Federal lawsuit filed over right to read

The Constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to education. But that’s not stopping a group of Detroit students from filing a federal lawsuit against Michigan officials, claiming the state violated their right to learn how to read by not providing adequate resources. Judge Stephen J. Murphy III ruled that while conditions in Detroit schools were devastating, the Constitution’s Due Process Clause doesn’t guarantee literacy. But attorneys argue that depriving children of the ability to read affects other rights, such as voting, leaving them without the skills they need to participate in democracy. The Washington Post has more on how attorneys are trying this new approach.

Webinar: Using YouTube to market your law firm

With more than one billion hours of video content consumed on YouTube every day, it’s been ranked as the world’s second largest search engine.

In addition, 81% of marketers rank YouTube as one of the most valuable social media platforms for their business. YouTube is a prime opportunity for you to improve your law firm’s organic search placement while also promoting thought leadership within your industry. And with more than 1.5 billion users, it’s also a prime opportunity for you to market your law firm.

Are you using YouTube to market your law firm? If not, maybe it’s time! Join Crisp Video Group’s Content Strategist Baillie Ward on Wednesday, August 15th at 3:00 PM EST for The Ultimate Guide to YouTube Advertising for Attorneys.

This webinar will cover:

  • The opportunity YouTube provides for law firm owners
  • An overview of YouTube’s advertising options
  • How to leverage YouTube’s advertising platform within your marketing strategy
  • Tips and tricks to boost viewership and establish thought leadership using video content

Click here to register!

Podcast: What’s next for Bayer after Roundup verdict

RoundupBayer may be suffering from buyer’s remorse after buying Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, last year. A California jury has awarded $289 million dollars to a groundskeeper who blames Roundup for causing his cancer. Bayer’s stock dropped 10 percent after the verdict. What’s next for the weedkiller maker? In this podcast, Marketplace reports that Bayer will likely face increasing legal costs as well as possible consumer backlash.

Podcast: New tactics to improve client performance in the courtroom

courtroom witnessHow a client acts in the courtroom can have a profound effect on the outcome, but convincing clients to behave can be quite a challenge. In this edition of the Legal Toolkit podcast from Legal Talk Network, host Jared Correia talks to Massachusetts attorney Alan Fanger about how lawyers can improve their client’s performance in court. They discuss how current tactics can often fail, as well as why it’s important to explain the process thoroughly.

NTL member Jonathan Pope gets $1.7M verdict for wreck victim

Jonathan PopeNational Trial Lawyers member Jonathan Pope has secured a $1,706,000 verdict for a Georgia woman injured when a driver struck her car after running a red light on Halloween in 2014. According to Pope, his client Donna Harry was injured when Marica Matasic ran a red light driving about 45 mph and crashed into the driver’s side door of her vehicle. Harry suffered injury to her arm, hand, neck, and back. Despite surgery, Harry suffered a permanent injury to her dominant arm and hand resulting in pain, numbness and weakness in her wrist, hand, and fingers. Harry’s past medical expenses were approximately $45,000 and she had future medical expenses of approximately $125,000 for neck surgery. Matasic claimed she was driving in an unfamiliar area, she was late, and she was distracted by her phone and ran a red-light traveling 45 mph. The accident happened on October 31, 2014. The verdict was handed down on May 10, 2018. The case was tried before Judge Pamela South in Gwinnett County state court.

Passenger Who Survived Crash of Flight 2431 Files Suit Against Aeromexico

Corboy & Demetrio filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Nestor Martinez, a passenger on Aeromexico Flight 2431, which crashed after an attempted take-off in a heavy storm including severe wind, rain, and hail, on July 31, 2018, in Durango, Mexico. The aircraft, en route to Mexico City, hit the ground a few hundred yards from the runway of the General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport.

Martinez, 43, a teacher and resident of Northlake, IL, was returning home from a family vacation. He was seated in 15 C, next to the man who took the video looking out the window that captured the crash.

Aeroméxico Flight 2431 was carrying 99 passengers and four crew members when it went down in northern Mexico and burst into flames. Remarkably, no one was killed. Officials say at least 80 passengers were injured and 49 were hospitalized

“You can take off in bad weather, but you have to do it properly, and we will certainly be looking at that aspect of this crash,” said Corboy & Demetrio Co-founder Thomas A. Demetrio, who along with Managing Partner Robert J. Bingle and Partners Daniel S. Kirschner and Francis Patrick Murphy,  represents Mr. Martinez.

“Passengers thought the plane would explode any minute. They were terrified,” Bingle said. He added, “The firm will begin its investigation into what factor the weather played in the crash.”

The firm has extensive experience in major airline disaster lawsuits, particularly crashes in severe weather conditions, including American Eagle Flight 4184 that crashed near Roselawn, Indiana in 1994, killing all 68 passengers, and the helicopter crash that killed rock star Stevie Ray Vaughan and other band members in 1990.

“While weather is often a factor in many plane crashes, it is not necessarily a cause of the crash,” added Kirschner. “Rather, the issue is often how the airline monitored the weather in its preflight preparations, and then corrected for it during takeoff or fight,” Kirschner explained.

The case is Nestor Martinez v. Aeromexico, Cook Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 2018L8321.

Corboy & Demetrio represents individuals and their families in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. The firm has acquired more than $4 billion in settlements and verdicts and has attained over 600 of them in excess of $1 million.

NTL Executive Committee member Kimberly Dougherty talks about Essure

Kimberly DoughertyWe are pleased to advise that recently Bayer announced by the end of December, they would be discontinuing the sale of Essure®, a permanent contraceptive. Many women decided to go with the Essure® implant because it was marketed as a device that does not require surgery. Sadly, thousands of women have had to have extensive surgery to remove the device as a result of significant, debilitating injuries that the device causes.

The removal of the device from the market is a major step in the right direction for the women who have been hurt by this device. The FDA ordered in April that the sale and distribution of Essure® be restricted and threatened to invoke criminal penalties if Bayer didn’t tell patients about the serious health risks associated with the product. The FDA stated, “For women who have received an Essure® implant, the postmarket safety of Essure® will continue to be a top priority for the FDA. We expect Bayer to meet its postmarket obligations concerning this device.”

Managing Partner Kim Dougherty and others at Andrus Wagstaff, PC have been working tirelessly to hold Bayer accountable for the pain and suffering so many women are suffering. Ms. Dougherty was appointed to the Executive Committee of the JCCP for the Essure® litigation pending in Oakland, California. If you would like to reach out to her to discuss Essure® and any potential cases you may have you can reach her at 508-230-2333 or at kim.doughtery@andruswagstaff.com. You can also read more about Essure® on our website.

NTL Past President Tom Girardi honored as top consumer attorney

Thomas GirardiThomas Vincent Girardi, Attorney and Founding Partner of Girardi & Keese, was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal on a full page for his selection as “Top National Consumer Trial Attorney of the Year” for 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP).

Mr. Girardi is being recognized as “Top National Consumer Trial Attorney of the Year” for 2019, for his successful 50 years of service as a practicing trial attorney, his outstanding leadership, dedication and commitment to the legal industry, his endless list of accomplishments, awards accolades, and his continuous contribution to society.

Mr. Girardi has certainly proven himself as an accomplished professional and expert litigator who has become a household name.  From being the trial lawyer on the famous Erin Brockovich case to his solid victories against Vioxx, Merck and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mr. Girardi is regarded by his peers as one of the nation’s top trial lawyers of all time.  He has obtained more than 30 verdicts of $1 million or more and has handled more than 100 settlements of $1 million or more. He has tried more than 100 jury cases, winning the first California medical malpractice verdict of $1 million or more, back in the 1970s and he has had a few billion dollar settlements under his belt.  His areas of practice include Wrongful Death, Commercial Litigation, Products Liability, Bad Faith Insurance and Toxic Torts.

Mr. Girardi attended Loyola Law School and graduated in 1964.  He then enrolled in a master’s program at NYU receiving his LLM in 1965. In addition to running the firm, he has also been an Associate Professor at Loyola Law School from 1976 to the Present and was recipient of the “Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1997 and in 2005 named “Champion of Justice” from the law school. At Loyola Law School, Mr. Girardi also backed the construction of the Albert H. Girardi Advocacy Center which is named in his father’s honor.

Throughout his illustrious career, Thomas Girardi has been active in his community, received numerous awards, accolades and recognized worldwide for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the legal profession.

The International Association of Top Professionals just completed Mr. Girardi’s film documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MckYFQ0l6x8&t=57s

Teen Secures $25.3 Million Verdict in California Molestation Case

Attorney John C. Taylor

Attorney John C. Taylor

A Los Angeles jury returned a $25.3 million verdict on behalf of S.W., a victim of sexual abuse against his former supervisor and coach, Scott Durzo, and the Westerly School in Long Beach, California. Durzo abused Plaintiff for three years prior to becoming an employee of the Westerly School, where Durzo was permitted to bring S.W., a 15-year-old home-study student, onto the Westerly campus for the school day.

Los Angeles attorneys John C. Taylor and Natalie Weatherford of Taylor & Ring tried the case.

Although a Westerly employee suspected a “sexual relationship” between the 43-year-old Durzo and S.W., she failed to report her suspicions to anyone despite her mandated reporting duties. When S.W. was in his early 20s, he gained the courage to finally tell his father about the abuse, who then reported it to the Seal Beach Police Department. The police immediately began an investigation, during which Durzo admitted to the abuse, he was then arrested and ultimately tried on 20 felony counts in January 2018.

Attorney Natalie Weatherford

Attorney Natalie Weatherford

“The Westerly School failed to follow its duty to protect and ensure the safety of all its students. The school had several opportunities to end the abuse against S.W., but the administration was ineffective in training its staff to follow the correct protocol and report inappropriate behavior,” said lead counsel John C. Taylor, partner with Taylor & Ring. “Unfortunately, S.W. has undergone tremendous emotional stress for many years and his ability to lead a normal life was ruined by Durzo. S.W.’s doctors and family are extremely concerned for his well-being.”

Behavior changed

In 2000, when S.W. was eight years old, he first met Scott Durzo while attending his summer sports camp, and continued to attend every summer without incident, getting to know and trust Durzo. Through the next several years, Durzo began to groom S.W. by paying special attention to him and acting as his mentor and friend. Eventually, Durzo’s behavior began to shift from mentor to flirtatious and sexual.

Durzo, who was in his 40s, was hired by Westerly School of Long Beach in 2008 as the director of the after-school program and as a supervisor. Durzo began to bring S.W., who was enrolled in home-study classes, with him to the school to use the school’s facilities and do his home-study work. By virtue of his position at Westerly, Durzo had unlimited access to S.W. and the abuse steadily escalated over the ensuing four years.

At the beginning of the 2008/2009 school year, a female Westerly employee suspected a “sexual relationship” between Durzo and S.W., but she did not report the suspected abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS), law enforcement or to anyone at the school. Durzo fired the employee shortly after her suspicions arose and Durzo was allowed to continue, unhindered, in his daily abuse of S.W.

The abuse ended at the conclusion of the 2008/2009 school year when S.W. stopped attending Westerly. Despite his efforts, S.W. struggled tremendously with the abuse and its aftermath, and attempted to take his life on two occasions. In 2014, when in his early twenties, he gained the courage to report the abuse to his father, who then reported it to the police and an investigation began immediately. Durzo admitted to the abuse and was arrested and ultimately tried on 20 felony counts in January 2018.

Taylor & Ring, an award-winning Los Angeles-based trial law firm, represents plaintiffs across California in high-impact personal injury, wrongful death, and sexual assault, abuse and harassment matters.

NTL member Bert Louthian urges his state to improve road safety

Bert LouthianNational Trial Lawyers member Bert Louthian says his state must improve the safety of its roads after being ranked at the bottom of a recent study from WalletHub in which South Carolina fared poorly. The study ranked states based on a number of safety-related issues, including climate disasters, on-the-job injuries and road safety. Overall, South Carolina placed 41st, but it ranked 49th in road safety and dead last in the rate of traffic deaths per miles traveled.

Injury attorney Bert Louthian said that in his years of experience representing victims of negligent driving, he’s come to believe that there are solutions available to improve road safety.

“There are two significant ways to make our motorists safer,” Louthian said. “The first requires institutional change, while the second requires personal responsibility. Primarily, this entails enacting better laws and improving driver behavior.”

Louthian said that distracted driving has become a major problem on our roads over the last decade. The emergence of the smartphone, along with other mobile devices, has contributed significantly to the increase of distraction behind the wheel, he said.

Louthian is not alone in his concern over distracted driving. In a recent survey conducted by AAA, 88 percent of drivers said that distraction is an increasing problem. Half of those surveyed said they had witnessed other drivers texting or emailing, and more than one-third admitted to doing it themselves.

Self-regulating our behaviors can lead to fewer crashes and save lives, Louthian said.

“Human error contributes to more than 90 percent of crashes,” Louthian said. “I see it frequently in my practice. It’s frustrating, because so many of the injuries people suffer on our roads are entirely preventable.”

While encouraging drivers to take safer measures behind the wheel, the influence of South Carolina’s traffic laws on driver behavior should not be overlooked, Louthian said.

South Carolina’s traffic safety laws are not as strict as those in other states. For example, the state does not have a complete ban on mobile device usage by drivers. Motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets after the age of 21.

Improving state laws and giving police the tools for enforcement could dramatically impact driver safety, Louthian said. To illustrate this point, he referenced the effectiveness of Operation Southern Shield, a week-long period in July during which law enforcement in South Carolina and four other states ramp up efforts to ticket speeders,  distracted drivers and drivers not wearing a seat belt.

In 2017, Operation Southern Shield led to around 15,000 traffic stops, which reduced highway fatality deaths by around 35 percent, according to law enforcement officials. Louthian said this highlights the need for both traffic officers and drivers to take speed limits seriously.

Growing the ranks of state troopers to patrol roads could also help reduce the number of crashes year-round, he said.

Speeding contributes to more than 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2017, there were more than 45,000 speed-related collisions on South Carolina’s roads. Nearly 38 percent of road deaths stemmed from speed-related crashes, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Other measures could also be taken by South Carolina, including investing in the state’s infrastructure and shoring up conditions of rural roads. The state’s rural roads are some of the deadliest in the U.S.

The Department of Transportation has estimated that fixing South Carolina’s roads would require an annual investment of $943 million, which could be used to repave and widen deteriorating roads, in addition to adding safety features such as rumble strips and guard rails.

Louthian said that while allocating nearly a billion dollars annually in infrastructure might not be realistic, lawmakers should strive to dramatically increase the amount of money invested in fixing crumbling roads.

“There are several options we have at our disposal,” Louthian said. “We should consider all of them and make some big investments to fix this problem. Nearly 1,000 people die on our state’s roads every year, and I believe that we can do better by our motorists.”