Family Member a Victim of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse? Bush Administration Rule Makes It Harder to Get the Information

With little notice and without a public comment period, a Bush administration change in federal rules on nursing home inspections will have the practical effect of forcing litigants to go to greater lengths, including seeking court orders, to get inspection reports or depositions for cases they are pursuing or defending.

The new rule generally prohibits state health departments and contractors from participating in private lawsuits involving facilities that are in the federal assistance program. The rule accomplishes this by reclassifying state employees who inspect nursing homes for the federal government as federal employees who are not allowed to provide “privileged” … Read the rest

Fatal Fire Brings to Light Deficiencies in Fire Hydrant Inspection Requirements

On February 2, 2009, Amy Yeung perished in an apartment fire in Selden, New York. Firefighters reported that a lack of water pressure in the fire hydrant in her private community, Village in the Woods, made it more difficult to put out the blaze, and forced them to call for two water tankers from neighboring fire departments. This tragedy exposed a deficiency in the inspections of fire hydrants in private communities.

Neither Suffolk County nor the Town of Brookhaven regularly inspects private water systems to ensure that they have sufficient water pressure to fight fires. State fire code mandates annual … Read the rest

1789 Law and Nuremburg Code Intersect to Permit Claims To Proceed Against Pfizer For Conducting Medical Experimentation Without Consent

The Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, a 1789 law, gives foreigners the right to raise tort claims in federal court to vindicate violations of ‘the laws of nations.’ The 10-principle Nuremberg Code was formulated as part of a war crimes trial conducted after World War II in which 15 doctors were convicted of crimes against humanity for conducting non-consentual experiments. Seven of the doctors were sentenced to death.

The 1789 law and the 20th Century Nuremberg Code intertwined recently as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit revived Nigerian families’ damage claims for billions of dollars against … Read the rest

Greener Traffic Management (In Theory)

Congress’ boosting in 2007 of fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 should not be the only way the government can improve fuel economy, cut greenhouse gases and boost safety.  So contends Joseph D. Younger in an article “5 Ways to Turn Traffic Greener” published in AAA’s Car & Travel magazine.  The article suggests 5 ways that state, local and federal governments can do to make everyday driving environmentally friendlier.

1. Build Os (traffic circles) instead of Xs (intersections) Intersections controlled by stop signs or lights contribute to environmental damage because they force drivers to idle, which … Read the rest

Using Hands-Free Cell Phone While Driving No Less a Danger Than Using Hand-Held Phone

The congressionally chartered National Safety Council is advocating for the first time a total ban on cell phone use while driving, including hands-free use, saying the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities. States should ban drivers from using hand-held and hands-free cell phones, and businesses should prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving on the job. The problem is not where your hands are, but where your brain is.

There are 270 million cell phone users in the U.S. and 80 percent of them talk on the phone while driving. Drivers talking on a cell phone are … Read the rest

Court Rebuffs Attempt to Dilute New Childrens Products Safety Law

Last year was a record-setter when it came to recalls and warnings about dangerous children’s toys, especially lead paint laden toys imported from China. In response to the much-publicized controversy, Congress strengthened the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 (CPSA) to prohibit the sale and distribution of children’s toy or child care articles containing excessive levels of toxic substances beginning on February 10th, 2009.

Almost incredibly, the agency charged with enforcing the CPSA, the General Counsel of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (the Commission), actually tried to weaken the enforcement of the law by issuing an … Read the rest

State Senate Responds Swiftly to the Striking Down of a Local Law Intended to Protect Children from Sex Offenders

A Rockland County law barring where registered sex offenders can reside was struck down late last month by New York State Supreme Court Justice William A. Kelly because it conflicted with existing state regulations. In an immediate and strong response last week to eliminate the preemption, Senate majority leader Malcolm A. Smith, D-Queens, joined Senator Craig Johnson, D-Port Washington, at a Mineola news conference to announce a measure that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park or day-care center, the precise residence requirement contained in the local law that was stuck down. The … Read the rest

“Key in the Ignition Statute” Will Hold Vehicle Owner Liable for Deaths of Pedestrians Struck by Drunk Driver Who Had Stolen the Vehicle

When Joe Guerrero left his keys in the ignition of his car with the engine running while he went into a deli last weekend, a drunken man stole his vehicle and then ran down 2 pedestrians. Even though Mr. Guerrero was not driving or occupying the vehicle and had not given the drunk driver, a stranger to him, permission to drive his vehicle, he will be liable to the families of the 2 pedestrians for causing their deaths. This is true because of Vehicle and Traffic Law 1210(a), sometimes called the “key in the ignition statute.” This statute makes the … Read the rest

Should Penalty Flag Be Thrown For Charging Football Coach With Reckless Homicide?

Heat exposure deaths happen occasionally in all levels of football. The cases have led to numerous lawsuits, however, no evidence can be found that a coach has ever been charged in the deaths. Until now. A Kentucky high school football coach was indicted by a grand jury last month with reckless homicide in the death of a player who collapsed during a sweltering practice. Coach David Jason Stinson was charged in the death of 15-year-old sophomore offensive lineman Max Gilpin that occurred on August 20, 2008, when the heat index reached 94 degrees.The indictment has brought on an uproar by … Read the rest

Even With All the Attention on Bruce Springsteens Concert Later Today (A Football Game Is Sandwiched Around It), The NFL Still Cant Avoid a Concussion Discussion

Super Bowl hoopla did not prevent a meeting this week in Tampa with the attendees urging the NFL to join them in researching the connection between football and progressive brain damage and declaring that a concussion crisis exists in football. Among those at the hotel meeting were former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, eight-year NFL special teams standout Isaiah Kacyvenski and 73-year-old Bernie Parrish, who played eight seasons for the Cleveland Browns and now spends much of his time battling the NFL Players Association, which he says refuses to adequately represent retired players. Joining them were several doctors from the Boston … Read the rest