Social Media & The Law

Most lawsuits between citizens and social media end in rulings in favor of the app. This is because social media sites can legally ban an account for various reasons- ranging from offensive jokes to perceived threats to violating minor rules.

Charles C. Johnson V. Twitter: Charles C. Johnson, a conservative Twitter user, was banned from the site; in response, Johnson brought a lawsuit in 2015. Johnson cited that banning him was a violation of his first amendment right to free speech. In 2018 the state of California granted Twitter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit stating that “It is well established that the constitutional right to free speech includes the right not to speak.” They continued to explain that if any rights were being violated, it was Twitter’s because Twitter “clearly state that users may not post threatening tweets, and also that [Twitter] may unilaterally, for any reason, terminate a user’s account. The rules reflect [Twitter’s] exercise of free speech.”

Federal Agency of News V. Facebook: In 2016, the Federal Agency of News Facebook page was banned for posting propaganda and having alleged connections to Russian Internet Research Agency known for trolling. The page brought a lawsuit claiming it was a violation of their first amendment right and a breach of contract. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2019 and 2020 due to Section 230, which provides immunity from civil liabilities for information service providers that remove or restrict content from their services they deem “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Prager University V. Google: a conservative advocacy group at Prager University brought a lawsuit against YouTube in 2017 after some of their videos were made unavailable on the site. In a series of claims, the most notable was that the restriction violated the First Amendment Lanham Act- allowing false advertising. A California judge ruled against them, saying “[Google and YouTube] were private entities who created their own video-sharing social media website and make decisions about whether and how to regulate content that has been uploaded on that website,” Because they are not federal agencies or government entities, they could not violate the first amendment. The Judge’s ruling was upheld when the appeals court added, “YouTube is a private entity. The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government — not a private party — from abridging speech.”

Tulsi Gabbard v. Google: Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic nominee, brought a lawsuit against Google, claiming the company was trying to prevent her bid for a democratic nomination after they temporarily suspended her account in 2019. The court ruled against her using the precedent set in the case against PragerU; Judge Wilson continued to say, “Google is not now, nor (to the Court’s knowledge) has it ever been, an arm of the United States government.”

Police Brutality

When making an arrest or attempting to get a situation under control, an officer is only allowed a certain amount of force; exceeding that limit is considered excessive force. Excessive force is a situation where a government official who is legally entitled to use force exceeds the minimum amount necessary to diffuse an incident or protect themselves or others from harm. When it comes to law enforcement, it is more widely known as police brutality.

When a judge is determining whether excessive force has been used, they will consider multiple factors, including the severity of the underlying crime or circumstances, whether there was an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others, whether the individual was actively resisting arrest or attempting to escape arrest, whether other methods could have been used or whether warnings were given or could have been given. Some courts acknowledge the officer’s qualified immunity, which protects a government official from lawsuits when the plaintiff believes his/ her rights were violated.

According to the Supreme Court, authorized government officials have “the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat.” However, it is noted that the level of force used must be proportionate to the presented level of threat. Hypothetically officers should slowly escalate through the following levels as needed:

They should use physical presence, merely using their presence to deescalate the situation. Then move on to verbalization, use verbal statements, from non-threatening requests to direct orders.
They should move to empty-hand control or using physical bodily force through grabs, holds, punches, or kicks. If the situation still has not been controlled, move to less-lethal methods by using non-deadly weapons like batons, pepper sprays, or tasers.
As a last resort, having exhausted all other options, move to lethal force, using deadly weapons such as firearms.

When arguing against police brutality or excessive force, the fourth and eighth amendment are most often cited. Respectively they protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure of property and cruel and unusual punishment.

If you have been the victim of excessive force by an authorized government official, reach out to a civil rights lawyer at Darfoor Law Firm for a free consultation toll free at 754-812-8444 or 754-812-8444.

Jury Selection in Civil Cases

Lawyers on both sides are highly aware of the dangers of jury contamination and go to great lengths to prevent it. Jury contamination is known as the potential of a single juror infecting the entire panel with firmly held viewpoints. The contamination could happen in different ways; one is through personal experiences that the juror may not be aware of but is still tainting their point of view. Another is through personal beliefs that they are aware of but may not realize how damaging their preconceived notion is. An example of the former is “I hurt my leg in a car accident years ago, and it still hurts sometimes. No one paid me for that.” Or the belief that awarding damages would allow for the injured party to be paid twice as “their insurance probably already paid for it.” An example of the latter would be the belief that these types of trials do nothing except make lawyers richer and jack up insurance prices. No matter the kind of bias, any of them could affect the outcome of the trial.

Another reason to look out for extreme viewpoints is that an extremist can alienate like-minded jurors. People who may share a similar ideology can quickly be put off their initial train of thought in an effort to avoid being grouped in someone they view as irrational. Opinions and attitudes expressed by a juror can influence and even change their fellow juror’s attitudes, just not always in the way people assume. It should be noted that it is rare that a juror with extreme views is to be able to change the way a complete stranger views the world. It is also possible that extreme views may be expressed in an attempt to avoid jury duty.

Undoubtedly, jury selection is one of the most important skills that your civil trial lawyer can master to greatly help your chances of recovering damages for your injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer from Darfoor Law Firm for a free consultation toll free at 833-DARFOOR or 754-812-8444.

Birth Defects and Recovering for Birth Defect Injuries

According to the Center for Disease Control, aka the CDC, 1 out of every 33 babies are born with a birth defect. Birth defects are defined as structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body, how the body looks, works, or both. Most birth defects are the effect of pregnant women being exposed to toxic chemicals, such as, lead, mercury, chlorine, or pesticides. The five most common birth defects are genetic defects, such as Down syndrome. Mouth or facial defects, more specifically cleft lip and/ or cleft palate. Heart defects. Musculoskeletal defects include arm or leg defects, stomach or intestinal defects, and eye defects.

An example of a product that contained toxins which lead to birth defects is Gold Bond. Gold Bond products frequently contained talcum powder, exposure to this powder had been known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other harm. Due to the use of this powder Gold Bond is required to provide warnings that significant exposures to chemicals may cause illness. Companies such as Bausch Health, CVS, Target, Walgreen, Walmart, and Thorton Industries are also required to post warnings as they sell several talc-based products. Another well-known case where exposure to toxins had catastrophic effects was the use of Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder. The Johnson and Johnson baby powder also contained talcum powder, which is linked to life-threatening illness and lead to a multitude of side effects, including:

Respiratory problems in infants.

General respiratory problems

Asthma and pneumonia

Lung cancer and chronic respiratory problems

Endometrial cancer

Ovarian cancer

In cases where a company or product leads to illness or a birth defect, there is a possibility that a lawsuit could be filed. If the lawsuit is won, financial compensation may be awarded to help with the cost of caring for a child with birth defects. The cost of care may include tuition for special schools or the cost or medical motoring, testing, and treatment.

If you think you may have been exposed to such toxins that may have caused a birth defect, contact the lawyers at Darfoor Law Firm for a free consultation by calling us at 754-812-8444 or toll free at 1-833-DARFOOR.

PIP Changes in Florida Legislature

There is currently a bill in the Florida House, HB 719, that would eliminate no-fault and its requirement that motorists carry personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage, and mandate bodily injury coverage. If passed, the bill would eliminate the requirement of having 10,000 dollars in PIP coverage and set minimum bodily injury coverage at $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for injuries or deaths of two or more people. The bill would also require auto insurers to provide an offer of at least $5,000 in what is known as medical payments coverage; however, motorists would not have to buy it. However, there is concern, namely from insurance providers, that this new bill could lead to an increase of lawsuits and an increase in health and automobile insurance.

In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a similar bill, SB54. This bill aims to eliminate PIP, raise required coverage limits on policies, offer lower limits for students and low-income drivers, and more difficult for people to sue insurance companies for bad faith. This bill would also get rid of the current limit a plaintiff can seek for compensation due to pain and suffering under PIP and allow liability for uninsured motorists to include pain and suffering and other injuries.

The most notable difference between SB54 and HB719 is that the Senate bill’s bad faith clause. Under this premise, the plaintiff would have to prove that the insurance provider failed to act in good faith to the plaintiff and failed to settle a claim to pursue a bad faith lawsuit. This clause aims to ensure that insurance providers are working in the best interest of their clients. However, some are opposed as they think it will hurt small businesses by leaving them open to liability due to excess judgments. If you have questions about your PIP coverage on your insurance or how the changes may affect you, reach out to your local insurance agent or call Darfoor Law Firm at 754-812-8444.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death claims are lawsuits brought against a defendant when death is the direct result of either an intentional act or negligence. This type of claim is brought by the estate of the deceased and or by family or close friends; it is filed against any party or parties that are legally liable. The laws of wrongful death vary in every state; however, in every state, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the victim would not have died had it not been for the defendant’s actions or negligence.

A wrongful death claim can be brought for many reasons; however, the main three are: when a victim is intentionally killed, when a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice, and car accident fatalities involving negligence. In cases where a victim is intentionally killed, it is a civil case, separate from the criminal charges brought against the defendant. In lawsuits involving the death of a patient due to medical malpractice, the defendant is often the practicing physician, but the facility where treatment, as well as any other party, found to be accountable in the death can be sued as well. These cases are often defined by a doctor failing to diagnose a medical illness or by a level of carelessness during patient care. An example of a car accident that led to death due to negligence would be if the defendant drove under the influence, caused an accident, and someone died as a result.

If the lawsuit is won, the plaintiff may be eligible for compensation for the following:

• Medical treatment costs that were incurred by the deceased.

• Deceased’s pre-death “pain and suffering.”

• Funeral and burial costs.

• Loss of the deceased’s expected income.

What is an Emergency Medical Condition?

If you were involved in a car accident in Florida, your medical bills will be paid by your insurance provider through the Personal Injury Protection in your policy. According to Florida Statute 627.732 (16):

An “Emergency medical condition” means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:

(a) Serious jeopardy to patient health.
(b) Serious impairment to bodily functions.
(c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

If you have an emergency medical condition, your insurance provider will pay $10,000 of your medical bill otherwise, they will only pay $2,500 even your coverage is $10,000. Your doctor will determine if you have an emergency medical condition and they need to submit a document or a medical record to your insurance provider before your fill PIP coverage can be used.

Darfoor Law can help if you were involved in a car accident or if you have questions about Emergency Medical Condition. You may call us at 754-812-8444 or email us at info@darfoorlaw.com. You may also visit our website, www.darfoorlaw.com for more information.

What is PIP Insurance?

Personal Injury Protection or PIP is a part of a car insurance that covers the expenses of the treatment for the injuries and lost wages caused by a motor vehicle accident. PIP is also called the no-fault coverage because it pays the medical expenses of the accident regardless of who caused it.

According to Florida Statute 627.7407, policyholders are required to maintain a PIP insurance coverage and that the State may suspend the policyholder’s license and registration if he or she does not maintain a PIP coverage. Passenger/s of the policyholder and relatives residing in the policyholder’s household are also covered by the PIP. The minimum required coverage in Florida is $10,000. This amount differs from state to state.

The PIP coverage can also, in some cases, cover the following:

Lost wages – If you have missed hours at work due to injuries caused by the accident
Funeral expenses – If the injuries caused by the accident has resulted in death

Aside from Florida, PIP coverage is also mandatory in the following states: Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and were injured because of it, the attorneys at Darfoor Law can help you in getting the benefits and settlement that you deserve if your insurance company is denying you coverage. You may call us at 754-812-8444 or email us at info@darfoorlaw.com. You may also visit us at www.darfoorlaw.com for more information.

Accidents Caused by Ambulances

A bus carrying several passengers was hit by an ambulance when it was crossing an intersection. The bus was on a green light and the driver said he did not hear the siren of the ambulance. This accident happened in a different country. But what if it happened in Florida? Who is liable? The bus driver or the ambulance?

For ambulances responding to emergency, every second counts. As a result, some of them go beyond the speed limit in order to save the life of someone in danger. Getting hit by a vehicle running at a high speed can cause serious injuries or death. According to the National Safety Council, 168 people died in crashes involving emergency vehicles in 2018. Out of 168, 47 people or 27.98% deaths involved ambulances. Out of the 47 deaths, 1 was a bicyclist, 1 was a pedestrian, and 21 were other vehicle occupants.

Emergency vehicles are given a certain amount of freedom on traffic rules. According to Florida Statute 316.072, a driver of an ambulance may do the following:

1. Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation
2. Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as the driver does not endanger life or property
3. Disregard regulations governing direction or movement or turning in specified directions, so long as the driver does not endanger life or property

If the example stated above happened in Florida, the ambulance driver can’t be held liable right away. The attorney must prove that the actions of the driver “endangered life or property”. Darfoor Law can help if you are involved in an accident caused by an ambulance. You may call us at 754-812-8444 or email us at info@darfoorlaw.com. You may also visit. www.darfoorlaw.com for more information.

Construction Site Injuries

It is a known fact that construction sites are no place to mess around. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA has provided guidelines and regulations to keep workers safe, but accidents still happen despite all the safety measures. These accidents can cause injuries as simple as a small bruise, or as serious as an amputation, or death. Workers carry heavy objects, climb ladders and scaffoldings, operate machinery, install electrical wirings, and many other hazardous tasks.

The Fatal Four

Fall – Construction workers usually work from elevated or high places likes ladders and scaffoldings. In 2018, 33.5% or 338 out of 1008 deaths in the construction industry were caused by workers falling from high places. Construction sites should have the proper fall protection and personal protective equipment to ensure worker safety.

Struck by an Object – Everyone and everything in a construction site are always moving. This constant movement may cause tools, equipment, and other construction materials to fall. 112 out of 1008 deaths (11.11%) were caused by this in 2018. Remember, tools and other materials should be properly secured so they will not fall.

Electrocution – This is the 3rd leading cause of death in the construction industry. Electrocution can cause nerve damage, burns, and cardiac arrest. In 2018, 86 out of 1008 (8.53%) of the deaths in the construction industry were caused by electrocution.

Caught-in/between – This happens when a worker is crushed between two objects. According to OSHA, 55 out of 1008 deaths in 2018 were caused by objects crushing a worker. One must always be aware when of the surroundings when in a construction site. Stay away from heavy equipment unless necessary and keep your hands-off moving parts.

These fatal accidents and injuries can be avoided by placing warning signs, proper training and communication, providing the proper protective equipment, installing fall protection, machinery guarding, and ensuring that everyone adheres to the safety protocol.

If you need the help of an attorney who specializes in Personal Injury Law after a construction injury, contact Darfoor Law at 754-812-8444 or email info@darfoorlaw.com. You may also visit www.darfoorlaw.com for more information.

Source:

https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats