Tag Archive for 'lawyer'

Amtrak Crash Leads to Multiple Lawsuits

Amtrak Crash Leads to Multiple Lawsuits

The Amtrak crash just outside of Philadelphia on May 12 killed eight passengers and injured 200 others. The incident is considered one of the worst train crashes in American history. Traveling more than twice the speed limit at 106 mph, the train derailed at 9:21 p.m.

So far, two crew members and four passengers have filed lawsuits against Amtrak. The four passengers filed a federal lawsuit, requesting Amtrak pay for medical bills and lost wages. One of the passengers has undergone several surgeries to halt her arm from being amputated. Another crew member described a brain injury that occurred due to the crash.

One of the crew members, Emilio Fonseca, was operating the train at the time of the crash. He filed a civil complaint against the company, arguing he suffered “serious and permanent personal injuries” and should receive compensation under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act.          Amtrak Accident

In order to avoid bankruptcy, in 1997 Congress set a $200 million limit to compensation Amtrak can be held liable for. The mental and physical injuries of passengers and crew members were significant, but the limit will lessen compensation that can be rewarded to each victim of the accident.

The Federal Employers Liability Act

The FELA is a federal law that is specific to railroad workers. The act was created in 1908 to protect railroad workers by compensating them for injuries sustained while on the job. Workers are rewarded compensation only if they can prove the railroad company was at least partly responsible for injuries suffered.

FELA is similar to workers compensation, but FELA is a fault based system. Workers must prove the injury was caused by negligence of a railroad employee, its agent or contractor, or from a faulty piece of equipment. Also in contrast to worker compensation plaintiffs, railroad workers may sue in a state or federal court for damages if proof of liability of the railroad company exists.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the Amtrack accident. Time will tell whether the train’s engineer, Brandon Bostian, a mechanical issue, or an outside source will be held responsible for the crash.

Revenge Porn – Is It Legal?

Scorned ex-lovers have taken to the Internet to shame and expose the women who have broken their hearts. In this century’s version of blackmail, revenge porn has become rampant across the country. The perpetrators (mostly men) submit explicit images of the ones who used to trust them to websites dedicated to revenge porn. The images often times link to the victim’s social media pages and include personal information such as address, phone number, and email. Disgusting and offensive? Absolutely. But is it illegal?

revenge pornThe website, UGotPosted.com, launched in December of 2012. The website developer is a 28 year old from San Diego named Kevin Bollaert. Since its launch about two years ago, the site has accumulated over 10,000 nude photos of mostly women. If victims want their photos to be taken down, they have to go through Bollaert’s second website, ChangeMyReputation.com. They must pay $300 to $350 for the photos to be removed. He has made tens of thousands of dollars through this horrific website.

The two sites have since been shut down.

Bollaert was arrested December 2013 after a new law passed in California prohibiting the distribution of nude photos without the person’s consent. The law was passed in October 2013. The law makes posting identifiable nude photos without consent a misdemeanor. A person will also be convicted if they are guilty of intent to cause emotional distress or humiliation to the victim.

Bollaert was found guilty of 27 counts, which included identity theft and extortion. The San Diego County Superior Court jury was not able to reach verdicts on two of the counts, including identity theft and conspiracy, and the judge pronounced a mistrial on them. Either way, Bollaert is now facing up to 20 years in prison.

Bollaert’s lawyer, Emily Rose-Weber, attempted to defend his actions by claiming he is just a web developer. Because he did not post the photos himself, he is in no way guilty of breaking the new law. She also added that although he took advantage of “human weakness,” developing an outlet for angry ex’s is not illegal. The statute states that charges can be held only against the person who actually took the photo. But, he was still convicted of identity theft and six counts of extortion.

At the moment, only 16 states have enacted laws to protect victims of revenge porn. Florida is in the process of legitimizing a similar law.

Suge Knight’s Involvement in the Fatal Hit and Run

Thursday night, the co-founder of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, was involved in a fatal hit and run accident. He was filming “Straight Outta Compton”, a film about N.W.A, the night of the accident. Knight arrived at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood station Friday morning with his attorney. Homicide detectives were waiting there to question him.

Suge KnightThe crash occurred at Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California. Lt. John Corina with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that Knight ran over two men in the parking lot of the restaurant. The accident happened about 20 minutes after a fight broke out on the set of the movie. Corina also stated it looked like Knight hit the two men reversing into them, and hit them again by driving forward into them. Terry Carter died in the accident, and actor Cle “Bone” Sloan who appeared in “Training Day” was injured.

Witnesses have told the sheriff’s department that the accident looked like an intentional act. The department is treating the incident as a homicide.

Knight is defending himself by claiming he was attacked by two people and accidentally hit the two men while driving away. Knight’s lawyer, James Blatt, sees the incident as a “tragic accident”. He stated Knight had no idea he ran someone over. Blatt has stated he is positive Knight will be exonerated.

Knight is currently being held on a $2 million bail.

How can Knight defend himself if the case goes to trial? Hit and runs that end in death can be tried as a felony or misdemeanor. If Knight is charged with a misdemeanor hit and run that ended in death, he would have to pay between 1,000 and 10,000 dollars. He also would serve at least 90 days in jail.

But, if Knight is convicted of a felony hit and run that resulted in death, he will pay the same amount but spend two to four years in state prison.

There are four pieces of evidence a prosecutor needs to indict the defendant involved in a hit and run. They first must prove that you were involved in the accident that resulted in injury or death. Second, they must prove that you had knowledge an accident had occurred. Third, the prosecutor must prove one of the two: that you knew someone was injured or killed, or that the accident was so extreme that an injury or death was inevitable. Fourth, it must be proved that you willfully failed to do one or more of the actions above.

Since Friday, police have attempted to obtain video footage from Tam’s Burgers, but the cameras were broken. All other cameras of near businesses were turned away from the accident.

If police are unable to prove that Knight knew he ran someone over or that he did it on purpose, he could get off. Knight has an extensive rap sheet of assault and larceny charges, but this is by far the most serious crime he allegedly committed.

Can I Get Fired for Smoking Marijuana?

A few years ago, this might have been a no-brainer: if you were drug tested by your employer, and it came back positive for marijuana, you should probably start updating your resume. However, now that 22 states allow marijuana for medicinal purposes, and two allow it for recreational use, the answer to this question does not seem as simple. Nonetheless, the answer is still the same: if you test positive for marijuana, your job may be up in smoke.

fired for marijuanaHow Can I Be Fired If I Am Following a Doctor’s Orders?

Put simply, you can still be fired because those “doctor’s orders” apply to local and state governments, and not private entities. Businesses pay federal taxes and enjoy federal laws, and marijuana is still very much illegal under federal law.

Many people have argued that it should be discrimination to fire those require marijuana for their health issues and, furthermore, that employers should be required to make a reasonable accommodation. This argument has failed in California and Michigan, partially because courts are uneasy to force employers to rewrite their drug use policy under the guise of reasonable accommodation. Even Colorado, where recreational use is legal, is grappling with the effect of marijuana resulting in a termination.

Does This Mean I Could Also Get Fired for Having a Few Beers?

Depending on your job, if you are caught drinking beer at work, you could get fired. However, you couldn’t be fired for drinking beer after work. This is a significant difference between recreational use of alcohol vs. marijuana. With marijuana, you could be fired even if you smoked a month ago on a weekend. Until the law becomes better settled, the simple reality is if you smoke, even legally, you should do it at your own risk.

If Justice Scalia Is Right, Then Let’s Make Law School 7 Years

Earning a law degree takes three years. The only thing worse than the absurd cost of law school is the fact that the third year is generally regarded as a waste of time. Many legal academics and even President Obama have contended that law school should be shortened to two years.

justice scalia law schoolThe Honorable Justice Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court recently spoke on this issue. Convinced that law school should remain three years, he states that law school isn’t a trade school, but something more. To quote: “[Law school] is a school preparing men and women not for a trade but for a profession—the profession of law.”

Although Justice Scalia’s sincerity is touching, and although the high regard he holds for the law is inspiring, his words fail to address the issue at hand: can someone learn to be a successful lawyer in two years? If the answer is “yes,” then what is the actual value of the third year of law school?

I agree that education is important. However, at the end of the day, education is a means to an end. The purpose of law school isn’t something mystical. The purpose of law school is to learn to be a lawyer.

If Justice Scalia is right—that is, if law school is meant to be something more than a “trade school”—then why settle for three years? Why not stretch it out to five? People with Ph.D.’s in medieval studies often go to school for that long—or even longer. Why not elevate the J.D. to the status of the M.D. and keep law students in school for seven years?

It would be one thing if an extra year was just an extra year. A little more education never hurt anyone. However, in the case of law school, an extra year means an extra $50,000+ of debt.


Authored by Peter Clarke, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Content Manager. Peter Clarke is also a freelance writer and curates Screenplay Lists.