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June 2014 Archives

Respected Malpractice Attorney Explains Tort Reform

Clifford Law Offices partner and attorney Keith A. Hebeisen answered a number of questions regarding tort reform. He explained how those most affected by tort reform are people who have been injured by someone who is negligent and limited (or prevented) from having full compensation. "The overall objective of tort reform is to make it harder or impossible for people in companies to be held accountable when they negligently injure other people," shared Hebeisen. The average consumers can do two things about tort reform. First, they can educate themselves on how the civil justice system works and understand why it's important to protect people's rights. Secondly, the average consumer can speak up when the subject is discussed and explain how tort reform is a bad idea. The full interview, produced by Clifford Law Offices, can be watched here:

How to Avoid and Handle Breaches in Your Data

Clifford Law Offices partner and attorney, Shannon M. McNulty gave legal advice on a variety of questions regarding breaches in data in a recent interview. She advised that if you have been notified that your account has been breached, you should check all of your payment and bank accounts. You should also contact your bank and ask them to re-issue credit or debit cards so the card numbers can be disassociated with your active account.

Attorney Robert Clifford Offers Advice on How to Appropriately Interact With Clients

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his July, 2012 column entitled "Offering the Personal Touch." In the article, Clifford gives his opinion on how lawyers throughout the country should interact with their clients in a time when the expectations and needs of individual clients are evolving. Clifford explains that money damages, no matter what amount, are never enough to put a client in the position he or she would have been in had the incident, whatever it may be, never occurred. For this reason, Clifford further explains that part of a lawyer's service is offering help to their clients beyond what simply can be done during the course of litigation. In order to properly serve a client, Clifford opines that an attorney must get to know each client individually, and above all else, have open lines of communication with clients who are not always familiar with the legal system. In an age where we communicate more often than not via email, Clifford says that it is still important for lawyers to personally call their clients. To read Robert Clifford's complete article on the proper ways of interacting with clients, Click Here.

Robert Clifford Pens Article On Settlement Offers From Insurance Companies

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his August, 2012 column entitled "When An Offer Is Not An Offer." In the article, Clifford discusses the need to recognize legitimate settlement offers by defense counsel. Clifford points out that insurance carriers have a duty to act in good faith when a claim is covered by an insurance policy. Clifford concludes that the "duty to settle," recognized by Illinois courts, should work to prevent insurance companies from making "bogus offers," which can leave policy holders liable for amounts in excess of their policy limits.  This is counter to exactly the reason the insured purchased the liability insurance in the first place. You can read Robert Clifford's entire article on this topic, Click Here.

Robert A. Clifford Pens Article on New "Hands Free" Cell Phone Rule

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his December, 2013 column entitled "Laws Evolve on Phones and Driving". In the article, Clifford discusses a new Illinois law that took effect on January 1, 2013 making it mandatory that cellphone use by drivers must be "hands free", leaving Illinois as the 12th state to enact such legislation. Clifford also talks about a case in New Jersey which held that "the sender of a text message can potentially be found liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and this be distracted." To read Robert Clifford's entire article on the legal ramifications of using a cellphone while driving, Click Here.

Robert Clifford Writes Article Condemning Immunity for Negligent Conduct

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his September, 2013 column entitled "No Immunity for Negligence." In his article, Clifford discusses a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision which held that the Chicago Park District was immune from tort liability when they negligently removed snow and ice from a facility parking lot ultimately leading to the death of a patron. Clifford explains that because tort immunity for government entities is the exception to the common law rule, "it must be strictly construed against the governmental entity claiming immunity." Clifford examines the issue of immunizing public entities from liability when negligent conduct is involved. To read Robert Clifford's entire article on tort immunity, click here.

Robert Clifford Pens Article on Client Communication

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his February, 2014 column entitled "If Communication Is Rockin', the ARDC Won't Come A Knockin.'" In the article, Clifford discusses the importance of lawyers in Illinois taking time from their busy schedules to call their clients and keep them informed on the status of their cases. Clifford states that it is the client, after all, who is most deserving of a lawyer's time in the first place. Clifford also discusses the importance of taking time to listen to a client's concerns. In response to this problem, Clifford chose "Ethics of Client Communication" for the topic of his annual Continuing Legal Education program in 2014. Read Bob Clifford's recent analysis of the importance of maintaining communication with clients, click here.

Robert Clifford Authors Article Discussing the Interplay between Car Drivers and Bicycle Riders on Busy Streets

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his November, 2013 column entitled "Drivers and Cyclists Must Mix. In his article, Clifford discusses his predictions on what will happen now that the number of citizens choosing to ride bicycles to work instead of driving or taking the train is expanding, especially since the introduction of Divvy bikes in Chicago. Clifford wrote that unless there is greater awareness of the presence of both bicyclists and car drivers on the same roads, as there is throughout Europe, the number of injuries, and even deaths, to those who choose to bike may increase. Clifford commends the city's effort to rewrite the rules of the road to make them safer for both bicyclists and car drivers, and calls the increased ticket prices for offenses a small price to pay in exchange for safety.  

Robert Clifford Writes Article About the Dim Realities of Law School, and Possible Solutions

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his November, 2013 column entitled "A Dose of Reality for Law Schools, Students." In the article, Clifford speaks on the facts that have emerged that law school students upon admission are not being fully informed about the realities of the legal job market after graduation. While this problem has been detrimental on law school graduates, it also has been felt by small law firms who are unable to provide adequate salaries to new lawyers such that they are able to begin chipping away at the amount they owe in large school loans, often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even with recent efforts to curtail this problem by the American Bar Association that accredits law schools as well as law schools themselves, Clifford still writes that there is much work left to be done to find a long-term solution.  

Pamela Menaker Writes Article on Firm Brochures

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, authored an article for the American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Journal on "The Firm Brochure." The article dealt with a step-by-step approach as to how a law firm should put together a brochure and how members of a firm, even a solo practitioner, can make solid decisions on how to approach what may appear to be a daunting task. The Headnotes piece appeared in the summer, 2014 issue that is distributed to more than 65,000 ABA trial attorneys across the country. Menaker, a former Associate Editor of the publication, currently is a Contributing Editor of Litigation News as well as was re-appointed by the President of the ABA as a member of the Task Force on Human Trafficking.

Robert Clifford Writes An Article On Accountability For The Medical Profession

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his March, 2014 column entitled "Time for More Accountability in the Health Care Profession." In the article, Clifford points to the paradox of a decreasing number of medical malpractice lawsuit filings at a time when inquiries regarding medical negligence are on the rise. Clifford contemplates a few reasons for this occurrence, including the astronomical costs of case development, particularly expert testimony, as well as the years that it takes a lawyer to build a case in general. In the end, Clifford opines that because of the many barriers in the way of pursuing a medical malpractice claim, much medical negligence is going unaccounted for.

Robert Clifford Writes Article On Data Breaches

Robert Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, P.C., wrote an article for the April, 2014 edition of the Chicago Lawyer on the hot topic of legal recourse for data breaches entitled, "Time to Take Data Breaches to Court". In the article, Clifford questions why many large companies include in every sale a cost component that is allocated specifically for technical systems and security that companies claim is necessary to handle large amounts of data provided by consumers, but in the end provide security that is susceptible to large scale breaches. Clifford believes that while Congress is working to remedy the problem, courts may be the appropriate forum for defining the accountability demanded of companies to make them more responsive to growing numbers of data breaches. To read Robert Clifford's recent analysis of the data breach crises, click here.

Sean Driscoll Hits Hole in One at ITLA Golf Outing

Sean Driscoll of Clifford Law Offices scored a hole in one on the sixth hole Friday (June 6) at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association 42nd Annual Convention and Golf Outing. It included the installation of the new president John D. Cooney of Cooney & Conway as well as the awarding of the Leonard M. Ring Lifetime Achievement Award to Larry Rogers, Sr., of Power Rogers & Smith. Driscoll, associate at the firm, played 18 holes in a scramble at the Oak Brook Hills Resort and no one can believe it because he works so hard, he never has time to golf! His prize? A special ITLA t-shirt for being closest to the hole. It was witnessed by his golfing foursome - James Coogan of Dwyer McCarthy & Associates in Chicago, and Michael Keating, partner, and Joseph Vietri, associate, of Keating Law Offices in Chicago. History has it that it has only been done once before, but records and memories are sketchy. ______________________ For further information, please contact Sean Driscoll at 312-899-9090 or Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-251-4877 or 847-721-0909 (cell).

GM Holds Press Conference Today on Valukas Report; NBC Reporter Phil Rogers Interviews Clifford Law Offices' Partner Shannon McNulty on the Firm's Filings in the Matter

General Motors (GM) released today the results of a three-month investigation into the 2.6 million cars it manufactured with defective ignition switches that reportedly led to the deaths of at least 11 people across the country. Anton Valukas, former U.S. State's Attorney in Chicago and now chairman of Jenner & Block in Chicago, was hired by GM to head the investigation.  The question has come up as to the knowledge of GM employees of the defective switches and why the information wasn't made public sooner. Last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fined GM the maximum amount allowed under the law, $35 million, for the automaker's not disclosing the defect in a timely manner.  Mary Berra, GM's chief executive who spoke to the press today, will face a round of congressional hearings in the next few weeks on these issues as well.  She called the Valukas report "deeply troubling " at this morning's press conference. WMAQ Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Rogers reported on the matter today (June 5, 2014) and interviewed Clifford Law Offices partner Shannon McNulty, who filed a lawsuit against GM on behalf of several people in the Chicago area who purchased the faulty cars.  One of the issues discussed at the morning press conference and in the press is what these car owners are to do with their devalued cars. To see the story that aired on Channel 5, the NBC affiliate in Chicago,  Click Here.

Bob Clifford Writes Article About "Ridesharing" Services

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his May, 2014 column entitled "Taxi Alternatives Need To Take Responsibility". The article deals with the growing controversy of the so-called "ridesharing" services, most notably UberX. Clifford discusses the troubling reality that, as the law currently stands, ride-sharing providers such as UberX face a competitive advantage over regular taxi services in Chicago in that they are not regulated to the same degree, and that these companies reap the benefits of the service they provide but refuse to accept responsibility for the injuries their drivers cause under Theory that they are not transportation providers, but rather technology companies.  Lack of insurance also is a major concern for those who use this service.   Read Bob Clifford's recent analysis of the dangers that come with ride-sharing

Florida Supreme Court over turns caps on damages in medical malpractice cases.

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices and Associate Editor at the American Bar Association (ABA) for Litigation News, authored an article that was published on the ABA's website on a recent tort reform decision.   The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional, joining a number of states including Illinois that similarly ruled.  Menaker explained how the 5-2 court held that the legislature's statutory cap violates the state's equal protection clause.   The court even went further to discuss the unreliability of the so-called "insurance crisis," and she spoke with various members of the bar about the issue including Clifford Law Offices' partner Keith Hebeisen who has handled numerous med mal cases and serves as the Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability.   To read the entire decision, Click Here.

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