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Do Workers Have Rights at the Workplace When They Return During the Covid19 Pandemic?

So your workplace has reopened but, of course, the Covid19 pandemic is still with us. What protections do you have at your office, factory, store or other workplace?

In New York there are specific reopening protocols that your employer must follow.  For the most up to date information on those guidelines go to the official New York State website that answers your questions in great detail at www.esd.ny.gov/nyforward-faq.

Your employer is required to follow strict health and safety guidelines and regulations during these perilous times.  Masks, social distancing and screening questionnaires are among the precautions they must take.

When employees’ health was at risk recently in Chicago and Oakland, the workers went to court under a seldom used legal theory called the law of “public nuisance”.  The State court judge in Chicago ordered those McDonald’s franchises to follow protocols for safe practices regarding masks and social distancing (in Chicago) and the judge Oakland ordered the franchise closed until a hearing about the unsafe practices.

In New York, you can file Covid19 related workplace safety complaints with the New York State Department of Labor at:

https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/coronavirus-complaints.shtm.

For a more detailed discussion of this topic, you can listen to my radio interviews on the topic on the shows below (also available on my Media Page):

The Chip Franklin Show – July 2, 2020

 

  The Jim Bohannon Show – July 8, 2020     

To find out more information, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988 for a consultation.

Businesses Should Not Be Immune From Covid19 Liability Lawsuits

Trip and Fall Attorney Queens NY

Businesses have lobbied Congress and state legislatures to allow them to be immune from lawsuits relating to Covid19 liability.  That means if a business acts negligently regarding use of masks and social distancing for instance, some lawmakers want them protected from lawsuits.

Businesses already have that protection – JUST FOLLOW THE CDC, STATE AND CITY HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES REGARDING COVID19.  In addition, it is extremely difficult to prove a Covid19 liability case because not only must you show negligence by the business but you must show the business’ negligence caused you to catch Covid19. Outside of confined areas like nursing homes and cruise ships it is virtually impossible to trace your particular case of Covid19 to one source and rule out the source as a friend, family member, the workplace or other businesses.  Short of a major breakout at one business with strict contact tracing data, businesses already have protection from successful Covid19 lawsuits.

I believe this lobbying for liability protection is an old trick by businesses and their insurance companies to limit all kinds of legitimate liability lawsuits in the future.  Negligent conduct should have consequences and that’s what lawsuits are – consequences.

Remember, when you start giving protection to wrongdoers you start encouraging wrongdoing.

For a more detailed discussion of this topic, you can listen to me discussing this on the radio and in a digital media article listed below (also available on my Media Page):

 WCCO Radio Minneapolis – Business Liability In the Age of Covid

 CNBC  – “Are businesses in danger of coronavirus lawsuits as they reopen?”

To find out more information, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988 for a consultation.

Civil Rights, Racial Justice and Police Reform

With the tragic killing of Mr. George Floyd, long simmering issues of racial injustice and police reform have predictably bubbled over.  It is clearly a time for reckoning and the law has a major role.

As an attorney who has handled civil rights cases in New York City, I know how devastating the consequences can be for victims of police brutality and false arrests.

I have had the honor of being interviewed on a number of high profile radio shows to discuss these topics and wish to share my thoughts and legal analysis with you. Please listen to these very important topics on the following programs (also available on my Media Page):

The Laura Coates Show

 

The Talk of Chicago with Perri Small

 

INSIDE THE ISSUES WITH DR. WILMER LEON on URBAN VIEW – SIRIUSXM RADIO (Part 1)

INSIDE THE ISSUES WITH DR. WILMER LEON on URBAN VIEW – SIRIUSXM RADIO (Part 2)

 

To find out more information, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988 for a consultation.

Is College Football Doing the Right Thing to Require Covid19 Liability Waivers for Players Before Practice Participation?

Absolutely not. It seems like an act of bullying to ask a 19 or 20 year old kid to sign away rights to a potential lawsuit (arising from catching Covid19 during practice workouts) at risk of being ostracized as someone who is not a team player.

While it sounds morally repugnant, it may also not pass the legal smell test since the parties are in such an unequal bargaining position. The school controls scholarships and financial aid and the student-athletes are at the mercy of the school financially. If they are “forced” to sign the waivers to participate, courts may not uphold the waivers and certainly not if the school acts grossly negligent at the practices (Possibly things like knowingly allowing trainers with Covid19 symptoms to interact with players.).

For a more detailed discussion on this topic, please listen to my radio interview listed below (also available on my Media Page):

This Morning with Gordon Deal – July 10, 2020
(starts at approx. 13 minute mark)

To find out more information, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988 for a consultation.

Practical Legal Reforms To Avoid Another George Floyd Death From Happening

There have been heinous deaths caused by police brutality before followed by righteous protests but any big structural change rarely seems to happen and the ugly pattern happens again and again without progress.

Nobody really talks about a major factor in play here and that’s MONEY. A legal doctrine created by the Supreme Court called ‘qualified immunity’ makes it extremely difficult for victims of police brutality to win civil rights excessive force civil cases and get monetary damages.

So when cops consistently win, municipalities save money and have no financial motive to reform police practices. Moral and societal motives should prevail, but that doesn’t always happen.  Hitting the police departments in the pocketbook when they resist reform often does work to accelerate reform. Changing that “qualified immunity” barrier in a civil rights case (by the Supreme Court or Congress) is a good place to start.

*The following is an initial list of proposed legal reforms regarding police brutality:

  1. Redefine qualified immunity.
  2. Require every alleged police brutality case be investigated and prosecuted by a special independent prosecutor or State Attorney General, not local prosecutors, because local prosecutors work hand in hand with local police in prosecuting all other criminal cases leading to an appearance of impropriety when investigating/prosecuting their “colleagues.”
  3. Establish a uniform, national definition of excessive force for purposes of police training.
  4. Allow release of prior disciplinary records of police officers to establish if there is a pattern of abuse.
  5. Outlaw chokeholds and knees on the necks of suspects.
  6. Bar police departments from obtaining tank-like vehicles and other military style equipment.
  7. Change the federal standard in police misconduct cases from “intent” to “recklessness” to make prosecutions against offending police officers more reasonable.
  8. Congress can pass a law requiring police to do uniformly standardized data collection regarding records of alleged police brutality/false arrest complaints and their dispositions.
  9. Congress can aggressively fund local police training regarding arrests, use of force and internal investigations.
  10. States can pass new laws regarding use of force standards, training and regulations for hiring and retaining police officers with checkered histories in the area of police misconduct.
  11. States can rethink arrests versus social service intervention.
  12. Local police departments must confront subcultures of officers who are prime for perpetrating misconduct, require transparency about instances of alleged misconduct and enforce constant training and retraining of reasonable standards to protect the public.
  13. Constant supervision, vigilance and review on the federal, state and local level evaluating both the procedures enacted and their results.
  14. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. The public has the ultimate power to vote out any politician who does not favor and help enact the above reforms.

*Most of these proposals have been discussed in excellent commentaries by Governor Andrew Cuomo; Seth W. Stoughton, Jeffrey J. Noble and Geoffrey P. Alpert in The Atlantic (6/3/20); Various U.S. Senators as reported by Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren in the Wall Street Journal (6/3/20); President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing; Color of Change and Campaign Zero.

To find out more information about police brutality cases, please call me toll free at: (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988.

Sheriff Brutality Right Here in the Bronx

Few New Yorkers even know that there is a New York City Sheriff. Deputy Sheriffs mostly serve court orders and seize property. They are also empowered to make arrests under the same rules and laws governing the NYPD. That’s where today’s true story begins.

My client was standing on a crowded public bus in the Bronx when his shopping bag brushed against a teenager who then started cursing and shoving my innocent client. A man in street clothes (an off-duty deputy sheriff) a few rows from the altercation got up, separated my client and the teenager then the deputy sheriff proceeded to follow my client off the bus at the next stop on the Grand Concourse. He never identified himself to my client as an off-duty deputy sheriff.

The deputy sheriff then pushed my client from behind as they exited the bus and my client pushed back then started running. The off-duty deputy sheriff chased him down and tackled him on the roadway median of the Grand Concourse, a very major thoroughfare.  My client, who weighed approximately 350 lbs. and had asthma, fell onto his stomach and was handcuffed behind his back while pleading “I can’t breathe”. The deputy sheriff walked 3 steps away from my handcuffed client (who was still face down on the ground), pulled his foot all the way back and delivered a hard, field goal-like kick to my client’s right eye and head. Fortunately, my client was not killed by the grace of the angle of the kick.

Unlike George Floyd or Eric Garner, there was no video evidence of this sickening brutality.  So, the deputy sheriff denied he kicked him and charges were filed against my client for the altercation with the teenager on the bus (though the teen fled the bus early on) resisting arrest and assaulting a law enforcement officer. My client suffered physical and psychological injuries.

During my investigation, I located a lawyer in a public legal assistance office who was on an adjacent stopped bus and witnessed the entire tackling and kicking incident through her bus window.

My client was acquitted on all criminal charges relating to his scuffle with the deputy sheriff, paving the way for my civil rights and battery lawsuit against the City of New York and the remorseless deputy sheriff (who testified under oath that this never happened). During the civil rights and battery case, I took the deposition testimony of the eyewitness (public interest lawyer) who consistently supported my client’s story. Just a few weeks before trial the City, on behalf of the sheriff’s office and the deputy sheriff, settled the case for a substantial sum. Due to the testimony of the eyewitness that I located during the early investigation of the case, justice was done. In the absence of real time video, the credible eyewitness was critical to proving brutality and misconduct by the deputy sheriff.

To find out more about your rights as a victim of police brutality, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988.

Covid19 Nursing Home Negligence

Defining Nursing Home Abuse in NY

If you have a family member in a nursing home or long-term care facility, call the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (advocates for patients) with any complaints or questions about your loved one.  It is a free service.

To find your local ombudsman program click here:  https://theconsumervoice.org/get_help

If you have questions about a possible nursing home negligence or wrongful death regarding a loved one in a nursing home or long term care facility contact Richard C. Bell today to schedule your initial free consultation and take the first steps toward getting the compensation you deserve. Call toll free at 877.CALL.LAW (225-5529) or call 212.714.0988.

Construction Worker Falls 30 Feet Down a Shaft When Wood Platform Collapses

When Profits Trump Safety

Construction work is by its very nature dangerous. Doing it in New York City is particularly difficult due to the volume of work, tight schedules  and nature of big city construction. These factors are why there are many safety rules and regulations as well as special legal protections for construction workers who perform their jobs from a height, i.e., while standing on scaffolds, ladders and raised platforms.

My client was an experienced union insulator worker during the construction phase of the new Staten Island Courthouse. He was working on the top floor assessing whether some wood planks over a ventilation shaft could be removed for use in another ventilation shaft. While standing on the wood plank platform, two of the boards suddenly wobbled and collapsed sending him down the open shaft. In a split second he was able to turn his body in a manner where he would fall 30 feet down onto an angle iron instead of falling the entire 100 feet depth of the shaft. He was very seriously injured, but survived.

He claimed that the area of shaft where he entered had no barricade. He also testified that he was looking for a place to tie off his safety lanyard but found no such tie off hooks or posts while standing on the planks. There were also no railings around the wood platform.

The lawsuit alleged numerous safety violations by the owners and contractors responsible for worksite safety. The parties sued claimed that they were not responsible and it was all the fault of my client.

After years of investigation, multiple depositions, exchange of hundreds of pages of documents and applications by the parties being sued to dismiss the case, the matter was ready for trial. Numerous settlement mediations failed within the year before trial. I fully prepared this complex case for trial against multiple defendants. With the trial clock ticking away, five days before jury selection the case settled for a very substantial sum of money.

The labor law is complicated despite certain special protections afforded to construction workers. What may sound like a simple set of facts, a 30 foot fall from a platform, was anything but simple. The parties disputed every one of my clients claims and produced their own employees who attempted to contradict his testimony and the testimony of his co-workers. There was no other road to take other than intense trial preparations to let the other side know we were ready for the upcoming jury trial. Justice is rarely found on a straight path. That’s why it’s called an adversarial system. The other side also fights tooth and nail. Never think the path to success in litigation is easy. That’s why an experienced trial attorney is so important when you bring a lawsuit. The other side needs to know you are willing to go to trial if necessary

To find out more information about construction site cases, please call me toll free at: (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988. Also you may request a copy of my special report entitled “If You Are Injured at a Construction Site in New York… 10 Things You Need to Know”.

ATTENTION CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: You Have Special Legal Protections for Many Construction Site Accidents

Due to the dangers on construction sites in New York, construction workers here need special legal protections when they have unfortunate accidents on construction machinery, construction equipment or unsafe sites where such conditions cause them serious injuries or death. The law recognizes the increased risk for such workers and you need to exercise your special rights to the fullest extent of the law if you are involved in a construction site accident.

If you are a construction worker, you may think that if you are hurt on the job at a construction or renovation site that you are only entitled to workers’ compensations payments. That is WRONG in many cases.

The Labor of New York provides that construction workers injured on a job site may be entitled to sue the owner of the site and the general contractor of the project for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical costs in addition to receiving workers’ compensation payments for lost earnings and medical bills. The circumstances under which these laws apply vary, so you need to be aware of your special rights in particular situations.

EXAMPLE:

If you fall from a ladder or scaffold at a construction site or fall over construction materials/debris or are struck by a falling object from an building under construction or renovation resulting in injuries, you may be entitled to money damages from the owner and general contractor of the premises.

Special protection laws for construction workers apply under certain fact patterns that may allow you to collect substantial money for your pain and suffering and lost earnings, over and above workers’ compensation payments, either by way of settlement or jury verdict.

To find out more information about construction site cases, please call me toll free at: (877) CALL-LAW® (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988. Also you may request a copy of my special report entitled “If You Are Injured at a Construction Site in New York… 10 Things You Need to Know”.

New York Trucking Accidents by the Numbers

New York Trucking Accidents by the Numbers

Big trucks are, well, big. Much larger than other vehicles on the road. That means that they have more momentum – even when traveling at the same speed. Because of this, trucking accidents are exceptionally dangerous for motorists and pedestrians.

To address this danger, many laws have been put in place to prevent negligent or impaired driving by truckers. Unfortunately, trucking accidents are still far too commonplace.

Case-in-point: recently in Rochester, a trucker rear-ended a woman while he was online shopping on his phone. The victim, 45-year-old Ellen M. Volpe, died at the scene.

Volpe was an assistant professor of nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Nursing.  She specialized in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescents and worked in community health centers. At the time of the accident, Volpe was on the way to work.

Kristofer Gregorek, 27, the truck driver, rear-ended Volpe at 70mph in a construction zone. He recently pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, and faces up to 15 years in prison.

Volpe was a wife and mother, and is survived by her husband and children. Sadly, negligent trucking accidents all too often leave victims to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of a tragic and preventable loss.

New York Trucking Accident Statistics

Due to congested roadways and frequent construction, auto accidents of all kinds are common in New York as are pedestrian injuries. In 2014, a total of 299,452 crashes occurred, – 118,465 crashes (39%) were injurious, and 966 (0.3%) were fatal.

Trucking accidents are fortunately much less common, with a total of 11,848 New York trucking accidents in 2014. However, of these accidents 74 (0.6%) were fatal, meaning that accidents involving a big truck are twice as likely to be fatal as auto accidents overall.

New York Trucking Accident Lawyer

These statistics are even more alarming when we break down who is typically killed or injured as a result of large truck crashes. Of 79 total fatalities, only seven large truck drivers were killed. Moreover, among 5,003 non-fatal injuries, only 740 were sustained by large truck drivers.

What this means for New York drivers and pedestrians is that regardless of fault, the people most likely to pay the price for trucking accidents are the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles.

Negligent Trucking Accidents in New York

Sadly, many of these trucking accidents are preventable. Truckers and trucking companies are driven by the bottom line – profit is maximal when goods are delivered as fast as possible, allowing for fast turnarounds. However, this can occur at the expense of other drivers as skirting regulations for a faster turnaround time often results in accidents.

Common factors that can lead to negligent trucking accidents include:

  • Truckers driving for more consecutive hours than permitted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Truckers driving while fatigued or tired
  • Insufficient driver training and driver inexperience
  • Aggressive driving
  • Truckers driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions
  • Poor maintenance and inspection practices
  • Improper cargo securement
  • Failure to inspect the truck or cargo prior to departure and in required intervals

New York Trucking Accident Liability

When a family member is seriously injured or killed as a result of a trucking accident, there are often grievous financial consequences, in addition to pain and suffering.

New York Trucking Accident Liability

In addition to seeking proper compensation, holding the trucker and/or trucking company accountable for the accident may also help to bring some closure and change policies and behaviors that might lead to another accident.

However, determining liability and seeking damages in a trucking accident is often complex. In many cases the trucking company is held liable even when the accident occurs due to operator error since the employer is often held liable for its employees’ actions. However, trucking companies often attempt to deny liability, claiming that the driver is not an employee, but rather is an independent contractor.

What NY Trucking Accident Victims and Their Families Can Do

If you or a loved one are a victim of a negligent trucking accident, seeking damages can be a difficult and overwhelming process. Fortunately, you do not need to navigate this process on your own.

A New York personal injury attorney with experience in trucking accident liability will know how to navigate the complex landscape of a trucking accident liability case and strive to help you get the compensation you deserve. Get in touch now for a free consultation to preserve your rights to be justly compensated.

* Prior results cannot and do not guarantee a similar outcome.

This website contains “Attorney Advertising.”  It is designed for general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice.  Prior results cannot and do not guarantee a similar outcome.  Please contact us by telephone or email.  Be advised that using any method of communication to contact us does not create an attorney – client relationship.  In order for this office to represent you, we must enter into a written retainer agreement.  Simply contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to this office until after a signed retainer has been entered into by you and this office.