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Supreme Court: Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant

June 26, 2014

United States Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court

In a sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

While the decision will offer protection to the 12 million people arrested every year, many for minor crimes, its impact will most likely be much broader. The ruling almost certainly also applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers, and its reasoning may apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies.

“This is a bold opinion,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “It is the first computer-search case, and it says we are in a new digital age. You can’t apply the old rules anymore.”

via Supreme Court Says Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant – NYTimes.com.

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Facebook and Rules of Discovery – Trend Is Toward Full Disclosure

April 10, 2014

Facebook

Facebook

A New Jersey Facebook ruling means online posts may be used as evidence against a party. During before and after a personal injury cause of action is commenced, it is important to remember that anything you say and/or do may be used against you. It is important that you mind what you put in the public. While Illinois Courts have not yet had the opportunity to digest the issues represented by Facebook, it would not be surprising if a Court allows, at the very least, a limited inquiry about specific posts a plaintiff and/or defendant has made that may be used as an admission against interest. Best practice, of course, is not to mention anything about any ongoing litigation in any post whatsoever.

“Parents warn their teenagers about Internet dangers, from cyber bullying to potential predators, but may not realize the personal legal risks they face themselves when using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A recent federal court in New Jersey has ruled online posts may be discoverable as evidence in some legal cases…

The ruling by a Magistrate Judge with the United States District Court in the District of New Jersey has taken a big step toward the forced disclosure of online social media postings as possible evidence in court cases and lawsuits. Specifically, content posted to social media websites may be considered evidence and is subject to the same laws against evidence tampering as physical documents.

In the case of Gatto v. United Airlines and Allied Aviation Services, Frank Gatto, a former baggage handler at John F. Kennedy Airport, sued United Airlines and Allied Aviation Services for damages following a workplace-related injury which he claimed left him permanently disabled, impairing his ability to work or engage in social activities.” The defendants “sought authorization to access Gatto’s Facebook data,” and a judge authorized the access directly through Gatto’s login. “Gatto had deactivated his Facebook account and it’s contents were automatically deleted after 14 days.” A judge “ruled that deletion of data in Gatto’s Facebook account constituted ‘spoliation of evidence,’” which “resulted in an adverse inference against Gatto.”

http://www.ereleases.com/pr/jersey-federal-court-rules-facebook-posts-evidence-144429

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Personal Injury – CTA Train Crash Investigation Only Starting – Train Accident

March 28, 2014

I apologize for the advertisement… Use of the AdBlock extension may enhance your viewing experience.

Timothy DePaere, Railroad Accident Investigator, says that they are in the preliminary stages of their investigation. They are currently waiting for the front end outward looking video on the train to be analyzed by their specialist in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the operator of the train is in the hospital and will be interviewed soon…

Video: Blue Line investigation: ‘We’re at the preliminary stages’ — chicagotribune.com.

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Freedom of Speech – “Boobies” Bracelet Is Protected Speech

March 13, 2014

The US Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal from a school that suspended two students because they refused to remove bracelets promoting breast cancer awareness.

The decision ends an almost four-year-long case which was started when two girls, Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk, were suspended from their Easton Area School District middle school.

The school had banned bracelets with the slogan “I (heart) Boobies!” which were used to promote breast cancer awareness. The two girls, then aged 12 and 13, refused to take off the bracelets when asked by their principal.

Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk challenged the ban, saying they were trying to promote awareness of the disease at their middle school. They wore the bracelets on their school’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day and refused to take them off. The girls filed suit after being suspended from class.

The justices left in place a US appeals court ruling that found the bracelets were not “plainly lewd,” nor had they caused a disruption.

via US high court won’t hear dispute over ‘boobies’ bracelets – Americas – World – The Independent.

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New Law – Can’t Convert Rail Road Trails to Bike Trails

March 11, 2014

The Supreme Court Monday ruled 8-1 in favor of a private landowner in Wyoming who was fighting to keep bike paths from being built near his house. The decision, according to USA Today, threatens thousands of miles of public bicycle trails.The case wasn’t about bike paths per se — it was about whether or not the federal government retains its control over land that had been granted to railroad companies once it’s been abandoned. But the decision undermines a federal “rails to trails” program, threatening the more than 1,400 bike and nature trails it’s created since its inception in 1983.

Here’s more on the case from NPR:

The plaintiffs in the Wyoming case, Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, are descendants of the owner of a sawmill that produced railroad ties. The family was granted dozens of acres of land in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest; they are resisting attempts to use part of that land for a trail.

“We traded for the land with a right of way on it for railroad uses,” Brandt said in December. “They want to bring a train through here, that’s fine. We never expected and we never agreed to a bicycle trail.”

…The family was granted the land in 1976, in exchange for turning a larger acreage over to the government. The court’s discussion of the case touched on decades of law, from the 1875 Railroad Right of Way Act to the 1942 Great Northern Railway case, which centered on oil and mineral rights.

When the Forest Service moved to convert a swath of former railroad track on the Brandts’ land that is 200 feet wide and a half-mile long into bike trails, the family sued. After losing in two lower courts, they emerged from the Supreme Court with a victory today.

With 21 miles of gravel pathway passing through the forest, the Medicine Bow Rail Trail “has become one of the most popular rail-trails in America,” according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

via Supreme Court ruling delivers a major blow to bike paths – Salon.com.

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Law School Litigation – Saying ‘Labels Matter,’ Judge Permits Law School Alumni Suit Over Job Stats

December 10, 2012

I had blogged about this before and the many pending cases against various law school for having mislead potential students in providing flawed statistics of the employment potential of their graduates. This is another damning finding by a judge that pushes these law schools deeper in the hole they appear to have dug for themselves… I will be curious to know how it all ends. Read on:

A judge has denied Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s motion for summary judgment against the lead plaintiff in a class action suit by four graduates who say they were tricked into attending the school by misleading post-graduate job statistics.

The judge, in a final order PDF Thursday, also overruled the law school’s demurrer to the plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint, the California equivalent of a motion to dismiss.

In its motion for summary judgment, the school had argued that all of lead plaintiff Anna Alaburda’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. It also argued that Alaburda had not established that she was injured because she was offered a full-time job as a lawyer making $60,000 a year within nine months of graduation.

But San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel M. Pressman rejected both of those arguments. He said there was insufficient evidence that Alaburda knew about the school’s alleged misleading job statistics until she read a New York Times article about law schools manipulating employment data that mentioned Thomas Jefferson in the New York Times in 2011.

In response to the school’s second argument, Pressman said that Alaburda wasn’t bargaining for a job, but for a legal education, and that representations regarding that legal education are material to the decision to enroll.

He cited a case involving the purchasers of a lock set who claimed they had been deceived by the lock-maker’s misrepresentations that they had been manufactured in the U.S.

“Simply stated, labels matter,” Pressman wrote. “Labels on locksets and ‘labels’ on higher education. Consumers’ rights to make informed, educated decisions when determining an education investment depends upon transparency and accurate information. To the extent that misrepresentations are made, consumers are injured by enrolling in an institution that is not what it purported to be.”

via Saying ‘Labels Matter,’ Judge Permits Law School Alumni Suit Over Job Stats – News – ABA Journal.

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Personal Injury – Soft Tissue Injury: Conditions & Common Causes

December 28, 2011

By far the most common type of injuries we encounter are soft tissue injuries resulting from automobile car accidents, slip and falls, trip and falls and other traumatic events causing personal injuries in Chicago or Evanston.

Soft tissue injury is damage to four different types of tissue: muscles, ligaments, tendons or nerves.

Common causes

Soft tissue injury is caused by direct or indirect trauma. Direct trauma may happen in connection with sports or other accidents, being struck by an object or falling. Indirect trauma commonly stems from overuse of the tissue. For instance, assembly line or factory workers often suffer from this type because of the many repetitive movements they have to do many times a day.

Types of soft issue injury

Soft tissue injuries include ligament sprains e.g. sprained ankle, tendon strains, repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment

Immediately after the event causing the injury, you should use ice packs, rest, bandaging and elevation. You should see your doctor if you can’t move normally or if the pain and swelling are still present after a couple of days.

Treatment options might include:

  • Physiotherapy exercises to promote healing, strength and flexibility
  • Electrotherapy
  • Manual techniques such as mobilization and massage

Information via Soft Tissue Injury: Conditions & Common Causes.

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Patient Safety Reform Better For Patients And Doctors

April 21, 2010

RAND Study – Patient Safety Also Benefits Doctors

That common sense conclusion is the recent finding from the RAND Corporation, a think tank and research center.

In a recent study, the group finds that when patient injuries were reduced in California hospitals there were fewer medical malpractice claims.

The cries for tort reform to limit a patients’ ability to bring an injury claim, frequently fail to look at the impact an improved patient safety picture can have on reducing malpractice claims against doctors.

The research group analyzed medical malpractice insurance records in California from 2001 to 2005. California was chosen because it initiated medical malpractice reform 35 years ago and any fallout would not be recent. It also has a large and diverse population.

Researchers studied medical malpractice claims – that is claims by patients who had received poor care such as contracting a hospital infection, having a surgical instrument left in them, and receiving the wrong medication, among other preventable adverse events.

Using the records from four of the largest medical malpractice insurers in the state, researchers analyzed 365,000 adverse safety events and 27,000 malpractice claims that followed.

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