SCHMIDT KRAMER'S WINTER 2007-2008 NEWSLETTER
Schmidt Kramer Donates
Schmidt Kramer, P.C. participated in the annual Bethesda Mission Thanksgiving Food Drive again this year. The Bethesda Mission in downtown Harrisburg is a nonprofit rescue mission that extends a helping hand to men and women of the streets by providing them with food, shelter, clothing, fellowship, and counseling. The food and monetary donations were provided to the mission towards a bountiful holiday celebration.
Firm Supports Consumer-Friendly Language
Attorney Scott Cooper and his Harrisburg team of trial lawyers have done an incredible job of pushing forward the plain-English bills.HB 1104 and HB 1510, bills sponsored by Rep. John Taylor (R., Phila.), would change hard-to-understand automobile insurance policy terminology to more consumer-friendly language. The change would make automobile policies more understandable to consumers and give them a clearer idea of what type of coverage they are purchasing. Mr. Cooper testified before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts at the hearing held on Thursday, November 8, in Philadelphia in support of the bills.
Many clients find legal terms mystifying. From time to time, we provide easy-to-understand definitions to help clear things up. This time, you’ll learn the meanings of several important terms used at court to help you better understand legal concepts.
- Expert witness - Someone with special skills or expertise who can give accurate testimony at a trial, even though he or she did not see the event in question.
- Jury - Citizens who listen to evidence and swear to pronounce a verdict on matters of fact.
- Peremptory challenge - Prosecution and defense attorneys can eliminate a limited number of juror candidates without providing a reason. Judges oversee peremptory challenges to prevent keeping members of a certain race or sex off the jury.
- Sequester - To insulate juries from improper influences or pressures during deliberations, judges may place jurors in secure locations.
- Voir dire - Interviewing jurors to be sure they understand the basics of a case and will tell the truth. From the French “to tell the truth.
An individual suffers the harm of defamation when someone makes an untrue remark about them that assails their reputation or good name, or opens them to public derision, hate, or censure. Damaging false statements that appear in print or broadcast media are called libel. Spoken defamation is slander. Defamatory comments may refer to the subject’s business practices, health, honesty, morals, sexual life, and more. First Amendment rights make defamation cases difficult to prove. Those believing they have been harmed by defamation should contact an attorney experienced in libel and slander.
A jury awarded significant damages to a sales engineer who sued when a former employer defamed him by communicating false information. The jury came to its decision after learning the previous employer, pretending he represented a debt-collection agency, sent false accusatory letters warning the plaintiff’s current boss that the employee had sued a number of previous employers.
For Your Safety: Recalled Product Roundup
Here are some recently recalled products you may have in your home or at work:
- Mega Brands America Inc. (formerly Rose Art Industries, Inc.) has voluntarily recalled 4 million Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets. Children who swallow tiny, powerful magnets detached from plastic building pieces can suffer serious perforations and blockages if several magnets or metal pieces attach to each other in a child’s intestines.
- The Holmes Group has recalled 300,000 Homes® Oil-Filled Electric Heathers with poor electrical connections that can overheat and burn users.
- Lamson & Sessions asks buyers to return 100,000 Carlon® Drop-In Floor Boxes that are incorrectly wired and can shock or electrocute consumers.
- Sears warns consumers to remove the “Craftsman” logo labels from the outside of the upper blade guards of the 308,000 Craftsman Circular Saws. This label can detach, expose the saw’s blade, and injure operators.
- Oeuf LLC recalled 1,400 Infant Bouncer Seats with tubular metal frames that can break and cause the infants to fall from the seat.
Property owners are legally responsible for maintaining their buildings’ entrances, common areas, stairways, escalators, and elevators in reasonably safe condition so that visitors will not suffer injuries. Owners must also keep buildings’ surrounding walks and parking lots in reasonably good care as well. Anyone injured in an unsafe building or its surroundings may deserve compensation for harm done to them.
An elevator accident
A building visitor riding in an elevator was injured when the elevator’s handrail came loose and caused the man to fall to the floor. His attorney sued after the man required lumbar fusion surgery and suffered continuing chronic back pain. A petty officer in the military, the victim was medically discharged from the U.S. Navy and can now perform only light work. The parties settled prior to trial.
Made in China
American consumers are alarmed about the growing list of defective and dangerous products being imported from China. More than 60 percent of all U.S. products recalled were made in China, with the number of recalled Chinese products doubling in the past five years. In late summer 2007, Mattel’s Fisher-Price unit, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC), recalled millions of children’s toys because toxic lead-contaminated pain had been applied by Chinese suppliers on about 80 different toys, including Dora the Explorer®, Elmo®, and other Sesame Street® character toys. Previous Chinese products presenting dangers to U.S. and international consumers were vehicle tires, contaminated pet food components, medication ingredients, farm-raised seafood, and many others. Anyone who has suffered serious harm from imported products should contact an attorney experienced in products liability.
©2007 Mattel, Inc.
©2007 Sesame Workshop
Jury Duty and Blogs
Every American can cast two votes to participate in our democracy. We encourage everyone to do both. The first is casting ballots on Election Day for candidates, laws, government spending, and public questions. The second is equally important—voting as a juror. Jurors safeguard everyone’s legal rights and protect us all. Recently, some jurors have run afoul of Internet “blogs.” Short for “Web log,” a blog is a user-generated Web site where participants enter journal-style comments on topics anyone can read. In a recent New Hampshire case, a jury foreperson wrote a blog entry—four days prior to his being named to a jury in a sexual-assault case—stating that he would have to “listen to the local riffraff try and convince me of their innocence,” among other comments. Learning of the blog, the defendant’s attorney entered it into evidence to show juror bias after the jury reached a guilty verdict. The judge refused to throw the case out. Legal experts are debating jury duty, blogs, free speech, and related legal issues. It is probably best to avoid blogging while on jury duty.
- The picture at left is Attorney Gerry Kramer and his son Gerard, who participated in the City to Shore Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour 2007 on September 29 and 30. They were among approximately 7,500 cyclists who helped raise a projected $4.5 million for the fight against MS.
- “THANK YOU” to all the support staff who covered for Attorney Cooper in his secretary’s absence. Dawnn Trostle, Janice Harmon, Jen Garcia, and Carla Salada all took time out of their busy schedules and made sure all of Scott’s work was done and no client was neglected.
- Lisa Lutz’s grandson, Xavier Joseph Groff, was baptized at Holy Name of Jesus Church before family and friends. Although Xavier fussed about the cold water, the celebration was a success!
- Chuck Schmidt’s son, Andrew, and future daughter-in-law, Meaghan, ran in the Marine Corp Marathon in support of Travis Manion, a Marine officer killed in action in Iraq. The marathon took place on October 28 in Washington D.C. A fund has been established in Travis’s name to support families of Fallen Heroes and fellow Marines called The Travis Manion Foundation. The firm sent a donation in support of Team Travis! Congratulations to Andrew and Meaghan.
- Everyone at Schmidt Kramer would like to welcome Dana Shanaberger to the firm. Her first day at Schmidt Kramer was on Monday, November 12. She is a graduate of Kutztown University, with a degree in criminal justice and paralegal studies, and is originally from Allentown, Pa. Dana will be Scott Cooper’s new legal assistant.
MRI Dye Linked to Fatal Skin Disease
Kidney disease patients who have MRI or MRA scans with dye are at risk for nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF, also referred to as NSD). The reason for this is that the dye contains a toxic metal called gadolinium. In healthy patients, the dye passes through the kidneys and is excreted. In patients with kidney problems, gadolinium is maintained and eventually spreads throughout the body. Burning, itching skin, joint pain, muscle weakness, difficulty moving, and blister-like lesions are symptoms of NSF. If you suffer from any of these symptoms from having had an MRI or MRA scan, please contact our office for more information at (888) 476-0807.
Melissa Leininger Speaks to Paralegals
On November 1, 2007, Attorney Melissa Leininger, an associate attorney at Schmidt Kramer, was a presenter at the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPS). Melissa spoke at the conference titled “Medical Record Evaluation for Paralegals.” At this seminar, Ms. Miller discussed topics involving obtaining a complete set of medical records and how technology has affected the way Schmidt Kramer requests these records.
Free Initial Consultation
When you've been seriously injured, you have questions turn to Schmidt Kramer and speak with a lawyer today. Our attorneys will walk you through the legal process and get you back on your feet. Call (888) 476-0807 or fill out a free online consultation form to request a free consultation with our team.