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January 2015 Archives

Sexual Orientation and National Origin - Investigation

Question: Does the law prevent federal law enforcement officers from investigating someone because of their sexual orientation or national origin? Answer: Under the Justice Department's new guidelines, federal officers are banned from racial profiling based not only on race and ethnicity but also on religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The new rules were designed to eliminate discrimination without hindering federal probes. Local or state police would need to abide by the rules only if they are working on a joint task force with federal officers. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

MH370 Crash Declared "Accident"; Allows Families to Make Claims For Compensation

The Malaysian government officially declared the disappearance of Flight 370 an "accident", on Thursday,  Jan. 29, 2015, thus allowing the families of the victims on board to officially begin seeking compensation, according to the Chicago Tribune ("Malaysia Declares MH370 Crash An Accident To Clear Compensation," 1/29/2015). Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation released a statement that all 239 passengers aboard Flight 370 are now presumed to be dead, NBC News Reported ("Malaysia Airlines MH370 Declared An 'Accident,' Search for Survivors Ends," 1/30/2015). While the search for survivors has officially ceased, the underwater search for the wreckage will continue in the Southern Indian Ocean, according to NBC News. The Convention on International Civil Aviation, more commonly referred to as the "Chicago Convention," defines the term "accident" as encompassing planes that have gone missing, according to the Chicago Tribune. Further, an aircraft is considered "missing" under the Chicago Convention at the point when official searches have ceased without a location of a wreckage, NBC News reported. The declaration, which was jointly agreed to by the governments of Malaysia, China and Australia, enables the families to move forward and to seek compensation for their losses, the Chicago Tribune reported. Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices, was interviewed by John Cody of WBBM-AM, 780 radio, and spoke on this topic to the listeners of this top-rated all-news station in Chicago.

Renewing your Driver's License as a Senior Citizen

Question: Can an elderly person be denied a driver's license due to age? Answer: If an elderly person has a safe driving record, then he or she can renew their driver's license for four years between the ages of 69 and 80. Up to the age of 86, they can renew for two years, and after 87 years, the license needs to be renewed annually. Drivers who are 74 or older at the time their current driver's license expires generally are required to renew their license in person at a local driver's license facility rather than opting for the safe driver renewal. For additional information visit the Secretary of State's website at For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Jury Pay Under Illinois Law

Question: How much money do jurors get paid for performing their civic duty? Answer: Under a new Illinois law effective in 2015, jurors will get an increase in pay to $25 for the first day and $50 for each additional day. Previously, Cook County paid $17.20 per day, with other Illinois counties paying a minimum of $4 to $10 a day. The law also reduces the number of jurors in civil cases from 12 to six. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Pam Menaker Authors Article on Law Firm Blogging

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker Authors Article for ABA on Blogging Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, authored an article in the most recent issue of the American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Journal on whether a law firm should blog. "To Blog or Not to Blog. That's a Question?" was published in the Winter 2015 issue of the flagship publication that is distributed to more than 70,000 members of the Section of Litigation. In the article, Menaker discusses how law blogs or "blawgs" have become more mainstream and suggests some ideas as to what you can write and how to write it to catch the eye of the reader as well as the search engines. She even offers some advice on how to re-purpose the article in your firm's marketing efforts. Recently, Menaker was profiled in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism alumni magazine in an article entitled, "Journalist. Attorney. She's Both." 

Attorney Writes Article on Whether Drug Company Failed to Warn with Label

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker Writes Article for ABA Litigation News on New Case Dealing with Failure-to-Warn Regarding Drugs and Their Labels As a Contributing Editor of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation News, Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, authored an article discussing a recent case in federal district court in New Jersey that concluded "the plaintiff failed to allege a failure-to-warn claim against a drug manufacturer [who] complied with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements to change its warning label..." Several ABA members commented on this case that received quite a bit of national attention regarding liability of drug companies and their compliancy with FDA requirements. The particular case at issue dealt with a post-menopausal woman who had taken the drug Fosamax for her osteoporosis. When she suffered an atypical femur fracture, she filed a complaint that Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. drug company, maker of Fosamax, violated New York's failure-to-warn laws. It all came down to timing of the FDA label requirements, Merck's actions, and the adequacy and clarity of the label itself. To read more about this interesting issue and how the court came to its conclusion, go to:

Illinois Law Answers - Children and Medical Marijuana

Question: Under the state's new medical marijuana law, will children be allowed to use the drug? Answer: Children who reside in Illinois and have a qualifying medical condition will be allowed access to the drug. Those younger than 18 will need permission from a parent or legal guardian and must receive approval from their treating physician and a second doctor. Children may be given only marijuana-infused products such as food or liquid drops. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Hiring a Qualified Contractor - ISBA Answers

Question: One of our New Year's Resolutions is to pursue some remodeling projects in our home. How can we be sure we're hiring a qualified contractor? Answer: Get references, check backgrounds and verify credentials. Once you select a contractor, get everything in writing before the work begins. In Illinois, contractors doing home repairs or remodeling work for more than $1,000 must, by law, state the total cost, as well as a description of the work to be performed, a detailed list of materials, an explanation of how changes in orders will be handled, starting and estimated completion dates, a schedule and method of payment, and any written guarantees. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

NTSB Releases Long-Awaited Recommendations to Help Find Accident Sites and Quickly Recover Flight Data

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015) released a number of recommendations, some of which it has been asked to consider for decades, calling for improvements in locating downed aircraft and to obtain flight data more quickly and without the need for underwater retrieval. Many of these recommendations, which were issued to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for action, have been demanded by families who have lost loved ones in recent commercial airline crash cases.  In its recommendations, the NTSB pointed to the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 where it took nearly two years and $40 million to recover the flight data recorders.  The NTSB also pointed out that investigators still are searching for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 that has involved 26 countries and 84 vessels. Among the NTSB recommendations to the FAA is one to equip airliners with a tamper-resistant method to broadcast to a ground station sufficient information to establish the impact location within six nautical miles of the last transmission.  Another is to equip airliners with a means to recover recorded flight data without having to go underwater to locate the wreckage or retrieve the recorders - one means of accomplishing this is by requiring them to be equipped with a deployable flight recorder such as those made by DRS and installed on military airplanes for the past 50 years.  The NTSB has resisted recommending deployable recorders for about 15 years because of staff concerns about cost and reliability, something that has finally been overtaken by the positive facts of their 50 year service history and the overwhelming need to do more to prevent the recent recurrence of weeks, months, and years of families suffering through the agony of lost airplanes and lack of recorded data to explain the loss of loved ones. The NTSB also repeated its 15-year-old recommendation for a crash-protected image recording system that would record the cockpit environment.  Video recordings of the cockpit are something that has been technically feasible and badly needed for several decades to improve the quality and accuracy of accident investigations and thus aviation safety.  However, despite government privacy protections for such image recordings and the technical opinions of its own accident investigation and engineering staff, the US Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) has successfully lobbied against requiring image recorders on airliners throughout those decades and may do so again as  these recommendations now move to the FAA for approval and implementation.  These new NTSB recommendations indicate its disagreement with ALPA's opposition and is urging the FAA to act, and hopefully also be ready to fight on Capitol Hill and in the media for airline cockpit image recording. "Hopefully, these recommendations will awaken the world to the modern global needs of aviation accident investigation and safety," said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, which has been a consistent proponent of these measures through its aviation work and the aviation experts it has hired in litigating these claims on behalf of family members who lost loved ones in aviation crashes around the world.  "The grief of the family members as they watch and wait for what can amount to years is so heart-wrenching, it is indescribable.  Now the FAA must take action to put these recommendations into action." Clifford has pointed out in several 2014 op-ed articles in the San Francisco Chronicle as well as in a recent blog item posted on this website just last month that these safety measures are very do-able and are affordable.  In March of 2014, after the Malaysia Flight 370 accident, Clifford wrote "First, deployable recorders that jettison upon impact, float, and transmit their position to satellites world-wide, would assure location of the recorder with flight data and cockpit voice recordings within hours of a crash anywhere in the world, including remote ocean locations. Deployable recorders such as those made by DRS Technologies have been installed on military airplanes, including variants of commercial airplanes such as the Boeing 707 and 737, for over 50 years. And since the 9/11 terrorist tragedy, Congress has been funding various deployable recorder studies and demonstrations that show deployable recorders are ready to go for commercial airliners. Second, satellite asset tracking devices, some of which cost less than $100 to purchase and less than $150 per year in tracking service fees per asset/airplane, would allow authorities and owners to track airliners anywhere in the world on Google Maps from a smart phone, laptop, or desktop computer. These devices, such as the SPOT Trace from Globalstar, can be hidden inside airliners to prevent tampering, operate off battery power for weeks after losing airplane power, and work anywhere in the world. SPOT satellite tracking devices have been in use for tracking boats, cars, people, private airplanes, and other assets for many years."   The eight NTSB recommendations and supporting language can be found at . Members of the aviation team at Clifford Law Offices are available to speak to the press further regarding these important recommendations.  312-899-9090. Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices' cell phone: 847-721-0909

Bradley Cosgrove Interviewed by LB Network on $14M in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical Malpractice Attorney, Bradley M. Cosgrove of Clifford Law Offices was recently interviewed by the LB Network. Watch Cosgrove in the featured video (above) speak about his successful trial that awarded $14M to Mariola Zapalski, 37-year-old woman who suffered a debilitating stroke within less than two weeks after a doctor negligently prescribed her Yasmin Birth Control. For more information on Bradley Cosgrove or the Chicago based Clifford Law Offices visit:

Clifford Law's Communications Partner Profiled in Medill Magazine

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker, Communications Partner at Clifford Law Offices, was profiled for her nearly quarter-of-a-century career at a nationally recognized personal injury and wrongful death law firm in Chicago. Written by freelance writer and editor, K. Aleisha Fetters, the full-page profile appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the magazine that is distributed quarterly to Medill alumni. To read the article titled "Journalist. Attorney. She's Both." in it's entirety, click here.

Robert A. Clifford Speaks Up About Bankrolling Judicial Elections

Robert A. Clifford wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune titled, "Who Banksrolls the Supreme Court?" The respected Chicago lawyer discussed the topic of bankrolling judicial elections in Illinois. He expressed that voters should be able to know all of the facts, including full disclosures of the donors who donate to the judges' campaigns.

Some Video Game Statistics -- 89% of Parents Are Involved in Monitoring Their Children's Purchases and Play. Are you?

10 Worst World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) has released its 2014 nominees for the annual "10 Worst Toys" list.
89% Engage According to the top 10 gaming trends of 2014, 89 percent of parents are very involved in monitoring their kids' video game purchases and play.
$21.5 Billion More than $21.5 billion was spent on gaming in 2013, including content, accessories and hardware, as shown in statistics from this industry report. (PDF).

What Parents Need to Know about Your Child's Video Gaming

Video Game Cheat Sheet for Parents

The video game exploded into mainstream entertainment nearly 40 years ago and is still going strong today. Game sales ($24 billion annually) regularly outpace movie box office sales ($10 billion per year). Gaming is also now more of a family affair than it was in the beginning. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 89 percent of parents are involved in their kids' gaming. The association notes, "In barely more than a generation, video games transformed from a diversion for the few into a mass medium, helping people live, learn, work and, of course, play." Years ago, buying a video game for a child was a simple affair because every game was made for children. As kids grew up, however, so did the content of many video games. Now parents wonder: What games are appropriate? How do you choose? When should kids start playing? And with the holiday season a frenzied time of year when retailers offer crazy discounts and major game releases, it can also be overwhelming for shopping-weary parents.

Second Uber Driver Accused of Sexual Assaulting Passenger in Chicago

For the second time in less than three weeks, two drivers of an Uber ride sharing service have been charged separately with assaulting passengers in the Chicago area. The relatively new taxi service, which has become popular in many large cities through downloading an app on one's mobile device, has been criticized by many, including senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, Robert Clifford, for its lack of safety precautions, background checks and insurance coverage. The latest incident involved a 46-year-old Villa Park man, who was charged with criminal sexual assault, unlawful restraint and kidnapping, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was held in lieu of $150,000 bond. Reportedly, the incident occurred some six months ago when the driver picked up a 21-year-old male in the 700 block of West Cornelia in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. The passenger was told to sit in the front seat because the back seat was broken, according to media reports. The driver allegedly refused to take the passenger home and allegedly committed the assault at that time in his car. Right before the New Year, another Uber driver was charged with raping an inebriated female UberX customer in the driver's Albany Park apartment. Clifford testified before an Illinois legislative committee as well as a committee of the Chicago City Council on this important topic that requires further scrutiny. To read about what Mr. Clifford warned earlier about the need for tougher restrictions, please go to the following links: Bob Clifford has been very vocal on this subject. He also spoke on the issue to consumers on the firm's blog: And he wrote a column on ride sharing for the Chicago Lawyer publication that appeared in the May, 2014 issue: Uber's legal problems don't end there. A class action lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that alleges that the ride sharing company has "charged tens of thousands of customers fictitious LAX airport fees, though its drivers don't pay anything to the airport." The suit was filed on Jan. 6 "alleging breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, conversion, unjust enrichment and other counts." The attorney who filed the 16-page complaint there alleged that "licensed taxis pay Los Angeles International Airport more than $3 million in fees, and that Uber is not authorized to operate at the airport but nonetheless charges passengers a $4 fee."

Will Taxis Become Extinct? Some Interesting Videos on Ride Sharing

Learn How Uber Connects Riders With Drivers Uber is a transportation networking company (TNC) that connects riders directly with drivers through a downloadable smartphone app and other advanced technologies. See how it works on the Uber YouTube channel. View video.

Some Interesting Numbers on Uber -- Did you know....

$10 Billion After just five years in business, Uber is expected to hit $10 billion in annual revenues by the end of 2015. Uber's take is 20 percent after paying drivers, or an estimated $2 billion.
200 Cities Uber is now available in more than 200 cities in 53 countries. But rapid growth has also fueled an anti-Uber backlash throughout the world.
"F" Rating Uber recently received an "F" from the Better Business Bureau, stemming from 200 complaints in the past three years due to problems with billing and customer service.

To Uber or Not to Uber?

Controversy Grows With Popularity of Uber

Uber created a better mousetrap in the world of for-hire transportation. Its technology seamlessly links riders and drivers through a smartphone app that is one-tap easy to use. Becoming an Uber driver is almost as effortless, allowing people from all walks of life to earn money with their personal vehicle. The results have been staggering: Raving fans have propelled Uber from a tiny San Francisco startup in 2009 to a major enterprise today now operating in more than 200 cities and 53 countries. The company will hit $10 billion in revenues in 2015 (it took Facebook 10 years to do the same) and is estimated to be worth more than $40 billion. But controversy has grown around Uber almost as fast as the company itself:

FAA Issues Rule Requiring Airlines to Utilize Safety Management Systems

On Tuesday (Jan. 6, 2014), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule requiring most U.S. airlines to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) by 2018, according to an FAA press release. SMS is a formal, organization-wide approach that assists in managing safety risks by providing airlines a set of business procedures to compile data from everyday operations, the FAA press release explained. With this data, airlines are able to isolate trends that may be precursors to accidents and may thus be in a better position to mitigate those dangers at early stages, according to the Aviation Safety Network. In short, SMS describes "what" is expected of airlines and their employees, rather than "how," which is left to airlines themselves, the Aviation Safety Network reported. The rule stipulates that commercial airlines must submit their plans for implementing their SMS within six months, according to the FAA press release. Further, the rule requires each commercial airline to appoint a single, accountable executive to oversee its SMS, the Aviation Safety Network reported. Many commercial airlines already have an SMS in place voluntarily, which has contributed to an 83 percent reduction in fatality risks in the United States for commercial air travel between 1998 and 2008, according to the FAA press release. This new rule will reportedly cost commercial airlines approximately $224.3 million over the next 10 years, but will benefit those airlines ranging from $205 million to $472.3 million over that time period, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

10 Healthy Resolutions for 2015

The American Bar Endowment (ABE) passed along some New Year's resolutions that released on its website. Interestingly, reported that 75 percent of resolution makers keep their promises for at least a week, but less than half (46 percent) continue to maintain their resolutions six months later. Here's 10 healthy resolutions suggests: 1) lose weight 2) stay in touch 3) stop smoking - or don't start 4) save money 5) cut your stress 6) volunteer 7) go back to school 8) cut back on alcohol intake 9) get more sleep 10) travel The ABE also suggests you follow these healthy suggestions this year. The ABE is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1942 by the American Bar Association that offers quality, affordable insurance for ABA members while giving back to the legal profession for its good works by helping to fund more than 200 legal research, public service and educational projects. Clifford Law Offices wholeheartedly agrees.

FDA Approves Highest Number of New Medicines in 18 Years

Forty one novel medicines were approved in 2014 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, fourteen more than in 2013, according to Reuters. While the FDA does not develop or test products, their experts review testing performed by manufacturers and grant approval when they determine that the overall benefit of the product outweighs the risks of the intended use, the Science Times Reported. This number is second only to the record high of medication approvals experienced in 1996, when 53 new medications were approved, according to the Science Times. European nations also saw a spike in recommendations for new drugs, driven mostly by expensive new treatments for rare and serious diseases, including many forms of cancer, the Science Times reported. With the medicine industry shifting their focus toward diseases requiring specialized products (where competition for the companies is limited), a reported forty percent of the new drugs approved in 2013 were geared towards rare diseases, according to Reuters. Increasing competition has caused the prices of many older medications to plummet, according to the Science Times. In 2014, two drugs were approved to treat cancer by helping the body's own immune system fight tumors, Reuters reported.

Tragic Garage Explosion in Mundelein

A garage explosion that rocked the far north suburban neighborhood of Mundelein has reportedly left one person killed and another injured, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune. Fire officials responded to numerous calls from residents in the area of the 900 block of Killanary Pass Drive at about 11:30 a.m. Friday (Jan. 2, 2015). Fire officials reported that the explosion started in the garage behind the house and fire quickly spread to the house itself. Firemen from a dozen fire departments as well as North Shore Gas also reportedly were on the scene all day. Video from local television stations was quite graphic and neighbors appeared quite shaken in interviews on the tragic incident. Clifford Law Offices has represented a number of people who have been injured or their families who have lost loved ones in explosions at homes or on the job. Such sudden catastrophes are particularly tragic because generally severe injuries or death may occur because of the magnitude of the explosion, as occurred in this explosion in Mundelein.

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