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Advocates Circle Firms

Arthur Law Firm Co., LPA.

 

Barkan Meizlish
, LLP

 

Brian G. Miller Co., LPA

 

Bordas & Bordas, PLLC

 

Christian R. Patno

 

Crandall & Pera Law

 

Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers

 

Elk & Elk

 

Garson Johnson, LLC

 

Geiser, Bowman & McLafferty, LLC

 

The Gervelis Law Firm

 

Kisling Nestico & Redick

 

Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co.,. LPA

 

Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC

 

Leeseberg & Valentine

 

Leizerman & Associates, LLC

 

Lamkin, Van Eman, Trimble & Dougherty, LLC

 

Meyer Wilson Co., LPA

 

Murray & Murray Co., LPA

 

Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Co., LPA

 

O'Connor Acciani & Levy, LPA

 

Rittgers & Rittgers

 

Robert J. Wagoner, Co., LLC

 

Rourke & Blumenthal

 

Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP

 

Slater & Zurz, LLP

 

Tittle & Perlmuter

 

Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.

 

Young and McCarthy LLP

 


 

                       

 

 

OAJ BLOG CENTRAL

Far Too Many Wrong-Way Car Accidents Happen in Ohio

Shared by Sandel Law Firm

www.sandellaw.com/blog


The Ohio Department of Transportation recently reported that no less than 12 wrong-way crashes have occurred in the state so far this year. Another six drivers managed not to harm anyone by causing car accidents when they drove the wrong-way on the state's roadways. In the most recent of these incidents, an accident occurred that took the life of a 23-year-old woman.

According to reports, a 53-year-old man was speeding in the northbound lanes of Interstate 675 in the wrong direction. A traffic camera even caught the vehicle prior to the crash. A man who called 911 about the vehicle said that it was "flying" down the roadway and didn't even attempt to get off the interstate to head in the right direction.

The impact was so violent that emergency personnel had to extricate both drivers from their vehicles. Sadly, the victim did not survive her injuries. The wrong-way driver, on the other hand, escaped with injuries described as not life-threatening. At last report, police were still attempting to determine where the driver got onto the highway in the wrong direction, along with other factors leading to this tragedy.

While police continue to figure out what happened, the family of the victim may exercise its right to file a wrongful death claim against the wrong-way driver. In cases involving car accidents, an Ohio civil court requires evidence proving that the other driver was somehow negligent or reckless. The fact that this driver was heading the wrong direction on the interstate would certainly help in proving that the other driver was at fault in this particular tragedy.


Why Causation can be Hard to Prove in Malpractice Cases

Shared by Crandall & Pera Law, LLC

www.injuryverdicts.com/blog


One of the most challenging elements of a medical malpractice claim is proving causation. Malpractice laws in Ohio say that plaintiffs must prove two things: that the defendant did not adhere to a generally accepted standard of medical care, and that this negligence led to the injuries in question. It is that second step that can make or break a case.

The reason is that some injuries can result even where there is negligence on the doctor's part. For example, almost any surgical procedure comes with foreseeable side effects. The surgeon may have been negligent, and the patient may have developed these complications, but correlation does not imply causation.

Orthopedic injuries, to take another example, can sometimes heal improperly, leaving patients with mobility limitations and other issues. These issues can arise despite the doctor's best efforts. Plaintiffs will only have a strong case if the doctor did something clearly negligent like failing to align the bone or choosing not to recommend surgery when it seems the best option.

In cases of misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses, plaintiffs have a responsibility to show that these mistakes really did harm the prognosis and treatment of the condition. This can be hard with a condition like cancer, which carries a high mortality rate to begin with.


If You Want to Sue for Wrongful Death, You Must Hurry Up and Die - Ohio Appeals Court Ruling

Shared by Eisen Law Firm

www.malpracticeohio.com/blog


At The Eisen Law Firm, we have read many appellate court opinions relating to medical negligence over the years that seem to have come out the “wrong” way. Some seem to have gotten the facts wrong. Some seem to have gotten the law wrong. And some are just mind-boggling all the way around. Not too long ago, a court of appeals decision was rendered by Ohio’s Third Appellate District (which covers more than a dozen counties in northwest Ohio) that is truly incredible. When we read the decision, all we could do was shake our heads in disbelief. The decision is Smith v. Wyandot Mem. Hosp., 2018-Ohio-2441.

The key facts of the case can be boiled down to this: a father and husband named Shawn Smith was diagnosed with terminal renal cell cancer in 2011. After his diagnosis, Mr. Smith discovered that a radiologist had improperly interpreted radiology studies from 2004. Had those studies been interpreted correctly – according to the lawsuit that ultimate was filed – Mr. Smith’s cancer would have been caught years earlier, and he would have survived.

Mr. Smith battled the cancer for several years. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the illness in the middle of 2015.

Ohio law gives the family of someone who dies from medical negligence two years from the date of death to file suit for “wrongful death.” (This is different from the one-year time limit to sue for injuries suffered before death.) A wrongful death suit is brought in the name of personal representative of the estate of the person who died. There are no exceptions to the two-year rule for wrongful death. There is no way to extend the deadline, and the deadline is crystal clear in the law.

Mr. Smith’s duly authorized representative filed suit within the two-year time limit. But the defense claimed it was too late because Ohio’s statute of repose (another law governing “medical claims”) says that people who have suffered injuries at the hands of medical professionals must sue within four years of the date of the medical mistake. The defense argued that this statute barred Mr. Smith’s from filing suit for wrongful death, even though the estate filed within two years of Mr. Smith’s death.

In other words, the defense argued that Mr. Smith had to file suit by 2008 for wrongful death. There was, of course, one itty bitty problem with that argument: Mr. Smith was still alive in 2008! Had he filed suit for wrongful death before dying, his case would have been thrown out of court, and the lawyer filing it would have been subject to sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Incredibly, the trial court bought the defense’s argument, and so did the court of appeals. Mr. Smith’s family lost the case because Mr. Smith didn’t die quickly enough. He had the audacity to try to fight the cancer and survive, despite being the victim of alleged medical negligence.

Imagine you go to the doctor and tell the doctor you have accidentally swallowed a bomb. There is a fuse sticking out of your mouth, and the fuse cord is really long and made of a very slow-burning material. In fact, if you light the fuse it will take four years and one day to explode the bomb. Your doctor says, “don’t worry,” and he lights the fuse and sends you home. Four years and one day later, the bomb explodes. The doctor, who clearly is negligent and has caused your death, is never held accountable because it took you too long to die.

Now, there are some ridiculous laws in every state. In West Virginia, for example, it is unlawful to use a ferret to help you hunt wild animals. In California, it is illegal to eat a frog that has died in a frog jumping contest. As far as we are concerned, you can now add to that list the fact that in Ohio, under certain circumstances you cannot file a wrongful death case until you die, at which time it is too late to file a wrongful death case!


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My Family Member got a Bed Sore (Pressure Ulcer) in a Nursing Home – What Now?

Shared by Cowan & Hilgeman

www.cowanhilgemanlaw.com/lucy-blog/


Nursing home negligence and long-term care negligence can be seen in many forms. Unfortunately, victims of nursing home negligence and long-term care negligence are often unable to care for themselves. As family members of the aging population, we trust that nursing homes and long-term care facilities can properly care for our elderly family members and ensure their safety.

Typical indicators of nursing home negligence and long-term care negligence can be seen in the following cases:

  • Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers
  • Dehydration
  • Falls
  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Medication Errors
  • Conditions Resulting in Death

Bedsores – also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers – are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips, coccyx and tailbone.

What are symptoms of bed sores?

The Mayo Clinic notes that common warning signs of pressure ulcers are:

  • Unusual changes in skin color or texture
  • Swelling
  • Pus-like draining
  • An area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
  • Tender areas

What are causes of bed sores?

According to Mayo Clinic, bedsores are caused by pressure against the skin that limits blood flow to the skin. Other factors related to limited mobility can make the skin vulnerable to damage and contribute to the development of pressure sores. The primary contributing factors for bedsores are:

  • Pressure – Constant pressure on any part of your body can lessen the blood flow to tissues. Blood flow is essential to delivering oxygen and other nutrients to tissues. Without these essential nutrients, skin and nearby tissues are damaged and might eventually die. 

    For people with limited mobility, this kind of pressure tends to happen in areas that aren’t well-padded with muscle or fat and that lie over a bone, such as the spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels and elbows.
  • Friction – Friction occurs when the skin rubs against clothing or bedding. It can make fragile skin more vulnerable to injury, especially if the skin is also moist.
  • Shear – Shear occurs when two surfaces move in the opposite direction. For example, when a bed is elevated at the head, you can slide down in bed. As the tailbone moves down, the skin over the bone might stay in place – essentially pulling in the opposite direction.

What are risk factors for bed sores?

People are at risk of developing bedsores if they lack mobility and are unable to easily change position. Risk factors include:

  • Cellulitis – Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues. It can cause warmth, redness and swelling of the affected area. People with nerve damage often do not feel pain in the area affected by cellulitis.
  • Bone and joint infections – An infection from a pressure sore can burrow into joints and bones. Joint infections (septic arthritis) can damage cartilage and tissue. Bone infections (osteomyelitis) can reduce the function of joints and limbs.
  • Cancer – Long-term, nonhealing wounds (Majjolin’s ulcers) can develop into a type of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Sepsis – Rarely, a bedsore leads to sepsis.

Are bed sores preventable?

Bedsores are preventable with adequate medical care. Bed sores can be prevented by:

  • Reducing pressure by the use of regular repositioning every 15 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Using support surfaces such as a mattress, bed and special cushions that help sit or lie in a way that protects vulnerable skin.
  • Adequate nutrition including hydration.
  • Early detection of bed sores which includes properly cleaning and dressing the wound.

Will a Noncompete Clause Keep You From Starting Your Own Practice?

Shared by NachtLaw PC

www.nachtlaw.com/blog


Whether you are starting your career as a doctor or you are looking to make a change, it can be helpful to join other doctors in an established practice. The owners already have experience and a good reputation in the community. It can be a mutually beneficial trade. They can add more patients, and you can gain experience.

Some physicians thrive working in an office owned by someone else. While you may have to answer to an employer, you do not have to worry about the liability that comes with being in charge. Eventually, however, some doctors look for more freedom and the power to make their own decisions.

Here’s what you need to know about your noncompete clause and what it could mean for starting your practice.

The purpose of a noncompete clause

Just like the name implies, employers use noncompete clauses to limit competition and secure their clients. No matter what business a person is, it can take a long time to develop a reputation and client-base.

Fortunately, if you are trying to avoid a conflict with a noncompete clause, employees have the advantage. While the provision is intended to protect employers, courts want to make sure employees have some freedom to change jobs and start their own businesses.

Getting out on your own

At first glance, a noncompete clause can seem restrictive. It may sound like a list of “no’s: with few “yes’s.” Now that you want to start your own practice, look at the noncompete clause from the view of what you can do. Noncompete clauses tend to limit factors, such as:

  • Distance from the business’s primary location
  • The time before working as a direct competitor
  • Recruiting other employees

Even when there are limitations, there still needs to be some freedom to stay within your profession without being under that specific employer. Keep in mind that you may be able to get out of a clause that is too limiting.

In short, even if you signed a noncompete clause when you joined a larger practice, you still likely have some freedom to start your own, just within certain limitations.


New Law could Toughen Protections Against Workplace Harassment

Shared by Nilges Draher LLC

www.ohlaborlaw.com/blog


Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation that could strengthen protections against workplace harassment.

The “Be Heard Act” – also known as the “Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act” – was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Katherine Clark, Ayanna Pressley, Elissa Slotkin and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The bill has also received support from Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker.

What protections will the “Be Heard Act” provide?

Despite civil rights laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), many employers continue to get away with violating workers’ rights.

According to Murray, the bill “will empower workers to come forward by providing new resources and support and it will safeguard existing anti-discrimination laws while expanding protections to make it clear that all workers — all workers — are protected under our civil rights laws.”

In addition to protecting workers from harassment, the “Be Heard Act” would:

  • Eliminate tipped minimum wage and enforce fair pay
  • Put an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment non-disclosure agreements
  • Increase the amount of time allowed to report harassment
  • The bill was spurred by a 2018 report published by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In addition to protections against workplace harassment, the committee recommended that the bill include provisions to:

  • Strengthen workers’ rights to join unions
  • Expand protections to include independent contractors or small business employees
  • Clarify protections for LGBT workers
  • Provide access to legal representation

Murray met with representatives from 17 industries with the highest percentages of harassment charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission throughout the past decade. The top five include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Health care
  • Social assistance
  • Retail
  • Public administration and accommodation
  • Food services

“We are balancing the scale that has been tipped toward the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful for far too long. The Be Heard Act will put long-overdue protections and accountability into law and remove barriers to justice,” Clark said.

Don’t fear retaliation. Know your rights!

Many workers hesitated to report harassment to their employer or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission due to fear of retaliation, including:

  • Changes in positions, being demoted, being passed or delayed on a promotion, or being fired.
  • Facing stigma among co-workers.

In addition, many workers don’t file harassment complaints because they simply don’t know their rights are what course of action to take. Some have a distrust in the system. That’s why if you have faced harassment of any kind on the job, it’s crucial that you act.


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Gap Insurance

Shared by Cubbon & Associates

www.cubbon.com/blog


Your car or truck is one of your most expensive and needed assets.  When you purchase or lease a new, or even used vehicle, rapid depreciation in the first years of ownership may result in a situation where you owe more than the vehicle is worth.  If you then have an accident where your vehicle is totaled out, or if it is stolen, your own automobile collision or comprehensive coverage should reimburse you for the value of the vehicle at that time.  But if you owe more for your car than it is worth at that time, there will be a gap in coverage.

For example, let’s assume you purchase a vehicle on January 1st and take out a $20,000 loan payable over five years.  On June 1st the vehicle is totaled.  Based on rapid depreciation it is then worth $17,000 but you owe $19,000 on the vehicle.  You will be reimbursed $17,000 (less your deductible) but this leaves a $2,000 gap.

If at the time you purchased or leased, you took out gap insurance, that coverage will pay the $2,000 difference so that you walk away from the vehicle owing nothing further.

People who put a substantial amount of cash down at the time of purchase may not need gap insurance, because they will never owe more than the vehicle is worth.  If you purchase or lease a vehicle, however, without a substantial down payment, you will be happy to have gap insurance if a total loss situation occurs.


Land Partition: A Civil Way to Resolve a Property Dispute

Shared by Cooper & Elliott

www.cooperelliott.com/topic/blog


What happens when two people jointly and equally own investment property and one would like to sell? If they can’t resolve the issue amicably themselves, one option is a land partition action.

For the parties involved, this issue can be emotionally taxing and may require the participation of partition attorneys with experience handling land disputes. When the land dispute involves brothers and inherited property, as we’ll discuss below, the financial and emotional stakes are no less demanding.

A land dispute dividing two brothers

Our client Malcolm* and his brother David* inherited five investment properties from their father when he passed away. David managed the properties for several years; collected rents, allegedly handled maintenance responsibilities, paid property taxes and utility fees, and distributed proceeds.

The properties were located in Columbus, Ohio, and Malcolm, who resided in Florida, felt strained by the tenancy in common ownership. From his perspective, the properties generated little revenue and caused unnecessary stress and financial burden to him and his brother. As time went on, he learned that the properties were falling into disrepair, taxes weren’t paid, and proceeds were failing to reach him.

According to David, the apartments were losing money. Malcolm was worried about his liability as a co-owner and wanted to sell the properties—but David declined. Because the brothers equally owned the properties and couldn’t agree on how to divide them equitably, Malcolm felt trapped. He came to us for help and we filed a lawsuit to compel a land partition.

What is a land partition?

A land partition is the formal legal proceeding where the joint owner of real estate asks the court to split the property. The plaintiff in the case is the joint owner asking for a partition; the defendant is the other joint owner—in this case, David.

If the court rules in favor of the partition, each member of the parties has an opportunity to purchase the property for the appraised value. If neither respective party member elects to do so, the property is sold at auction.

Because a real-estate auction rarely (if ever) brings the owners the full value of the properties, we followed a different legal strategy. We filed the partition action, moved for summary judgment, and won sanctions against the defendant for his failure to comply with his discovery obligations. We settled with David to sell the properties independently, after which Malcolm would receive an extra payment in addition to half the profits from the sale.

Partition attorneys: essential to resolution

Civil litigation attorneys can play an essential role in resolving a land-dispute case.  The partition process provided by Ohio law allowed us to reach a settlement that was in our client’s best interest without having to settle for a court-directed partition. Malcolm no longer had the burden of being an absentee owner of blighted properties with tax liabilities that brought him sleepless nights rather than income.

The settlement and the process that led to it encouraged the brothers to work together for the first time in years and to serve their interests better than the common ownership of their mismanaged—and steadily depreciating—properties.


Dr. Richard Strauss/The Ohio State University Claims for Alleged Sexual Abuse

Shared by Smith Law Office

www.sestriallaw.com


Breaking: Independent Report on Strauss Abuse at OSU Finds University Knew of Abuse for Decades

Investigators from Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by The Ohio State University’s Special Counsel to investigate widespread reports of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss, write in a report released on the afternoon of Friday, May 17,  that “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of [] complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.” Even then, officials at the highest levels of the University kept Strauss as a tenured faculty member until 1998, gave him an emeritus appointment in 1998, did not inform any students that Strauss was a sexual predator, and permitted Strauss to run ads in the University newspaper about his off-campus private men’s clinic for OSU students and others.

In 1996, OSU investigated student complaints against Strauss. Although that investigation led to Strauss being removed from both Student Health and Athletics, his status as a tenured professor at OSU remained intact until his death in 2005 and allowed him to continue abusing OSU students off campus.

The independent investigation by Perkins Coie confirms that Strauss sexually abused at least 177 student-patients in his 20 years at OSU. The investigation also found that “more than 50 individuals who were members of the OSU Athletics Department staff during Strauss’ time at the University corroborated these student accounts.”

Steve Snyder-Hill, a named plaintiff in the mass action against OSU brought by 39 former Ohio State students alleging abuse by Strauss, had this response: “Today’s report on Ohio State’s actions is infuriating and re-traumatizing for me. It will take much more than an apology for the University to atone for its harm to me and so many other young men abused by Dr. Strauss and ignored by Ohio State. The University must ensure that no one like Strauss will ever be protected in this way again when they harm members of the Ohio State community.”

“As we suspected from the outset, OSU knew but intentionally failed to act upon the many cries for help by the hundreds of OSU male students who suffered sexual abuse by Dr Strauss,” said Scott E. Smith. “The systemic sexual abuse, although preventable, was horrifically nurtured by OSU when they chose not to act, turning a blind eye to those they had a duty to protect.”

“Ohio State abandoned and betrayed hundreds and likely thousands of its students over decades,” said Ilann M. Maazel, co-counsel for the mass plaintiffs in the Snyder-Hill case. “OSU’s conduct is appalling, indefensible, unforgivable.”

“The University’s apology to the survivors of Strauss’ abuse would have been hollow even 20 years ago. Today, it is shockingly ineffective,” said Adele P. Kimmel, also co-counsel. “The survivors need action, not mere words. The University needs to offer a concrete plan, both to make amends to all the students harmed by its facilitation of Strauss’s decades of abuse and to ensure that the University never lets something like this happen again.”

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLC, Scott E. Smith and Brian Noethlich of Scott Elliot Smith LPA, and Adele Kimmel of Public Justice. More on the case is available here.

A redacted version of the Perkins Coie report is available here.

As a doctor at the University's health centers, Dr. Strauss regularly saw student athletes from approximately 14 varsity sports teams as well as other patients. Reports indicate that numerous male athletes and students were allegedly sexually abused, inappropriately touched, fondled or otherwise subject to Dr. Strauss' actions or comments during medical exams and procedures. Other reports indicate that additional University employee made inappropriate physical contact with athletes and students as well.

Dr. Strauss reportedly died by suicide in 2005, but claims have surfaced that infer the university knew of and may bear responsibility for his alleged wrongdoing during his tenure. At the time, many students were unsure of how to respond to the inappropriate conduct and comments or were afraid to come forward. However, some student athletes claim to have reported Dr. Strauss's behavior to coaches and administrators at OSU. An investigation is underway to determine if the conduct was met with institutional indifference and what action, if any, was taken by the University to protect the student athletes.


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Study: Opioids Contributing to Increasing Number of Fatal Accidents

Shared by Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC

www.teamlgm.com/blog


The prevalence and use of prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and methadone, has risen steadily over the last few years in the United States, as many Americans have been prescribed these powerful medications to treat pain associated with surgeries and recurring pain from past injuries.

The addictive power of opioids has been widely covered by the national media, as the United States has seen large increases in fatal and non-fatal overdoses and whole generations of young people lost to addiction in some regions of the country.

While much of the conversation around opioids centers on addicts and their immediate families, little is said about the impact that opioid-impaired individuals can have on non-relatives.

HOW OPIOIDS AFFECT DRIVERS

In the United States, the use of prescription opioids by drivers is increasingly implicated as a contributing cause in fatal motor vehicle crashes. In just one year — between 2015-2016 — the rate of fatal auto accidents resulting from overdoses jumped 2.6 percent per 100 million driver miles.

Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, which muffle a person’s perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure. The side-effects of these medications can include dizziness, drowsiness, and sedation, which can impair the necessary psychomotor and cognitive skills to safely drive a car.

Opioid use can also impair concentration and attention, and decrease alertness, which can lead a person under the influence of opioids to drift between lanes while driving.

A study conducted by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) between Jan. 1, 1993 – Dec. 31, 2016 found that, of the 36,642 drivers involved in 18,321 fatal two-vehicle crashes, prescription opioid use as indicated by toxicological testing results was associated with a significantly increased risk of crash initiation, due in large part to failure to keep in proper lane.

The study found that:

  • Almost 55 percent of fatal two-vehicle crashes were caused by an opioid-impaired driver that failed to stay in their travel lane.
  • The rate of opioid impairment in fatal crashes increased from two percent in 1993 to seven percent in 2016.
  • The adjusted odds ratio of crash initiation was 2.18 (95 percent) for drivers testing positive for prescription opioids, compared with drivers testing negative.

The data found in this study proves that opioid use can greatly increase one’s risk of causing a fatal accident and should serve to remind motorists to be aware of other drivers and to avoid other vehicles that are moving erratically or are drifting between lanes.


 

Fatal Truck Crashes Rise and Other Drivers Pay the Price

Shared by Young & McCarthy

www.truckcrashvictimhelp.com/blog


Ohio drivers have good reason to be wary around large trucks because truck crashes are on the rise. Of the 34,439 fatal crashes that occurred across the U.S. in 2017, 4,079 involved at least one truck or bus according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In addition, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that 72% of fatalities in truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles. Some trucking companies, to address this deadly trend, are turning to vehicle safety technology.

Maverick Transportation, a mid-sized company operating out of the Midwest, has installed everything from collision warning systems and roll stability control to forward-facing cameras on its fleet of 1,800 trucks. The fact that Maverick only saw one reportable accident in 2018 is attributable, the CEO believes, to these devices.

Maverick is one company that has also taken advantage of speed limiters on its trucks and set the devices to 65 mph. Speed limiters, found on all trucks built since 1992, were the subject of a NHTSA proposal. Had the proposal not failed back in 2017, it would have led to a federal mandate requiring the use of speed limiters on all heavy-duty trucks.

Many truck accidents are caused by the negligence of truckers. In their effort to meet deadlines, truckers may not only speed but also drive drowsy. Whatever the form of negligence, it could give the other side the grounds for a personal injury claim. Victims who wish to file such a claim may want a legal assessment first. If retained, a lawyer might hire investigators to gather proof against the defendant and medical experts to determine the extent of injuries. Victims may have their lawyer strive for a settlement.

 


What’s On Their Minds: Do Statutory Penalties Against Employers Preclude Common Law Wrongful Termination Claims by Employees? Christine House v. Bruce Iacovelli, et al.

Shared by Marianna Brown Bettman

www.legallyspeakingohio.com


On April 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio heard oral argument in Christine House v. Bruce Iacovelli, et al., 2018-0434. At issue is whether the statutory penalties for employers imposed by R.C. 4141 preclude an employee from bringing a common law tort for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.

Case Background

Christine House (“House”) was a server at Riverside Tavern, a restaurant owned and operated by Bruce Iacovelli (“Iacovelli”) and his business, Windham Enterprises. During House’s employment at Riverside Tavern, she worked between 35 and 50 hours per week and was paid a variable hourly rate that accounted for the tips she received during her shift. House allegedly approached Iacovelli and raised concerns about inaccuracies in the payroll which underreported House’s pay and the tips she earned. Iacovelli admitted to failing to pay all of House’s unemployment compensation insurance under Ohio law. House further alleges that after she brought the matter to Iacovelli’s attention he fired her for causing “too much drama,” rather than addressing the issue. After House was terminated, she claims Iacovelli urged her to mislead the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services by stating that she was terminated for “lack of work” to qualify for unemployment benefits. In exchange for her cooperation, Iacovelli offered to pay House $150 every two weeks to offset the lower unemployment benefits she would receive due to Iacovelli’s failure to report her wages and tips accurately.

On August 7, 2015, House filed suit against Iacovelli for wrongful termination, conversion, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Iacovelli filed an answer denying House’s claims. House then filed an amended complaint solely alleging wrongful termination in violation of R.C. Chapter 4141 for failing to report House’s wages accurately and to make adequate contributions to Ohio’s unemployment compensation insurance program. In the amended complaint, House stressed that she did not agree to participate in Iacovelli’s scheme to defraud the government and cheat her out of employment benefits.

After numerous motions and responses by both parties, the trial court ruled that while House satisfied the clarity element in support of her public policy wrongful termination claim, she failed to satisfy the jeopardy element as a matter of law because R.C. 4141.27 allows for the Attorney General to bring actions for violations of R.C. 4141. The court dismissed House’s amended complaint. House appealed.

On appeal, the Ninth District, in a unanimous opinion, affirmed in part and reversed in part.  Pertinent to the Supreme Court appeal, the Ninth District held that the trial court erred in finding that House failed to satisfy the jeopardy element of the wrongful termination claim. According to the Ninth District, the jeopardy element is satisfied where there is no meaningful opportunity for a plaintiff to recover, and R.C. 4141.27 does not afford House such an opportunity. Iacovelli now appeals.

Key Precedent

R.C. 4141.27 (Proceeding Against Employer Who Fails to Comply) (The Director of Job and Family Services or the Attorney General may compel an employer to accurately disclose and pay taxes into Ohio’s unemployment insurance fund. If an employer refuses to comply, legal actions may be initiated against such an employer.)

R.C. 4141.281(A) (Right of Appeal to Director) (Any party notified of a determination of benefit rights or a claim for benefits determination may appeal within twenty-one calendar days after the written determination was sent to the party . . .)

Greeley v. Miami Valley Maintenance Constr., 49 Ohio St.3d 228 (1990) (Public policy requires an exception to the employment at-will doctrine when an employee is discharged or disciplined for a reason prohibited by statute; in such cases, employees may bring suit in tort for wrongful discharge.)

Kulch v. Structural Fibers, 78 Ohio St.3d 134 (1997) (An employee who is wrongfully discharged may maintain a statutory cause of action, a common law cause of action, or both, but the employee is not entitled to double recovery.)

Wiles v. Medina Auto Parts, 2002-Ohio-3994 (When federal statutes provide sufficient individual remedies for wrongfully discharged employees, it is unnecessary to allow a common law wrongful discharge tort claim.)

 Ripley v. Montgomery, 2007-Ohio-7151 (10th Dist.) (There is no need to recognize a common law action for wrongful discharge if there already exists a statutory remedy that adequately protects society’s interests by discouraging the wrongful conduct.)

Iacovelli’s Proposition of Law Accepted for Review

In a common law tort claim for wrongful termination, if there is a statutory scheme to protect the public’s interest in the public policy involved, the jeopardy element is not met even if there is no relief available to the individual employee.

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How are Bicycle Accidents Different When Children are Involved?

Shared by Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone Co. L.P.A.

www.jkfmlaw.com/blog


When a vehicle strikes a bicyclist, there's a high chance of a catastrophic injury -- particularly if the car is traveling quickly. Furthermore, if the cyclist was obeying the rules of the road, there's also a chance that the cyclist can hold the vehicle driver financially responsible for his or her injuries.

But what if the cyclist was not obeying the rules of the road? What if the cyclist darts into traffic unexpectedly? In most cases, this fact could serve to diminish the liability of the vehicle driver or remove all liability from the vehicle driver. But that's not necessarily the case when the bike accident involves a child cyclist.

The driver's "duty of care" is higher in a child bicycle crash

Every driver has a legal obligation to follow the rules of the road and take reasonable precautions to prevent unnecessary harm to the people around them. This "duty of care" is even higher when children are present. That's because children lack the mental faculties, reasoning and decision-making skills to avoid getting hit by a car.

The lack of ability to avoid a crash on the part of children means that -- under state civil laws -- a reasonable motorist must take extra care to slow down and be more cautious and attentive whenever children are around. This applies in the cases of child pedestrians, children at play and child cyclists. Also, wherever children could be, motorists have the obligation to be careful.

Contributory negligence arguments don't hold as much weight against kids

Thus, when an adult breaks the law or rides a bike negligently or recklessly -- and gets into a crash with a motorist -- the legal defense of "contributory negligence" could apply. However, these defenses are less effective when a motorist strikes a child.


What can be Done to Prevent Auto-Pedestrian Accidents?

Shared by the Sandel Law Firm

www.sandellaw.com/blog


As the weather continues to improve here in Ohio, more people may take the time to get out and walk. With more people on foot, the possibility of auto-pedestrian accidents increases. While drivers need to pay attention and look out for them, pedestrians can take some steps to try to improve their chances of avoiding injury.

Without the safety of being inside a passenger vehicle with all of its safety features, such as seat belts and airbags, pedestrians face serious or deadly injuries if struck by a vehicle. Remaining alert and attentive to their surroundings is vital to getting to their destinations safely. First, this means putting away any electronics, which provide an ever-growing distraction to drivers and walkers alike.

Using earphones to listen to music, podcasts or other entertainment may seem like a good idea, since it does not take a person's eyes off his or her surroundings, but it dulls the ability to hear. This could keep someone from hearing an approaching vehicle. Intersections are obviously one of the most dangerous parts of any walk, but even sidewalks are not always safe. Drivers make mistakes, and many drive onto sidewalks.

Walking in areas without sidewalks poses an additional danger, and people need to remain extra cautious. Walking at night can be particularly dangerous, especially in areas where the lighting is not good. Wearing clothing visible to vehicles could help offset this danger. Making eye contact with drivers at intersections lets a pedestrian know that he or she is seen.

Even when a pedestrian takes as many precautions as possible and does everything right, accidents still happen. Each year, auto-pedestrian accidents take the lives of innocent people and cause serious injuries from which a victim may not fully recover. When this happens, it may be possible to pursue restitution for the accompanying financial losses through the filing of a claim in an Ohio civil court.


Large Verdict Provided in Case Involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from Texting and Driving

Shared by Tittle & Perlmuter

tittlelawfirm.com/blog


Every year, nearly two million people sustain a head injury. Head injuries, also called Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), are a major cause of death and disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths and those who survive can face effects that last the rest of their lives.

A brain injury can lead to serious health complications, including permanent physical and mental disabilities, as seen in this case involving a 16-year-old sophomore at Joplin High School in Joplin, Missouri.

According to the Joplin Globe, Olivia Kelly was 16 years old when fellow student Joseph Schnaedter, 18, collided into her car in a busy intersection. This accident would leave Kelly with a serious brain injury that prevented her from recalling her birth date, phone number, or even who her own father was.

Due to the prolonged effects of Kelly’s injury, the family decided to bring a lawsuit against Joplin High School Senior, Joseph Schnaedter, and his insurance company, Safeco Insurance. Charles Sticklen and Shelley Dreyer, Kelly’s attorneys, argued that the students’ cars arrived at the intersection at the same time, but because Kelly was the driver on the right, she had the right of way. They argued that if Schnaedter had not been distracted due to texting, the accident may not have occurred.

Attorney Oscar Espinoza, representing defendant Joseph Schnaedter, argued that his client was not texting while driving and had stopped texting before even leaving his home that morning. However, after going through cellphone records introduced as evidence by the plaintiffs, they found over 205 text messages from Schnaedter between 7:17 AM and 7:59 AM. The accident occurred at 7:59 AM, the same time as his last text was sent. The timeline was further proved by Schnaedter himself after acknowledging, under oath, that he had called his mother directly after the accident, showing as 8:00 AM on his phone records.

After a three-day trial in Jasper County, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Kelly and ordered Schnaedter and Safeco to pay $900,000 to Kelly and her family.

After almost two and a half years after the accident, Kelly is still suffering from her Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She was forced to miss a semester of school in order to recover and suffers from mood changes, constant migraines, anxiety, sleep disorders, and more. Before the accident, Kelly was known to friends and teachers as a “straight A student”. After her injury, it was hard for her to maintain a C-grade point average when she finally returned to school almost 6 months later.

Although Kelly doesn’t remember what actually caused the brain injury, whether it was the airbag, whiplash, or hitting her head on her driver’s seat headrest, the effects of her injury are still being felt to this day and have an impact on her everyday life. 


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About the Blog
OAJ Blog Central showcases informative blog posts from law firms and trial attorneys throughout Ohio. 

Blog Policies

Recent Posts:
• Far Too Many Wrong-Way Car Accidents Happen in Ohio
• Why Causation can be Hard to Prove in Malpractice Cases
• If You Want to Sue for Wrongful Death, You Must Hurry Up and Die - Ohio Appeals Court Ruling
My Family Member for a Bed Sore (Pressure Ulcer) in a Nursing Home - What Now?
Will a Noncompete Clause Keep You From Starting Your Own Practice?

Keywords: Wrong-Way Car Accidents, Malpractice Cases, Causation, Wrongful DeathNursing Home Negligence, Bed Sores, Noncompete Clause, Workplace HarassmentGap InsuranceLand PartitionStrauss/Ohio State LawsuitFatal Accidents, OpioidsTruck CrashesStatutory Penalties, Wrongful Termination ClaimsBicycle AccidentsAuto-Pedestrian AccidentsTraumatic Brain Injury

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