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October 2014 Archives

4 Killed in Wichita Plane Accident

Four people were killed, while five others were injured, when a small airplane crashed into the top of a flight safety center at an airport in Wichita, Kansas, while trying to return to the runway shortly after takeoff, according to NBC News. The crash was reportedly the result of an engine failure, NBC News reported. According to radio traffic recorded by LiveATC.net, the operators of the plane declared an emergency immediately after takeoff, radioing to the control tower that, “We just lost the engine,” NBC News reported.Fifty to sixty fire personnel responded to the accident scene, but were quickly evacuated after the flight safety center was deemed unstable, according to CNN. Two of the four deceased victims were located inside the building when the plane crashed, CNN reported. There were roughly 100 people inside of the building when the plane crashed, according to CNN. Of the five injured, three were in good condition and released from Christi health, a local hospital, while one was in “serious” condition, and the other in “fair” condition, NBC News reported.

Bob Clifford Writes Article about Picking and Talking to a Jury

Senior Partner at Clifford Law Offices, Robert A. Clifford, wrote an article for GP Solo, a publication of the American Bar Association (ABA), "How to Pick and Talk to a Jury: Plaintiff Perspective." In the article, Clifford goes into detail in regards to the jury. He discusses the role of the jurors, the ethics of voir dire, the importance of juror questionnaires, and more. He even provides several real-life examples of jurors in the courtroom. In his ABA article, Clifford advises to acknowledge the jurors and thank them, as they took time from their personal, daily lives to be part of the jury. He says, "Coming across as professional and prepared goes a long way toward establishing your credibility. This means your command of the process has a direct impact on your impression. To this end, have a full understanding of how your judge conducts voir dire." Robert A. Clifford has had extensive firsthand experience with the American Bar Association. He served a nine-year term as the Illinois State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates. He was inducted in 2005 and completed his third and final three-year term this year. To read the ABA article in its entirety, please visit: http://bit.ly/1zB1ULV.

When Buying A Used Car, Make Sure to Check For Recall Issues

In the aftermath of the record setting number of recalls of General Motors, consumers must be skeptical whenever purchasing a used car, according to CBS News. The National Traffic Safety Administration estimated that one in every four recalled cars are never properly repaired, posing a serious danger to those who purchase used cars with defective parts, CBS News reported.  In 2013 alone, 3.5 million used cars needing recall repairs were put up for sale on websites such as Craigslist, according to Time Money. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created a tool that allows consumers to place the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a prospective used car into their database, which in turn will notify a customer if that specific vehicle has been subject to a recall within the last 15 years, but the work was never completed, according to CBS News. This is an especially useful mechanism because used car dealers in most jurisdictions have no legal duty to warn a customer about recall work that has not been completed, CBS News reported.  

Pam Menaker Writes ABA Litigation News Article on Fosamax Case

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, recently wrote an article that was published by the American Bar Association Litigation News on a recent court case that held that a defendant cannot be held liable in a products liability multi-district action if the company is compliant with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules. In a failure-to-warn complaint alleging the drug company, Merck, was negligent in its labeling following an injury to a patient, a New Jersey district court held the plaintiff's action failed because the original label was complaint with FDA standards. To read more about this interesting case, please read "No Failure-to-Warn if FDA Compliant" 

One American Child Subject to Medication Error Every Eight Minutes, 11-Year Study Reveals

A study of telephone calls to poison control hotlines revealed that between 2002 and 2012, a child was subject to an out-of-hospital medication mistake approximately every eight minutes, Reuters reported. The number of mistakes marks an increase from previous years for every medication outside of cough and cold medicines, according to the Huffington Post. The reduction in errors pertaining to cough and cold medication is attributed to a prolonged educational campaign aimed at parents decreasing the use of these medications for young children, leading experts to believe that educational efforts such as these have a beneficial effect, according to Reuters Health.Each year an average of 63,358 children, or 27 out of every 10,000, under the age of six experienced medication errors, Reuters reported. A majority of the errors involved liquid medications, and also stemmed from a child being given a higher dosage than is recommended, according to The Huffington Post. Further, the highest rate of medication errors were found in children under the age of one, which experts attribute to new and unfamiliar parents simply making mistakes, The Huffington Post reported. The overriding message that researchers want parents to take from this study is the need to be more attentive when giving their children medicine.

Robert Clifford Teaches at Fred Lane's ISBA Trial Technique Institute

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices, was one of the "celebrity" instructors at Fred Lane's ISBA Trial Technique Institute. Clifford lectured on the subject of opening statements. The institute, sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association, focuses on improving trial skills by hands-on learning. The students, who are practicing attorneys, practice trial techniques that are consistent with the Federal Rules of Evidence and Illinois' Rules of Evidence. Fred Lane, a respected trial attorney and author, has been teaching these programs for years. His program qualifies for a total of 54 hours MCLE credit, including 54 hours PMCLE credit. To learn about Fred Lane's ISBA Trial Technique Institute, click here. To learn more about Robert A. Clifford, click here.

Commemorating the Crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 with a Public Forum

The 68 people who died in the crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 on Oct. 31, 1994, will never be forgotten. To commemorate the tragedy, family members, loved ones and the community touched by the crash 20 years ago have announced a public forum on Oct. 30 entitled: "Public Forum: The Legacy of American Eagle Flight 4184." Guest speakers at this public forum to be held in Merrillville, Indiana, include Greg Feith, Aviation Safety and Security expert and former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who served as the investigator in charge of the crash of Flight 4184; Charley Pereira, transportation safety and security consultant and former NTSB investigator as well as Flight 4184 Airplane Performance and Icing Group Chairman and co-author of the NTSB's Final Report and Safety Recommendations; Ray Chambers, Director, Newton County EMA, and Fire Chief of the Lincoln Township Fire Department as well as Deputy Coroner and first responder on the scene of the crash of Flight 4184; Paul Sledzik, Director of the Transportation Disaster Assistance Division of the NTSB. America grieved when it learned of the Halloween night crash of that ATR-72 turboprop plane that was en route from Indianapolis to Chicago when it encountered severe icing conditions and crashed into a field near Roselawn, Indiana. The lessons learned and improvements made in aviation safety, emergency response and the coordination of support services of survivors and family members following commercial transportation disasters will be discussed at this important public forum. Clifford Law Offices represented 16 families who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Flight 4184.  In the process of preparing for trial, lawyers at the firm took 110 depositions to get to the bottom of what occurred.  Robert Clifford sat on the Plaintiff's' Discovery Committee.  The firm obtained a $110 million settlement on the eve of trial in federal court in Chicago for 28 families who had brought suit in a consolidated action. The public forum will be held Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. CDT. Inquiries can be made at info4184@gmail.com. For more information about American Eagle Flight 4184, please visit www.americaneagleflight4184.com and www.facebook.com/flight4184. Contact in Indiana: Jennifer Stansberry Miller: 317-354-7208 Contact in Chicago area: Terri Henry Severin: 847-354-0949

NTSB Likely to Look into Poor Communications and Inadequate Maintenance of Passenger & Repair Trains that Crashed in Arkansas

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on the scene of the crash of two trains in Arkansas that has left at least five people in critical condition.   It has been reported that a passenger train operated by the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad as an historic excursion tour from Springdale to Van Buren, Arkansas broke down during its tour and a second repair train came looking for the broken down train in an effort to help fix the problem.   The area of track in which it was operating was one that was in a "dark" area, meaning that the track is not remotely controlled by signals or automated switches and train sensing devices, and thus the location of trains operating on the track is not discernable via sensed systems.  The "rescue" repair train reportedly came around a corner too fast to stop and slammed into the stalled passenger excursion tour train head-on, injuring about 36 of the 44 passengers and sending at least five to the hospital with critical injuries.   The NTSB will likely be getting event recorders from the two trains, electronic data recording devices similar to black boxes on aircraft, which would be analyzed at its Washington, D.C. headquarters by the weekend, as well as radio communications records, so some early train motion and crew action data may be made available by that government agency soon.   The NTSB go-to team, headed by railroad investigator-in-charge Jim Southworth and Board Member Mark Rosekind, will likely be looking into the communications between the two trains, human factors issues such as fatigue and sleep history, any train position locating equipment and the speed policies for the corner area of track that the trains were traveling on, the reasons that this area of track was still "dark" and without the protective features of modern controlled track, as well as maintenance records and practices that may have led to the initial breakdown of the tour train, said Kevin P. Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices who has handled a number of railroad crash cases throughout the country and is experienced in this area of liability.   For further information or to speak to Kevin Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices, please contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela S. Menaker at 847-721-0909. pammenaker@cliffordlaw.com pammenaker@aol.com www.CliffordLaw.com

Beech Baron Safety Studies and Accident History Indicate Previous Take-Off Problems in Wake of Small Plane Crash in Palos Hills, IL Killing Three Doctors

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was on the scene at Palos Hills, a southwest suburb of Chicago, where a 2000 model year, twin-engine Beech Baron 58, tail number N31EW, crashed late Sunday night after takeoff from Chicago's Midway Airport with three Kansas physicians aboard.  All three unfortunately were killed in the accident that apparently came without warning or any signal to air traffic controllers that a problem existed, according to numerous media reports.  Some witnesses reported to police that they heard sputtering and loud airplane noises before the crash, according to the media.  The plane crashed just feet from a house in a densely populated area but no one on the ground was injured.   NTSB officials are studying recorded ground radar and on-board Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity System (EGPWS) data, and should be using those data to conduct airplane performance and other studies.  Fuel samples are being analyzed and it appears the airplane took on 20 gallons of fuel at Midway Airport before takeoff to help offset landing fees.  It also appears that NTSB investigators have a reasonable idea of what caused the accident already, but they typically do not release such findings until they complete all of their investigations into the various factors that could have caused the accident.  Results from all of that investigation could take a year or more for the government agency to publically produce via its docket system, followed by their Probable Cause statement as to what caused the plane to go down shortly after takeoff from Midway Airport in Chicago.   Clifford Law Offices, which has represented several people involved in prior Beech aircraft crashes, has reviewed available Beech Baron safety studies and takeoff accident history with findings that most Baron takeoff accidents are related to engine failures followed by control problems or poor engine-out piloting, fuel and fuel system issues, attempts to close doors in-flight after possibly forgetting to latch them, and stalls/loss of control.  Night takeoffs in instrument conditions typically aggravate these factors.   There are thousands of Beech Barons in their various models and configurations flying actively in the United States.  In addition to it being well known for its high cruise speed and load carrying ability, it is also known for its systems complexity and difficult single-engine operation for inexperienced pilots, factors that have resulted in many fatal accidents, loss of control incidents, flat spins from which recovery is all but impossible, and associated NTSB safety recommendations.   Kevin P. Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices and aviation attorney who has taken literally hundreds of depositions of aviation experts in various aspects of aviation accidents, is available to speak further on this issue.   ______________________   For further information or to speak to Kevin Durkin, please contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Pamela Menaker at 847-721-0909. pammenaker@aol.com pammenaker@cliffordlaw.com www.CliffordLaw.com

Recycling Used Electronic Devices

Question:Which electronic devices must legally be recycled or reused? Answer:Tossing electronic devices in the trash or at the curb is illegal. The Illinois Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act establishes a statewide system for recycling and/or reusing certain items discarded from residences by requiring electronic manufacturers to participate in the management of discarded electronic products. Those items which are covered by the law are the following: televisions, monitors, printers, computers (laptop, notebook, netbook, tablet, desktop), electronic keyboards, facsimile machines, videocassette recorders, portable digital music players, digital video disc players, video game consoles, small scale servers, scanners, electronic mice, digital converter boxes, cable receivers, satellite receivers, and digital video disc recorders. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has a list of registered collectors, recyclers and refurbishers on their site at http://bit.ly/9sJsIr. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

Latest Update: Passengers Involved in Megabus Accident Arrive In Chicago

After more than 15 hours after at least 18 people were injured in Megabus overturning near Indianapolis on northbound I-65, passengers arrived in Chicago, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Indiana State Police reported to the press that the accident resulted when the bus driver swerved to avoid a disabled car on the wet road, causing the double-decker to topple over, ABC 7 Chicago reported. According to Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers, the events were as follows: "[The car] was stopped there, and the bus came along and clipped him in the rear end, causing a pinball effect. The car goes to the right-hand side into the ditch, and the bus goes off to the median where it strikes the cable barriers and overturns," according to the IndyStar newspaper. Upon arriving in Chicago, one passenger described the aftermath of the incident as "total panic and chaos," while another, when asked if he would ever ride a Megabus again, responded, "Hell, no! Never again," ABC 7 Chicago reported. Unfortunately, this accident was one in a chain of major incidents involving Megabus coach buses as federal records obtained by the ABC investigative team revealed 15 similar crashes across the country in the past two years, ABC 7 Chicago reported. Attorneys at Clifford Law Offices represent four people who were injured in an Aug. 2, 2012 Megabus accident on I-55 in Illinois when a left tire blew out, causing the bus to veer off the road and enter the media where it struck a guardrail and then a concrete bridge structure.  One person died in that terrible tragedy and several others were injured.

Update: Chicago Bound Megabus Accident Leaves 18 Injured

After a double-decker Megabus flipped over outside of Indianapolis early Tuesday morning, at least 18 passengers have been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, according to NBC Chicago. Thirty-five additional passengers were taken to hospitals but almost immediately released, NBC Chicago reported. According to Coach USA North America, the line's parent company, the bus crashed at around 4:30 a.m. while traveling on a route beginning in Atlanta and ending in Chicago, NBC Chicago reported.   The Indiana State Police reported that the accident stemmed from the driver of the Megabus attempting to swerve to avoid an accident on the road that occurred approximately 10 minutes earlier, according to NBC Chicago. The roadway was also reported already in a slick condition stemming from overnight rain that continued into the early morning, according to ABC 7 Chicago. An emergency respondent alleged that a median barrier prevented more serious injuries, as it prevented the bus from leaving the northbound lane and entering oncoming southbound traffic, according to NBC Chicago.

Partner Colin Dunn Pens Monthly Article on Premises Liability and the Open-and-Obvious-Danger Rule

In his October 6, 2014 article for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Clifford Law Offices Partner Colin H. Dunn wrote about a common issue raised in premises liability claims in Illinois: the open-and-obvious-danger rule. A landowner owes an invitee a duty to protect him or her from unreasonably dangerous conditions, unless the danger is open and obvious. However, Illinois cases have recognized exclusions to the open-and-obvious-danger rule, including the distraction and deliberate-encounter exceptions, both of which identify certain circumstances for which a possessor of land should anticipate injury from a dangerous condition although the condition may be open and obvious. Specifically, the "distraction" exception applies when a property owner should anticipate an invitee's attention being distracted from the open and obvious danger thus increasing the reasonable foreseeability/probability of injury. With this framework in mind, Dunn analyzes a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision in Bruns v. City of Centralia, 2014 IL 116998, where the Court applied these rules to a situation in which a woman tripped over a defect in a sidewalk as she was walking. The plaintiff claimed she was "distracted" while staring at the front door of a medical clinic. While sidewalk defects have been held as open and obvious dangers, the court's analysis did not end here. To read Colin Dunn's entire article on how the Illinois Supreme Court applied the "distraction" exception to the open-and-obvious-danger rule in Bruns, click here.

At Least 14 Injured In Chicago-Bound Megabus Accident

Police authorities have divulged that at least 14 people were injured when a Megabus traveling from Atlanta to Chicago flipped over and off of the road traveling northbound on I-65 in the vicinity of Indianapolis, ABC 7 Chicago reported. The number of injured has been reported as high as 26, according to Fox News Chicago. Indiana State police reported that the bus overturned while possibly swerving to avoid another crash just before 5 a.m. this morning, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Weather was most-likely a factor in the accident, Fox New Chicago reported. The bus was carrying 56 passengers, who were all taken to four different hospitals in the Indianapolis area, Fox News Chicago reported. 20-25 of the passengers are described as having "minor injuries", while 6-8 passengers are in serious condition, according to Fox News Chicago. At least one passenger is in critical condition after possibly being partially pinned beneath the bus, Fox News reported. A passenger on the bus who talked to reporters alleged that the Megabus collided with a truck before being forced off of the road, according to ABC 7 Chicago. The accident shut down lanes in both directions on I-65, but by 6 a.m. crews had cleared the scene enough for traffic to proceed, ABC 7 Chicago reported.

Aviation Attorneys at Clifford Law Available to Speak on Small Plane Crash in Palos Hills, IL

NTSB Next Step in Crash Involving Three Physicians Killed in Small Plane Crash in Southern Suburbs   Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are on hand in the southern suburbs investigating the crash that killed three Kansas doctors in a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron aircraft.  Apparently, no distress signal was emitted from the plane and it just dropped from the sky late Sunday night, according to early reports.   Clifford Law Offices has discovered that the airplane was owned by Arc Aviation LLC of Lawrence, Kansas, and was a twin engine with six seats.   "The NTSB will be trying to figure out probable cause of why the aircraft would suddenly crash following the takeoff from Midway Airport Sunday night," said Kevin P. Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices and aviation attorney who has handled the cases of nearly every commercial airline crash in the past three decades as well as many small plane cases.  He also has taken the depositions of literally hundreds of aviation experts and airline representatives.  "At this point, nothing can be ruled out.  We should know the identities soon of those who were killed, but apparently early reports indicate that one of the physicians on board had a pilot's license.  The NTSB will be confirming that."   For further information or to speak to an aviation attorney at Clifford Law Offices, please contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela S. Menaker at 847-721-0909. pammenaker@cliffordlaw.com

Boom Boom Pow

For the Gen X-ers, they know what this means.  It's the title of a popular song made famous by the musical group, the Black Eyed Peas. In legal circles, it became a copyright legal battle over whether the song was stolen by the internationally popular group from a young up-and-coming Chicago artist who wrote a song "Boom Dynamite." In an article by Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices and Editorial Board member of the Chicago Bar Association Record publication, she writes of a recent meeting that was held at the CBA where defense attorneys of the Black Eyed Peas went step-by-step through a copyright infringement action. Find out what happened in this case when you read the article by clicking here.

Housing Law For Service Pets

Question: My condominium rules prohibit unit owners from keeping pets unless they are service animals or for medical reasons. What constitutes a "medical reason?"   Answer: Under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, condominium boards must allow a reasonable accommodation for trained service animals or emotional support animals. While emotional support animals do not have to be trained, an applicant - in order to keep one in his or her unit - typically must show proof of a mental impairment that substantially limits his or her major life activities. Often this requires a written statement from a mental health professional.   For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.

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