Articles Posted in Law and Technology

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The Atlantic published an article today in the wake of the accident that caused a pedestrian to be killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona.  A link to that article can be found here. This is hardly the first incident involving a wrongful death at the hand of a self driving vehicle.  In 2016 in Florida, a Tesla operating is auto-pilot mode struck another vehicle and killed the driver.  The article asks the question, “What are the legal implications in accidents involving self driving car?”  While the answer might seem obvious, there are quite a few factors that will impact the answer.

First, the article raises the point that this accident happened in Arizona which has declared itself open for business when it comes to testing and operating self driving automobiles.  Arizona’s Governor signed an executive order in August of 2015 which required the Arizona Department of Transportation to take steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles on Arizona’s roads.  An investigation into what Arizona did or did not do to make sure the roads were safe for self-driving cars and the general public needs to be investigated.

Obviously, UBER in this case, or whatever company owns the self-driving vehicle involved in the accident is the first place to investigate when it comes to determining who is at fault for an accident involving an autonomous vehicle.  Other self driving-vehicle companies like Lyft, Waymo, Tesla, GM and Intel have set down roots in Arizona too.  Since we know that 96+% of all automobile accidents are the result of driver error, this is the obvious place to start any investigation.

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In 2003 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG), along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Neonatal Encephalopathy and Cerebral Palsy: Defining the Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology (“NEACP”). This monograph became more commonly known as “the Green Book” and it has been roundly criticized as an attempt by its authors to use “junk science” to create hard an fast “essential” criteria to diffuse obstetrical malpractice claims against Ob/Gyns. In the more than 10 years since its publications its authors have backed off the allegedly essential nature of its core criteria and physicians have been forced to admit that factors like cord blood ph levels above 7.0 can still occur in births where the fetus experiences perinatal asphyxia that is the result of negligence.

Recently, ACOG published an update to the Green Book titled Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome, Second Edition. This update changes some of the so-called “essential” criteria that expert witnesses have relied upon to defend causation in birth injury cases.

The update defines Neonatal Encephalopathy as a clinically defined syndrome of disturbed neurologic function in the earliest days of life in an infant born at or beyond 35 weeks of gestation, accompanied by early onset seizures and difficulty initiating and maintaining respiration and depression of fetal tone and reflexes. The update relaxes the criteria which obstetricians and pediatricians feel demonstrate the likelihood of peripartum or intrapartum ischemia playing a role in the pathogenesis of neonatal encephalopathy.

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Radiation therapy in cancer treatment uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and helps prevwent them from spreading throughout the body. The use of radiation therapy is one of the primary means that physicians have to help treat patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and is prescribed in 60% of all cancer treatment scenarios. Radiation is typically prescribed and administered through the use of an external beam which is provided by a machine called a linear accelerator. The beam is localized and given in precise measures of energy, or doses, to specific areas on the human body for treatment.

Over radiation occurs when some element of error occurs during the treatment process and the patient gets more then the prescribed dose of radiation over a period of time. While the linear accelerator is a very precise provider of radiation, there is a human component involved in doing the math and physics required to set up the machine to provide accurate treatment dosage. The system sometimes fails when these human failsafes are ignored and the patient receives the wrong amount of radiation.

The results for over radiated patients are devastating. The extra radiation, even in seemingly small doses, weakens and kills healthy tissue causing skin and organ damage, and often death. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have handled over radiation cases which have resulted in record recoveries for our clients including a verdict of $16 million and a settlement of $7.5 million.

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A lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois accuses four defendants of creating a fake Facebook profile of a teenage boy which claimed the teenager was gay. The suit contends the defendants created a fake profle with malicious intent to disparage and damage his reputation.

The fake profile has since been removed, but at one point it had close to 600 facebook friends. The plaintiff is concerned that the false information contained in the profile will follow him around through life.

Sadly, the internet has a life of its own. Items posted to Facebook and other social networking sites exist in cyberspace with little or no verification of veracity.

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There is little doubt that technology has changed the way we communicate with each other. In the past several years social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have allowed ordinary citizens to connect with one another in extraordinary ways. Trial Lawyers have always been concerned with influence outside information might have on jurors who are actively deliberating important matters in trial courts. At the intersection of the courtroom and technology we are confronted with an Interesting phenomenon. Facebook musings and tweets are now coming to you straight from inside the jury room.

In Philadelphia a juror on a major capitol murder case announced to Facebook that everyone “should stay tuned for a big announcement” before a verdict was announced in a trial that lasted more then five months. This is not an isolated incident. Apparently people are tweeting and facebooking live from the courthouse everyday.

Technology is a part of everyone’s life. People feel compelled to share the most intimate details of their personal lives with people they hardly know over the internet. It should come as no suprise that jurors are sharing the details of the courtroom online. The question for judges and lawyers is how do we deal with this. We live in interesting times.