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.