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April 2014 Archives

Attorney Robert Clifford Named One of Most Powerful Chicagoans

This past March, Robert A. Clifford was recognized as one of Chicago Magazine's Top 100 Most Powerful Chicagoans for 2014. The third annual "The Power 100″ list ranks based on influence, ability, and clout; Clifford placed #76. This recognition appeared in the March 2014 issue of Chicago Magazine and marks the second time in a row he has been acknowledged as one of the most powerful Chicagoans. According to Chicago Magazine, in order to be part of this list, "You must have the influence, ability, or potential to make big things happen, for good or for ill. When you talk, people listen." In naming Clifford one of the Top 100 for 2014, Chicago Magazine wrote, "In 2013, Clifford's prestigious boutique personal injury firm won a total of $66.9 million in 13 cases, including a $15.5 million lawsuit against University of Chicago Medicine. With elections on the horizon, all the major Democratic pols, from Hillary Clinton on down the line, will be coming cup in hand to this important Chicago fundraiser." Clifford is listed along with other esteemed Chicagoans including the Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. To view "The Power 100" list, please visit: http://chi.mg/1rGeBO1

Senators Request Department of Transportation to Force GM’s Hand

Democratic Senators Edward Markey (MA) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) urged the Department of Transportation to take action to ensure that owners of the estimated 2.6 million recalled GM models to cease driving them until they are repaired, according to Reuters. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who has been investigating the failure of GM to take action to combat the defects, has authority to pursue recalls of vehicles deemed as unsafe, but they cannot force GM to demand their owners to stop driving, according to The Detroit News. The U.S. Senators concern stems from an indication from GM that it may take until October of this year to complete all the necessary repairs, opening the possibility that more injuries or deaths could follow from continued use, Reuters reported. Of particular concern are the vehicles’ faulty ignition switches that result in complete shut downs or malfunctions in power steering, power breaks and airbag deployment, which to date have been attributed to 13 deaths, according to The New York Times. On April 17, a federal judge refused a request to force GM to order their customers to stop driving the recalled vehicles until the proper repairs could be made, according to Reuters. GM maintains that this notification is not necessary because the cars are safe to operate so long as there are no additional keys or fobs on their keychain, which jostle the ignition switch and may cause the vehicle to shut down, Reuters reported. However, the company has acknowledged that there are significant risks involved in driving on rough roads and had also admitted that it has been aware of the possible defects for nearly a decade, according to Reuters.

Conversation with Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the U.S. for the Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer spoke with DePaul University College of Law Professor  Stephan Landsman on “Judge Jack Weinstein’s Impact on Civil Justice in America” for the 20thAnnualClifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy.  Professor Landsman also serves as the Faculty Chair of the Symposium that was founded by Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. Some two dozen judges and academics from around the country gathered for two days at the end of April at DePaul to discuss  Judge Weinstein of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York and his contribution to the legal profession.  Judge Weinstein was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.  He has authored numerous significant opinions in his 45 years on the bench including cases on Agent Orange and numerous mass torts that is said to set an example of judicial independence and social conscience. Several of the speakers worked as law clerks for Judge Weinstein early in their legal careers.  Justice Breyer spoke of Weinstein being a role model as a teacher, a judge and a human being.  Weinstein is author of the treatise on evidence.  To hear this interesting conversation between Justice Breyer and Professor Landsman, click here. 

Sarah King Writes for the ABA Litigation Journal

Sarah King of Clifford Law Offices contributed to the Summer 2013 issue of the popular American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Journal that is distributed to more than 60,000 lawyers across the country. An associate at the firm, Sarah wrote an article entitled “A Storyteller’s Apprentice” where she describes her preparing a case for trial under the mentoring of partner Keith Hebeisen at the firm.  In it she explains the importance of telling the jury a story at trial. King currently is co-authoring an article with Hebeisen for an upcoming issue of Litigation Journal.

Pam Menaker Writes Article for Litigation News on Attorney-Client Privilege Case in Delaware

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices and Associate Editor of the American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation News, authored an article on the issue of attorney-client privilege in a business merger. "Attorney-Client Privilege Passes to Acquiring Company in Merger" appeared in the March issue of Litigation News that is disseminated to the 60,000+ members of the ABA Section of Litigation. The article surrounds the case of Great Hill Equity Partners IV v. SIG Growth Equity Fund,80 A.3d 155, 2013 De. Ch. LEXIS 280 (Del. Ch. Ct. Nov. 15, 2013) that arose out of the Delaware Court of Chancery involving a dispute between two parties in a merger.  After the merger, the acquiring company apparently had buyer's remorse after learning of some evidence of alleged fraud in the communications it obtained in the merge.  The question was whether the attorney-client privilege applied.  The court answered no under the Delaware statute. To read the entire article, click here.

Bob Clifford Testifies Before City Council Licensing Committee on UberX and Other Ride Sharing Vehicles

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, testified Thursday (April 24, 2014) before the Licensing Committee of the Chicago City Council on its proposal to regulate ride sharing in the city.  Safety of consumers was the underlying theme of the hearing. An ordinance is being considered that would require ride sharing companies to keep better track of its drivers, require testing of the drivers and the vehicles as well as pay taxes to the city.   Clifford spoke before a crowded room about his concern over insurance issues involving those who are using their own cars to drive people around the city. It was estimated that as many as 5,000 people may be doing this part-time around Chicago, it was said at the hearing.  Clifford said insurance coverage issues are a "nightmare" and asked the Committee not to "compromise or experiment," but that its members must "take greater care before deciding what to do."  His remarks drew applause from audience members. At the same time, the Illinois state legislature also is proposing a statewide law. Clifford also recently spoke before the Illinois Transportation Committee of the House that recently passed a bill that is set to go to the Illinois Senate shortly.

Clifford Tort Symposium Marks 20 Years

Some two dozen judges and academics from around the country gathered in Chicago April 24-25 for the 20th Annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy that was marked by a taped conversation with Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States and Faculty Chair of the Symposium DePaul University College of Law Professor Stephan Landsman. The subject of the two-day program that offered 9.75 hours of continuing legal education credit was "Judge Jack Weinstein's Impact on Civil Justice in America."   Judge Weinstein of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.  He has authored numerous significant opinions in his 45 years on the bench including cases on Agent Orange and numerous mass torts that is said to set an example of judicial independence and social conscience. Several of the speakers worked as law clerks for Judge Weinstein early in their legal careers.  Justice Breyer spoke of Weinstein being a role model as a teacher, a judge and a human being.  Weinstein is author of the treatise on evidence. Founder of the Symposium, Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, addressed the program that was held at DePaul Law School and on the web.       Left to right: Bob Clifford, founder of the Symposium and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices; U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York; DePaul University College of Law Professor Stephan Landsman and Faculty Chair of the Symposium.      Bob Clifford addresses a packed audience to view taped remarks by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme of the United States as well as 24 judges and academics from around the country participating in the two-day symposium honoring Judge Jack Weinstein of New York. __________________ For further information, please call Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela S. Menaker at 847-251-4877 or 847-721-0909.                         www.CliffordLaw.com
 

National Press Covers the Settlement of Five Colgan Crash Cases of Clifford Law Offices

As reported by Associated Press, the remaining seven federal court cases involving the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 that killed 50 people near Buffalo, New York, five years ago have settled in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthey. Robert A. Clifford, Kevin P. Durkin and Michael S. Krzak, partners at Clifford Law Offices, were set to try five of the seven of these cases at the end of May. They settled for a confidential amount. The lawsuits alleged that the pilots and flight's operators, Continental Airlines and its regional carrier, Colgan Air, Inc. (who operated Flight 3407 under a Capacity Purchase Agreement with Continental Airlines) as well as the parent company, Pinnacle Air, were reckless and caused the crash of the jet carrying 50 people from Newark to Buffalo in 2009. Three more cases remain to be tried in state court. The families of those who lost loved ones were pleading with federal officials to overhaul training requirements for pilots and other safety-oriented changes, particularly regarding regional airlines - which often fly the smaller aircraft into airports that are not as cost-effective for the major carriers to fly in and out of. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strengthened many of those requirements in light of this crash due to the ensuing, tireless actions of the family members. Clifford, senior partner at the firm who would have been the lead attorney at trial in the remaining cases in which Clifford Law Offices represented the Plaintiffs, talked to AP reporter Carolyn Thompson about how the case was allowed to be "'litigated in secrecy'" in federal court in Buffalo. "'The public loses the safety benefits that come from the disclosure. Now we've got one more incident of sweeping the bad conduct under the rug and nobody sees it,' he said," to the AP reporter. To read the story in its entirety, here are links to some of those stories:

Press Conference with Plaintiffs in $14 Million Yasmin Verdict at Clifford Law Offices

A press conference was held  on Saturday, April 19, 2014 at Clifford Law Offices with Mariola and Rafal Zapalski, plaintiffs in the $14 million verdict in Cook County Circuit Court.
 
Bradley M. Cosgrove, partner at Clifford Law Offices, along with associate Sarah F. King obtained a $14 million verdict Friday (April 18, 2014) against the prescribing doctor on behalf of a 37-year-old Chicago woman who suffered a severe disabling stroke 13 days after starting the birth control medication Yasmin.
 
Mariola Zapalski, originally from Poland and now of Elmwood Park, was prescribed the controversial birth control medication by Dr. Zbigniew Aniol of Chicago.  After taking the medication for less than two weeks, she suffered a severe debilitating stroke that paralyzed her entire left side, resulting in the loss of use of her arm and leg. She also sustained profound and permanent brain injury.  She is now wheelchair bound and requires 24-hour round-the-clock care.
 
 The two-week trial was held before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Edward Washington II with a four-woman-eight-man jury. Yasmin has been under attack by medical professionals in the past several years for severe side effects including causing strokes in young women. 
 
Cosgrove reached a $2.5 million settlement against the hospital, Resurrection Medical Center, about a month ago in this same matter.

Suing a Business in the State of Illinois - ISBA Advises

Question: If I sue a business over a consumer claim, how long will it take for my case to be heard in court? Answer: Depending on where you file and the backlog of cases, it could take at least two to three months before your case is heard. That is because in Illinois, a person being sued has one month to respond to your complaint. After that, it may take another month to set a trial date, and there could also be continuances and other delays that impact the final resolution of a claim. Anyone with a question about a legal matter can talk to a lawyer at no cost on the Illinois State Bar Association's 33rd Annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact options include two toll-free numbers, Skype and email. For details, visit http://goo.gl/2v5eWJ.

The 33rd Annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day

Illinois State Bar Association's (ISBA) 33rd Annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day is Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 9 a.m. to noon. On this day, residents of Illinois with a question about a legal matter are invited to talk to a lawyer at no cost to them.

Former CLO Client Molly Akers Featured on NBC News for Her Work with Boston Bombing Victim’s Charity MR8

Molly Akers is set to run this year’s Boston Marathon on Monday in honor of Martin Richard, the youngest of the 3 victims of last year’s brutal attacks. Akers took up running because, as she puts it, “I needed something to do after my whole ordeal.” The ordeal she is referring to is an incident involving Akers having a healthy breast removed by an Illinois Hospital. The surgeon removed her right breast due to an alleged mislabeling of a pathology specimen, but Akers did not have breast cancer. Clifford Law Offices filed a suit on her behalf in 2005, and her story was a key aspect of the fight against capping the recovery of non-economic damages in Illinois.Akers was deeply disturbed by last year’s attack at the marathon, and once she saw a picture of young Martin holding a sign that read, “No more hurting people, PEACE,” she felt the need to reach out, and to her pleasure, MR8 reached back. “The Richards are giving me all this opportunity to step back in the race course in wake of their own tragedy. They are changing people’s momentum, people’s lives,” said Akers on NBC News on Tuesday, April 15th.Thus far, the Richard’s foundation has raised more than $938,000 that will be invested in education, athletics, and the community, according to NBC News. To see the full piece, click here.Click Here to Donate to Molly's Fundraising Page. 

Clifford Law Offices Case Against Live Nation Profiled in CBS Investigative Report

A 29-year-old concert goer was seriously injured at a Live Nation concert in Tinley Park, Illinois (First Midwest Bank Ampitheater).  Apparently he is not alone. Channel 2 investigative reporter Dave Savini is doing a story on Matt Zielinski, a client at Clifford Law Offices, who is suing for his injuries when he was attacked by a group of men with no security in sight.  He merely had gone to the men's room and was returning to his lawn seat while seeing a country music concert. Learn more about the details of this shocking story covered on the 10 o'clock news on Thursday, April 10th on Channel 2, CBS, by clicking here.

Bob Clifford Speaks to Wall Street Journal Reporter on Missing Malaysian Airliner

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal in the April 10, 2014 issue in an article that discussed the need for review of procedures following international plane crashes.In a story entitled, "MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370 PROBE PROMPTS REVIEW OF INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES IN PLANE CRASHES," aviation reporter Andy Pasztor, reports on air safety officials reassessing long-established procedures in large commercial jet crashes.In light of the month-long probe into the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the conflicting reports coming from a number of different authorities in different countries, some air safety officials are calling for greater coordination of efforts as well.In speaking with Clifford, Pasztor wrote, "'I keep hearing the talk about the need for changes,' said Robert Clifford, a Chicago plaintiffs' attorney who specializes in air-accident litigation. 'There ought to be a better international process for greater coordination and oversight.'"To read about the current procedures that are in place and what others are saying about the latest on this issue, click here.

Bob Clifford Presents Opening Statement in "The Trial of Wyatt Earp"

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, presented an opening statement in defense of Wyatt Earp, lawmen of the Wild West, at an American Bar Association (ABA) all-day program entitled "An Anatomy of a Trial." The packed room watched as Clifford, with Earp sitting next to him in costume, made his opening statement, said that Earp, as sheriff of Tombstone, along with his deputized brothers and Doc Holliday, acted in self defense at the OK Corral where a gunfight took place on Oct. 26, 1881. Earp killed a man, according to history. "It's against the law to carry a firearm without a permit in Tombstone," Clifford argued.  "The Earps had an obligation to enforce the law, and it's a rough and tough business." He also pointed out that the cowboys who had broken the law were told to raise their hands and instead they drew their guns first, forcing the Earps and Holliday to act in self defense. Following the opening statement, in a panel discussion Clifford emphasized that preparation is the key to a successful opening statement. He spoke at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, where many of those attending were law school students from the area. Wyatt Earp's trial team: (  Left to right: Robert A. Clifford, Clifford Law Offices, Chicago; Paul Mark Sandler, Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler, Baltimore, MD, Program Chair); "Wyatt Earp," and Julianne Farnsworth, Farnsworth Law Firm, Charleston, SC Bob Clifford at the podium:  Bob Clifford delivering his opening statement to the group:  Bob Clifford defending Wyatt Earp at mock trial at ABA Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona: 

Pam Menaker Writes Article for American Bar Association Litigation Journal - "Decent Exposure"

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, authored an article for the American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Journal on marketing tips for attorneys. The article entitled, "Decent Exposure," appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of the Journal that is disseminated to more than 65,000 members of the Section of Litigation of the ABA. "Instead of the shotgun approach, try to think of your marketing plan more like a rifle shot, targeting an audience that really may be in need of exactly what you do," she wrote.  To read the entire article, click here. Menaker, a long-time member of the ABA, is an Associate Editor of its Litigation News publication as well as a member of the ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking.

Settlements Reached in Final Federal Court Continental Connection Flight 3407 Air Crash Cases

The remaining eight federal court lawsuits involving families who lost loved ones in the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, were settled just weeks before a trial was set to begin in federal court.Clifford Law Offices represented families who lost loved ones in five of those lawsuits, who were among the 49 people killed when the Colgan aircraft crashed in Clarence Center near Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009.  The cases settled April 2, 2014, for confidential amounts.The five cases were among eight that remained when a mediation effort led by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthey settled the matters in early April.  Robert A. Clifford, senior partner and one of the leading attorneys in the litigation, has been most outspoken about the secrecy that surrounded the litigation in relation to many of the “under seal” motions filed by the defendant airlines in the consolidated cases.  The Defendants made extensive filings “under seal.”  The excessive use of the “under seal” designation would have become one of the major areas of contention had the cases not been resolved.In particular, the so-called Sabatini Report was filed under seal; the report dealt with the post-crash study of the corporate culture at Colgan Air which was the entity that operated Continental Connection Flight 3407.The aircraft was owned and operated by Colgan but flew under the Continental connection banner.  Since the crash five years ago, Continental has merged with United Airlines.Although nothing can ever bring back the families’ loved ones or even bring closure in such a horrific event, they perhaps can take some solace in their voicing their concerns over the years about the differences in training and procedures in regional airlines compared to those of the major carriers as well as the.  The regional carriers who fly the smaller aircraft in smaller markets should be required to pay the same amount of attention to safety as much as the large carriers who fly the larger aircraft.  The efforts of the collective will of the families of Flight 3407 has resulted in changes within the industry, regarding pilot fatigue, stall training, pilot monitoring, and other safety procedures.

Clifford Law Offices' Client to Run Boston Marathon in Honor Of Martin Richard

Former Clifford Law Office client, Molly Akers, will run this year's Boston Marathon in honor of Martin Richard, who tragically died from injuries sustained during the bombings one year ago. Akers, along with best friend and avid runner Samantha Kirkham, were named as Foundation Ambassadors for MARTIN W. RICHARD CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and inaugral members of Team MR8 for The Boston Marathon 2014 .  Through her own ordeal, Akers knows first hand how important it is reminding people what happens to them matters and has since struck up a friendship with the Richards' camp after reaching out after the horrific attacks. "The only reason I started running was because I needed something to do after my own ordeal. My best friend Sam convinced me to go for a run and I've not stopped since. Watching what happened last year in Boston was a helpless feeling, but seeing the picture of Martin holding a sign "No more hurting people, PEACE," made Sam and I realize we had to do something. So, we reached out and heard back! We wanted them to know people cared and what happened to Martin mattered. I can't change what happened to me, but I can change how I live and I know now how important to not be afraid to be a voice for someone." In 2005, Clifford Law Offices filed a claim on Akers' behalf stemming from an incident when she had a healthy breast removed by an Illinois hospital. The Illinois surgeon removed her right breast allegedly because hospital employees mislabeled the pathology specimen of another patient who was reported to have cancer. Akers did not have breast cancer. Akers' lawsuit was instrumental in the fight against capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases in Illinois. According to Akers, medical malpractice can have devastating effects on victims well beyond the physical injuries they suffer.  While Akers was recovering, she went down to Springfield, Illinois, to speak with state legislators about the unfairness in caps on damages in medical malpractice cases.  The law ultimately was found unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court. Click Here To Contribute To Molly's Fundraising Page!

Pam Menaker Writes About New Case in New Jersey that May Hold the Sender of a Text Message Liable for a Driver's Accident

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, authored an article for the American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation News on a new case out of New Jersey that may be significant for drivers around the country, if the trend continues. The New Jersey appellate court held that the sender of a text message may be responsible when the receiving person who is driving a vehicle gets into an accident and causes injury or death.  That is what happened in Kubert v. Best, when a couple had been texting each other all day and then one of them got into an accident, leaving two people on a motorcycle severely injured including each one suffering the loss of a leg. The court held under certain circumstances, even the sender of the text message may be held responsible if the texter send the message "immediately" before the accident and "when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the test message while driving." To read the entire article, "Text Message Sender May Face Liability for Driver's Accident," click here.

Bob Clifford Speaks to National Public Radio, WGN Radio and The New York Times About Legal Ramifications in Malaysia Air Crash

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, talked on National Public Radio (NPR) in a story that was heard from Washington, D.C., to Florida, Dallas to San Diego on the legal ramifications of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft.In a story that aired the morning of Monday, March 31, 2014, Clifford spoke of the petition that was prematurely filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago by a law firm that already has had a similar petition twice denied by the Chicago judge.  Friday that same judge again dismissed the petition for discovery in the Malaysia Airlines incident, calling it “improper.”On NPR, Clifford called the filing “a rank publicity stunt, plain and simple.”  He went on to say that “this is the type of action by a lawyer that makes the legal profession look bad.”To hear the entire podcast, click here.The New York Times covered the story in an article entitled “With Jet Still Missing, Legal Moves for Payouts Start.”  In the article by Edward Wong and Kirk Semple that ran April 2, 2014, Clifford was quoted as emphasizing that “no one should rush into litigation.”  He told reporters, “‘This is a process, not an event, and this race is not always won by the swift.’”NY Times ArticleClifford also spoke on WGN radio to John Williams on Friday, March 28, 2014, answering questions of listeners throughout the Midwest about this tragedy.  Clifford said there was no evidence that Boeing is responsible for the cause of this crash and it is a disservice to the families that a Chicago judge will relieve their angst.  The Judge who dismissed the action also ruled that the Chicago law firm may face sanctions if it does so again.

Cook County Judge Enters Second Order Today in Petition Regarding Malaysia Airlines

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathy M. Flanagan entered a second order today (Monday, March 31, 2014) dismissing a Petition for Discovery against Chicago-based Boeing Company and Malaysian Airlines.The initial dismissal order explained the impropriety of a Chicago law firm filing the action under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224.  Today’s second order explains her position on the possibility of ordering sanctions against the Chicago law firm.She explained that because service of the order in the action took place today, “commencing today, the Court will impose sanctions on the law firm if there are any other unfounded filings of Supreme Court Rule 224 petitions.Judge Flanagan also is the judge who dismissed two similar petitions last year filed by the same Chicago law firm.  Judge Flanagan, Supervising Judge of the Motions Section of the Law Division in the Circuit Court of Cook County, is assigned all aviation cases.Robert A. Clifford, veteran aviation attorney who has handled numerous international and national aviation crashes, has been speaking out the past week against the “premature filings” by the law firm in Chicago in aviation cases.

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