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February 2014 Archives

Successful closing argument captured in $16 million grain bin verdict by Clifford Law Offices

Sean Driscoll delivers a successful closing argument in the Carroll County courthouse for the White bread-Pacas case. To read more coverage on this record-setting case, click here:

Bob Clifford's Defense for Orestes

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, former prosecutors Patrick Fitzgerald and Patrick Collins with attorneys Dan Webb and Bob Clifford of Clifford Law Offices participated in a mock trial at the University of Illinois at the UIC Forum.

Robert A. Clifford to Represent Socrates in Mock Trial

The founding Partner of Clifford Law Offices, Robert. A. Clifford, will participate in a mock trial where he will represent the Greek philosopher, Socrates, on charges of corrupting the youth and disrespecting the Greek gods. Clifford will be representing Socrates with Dan Webb. The mock trial titled, "The Trial of Socrates Redux: BYO Hemlock", will be hosted by American College of Trial Lawyers in La Quinta, California on March 8, 2014. Robert Clifford was in a similar mock trial on January 29, 2014 when he and his partner, Dan Webb, defended the Greek mythological figure, Orestes, who was charged with matricide. The event had more than 1,000 attendees and with the audience voting in their favor, the team got an acquittal for Orestes. Like the Orestes mock trial, the upcoming trial for Socrates is sure to entertain as well.

Webinar on the Ethics of Client Communications

On Thursday, February 20, 2014 Clifford Law Offices sponsored a free two-hour continuing legal education program on the ethics of client communications. The webinar was part of the seventh annual Clifford Law Offices Continuing Legal Education Series (CLE) and focused on the dos and don'ts of client communications by providing hypothetical and real world examples. This was an educational experience for lawyers who were interested in expanding their knowledge on ethical communication with their clients and about their cases. More than 3,000 lawyers and judges registered for the free webinar titled, "The Ethics of Client Communications," which was viewable on all mobile devices. The program was moderated by Senior Partner of Clifford Law Offices and Chicago lawyer, Robert A. Clifford.  Panelists included: Justice Maureen Connors of the Illinois Appellate Court; Jim Grogan of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; and Sara Parikh, Ph.D., Managing Director, Leo J. Shapiro & Associates. For those who missed the webinar, interested lawyers and judges are invited to watch it online here. Please note: the recorded webinar is not approved for CLE.

Five High School Students Injured in Explosion During Cooking Class at Chicago High School

Five teenagers reportedly were injured this morning (Wednesday, 2/19/14) following an explosion at Northside College Prep High School in the 5500 block of Kedzie Avenue, according to ABC­7 News in Chicago.

Four Students Hurt in Northside Prep Lab Explosion

Four students reportedly were injured in an explosion during a cooking class at Northside Prep High School on Chicago's north side. Students reportedly were heating hot chocolate in a lab Wednesday (2/19/14) morning when the explosion occurred.  One student was taken to Masonic Medical Center with injuries that were reported to be non-life-threatening.  Two other students were taken in fair to serious condition to Swedish Covenant Hospital and a fourth student was taken there in good condition, according to early media reports. The explosion occurred about 10:35 a.m. at the school located at 5501 N. Kedzie Av., police told the press.  As a safety precaution, students reportedly were evacuated after the explosion.

The Ice is Melting! Make Sure You Know What to Do

Bob Clifford was interviewed by WBBM-AM reporter John Cody about the dangers and realities of falling ice in downtown Chicago. Clifford said that building owners and property managers do have a responsibility to people, even passersby, concerning the possible harm from falling ice. Furthermore, he stated that while any warning signs were a “public service,” they were sometimes confusing and not at all adequate to free these properties from legal liability. Also, if a building has a history of injuries from falling ice, then they are required to take increased action such as putting in place physical measures that could divert the falling projectiles.

Robert A. Clifford Selected to City’s Most Powerful Once Again

Chicago Magazine produces an annual list of 100 people with the most influence and power in the city, and Robert A. Clifford is on that list again for 2014. Moving up a spot from last year to 76th place on this prestigious list that includes a U.S. Senator, venture capitalist billionaires and, of course, Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor.

After a Crash, Seek Counsel Immediately - The ISBA Advises

Question:  How soon after an auto accident should one seek legal counsel? Answer: As soon as possible, especially if anyone sustained injuries, if the other driver was under-insured or uninsured, or if you and the driver are disputing who was at fault. Because the police and insurance companies are likely to start asking questions immediately, having a lawyer at your side to handle those questions can help ensure that you do not say anything which may hamper your defense.     For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Don't Get Fined for A Flyer - The ISBA Maps Out the Law

Question: Can I legally put flyers about our organization's fundraiser in public places and also in my neighbors' mailboxes? Answer: Handbills and advertising flyers cannot be posted just anywhere. Many cities and towns prohibit the posting of flyers in specific locations, and those who disobey may be subject to a fine. Advertising flyers without proper postage may not be placed inside mailboxes. Mailboxes are considered federal property, designed to be used only by the postal carrier and the resident of the property.     For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Do I Need A Release? - The ISBA Talks Privacy Laws

Question: If I photograph or videotape someone in public without their consent, am I violating the law? Answer: In most instances, no. Generally, people who are out in public are not entitled to the same level of privacy that they have in their homes. However, federal and state laws limit the right to record the activities of people engaged in private activities that they would reasonably expect to be private, such as in a restroom, tanning salon, locker room or hotel bedroom. Videotaping someone under such circumstances could be considered a "violation of intrusion."       For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Clifford Law Offices' Webinar on Ethics of Client Communications Approved for Ethics Credit in Ohio

The Commission on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of Ohio has approved the two-hour webinar sponsored by Clifford Law Offices for two hours of ethics credit to licensed Ohio lawyers. The program, entitled "The Ethics of Client Communications," is being offered next Thursday, Feb. 20, from 2:30-4:30 p.m To register, go to Thus far, nearly 3,000 Illinois lawyers have registered for this program accredited in Illinois.

New Law Makes Pet Shops Financially Responsible if Illnesses Go Undisclosed

Question: We bought a puppy and it has serious health issues that have required steep veterinarian bills. What are the chances of getting reimbursed? Answer: Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, consumers who purchase dogs and cats from pet shops can obtain refunds or reimbursement of veterinarian bills if a serious illness was undisclosed at the time of the sale.       For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Increased Coverage Bringing Necessary Attention to Carroll County Tragedy and Grain Bin Dangers

Clifford Law Offices recently won a favorable verdict in two cases of wrongful death involving grain bin tragedies that took place in 2010. That makes this the second instance in as many years of negligence involving grain bins that necessitated legal action and resulted in justice for the injured last year and for the families of the deceased last week. The Chicago Tribune brought much-needed attention to these cases with coverage and bandwidth so that the large agricultural conglomerates that run these grain elevator facilities may finally take action in avoiding any future tragedies and promoting the safety and welfare of their workers.   To read more of the nationwide coverage, click on the following links: National Trial Lawyers Publication -  -- video story on Chicago Tribune's website,0,176009.story -- Story in Sunday's Chicago Tribune -- Rockford Mt. Register Publication -- KWQC - NBC Affiliate -- Sauk Valley Daily Publication -- Sacramento Bee (CA) paper -- Quad Cities Times -- KWQC, Pacas family reaction

Online Research Common Among Both Medical Patients and Professionals

According to recent survey data published by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, just about half of medical professionals have consulted Wikipedia, an online reference material that is sourced and edited by users without any formal credential checking. With more and more millennials consulting their online physicians before actually consulting a physical medical professional, the importance of accuracy and availability of information has never been more prevalent. But should it also be a little troubling that educated, paid medical professionals also consult online works of questionable veracity and accuracy when making suggestions to patients? The responses to the information in the study have been mixed, but at least one medical school in California has taken an embracing and proactive approach by having fourth year medical students monitor and edit information available through Wikipedia and other online sources.

The ISBA Talks Punitive Measures for Drivers Involved in Fatal Collisions

Question: What is the state of Illinois doing to crack down on motorists who cause deadly crashes? Answer: Under a new state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2014, judges are limited on when they can assign probation, also called court supervision, to drivers in crashes that result in death. Drivers must have clean driving records - typically at least four years before the accident - to be eligible for supervision.       For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to   Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Clifford Law Offices' Record-High Verdict Making News

In what is the highest verdict for a minor outside of Cook County, yesterday Clifford Law Offices obtained a $16 million verdict for two teenagers who were killed in a grain bin incident in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, in 2010.  Each of the boys' families were awarded $8 million, a record in the state outside of Cook County in the wrongful death of a minor, according to John Kirkton of the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter.  Kevin Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices, and Sean Driscoll, associate at the firm, tried the case for 15 days before a nine-man-three-woman jury in Carroll County near the Mississippi River.  The jury deliberated eight hours before making their determination. The news of the verdict has swept around the state, including coverage by Associated Press wire service.  Here are some links to coverage of this story that highlights the need for greater accountability in working at and around grain bins. -- Rockford Register paper  Channel 7 (ABC)  story --  Chicago Sun-Times story -- -- WAND-TV, NBC affiliate Champaign, Springfield, Decatur  -- Freeport Journal Standard newspaper  -- Washington Times -- NBC affiliate story out of Peoria -- ABC affiliate -- Fox news in Quad Cities  -- Associated Press --Belleville News Democrat -- The Republic in Columbus, Indiana  -- WIFR-TV,0,7261924.story -- Chicago Tribune online

Record-Setting $16 Million Verdict in Carroll County Obtained by Clifford Law Offices

Kevin P. Durkin and Sean P. Driscoll, attorneys at Clifford Law Offices, obtained a record $16 million verdict on behalf of two families whose sons were killed in a grain bin entrapment incident in northwestern Illinois.

Seatbelt Re-Design is Critical for the Safety of a Bigger America

A new study conducted by medical researchers at the Buffalo campus of the State University of New York system has concluded that obesity is responsible for a lack of seatbelt usage that greatly increases the risk of fatality for individuals already living with obesity. Sounding eerily similar to conclusions drawn by a team of researchers looking into the redesign of airplane seatbelts for larger occupants, the team leader, Dr. Dietrich Jehle, is calling for immediate action concerning a redesign of automobile seatbelts. According to Dr. Jehle, the discomfort of the current design of seatbelts is lowering usage in overweight demographics, and he thinks that while there should be an ongoing effort to combat obesity, the concern of immediate safety and limiting highway fatalities necessitate quick and decisive action. To read more about this study and story, click here:

Possible Dangers and Complications with Testosterone-Boosting Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a federal agency tasked with keeping the American public aware of potential health risks like e. Coli and pharmaceutical side effects, is warning that there could be a link between testosterone-boosting pills and increased risk of heart problems and fatalities. According to the Chicago Tribune, many men take these drugs due to the persuasive nature of the marketing efforts that coined the phrase "low-T" without fully researching the possible damages and problems associated with use. However, the FDA also issued statements to the effect that there could be no correlation between taking these types of medication and adverse cardiac events.

Bob Clifford Writes Column on the Importance of Client Communications

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, wrote a column for the February issue of the Chicago Lawyer on the importance of staying in touch with clients. ("If communication is rockin', the ARDC won't come a knockin'"). Click here to read the entire column: Clifford's Notes, Chicago Lawyer. He offers some important tips as well as answers that are provided by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) at The column will be distributed to the more than 2,000 registrants thus far who will be attending the 7th Annual Clifford Law Offices Continuing Legal Education Program, "The Ethics of Client Communications." The two-hour webinar on Feb. 20 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. will be held at DePaul University College of Law, Clifford's alma mater. Clifford will be moderating the panel of Illinois Appellate Court Justice Maureen Connors, James J. Grogan of the Illinois ARDC and Sara Parikh, Ph. D., Managing Director of Leo J. Shapiro & Associates in Chicago. There is still time to register for the webinar at

"A Setting that Puts Clients at Ease"

That's the title of a two-page article that appeared in the February issue of the Chicago Lawyer on Clifford Law Offices. The reporter, Dustin J. Seibert, said, "That's the feeling that surfaces just after you step off the elevator on the 31st floor of 120 N. LaSalle St. and into Clifford Law Offices." Time and again, clients and visitors alike have described walking into the firm's offices as if walking into one's living room, and that is the feel that Robert Clifford, senior partner at the firm, tried to emulate in making clients who are going through a terrible time feel as comfortable as possible. Although Seibert says the lawyers are in formal dress, "its overall ambiance makes you feel like kicking off your shoes and taking a seat in one of its many deep-cushioned chairs and couches." French architect Lucien Lagrange designed the offices 19 years ago that includes several conference room including one that overlooks City Hall, an intimate library that gives way to the new digital era and what the employees call a "bistro" at which they eat lunch or take a break. The focal point of the office, though, is Clifford's office itself. "With an elegance that evokes space in a five-star hotel or a country club, it should come as no surprise that his workspace alone won an American Bar Association office design competition in 1997." To read the entire story and view the photos, click here:

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