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Jury Returns $1.55M Verdict for Failure to Prevent Jail Inmate's Suicide

Originally published in the New York Law Journal, an ALM Media publication, on June 21, 2018. By: Charles Toutant The family of a man who killed himself while being held in the Ocean County Jail was awarded a $1.55 million verdict Wednesday in a suit claiming jail administrators failed to follow their own suicide-prevention policy. The jury found that Ocean County was 60 percent liable for the death of Kenneth Conforti, and a private health care contractor, Correctional Health Services, was  40 percent liable. The jury’s apportionment of fault brings the county’s payout to $930,000, though Correctional Health Services entered into a confidential settlement in the case before trial. There were 63 attempts at suicide or self-injury in the Ocean County Jail betwee... Read More >

Reducing the Legal Challenges of Employing Independent Contractors

Originally published in the Corporate Counsel, an ALM Media publication, on June 26, 2018. By: John A. Pearce The employer-employee relationship is being transformed by technology’s impact on business as witnessed by the soaring number of independent contractors. As a percentage of the total workforce it has doubled in the past 10 years to 12.9 percent. Unfortunately, employment classification laws in the United States have failed to keep pace. Government statistics show that 30 percent of companies intentionally or inadvertently misclassify and shortchange workers, making these employers subject to fines, class action lawsuits, and reputational damage. My research recommends that executives make one important change in hiring practices to reduce misclassification an... Read More >

NY Courts May Take Judicial Notice of Google Maps Under New State Law

Originally published in the New York Law Journal, an ALM Media publication, on June 25, 2018. By: Dan M. Clark Using digital mapping services in court will be easier for litigants thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature last week. Senate Bill S9061, sponsored by State Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, will allow judicial notice of online web mapping or global imaging websites, like Google Maps and Google Earth. That will make using those services in court a lot easier. It will also save litigants time and money, Gianaris said. “Typically any case of this kind would have to be validated by other evidence to support,” Gianaris said. “We already rely on Google maps to tell us where we are or where we’re going, why don’t the courts do the same?” The b... Read More >

Providing Opposing Expert’s Report

By: Dennis J. Ryan, Forensic Document Examiner Many times, the issue comes up as to whether an expert should see the opposing expert’s report. In the initial phone call or email, the attorney may inform the expert that opposing counsel has retained an expert, but they are not sure of his or her name. Other times, the attorney may casually include the opposing expert’s report with the initial paperwork that they submit to the expert. There are two schools of thought on whether an opposing expert’s report should be disclosed to the other expert. One school of thought is not to disclose the other expert’s report. There are reasons why one could argue not to disclose the other expert’s report. The principal reason is so that the expert can con... Read More >

Medical Examiner's Report Inadmissible in Wrongful Death Case, Appellate Division Rules

Originally published in the Daily Business Review, an ALM Media publication, on January 25, 2018. By: Dara Kam. A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a plaintiff in a wrongful death action does not have an absolute right to use a medical examiner’s death certificate as evidence to support his or her claim. The Appellate Division panel in a published ruling said that in most cases, the certificate of death contains hearsay and net expert opinion, which, in the present case, was properly excluded by a trial judge. “We hold that the [State Medical Examiner Act] does not provide an absolute right to a civil plaintiff to admit the full contents of a certificate of death,” wrote Appellate Division Judge Jack Sabatino. Since ... Read More >

Florida Death Penalty Cases Cause Strains for Legal System

Originally published in the New York Law Journal, an ALM Media publication, on June 4, 2018. By: Michael Booth A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that led to an overhaul of Florida’s death-penalty sentencing process has put financial and workload pressure on prosecutors, public defenders and courts. The government lawyers are grappling with fallout from the 2016 ruling, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, that said the state’s system of allowing judges, instead of juries, to find the facts necessary to impose the death penalty was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. The ruling set off a string of court decisions that effectively put Florida’s death penalty in limbo for 18 months and resulted in a new law requiring unanimous jury r... Read More >

Expanded Burden of Proof Clarified in Workers' Comp Modification Actions

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer, an ALM Media publication, on January 11, 2018. By: P.J. Dannuzio The Commonwealth Court has ruled that while employers seeking a modification of workers’ compensation benefits based on proof of earning power must show that positions identified in a transferable skills analysis are open and available, a claimant’s own testimony about pursuing those jobs could also be used to bolster the employer’s case. A divided en banc Commonwealth Court panel held that claimant Dennis Smith’s workers’ compensation benefits should be reduced from $661 to $336 per week based on the availability of jobs that Smith could perform with his educational and physical restrictions, as identified in a labor market survey by his employer’s voca... Read More >

Superior Court Revives Bifurcated Med Mal, Legal Mal Case

Originally published in the New Daily Report, an ALM Media publication, on January 8, 2018. By: P.J. Dannuzio The Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that a previously dismissed legal malpractice lawsuit against an attorney accused by his clients of botching a medical malpractice case can proceed to trial, along with the underlying medical malpractice claims. A nine-judge panel consisting of Judges Anne E. Lazarus, Susan Peikes Gantman, John T. Bender, Mary Jane Bowes, Jacqueline O. Shogan, Judith Ference Olson, Paula Francisco Ott, Victor P. Stabile and Alice Beck Dubow overturned an Allegheny County judge’s grant of nonsuit in the case filed by plaintiffs Aldis Rutyna and Mary Jane Rutyna against attorney William S. Schweers Jr.  The Rutynas retained Schweers... Read More >

Lost Profits Award for Breach of a License Agreement Cannot Rely on Comparison Between Recent Entrant and Market Behemoth

Originally published in the New York Law Journal, an ALM Media publication, on November 13, 2017. By: Richard Raysman and Peter Brown It is black-letter law that liability for breach of contract does not mean that the prevailing party is entitled to its requested damages award, much less any damages at all. In particular, New York law applies a higher standard relative to other damage categories when evaluating a prevailing party’s claim based on lost profits. To avoid losing on a damages request, or receiving only a nominal award, the prevailing party must show that lost profit damages can be proven with “reasonable certainty” and “were fairly within the contemplation of the parties to the contract at the time it was made.” Past sales often furnish a persuasive rat... Read More >

Motion to Quash 'Paranoia'-Driven Subpoena Filed by Expert Witness in Spinrilla Case

Originally published in the New Daily Report, an ALM Media publication, on September 28, 2017. By: Colby Hamilton A subpoena being driven by attorney “paranoia” in a Georgia-based copyright violations case should be quashed, according to a motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday. William Rosenblatt, an expert witness in digital music cases, is trying to keep a one-time potential client from deposing him in Manhattan, over what he alleges is “the very epitome of litigation paranoia.” Rosenblatt, represented by New Jersey-based Tenaglia & Hunt name attorney James Hunt Jr., says he was approached by Georgia-based private attorney David Lilenfeld as a potential expert witness in an ongoing copyright violations case... Read More >

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