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May 2015 Archives

Pella Window Class Action -- Are you an Appropriate Class Member?

By Robert A. Clifford, Senior Partner and Lead Counsel in Pella Window Class Action, and Shannon McNulty, Partner, Clifford Law Offices If you have Pella ProLine Casement windows, you may be a member of a class action underway in the Northern District of Illinois.  For more information, go to class actions. Q: I have Pella ProLine casement windows, but they are not showing any signs of defect rot.  Am I still a class member?  What should I do? A: You may still be a class member with a viable claim against Pella because the complaint alleges that the defect is concealed and may not reveal itself until after your warranty expires.  You should complete a Pella Class Action inquiry form at, and make certain to maintain all documentation related to our windows, including the windows serial numbers.  You can find the document by clicking on the yellow button on the home page that says "Class Actions" and it will lead you to the appropriate page.  

Helpful Videos for Dog Owners -- Can Your Dog Cost You Your Home Insurance?


Learn Basics to Prevent Dog Attacks by Reading Body Language

Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog, demonstrates how to avoid a dog attack by reading a dog's body language and what to do if you are attacked. View video.

Insurance Could Your Dog Cost You Your Home Insurance?

Some insurance companies are denying homeowners insurance to people with dogs categorized as a "dangerous breed." CNN's New Day interviewed dog owners and insurers. View video.

DogAdvanced Training for Workers Confronted by Hostile Dogs

Professional dog trainer and former law enforcement officer Hector Hernandez demonstrates advanced tactics for utility workers, postal carriers and others in preventing and responding to dog attacks. View video.

Illinois Ranks Second in Dog Bite Claims According to Recent Study

The Associated Press recently reported that 4.5 million Americans were bitten by dogs in the U.S. in 2014.   And a recent study conducted by State Farm and the Insurance Information Institute found California to be the leading state in 2013 of dog bite claims with 4489 claims and $14.7 million paid and Illinois being second on the list with 309 claims and $8.9 million in claims paid.  To read more about the report, click here: State Far report

More than One in Three Nursing Homes Receive Relatively Low Overall Ratings on Nursing Home Care

More than one third of the nation's 15,500 nursing homes received relatively low ratings of one or two stars under the federal government's recently revamped five-star Quality Rating System, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This number accounts for some 39 percent of all nursing home residents. The rating system is overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is based on deficiencies that may be reported during health inspections. The measures relate to staffing and quality of care. The purpose of the rating system is to give consumers more information when making nursing home decisions. The issues surrounding nursing homes such as inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards and substandard care was the reason for instituting a rating system and the Kaiser study, as more and more people in American rely upon nursing homes as a viable alternative for the growing elderly population. To read more about the study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation or to see the study itself, please go to:

Train Fuel Tank Cars Desperately Need Retrofitting According to NTSB

Train tank cars that haul fuel need retrofitting as soon as possible to avoid possible explosions, according to a recent study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that examines such accidents. A recent story published by the Associated Press ("Safety board: Train fuel tank cars need retrofits - and fast," by Matthew Brown) explained how the public is not going to be able to wait the 10 years for improvements as the industry suggested. Instead, the NTSB is recommending that "after a spate of fiery accidents revealed shortcomings in voluntary industry standards for cars hauling oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids" that these cars need to be replaced or retrofitted with better protective systems that can withstand fire. The NTSB pointed to oil trains that derailed in West Virginia in February and outside Galena, Illinois, in March. One of the recommendations included ceramic blankets that already are being used to transport liquefied petroleum gas in tank cars. This type of material surrounds the tank and shields it from intense heat. Relief valves also can prevent pressure building up inside tank cars on fire. Although the NTSB can only make recommendations, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the governmental entity that is the rule-making body to require the industry implement new standards. DOT is in the process now of considering new rules to bolster tank car safety. The NTSB recommended that if aggressive changes can't be made soon enough, then rail speed needs to be restricted. The story also pointed out how these rail cars pass through many populated cities in going across the country including Chicago and Philadelphia. The AP story reported that the volume of flammable liquids transported by rail has dramatically risen over the past decade and it is projected to number at least 115,000 cars by the end of this year. With that has come an accompanying increase in the number of rail tank car accidents. "Government analysts have predicted trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damages and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.," Brown reports. Industry experts retort that they already are working on upgrading tank cars and making the industry safer.

Do Workplace Laws Cover Actions of Independent Contractors?

  Question: Do workplace laws cover independent contractors? Answer: Workplace law deals with the regulation of the relationship between employers and employees. Independent contractors are not considered to be employees. Generally, if an employer controls, directs and supervises the individual in the performance of his or her work, that individual is an employee. But, if the employer merely specifies the result to be achieved, and the individual uses personal judgment in the means used to achieve that result, then the individual is an independent contractor. This means that under U.S. law, an employer cannot classify you as an independent contractor, then dictate when, where and how you work. Thanks to the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) for this information.

Factors to Consider in Deciding Whether to Join a Class Action Lawsuit

Question: What factors should I consider before deciding whether to become part of a class action lawsuit? Answer: Some of the common advantages of class action lawsuits are lower litigation costs, greater uniformity of recoveries among plaintiffs, and the opportunity for all plaintiffs to receive damages. Common disadvantages include the lack of individual decision-making control, and relief that is exclusively financial in nature. Also, if the class is unsuccessful in its lawsuit, then individual class members likely will not have the right to bring individual lawsuits at a later date. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Can Nursing Home Resident Place Audio/Video Recording Devices in Room?

Question: Is it legal for the family of a nursing home resident to place video or audio monitoring devices in their room? Answer: A bill passed the Illinois House in April 2015 that would allow nursing home residents and their families to place video or audio monitoring devices in their rooms to help ensure their safety and quality care. If the bill passes the Illinois Senate and is signed by the Governor, it will become law.   For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

Happy Memorial Day

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example." - Benjamin Disraeli

Statement of Kevin Durkin, Co-lead Counsel in Bourbonnais Amtrak Crash that Killed 11, Injured 100+

  ​This week's Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia is a tragedy, as is the decades-long failure of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak to provide safe, positively controlled rail transportation to patrons across the county, particularly in the Northeast region. As the NTSB and its parties continue to sort through the rubble and uncover what caused this horrific event Tuesday evening, one thing that appears reasonably clear is that the passengers aboard this speeding train, those who paid for their tickets in return for the reasonable expectation of a safe passage, were the victims of gross negligence.   While this negligence is likely attributable to the train's engineer in part, there may also be blame to spread amongst the FRA and Amtrak for their failure to require and implement Positive Train Control (PTC) in some fashion throughout the track on which Amtrak operates.  The NTSB has made PTC recommendations for decades, in part because this is not the first time Amtrak engineers have more than doubled the posted speed limit in a curve and caused derailments with hundreds of injuries.  On December 12, 1990, an Amtrak train derailed after speeding in a curve at Boston's Back Bay, injuring hundreds, closing the track for weeks, and causing millions in track and other infrastructure damage.  Despite Amtrak's attempts to intentionally erase the event recorder data from that locomotive, the NTSB recovered the data and found that the engineer was operating the train at more than double the speed limit, causing it to derail.   Initial investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board into this Philadelphia Amtrak accident reveal that the passenger train attempted to circumvent a curve in the tracks at 106 mph, more than double the speed limit of 50 mph. In fact, the train should have never even approached speeds of 100 mph, as the speed limit of the strip of track immediately before the curve was only 80 mph. The result is that eight passengers have died and hundreds more were injured and transported to hospitals. This is unacceptable.  FRA and Amtrak should have long learned their lesson from the 1990 Back Bay crash and implemented PTC throughout Amtrak territory.   Amtrak serves more than 30 million people annually - once again the safety of their operation and commitment to PTC and accident prevention has been called into serious doubt.   Amtrak is now saying it will look to implement PTC to prevent such accidents but after 25 years of reason and opportunity to do so, without fulfillment, they will likely pay dearly in reputation, trust, and tort settlements for this crash and the pain and suffering it has heaped on its passengers and their families.   ​I served as Co-Lead Counsel in the litigation involving the crash of an Amtrak train in Bourbonnais, Illinois, among other railway accidents. In order for the victims of this crash and their families to sort through this complicated morass that is certain to play out in America's legal justice system, they need to think carefully about how to protect themselves as well as other future passengers, making a clear statement that this type of conduct will no longer be tolerated and together they can become a strong voice for change, real change, that will help make other travelers safer in the future.   Kevin P. Durkin is a partner at Clifford Law Offices, a national recognized personal injury and wrongful death firm that concentrates in transportation litigation.  To learn more about Durkin's experience as well as the transportation team of attorneys at the Chicago-based firm, please visit Durkin is available to speak to the press on the legal ramifications of the Amtrak derailment and train crash liability and how that litigation plays out in the courts against various defendants.  To reach Durkin for an interview, contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 or email her at or

Update on Amtrak Derailment in Philadelphia

News continues round the clock on the tragic train derailment in Philadelphia last night (May 12, 2015) as rescuers continue a search-and-rescue mission into the night for people still reported missing on the manifest. Reporters from around the world are reporting on the fact that the 32-year-old Amtrak engineer of Amtrak Train Number 188 was being interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators who have been working at the scene all day.   Investigators located the black box and reported that the train was traveling at 106 miles per hour. Scenes of people helping people are emerging across social media channels and the news, heartbreaking scenes of the walking wounded from the seven cars on their sides, all have left the tracks.  At least 200 have reportedly been treated at local hospitals in the Philadelphia area, some even transported by bus because of the number being so high. Many sad witness reports of lots of blood, panic, screaming, shock and being thrown about the train cars. No one should have to go through this type of tragedy.  As investigators continue to examine the black box and interview key witnesses, a cause or causes of this tragedy will unfold.  It also will be determined, likely in a court of law, as to if this was an avoidable tragedy.

Amtrak Train's Black Box Recovered; Investigators Discover Train Traveling at 100 MPH When Hitting Curve on Tracks in Philadelphia

Investigators this morning uncovered the black box in the tragic Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia that has left at least seven dead and more than 200 injured. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators revealed that the Amtrak train was traveling about 100 miles per hour when it reached a curve on its route in northeast Philadelphia traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York carrying 238 passengers and five crew members. Officials are reporting that the speed limit at that stretch of tracks is 50 miles per hour. Information contained in the black box is being further examined reportedly in Delaware, but the focus is on the speed of the train at the time. Hydraulic tools are being used to help those aboard out if the mangled cars. President Obama said today in a statement about the tragedy: "Along with Americans across our country, Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the derailment aboard Amtrak Train 188. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last night, and to the many passengers who today begin their long road to recovery." Indeed, all of America is praying for those who were aboard Amtrak Train 188.

Amtrak Disaster in Philadelphia Kills Six, Injures 150 More - Terrible Tragedy

In what is being called by Philadelphia's Mayor as an "absolute, disastrous mess" last night (May 12, 2015), an Amtrak train derailed reportedly leaving six people dead and nearly 150 more people hospitalized. Six of those reportedly are in critical condition and a representative from the Mayor's office said that those who were able to leave the train are like "the walking wounded." National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials are on the scene investigating as well as rescue workers going through the mangled wreckage. Witnesses report that everything went flying, including people, when the train incident occurred last night. Amtrak Northwest Regional Train 188 was traveling from Washington, D.C., headed to New York carrying 238 passengers and five crew members when it derailed about 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. All seven cars and the engine were derailed and in various stages of leaving the railroad tracks in what has been described as a mangled mess. Investigators are looking into what may have caused the incident. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also said that he has never seen anything of such a disastrous level in his life.

Sarah King Continues Her Involvement in Women Everywhere (WE)

 Sarah F. King, associate at Clifford Law Offices, introduced the speaker, Lori Lightfoot of Mayer Brown, at the Women Everywhere (WE) annual Education Day, Thursday (April 23). King, who serves as co-chair of the Planning Committee along with Kristin Barnette of Krovolec Jambois & Schwartz and Heather Keil of O'Hagan LLC, planned the event that included tours given by Cook County Circuit Court Judges Diane J. Larsen, Marcia Maras, Neera Walsh, Mary Margaret Brosnahan, Michael R. Panter and Presiding Judge E. Kenneth Wright of the First Municipal District spoke to more than 100 high school girls from the Chicago Public School System. The day also included a tour of the state and federal courthouses as well as them participating in a mock trial and observing court activities. Women Everywhere is a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago comprised of attorneys and judges dedicated to creating opportunities for women through education and community service. King has been involved with the group for several years, including serving as fundraising chair, contributing her time pro bono to help high school students achieve their educational and career goals. The luncheon was held at the River Roast restaurant on North LaSalle Street in Chicago. _________________ For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909.  

Brad Cosgrove Wins Seat on ISBA Assembly

 Bradley M. Cosgrove, partner at Clifford Law Offices, was elected to the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Assembly representing Cook County for a three-year term in the recent election. Of the 23 candidates running for 21 spots, Cosgrove was the fifth highest vote-getter in his inaugural attempt in running for office for this statewide organization. For all of the results, visit: Successful trial attorney, has been active in a number of organizations, including recently being elected to serve on the Board of Managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He also was recently elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates. "We are very proud of Brad and his continuing accomplishments both in and out of the courtroom," said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at the firm. "Brad is hard working and is always giving back to the legal community and to the Chicago community in so many ways. He is a lawyer to whom many look up for his professionalism, his dedication and his hard work day in and day out." Clifford Law Offices congratulates all the winners in this annual ISBA election that includes James F. McCluskey of Lisle being elected Third Vice President of the organization in a contested race. Jessica O'Brien also was successful in her contested bid in Cook County for the ISBA Board of Governors. Umberto S. Davi of Western Springs will succeed to the office of President, Vincent F. Cornelius of Wheaton will succeed to the office of President-Elect, and Russell W. Hartigan of Western Springs will succeed to the office of Second Vice President. All of the winners will take office at the Annual Meeting in June to be held in Lake Geneva. Again congratulations to all!

Clifford Law Supports Chicago Police Department in its Annual Run to Remember - Kevin Durkin Heads Team in 5K Race to Raise Money for Officers' Families

Everyone was a winner at Saturday's 5K 11th Annual Chicago Police Department Run to Remember. The run is meant to honor and remember the dedicated heroes of the Chicago Police Department who are killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. The race is sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, an organization in which Clifford Law Offices' partner Kevin P. Durkin is very active. He organized this year's Clifford team who ran: *Kevin Durkin, Team Captain, and his son Michael *Robert P. Walsh *Jackie Gribbon and her two daughters *Chuck Haskins *Kevin Sowizrol The run was held along Lake Michigan in Grant Park and raised thousands of dollars for this important cause. "Never forget" was Theme of the fundraising run that raised more than a quarter of a million dollars Saturday. The race ended at the memorial wall that has been constructed in Grant Park with the names of every officer who died in the line of duty etched forever in stone. Over the past decade, the race has grown from several hundred runners to several thousand. Durkin is on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and is active in its activities throughout the year to help fallen police officers.

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