Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mentally Ill Immigrants Have the Right to Representation

California immigration lawyers are hailing it as a significant decision. A federal judge has ruled that immigration officials must provide legal representation to mentally challenged persons who are facing deportation.

The ruling involves two cases that have since become part of a class-action lawsuit, alleging that federal immigration officials failed to provide legal counsel to immigrants facing deportation, thereby depriving them of their constitutional rights to due process. The class-action lawsuit also alleges that by denying access to representation, the federal government has engaged in discriminatory practices against people with a disability.

The first lawsuit in this case was filed in March on behalf of a man from Costa Mesa, as well as another mentally challenged person. The man has severe mental challenges, and has the mental capacity of a child. The other man also suffers from serious mental disability. Both men were rounded up by immigration authorities, and spent time in detention without having the chance to speak with a lawyer, and without a chance to challenge their detention.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California filed suit on behalf of the two men. The suit was filed in March, and the two men were released pending a bail hearing. Soon, the suit expanded to include other mentally disabled immigrants who were also facing deportation charges. In November, the ACLU asked a federal judge to appoint lawyers for all the plaintiffs in the lawsuit who suffered from mental challenges. US District Court Judge Dolly Gee agreed that federal officials must provide legal representation to immigrants with severe disabilities who are facing deportation charges.

The federal government must now decide whether it will pay for legal representation, or find pro bono representation for these two plaintiffs. The ruling doesn't require representation by an immigration attorney, but the ruling does establish basic criteria for those representing the interests of mentally disabled detainees.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Supreme Court Hears Wrongful Retaliation Lawsuit

A wrongful retaliation lawsuit that has now come before the Supreme Court could change the scope of wrongful retaliation litigation as California employment lawyers know it.

The case, Thompson v. North American Stainless involves third-party retaliation. The plaintiff, Eric Thompson was an employee of North American Stainless. The company soon hired Miriam Regalado, and Thompson and Miriam Regalado soon began dating. They became engaged in 2002.

That same year, Miriam Regalado filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against North American Stainless. North American Stainless then fired Thompson. Thompson filed a wrongful retaliation lawsuit against the company. According to the lawsuit, he had been fired in retaliation for his fiancée's lawsuit against the company.

In the lawsuit that followed, North American Stainless successfully argued that Thompson had no basis for suing for wrongful retaliation, because there are no federal laws that prohibit a company from firing an employee for the protected activity of a fiancée. A Kentucky District Court and the US Court of Appeals found in favor of the company. The courts held that Thompson had no legal basis on which to sue North American Stainless. Thompson then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will likely be looking back at one of its earlier judgments when it hears these arguments. Last year, the court ruled on a similar third-party wrongful retaliation lawsuit. In that case, the retaliation lawsuit was filed by a woman Vicky Crawford, an employee of the city of Nashville, Tennessee. She had worked with a person who had been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. She told investigators that the person, who had been accused of harassment, had also harassed her several times.

Instead of taking action against the harasser, the city made Crawford, and other persons in the company who had made the allegation, undergo a sexual harassment education and training program. After that, the city began an investigation of the accusers. Crawford was also placed under an investigation, and several false allegations were made against her, including those of drug use.

She then filed a retaliation lawsuit against the city. A federal court ruled against her because she had not brought a formal sexual harassment complaint against the harasser. However, the Supreme Court found that she did not need to bring a sexual harassment lawsuit to be protected from retaliation.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Feather River College Sued for Racial Discrimination

Despite great strides made in eliminating all forms racism based on race, California racial discrimination attorneys still continue to come across cases where people of color have faced racial or color bias. A former assistant head football coach at Feather River College has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the institution.

The lawsuit, filed by Eric Small, alleges that the 2010 athletic department of Feather River College was racist in its decision to cut black football players from the team. The lawsuit mentions Feather River College, director Merle Trueblood and head football coach James Johnson.

In 2010, Small was informed by the new coach that the face of the nearly all-black football team would change. And change it certainly did. The football team changed from an 80% black team to an 80% white team. According to the lawsuit, there has been a persistent strategy of discrimination by Trueblood, Head Coach Johnson and an assistant football coach at Feather River College who was allegedly, openly racist. Several claims of discrimination are included in lawsuit, among them one that involves a promise that Small would be given a coach position. The lawsuit alleges that the coaching position was then given to Johnson, who is a Caucasian. Small is African-American.

According to Small, he was informed in July that because of statewide enrollment caps, 21 new recruits to the team would have to be informed that they no longer had a place on the football team. These were players who had already booked airplane tickets, had applied for financial aid, and had made accommodation arrangements. According to the lawsuit, this made Small look like he had deceived the players.

Small then says he tried to get these players a place on the football team at Sacramento City College. Following that, Trueblood filed a complaint against him with the California College Athletic Commission, claiming that Small acted as an agent for the Sacramento college to the detriment of Feather River College.

This entire mess soon led to Small allegedly facing severely deteriorating working conditions at Feather River College. In August 2000, he was forced to apply for stress leave, and has since resigned.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Mobile Application for Reporting Bad Drivers -Targeting Los Angeles

A technology company has developed an iPhone application where users can report the license plate number of vehicles they deem driving inappropriately The "app" called DriveMeCrazy is available for free and apparently promotes some aspect of hands free use, allowing the user to speak the license plate number.

From reading the FAQ on the application's website - the company does send over a list of offending vehicles plate numbers to the various Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but they don't know if anything is done with the information.

The application also has social aspects as features, allowing for flirting with other people in the system - almost like a chat or message system based on your vehicle.

The company seems to have a special message Los Angeles drivers, as a quote from Philip Inghelbrecht, one of the entrepreneurs behind the company was reported in the LA Times -
And he wanted to broadcast a special alert to the traffic capital of the United State: Los Angeles.
"The AAA Foundation says that aggressive driving behavior is the cause of more than half of the 6 million automobile crashes that occur in the U.S. every year. We believe that bad driving comes from a feeling of motorist anonymity," Inghelbrecht said in an e-mail. "Currently drivers believe only police officers can report them. As a result, there is inadequate 'peer pressure' to avoid aggressive or dangerous driving."

Our city is definitely busy and auto-centric city. In Los Angeles, motor vehicle accidents of all types happen for many reasons, and aggressive as well as distracted drivers can be part of the causes. Will this "crowdsourcing" or peer-pressure effect do anything? Does this intrude on privacy and perhaps even safety? At the very least it is an interesting example of how the mobile internet can affect people in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Federal Government Will Use Drugged Driving Study to Promote Stronger Drug Crime Laws

A new study just released by the federal government will likely be used to promote the administration's policies against drug crimes. The study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of Drug Control Policy analyzed traffic accident fatality data from 2009, and found that 33% of these fatalities had traces of drugs in their system. As expected, the media has taken the story and run with it, while ignoring many of the facts.

For instance, nowhere in the study does it mention what kind of drugs these persons were on when they were involved in the accident. There's nothing to differentiate a legal prescription medication from illegal narcotics. Besides, the report does nothing to address the fact that some drugs can stay in a person's system for days after being ingested. Take marijuana, for instance. It can stay in your system for weeks after inhalation or ingestion, and will have nothing to do with an accident many days later. The bottom line is that the marijuana in the system may show up in an autopsy report, but will have nothing to do with the accident, at all.

Besides, the report fails to differentiate between the amount of drugs consumed. We don't know how many of those 33% of traffic fatalities had low traces of drugs in their system that likely did not impact their driving abilities at all, or larger residues of medications.

San Diego criminal defense lawyers
understand it is a study that needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is part of the hype that drug enforcement officials wants to create to drum up support for stronger drug crime legislation.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

NTSB Report: Louisiana Helicopter Crash Caused by Bird Strike

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board into a helicopter crash in Louisiana that killed eight offshore rig workers, says that failure by the Federal Aviation Administration to require helicopter windshields to be resistant to bird strikes, contributed to the crash.

The crash occurred in January 4, 2009 when a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter crashed into a swamp in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The helicopter had just taken off seven minutes earlier, and was on its way to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. There were seven offshore rig workers on board, and six of them were killed. Both the pilots were also killed in the crash.

NTSB investigators believe that a bird collided with the windshield of the helicopter, probably causing the engine control levers to go into the idle position. The report says that the pilots likely became confused and shocked by the impact of the bird hit, and were unable to recover in time to maintain control over the helicopter.

The helicopter was equipped with laminated glass windshields that were compliant with European bird-hit resistance standards. However, the company that operated the helicopter, BHI, had recently replaced the helicopter windshields with lightweight acrylic windshields. These windshields did not have bird-strike resistance.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration has failed to require helicopter operators to install bird strike resistant windshields on helicopters. Considering that bird hits are one of the biggest hazards of aviation travel affecting thousands of aircraft every year, California helicopter crash lawyers find it odd that the FAA has failed to take this problem seriously.

Besides, the NTSB report blames lack of protection that would have prevented the T handles from dislodging at the time of impact, as well as the lack of a warning system that would have alerted the crew members to a low rotor speed condition through lights and audible warnings.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Focus on Swim Coach Sexual Abuse during Olympics 2012

Getting on the US Olympic swim team is a dream for thousands of young swimmers. Unfortunately, training sessions and swim meets are where abusive relationships between swim coaches and their protégés usually develop. It’s therefore natural that as we begin the countdown to the 2012 London Olympics, attention is being raised towards serious abuse issues in swimming that California sexual abuse attorneys have recently confronted.

A new study finds that youngsters who are training to compete at the highest levels are at the highest risk of being abused. A 14-year-old who is on the brink of selection for a national championship is less likely to open up about abuse, even if he or she thinks it may be wrong. A coach wields a lot of power, especially when it comes to determining which swimmer finds a place on the team. By this point, the children and their parents have already invested much time, money and resources, and it is harder to admit that you're being humiliated or abused by a coach.

The study took into consideration answers from young athletes who had finished their sporting careers. The results of the study were delivered at a symposium hosted by Brunei University’s International Research Network for Athlete Welfare.

Unfortunately, there is very little current research into the dynamics of an abusive relationship between a coach and a young swimmer in his care. Much of the research in this area consists of studies that have been conducted using athletes who are at the end of their professional sporting careers. Such studies are not taken too seriously by sporting bodies.

Part of the problem is that it's very difficult to get children to open up about abuse. You can't walk up to a child, and ask questions about whether he or she is being abused by his or her swim coach. Very often, children fail to understand that they're being abused. Very young children don't even know the definition of abuse. It is harder, therefore, to conduct current research that can actually help prevent abuse.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

FDA Warns About Health Risks of Caffeinated Alcohol Beverages

Calling them a public safety risk, the Food and Drug Administration this week shot off a letter to four manufacturers of caffeinated alcohol beverages. According to the Food and Drug Administration letters, these companies must stop adding caffeine to their beverages immediately, or must stop sales of these products.

The four companies are Phusion Projects, New Century Brewing Company, Charge Beverages Corporation and United Brands Company. Chicago-based Phusion Project is the company behind the hugely popular Four Loco brand of caffeinated alcoholic beverage. Last month, the drink was at the center of a nationwide controversy after a group of New Jersey college students fell severely ill with acute alcohol poisoning after drinking the beverages.

These drinks have become extremely popular among the college crowd. The alcohol creates a buzz, while the caffeine serves to conceal the effects of the alcohol, giving the person the illusion that he is not really that drunk. There is a high potential for binging or excessive drinking with beverages like this. A person, especially a young or inexperienced drinker, may not be able to understand when to stop drinking. Several studies have indicated that persons who drink such caffeinated alcoholic drinks have a greater chance of risky behavior than those who drink only alcohol.

Several states around the country are not waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to pull these products off the market. Many states have banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Four Loco. The company that manufactures Four Loco has said that it will stop adding caffeine to its beverages.

California product liability lawyers expect the FDA to have a bigger fight on its hands. While it has written the letters to just four manufacturers of these products, there are estimated to be more than two dozen manufacturers of these beverages on the market.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Drowsy Driving Has Same Effect on Los Angeles Motorists As DUI

A new study confirms that driving while fatigued or sleepy has the same effect on a motorist as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also indicates that drowsy driving may be much more prevalent in the American population than we know. For instance, the study showed that 41% of all respondents had driven fatigued at least once. Besides, the study indicates that one in six of all fatal car accidents in the US are linked to drowsy driving.

And yet, there's none of the aggressive legislation against drowsy driving that there is against drunk driving. Every state in the union has laws that prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol. However, when it comes to drowsy driving, only the state of New Jersey has laws banning the practice. Even New Jersey's laws ban drowsy driving only when the driver has been without sleep for 24 hours before causing the accident.

It's enough to make Los Angeles DUI attorneys wonder about the difference in the treatment of drunk driving and drowsy driving, even though the latter is on the increase, while accidents related to intoxicated driving have been decreasing steadily over the past decade.

Could it be that drunk driving charges are easier for cops and enthusiastic law enforcement officers to stick on unsuspecting citizens? Breathalyzers are easy to rig, and blood tests can be fudged. Every day in California, hundreds of people are pulled over for unrelated offenses, administered a breathalyzer test and then arrested or charged with DUI. Meanwhile, possibly hundreds of motorists, too sleepy to keep their eyes open, drive by, increasing their risk of an accident with every second they are on the road.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

San Diego Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Firefighter Employment Lawsuit

An appeals court has upheld a ruling from last year which awarded damages to four firefighters in San Diego who had been forced to participate in the Gay Pride Parade in 2007 in Hillcrest.

The four firefighters have always maintained that they were forced by their superiors to take part in the parade in Hillcrest, a predominantly gay neighborhood in San Diego. During the trial, the firefighters testified that the entire experience left them completely uncomfortable. They were harassed during the parade, and were the subject of catcalls. They also saw half naked men simulating sex acts along the parade route. The experience left the firefighters with physical stress-related effects, including headaches, irritable bowel disorder and anxiety. The firefighters say they had given the fire department enough notice that they didn't want to participate in the parade. In fact, the department was aware at least four days before the parade that the four men were not interested in participating.

The four fighter fighters sued the city of San Diego, and won a total of $34,300 plus more than $500,000 in legal fees. The city appealed, and now an appeals court has also upheld that ruling. In 2008, the San Diego Fire Department changed its policies to require that only volunteers take part in the parade. The firefighters say that it was never a question of money, but they only wanted to make a point about government employees not being forced to participate in events that go against their beliefs.

In a volatile political atmosphere, the case has also evolved from one involving employees, employers and Los Angeles employment attorneys to those involving faith and the broader issue of homosexuality. The firefighters were represented by lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, an alliance of Christian attorneys that aims at defending the right of people to live according to their faith.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Technology and the Trucking Industry

 Commercial trucks, big rigs, tractor-trailers, semis - however referred by name are a big necessity on the highway. It is the most common way wholesale goods are shipped cross state as well as cross country. However, their sheer size among the crowds of smaller commuter vehicles makes them very formidable and often quite dangerous on the roads.

Perhaps the best way to ensure safety is through driver education - both for drives of trucks and those sharing the freeways, highways, and streets. Operators of trucks do need special licensing, and must also keep driving time under guidelines. These drivers spend hours upon hours on the road, and their skills are well developed - but driver distractions and fatigue seem to be common causes of truck accidents where drivers were held responsible. For those sharing the road, drivers must remember to give trucks plenty of room, and try to pass on the left side instead of right side. Another common problem occurs when car or motorcycles attempt to pass between trucks and the curbside when the large trucks are making turns (the truck often need to swing wide in order to avoid having the rear wheels clip the corner curbs or lamposts).

One way the tucking industry has changed - the use of technology. A few examples:
  • GPS systems for routing and tracking
  • "Black boxes" for recording events
  • Electronic speed governors
  • Active braking
  • Traction control
Hopefully, advancement will continue in technology - but the best way to prevent accidents will always be common sense and proper planning. Proper maintenance, knowledge of the roads, respect of the weather and driving conditions and driver rest can be implemented instantaneously.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Three Persons Killed in Los Angeles County Plane Crash

Investigators are still trying to determine the causes of a small plane crash in Los Angeles County that killed three persons. The crash occurred last week. The plane crashed into a horse corral in North Los Angeles County, and burst into flames. The plane, a single-engine Cirrius SR22 was on its way from Van Nuys to Parker, Arizona when it went down. Two persons were confirmed dead immediately, while the third died later.

While much of the focus on airline safety tends to revolve around commercial airlines, the fact is that almost no week passes without at least one fatal private plane crash somewhere in the country. In fact, federal agencies are now beginning to turn their attention to the problems facing passengers in private and charter planes.

These crashes involving smaller planes often do not involve multiple fatalities, or end with the same kind of severe damage and property loss that arises out of a commercial plane crash. As a result, they don't hog as much media attention. There is little space devoted to a crash that kills one or two people. However, private plane safety could be a matter of even greater concern than commercial airline safety, simply because of the large total number of people killed every year in these accidents in the US.

Besides, the Federal Aviation Administration regulations that apply to commercial airlines are more stringent than those applied to private aircraft and charter aircraft. There are widespread violations of safety rules, especially those involving pilot work hours. California plane crash attorneys have been very concerned about reports from pilots of small commercial aircraft, who speak of being forced to fly a plane beyond their permissible work hours, or being forced to work to their maximum duty limits, regardless of sleep rhythm patterns.

Thanks to the efforts of airline safety advocates and California plane crash attorneys, commercial airline safety is a hot button topic these days. We need to divert some of that attention to private aircraft safety too.

Monday, 1 November 2010

USCIS Unveils New Secure Naturalization Documents

A few months after unveiling high-tech, secure green cards, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has unveiled new, safer and more secure naturalization documents.

These documents are used by naturalized citizens to obtain passports and other legal documents. In the past, these certificates were filled in manually, and personal photographs were merely stuck onto the document. Now, in the newer version, all important information will be embedded into the certificate. The new document will also come with factors that make it harder to duplicate.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles immigration lawyers had also been impressed with the new design for green cards. Green cards are for those immigrants who have managed to obtain permanent residency status in the US. The new cards come with a personalized holographic image, and a laser engraved fingerprint. According to immigration officials, the redesigns of both the green card and the naturalization documents were long overdue. The design of the green cards has not been updated since 1988, and the naturalization document designs have remained the same since 2003. Even the 2003 design did not add any security features to the design.

California immigration lawyers believe that the new designs will help prevent fraud. The newer secure green card and naturalization documents should allay the concerns of critics who believe that the agency’s document designs promote fraud. Meanwhile, the agency continues to have its critics who insist that the verification process is not strong enough to justify any redesign.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Messy Legal Battle over Estate of Dennis Hopper

The estate of late actor Dennis Hopper is the focus of a messy battle between his estate on the one side, and his would-have-been ex-wife Victoria Duffy Hopper on the other. Duffy and Hopper had been in the middle of a divorce when the actor passed away in May of prostate cancer. He reportedly rewrote his will earlier this year, leaving all his assets to his children and nothing to Duffy.

Now, Duffy is suing Hopper's estate for a whopping $45 million. According to her, the damages are to cover child support expenses for the couple's seven-year-old daughter, as well as to cover hundreds of thousand dollars in legal fees. She's also including $10 million in damages for defamation of character. Her claim also includes at least some of her late husband's real estate, including a home in Venice Beach that holds the late actor's expansive art collection. According to Duffy, she suffered severe losses to the tune of more than $2 million during her marriage to the actor, because she stopped working as an actress. She's also claiming around $4,000 a month in expenses for the care of the family's horse. Just a month before Hopper died, a Los Angeles judge ordered him to pay roughly $2,000 a month in child support, and to give his ex-wife and their child a house to live in.

Meanwhile, Hopper’s estate has also sued Duffy, alleging that she pilfered valuable artwork, including paintings and sculptures that she took from his home before his death. The artwork is worth approximately $1.5 million and Hopper’s estate has requested the court to grant the estate title to the artwork.

It's enough of a mess for us to recommend that everyone hire an experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorney.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Feds Turn Attention Back to Safety of Regional Carriers

The National Transportation Safety Board is once again turning its attention to an aviation safety issue that also has California plane crash lawyers very concerned. Airline partnerships between the major national carriers and smaller regional carriers have existed for decades now. However, these partnerships that are so profitable to the airline industry really burst into the forefront as an aviation safety issue, after the Colgan Air crash of 2009. Flight 3407 crashed into a Buffalo neighborhood last year killing 49 people on board, and one person on the ground.

Regional carriers are used to transport people to the major hubs, from where they can then use the bigger national carriers. Unfortunately, these partnerships are typically devised in a manner to conceal from passengers that they will be using the regional carrier for at least one section of the travel. These partnerships are widely used in the industry, to the extent that regional carriers now account for more than 50% of all domestic travel within the United States.

The partnerships work through code sharing agreements that allow both the national and the regional carriers to benefit through efficiencies in flight connection times, integrated baggage handling, savings in marketing costs and gate handling costs. In theory, travel agents, ticket agents, regional carriers, as well as major airlines are supposed to make it clear to passengers who buy a ticket, that a section of the travel will be operated by another regional carrier. However, in practice, that rarely happens. Most passengers are completely surprised to learn that they will actually be traveling on a regional carrier for one section of the flight.

Unfortunately, regional carriers have a reputation for employing pilots with insufficient training and experience because they can be paid lower salaries. That sets off a vicious cycle where you have pilots with low skills and experience, who have been paid lower salaries, and therefore, can't afford to live near the airline hubs. The situation brings into play other plane crash factors, like fatigue when pilots have to travel long distances to actually reach the airport. These factors contributed significantly to the Colgan Air plane crash.

There are increasingly calls for the national carriers to ensure that their regional partners employ pilots with the same kind of training as the national carriers do. It's high time that the national carriers, which profit from code sharing, devote the resources necessary to ensure that their partners are employing the best safety practices.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Families of Children with Cerebral Palsy Sufferer Extreme Stress

Every day Arizona medical malpractice attorneys witness the devastating damages caused by birth injury resulting in cerebral palsy. Often the impact on the family is left out of the equation. According to a study out of Canada, families of children with cerebral palsy, especially those who have severe limitations, suffer from extreme stress and require coping strategies and resources.

There hasn't been in-depth research into the impact of cerebral palsy on the family of a child over a period of time. Most studies have focused on familial stress when there is a child with cerebral palsy in the preschooler or infant stage. As a result, there is very little information available about school-aged children suffering from cerebral palsy and their families. Researchers at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, studied the parents of children who suffered from cerebral palsy. The children in the study were aged between six and 12 years in the study, which was funded by the Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation.

The researchers found that approximately 45% of the parents described themselves as being "highly stressed," while 11% described themselves as being "defensive." Between 49% and 59% of the parents admitted that their children's cerebral palsy had impacted their time, emotional frame of mind and family activities. Fortunately however, the parents reported that the child’s health had not adversely affected the cohesion of the family as a unit. Stress levels seemed to be greater in families of children who had severe gross motor difficulties and activity limitations. Parents of children with cerebral palsy, who had higher cognitive abilities and pro-social behaviors, were less likely to suffer severe stress.

The study gives a brief glimpse of the kind of impact cerebral palsy can have on an entire family, and not just on the child.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

FDA to Rescind Menaflex Approval

The Food and Drug Administration has admitted that serious errors were made during the approval for the knee device Menaflex, manufactured by New Jersey-based ReGen Biologics. According to the agency, the review process for the approval of the device was insufficient. The agency has confirmed that it will soon begin the process of rescinding approval of the device, which was approved two years ago.

It's not every day that California pharmaceutical liability lawyers find the FDA making the decision to rescind approval of a device. However, the Menaflex situation has presented many challenges to the FDA. It has been the subject of criticism targeted at the FDA, especially its fast-track process or 510(k). A majority of the medical devices approved by the FDA are approved though this fast-track process, which is meant to be used to approve those devices that are reasonably similar to other devices already approved and available on the market. However, the process and its misuse/abuse has come under the microscope in recent years.

The Menaflex knee device, which is meant to repair damaged knee tissue, was approved under the 510(k). According to the FDA, starting from December 2007, agency officials who were reviewing ReGen Biologics’ application for Menaflex approval began receiving calls from members of Congress about the review process. The pressure began to mount on the agency to get the device approved. During the review process, four New Jersey lawmakers including two representatives and two senators, appealed to the agency on behalf of ReGen Biologics. Lawmakers now say they did nothing wrong in appealing to federal agencies to clear bureaucratic hurdles faced by the New Jersey company.

The pressure worked, and Menaflex was approved in spite of the objections of several scientists at the FDA, who insisted that there was little or no benefit from using the device.

That approval is likely to be rescinded soon, and ReGen Biologics has already made clear its displeasure at the decision.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Study Confirms Parents’ Role Crucial in Teen Motorist Safety

The results of a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirm a fact of life for every Los Angeles car accident attorney. Parents have a crucial role to play in the kind of driving habits their children develop. The study also confirms that many parents continue to be quite clueless about how they can help their children develop these habits.

The study consisted of 50 families in North Carolina, who were monitored through video cameras installed in their cars. The researchers in the study were looking at certain aspects, including how parents instructed their children as they were driving, the kind of instructions that were given, and the parental response to their children's driving skills. These families of teen motorists were monitored for a period of four months, soon after the teen motorist in the family obtained his learner's permit.

During the study, 50% of the parents admitted that there was at least one driving condition that they were not comfortable allowing their teenager to drive in. These conditions included driving in poor visibility, poor weather, heavy traffic, on highways and in other challenging situations. Yet that didn't stop at least one-third of the parents from allowing their teenage motorist to get their driver's license as soon as he was eligible for one.

The study also revealed how parents monitor and guide their child while they're driving. Most parental instructions, the researchers noted, were delivered in a highly emotional tone, which does little to instill safe driving practices among teen motorists. There was little actual driving practice with parents accompanying a teenager on a driving session.

Broadly, the study has a few lessons. If you don't believe your child is ready to be driving on a congested highway, in heavy traffic or at night, allow him to continue driving with a learner's permit for a while longer. Have regular practice driving sessions with your child, and offer plenty of driving guidance.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Low Vitality Score at Birth Linked to Higher Risk of Cerebral Palsy

A new study indicates that a low vitality score at birth could mean a high risk of being diagnosed with cerebral palsy later. The vitality or Apgar score is based on five criteria: the infant's pulse rate, complexion, reflex, breathing and muscle tone. The score is rated between 0 and 10. A score of between seven and 10 is considered normal, while a score of 4 to 6 is considered fairly low. A score of below three is considered critically low.

The researchers examined data relating to more than 543,000 infants born between 1986 and 1995. Out of these, 980 children were diagnosed with cerebral palsy before they reached their fifth birthday. The researchers found that children who had an Apgar score of less than three at the time of birth had a much higher incidence of cerebral palsy than those who had scored 10.

According to the researchers, their findings suggest that a low Apgar of less than four is possibly linked to brain impairment that occurs during delivery or pregnancy. However, the researchers caution that these findings must not be taken to indicate that all children with an Apgar of less than four will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy at some point in life. In fact, according to the researchers, most babies who are born with a low Apgar or vitality score actually recover and live a normal life. In fact, 90% of the children who scored less than four on the scale did not develop cerebral palsy.

Arizona medical malpractice lawyers
advise that children who are rated below three on the Apgar scale be watched closely for signs of brain damage. Cerebral palsy is typically diagnosed before a child is five years of age. This is a condition that is associated with muscle impairment and impairment of body movements.

Friday, 8 October 2010

American Apparel Sued for Violation of Disability Act

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles-based American Apparel for violating provisions of the Americans with Disability Act. The lawsuit involves a cancer patient who was wrongfully terminated after going on medical leave for treatment.

According to the complaint which was filed in a Los Angeles court, the employee applied for medical leave because he had to undergo chemotherapy treatment for cancer. He claims his leave request was approved, and even supplied American Apparel the papers confirming the status of his treatment. When he completed treatment, he returned to work, and was informed that his services had been terminated.

The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that American Apparel violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by terminating the employee’s services because of his disability. The lawsuit seeks back pay and compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages. It also seeks injunctive relief to prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability. American Apparel has not commented on the lawsuit.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers in California and around the country are prevented from discriminating against employees based on disability or a perceived disability. Disabled employees must be provided access to facilities that can help them perform their jobs and employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, discrimination against persons with disabilities was rampant in the American workplace. There were few job opportunities open for those with any kind of disabilities, and almost no accommodation of these persons. There were no requirements in place for easier accessibility of workplaces, and there was nothing preventing employers from rejecting a highly qualified candidate purely on the basis of his disability. All that changed with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, California employment class action lawyers see that violations of the Act continue to occur with frequency.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Do In-Flight Safety Demonstration Stunts Keep Passengers Safe?

Airlines using novel, ingenious and sometimes desperate, measures to keep disinterested passengers’ eyes on cabin crew during the all-important safety demonstration, is not a new phenomenon to California plane crash lawyers. Just a couple of years ago, we had an in-flight safety video from Delta that featured an Angelina Jolie look-alike walking passengers through the “put on your seatbelts and switch off your mobile phones” routine. Last year, Air New Zealand went one step further by showing passengers a video including flight attendants wearing body paint. That's right. Body paint. The video wasn't as risqué as you'd expect, and skillful use of camera angles made sure that the video was safe for children to view.

Last week, passengers on a Philippines Cebu Passenger Airlines flight were treated to a safety demonstration, completely choreographed and set to Lady Gaga music. The demonstration took place after the flight took off with stewardesses dancing down the aisle while demonstrating the now familiar drill. However, just to make sure that there were no allegations of trivializing the safety demonstration, the crew performed a regular, Lady Gaga-less routine just before the flight. One of the passengers was able to capture the footage on a cell phone, and uploaded it on YouTube, where it has become something of an Internet sensation.

There's no doubt that such stunts garner attention on a plane, but it's anybody's guess about how much of that all-important safety information seeps into the minds of passengers. Airlines can be under severe pressure to try out novel and ingenious methods to grab passenger eyeballs during the safety demonstration. This is one of the most boring parts of the flight for most passengers, and many might fail to understand that the information in the demo could possibly save their life during an emergency. In these days of minimal attention spans, airlines probably need to pull out all the stops during the safety demonstration, but they must take care to ensure that the entire exercise doesn’t descend into a mockery of these safety rules.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Injuries in the Workplace: Common Types of Accident Claims

Some jobs are dangerous by nature. Firefighting for example. But accidents in the workplace can happen in all types of industries.  Thankfully, many people injured at their place of employment or while performing work-related duties off-site are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits for assistance with medical bills and other financial issues related to being injured on the job.

Some common factors leading to injuries in the workplace.
  • Being fatigued or overworked
  • Overcompensating from a minor movement and losing balance -causing a major movement
  • Car and truck accidents
  • Falling from steps, a level change, or even a trip
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Being hit by falling objects, such as by boxes in a warehouse or storage area
  • Bumping into fixed objects - for example tripping into a doorway
  • Crushing injuries (finger, hands, arms, and other extremities)

Assistance from an attorney may be very beneficial in filing claims and receiving benefits. For people in Southern California, Los Angeles Workers Compensation Lawyer Thomas Hoegh my be able to help. Offices located in the northwest (Woodland hills) and near Long Beach.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Airlines May Be Forced To Remove Defective Seats

American and European aviation safety regulators have proposed a two-year deadline for the testing of certain defective passenger seats on more than 1,000 planes, failing which the seats will have to be removed from the planes. It's likely to cause airlines financial distress as they are forced to yank seats manufactured by Japan's Koito Industries Ltd., unless the company is able to determine which of the seats are defective.

In 2009, Japanese authorities began investigating the possibility that the company had falsified test data. Koito later confessed that it had used a computer program that delivered falsified strength test readings. The company also admitted that it had, in some cases, used results from previous tests. Late last year, officials at the company admitted some more discrepancies. Test results involving more than 150,000 seats in more than 1,000 planes supplied across the world, have been falsified. These planes are currently being used by more than 30 carriers. Koito has since apologized, and promised to conduct tests and fix any defective passenger seats.

The concerns are that these passenger seats increase the risk of injury or fatality during an accident or other emergency situation. These potentially unsafe seats could catch fire during a rough landing or crash, and could injure passengers and crew members. Earlier this year, California plane crash lawyers had believed that airlines would voluntarily be able to remove some of the seats found to be defective from their cabins. However, the problem seems to be in determining which of the seats are defective. Independent experts are conducting tests to confirm which of the seats manufactured by the Japanese company are unsafe.

However, considering the number of seats that are involved and the number of airlines that these seats have been supplied to, determining which of the passenger seats are defective is going to be a monumental task. In the meantime, the airlines could have a two-year deadline during which they either wait for the test results to confirm which seats are defective, or get all of these Koito-manufactured seats removed from cabins.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back to School : Car and Kid Safety Tips to Avoid Accidents

School has been back in session for a few weeks and for those with little ones attending, people who live near a school, or commuters who drive by during the am drop-off or pm pick-up rush - it can be a very chaotic and potentially dangerous driving and pedestrian situation.

Some schools have established a regulated traffic flow pattern for dropping off and picking up children, including the use of cones and staff dedicated to guiding drivers. This is in addition to crossing guards, who do a very important job of ensuring the safety of and reducing accidents involving pedestrians.

A few tips have been published in the Consumer Reports Blogs about Kid Safety. But here are some other things to consider
  1. Avoid distractions by staying off your cell phone, turning off your stereo, and putting down your cup of coffee (or even worse habit when driving - food).
  2. If weather permits (practically year round in California), roll down your window(s) so you can hear any sirens, warnings, instructions, etc. This will keep you tuned into any possible alerts or pending messes.
  3. Keep your child buckled in as long as possible, and have them buckle up as soon as possible.
  4. Avoid backing up. This is one of the most dangerous driving maneuvers when children are present.
  5. PLAN ACCORDINGLY - school starts times and end times are scheduled, be a responsible adult and take the time needed to afford you decreased stress and less rush. Routine is key.
For more information and other types of tips. see

Monday, 20 September 2010

Toyota Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit against San Diego family

It all began with the deaths of four people in a fiery car crash in San Diego last year. That accident, which was later blamed on the sudden acceleration of the Toyota-built Lexus, set off a series of recalls that brought the attention of the world to Toyota’s numerous safety problems. The automaker has now settled with the families of the victims of the crash.

Off-duty California highway patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and daughter-in-law were in the Lexus. It was a loaner vehicle from a local Lexus dealership. At some point, the Lexus began to accelerate to uncontrollable speeds. Witnesses reported seeing the wheels burst into flames as Saylor stood on the brakes. The Lexus crashed into an embankment, bursting into flames. All four people in the car were killed instantly. 911 recordings later confirmed that the car had accelerated to high speeds, with the motorist, an experienced driver himself, unable to stop it.

Mark Saylor’s parents, as well as the parents of his wife and brother-in-law, filed wrongful death lawsuits against Toyota. Out of the hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed against Toyota, all related to unintended acceleration, these California lawsuits were believed to have the strongest case against Toyota. The company has now settled with the family. However, the Toyota settlement does not include the dealer whose car was involved in the accident.

Since the first recall last year, car accident lawyers in Los Angeles and around the country have filed hundreds of lawsuits against Toyota. The automaker is expected to deny liability in many of these crashes, and blame driver error instead.

There had been murmurs about sudden unintended acceleration in these vehicles even before that deadly accident in San Diego. However, the accident that killed Mark Saylor's family really put the spotlight on the problems that Toyota had, for so long, been brushing under the carpet. All the focus on Toyota’s problems with electronic throttle controls also created a domino effect; with other safety problems with the company's cars now out in the open.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ryanair Chief Wants to Eliminate Copilots - Says "Bloody Computer" Can Run Plane

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary is not exactly a stranger to controversy. This time however, he has sparked outrage among California plane crash lawyers and the flying public over his comments that a copilot in a cockpit is not really a necessity. According to O'Leary, one pilot is more than enough to get the job done. O'Leary is quoted in Bloomberg as saying - "Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it."

The "bloody computer" he is referring to is all the computerized technology in modern cockpits that make it easier for pilots to fly planes. California plane crash attorneys don't expect to soon see the day when we actually will have just one pilot, and plenty of gadgetry, flying planes. However, when someone in a position of responsibility, even if he runs a European budget airline, says something as outrageous as this, we need to speak up, and set them right.

Computers don't fly planes, people do. All that a computer can do is release some of the stress on pilots, and make their job easier. That's what computer systems in most other industries also do. Sure, planes can perform auto landings, but the numbers of landings that are automated constitute a minuscule percentage of the millions of plane landings every day. Even with all this automation, pilot and copilots can be very busy in the cockpit. Make no mistake. Flying a plane is stressful, highly sophisticated and skilled work.

It's also hard to imagine the kind of impact these kinds of statements will have on copilots who currently fly Ryanair planes. It can't do much for job satisfaction to find that your boss thinks you are useless, and can just as easily be replaced by a computer.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Influx of Russian Drivers in Trucking Industry

Time magazine has a piece on the growing numbers of Russian immigrant drivers in the trucking industry, and the kind of safety impact drivers with a limited knowledge of English could have in an industry that’s so dependent on the professionalism and quality of its drivers.

There no studies to indicate exactly how many Russian-born drivers are in the United States currently. But immigration in the segment has been increasing steadily over the years. A dismal economic scene for truck drivers in Russia has meant more numbers of them coming to the US. Most of them lack educational qualifications and are above the age of 35. For them, there may be no other options than to drive trucks.

So are they really any safety issues from these drivers, or is Time magazine overreacting? Anytime there is a truck driver behind the wheel who is not able to read road signs or understand English properly, there is a serious risk to trucking safety. Just about every Las Vegas truck accident lawyer will agree with that.

In fact, to be able to obtain a Commercial Drivers License, drivers need to be able to read and speak English at least sufficiently enough to be able to talk to the public. They also need to be able to understand traffic signs and signals. They also must be able to talk to inspection officers if they're pulled over for a check.

There are Russians who can speak English sufficiently well, but most drivers do struggle with the language. In 2001, an audit of Utah's CDL system found that many immigrant drivers had been using electronic translation devices to take the CDL test. In August, federal prosecutors broke open a scheme in Pennsylvania, selling CDLs to incompetent drivers, many of them Russian-speaking immigrants.

None of this is to say that all of the country's Russian-born truckers are not qualified to operate rigs. However, any time you have a truck being operated by a person who can't speak sufficient English to perform his job appropriately-whether it is a Russian, Finn or Brazilian - you have a definite trucking safety issue.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

No Clues yet in Fatal Arkansas Medical Helicopter Crash

A medical helicopter went down in the hills of central Arkansas this week, killing three crew members on board. The helicopter went down near Scotland in Van Buren County in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It had been on its way to pick up an injured victim from a traffic accident site, when it apparently exploded in midair. According to local sheriff's officials at the scene, it's fair to assume that the victims were killed on impact. The helicopter disintegrated to several pieces, and these were scattered across a large area.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent an investigative team to the site. According to the investigators, they will look at mechanical malfunctioning of the helicopter and other issues that could have contributed to the crash. According to representatives of Air Evac Lifeteam, the company that operated the helicopter, it was equipped with night vision equipment. There seems to have been no distress call from the helicopter before the crash.

This is not the first medical helicopter crash involving an aircraft of Air Evac Lifeteam in recent years. In 2008, a helicopter owned by Air Evac went down in a cornfield in Indiana. Three people died in that crash. In 2007, another helicopter went down in Colbert County, Alabama killing three people on the helicopter. In 2006, another helicopter crashed in Northwest Arkansas, injuring three crewmembers and killing the patient who was being transported. Just last month, a medical helicopter had to make a crash landing in Tulsa, Oklahoma after a hydraulic failure. No one was injured in the crash.

In a span of just four years, 10 people have been killed in medical helicopter accidents involving air ambulances operated by Air Evac. This record of fatal crashes is likely to draw the attention of investigators and medical helicopter accident lawyers.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Pediatric Group Releases New Guidelines for Treatment of Concussions

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new set of guidelines for the treatment of concussions. The new guidelines have been published in the September issue of Pediatrics journal, and come just as a new study finds an increase in the number of children being rushed to emergency rooms for sports injury-related concussions.

According to the study, the number of children being taken to emergency rooms with concussions increased by more than 100% between 1997 and 2007. The study considered children aged between eight and 19, and found that overall, the children made more than half a million visits to hospital ERs for concussion treatment. Among children aged between 14 and 19, ER visits for concussions actually trebled during the ten-year period. California brain concussion injury lawyers suspect that the actual numbers of children suffering concussions are much higher, simply because many children with concussions are not taken to emergency rooms.

The study results have been published to coincide with the release of the new guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the group, a child who suffers a concussion must be put through a treatment program that consists of little else but rest. There is a misconception that concussions are minor injuries, just because they don't always result in loss of consciousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. A concussion can lead to complications further down the line, especially if you have not taken care to prevent your child from suffering a second concussion.

A child who goes back to playing sports soon after a concussion, could suffer another head injury which could be harder to heal. The group is recommending that these children be given plenty of rest, and made to stay home from school while they recuperate after a concussion. Television time and homework must be avoided until the child has time to completely recover.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Should TBI Be Redefined As Chronic Disease?

A couple of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have put forward an intriguing concept - since brain injury triggers a series of medical conditions which may present themselves over the person’s lifetime, it may perhaps be time to redefine TBI as a chronic disease that can be monitored.

Researchers Douglas Dewitt and Brent Massel have published their opinions in the Journal of Neurotrauma. According to them, a brain injury can kick off a disease process that includes medical conditions ranging from sleep apnea and epilepsy to sexual dysfunction and psychiatric illnesses. TBI has been found associated with the development of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. All this is not even counting new studies that emerge every month linking brain injury to other conditions, like depression and neuroendocrine disorders. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, patients can expect to face more complications as the years go by. The more severe the brain injury, the higher the number of complications that present themselves over the person’s lifetime.

Both the researchers are calling for redefining brain injury as a chronic and consistent disease. By doing so, doctors will be able to monitor brain injury patients, and track their symptoms in the same way that they currently do for patients with cardiac disease or diabetes. We don't treat persons diagnosed with diabetes as suffering from an injury. Instead, patients are monitored regularly for blood glucose levels, and symptoms of cardiac disease. They are also monitored for the development of kidney disease, deteriorating eyesight, and other complications arising from diabetes. If we redefine brain injury as a disease, we could do something similar for these patients too.

Doctors and California brain injury lawyers have always known of the impact these increasing complications have on a person's health and finances. It would lessen the financial impact on these people, because it would require insurance companies to reimburse these people more often, as more complications develop.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Federal Judge Blocks Obama's Stem Cell Therapy Policy

It is a major setback to California brain injury lawyers, brain and spinal cord injury victims, and scientists nationwide. A federal district judge this week blocked the Obama administration's 2009 executive order allowing embryonic stem cell research, on the grounds that it violated a ban preventing federal money from being used for destroying embryos.

US Chief District Court Judge Royce Lambert ruled that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is banned by the law that dictates that federal money cannot be used in research in which destroyed embryos are used. The judge did not buy into the Obama administration’s argument that embryonic stem cell research on its own did not warrant or call for the destruction of embryos.

According to Judge Lambert, if even one step of the research process involves the destruction of an embryo, then that entire research process is not eligible for federal funding. This definition of what kind of research is and is not eligible for federal funding is a much narrower one than the one that existed during the Bush administration. Ironically, the laws governing stem cell research were believed to be much more stringent and restrictive during the earlier White House administration.

Obviously, this has proved to be a major shock to scientists who are currently involved in varying phases of embryonic stem cell research around the country. The scientists are researching the potential of embryonic stem cells to treat a variety of conditions and illnesses. The benefits of stem cells arise from the fact that these are able to develop into any form of tissue. That is especially useful in research into diseases like cardiac disease and diabetes. Many spine injury lawyers in fact, have been building hopes on budding stem cell research in these areas.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Novo Nordisk Retaliation Court Decision Sends Wrong Message to Employees

A former sales rep for Novo Nordisk has lost the appeal of her retaliation lawsuit. California employment lawyers believe it's an unfortunate ruling, and sends the wrong message to millions of women who work in the pharmaceutical industry.

The case involves Vivian Garriga, a former sales rep at Novo Nordisk. In 2007, Garriga was assigned to a new supervisor, Brian Taylor. Taylor soon began a pattern of sexual harassment that included leering Garriga, and making offensive sexual comments. At a meeting, Taylor, much to Garriga’s amazement, started a game of “which employee would you most like to have sex with?” In her lawsuit, Garriga claims that he frequently made sexual comments, spoke to her about sex frequently, and called Garriga and one of her partners sexually demeaning names. She also claimed there was verbal bullying that was designed to drive Garriga to tears.

Garriga soon filed a sexual harassment complaint against Taylor. Two weeks after Taylor got wind of that complaint, she was put on a coaching program for low performance employees. The coaching program actually had her participating in more one-on-one time with Taylor.

Soon after the complaint, Garriga and her work partner Shannon Duffy, agreed to host a dinner for a physician and his wife as well as their boyfriends, which the two women paid for. It was a violation of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) rules, and as soon as Taylor found out about it, he recommended to the Nordisk HR department that Garriga be fired. Garriga’s services were terminated.

Her retaliation lawsuit was first dismissed by a federal district court, and now, a federal appeals court has also upheld that ruling. According to the company, the fact that she paid for a non-educational dinner was a violation of PhRMA rules, and therefore, her termination was justified.

It seems like Nordisk has gotten away with excusing Taylor's harassment by finding a way to fire Garriga for a practice that is widespread in the pharmaceutical industry. There's no doubt that Garriga violated PhRMA rules, but as she said, she told Taylor about the dinner about 10 days before she was fired, and he seemed to have no problem with it.

It is the wrong message to send to male supervisors in the pharmaceutical industry - that it's okay to put on your most boorish behavior with female subordinates, as long as you can find a technicality on which you can get them fired when they complain of sexual harassment. It sends an even worse message to the thousands of women employed in this industry, who will now think twice before complaining about sexual harassment.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Wyeth Workplace Retaliation Lawsuit Revived

Wyeth is having a ghost from the past come back to haunt it. Two years ago, the company had a retaliation and discrimination lawsuit filed against it thrown out by a court. Now, a federal court has overturned the verdict, clearing the way for a possible new trial.

In 2008, a jury in New York found for Wyeth in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by former employee Howard Henry. Henry was a production engineer and chemist at Wyeth. His lawsuit alleged the company subjected him to racial discrimination. He also alleged the company denied him promotions, and he was given unfair performance reviews. His lawsuit was one of seven filed by other current and former African-American employees of the company’s Pearl River New York Campus, all alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. However, a jury decided against Henry.

The retaliation verdict has now been overturned by a federal appeals court. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the District Court judge in charge of overseeing Henry's trial wrongly instructed the jury. In the trial, the jury had been instructed that Henry needed to prove that the supervisor who retaliated against him, did so knowing that Henry had filed a discrimination complaint against the company. According to the Appeals Court judge, the evidence of retaliation that Henry provided might have been strong enough for a decision to go in his favor, if the jury had not been so instructed.

That means that Wyeth is likely to face a new trial. Obviously, Henry and his lawyers are very pleased with the verdict. Los Angeles labor lawyers however must make clear that this decision doesn't establish that there was retaliation in this case. Wyatt continues to insist that there was no retaliation of any sort in Henry's case.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Eight People Injured in Los Angeles Metro Train-Bus Accident

Eight people have been injured in an accident involving a Metro Blue Line train and a bus in downtown Los Angeles. According to Los Angeles fire authorities, the Blue Line train slammed into a bus near the intersection of Broadway and Washington Blvd. The train remained on the tracks, but the bus jumped the sidewalk. Eight people were injured, six of them on the bus. The injuries have been mainly non-life-threatening, but four of the injured victims had to be taken to the hospital for an assessment of their injuries.

There are no details about the collision, and investigations are on. Investigators are likely to look into the speed of the Blue Line train at the time of the accident. They are also likely to consider whether driver error or inattention contributed to this accident. Other possible factors could have been mechanical malfunction of the braking systems.

Considering the amount of attention that Los Angeles train accident lawyers and transit systems around the country have been paying to distracted driving, driver inattention and distraction could be one of the major factors that investigators consider in this Los Angeles bus-train accident. In Los Angeles, we have had an especially close look at the devastation that can occur when train operators are distracted at the controls. The 2008 Chatsworth Metrolink train accident in Los Angeles was ultimately traced to the inattention of the train operator. Robert Sanchez had been found to have exchanged several text messages with a young rail fan in the minutes before the train crashed head-on into a United Pacific freight train. As a result of his inattention, Sanchez missed a stoplight, and the train ended up on the same tracks and in the opposite direction as the freight train. The resulting collision killed 15 people and led to an overhaul of SoCal’s transit system.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Los Angeles Woman Killed, Child Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident

Yet another person has been killed in an alcohol-related car accident in Los Angeles. A 51-year-old grandmother sustained fatal injuries, and her five-year-old grandchild was seriously injured in an accident caused when a drunk driver rammed into their car

The woman's husband, who had been driving the car, had just pulled up outside a residence on Wilbur Avenue, and had alighted from the car to unlock the gates of the residence. The woman stayed behind in the car to tend to her grandson. Just then, a Jeep Cherokee allegedly being driven by an intoxicated driver, rammed into the Toyota Prius. The five-year old child was ejected from the car, and landed in the street. The child has suffered lacerations and body trauma. The woman meanwhile sustained fatal injuries, and was declared dead at the scene of the crash. The Cherokee driver has been arrested.

Driving under the influence can definitely be grounds for a car accident claim in Los Angeles. It's comparatively easy to prove that an intoxicated driver was driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legally allowed limit of .08. Under California laws, victims of drunk driving accidents or families of those killed in such crashes, may be eligible for compensatory damages that include both economic and noneconomic compensation. Economic damages include the medical expenses that the victim has accumulated since the accident, as well as his lost income as a result of being off work from the day of the accident. Non-economic damages can include damages for pain and suffering. These can also include loss of care, affection, companionship and consortium that can also be named in a California car accident claim.

Your Los Angeles car accident lawyer may also seek punitive damages in your claim, depending on the severity of the accident and the extent of the motorist’s negligence. Punitive damages are not compensatory, and they are awarded to punish the defendant for his actions. These are awarded only in rare circumstances.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Number of Alcohol Drinkers in the US on an Increase

During the period between 1992 and 2002, the number of adult men and women in the United States drinking alcohol actually increased over previous decades. Those results came from a cross-ethnic study that found that this increase in alcohol intake was consistent across all races, including blacks, Latin Americans and whites. The percentage of men who drank increased by about 5%, while the percentage of women who drank increased by between 8 and 9%.

The one fact that really jumped out at Las Vegas drunk driving injury lawyers is that binge drinking in the US has spiked overall. There has been a spike in number of people drinking more than five drinks a day, which constitutes binge drinking. The percentage of adult white men in the US who admitted to drinking more than five drinks a day at least once a week, increased from 9% to 14%. The same kinds of increases were seen also in Hispanic and black persons.

Experts have called for a greater focus on this problem. The study only includes data between 1992 and 2002, when the economy was not as bad as it is today. Since 2008, the economy has tanked, and millions of Americans are out of jobs. This kind of stress and pressure typically leads to alcohol abuse, binge drinking and other kinds of alcohol excesses that increase the risk of drunk driving. It's highly possible that the number of Americans binge drinking is higher now, than is reported in the study.

Any increase in binge drinking is of great concern to Las Vegas drunk driving accident lawyers. This kind of behavior very often leads to motorists driving home intoxicated, and amplifies the risks of causing an accident. Las Vegas drunk driving accident attorneys would like to see a similar study conducted on Las Vegas residents. Las Vegas deals with a double whammy as far as binge drinking goes - the city's party culture is also combined with a dismal economic outlook for many Las Vegas residents.

Monday, 19 July 2010

CPSC Moving Faster Toward a Ban on Drop-side cribs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has accelerated its plans to phase out unsafe drop-side cribs from the market altogether. This week, the agency announced a notice of proposed rulemaking for crib standards. On Wednesday, the commission voted 5-0 to approve the new proposed mandated standards for crib design. The standards are meant to address the dangers that have been associated with the use of drop-side cribs over the past couple of years. The dangers include strangulation, entrapment, suffocation and fall hazards associated with the use of these cribs. The standards were approved in consultation with the ATSM, manufacturers, consumer safety groups, and other children’s product experts. Basically, the standards will ban traditional cribs from having a drop-side.

The continued danger to children from the use of the drop-side cribs in particular, was evident last week when Pottery Barn Kids announced a recall of all its drop-side cribs. Approximately 82,000 cribs are included in this latest recall of cribs. According to Pottery Barn Kids, the drop-side can become detached because of malfunctioning or wearing out of the hardware. That resulted in the children becoming entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side. Several children got their legs entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side, while one child was stuck at the head, but was freed in time

The Pottery Barn recall includes all drop-side cribs sold under the Pottery Barn name, regardless of the model number. These were sold through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, and online at They were also sold at the Pottery Barn Kids retail stores nationwide between January 1999 and March 2010. Pottery Barn Kids advises that consumers must immediately inspect the cribs involved in the recall, and see whether the hardware is broken. If the hardware is intact, they must contact Pottery Barn Kids to receive a free conversion kit that will immobilize the drop-side. These immobilization devices are meant to keep the drop-side in place, and prevent it from moving up and down. This eliminates much of the risk from the crib design.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

PG&E Will Pay San Jose Mother $5 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

It’s been a hard-fought victory for Lisa Bernstein, a San Jose mother who took on PG&E after her daughter was killed in an accident involving the utility company’s vehicle. She has agreed for a settlement of $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit that she filed against the company, but PG&E has been forced to make compromises that it probably wouldn't have had she not been so persistent.

The accident that killed Bernstein's daughter occurred in 2006. Bernstein's daughter, a college student, and her boyfriend were killed in a crash when the car they were traveling in was struck by a PG&E utility truck. Later, prosecutors alleged that the truck driver, John Mayfield, who suffered from diabetes, had blacked out while driving. He had not checked his blood sugar levels, and that ultimately proved fatal to the two other persons involved in the accident.

Bernstein filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the utility company. She turned down a settlement offer when PG&E refused to support a law that would make companies more accountable for their errant drivers. She insisted on going to trial, not a decision that her attorneys supported. However, just before the trial, she chose to settle with the company for $5 million.

It hasn't been an easy settlement for PG&E to make. Under the terms of the settlement, PG&E agreed to record the resolution as a judgment. Typically in such cases, settlements are recorded as confidential. This makes it harder for California wrongful death attorneys to negotiate with the company in future accidents. The $5 million payout, according to Bernstein, is also higher than the typical value that is placed on a college student's life, which is around $2 million.

Bernstein is not giving up her crusade against PG&E, and their responsibilities towards their drivers and other motorists. She plans to seek legislation that would require companies with a minimum of 25 cars in their fleet to receive automatic notifications when one of their drivers receives a ticket. Currently, trucking companies and other commercial companies receive such notifications when their drivers are ticketed or involved in accidents. Bernstein wants that rule to cover more fleet owners.

She's also supporting a piece of legislation that would require diabetic drivers to test their blood sugar before they drive. She’s also making an effort to hit the company where it hurts. She says she'll use some of her settlement money to create an alternative energy sources foundation that would chip away at PG&E's monopoly.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Toyota Recalls Lexus SUVs Because of Fuel Leak Hazards

The latest Toyota recall is reminding class action attorneys of the Ford Pinto exploding gas tank crisis of the 70s. Toyota Motor Corp. has just announced a recall of approximately 17,000 Lexus HS 250h vehicles. This recall is linked to a possible fuel leak problem that could contribute to explosions and fires. In addition to the recall, Toyota has also announced a halt to the sales of these sport-utility vehicles.

For a company that prides itself on its auto safety record (or at least did, until the acceleration crisis broke last year) it is surprising that this fuel leak problem was not revealed by the company's own testing. It was testing authorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that revealed that these vehicles could leak fuel during a rear impact accident. The NHTSA hired a contractor to do the testing, which found that upon impact, the vehicle leaked more than the maximum allowed limit for such leakage, which is 142 g. The NHTSA then informed Toyota that it was not in compliance of fuel leak standards, and Toyota promptly issued a recall. You don't need to be a class action attorney to know that excessive fuel leakage during an accident can lead to catastrophic explosions.

This latest recall confirms that it's not just acceleration problems that seem to plague Toyota vehicles. Another Lexus model was involved in a recall earlier this year. That recall came after a test by Consumer Reports found that the vehicle was at a high risk of a rollover while making turns. Toyota immediately conducted testing which confirmed the problem, and the company issued a recall.

In this latest recall, Toyota has no immediate plans to fix the problems. All in all, it doesn't look like Toyota's troubles are ending anytime soon. The company’s total tally of recalled vehicles has touched 10 million since last year when the first recalls came in response to the acceleration problem.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Los Angeles Red-Light Cameras - Boycott or Safety Issue?

Today the LA Times reports about the Los Angeles City Council members decision to continue the red-light camera program, even though the camera systems operator is an Arizona based company - which should be boycotted under the political decisions of the council related to Arizona's new immigration-enforcement policy.

The cameras are operated at 32 intersections, and the  LA Police Department says red-light-related accidents declined about 9% those intersections. However, those appear to be the overall statistics, because at half of those intersections, no change in accidents or an actual increase was observed. No doubt about it, Los Angeles intersections are car accident prone, and those varying stats might not be significant in showing that accidents are less likely at camera controlled intersections.

Interestingly, the financial aspects of the red light cameras don't make sense - a report from the City of Los Angeles budget advisor says the revenue from tickets in less than payments to the Arizona Company and the LAPD's costs to run the ticketing program.

If the statistics are clear for safety, and money isn't being made, maybe it is time for a new program to lower southern California injury and accident rates? Better laws, education, and punishment for alcohol related accidents might be a good start, as prevention of the most dangerous accidents should be a priority.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Trial Lawyers, Automakers Argue over Preemption Provision in Auto Safety Bill

There’s much behind-the-scenes wrangling going on between automakers and trial lawyers over a missing provision in the auto safety bill version that was approved by a Senate committee this week.

Last week, the far-reaching auto safety bill was approved by the Senate Committee, but it was missing one provision that had been included in the earlier version that passed the House last month. The House-approved version included a measure that would allow more American consumers to file auto defect product liability lawsuits against automakers. That measure was removed from the version that finally made it to the Senate, under pressure from automakers.

The Bush administration in all its wisdom decided that auto companies, whose vehicles met federal safety regulations, could not be sued by motorists in state courts in case of accidents caused by defects under the so-called federal preemption doctrine. The former administration was a huge fan of federal preemption, but the Obama administration has publicly made clear its objection to such laws.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, Democrat-California, and Rep. Bruce Braley, drafted a measure that would make it easier for consumers who suffered injuries because of auto defects, to sue automakers in a state court. The measure was expected to be attached to the final version of the massive auto safety bill that includes a wide range of safety measures.

Not surprisingly, the automaker lobby has been up in arms against this measure. They insist that removing federal preemption would drive up costs because of lawsuits brought by American consumers. The powerful Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says that state courts should not have the power to overrule federal regulations.

No class action attorney - or for that matter, no American - should call the auto safety bill complete, if it denies consumers the right to seek justice in a civil court for injuries caused by auto defects. Increased penalty powers for the NHTSA and the installation of more gadgetry in cars is all great, but these can’t help an injured person or the family of a person killed in an accident caused by a defect, to recover justice.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Handyman Service, Los Angeles Home Repair

Although the real estate and construction industry is not what is was a few years ago, home repair services are very much in demand. As things around the house break or need upgrading, not everyone is do-it-yourselfer (DIYer). Many people have handy friend or relative to call on, others have a reliable handyman to call, and some thumb through yellow pages to find help.  Of course the internet is great resource. On sites such as you can see what handyman services are offered and even read testimonials from past clients.

In addition to testimonials and services offered, the site includes information about the owner, a licensed general contractor.  Having a personal touch is nice for people wary of having a stranger come into their home. In fact, many other home  repair service websites are just referral services that send your phone or email inquiry to whomever subscribes to their service.

The FixitDudes site is part of Modaa Inc, a southern CA construction company. They are a green-certified builder and strive to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible for the projects.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed in Lake Tahoe Ski Resort Accident

The family of a man who was killed in a ski lift accident at a resort in Lake Tahoe, has filed a premises liability lawsuit against the facility. The lawsuit has been filed against the resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort, as well as other companies, including Samson Rope Technologies and Terra Nova LLC.

The lawsuit relates to the death of Mark Dickson, who died in a ski lift accident in August last year. Dickson was riding the Tamarack Express Chairlift at the resort when the chairlift became entangled in a line from the ZipRider zip line ride. Dickson died of his injuries, and his wife of one month, was seriously injured. Dickson’s family has now filed a lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages from the three companies.

California's premises liability laws apply when a person suffers injuries on another person's property. The nature and scope of these injuries may be vast. There may include slip and fall accidents, drownings, fires and explosions. Assaults, rapes and other violent incidents that occur on another's property, may also fall under the purview of premises liability laws.

However, it isn't enough for an injury to occur on a person's property for that person to be named by a California premises liability lawyer in a lawsuit. A plaintiff must be able to show that the property owner - or person who had control over the property - was negligent in providing a safe property. The responsibility of providing safe premises rests not just on the owner of the property, but also on the property manager, any contractors on the property, tenants, and companies involved in the maintenance and upkeep of the property. Therefore, there may be more than one person who has control over the property, and therefore, is responsible for the injury.

California's laws also expect a person using the property, to exercise reasonable care. This means that if there is a dangerous condition on the property that is obvious, customers, guests, visitors or other users of the property are expected to be aware of the dangerous condition, and exercise due care in maintaining their own safety. If the injured victim has been found to be at least partially to blame for his own injury, then theories of comparative negligence will come into play. Here, the damages awarded to the victim will be reduced, depending on the proportion of his negligence.