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We have reached the top five civil justice stories of 2018.  This is Part II of Legal Examiner’s annual compilation of the 10 most important civil cases of 2018, created by Virginia Beach, VA attorney-author Richard N. (Rick) Shapiro and his research assistants, a year end compilation tradition provided for Legal Examiner since 2012.  In Part I, we counted down from 10 through 6, and in this second installment, we countdown the top five.

Part II of the 2018 Top Ten Civil Justice Stories Series

  1. Tesla agrees to pay $5 million settlement for defective autopilot class action

  1. Supreme Court Upholds Forced Arbitration Agreements

  • Why It’s Big:
    • This is a civil “injustice” story that carries major implications for millions of consumers, employees, stock holders, and vulnerable patients in nursing homes and rehab facilities, who suffer injuries or deaths due to malpractice.  Why? Just like credit card agreements, and employment agreements, nearly all nursing homes bury arbitration clauses in the initial paperwork. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) mandates that contracts containing forced arbitration clauses must be enforced as written.
  • What We Learned:
    • Who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court matters, as this decision was plainly a pro-business ruling, and a ruling against John Q. Citizen, or the vulnerable nursing home patient who discovers after the nursing home abuse, that a mandatory arbitration clause was deep inside the pre-printed paperwork.
  • Dig Deeper:
  1. Claims in NFL Concussion Settlement Hit $500 Million in Under Two Years

  • Why It’s Big:
    • The rapid depletion of the settlement fund highlights two important facts: (1) there is a disturbingly-high number of ex-NFL players suffering from brain damage and traumatic brain injuries and (2) the long-term cost of treating brain injuries/head trauma is extremely high and will likely only increase going forward.
  • What We Learned:
    • The amount of time it took to reach $500 million in claims was nearly a decade earlier than league officials originally estimated.  It seems the NFL is on the hot seat to control concussions, as the true cost of pee-wee to college to NFL football never contemplated  the impairment of high costs associated with potential degenerative brain injury.  Moms are now thinking hard about having their kids go with soccer or baseball over football.
  • Dig Deeper:
  1. Wells Fargo Agrees to Pay $1 Billion in Penalties for Consumer Law Violations

  • Why It’s Big:
    • The tactics of Wells Fargo provide a prime example of unethical and greedy behavior by a large financial institution.
  • What We Learned:
    • The billion dollar fine was imposed as a result of Wells Fargo forcing customers with auto loans to buy insurance they didn’t need and for failing to follow the process it explained to customers concerning payments to lock in mortgage interest rates.  Wells Fargo has apologized to consumers, and begun running TV hearkening back to the early, simple days of its existence, but…how quickly do consumers forgive and forget? Fool me once…
  • Dig Deeper:

 

And the No. 1 Civil Justice Story of 2018 is….

 

  1. Juries Hold Johnson & Johnson Liable for Hidden Toxic Effects of Talcum Powder

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