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July 2014 Archives

The History of the Mosaic at Clifford Law Offices

The front of the building of Clifford Law Offices at 120 N. LaSalle St. in Chicago has a beautiful mosaic that was handcrafted years ago.  On Channel 11's Chicago Tonight, in an Ask Geoffrey Baer segment on July 23, 2014, he gave the history of how it came to be on the front of the building.  It's a beautiful mosaic with a beautiful story based on a Greek myth.  To hear how it came to be as Mr. Baer tells it, please visit:http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/07/23/ask-geoffrey-723Clifford Law Offices is a sponsor of WTTW's closed captioning for the hearing impaired, including for the program Chicago Tonight.

Reduce Liability Risk for Homeowners with a Pool.

Question: How can a homeowner with an outdoor swimming pool reduce his or her liability risk?Answer: The first step is to know and follow the local community’s requirements related to swimming pool safety. In general, homeowners should install a fence around the pool that is at least four feet tall and has gates that lock. Latches should be in good working order and above the reach of children. Keep rescue equipment in the pool area. Visitors and babysitters should be instructed about pool safety and encouraged never to be distracted by phones, a TV or other guests. It is also advisable to notify your homeowners insurance carrier to make sure you have adequate liability coverage.For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

Clifford Law Offices Partners with Urban Alliance Chicago

Clifford Law Offices has partnered with Urban Alliance Chicago, a program that works with the Chicago Public School system to provide year-round employment to high school seniors. One hundred companies and firms across the city employ students with paid workplace opportunities. The program was launched last year by Amy Rule, wife of Mayor Rahm Emanuel who now serves as the organization's founding advisory board chair.

Helpful tips for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe.

You might think it's impossible to forget there is a kid in a car. That only happens to irresponsible parents, you might say, shaking your head. News flash: It can happen to anyone, regardless of education or social standing. As the temperatures climb, so too does the risk of injury or death from heatstroke. Thirteen children have already died in hot cars this year. But this tragedy is 100 percent preventable. You should know what we can do to spread the word about the risks and consequences of leaving a kid in a hot car.   By the Numbers:

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice lawyer, Susan Capra, was interviewed by Clifford Law Offices in regards to malpractice cases. She explained the two common types of malpractice saying, "During surgery, [if] a surgeon cuts a wrong blood vessel or cuts on the wrong site - that's an affirmative act. An example of an omission would be a failure to diagnose the condition." Omission could also mean the doctor failed to pick up the red flags. She explained that in order to have a case you need four elements. First, the doctor has to have a duty with the patient. In order words, there has to be a professional physician-patient relationship. This is usually an element that is not difficult to establish, says Capra. The second element is the breach of that duty (or a deviation from the standard of care), or the doctor did something that a reasonable doctor would not. Basically, an error was made. Third, you need a proximate cause, which is a proximal link between the error and your injury. Lastly, you also need a serious injury. Many times one of these elements will be missing from the case. When this happens, attorneys are not able to proceed. Capra also explained the legal definition of medical malpractice and what to do if you believe you are a victim. The full interview, produced by Clifford Law Offices, can be watched here:

Tragic Truck Crash Kills Four People and Injures Four More on I­55

Illinois law caps the number of permissible hours a driver can be on the road at 11 hours. Francisco Espinal Quiroz, 51, of Indiana was on the road for more than 12 hours, according to media reports from authorities. He allegedly was speeding through a construction zone when he made a sudden lane change and caused a chain­reaction crash involving two cars and a van, killing four people, Illinois State Police reported. Four others in the vehicles were injured in the tragedy. Pam Zekman, investigative reporter at CBS­Channel 2 in Chicago reported that the truck driver who has been criminally charged in this incident has been accused by prosecutors of falsifying his log books. Zekman went on to report that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a new rule that would require all trucks to have electronic logging devices, something that may have prevented the terrible tragedy Monday. Currently, paper logs are used which can be easily falsified. Electronic logs would be hooked to the truck's engine. Federal officials may announce the new rule by next year, Zekman reported. Bob Clifford was interviewed by Zekman on a story that appeared on the 10 o'clock news in Chicago earlier this year about the dangers of truckers who work too long of hours on the road, in violation of federal and state laws. Clifford spoke about this type of misconduct to Zekman and said that the federal government must work harder to ensure that truckers are following rules that are set out to make the roads safer. The interview came on the heels of information that Clifford Law Offices reported on its website of truck accidents being on the rise.  A report from the American Association of Justice (AAJ) last year said that 2011 (the most recent year that complete data are available), 3,757 people died in collisions with trucks and 88,000 more were injured. It marked the second straight year fatalities were up and was an 11.2 percent increase over 2009.

Twin-Engine Plane Crashes in Taiwan; 47 Feared to be Dead

A twin-engine plane crashed today (July 23, 2014) near a southern port city in Taiwan in stormy weather and it is feared that as many as 47 aboard may have died, it is being reported by Associated Press.Media sources are quoting Taiwanese Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shin as saying that 58 people were aboard the turboprop ATR-72 flight when it tried to make a second attempt to land in heavy rain. Reports indicate that it crashed in a village near the airport and it is feared people on the ground also may have been involved in yet another air tragedy.

Bob Clifford Speaks to Radio Stations from Coast to Coast on the Downing of Malaysia Airlines

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, has been speaking to the press from around the country on the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on the safeness of flying over certain air zones and the legal liability involved for the grieving families.Mr. Clifford spoke to Gil Gross in San Francisco Tuesday (July 22, 2014) on the legal liabilities involving the terrible tragedy of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. For more than 10 minutes Tuesday evening, he did a one-on-one interview on the popular radio show on the West Coast in a wide-ranging interview – from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) involvement in preventing aircraft flying over dangerous areas across the world to possibly holding Russia or Ukraine responsible for the loss of nearly 300 lives.Early Wednesday morning Mr. Clifford also spoke to the all-news radio station in Washington, D.C., regarding the same issues. Radio show hosts Mike Moss and Joan Jones spoke with Mr. Clifford about how air carriers are common carriers which means they have the “highest duty of care to their passengers. He compared it to people not being allowed to run red lights but air carriers are not allowed to “run yellow lights.”Taking that route over the war zone saved the air carrier money because it was a because it was a shorter route, and even though the aircraft was flying above the 32,000 altitude that had been reported to be safe, Clifford said the airlines were on notice that three other planes were shot down in the days just before the commercial jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, as has been reported.The two governing bodies that control international travel never gave airlines the “green light” to fly over this area, he added. The airlines decided to do so on their own, Clifford told the radio show anchors. As to legal liability, Clifford added the Montreal Convention that almost every nation has signed and it outlines the compensation system for people when harm occurs.

Robert Clifford Pens Op Ed Piece on Malaysia Airlines Tragedy - "Words and Grief Aren't Enough"

We don't absolutely know who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, killing 298 persons including at least one American citizen, or why they did it. We do know we need to take immediate steps to prevent such an "outrage," as President Obama called it Friday, from happening again. Shooting down a civilian jet is unacceptable in modern times. Irina Tipunova, 65, told reporters how the body of a woman crashed through her roof. Everything in her house started to shake, she said. "Then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen." It was the deadliest attack ever on a commercial airliner. There were no survivors from the flight of the Boeing 777, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Bodies were scattered over nine miles of rebel-held territory near Ukraine's border with Russia. According to the United Nations, 80 of those who died were children. Was what happened horrific and unthinkable? Yes, but mourning the dead and expressing our shock is not enough. The international community must take concrete action, led by the United Nations peacekeepers so that the perpetrators can see the world is against them, to quickly and, if need be, forcefully root out the cause and limit the possibility that similar future tragedies would occur in Ukraine or another war zone, such as Gaza, Israel, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. It's believed that Flight MH-17 was blasted from the sky by one or more surface-to-air missiles, known more commonly as SAMs. On Monday, a cargo airplane was shot down in the same area. On Wednesday, two Ukrainian fighter jets were downed in the same region, apparently by air-to-air missiles (AAMs). The U.S. military and intelligence community, along with the United Nations, should eliminate the SAM resources in those areas, even if it requires military force. Rhetoric alone won't prevent more deadly missiles from rocketing skyward. How else can we protect the flying public? The International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration should issue notices prohibiting nonmilitary flights over all portions of Ukraine and neighboring areas of Russia, not just the limited spots that were added by the FAA late Thursday. France already has banned flights over all of Ukraine. But the new FAA advisory only says that "due to recent events, all flight operations by U.S. operators within the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk flight information regions are prohibited. Events have indicated the potential for continued hazardous activities." International and U.S. civil aviation authorities should issue the same ban for any other international areas where conflict or terrorism is prevalent and where SAMs and AAMs are potential threats in the altitude ranges used by commercial flights. It is time for every carrier to reassess its routes. Even though its flight path wasn't prohibited and other aircraft had flown it without incident, MH-17 was flying in a known conflict zone only 1,000 feet above the 32,000-foot ceiling of the restricted airspace that had been set up in Ukraine. With three planes downed in the previous three days and knowing SAMs are capable of reaching 49,000 feet or higher, aviation authorities knew any flight there was at extreme risk. The loss of another Malaysia Airlines carrier calls into question the safety and risk-management practices of the airline and the Malaysian regulatory authorities. Malaysia Airlines has been looking for Flight MH-370 and its 239 passengers and crew since March 8. The loss of two 777s in the past four months is a new record for the airline industry, as well as evidence that it needs to take an aggressive, safety-first approach to all flight operations, planning, and equipment issues. Flights in conflict areas where missiles or other aviation threats exist should be ended. As we have learned from these two incidents, every jetliner should have deployable flight recorders and GPS-based tracking systems so that, in the event of an emergency, we can know what happened and end the needless, endless speculation that haunts the aftermaths. We owe that much and more to the victims.

Legal Liability Regarding Downing of Malaysia Airliner Turning to Finding Responsible Parties

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has joined the discussion regarding who would be possible defendants in any wrongful death lawsuits that may be filed as a result of the deaths of nearly 300 people in the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Kirk called for lawsuits to be filed against Russian assets that are based in the United States.  “‘I want to hear [during President Barack Obama’s speech Friday, July 18, 2014] that the Department of Justice will bring one hell of a wrongful death suit against Russian assets that are located in the United States to make sure there’s a significant cost paid by Russia for this action of shooting down an international airliner with a weapon system that is directly related to the Russian armed forces,’” Kirk told CNN.  He mentioned assets suck as Lukoil, reportedly Russian’s second largest oil company, that has sites in the U.S.  “‘They should always realize tens of millions of dollars will be lost of their international assets because of actions like this and get control of their armed forces to make sure there’s effective command and control,’” Kirk went on to say. Kirk said that the missile that brought down the MH17 flight was a Buk SA-11.  “‘The Buk missile system is such a complicated radar guided system.  I would think a bunch of Ukranian hillbillies would not have an ability to operate it efficiently,” Kirk said in a Washington Post story released today (July 21, 2014).  “‘You would have to have the back up of the active duty Russian military to properly deploy and use the Buk.’” As described earlier in a blog item filed by Clifford Law Offices, there is precedent for such action in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.  Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, has spoken to a number of media outlets about this very issue and said that no stone must be left unturned as to holding all potential responsible parties liable.  There also has been much discussion about Malaysia Airlines allowing a plane to fly over wartorn eastern Ukraine after several non-commercial planes had been targeted in recent weeks. Even more gruesome photos and videos are being released from where the downed airliner came down in eastern Ukraine.  Kirk today (July 21, 2014) said he will petition the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to install missile defense systems on commercial airliners.  Kirk is a former Navy intelligence officer. 

Short Answers to Common Legal Question

Question of the day:Should I hire a lawyer for a traffic ticket?Answer:  If the traffic violation could have a detrimental effect on your driving privileges, it is advisable to consider hiring a lawyer. To find a lawyer in your area, contact the Illinois State Bar Association’s lawyer referral service to speak with an attorney to learn more about your options. Call 800-922-8757 and receive a 30-minute consultation with a lawyer in your area for no more than $25. Or, you can search the ISBA’s online database (illinoislawyerfinder.com) for lawyers who practice in the field of law you need.For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

Bob Clifford Is Interviewed by Washington Post on Malaysia Airlines Which is Distributed by Associated Press

As a horrified world looks on the tragedy that continues in Ukraine over the handling of the remains of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, questions of liability surface. Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, was interviewed today (Saturday, July 19, 2014) by Washington Post reporter Roberto Ferdman on a story about the questions of liability in countries under conflict.  ("Liability in Flight 17 Crash Could Reach $1 Billion.")  The story was picked up by Associated Press and distributed around the world including to the Chicago Tribune. Although various international treaties and conventions will play a role in the amount of money a family can recover for the loss of a loved one, experts are saying that Malaysia Airlines reinsurer ultimately may be held responsible.  Clifford, however, added that "'there will be a case filed by New York, Netherlands, and other countries, against either Ukraine or Russia.'" Clifford acknowledged the difficulties in recovering from those countries. Just this past week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit In New York cleared the way for the largest single recovery of sovereign assets by victims of state-sponsored terrorism to date by freezing nearly $2 billion held in frozen New York bank accounts to be handed over to claimants who sued Iran over its role in multiple acts of terrorism.  The underlying case, Peterson v. Iran, was filed on behalf of 812 victims or victims' relatives who suffered as a result of a 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. Under New York law, judgment creditors have a right to require a bank to freeze assets pending a court evaluation of their claims.  In the Peterson v. Iran case, the court found that the international securities intermediary, Clearstream Banking S.A., was actually owned by Iran's state-run Bank Markazi.  Last year, the court had the money placed in a trust pending appeals from the defendants.  Clearstream settled but Iran has appealed. That case may provide precedent for the claims of those who lost loved ones in the unfortunate tragedy involving the intentional terrorist downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Bob Clifford Appears on EBRU Speaking About Downing of Malaysian Aircraft

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, appeared today (Saturday, July 19, 2014), as a guest on the “Fresh Outlook” show on EBRU On Demand TV.Clifford spoke of the potential legal liabilities of the airlines as well as the countries involved and noted that locating the remnants of the missile or missiles is more important than the black box of the commercial jet.To view the entire interview, click here.“Fresh Outlook” is a weekly, half-hour talk show analyzing the key issues affecting the welfare of Americans. Experts with diverse backgrounds and professional experience are panelists brought together in an engaging and insightful public affairs program that searches for answers to real-life problems. The host of the show was Mia Toschi.For more information on the aviation work of Clifford Law offices, go to www.CliffordLaw.com or view its award-winning aviation brochure athttp://cliffordlaw.com/practice/aviation-law-accident-attorney/

Clifford Law Offices Featured on Chicago's CAN TV

Clifford Law Offices will be featured on the Chicago television network, CAN TV, in regards to interviews featuring lawyers from the Chicago law firm. One interview is with Clifford Law attorney, Susan Capra. She discusses medical malpractice including some of the common types, what someone should do if they believe themselves to be a victim, and what needs to happen in order for a lawsuit to be filed. The other interview that will be aired on CAN TV features Clifford Law's Keith A Hebeisen on the topic of tort reform. The interview explains tort reform, the history of it in the state of Illinois, what the average consumer can do about tort reform, and more. Here are the interview air times: Susan Capra on Medical Malpractice July 18th, 2014 at 8:55pm on channel 21 July 19th, 2014 at 9:15pm on channel 21 July 25th, 2014 at 9:40pm on channel 19 Keith A. Hebeisen on Tort Reform July 21st, 2014 at 9:55pm on channel 19 July 23rd, 2014 at 11:30pm on channel 19 To learn more about Susan Capra, please visit: http://goo.gl/JzJx0b. To learn more about Keith A Hebeisen, please visit: http://goo.gl/OJm4BO. Thank you to CAN TV for airing these educational interviews.

President Obama Confirms At Least One American Aboard Malaysia Airline Flight 17

Speaking at a press conference on Friday morning, President Barack Obama described the “global tragedy” involving a Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down as an “outrage of unspeakable proportion,” according to CNN. Obama confirmed that the missile that brought down the Boeing 777 jet was fired from a separatist-held location in the Ukraine, but stopped short of saying that it was fired by pro-Russian separatists, NBC News reported.  The President demanded an immediate ceasefire in the eastern regions of Ukraine so that an international investigation could be conducted at the scene of the crash without any tampering of evidence, CNN reported.President Obama also identified at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, who was aboard Flight MH-17, according to CNN, who also held a dual Dutch citizenship. Further, the Chicago Tribune reported that Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie also released a statement that a student of the University, Karlijn Keijzer, was also aboard the downed plane. Keijzer, a member of the 2011 women’s rowing team and doctoral student in the school’s chemistry department, was from Amesterdam.

Further Insights Into Downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH

As more details and horrific photos emerge from the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 yesterday (July 17, 2-014), President Obama is preparing to address the nation on this international tragedy. Flight MH-17 was flying in a known conflict zone 1,000 feet above the 32,000 ceiling of the Ukranian restricted airspace they had set up. With three airplanes shot down there in the past three days, and with SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems capable of 49,000+ feet shoot-downs known to be in that area, flying through there in any airplane was an extremely risky thing to do.The incident highlights Malaysia Airline, and the Malaysian airworthiness authorities, serious lack of safety and risk management practices. The fact that the airlines has lost two B777’s with approximately 534 passengers in the past four months is a new loss record for the airline industry, and evidence that the airlines needs to take an aggressive, safety-first approach to all of its flight operations, planning and equipment. For example, its should not allow flights over or near any conflict areas where SAM or other aviation threats exist, and they should install deployable flight recorders and GPS-based tracking systems in all of its aircraft, as Bob Clifford has written about and spoken to the press about in the previous Malaysian Airlines crash.

A Look Back Into Clifford Law Offices History

Robert Clifford is no stranger to the media. Here he is pictured in 1987 facing the press following the filing of a legal action on behalf of Nancy Clay, a 31-year-old woman who died of smoke inhalation in a Chicago high-rise when firefighters were unable to reach her, despite her many calls for help. As Bob Clifford put it, "It is one of those rare cases that [raise] the public's consciousness about two primary issues: the operation of the 911 system and the adequacy and effectiveness of the city's response to a high-rise fire." The case led to significant changes in Chicago's emergency response system, which may have saved lives over the years.

STATEMENT OF AVIATION ATTORNEY ROBERT A. CLIFFORD ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH-17 SHOT DOWN BY MISSILE – UNACCEPTABLE IN MODERN TIMES

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, a Boeing 777 cruising at an altitude of approximately 33,000 feet and carrying 295 people including a report of 23 American passengers, was apparently shot down by at least one surface-to-air missile (SAM) in Ukranian airspace near the Russian border today (July 17, 2014). On Monday a cargo airplane was shot down in the same area and yesterday two Ukranian fighter jets were shot down in the same area by surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles (AAM). Reports indicate most believe that Russian ground forces and fighter jets are responsible for the downings, which Russia denies.On April 23, 2014, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) that U.S. pilots were not allowed to fly over Crimea, the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov. The warning was made “due to the unilateral and illegal action by Russia to assert control over Crimean airspace,” according to a statement released by the FAA. “This creates the potential for conflicting air traffic control instructions from Ukrainian and Russian authorities and for the related potential misidentification of civil aircraft in this airspace,” read the statement.The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency, issued a similar warning. However, that warning was for a different region of the country and advised “air operators of a potentially unsafe situation arising of presence arising from more than one air traffic services provider” in the Simferopol region of the Ukraine, according to the ICAO statement. An ICAO spokesperson confirmed the warning was due to both Ukraine and Russia claiming the same airspace in the region. An ICAO spokesperson told ABC News today that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, appeared to be outside of the Simferopol region when it crashed.ICAO and the FAA should issue notices prohibiting non-military flights over all portions of Ukraine and neighboring Russian areas. ICAO and FAA should also consider doing the same for any other international conflict/terrorism areas where SAMs and AAMs are a potential threat in the altitude ranges where commercial flights transit. The U.S. military and intelligence community should also use their assets to identify where the MH-17 SAM came from and then consider taking action with the United Nations to eliminate the SAM resources in those areas via military force. Shooting down civilian airplanes with military resources should not be tolerated or go without strong response.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crashes in Eastern Ukraine

Update: The United States has reached the conclusion that Malaysia Flight 17 was in fact brought down by a missile, according to CNN. President Obama reportedly learned of the crash while on a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and made a statement that the United States was launching an investigation to determine whether or not there were any Americans on board, CNN reported.The Boeing 777, cruising at an altitude of approximately 33,000 feet, elicited the following statement from President Obama, “It looks like it might be a terrible tragedy. This is our first priority. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened, and when,” according to The Hill.Numerous media and news outlets are reporting that a Malaysia Airlines flight traveling from Amsterdam to Malaysia has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near their border with Russia. Malaysia Airlines confirmed earlier today that they lost contact with Flight 17 while it was flying over Ukrainian airspace, according to CNN. The Boeing 777 jet was possibly carrying up to 280 passengers as well as 15 crew members, CNN reported. At this hour, multiple media outlets are reporting that the plane was shot down while on a “common” route between Kuala Lumpur and the Netherlands, CNN reported. An official in the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Facebook that the plane was struck by a missile from a surface-to-air system, according to The Daily Beast.This marks the second time this year that Malaysia Airlines has faced a tragedy pertaining to one of its flights, as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8th, according to CNN. Flight 370 had 239 passengers on board, and according to all credible intelligence most likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, CNN reported.

Short Answers to Common Legal Questions

Question of the day:Can a juvenile’s arrest record be cleared by the time he or she turns 18?Answer: Under a new Illinois law, a juvenile’s arrest record is automatically cleared on his or her 18th birthday if the arrest did not result in criminal charges and if there are no other subsequent arrests or juvenile delinquency petitions. The new law eliminates the need to go through the courts to get a juvenile arrest record like this expunged. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2015.For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

A Look Back Into Clifford Law Offices History

Bob Clifford (yes, he wears eyeglasses sometimes) is pictured here with a client from 1993 -- Lillie Ruth Roberts of Chicago's south side.  Mrs. Roberts received a record $14.5 million verdict in a medical malpractice action more than 20 years ago.  Following the two-week trial, Mrs. Roberts said, "My attorneys made it all possible.  I think they did a great job.  Even when I had some doubts, they made me feel it was always possible.  Without them I couldn't have won the case.  They helped the jury understand what was the truth".

Short answers to common legal questions

Question of the day Can I legally operate a cooking business out of my home? Answer: A new Illinois law creates a category of "home kitchen operators," defined as those who make less than $1,000 from producing food in their own homes to sell by themselves or for a religious or charitable organization. The law authorizes local governments or health departments to inspect a home kitchen operation if there is a complaint or disease outbreak. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

Clifford Law Offices Files Class Action Complaint in Checked Baggage Issues Against United Airlines

Clifford Law Offices filed a complaint this week against United Airlines in Cook County Circuit Court that alleges that United Airlines improperly favors the transportation of cargo over passenger luggage when planes approach or exceed an acceptable  weight.The firm, along with Zimmerman Law Offices in Chicago, filed the complaint on behalf of Gina Spadoni who alleges that she paid an extra fee to have her bag on her flight only to find that it was left behind for a later flight.  She did not receive a refund for the fee she was charged by United Airlines.United’s policy is ambiguous and does not state that cargo will be given priority over passenger’s luggage, particularly when the passenger has an expectation of that luggage being on their flight when they paid a fee for that service, the complaint alleges.Ms. Spadoni had paid a $25 baggage fee as she traveled to Los Angeles from Chicago in September only to find that her bag was still waiting in Chicago to be put on a later flight, the complaint alleges.  The complaint seeks class action status on the grounds that this is happening regularly and to many more people.“United knows that the removal of cargo from the aircraft’s cargo compartment would result in reduced profits, because United receives substantially more money relative to its transportation of cargo than it receives relative to its transportation of checked baggage,” the complaint alleges. 

Short answers to common legal questions.

 Question of the dayMy spouse and I are divorcing and cannot agree on the division of marital assets. Can the court help us resolve our differences?Answer: If divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement, the court will distribute the assets and debt using the rule of equitable distribution or what it considers to be fair. In Illinois, the court considers each party’s contribution to the marital property, the value of the property, length of the marriage, economic circumstances of each spouse, whether there is a prenuptial agreement, custodial issues involving the children, and the age, health and income of each spouse, among other factors.For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org

Attorney Robert A. Clifford Pens Article On General Mills' Attempt to Limit Customers' Legal Options

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices and monthly columnist for the Chicago Lawyer magazine, wrote his July, 2014 column entitled "Arbitration Mandate Fails PR Test." In this article, Clifford condemns the recent efforts of General Mills to force binding arbitration on anyone who "liked" one of its products on Facebook, downloaded a coupon, subscribed to an e-mail newsletter or simply purchased a product. Public outcry followed, so General Mills reversed their course of action; most likely in response to a potential boycott of its products. To read Robert A. Clifford's entire article on this topic, click here.

Clifford Law's Philosophy

by Robert A. Clifford The philosophy of Clifford Law Offices is for our lawyers and our staff to provide a high level of professional services to our clients. We deal with people who are traumatized, have lost loved ones, and are in difficult circumstances where their judgment might be impaired. They need well trained, professional advice and it is my expectation that the lawyers of Clifford Law Offices provide the highest level of service that they can, using scholarship, effort, and commitment. It is also a mission at Clifford Law Offices to give back to the Chicago community. Our lawyers raise money for cancer victims, support organizations like the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, and raise money for at risk and under privileged children. Recently we got involved in helping fund mental health initiatives. Supporting our local community is something that we truly believe in. I'm also proud of the fact that we conduct annual symposiums on professionalism and ethics. This year, we've had over 3,000 lawyers register for a free seminar with professors, judges and regulators. These symposiums are important because it allows lawyers to learn, grow, and overall do better work. We don't call this a profession for nothing. Being a lawyer is a "noble" profession. This means that lawyers must take the best interest of their clients. It's about serving their clients and acknowledging their best interests. Our clients have rights and we expect those rights to be respected and honored. And if our clients aren't getting that, we go get it for them. Because of the work we do and the reputation we have, cases that we handle get resolved at the highest range of value. The philosophy of Clifford Law Offices is for our Chicago-based lawyers to be involved in scholarship within their profession, to be involved in their community in a meaningful way, to make sure they keep their trial skills at the highest level, and frankly, to make sure they are tough. I am proud to be surrounded with lawyers who care about their work and are passionate about helping others. For more information about Clifford Law Offices and its community involvement, please visit: http://cliffordlaw.com/about/community-involvement/

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