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“Fantastic Service”

“Mr. Eller is always responds in a timely manner and always answers all the questions one may have without making things more complicated…Not all attorneys are the same and trust me, I shopped around and Mr. Eller was not only reasonable but also provided fantastic service. I won’t use any other attorney.”

Actual client comments posted on Yahoo Local 02/17/2007.

Each case presents unique and specific factual and legal circumstances.

Past performance does not guarantee future performance.

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“Do yourself a favor and use [Travis] Scott Eller as your attorney.”

“Do yourself a favor and use [Travis] Scott Eller as your attorney.” Read More

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Lifestyle Lift Promises – Too Good to be True ?

A 64-year-old certified nurse’s assistant saw TV ads for “Lifestyle Lift” – pitched as relatively quick and painless, unlike traditional cosmetic surgery. She called an 800 number and got a brochure in the mail. Read More

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Elderly Woman Dies from Fall in Puddle of Water

An elderly woman fell in a puddle of water near an elevator in a hospital. She was taken to the ER, treated for a dislocated shoulder, and released. Family members found her unconscious the next morning. She died less than a week later from intracranial bleeding. Read More

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Drunk Jaywalker Wins on Appeal

A drunk 70-year-old jaywalker sued the driver of a car who hit him. The jaywalker chose a poorly lit stretch of multi-lane highway to cross in the dark. Although testimony conflicted, it either was or had recently been raining. The driver who hit the jaywalking pedestrian never saw him. Read More

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No Bond, No Trial

A resident of Turkey was injured in Washington while on a bicycle. He sued the Washington driver. The injured bicyclist got only a small award in arbitration, so he appealed and was given a trial date for a jury trial. The bicyclist then relocated back to Turkey indefinitely. When he failed to post a bond, the trial court dismissed his personal injury claim. He appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

lawblog disclaimer

Because he appealed a mandatory arbitration award, the injured bicyclist was subject to paying attorney fees and costs unless he got a better award at trial. The bicyclist was out of the country, and did not know when he might return to Washington – making collecting on the potential fees and costs award difficult. Therefore, the trial court granted a defense motion for a bond, and ordered it be paid within 90 days. When that did not happen, the trial court dismissed the case. With the case dismissed, the injured bicyclist obviously did not improve the arbitration result, and the trial court awarded fees and costs of $8,755.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court, and also awarded additional fees for the appeal.[1]

As noted above, this was not one of our cases.

If you have been injured and would like a free personal injury cases analysis, please contact our firm.

By personal injury attorney Travis Eller



[1] Saylik v. Walker, unpublished (67951-1-I, September 23, 2013). Available at https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/679511.pdf (last accessed 10/13/13).

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As in Baseball, No Medical Malpractice “Team” Errors

The Washington Court of Appeals recently upheld the trial court in finding that in Washington medical malpractice law – as in baseball – there is no such thing as a “team” error.[1]

A man underwent a six-hour heart surgery. Later he developed compartment syndrome – a known and serious, if rare, complication from long surgery. The compartment syndrome was not initially diagnosed, and by the time discovered had caused extensive and permanent damage to the man’s leg, including death of muscle tissue.

The man sued the hospital for alleged failure to timely diagnose compartment syndrome.

At trial both sides produced experts who testified that the man was attended to post-surgery using a “team” approach. The surgeons and the physician assistants made rounds together twice per day. In the team approach, multiple surgeons see the patient post-surgery, regardless of who is primarily in charge.

According to the hospital, at any time a patient needs assistance the physician seeing the patient is well-aware of what’s going on. “So we basically assume everybody is our patient.” The hospital witness testified that the “team” “evaluate[s] patients in such a way that everybody gets a chance to have input.”

The patient’s expert testified that the care fell below the standard of care because of a lack of proper monitoring and a failure to rule out a known possible complication after surgery. When asked whom he was criticizing, the patient’s expert admitted that he “was not certain entirely as to who was to blame” but blamed the surgeon of record, even though the surgeon of record “wasn’t necessarily in charge of this patient at the time that the diagnosis was made.”  In fact, the surgeon of record was on the other side of the country post-surgery – and therefore was not supervising the “team.”

The patient failed to produce evidence of any particular person failing to meet the standard of care for their particular field of expertise. Instead, his attorney argued that the surgeon of record was negligent as team leader, and therefore the hospital was liable, too.

The trial judge explained in his ruling that “a team isn’t negligent,” and instead there needed “to be a negligent player on the team.” The patient’s attorneys having failed to produce proof of a negligent player on the team, the judge overturned the $583,000 jury verdict.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge, and upheld the result.

Medical malpractice is harder than it looks. Even when there are terrible results from medical care, the patient must prove that a particular health care provider breach the standard of care in their field of expertise, and that this breach of the standard of care caused the terrible result.

lawblog disclaimer

By personal injury attorney Travis Eller



[1] Grove v. Peacehealth St. Joseph Hospital, ___ Wn. App. ____ (No. 69556-8-1, October , 2013). Available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/69556-8.pdf. (Last accessed 11/04/13).

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Not in the Dictionary

A doctor misdiagnosed a woman’s ectopic pregnancy and removed the wrong Fallopian tube. The woman later had the other Fallopian tube removed in a second surgery. She sued. The jury returned a verdict of $71,795.53.

When the jury deliberated one juror looked up the word “negligence” in a dictionary (even though it is properly defined in the judge’s jury instructions) and reported the dictionary definition to other jurors. The judge granted the defense motion for a new trial. The woman appealed.[1]

lawblog disclaimer

The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge. The Court noted an earlier Washington Supreme Court decision in which essentially the same thing had happened. In that case, a jury looked up a legal term, and even used a legal dictionary. The dictionary definition differed from Washington law, so the court ordered a new trial. The Supreme Court upheld the result.

Perhaps the woman’s attorney in closing argument went over the definition of “negligence” in the judge’s instructions. In any event, these cases illustrate the vital importance of explaining the judge’s instructions in plain English in closing argument, “one of the more important tasks in closing.”[2]



[1] Cutuk v. Bray, unpublished (No. 68406-0-1, October 28, 2013). Available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/684060.pdf (last accessed 11/11/2013.)

[2] Ball, David, David Ball on Damages §8-10 (3rd ed., NITA 2011).

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Suing John Doe

A tenant filed a personal injury lawsuit against his landlords one day before the statute of limitations was to run. The complaint named the landlord and “John Does 1-20,” but did not name the owners of the property, or describe facts that would make it clear the tenant intended to name the owner as well as the landlord.

Later, the tenant’s attorney attempted to add the owners of the property (which were not the same persons as the tenant’s landlord).  The statute of limitations had run in the meantime. The trial court granted the owners’ motion to dismiss. The tenant appealed.[1]

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Toastmasters Speak-a-Thon

I gave a 15-minute excerpt from a generic personal injury closing argument in my advanced Toastmasters club’s recent speak-a-thon. I also gave an evaluation of another speaker’s presentation.994665_10202612604779016_1913691667_n

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Heavy Metal Hairdresser

A hairdresser went to a heavy metal concert featuring a band called “Spiderface.” Spiderface uses fake blood. The hairdresser slipped and fell in the fake blood. She broke her ankle, and was unable to work for months. Read More

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Lost Chance for a Better Outcome

Suppose because of medical negligence the patient’s chances of survival – or other better outcome – are significantly reduced, but perhaps still less than even. The doctors might argue that even though they were negligent, their negligence did not cause the patient’s death. 

 

That argument fails in Washington. Washington courts recognize the cause of action for lost chance for a better outcome. Read More