“Natural” foods and products seem to be all the rage these days. Buzzwords like “organic,” “free range,” and “gluten free” convey a sense of health and superiority to other products. But not all natural products are good for you.
But the physical dangers to people in the area of the wells, workers and others, is also a big fracking problem. I saw this article today about a worker at a well in Noble County, Ohio who died after an explosion. I suspect we will start to see more and more unfortunate, but preventable, injuries in the fracking industry in the coming months and years.
What does this mean to you:
Though the energy companies promise jobs and increased economic opportunities to the communities they invade, the costs – in terms of both environmental and human loss – continue to mount.
Does everyone know that slamming your head into a 300 lb. hunk of linebacker is probably not good? Sure. But if the organizing league had information that the problem is much worse than reported, and refused to take action to fix the problem, all in order to make a profit at expense of the players’ health, that is a problem too.
Not all cases involving hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs are class actions. Class cases make the most sense where the wrongful conduct applies the same to everyone affected. Think of a corporation that misrepresents its financial condition. All shareholders suffer the exact same loss in share value.
But what about when the wrongful conduct affects lots of people, but each in their own individual way? Those cases are called mutli-district litigation, or MDL for short. MDL’s are common with defective medical devices, where the defect is the same in every case, but the way it affects each person is unique to their circumstances.
Class actions get a bad name, perhaps not without merit, for automatically including people without their knowledge. MDL’s on the other hand, require the plaintiff to actively pursue a claim for their harms and losses.
The Facebook world was aghast this week when Instagram changed its Terms and Conditions so it could claim ownership of photos posted there. What was also changed, but not as well known, was the requirement for mandatory arbitration of any disputes with Instagram. Thanks to the Pop Tort for pointing out this equally clandestine yet more nefarious change!
What does this mean to you:
Always read the fine print. Forced arbitration means you cannot file a lawsuit if they treat you unfairly. You cannot have a jury of your peers hear your case and decide what is right. You “agree” to have any disputes decided by an arbitrator, who sees the company in arbitration all the time. There is usually no appeal from an arbitration decision – you must live with whatever the arbitrator decides.
Though its often hard to know the difference between a “trade association” and an “industry front group,” remember that the source, motivation, and funding behind a message are often as important as the message itself.
I will be presenting at the CBA and COAJ‘s The Trial Skills Institute on November 9, 2012. The seminar will once again present a full mock trial from jury selection to verdict.
So THAT’s what it looks like!
This year’s trial is a personal injury/car crash case. In addition to seeing some of central Ohio’s premiere Plaintiff’s and Defense litigators in action, attendees will also be able to watch and listen to the jury’s deliberations via closed circuit television. This ability to “get inside the heads” of jurors provides unique and invaluable insight into their thinking process for all litigators.
While not all jury deliberations are watched by hordes of people in underground bunkers with wiretapping equipment and video monitors like those in movie The Runaway Jury, they are serious nonetheless – and meant to be secret. But in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, jurors posts or internet research about a case can have dire consequences.
Our civil justice system depends on fair and impartial jurors deciding cases based on the facts presented. Trial lawyers should keep abreast of these constantly evolving technologies to best represent their clients.
One area where the iPad shines is trial presentation. Suddenly, even a svelte laptop begins to seem positively brick-like compared to the paper-thin iPad in the courtroom. And with its touch-screen interface, trial exhibits – particularly medical exhibits, such as Visible Body, make it all the more elegant.
The ability to rotate medical images in 3D and zoom in and out with the effortless flick of your fingers provides more clarity than a static, 2D foam-core board ever could. And at $30, it may be the best, and the last, medical exhibit you ever buy.
Speaking of buying things, if you are in the market for an iPad, hold your horses for the next few weeks. iPad 3 is probably right around the corner.
Did you know that 10 years after a product is made, it is no longer dangerous in Ohio? Few! What a relief! I feel much safer now.
Is this some miraculous feat of magic that automatically renders products safe – anything from an industrial punch press in a factory to the toaster in your kitchen – after the specified time of 10 years?
On the contrary, it is merely a feat of legal maneuvering. The General Assembly passed a law a while back called a statute of repose. Statutes of repose start the clock ticking for when you can bring a case when the product is made, whether or not you even know of the defect yet. These are different from statutes of limitations, which only start the clock running once you have been injured or at least know that something is wrong. Because statutes of repose can cut off your right to bring a case before you even know you have a case, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional.
But, suprisingly, when the General Assembly again passed the same law in 2005, this time the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the statute of repose! This does nothing to make products safer, protect Ohioans, or encourage manufacturers to design safer products. In fact, statutes of repose create an incentive to only make products safe for the first 10 years. After that, no matter how dangerous the design and no matter how bad the manufacture was, the manufacturer is not responsible for any harm caused by their product in Ohio.
So much for extended warranties!
What does this mean to you?
Product liability cases often involve lengthy investigation. The sooner a lawyer can research the product, the more likely the case will yield a successful result.