lemon law rights period," according to the Georgia Lemon Law § 10-1-782, is two years or 24,000 miles from the time the original consumer took possession of the vehicle. That's twice the period and mileage of the manufacturer's warranty

Defective product may be at center of fire-fighting recall

Three Atlanta firefighters are still recovering from a July 22 training accident in which a large aerial extension ladder collapsed and fell roughly 40 feet to the ground. All three firefighters are expected to recover; however, one has reportedly undergone surgery. According to a post to a social media site, that firefighter required the installation of rods and screws to secure two broken vertebrae in his back. The social media post suggests that the firefighter may be out for at least three months in recovery.

The accident has both engineers and fire officials scratching their heads as to exactly what happened. The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services has since issued a statement saying that the manufacturer of the aerial platform, Sutphen Corporation, has since issued a voluntary recall of the devices to prevent further injuries until the situation can be properly assessed. Over 200 fire trucks were included in that recall. The Hall County Fire Chief says that he believes the problem is due to a mechanical failure. He added that it was fortunate for the accident to have occurred during a training exercise rather than in a real-world situation.

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