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New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Supreme Court's decision to take on the ultimate "gay marriage" question

Or... At Last!

I love that on Friday, just before Martin Luther King day, a day which hallows civil rights, The United States Supreme Court announced that it will at last, presumably (and hopefully) once and for all, resolve the "gay marriage" issue which has vexed, divided (and, internationally, I contend, embarrassed) this country for far too long.

How long a way we've come on LGBT rights, as I've observed in other blogs. Long after we were "mostly beyond" gender and racial discrimination - though of course it still happens - we were still waaaaay behind on the issue of LGBT rights. Even into the 1990's, when non-stereotypical black characters were ubiquitous in TV and non-stereotypical women were many, LGBT characters were still, for the most part, caricatures of gay people. Their dialog and plot devices were about them being gay people. I'm thinking of Will and Grace. In one way, the characters were groundbreaking, but on another level, it was sort of silly that they had to break any ground.

Homosexuality has been biologically with us since mammalian evolution began, many millions of years before humanity's earliest ancestors walked upright. It will be with us mammals as long as mammals exist on the planet, even long after human beings are gone. It's a biological fact. It's irrefutable. We should be quite beyond caring whether someone is gay or straight or bisexual. Whom people love is not nearly as important as that people love, and that people start families, strengthen communities, and be good citizens to one another and to the people of the world. 

The State Of Distracted Driving Laws

What constitutes distracted driving? Most states ban reckless driving and have the power to give speeding tickets for traveling at a rate of speed too fast for the conditions. Texting while driving is now banned in 44 states. But what other behaviors represent a dangerous level of distraction? Are police citing drivers who are distracted by something other than a text message? Some law enforcement agencies have taken to penalizing drivers for a wider range of distracted driving than is mentioned in texting bans.

The severity of the problem faced by law enforcement officers was punctuated by a study reported in Forbes. In 2013, they reported that more than 60 percent of deadly distracted driving crashes were caused by drivers who were daydreaming. Imagine ticketing someone for daydreaming. Until an accident has occurred, it is virtually impossible to issue a citation for some forms of distracted driving. 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Talks About Healthcare and the Civil Justice System.

Or. . . . What Would Healthcare Be Like Without Trial Lawyers?

This is another in my "what would life be like without trial lawyers?" (and jury trials) series. Glad everyone is enjoying it.

As many as 440,000 people die every year in hospitals from preventable medical errors, making this the third leading cause of death in the nation. Medical malpractice cases are often decried as manipulation by trial lawyers, but who's doing the "decrying?" The small percentage of the worst doctors, hospitals, nurses and medical providers. The medical malpractice insurers who are constantly and cynically attempting to manipulate the civil justice system to maximize their profits and minimize their payouts. Of course, those elements get the good health-care providers to get all worked up about the imaginary "crisis" in malpractice insurance, and thus those bad healthcare providers and insurance entities manufacture panic.

The civil justice system has served as a valuable deterrent to medical malpractice as a way of holding malpracticing medical providers accountable. It is the most powerful motivator for patient safety

New List Of Safety Priorities From NTSB

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board releases a list of the top 10 safety issues it wants to emphasize in the coming year. The list for 2015 was released this week and contains several issues that impact drivers on a regular basis. The "Most Wanted" list includes two entries that contribute to thousands of traffic deaths each year. The first and most pressing is the problem of substance-impaired driving. The second is the issue of commercial trucking safety.

Alcohol and drugs play a part in more than 10,000 car and truck accidents each year. The NTSB is looking at ways to end impaired driving. It is calling for "stronger laws, swifter enforcement and expanded use of technology to end substance impairment." Drunk driving is a behavior that people expect to get away with in the U.S. Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimates that a driver has generally driven drunk more than 80 times before they are first arrested. It is among the groups pushing for in-vehicle technology designed to ensure that a driver is sober before taking to the roads. 

Recalls Only Going To Rise, According To Rosekind

Cars were recalled at a record pace in 2014. While the effectiveness and efficiency of the recall system was called into question, it is clear that some mechanism is necessary for getting unsafe vehicles off the road. The newly installed head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, has promised changes to the recall system. He is also warning consumers and auto manufacturers that more recalls are to be expected going forward, not less. The NHTSA may have more work to do to combat recall fatigue, where consumers stop paying attention to recalls because they are so frequent.

More recalls could simply be the byproduct of the NHTSA moving more quickly to act on reports of safety defects. Much of the criticism of the NHTSA leading up to his appointment involved the unreasonable delay between early reports of dangerous defects and automakers actually recalling vehicles. GM waited more than a decade after the first reports of ignition switch defects surfaced before it finally recalled the vehicles. Honda was recently fined $70 million for withholding information about car accidents involving its vehicles. Automakers drag their feet and, so far, have gotten away with it. If the NHTSA moves more quickly, it will likely force recalls for issues that have been under investigation for some time. 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Lawyer discuss the movie "The Interview" and the Terrorism by Self-Censorship

"The Interview" is a movie about two Americans, a reporter and his producer, who are recruited as CIA agents to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The North Korean dictator was a fan of their show, and had wanted to meet them. The CIA wanted them to kill the dictator at this meeting.

Sounds like a Tom Clancy novel, right? Except that it's a "buddy" movie. It's a comedy. "Ha ha." Understand? It's not a geopolitical thriller. But then again, who cares if it was as it relates to my point? Stay with me.

So the idiots in North Korea decided this "buddy picture" - formulaically no different than "Dumb and Dumber" or any Hope and Crosby movie, for that matter - was a "wanton act of terror." They threatened a "merciless retaliation" against the U.S. if the movie was to be released.

Now, that was those idiots, the ones in North Korea. But those aren't the only fools wearing caps in the corner. There's also the "hackers" calling themselves the "Guardians of the Peace." Those dolts threatened "9/11-like" attacks at movie theaters that showed the film.

Cause, you know, when your claim is that such a film - a film­, not an invasion - "harms regional peace and security and violates human rights for money," the answer is clearly to kill people.

Identifying Defects And Recalling Vehicles

Defective automobiles and automobile parts are a common problem. The total number of recalls has risen to record levels. The process by which auto defects are identified and eventually recalled has drawn heavy criticism. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came under fire following what were considered blunders in handling faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles and defective airbags manufactured by Takata. New NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind has promised to improve the defect analysis and recall system.

Mr. Rosekind used the term "latent failures" to describe the GM ignition switch and Takata airbag situations. In both cases, reports of dangerous failures surfaced years before the NHTSA took any action that directly protected consumers. Many accused the NHTSA of dragging its feet because of close ties to auto industry players. The body was accused of being in the pocket of auto companies to the detriment of the general public.

Motor Vehicle Accident Fatality Report Summary

In addition to the news that motorcycle deaths were down in 2013, the fatality report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contains several interesting facts. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that there were quite a few more total vehicle crashes in 2013 than in 2012. Total crashes were up 3 percent, but injuries and deaths were both down. That might indicate that efforts to improve driver ability were ineffective, but advances designed to improve the survivability of an accident made a difference. Given the effort put into combating drunk driving, distracted driving and fatigued driving, facts that show an increase in accidents are noteworthy.

When it comes to driver conduct behind the wheel, there are two trends that continue to plague safety advocates. First, more than 10,000 fatalities in 2013 were connected to drivers impaired by alcohol. That number continues to hover around one-third of all fatalities, as it has for several years now. Second, a large percentage of the people killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing seat belts. Roughly half of the people who die in passenger vehicle accidents are unbelted. Research has demonstrated clearly that wearing a seat belt is the best way to avoid dying in a car wreck. 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) and Attacks on Whistleblower Protection Laws

"Or...Well, Of Course, The Perpetrators Of Fraud Against A Government Want To Weaken The Laws That Protect Whistleblowers."

Both the State of New Jersey and the federal government have what are called "Qui Tam" laws which effectively protect whistleblowers who work for private concerns that are defrauding the government (state or federal). Such fraud takes many forms, from fraudulent healthcare claims processed on a mass level to misuse of government grant money, funding, etc.

Fraud against the government by private corporations costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and the government many tens of billions.

One of the only incentives for a whistleblower to come forward is that, if the fraud turns out to be true, the whistleblower is able to obtain some small proportion of what the government recovers for the whistleblower having "related" that fraud to the government. Obviously, to the extent that the whistleblower is then punished by his employer, remedies currently exist to protect the victim and punish the oppressors.

The United States Chamber of Commerce is a wonderfully misnamed entity whose sole function since the late 70s and early 80s has been to attack the civil justice system, attack government regulation of corporations, attack the rights and remedies to a jury trial, attack laws that protect working people and their families, and "uplift" the wealthiest one percent of our country and the worst corporate offenders.

That is their sole mission in life. Anything else they tell you is nonsense.

Motorcycle Fatalities Down In 2013

While there have been steady decreases in the number of fatal car accidents over the past 15 years, motorcycle deaths have refused to follow suit. With the numbers tallied for 2013, that trend may finally be corrected. For the second time since 1997, the total number of motorcycle fatalities dropped from the previous year's total. In 2013, motorcycle deaths were down 6.4 percent. That decrease was more than double the gains made in overall traffic fatalities throughout the country.

Americans drive a lot. As gas prices have risen, more and more people have taken to motorcycles as an alternative to cars. The increase in riders naturally came with an increase in the number of fatal accidents. The expanding ridership did not fully explain the steady rise in motorcycle deaths, however. Safety gains that came from improving auto technology were not matched in motorcycles. In addition, helmet laws became less prevalent as motorcycle lobby groups fought against them. Motorcycle riders came increasingly from an older demographic, with 50-69 year-old riders being the norm. The result has been a steady rise in deadly motorcycle collisions. 

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