Local Chipotle Shuts Down After Customers Become Sick

A Chipotle restaurant on Tripleseven Road in Sterling, Virginia shut down yesterday after numerous customers reported becoming ill after eating there recently. The website iwaspoisoned.com shows 10 reports of customers falling ill after eating at this Chipotle location in the last few days.  The reports all indicate customers ate at this Chipotle on Friday or Saturday, and became ill over the weekend with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Quite a few of the reports indicate the symptoms and illness were “violent.”  Not pleasant.

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Case Law Dispatch: Bartolomucci v. Federal Insurance

By Cory Bilton

Case: Bartolomucci v. Federal Insurance

  • Court: Virginia Supreme Court
  • Date of Decision: 4/16/15
  • Opinion by: Millette

Facts:

Vu Vo and Christopher Bartolomucci were involved in a vehicle collision. Vu filed suit against Christopher, who was a partner at the law firm of Hogan Lovells. Christopher’s personal insurance policy provided only $100,000 in coverage, which was insufficient to satisfy the damage he caused to Vu. Therefore, Christopher sought excess coverage from Hogan Lovells’ Federal Insurance policy. Federal Insurance denied that the policy provided coverage for Christopher’s collision.

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Should I get Bicycle Insurance?

By Cory Bilton

Bike Lane 3

I recently learned that insurance companies are starting to offer bicycle insurance as a separate, stand-alone policy. Many types of insurance—such as health, auto, and home owner’s—already provide some coverage while you are riding your bike. So the idea of a stand-alone bicycle insurance policy intrigues me. What types of coverage does it provide? Who is the intended buyer? Is there any type of coverage that a bicycle insurance policy has that isn’t covered by health insurance, auto insurance, or homeowner’s insurance? Here is a close look at one cyclist insurance policy (offered by Markel Insurance).

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Case Law Dispatch: Payne v. Erie Insurance

By Cory Bilton

Case: Payne v. Erie Insurance

  • Court: Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Date of Decision: 3/30/15
  • Appellate Panel: Barbera, Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts
  • Opinion by: McDonald
  • Concurrence by: Harrell, Battaglia, and Watts

Facts:

Karen, the adult daughter of Alan and Maureen, lives with her parents and has unrestricted access to drive their vehicle. Karen asks the father of her children, Ameen, to pick the kids up from school using Alan and Maureen’s vehicle. Alan and Maureen have previously forbidden Ameen from driving the vehicle. While Ameen is using the vehicle, he is involved in a collision.

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Will the Supreme Court End Confusion Caused by Empire v. McVeigh?

By Cory Bilton

Supreme Court - 2

While the nation looks to the Supreme Court to take a stand on historic social issues, some personal injury attorneys are hopeful that the Court will take a stand for state laws that protect injury victims from unfair subrogation practices. My interests fall into both categories. For attorneys unaware that an interesting subrogation case is being considered, you should check out the briefs for Aetna v. Kobold or Coventry v. Nevils. The two cases ask the Court to resolve the same issue: do the terms of a FEHBA plan preempt state laws regulating subrogation and reimbursement?

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Santa Claus Accidents in the Washington DC Area

By Cory Bilton

Santa's_Portrait_1881

Everything about Santa Claus points to the conclusion that he’s an accident waiting to happen. I’ve only seen him once, about 30 years ago, but I remember he was an older gentleman with poor eyesight. He operates a non-traditional vehicle without proper safety equipment (no headlights, turn signals, or seatbelts). I’m skeptical that Santa has the appropriate operator’s license. His vehicle is pulled by draft animals that are considered wild. He drives at night, when darkness makes it harder to see. From many accounts, his sleigh exceeds weight limits for roadways and rooftops. He drives on roads, front yards, and roofs without regard to traffic regulations or private property. Santa Claus is a danger to public safety.

So you may be wondering, what do you do when Santa Claus negligently injures you or damages your property? Suppose Santa fails to yield the right-of-way to your vehicle, or the weight of his sleigh collapses the roof of your home? What recourse do you have?  Here are some tips for residents of the Washington, DC area when pursuing a claim for personal injury or property damage against Santa Claus.

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Washington DC Adopts New Insurance Requirements for Uber Cars

By Cory Bilton

Falls Church Bridge Fog

Far-sighted lawyers, law-makers, and citizens have been voicing concern about what happens in the event of an accident with a ridesharing service like Uber and Lyft. In January this year, an UberX driver struck and killed a child in San Francisco. Following the collision, Uber denied liability, claiming that its driver was in-between fares, a time in which Uber doesn’t provide insurance coverage. Without Uber’s insurance covering the collision, the family that lost their child would only be able to pursue the driver as an individual, and maybe his personal insurance (that is a long shot; most personal automobile insurance excludes coverage when the personal car is being operated as a vehicle-for-hire).

To avoid this type of uncertainty and in an attempt to clarify liability following an accident, the DC City Council has passed bill 20-0753, the Vehicle-for-hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014. If signed into law by Mayor Gray, the bill will create numerous new laws to label, categorize, and insure ride-sharing vehicles operating with companies like Uber and Lyft. Here is a summary of the new insurance requirements:

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Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses in Personal Injury Cases in Virginia

By Cory Bilton.

Supreme Court - 2

Same-sex couples were allowed to legally marry in the Commonwealth of Virginia this week. In a historic, but understated move, the Supreme Court denied certiorari on all of the same-sex marriage appeals as mere line items on an 89 page list without explanation. Later that same day, the 4th Circuit issued a mandate that the previous 4th Circuit opinion, finding that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage impermissibly infringes on its citizens fundamental right to marry, was to take effect immediately. Same-sex couples all over Virginia were getting married by Monday afternoon. (Please accept my personal congratulations to everyone that got hitched in Virginia this week.) With legal recognition comes many new legal entitlements and obligations. Here are some of the new benefits and obligations same-sex couples will enjoy in personal injury cases and in civil litigation in Virginia.

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Second Circuit Splits with Fourth Circuit on ERISA Preemption in Wurtz

By Cory Bilton.

Lincoln Mem 2

The preemptive effect of an ERISA benefit plan’s contract language continues to be a hot judicial topic. Although ERISA covers the broad rights and duties of employer sponsored benefit plans and employee beneficiaries, personal injury attorneys are largely concerned only with the narrow issue of the plan’s subrogation and reimbursement rights against injured plaintiffs. Many states limit the subrogation or reimbursement rights of health insurance plans. When a state limits a benefit plan’s right to recover, ERISA plan administrators’ argue that the plan language itself preempts any state law limitations. If the plan’s language preempts state law, the plan gets repaid. If state law is not preempted, the injured person repays less, or sometimes avoids repayment at all.

A couple days ago the Second Circuit issued an opinion, Wurtz v. Rawlings, holding that the plaintiff’s state law claims were neither expressly nor completely preempted by ERISA. A New York statute (§ 5-335) states that health insurers are not permitted to subrogate against a liable third-party or seek reimbursement for medical expenses from an injured person (Virginia has a similar “anti-subrogation” law). Despite this law, ERISA plans in New York were still seeking subrogation or reimbursement, by claiming the plan language preempted the New York anti-subrogation law. The ERISA plans at issue here were insured ERISA plans, which may still be regulated by state laws that are intended to regulate insurance (as opposed to self-funded ERISA plans, the language of which preempts even state laws that regulate insurance). But when the trial judge faced the plan administrator’s motion to dismiss, he held that the plaintiff’s claims were both expressly preempted and completely preempted by ERISA and thus dismissed the claim.

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Liability for Permissive Drivers in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia

By Cory Bilton

Bike Lane 6

Most of the time, a person drives her own car. But occasionally, a vehicle owner lends her car to a friend or relative. When this happens, the friend or relative is a permissive driver. If that friend or relative injures someone else while driving the car, the driver is liable for the person’s injuries. But what about the vehicle owner? Is she liable to the injured person too? Figuring out a legal puzzle involving permissive drivers and vehicle owners can be a little like watching Abbot and Costello doing “Who’s on First?” It is made more complex by the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Washington, DC area. The following statutes and cases will help you get the ball rolling.

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