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SCHMIDT KRAMER'S SUMMER 2007 NEWSLETTER

$500,000 Auto Accident Settlement

Gerard C. Kramer successfully settled an automobile accident for $500,000. The settlement was negotiated during litigation. The injured client was hit from behind while stopped in traffic by a construction truck. The 45-year-old client suffered an unstable fracture to the spine that required orthopedic hardware to stabilize. There were complications following the surgery, and the client was unable to return to work.

Law Bars Woman from Suing

A lower Paxton Township woman's granddaughter was sexually assaulted while swimming in the pool at Lower Paxton Township's Community Center. The woman wanted to sue the Community Center, but the law prevents her from doing so. That's because the Friendship Community Center is owned by Lower Paxton and is not a private facility. Under Pennsylvania law, the township, like other municipalities and government entities, is immune for crimes committed on its property. This Pennsylvania law shielding governmental entities from liability has been on the books for more than 30 years. It's derived from the idea of sovereign immunity, which comes from the desire of British kings, the sovereigns, to protect themselves from being sued by their own court system. Schmidt Kramer attorney Charles E. Schmidt, Jr., was quoted in the newspaper article, stating, “State and local governments have immunity and they have immunity with respect to the operation of real estate, such as the one in Lower Paxton Township,” Mr. Schmidt was further quoted, adding, “When they're running an activity like that, I think it's very unfair to the public in general that they essentially have no recourse when something happens at the facility, which is what happened in this particular case.”

Racial Discrimination

America's civil justice system is often the last recourse for those seeking to protect their civil rights and stop discrimination. Throughout the 1990s, San Francisco's Interstate Brands Corporation (IBC) backer, makers of Wonder Bread and Hostess snack pastries, discriminated against its African-American employees. Management refused to promote African-Americans to supervisory positions, gave poorly maintained vehicles to African-American drivers, and set aside restrooms and lunchrooms meant only for whites. IBC also denied or refused to investigate racial bias and harassment claims. When two dozen African-American employees filed a lawsuit in 2000, IBC filed 21 motions to dismiss their case as frivolous. A judge and jury awarded a $121 million verdict, the largest in the history of racial-discrimination cases, sending a message to corporate America that racism in the workplace would not be tolerated.

Workplace discrimination

Over 26,700 workplace racial-discrimination complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2005. Twenty-six percent of African-Americans report being subjected to work-place discrimination.

Warring Neighbors

Most minor disagreements about noise or trespass between neighbors can be handled with a face-to-face negotiation, a handshake, and a smile. Sometimes, though, a community's mediation center can help if neighbors seriously dispute trespass or property damage. However, when clashes become rancorous, our civil justice system can provide remedy.

A very angry neighbor

A California resident filed a suit against a neighbor whose crusade was to intimidate the plaintiff into fleeing from the neighborhood. The resident's attorney showed that the angry neighbor poisoned landscape planting, chain-sawed shrubs and trees, and sabotaged door and window locks to keep the plaintiff from getting into his own home. The angry neighbor's behavior further escalated to painting graffiti on a garage and even attempting arson. At trial, the judge awarded damages to the plaintiff, but the parties agreed to a higher settlement during the punitive-damages portion of the trial.

Client Service: Guiding Values

Our pledge to each client is always to do our best every time you call on us for legal assistance. Here are several guiding values that our firm holds dear:

  • Client interest: Whether we are representing someone injured in an auto accident or managing complicated commercial matters, we always focus on the best interests of our clients.
  • Flexibility: Our years of counsel and trial experience tell us when it may be best for a client to litigate or to settle.
  • Forward thinking: Anticipating what may happen next in each phase of a case and constantly foreseeing the final step-a trial-help us stay ahead of the curve.
  • Hard work: Diligence, to us, means committing all of our experience, creativity, and energy to each client's case.
  • Hope: Clients often ask for our assistance after they have tried several other approaches that failed to deliver results.
  • Passion: We will struggle on behalf of the little guy facing powerful adversaries.

We hope that the quality of our service always pleases you.

Online Resume Scams

Identity thieves are at it again. This time, they're defrauding online job seekers. Wrongdoers troll services such as GettingHired.com, Jobs.AOL.com, Monster.com, and others, looking for information such as names, addresses, phones, and more to build false identities. They even post fake job ads in the hope of getting applicants to return Social Security, credit card, and even banking account numbers.

Protect yourself

  • Use the "hide information" option on job-site postings, if possible.
  • Never provide your SSN.
  • Even information such as eye or hair color of marital status can be used to establish a false driver's-license identity.

Anticipate outcomes

  • Your current employer may locate your posted resume.
  • Employment recruiters may contact you.
  • You may get spammed with computer viruses.

Contingency Legal Fees: Study Refutes Critics' Claims

Opponents of America's civil justice system often claim that when trial attorneys represent clients on the basis of contingent fees-handling claims in exchange for a percentage of the recoveries clients receive-excessive and frivolous lawsuits result. Critics commonly argue that contingency-fee caps will resolve their alleged problem. However, a study by two economics professors, Alexander Tabarrok and Eric Helland, has found quite the opposite. The professors analyzed completed cases in 16 states-8 states with caps and 8 states without caps-and reported that contingency fees.

  • Provide lawyers with strong stimulus to preview cases carefully and eliminate frivolous petitions.
  • Motivate attorneys to work hard to win fair cases for plaintiffs.
  • Enhance court access for low-income plaintiffs who can't afford lawsuits and who do not pay legal fees if they lose.
  • Help spread the cost of risk since contingency-fee legal counsel is a business endeavor that trial attorneys take on voluntarily.

For Your Safety: Recalled Product Roundup

Here are some recently recalled products you may have in your home or at work:

  • Scubapro, USA, has requested scuba divers to return 48,500 Scubapro MK 20 First Stage Regulators, Over-tightening the yoke or din retainer during annual servicing may result in regulator stress cracks and failure, posing a drowning hazard.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has asked buyers to return 165,000 Home Trends Wood Footstools, which can collapse and harm consumers.
  • DeWalt Industrial Tool Company has voluntarily recalled 97,000 framing saws and 37,000 circular saws. The lower blade guard may fail to close, leaving the blade exposed and presenting a laceration hazard.
  • Atico International USA, Inc., recalled 54,000 Espresso Express Espresso Makers with faulty heating elements that can separate from bases and burn users.
  • Black & Decker, Inc., is recalling 272,000 Black & Decker BV4000 Type 1 Blower/Vacs with a loose cord connection that can overheat and cause burns or a fire.
  • Weil-McLain recalled 16,000 Weil-McLain Ultra Series Gas Boilers with incorrect installation instructions. Connecting boilers to LP gas without installing a propane conversion kit may result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Schmidt Kramer is a Proud Sponsor of WITF-TV's “Our Town: Harrisburg”

Charles E. Schmidt, Jr., partner at Schmidt Kramer, was interviewed while making a special appearance on WITF's production of "Our Town: Harrisburg" in early December. As a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Mr. Schmidt was chosen to not only sponsor the production, but also to offer his thoughts about being part of Pennsylvania throughout his life. Schmidt Kramer had the honor of sponsoring this production, which documented Harrisburg by using home videos to profile the people, places, and happenings of the city. Instead of printed captions, the people who did the videotaping were the narrators. Charles E. Schmidt, Jr., who started the firm and has spent his entire life in Harrisburg, made a special appearance in the bonus footage. He talked about the history of Schmidt Kramer PC and its involvement with the city of Harrisburg.

CNN Airs Insurance Company Dirty Tactics

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007, CNN aired a report that revealed the tactics many insurance companies are using to save themselves billions of dollars through the reduction of claims paid to minor-impact crash victims. These tactics-dubbed the "Three D's"- delay, deny, and defend-are discussed in the report by former insurance-industry insiders. The practice described is what happens to many victims injured in low-impact motor vehicle accidents. The insurance company does not pay the injured person in a timely fashion, does not acknowledge an injury, and then refuses to settle unless the injured party accepts a paltry offer. Some law firms either refuse to litigate or no longer accept low-impact cases. However, Schmidt Kramer has continued to, and will always, represent people injured in both high-impact and low-impact motor vehicle accidents with success. For more information on the CNN program, click here.

Client Testimonials

Schmidt Kramer used several of the firm's clients in recent commercials we made. The commercials will soon be airing on television. If you are a client of Schmidt Kramer and would be willing to do a client testimonial taping for future commercials, please contact the firm or call us at (888) 476-0807.

Free Initial Consultation

When you've been seriously injured, you have questions turn to Schmidt Kramer and speak with a lawyer today. Our Pennsylvania injury lawyers will walk you through the legal process and get you back on your feet. Call (800) 232-6301 or fill out a free online consultation form it's yet another way to Talk to a Lawyer.