Blog

“A Republic, Madam, If You Can Keep It!”

 

That was the response of Benjamin Franklin to a woman who asked him whether the newly formed United States of America was to be a republic or a monarchy.  As he was leaving the last day of deliberation at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Franklin was concerned about the future of the new nation. Like many of us today, others present at the Convention were also doubtful.  In a letter to John Taylor, John Adams wrote “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

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Locks Partner Marc Weingarten Publishes Article on Legionnaires' Disease On the 40th Anniversary of its First Outbreak

 

Marc Weingarten, a Partner at Locks Law and expert on Legionnaire's Disease, has written an article about the disease's first outbreak, which took place forty years ago today. Published by Philly.com, the article recounts the initial investigation into the then-mysterious disease while summarizing what we know about it today.

 

The full piece can be read here.

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Locks Law Firm Congratulates Marc P. Weingarten

Partner Marc P. Weingarten has been re-appointed to a Hearing Committee as part of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Hearing Committees are composed of three-member panels. The Committees hear cases involving lawyers who have been charged with violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which set the ethical standards for all lawyers in the state of Pennsylvania.  Hearing Committees are responsible for making recommendations to the Disciplinary Board.  The Disciplinary Board uses the information and recommendations received to make a final recommendation to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which is then responsible for a decision in each case.

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Videos Are Powerful, and Police Dash Cam Videos Are Discoverable

The two killings of people stopped by police in St. Paul and Baton Rouge and then yesterday’s killing of five police officers and wounding six more in Dallas are examples of horrifying events that took place just this week around the country. One lesson from all three incidents is that videos of what happened can be powerful, persuasive evidence of what really happened. Against this background, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court issued an opinion just eight days ago holding that police dash cam videos are discoverable.

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New York Court of Appeals Rules on Manufacturer’s Duty to Warn for a Third Party Product in an Asbestos Case

 

New York’s highest court issued a seminal decision on June 28, 2016, upholding verdicts against Crane Co. in two mesothelioma cases where Crane Co. was found liable for the use of asbestos-containing products manufactured by third parties on its valves. See link to decision here.

 

Mr. Ronald Dummitt was exposed to asbestos as a Navy boiler technician, including when he worked on Crane Co. valves, changing asbestos-containing gaskets and packing designed and manufactured by companies other than Crane Co. Similarly, Mr. Gerald Suttner was exposed to asbestos while working as a pipe fitter at General Motor’s Tonawanda Engine Plant, where he changed asbestos-containing gaskets and packing on Crane Co. valves that included gaskets and packing made by third parties.

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Who is Liable for Zika at the 2016 Olympic Games?

As the 2016 Olympic Games approach, they have created a heightened awareness of the Zika virus and the potential health concerns associated with it. The Zika virus, carried by mosquitoes can also be transmitted through sexual contact and is prevalent in the host country, Brazil. There currently is no vaccine, no known “cure” and it has also caused severe birth defects. Most at risk are women who are already pregnant, as the virus can be passed from mother to fetus. The transmission of the virus in utero could potentially cause birth defects such as microcephaly (a condition in which the brain does not develop properly during pregnancy and/or stops growing after birth). According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, women who are not pregnant nor planning to become pregnant shortly after a visit to an affected area, have little risk, reproductively, as blood tests show the virus usually clears the bloodstream within a week to 10 days.  However, discussed less often, is the risk to men. The Zika virus has been found in the semen of infected men and it is unknown how long it stays there and over what period of time a man can transmit the virus through sex. This may be a bigger concern leading into the world’s largest sporting event in August. World golf #1 and #4, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, respectively, have already pulled out of the Olympics due to concerns over Zika. But what about the athletes and the tourists/fans who still choose to go? And is there a risk that those who do go will return home and accelerate the spread of the virus?

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Products Liability and the Adequacy of Warning

In this month’s issue (June 2016) of PAJustice News, I discuss the importance of the case Hatcher v. SCM Group North America, Inc. as it relates to the decision in Tincher vs. OmegaFlex, Inc.  Specifically in the Hatcher case, the question of failure to warn would be tested and ultimately used a Mackowick analysis to rule that the threshold question of the adequacy of the warning was not an issue sufficient to submit to the jury.  To read the full analysis, please see the attached article. Products Liability - Hatcher v. SCM Group North America, Inc.

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It’s About Those Folks Called Clients

Ever have one of THOSE days?  When every little (and big!) thing seems to be working against you?  You know, those days when:

  • you get to the office late because your chosen mode of transportation has a temper tantrum…
  • when you finally do make it to your desk, your computer takes forever to boot up, and when it finally does, it freezes…
  • you can’t type to save your life, and you find yourself deleting and correcting the same word over and over again…
  • all the other technology in your office decides to go on strike as well…
  • the phone never stops ringing, but the people you need to get information from to finish a project (or 10) are NEVER the persons calling you…
  • you spill your coffee (on your keyboard)…
  • you remember you left your lunch in the fridge at home…
  • and then you spill your store bought soup on your keyboard…
  • that you finally would have gotten a chance to eat at 4 PM…

I’ve had all of these happen to me, fortunately not all on the same day, but close.  And like all jobs, we have our own, job-specific, lawyer-specific frustrations:

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Justice is Near for South African Gold Miners

For decades both before and after apartheid, blacks from both South Africa and other nearby African countries worked in the gold mines of South Africa in deplorable conditions.  In exchange for their subsistence wages the miners often worked deep underground with no effort made to prevent or remove the vast amounts of dust created by the mining process. As a result, silicosis was common.  Tuberculosis was also rampant among the mine workers.  With large numbers working in close proximity underground it spread quickly.   Often when miners were diagnosed with these diseases, they were not told of the diagnosis, rather they were sent back to their villages with no plan for appropriate medical follow up or care.

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There Is More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

 

 

There is more than one way to skin a cat, or, as here, to win an appeal. Some ways of winning an appeal are obvious. Plaintiff wins at trial and that verdict is affirmed on appeal. Plaintiff loses at trial but wins a new trial on appeal. And then there is a third way to win an appeal.

 

The third way arose in a serious motor vehicle accident case. At 4:30 am, a lady was driving in New Jersey. A sign directed vehicles to merge to the left lane entering into a construction area. Ahead of her was a large garbage truck with mud obscuring its rear lights. The garbage truck was slowing down but did not use its brakes. By the time the lady saw the truck, it was too late and she crashed into the truck.

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