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Evesham Employment Law Blog

A Report On Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has completed a report on the cost of motor vehicle crashes nationwide. The report provides a summary of the financial damage caused by traffic accidents in 2012. While the report does an excellent job of showing the scope of the problem, it falls far short of providing a true understanding of the damage done by negligent drivers. Working with families that have lost loved ones because of distracted, drunk and unsafe drivers provides real insight into the "cost" of motor vehicle accidents.

Even a look at the financial picture is stunning. According to the CDC, vehicle crashes caused $18 billion in lifetime medical costs for victims. Crashes resulted in more than a million days spent in the hospital by Americans. The CDC estimated that $33 billion in lifetime earnings was lost because of crashes that occurred in 2012. In dollar value alone, it is clear how beneficial it would be for people to focus on being safer drivers. 

Texting Behind The Wheel

Laws aimed at putting a stop to texting while driving swept the nation in recent years. In total, 44 states have enacted total bans on texting behind the wheel. Texting is viewed as a dangerous distraction for someone who should be focusing on safe driving. While distracted driving is a larger problem than just texting, the bans were correctly targeted to a growing trend that was causing car accidents. Unfortunately, the bans have not necessarily proven effective at actually preventing people from texting and driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 420,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2012. Texting was the culprit in more than a few of those cases. The bans have served to discourage people from blatantly texting, but that might have simply driven them to lower their eyes further and attempt to text on cell phones held on their laps. The bans vary in the authority given to police to catch and punish drivers for texting. It is not always easy to catch a driver suspected of this form of distracted driving. 

Takata Knew, And They Waited For Deaths To Start Recalls

New Jersey Civil Rights and Personal Injury Trial Lawyer Discusses Takata Airbag Recalls

Until recently, you've probably never heard of a company called "Takata," a company in Asia that makes airbags for cars. Between 2000 and 2008, Takata made, and sold to a number of auto manufacturers, airbags that were defective. The defect was that high humidity could cause passenger-side airbags to "explode," littering the interior of the vehicle with deadly metallic fragments. Automakers affected by the defective airbags included BMW, Dodge, Ram, Chrysler, Ford, Pontiac, Saab, Honda, Acura, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Infiniti, Subaru, Toyota and Lexus.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) website, the "window of danger" appears to cover the period from 2000 to 2008, with most of the "dangerous" model-years being between 2003 and 2006 for most models and in most cases.

In June of 2014, about 900,000 vehicles containing the faulty airbags were recalled in two states, Florida and Hawaii, and from two U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. That recall was initiated by Takata itself. Honda voluntarily expanded the recall to an additional 2.4 million vehicles registered or first sold in Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.

Medical Malpractice, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and Ebola

New Jersey Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Briana Aguirre, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and Ebola

Or... If They Can't Get This Right, Imagine How Much Medical Malpractice Actually Takes Place That Isn't Addressed.

I know everyone's terrified of Ebola, and with good cause. It's a killer virus. On the other hand, the zombie apocalypse hasn't quite arrived yet, so let's talk about some of the stories behind the big "scary" story.

Nurse Briana Aguirre, who cared for her friend and coworker Nina Pham after Nina tested positive for the Ebola virus, appeared on Today With Matt Lauer on Thursday, October 16. She said that while she thought very highly of the hospital generally, she could "no longer defend" the hospital's having dropped the ball on Ebola.

For example, she said that the hospital violated "basic principles of nursing" and that she felt going to the hospital might infect someone with Ebola, which is exactly, sort of, the opposite of what's supposed to happen at hospitals.

Isn't it?

Well, not so much. One of the main areas of medical malpractice today is a hospital's failure to observe medical protocols concerning prevention and spread of infection like MRSA, C-Diff and E. Coli, just to name a few.

Unpaid Internships And The Law

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to save a buck. Thriftiness can quickly yield to labor law violations when employers decide to take advantage of workers. One way this happens in certain industries is to designate someone an unpaid intern and then treat them as employees. This is a violation of minimum wage laws. The unpaid internship program run by NBCUniversal was recently the subject of lawsuits alleging labor law violations. NBCUniversal agreed to pay $6.4 million to settle the claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Other entertainment companies have so far resisted settling these claims and are hoping for a favorable ruling in higher court.

The FLSA takes a broad view of what it means to employ someone. Unpaid internships are a narrow exception allowing certain individuals to serve certain functions without pay. The key is that the work must serve the individual's interests, as opposed to the business where they are interning. There are several criteria that must be met to fall under the exempted category of unpaid intern. 

Drowsy Driving And Non-Commercial Drivers

For many years, the research into fatigued driving focused largely on long-haul truck drivers. While the trucking industry is certainly one group impacted by drowsy driving, the problem extends far wider. Americans get nearly an hour less sleep per night than they did in 1965. The impact of that is felt in many areas of life, not least of all on the roads. More than 100,000 accidents per year are caused by drowsy drivers, including an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 fatal car and truck accidents.

The causes of drowsy driving are numerous. Like drinking and driving, the unsafe conduct begins before the driver gets behind the wheel. In the case of sleep deprivation, the problem may occur several hours before driver starts the car. The drivers themselves often do not realize that they are really too tired to drive safely. 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses a Lawyer's Oath

When lawyers are admitted to practice in New Jersey, we swear an oath to uphold and defend the New Jersey Constitution and the laws of the State of New Jersey, as well as the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States. We become bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct, which provide the ethical standards to which we must adhere in our practice of the law. I, like most lawyers, take the oath that I made seriously. I, like most other lawyers, strive every day of my practice to honor that oath. And most of us, without needing to give much thought to it at all, remain within the bounds set by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Most of us understand that our profession is one that holds itself to a higher standard. Unfortunately, there are exceptions to every rule.

On September 4, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended attorney Jared Stolz for, among other things, calling opposing counsel a "fag," telling his adversary that he whined "like a little girl" and telling that same adversary that he needed to "grow a pair."

Women in the Economy: A New Take on Planet of the Apes

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Attorney Discusses the Role of Women in the Economy

I read a very amusing and very pertinent "commentary" piece by Kathleen J. Wu in the New Jersey Law Journal, September 1, 2014. Being an inveterate nerd from my youngest years, I've always loved the Planet of the Apes and any article in a legal publications that has "Planet of the Apes" in the title is bound to get read by me, even if I have to start reading things about bankruptcy or taxes later on in the article.

Kathleen was talking about "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the recent "reboot" of same story from the 70's - the "old" Planet of the Apes franchise - where the apes rise up and conquer the homo sapiens' world. No spoilers here, but the apes win.

Her point in mentioning the movie was to talk about the lack of strong female characters in the film as an example of what's still wrong with our commercial and professional culture. It's an infirmity that still, surprisingly, afflicts many Hollywood movies that aren't about women's issues specifically.

Understanding Sex Discrimination In New Jersey

The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General maintains civil rights fact sheets designed to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities. The fact sheet discussing sex discrimination under New Jersey law gives several examples of what is unlawful conduct. In the most general terms, it is illegal under New Jersey law to treat someone differently or unfairly based on gender in the areas of employment, housing, places of public accommodation, contracting and credit. You cannot refuse to hire someone, promote someone, provide equal pay or any other job benefit based on gender. This absolutely applies to both men and women, though few would argue that the two groups are equally likely to be penalized based on gender.

Sex discrimination in practice can take many forms. Victims may be the target of sexually oriented conduct that is unwelcome. They may feel threatened, marginalized or just uncomfortable because of comments, suggestions, gestures or practices. Going to work can begin to feel like a nightmare. Sadly, many victims suffer significant harm and may eventually leave an employment situation without ever getting justice. 

An Erosion of the Right to a Jury Trial: Lesende v. Borrero v. City of Newark

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Attorney Discusses Recent Civil Rights Case 

First of all, I'm putting out there, as per usual, that I'm a plaintiff's employment and civil rights trial lawyer. When I approach fact patterns, I think about them from the victim's perspective first, although I certainly, for tactical and other reasons, also try to imagine how the defendant might respond and what their positions might be. My sympathies and empathies, however, borne of professional training and of personal rearing before that, are with victims of civil rights and employment wrongs.

So it's with that lens that I recently read about two remittiturs - where a judge decides to lower a verdict rendered by a jury - by a federal civil judge in the same civil rights case. Each of these events, in my view, improperly usurped the role of a trial jury and the reason we have juries.

Plaintiff Lesende sued the City of Newark because she was ruthlessly and savagely beaten by a police officer who decided that he was annoyed with her because she was driving too slowly for his taste. Obviously, he was disciplined and terminated; this conversation isn't about whether or not what he did was wrong or right. The City didn't defend on that ground. Plaintiff went to trial and a jury of her - and the cop's - peers, properly instructed on the law, awarded $2.7 million in damages.

The judge, however, decided that the jury was "wrong" because the judge felt that the jury verdict was "too high." Why did he feel this way? Because he did "research" on what other "comparable" verdicts involved.

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