Fall 2003 Edition

Vol.8 – No.2

Personal Injury Verdicts

$15 million awarded for negligent removal of asbestos. A general contractor has been ordered to pay $15 million for negligent removal of asbestos insulation at a manufacturing plant. The Plaintiff worked at the plant for five years. Twenty years later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos fibers (Marion County Superior Court, Indiana).

Housing authority to pay $3.5 million for lead-tainted soil. Although the tenant lived in a lead-free building, another apartment building was an older, wooden three-story structure where lead paint was flaking onto the ground. The tenant’s son is mildly retarded, has an IQ in the mid-60s and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a result of playing in lead-tainted soil. The jury awarded the boy $500,000 in compensation for his impaired earning power and $3 million in punitive damages, finding that the Housing Authority failed to adequately remedy the lead-tainted soil. The Plaintiffs argued that the Housing Authority officials knew the lead-based paint had contaminated the soil, but tried to hide the risk from tenants, leading to the boy’s mental retardation (Jefferson County Circuit Court, Kentucky).

$4.4 million for falling merchandise. A customer was awarded $4.4 million for injuries caused by falling store merchandise. She was picking out items from a bottom shelf when she was hit in the head by falling platters. The Plaintiff experienced physical limitations, impaired thinking and emotional and psychological changes after the accident. She claimed that prolonged depression, fatigue, lack of concentration, dizziness and hallucinations forced her to quit her job and left her unable to care for her children (Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals).

$112 million for failure to diagnose aneurysm. A twenty-three-year-old man suffered brain damage after going to the hospital emergency room complaining of severe back pain. Three hours later he suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and went into a coma. The Plaintiff claimed that the emergency room doctors acted too slowly in ordering a CAT scan that would have detected the aneurysm sooner. The Plaintiff is now a quadriplegic residing in a nursing home (Brooklyn, New York Supreme Court).

$104 million for pool entrapment. A pool pump manufacturer was ordered to pay $104 million in compensatory damages to the family of a boy who sustained permanent brain damage after his arm became stuck in a pool drain. Punitive damages are still to be assessed. He was trapped underwater for about twelve minutes, when his arm became ensnared by the suction of a pool pump in an apartment complex. He is in a permanent vegetative state suffering from seizures and convulsions. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, there were 147 entrapments in hot tubs, pool and whirlpools, including 36 deaths from 1985 to 2002 (11th Circuit Court, Miami-Dade County, Florida).

IRA Rollover Requirements Waived

The IRS has waived the 60-day IRA rollover requirement in a private letter ruling. Funds taken out of an IRA are only considered rollover contributions if the entire amount is paid into another IRA no later than 60-days after receipt of the funds. The IRS considers all relevant facts and circumstances in deciding whether the 60-day rollover requirement should be waived, including:

  • Errors committed by an IRA custodian;
  • Inability to complete a rollover due to death, disability, incarceration, hospitalization, postal error or restrictions placed by a foreign government;
  • The use of the amount distributed; and
  • The time elapsed since the distribution.

Although private letter rulings are not binding in subsequent cases, practitioners look to them as an indication of the IRS’s opinion on an issue.

The Impact of a Canadian DWI Conviction

If a New York State resident is convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense in Canada, the impact of this conviction in Canada is governed by Canadian law. This usually means the loss of driving privileges in Canada for one year and, frequently, increased difficulty in entering Canada, even if the convicted individual is not driving. Such a conviction, however, also has repercussions beyond the Canadian border. A Canadian alcohol-related driving conviction will also impact a New York State resident’s driving privileges within New York State. An out-of-state conviction will result in a 90 day revocation of the driver’s New York State license. The license of a driver under the age of twenty-one who is convicted in Canada usually will be revoked for one year. If that driver has a previous alcohol-related conviction, his or her license will be revoked for one year or until he or she is twenty-one-years-old, whichever is longer. For other purposes, any conviction in Canada for an alcohol-related driving offense is treated by New York State as a conviction for Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, a traffic infraction. As a result, even if a driver is convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense that is considered a misdemeanor under Canadian law, such a conviction cannot serve as a predicate for enhancing a later Driving While Intoxicated charge in New York State from a misdemeanor to a felony.

For answers to the following questions, visit www.legalsurvival.com/dwilink/:

  • Can a New York State resident drive in New York after being arrested in Canada?
  • Can a New York State resident get a conditional license to drive?
  • When can a driver get a conditional license?

From the DWILink Newsletter by Attorney Michael S. Taheri, author of the DWI Reference Guide and DWI Defense Manual: Pleadings, Motions and Forms. To obtain a free subscription to DWILink, read past issues or order Mr. Taheri’s books look elsewhere on this site.

Landlord / Tenant Seminar

Attorney/author Robert Friedman will present “Legal Survival for Landlords” from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, October, 27, 2003 at Clarence High School, 9625 Main Street, Room 119, Clarence, New York. Mr. Friedman will discuss evictions, leases, Small Claims Court, discrimination laws, civil liability, insurance, security deposits, elderly tenants, drugs, debt collection and lead paint regulations. There is a registration and book fee. To register, call Clarence Community Education at (716) 407-9001.

What Clients Like About Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C.

“I have been completely satisfied with everyone at your firm and the work they have done” M.Q., Williamsville, NY….”Excellent service” P.A., East Pembroke, NY…..”Thanks for your promptness” R.Q., Amherst, NY….”Elizabeth DiPirro explained everything to me very thoroughly” T.D., Clarence, NY…..”We had a very good experience with your law firm and would highly recommend it” B.J., Clarence, NY….”Elizabeth DiPirro was a pleasure to work with. Very professional, but extremely friendly to talk with” K.H., East Amherst, NY….. “Warm, friendly, personable and very professional staff and attorney” R.B., Depew, NY… “Professional and expedient” J.D., Kenmore, NY.

We are often asked if we have time to serve additional clients. We appreciate your business, and we would also appreciate your referrals. We are a growing firm so new clients are welcome. Please mention our name to your friends, relatives and business associates for estate planning, real estate, personal injury, probate, criminal, traffic, marital, family, bankruptcy, business, municipal, corporate, debt collection, landlord/tenant and elder law matters.

Have You Been Hurt in an Accident?

Have you been hurt in an accident? Are you worried what this may mean to your family, your job, and your credit? Is the insurance company pressuring you? Are you beginning to feel a bit confused? Since 1955, the attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. have been helping injured people. You have a lot of choices to make. We can help you make the choices that will get you what you need quickly, honorably and with your dignity intact.

We will help you to maximize your benefits, while protecting you and your family. If you have questions about your responsibilities, your legal remedies or just what the best thing is for you to do, call us at 716-542-5444. Our initial conversation costs you nothing even if you choose not to have us represent you.

We promise to:

  • Communicate with you in plain language that is easy to understand.
  • Promptly return your telephone calls.
  • Quickly and thoroughly investigate and analyze your case.
  • Have your case personally handled by an attorney.
  • Keep you informed of the progress of your case at all times.
  • Show you the personal care, concern and attention which has been the hallmark of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. since 1955.
  • Accommodate the needs of you and your family during the handling of your case.
  • Vigorously protect your legal rights.

Attorney Michael H. Ranzenhofer limits his practice to automobile accident, slip and fall, dog bite and defective product cases. He is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Western New York Trial Lawyers Association, New York State Trial Lawyers Association and Erie County Bar Association Negligence Committee.

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