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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Not on our side, part 2 of 2

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In our previous blog post, we listed the first five ways that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hurts American citizens, according to the American Association for Justice.  Read on to learn more.

6. Secretly involved in state and local elections

The organization has secretly contributed millions of dollars to candidates at the local and state level. These candidates are always not only pro business, but pro Chamber. When the Chamber’s involvement in the electoral process has become known, numerous local and state chambers have resigned.

7. Linked to jury and witness tampering

The Chamber has been linked to jury tampering efforts when, despite its best efforts, lawsuits against its supporters have moved forward. For example, when Arthur Andersen was convicted of witness-tampering, the Chamber filed a brief in defense of the accounting giant, saying that activities such as Andersen’s were normal business routine.

8. Friendly with polluters

The Chamber often supports some of the world’s worst polluters. For example, when the BP oil well exploded, sending millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the president of the Chamber quickly spoke out in defense of the petroleum company, saying that the U.S. taxpayers should pay for the spill.

9. Advocates for mediation at the expense of the right to a trial by jury

The Chamber uses every opportunity to limit the ability of injured persons to file lawsuits. For example, it has been at the forefront of the mediation movement, advocating for contract language that requires mediation – a process that can easily be co-opted – in the event of disputes. These contracts always remove the ability to take legal action, suggesting the mediation is just as good. It’s not. However, the Chamber opposes mediation in union contracts, because in these case workers are more likely to have the upper hand. The Chamber does not seem worried that its advocacy is inconsistent.

10. Major corporations hide behind the Chamber

The Chamber apparently hides some of the money it receives for lobbying Congress. Since 2000, the Chamber has spent nearly a billion dollars in seeking Congressional approval for its biggest donors. It advocates for laws that are often very unpopular with the public, while the corporate sponsors of such advocacy are able to remain anonymous or in the background.

After reading this list, it should be clear the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is neither a friend of the ordinary consumer, nor a strong advocate for small businesses. It is rather an organization dedicated to promoting the interests of the largest multinational corporations in the world. Citizens should be wary of causes supported by the Chamber; these causes almost always will benefit the company at the expense of the ordinary person.

Source: American Association for Justice, “Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans,” Oct. 24, 2012.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Not on our side, part 1 of 2

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

A recent story published on the website of the American Association for Justice reveals just how deeply the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is involved in the effort to eliminate one of the cornerstones of our legal system – the right to trial by jury.

The story, “Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans” should be widely distributed to alert people to these efforts, which masquerade as arguments that the U.S. Chamber is acting in everyone’s best interests. What follows is a list of the most egregious of the Chamber’s campaigns.

1. Urges weaker financial regulation

The Chamber has advocated for weaker regulation of large financial firms for years. However, when weaker laws caused economic disaster, the Chamber was first in line to request massive bailouts.

2. Pushes weaker environmental laws and opposes laws to regulate climate change

The Chamber has vigorously advocated for weaker environmental laws and opposed those who have sounded warnings about climate change, claiming that the laws and tighter regulation of emissions weaken the business climate. However, several major corporations, including big energy companies, have resigned from the Chamber over this very issue. Clearly, the organization does not speak for all American businesses.

3. Advocates to reduce or eliminate the ability of private citizens to file lawsuits against corporations

The Chamber has spent more than $226 million in lobbying the U.S. government to reduce or eliminate the ability of citizens to hold businesses accountable for their actions. However, it is perfectly happy to join or initiate lawsuits on behalf of its corporate allies over polices that may limit corporate power.

4. Funded primarily by 16 major corporations

The organization claims to represent small businesses, but 55 percent of its funding comes from 16 giant corporations. As a result, many state and local chambers of commerce have abandoned the national organization, saying that it no longer speaks for them.

5. Represents foreign corporations at the expense of U.S. businesses

The Chamber claims to represent American business, but after foreign oil companies began contributing to the organization, the Chamber began pushing to abandon the effort to develop energy independence and reduce reliance on foreign oil. Another example of the Chamber’s fickle attachment to U.S. businesses is its relationship with Airbus, a French company in direct competition with American aviation manufacturers.

We will continue listing the ways that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hurts ordinary people in the next blog post.

Source: American Association for Justice, “Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans,” Oct. 24, 2012.

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Report: NYC Aggressively Fights Personal Injury Claims

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Premises Liability on Friday, May 18th, 2012

Personal injury claims are very common in New York City. The city faces approximately 6,400 personal injury lawsuits annually, ranging from minor slip and fall lawsuits to wrongful death actions. A recent article in the New York Times indicates that although city officials often offer their condolences after a resident is injured, city lawyers are sometimes unacceptably aggressive in combating legitimate personal injury claims.

“There is no question that when you litigate against the city, they push the envelope to limit payouts,” one former city lawyer said.

The New York Times noted the city’s legal strategies in the context of personal injury lawsuits related to falling trees. The lawsuits detail that the city’s maintenance and inspection of trees is erratic and that more diligence by city workers may have prevented citizen injuries and deaths.

New York City’s aggressive manner in responding to the falling-tree lawsuits raises the interesting competing obligations that city lawyers face. Aggressive legal tactics in personal injury lawsuits are not illegal, but city attorneys have unique duty to also ensure fair outcomes for residents with legitimate personal injury claims.

The city’s corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, has launched an aggressive public campaign to limit the number of payouts to injured residents. Cardozo believes that courts unfairly punish the city in personal injury cases and that many residents receive more compensation than they are due. The New York Times article also highlights instances where the city has conducted secret monitoring of plaintiffs or spoiled evidence in order to gain an advantage in court.

An injured New York resident should hire a personal injury law firm that has the resources and legal experience necessary maintain a successful lawsuit against the city. Hiring a less experienced attorney may mean that an injured individual does not receive all of the compensation that he or she is entitled to.

Source: New York Times, “Sued Over Death and Injury From Trees, City Fights Back,” William Glaberson, May 15, 2012

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Financial, domestic problems worse after personal injury lawsuit

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

We know that when people are injured, it can have a lasting impact on their lives. However, what we may not understand specifically, is the exact nature of that impact. The results of a new study were published last week, and the results are frightening.

Individuals in New York who filed personal injury lawsuits, especially claims for back injuries, suffered long-term financial and domestic problems. Moreover, the problems got progressively worse after they settled their claims.

According to the research, individuals who have lower income levels, those who are younger than 35 years old, and African-Americans had the greatest problems. One of the lead contributors of the study reported, “Regardless of the settlement you receive, if you continue to experience pain, our findings indicate you will often get worse over time – worse in ways that can lead to the loss of a home, lead to family disruptions, and even lead to divorce.”

To get a good understanding of the long-term impact of personal injuries, the researchers studied the court records of nearly 1,500 individuals who filed personal injury claims. In addition to reviewing the actual personal injury claims, they also studied legal matters involving the injured party in the five years before and after the personal injury claim was filed.

The study found that injured people were involved with significantly more financial and domestic court issues after their settlements than before. Those settlements included matters related to breach of contract, child support, adult abuse, stalking, divorce, foreclosure and eviction.

The study concluded that the injuries were such significant stressors in individuals’ lives that those individuals faced more financial troubles than their peers, and their problems often escalated over time.

Source: Health Canal, “Woes Worsen after Settlements for Back Injuries,” Nancy Solomon, Aug. 8, 2011

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Teenager Suffers Brain Injury after being “Body-Slammed” by NY Police Officer

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Friday, July 30th, 2010

Earlier this summer, 18-year-old Rahiym Holmes had just graduated from high school and was set to start college courses at Kingsborough Community College in the fall. However, at present, his future is anything but certain.

On July 11, Rahiym suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury when he was tackled by a police officer while walking home after a BBQ with friends. The details around the incident are not clear. Rahiym slipped into a coma that lasted for four days following the altercation and, since emerging, has not been able to remember or talk about what happened that night.

However, friends who were with him at the time paint an unflattering picture for the New York Police officers involved. As mentioned, Rahiym had attended a BBQ earlier in the night. Police appeared around sunset to break the part up and, along with some friends, Rahiym started walking home.

According to witnesses, police in a cruiser appeared and began taunting Rahiym. After a little while, both exited the car and one grabbed Rahiym, slamming him into the ground with enough force to fracture his skull.

Later, at the hospital, while Rahiym was bleeding and unconscious, the police officer handed his mother a ticket meant for Rahiym. It is still unclear exactly why the ticket was issued and Rahiym was apprehended.

His mother has announced plans to file a personal injury lawsuit against the police officers involved, citing excessive force, assault, false arrest and false imprisonment.

The New York Daily Times reported no official statement from the NYPD.

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Controversial Personal Injury Ruling Overturned by New York Appeals Court

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, July 2nd, 2010

One minute, Dustin Dibble was enjoying a hockey game with friends. The next, he was lying in a hospital bed, missing part of his right leg. Later he would claim that he could not remember making it to the subway station, falling onto the tracks or the moment a speeding subway train severed his right leg below the calf.

Dibble’s personal injury lawsuit over the subway accident caused public uproar in 2009 when a New York jury awarded him more than $2 million dollars, mostly for future medical bills. However, the New York Appellate Division recently overturned the ruling, leaving Dibble confused and out of luck.

While most of the criticism levied at Dibble’s million-dollar award centered on the fact that the former college basketball player was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the court did not consider this in reaching its decision. Rather, the court looked at whether or not the train operator should have recognized a person on the tracks and could have stopped in time.

In the 2009 trial, Dibble’s attorney argued that the train operator should have recognized the form of a human being on the tracks. He pointed out that additional vigilance at a time of the night when pedestrians are intoxicated was necessary and, in this case, absent. He also noted that the train should have had ample space to stop after the operator first noticed Dibble.

The train operator claimed to have believed that the lump on the tracks was simply trash or some other discarded material.

In their ruling, the New York Appellate Court determined that speculation as to the train operator’s ability to stop in time was “impermissible” and, thus, “insufficient” as evidence.

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World Trade Center Cleanup Workers May Receive Larger Personal Injury Settlement

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, June 11th, 2010

The federal compensation fund for victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks closed in 2003 after paying out billions of dollars to the families of those lost and injured workers. Since then, thousands of workers involved in the post-9/11 rescue operations and cleanup have come forward complaining of respiratory issues and other health problems.

In total, around 10,000 individuals have made personal injury claims.

Because many of these health issues appeared after the victim-compensation fund had already closed, the firefighters, police officers and construction workers involved have had trouble collecting. However, Thursday saw the announcement of a potential $712.5 million settlement revision. More than $50 million was added to a previous pact with World Trade Center workers for around $660 million.

Payment from the fund will be based on the severity of injury present in each individual, and severity will be measured according to a pre-existing formula. The formula takes into account factors such as whether or not the individual in question was a habitual smoker before working at the World Trade Center.

Even Trade Center workers who have not yet developed injuries, but can show sufficient evidence that they might may be able to claim a few thousand dollars.

For the $712.5 million fund to be approved, a full 95 percent of the 10,000 workers currently seeking compensation must agree to proceed under its direction. Those seeking financial settlements have a few months, until September 30, to agree or disagree to the pact’s terms.

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