Monday, May 31, 2004

Automakers subject to personal injury lawsuits

The New York Times reports that at least a dozen lawsuits have been filed against automakers on the grounds that "it made a car it knew it was not safe enough to survive collisions with its other products, namely large pickups and sport utilities." These "compatibility" lawsuits often name the maker who made the smaller car claiming that it was not built to withstand the impact of the large SUV's. Another approach has been to sue the maker of the larger SUV, claiming that the vehicle was designed in a way that was needlessly unsafe.

In New York, I am not aware of any plaintiff's firms that have named an automaker as a defendant in an automobile accident lawsuit. I handle hundreds of automobile cases a month of counsel to other law firms, none named an automaker.

Suing the carmaker provides the benefit of an additional deep pocket to pay claims. However, these compatibility lawsuits can be costly because it would require hiring additional experts to prove the design defect was a cause in the accident. The most likely situation where the automaker would be named as a party is where a passenger has both severe injuries, for example multiple back surgeries, coupled with either poor liability (ie the driver who was injured caused the accident) or a small insurance policy.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Diet Guru Atkins estate and company sued over diet

The estate and company of Dr. Atkins was sued by Jody Gorran,a 53 year old man who claims that the diet raised his cholesterol so much that his arteries became clogged and required a medical procedure to open them.

The lawsuit is likely to be dismissed before trial. I agree with the analysis of professor Benjamin Zipursky, who teaches torts and product liability law, who was quoted stating that Tort law generally does not permit a cause of action or lawsuit based on bad theories put out in a book, and most courts would recognize a valid First Amendment defense here.

What duty do you think a book or diet have to warn of its potential dangers?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

New York Police Department fails to help deportation sweep of immigrants

The New York Police Department backed out of a massive deportation sweep of criminal immigrants. In a turf war with the Department of Homeland Security, the Police department claims that it does not have the resources to conduct the operation. It also appears that the NYPD is worried about their image regarding New York City's large immigrant population.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Networking for Referrals

When confronted with a legal matter outside my practice areas, my law firm refers cases to other attorneys. This article, posted in the ABA Journal, provides advice to lawyers on what you need to know when referring cases.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Thank you Law Pundit for RSS feed information

Thanks to Andis Kaulins, who publishes the blog Law Pundit, this site now has a RSS feed.

New York Accident News

As a personal injury attorney, I am always looking to help people who have been injured in accidents. However, because of laws against "ambulance chasing," I cannot directly contact people who are known to have been in an accident. So here is an indirect appeal.

The New York Post reports today that Hasidic girls from Brooklyn were injured in a bus accident. If any of your children were involved in this accident and were injured please contact my office.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Insurance executive has a Score to settle

The New York Daily News leads with this important article regarding the high end strip club Scores in Manhattan. An insurance executive, out for a night of champagne and lap dances, is suing the club for $28,000.00 that he claims was improperly billed to his credit card. The New York Post reports that the plaintiff is Mitchell Blaser, the chief financial officer of Swiss Re's Americas unit. The club maintains that the charges were all legitimate. Suprisingly, the New York Times failed to report on this matter.

One killed, two hurt in partial B'klyn building collapse

One worker was killed and two others were injured today in Brooklyn in a building collapse. Who do you think is responsible for the accident?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

$2 million dollars awarded for false confession

In New York, a Central Islip jury awarded Shonnard Lee $2 million dollars against the Nassau County police department for a false confession. Mr. Lee spent 21 months in jail awaiting trial. The jury found that the police duped Mr. Lee into signing a card indicating that Lee waived his right to remain silent and his right to have an attorney present. The county's attorney's office plans to appeal the verdict.

Do you think that the jury awarded too much, too little or just the right amount of money to Mr. Lee?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Blawg of the day

New York Civil Law is a blog about "New York Appellate Law, Civil Procedure, Insurance Coverage and Defense and other interesting issues." The website is geared to lawyers. The anonymous author is an associate at the Albany, New York office of Goldberg Segalla LLP.

Please send me an email regarding any blogs of interest.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Schwarzenager wants California to tax punitive damages

The governor of California has proposed to tax 75 percent on all punitive damage awards. New York State and the federal government do not tax punitive damages.

Punitive damages are awarded to punish defendants and to set an example. Often reduced on appeal, these damages often make headlines because of the record sums that are awarded. Although I did not read the decision, I am sure that a $195 million dollar judgment that was recently awarded against the City of New York to a child that was bullied(see April 28th posting) was comprised mostly of punitive damages.

Read this article for reaction regarding the proposal. Do you think punitive damages should belong to the state or to the individual?

Friday, May 14, 2004

There are more drivers on the road, who are you most likely to run into? A Student? A Librarian? A Lawyer?

Imagine siting in your car, waiting for the light to change. Suddenly, you feel a hard impact to the rear of your car. You exit your vehicle. Who do you expect to be behind the wheel of that large automobile that just came into contact with you? A Student? A Librarian? A Lawyer? A recent study performed by the Quality Planning Commission has found that the two professions most likely to be helpful following an accident, doctors and lawyers, were most likely to be involved in the accident itself. Not suprisingly, students top the list as the occupation most likely to be involved in an accident. What makes attorneys so accident prone?
(Sorry about the shameless plug, but remember, after the accident, call my law office)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

New York State investigating assisted living facilities

Americans are increasingly mobile and medical advances have improved our life expectancy. These two trends have resulted in more people living into their advanced years, but without the nearby family system that once provided both medical and social supports. To fill this void, assisted living facilities have been taking care of an increasing proportion of our seniors.

Newsday reports that New York State health officials are probing three Long Island assisted living facilities for problems ranging from failing to report a resident's death to inadequate supervision after three elderly women with dementia wandered away from their centers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

New York City may be liable for student's fatal death due to beating

A teenager back in 1996 was beaten to death in a New York City school yard. The court of appeals ruled today that the City of New York may be liable for his death. Just last week, a jury in Queens awarded a judgment to a teenager for $195 million dollars after they found that the City did nothing to stop the abuse(see my post of April 28, 2004). Who do you think should be responsible for violence in our schools? Should kids hire Ricky Linderman, from the 1980 teen classic "My Bodyguard" to protect them?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

NYC Rent board to raise rents

The New York City Rent Control Board has proposed to raise rents from 3 to 3.5 percent for one year leases and from 5.5 to 7.5 percent for two year leases.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Martha Stewart to argue against prison sentence as it will hurt jobs

Domestic diva Martha Stewart was recently convicted on all counts in the ImClone obstruction trial. Her attorneys are planning to argue that she should not receive a jail sentence as it will hurt jobs. Do her attorneys have any legal basis for their argument?

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Is torture ever justified?

Photographs of American soldiers appearing to brutulize Iraqi prisoners were released this week. Amnesty International charges that the alleged abuse were war crimes. Is torture ever justified?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Dermatologist "Dr. Z" placed on probation for negligence

Anyone who frequently rides the New York City subway is well acquainted with Dr. Z, New York dermatologist Dr. Jonathan Zimor. His rainbow advertisements promising beautiful skin is placed throughout the subway system. According to the New York Post, he was fined $40,000 and placed on probation for three years for failing to perform adequate medical histories and physical exams on nine patients.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

New York City shielded from punitive damages for sexual harassment

Strike up another victory for the City of New York. The Court of Appeals ruled that the NYC's human rights law does not allow a victim of sexual harassment to collect punitive damages against NYC. This decision only applies to the City of New York.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

New York Civil Small Claims Court receives a C grade by a legal reform group

The ethical esq. reports on interesting report on Small Claims Courts released today by a "legal reform" group named HALT. New York State received a C grade. The report on New York, found here, is notable for its superficial analysis of the problems of the small claims court system.

From: David Giacalone at prof. yabut's journal: Thanks for linking to my posting. I had the same reaction that the NYS summary is superficial (maybe even a bit silly). However, HALT's overall perspective on small claims courts (and the limitations in NYS, where I live), as seen on the site, seems quite accurate.

Monday, May 03, 2004

$1 billion dollar verdict in Fen-Phen Suit

A Texas jury returned a verdict of $1 billion dollars in a wrongful death suit against the makers of the weight loss drug Fen-Phen. The award will likely be reduced because Texas, unlike New York State, where I maintain my law practice, has a statutory cap on punitive damages.

For a positive view of Fen-Phen, read It Must Have Been Something I Ate: The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything by Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten.