Seattle Personal Injury and Civil Justice Blog

Immigrant Detainee Wins Precedent Setting Verdict Against State

JURY FINDS STATE OF CALIFORNIA RESPONSIBLE FOR WRONGFUL DEATH OF DETAINEE FRANCISCO CASTANEDA; AWARDS $1.73 MILLION ; PUBLIC JUSTICE WINS IMPORTANT VICTORY FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS   A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury Wednesday found the state of California liable in the wrongful death of Francisco Castaneda, a prison detainee who died of a metastasized cancer that began as a lesion on his penis that state prison and medical officials had refused to treat. Concluding a 13-day trial, the jurors awarded $1.73 million to Castaneda’s daughter, who said the state’s neglect had deprived her of a promising future with her father.  About $230,000 of the award is for economic damages, such as past medical expenses for Castaneda. “I am so happy the jury understood what the state had done,” said Vanessa Castaneda, 17, Francisco Castaneda’s only child. “When they came in with the verdict, I just felt that they were…
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Bicylists Entitle To Safe Roadways

Three years ago, a bicycle accident on a Seattle bridge turned physically strong and active attorney Mickey Gendler into a quadriplegic. He was recently awarded $8 million from the state, the highest payout to an individual since 2003. I have found that representing bicyclists for highway design cases, or even when they are struck by negligent drivers poses tremendous challenges.  Most jurors are not avid bicylists. Those that are are usually excluded by the defense. Common juror attitudes toward bicylists on the road include the idea that “they don’t follow the rules of the road” and “they make me nervous” and “they should stay out of the way of cars” and the like. But when the City of Seattle, for instance, puts a bicycle pathway or extends the Burke Gilman Trail in Ballard on a road where old and abandoned railroad tracks are located, the chances of a bicyclist having his tires caught in the…
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Why Contingency Fees Open the Courthouse Doors to Everyone

The Contingency Fee is the ‘Key to the Courthouse Door”   There has been alot of controversy, mainly stirred up by the insurance industry, the US Chamber of Commerce, oil companies and mega-corporations about the contingency fee–where people who  are not wealthy enough to afford to pay an attorney significant hourly rates whether they win, lose or draw can have their day in court. A contingency fee allows an average joe or jane to go to an attorney and get representation because the attorney’s  fee would only come out of any recovery (compensation) that the attorney obtains.  No recovery, no fee!  It is an important part of access to justice and insuring that the courthouse doors are open to all, not just the wealthy and powerful. On May 18, 2010, a federal appeals court issued a ringing endorsement of the value of contingency fees in preserving access to justice.  The case is In…
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