Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New Lawsuit Accuses Fresno Priest of Sexual Abuse

In yet another lawsuit filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse in California, a former priest in Fresno has been accused of sexual abuse of boys in at least three different parishes. The lawsuit also alleges that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno was aware of the abuse, but did nothing to stop the priest.

The lawsuit alleges that the abuse occurred at San Joaquin Memorial High School between the 60’s and 70’s. The priest, Father Don Flickinger, allegedly abused boys over a period of four decades. According to the lawsuit, when the priest was working at San Joaquin Memorial High School, he would handpick boys and take them to his office where they would be abused. The lawsuit also alleges that the church was aware of the abuse at least in 1972, but failed to act.

Flickinger’s actions were no secret on campus. In fact, according to some of the students of the school, they had nicknames for the priest, and used these to warn each other whenever he was around. It's hard to believe that such kind of talk was openly prevalent in the school, and the church was never aware of it.

The Fresno Diocese is promoting the same head-in-the-sand attitude that California sexual abuse lawyers have found at many other churches around the state. According to the diocese, some priests involved in the abuse have been sent to receive “professional help.” According to the diocese, the church is “praying for both victims as well as the priests” involved in the sexual abuse.

The lawsuit is seeking monetary compensation for the victims, as well as a change in the policies of the church towards sexual abuse. The lawsuit wants the church to ban the practice of transferring priests accused of sexual abuse in their parishes, to churches elsewhere without warning neighborhoods and parishioners about the priest’s history of sexual abuse.

Girls Gone Wild Founder Charged with Assault

It is the latest in a series of legal troubles for entrepreneur Joe Francis, of the Girls Gone Wild franchise. Francis and his bodyguard face several charges, including false imprisonment, assault, and dissuading victims from reporting a crime.
The charges relate to an incident that the victims allege occurred in January this year. Francis and his bodyguard met with three women at a popular night spot, and told them that he they would drop them back to their cars. However, the women allege that instead of taking them back to their cars, Francis and his bodyguard drove them to Francis' home.

The women claim that while they were on their way to Francis’ residence, the bodyguard flashed a sheriff's badge, and prevented them from leaving the car. This quickly resulted in a fight between the women and the bodyguard. In the melee, one woman fell on the ground, and struck her head on a tile. According to the victims, they were then threatened against going to the police to report the incident. The bodyguard has been charged with impersonating a police officer and unlawful imprisonment.

This isn't the first time Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have heard of Joe Francis’ trouble with the law. In 2003, he was arrested and charged with a number of crimes, including drug trafficking and racketeering. The charges were dropped after he agreed to pay a $1.6 million fine. In April this year, a Florida jury ruled for him, when it decided against awarding damages in a lawsuit by two women who claimed psychological damage. The women had claimed that they had been filmed topless on camera when they were below eighteen years of age and on spring break.

Unfortunately, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers often notice that people like Joe Francis are more likely to face hostile jurors because of the nature of their business.

Why Personal Bankruptcy May Not Be as Bad as You Think

Los Angeles personal bankruptcy lawyers often find that clients agonize over the prospect of filing for bankruptcy protection, and to some extent, rightly so. After all, there are a number of reasons to worry about what bankruptcy will do to your life. There's bound to be a negative impact on your future credit, not to speak of the battering of your self-esteem.

However, all may not be lost if you file for bankruptcy. There are certain advantages to filing for bankruptcy protection that most Californians may not be aware of.
The biggest advantage is that when you file for bankruptcy, all actions by creditors including foreclosures and repossessions are immediately stopped. You don’t even have to handle inquiries by creditors anymore - your Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer will do that for you.

If you have student loan debt, filing for bankruptcy will not eliminate your debt in all situations. However, you can expect an end to harassment from loan collection agencies. Besides, filing for bankruptcy will protect you from lawsuits related to bad debt. Bankruptcy may be a more acceptable and more desirable option to being sued by creditors.

Additionally, filing for bankruptcy does not mean that you're out on the streets and homeless. You will still retain basics, through the use of bankruptcy exemptions.
What filing for bankruptcy can essentially do is allow you to take charge of your finances again, and get back to the process of rearranging your financial life. The faster you get started on rebuilding your credit, the quicker you can get back to living life without stress. No matter how bad you imagine your current financial situation to be, your California bankruptcy lawyer can help you develop a plan to get yourself out of your financial troubles.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mandatory Motorcycle Helmets Help Reduce Fatality Numbers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is recommending a number of measures that can help reduce annual motorcycle accident fatality numbers. One of the measures that the agency is recommending is mandating of motorcycle helmets for motorcyclists and passengers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, more than 1,480 motorcyclists survived accidents. Those numbers would have been even greater if all states had mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in place. As many as 732 motorcyclists’ lives could have been saved if all states had mandatory helmet laws.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helmets have been found to be up to 37% more effective in preventing deaths involving motorcycle operators, and 41% more beneficial in preventing deaths involving passengers. Whether a state has mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in place has much to do with whether motorcyclists in the state bother to wear a helmet. Studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have found that when states have mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in place, motorcyclists are much more likely to wear helmets.

Only twenty states and Washington DC have universal mandatory helmet laws. California currently has laws that mandate helmets for both motorcyclists as well as their passengers.

However, in those states that do not have motorcycle helmet laws, only about 50% of motorcyclists wear helmets. In 2010, the rate of compliance in states with mandatory motorcycle helmet laws was 98%.

However, Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers stress wearing the proper helmet. Only wear helmets approved by the Department of Transportation. Avoid novelty helmets that offer no protection in a motorcycle accident.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Why the US Lags Behind Europe in Accident Prevention

On the surface of it, it may seem to Los Angeles car accident lawyers that traffic accident fatalities in the United States have dropped dramatically. That is true to some extent, and last year, auto accident fatalities dropped to some of the lowest levels in decades. However, the fact is that the United States actually ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to accident prevention efforts and successes.

European countries, Japan, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have had far greater successes in reducing their accident fatality numbers. Even when you take into account differences in law enforcement styles, geographical factors and demographics, it is hard to deny the fact that these countries have made much greater progress in reducing accident deaths. For instance, countries in Europe boast some of the lowest fatalities per vehicle miles traveled. Additionally, in some of these countries, annual accident death rates are declining much faster than in the United States
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There are several reasons why countries in Europe, Canada and Australia have much lower accident rates. For one thing, many of these countries have stricter limits on drunk driving. In most states, the blood alcohol limit is .08%. In many European countries, the limit is just .05%. This means that police in those countries are able to take more drunk drivers off the streets
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Additionally, in many countries, sobriety checkpoints are almost a fact of life and are accepted as a necessary practice. In the United States, several states do not even allow sobriety checkpoints at all, and even the states that do, do not invest as much in these checkpoints as necessary
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Further, seat belt use is much higher in foreign countries. Motorcycle helmets are mandatory across most of Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada. Besides, foreign countries don’t hesitate to enforce laws with the use of camera systems, another important safety mechanism that is the subject of great controversy here.

Mortgage Fraud Report Indicates Consistent Crime Rates in 2010

The FBI has released its 2010 mortgage fraud report based on data from the FBI, as well as federal state and local law enforcement. According to the report, mortgage fraud in 2010 continued at more or less the same levels as in 2009. California had the highest levels of mortgage fraud last year.
Among the findings in the report:

• Part of the reason for this consistency in mortgage fraud crime rates is that these crimes tend to be resilient, and can be adapted to all kinds of economic situations.
• Perpetrators of mortgage fraud include a broad range of people including accountants, real estate agents, land developers, mortgage brokers (both licensed and registered as well as non-licensed and nonregistered), appraisers, underwriters, builders, and investors.
• California had the highest rates of mortgage fraud in 2010. Following California were Florida, New York, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey.
• The demographic markets that were affected by mortgage fraud in 2010 were the same as the previous year.
• The most popular kinds of mortgage fraud schemes, as reported by law enforcement agencies in 2010, were those that involved loan origination, equity skimming, foreclosure rescue, illegal flipping of property, and commercial loan and builder bailout schemes. The report makes specific mention about the challenges posed by reverse mortgage fraud, loan modification fraud and home equity lines of credit.

The FBI has continued to dedicate substantial resources to cracking down on mortgage fraud in 2010. In June last year, the Department of Justice announced a major crackdown on mortgage fraud under the name, “Operation Stolen Dreams,” which Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers believe was the largest such corrective enforcement against mortgage fraud.

The FBI believes that due to the current depressed housing market which is expected to stay low for the rest of 2011, rates of mortgage fraud will continue to remain high.

Protecting Your Business in a Divorce

Business owners may have special concerns during a divorce. In a community property state like California, spouses in a divorce are normally entitled to half of the assets accumulated during the marriage. In practical terms, those assets could easily include your business.

Entrepreneur.com has tips for entrepreneurs who want to protect their business from harm during a divorce. In most divorces that involve division of a business, California divorce lawyers often see that the venture was begun by one of the spouses early in the marriage. Over a period of time however, the value of the business increased, along with the spouse’s stake in it. That's why even small business owners or those who are just starting out on a new venture, need to divorce-proof their business.

One of the most important things you could do is to maintain separate financial records for business and personal purposes.

If your spouse has a role to play in your business, eliminate that as quickly as possible. You may not be considering a divorce right now, but the longer a spouse has worked in the business and the more he or she is involved in it, the easier it is for a California divorce lawyer to prove that the spouse contributed substantially to the success of the enterprise.

When it comes to dividing assets in the divorce, try to retain 100% ownership of your business, and sacrifice other assets, like retirement accounts, and homes. Otherwise, you may be in the unenviable position of having to take on your ex-spouse as a business partner.

If it does come down to dividing the business, try to buy your spouse’s share of the business over a period of time, through monthly installments.

You should also get an impartial, neutral third party to conduct a fair valuation of your business during divorce proceedings.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Study Reveals Intoxication Dangers of Alcoholic Sports Drinks

Caffeinated alcoholic beverages, like Four Loko, that are marketed as sports drinks are very popular with college students. Unfortunately, many teenage drinkers believe that these drinks are safe, because they contain caffeine. A new study confirms the hazards of the combination of inexperienced novice drinkers and these beverages.

The study analyzed eleven patients who were brought into the emergency room of the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. All of the patients were under twenty-one years old, and the average age of the patient was 16.4 years. These patients were highly intoxicated when brought to the ER.

According to the researchers, the symptoms were not typical of the kind typically seen after weekend binge drinking. Young people who took the caffeinated beverages had symptoms of severe alcohol intoxication, and had been brought to the ER unconscious. One of the teens had passed out on a subway track, while another fell unconscious at school.

The dangers of teenage intoxication involving caffeinated alcoholic beverages comes from the fact that the caffeine masks the effects of alcohol. As a result, the person doesn't realize that he has consumed too much alcohol until it's too late.

It's very important for teenage drinkers to be aware of the high alcohol content in these caffeinated beverages. If you have only a couple of these drinks and drive, you could be pulled over for drunk driving and register enough blood alcohol to need a San Diego DUI lawyer, even though you may not feel intoxicated.

The makers of Four Loko have recently announced that they will eliminate caffeine and a few other ingredients from their drinks. However, other combinations of caffeine and alcohol continue to exist on the market. These caffeinated alcohol combinations are typically marketed as sports drinks, and this may lure teenage drinkers into believing that they are safer than other alcoholic beverages.


Monday, 15 August 2011

IRS Warns of California Refund Scam Targeting Elderly, Disabled

The Internal Revenue Service is warning California residents about a refund scam that is aimed at the elderly and disabled. Several instances of such scams have been reported from Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The refund scheme involves con artists who convince people that they are eligible for a refund through the "Making Work Pay" tax credit and charge a fee to procure these refunds. The tax credit itself is legitimate. In 2009 and 2010, these tax credits were issued to allow working individuals to recover up to $400 per person over the course of the year based on the taxpayer's wages. However, only employed individuals were eligible for these tax credits. The scammers have targeted the elderly and disabled, who are not employed and were therefore not eligible for tax credits. In most of these cases, scammers convinced victims that they could recover tax refunds of up to $800 for them.

The scammers have been fleecing potential victims of hundreds of dollars, claiming fees for the paperwork necessary to receive the refund. The Internal Revenue Service still does not know much about how the scam is being operated. The agency doesn't even know whether the same people are operating the same scam, or whether more individuals are involved

While most of the victims are the elderly and disabled, but California tax relief lawyers have also come across cases involving members of the Asian communities as well as low-income groups. Many of the immigrants targeted in the scams belong to the Laotian, Hmong Vietnamese, and Cambodian communities.

Yet another tax scam in California is based on Social Security benefits. In this scam, con artists have been targeting the elderly at churches and community centers inviting them to apply for a refund of tax withholding from Social Security for a fee. Los Angeles tax law lawyers advise everyone to beware of these and similar tax scams and to thoroughly research any company or individual who claims to be able to obtain tax refunds on your behalf. If you have an doubts, you should contact your CPA, or an experienced California tax law firm.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hospitals Work Towards Speeding up ER Care

According to federal data, an average of 2.7% of patients who visit hospital emergency rooms leave without getting treatment. Interminable delays at the average hospital emergency room, means wait times that can sometimes last for hours.

About 50% of people who leave an emergency room without being seen go to another hospital, or get better on their own. However, the remaining 50% are sick enough when they visit a hospital emergency room to require hospitalization. It is these people that Arizona medical malpractice attorneys are concerned about because too many of them are slipping through ER cracks.

According to analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins, the number of people leaving emergency rooms without treatment has risen from 1.7% between 1998 and 2006, to 2.7% between 2007 and 2008. That's not hard to understand when you realize that the number of ERs in the country has dropped by nearly 1/3rd over the past two decades, while the number of patients seeking emergency care has increased by approximately 40% over the same period of time.

The failure to provide essential emergency care for patients who may be seriously ill is something that hospitals struggle with. Now, many of them have decided to take matters into their own hands, and streamline their procedures to make sure that more patients receive emergency care.

Some hospitals are reserving their beds and their doctors for only the sickest emergency room patients. Only those patients who very extremely sick get treated by doctors, while those who are not so ill, may have a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner focus on paperwork, ordering tests and other actions.

Patients who are not seriously ill may not be given a bed, but may be offered a recliner, and may be sent back to the waiting area to wait for their test results. This frees up beds for patients who are seriously ill, while ensuring that everyone is seen by medical professionals. Hospitals are also experimenting with other methods, including posting their average ER wait times on their websites, waiting rooms and even highway billboards.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Crystal Cathedral Looks for Miracle to Resolve Bankruptcy Crisis

The Crystal Cathedral church is hoping for solutions from its parishioners, and not Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyers as it looks for a way out of its pending fiscal crisis. The church has posted a request on its website asking members for donations to deal with its massive debt. The church is currently about $50 million in debt, and church members are being invited to donate between $10 and $10,000 to eliminate debt and avoid bankruptcy.

Crystal Cathedral is based in Orange County and was established in 1955 by Robert H. Schuller. In October 2010, the Church filed for bankruptcy in a bankruptcy court in Santa Ana. Since then, Schuller has been voted off the church's board of trustees.

Crystal Cathedral has been fending off potential buyers depending instead on what attorneys called a “faith-based” initiative to pay back debt. Church officials had been working on a bankruptcy reorganization plan that had been determined by a creditor committee. However, now the church says that it plans to seek donations from church members as well as followers of Schuller’s Hour of Power television program.

Several offers for the church have come in. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange announced that it was interested in buying back the iconic church building in order to accommodate Catholic congregations in Orange County. The Diocese offered $50 million for the building.

The church has also received an offer from Mark A. Thomas, the co-founder of My Father's House Church International. According to Thomas, his plan would provide for the acceptance of Schuller's resignation, and an overhaul of the church. There have been another offers for the church, from the God’s Way Institute and smaller offers from the Chapman University and a real estate investment group.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Contaminated Wipes Lawsuit Alleges Brain Injury

Triad Group, the company at the center of a contaminated wipes scandal that has already been linked to several injury lawsuits, has been named in a brain injury lawsuit filed by the parents of a toddler with a severe infection. According to an amendment to the lawsuit, the bacterial infection that caused the boy's brain infection and injury is linked to contaminated wipes manufactured by Triad.

Now three-year-old Myles Massey contracted the infection soon after he was born in September 2007. At the time, doctors and his parents had little idea what had caused the infection. The infection practically liquefied the boy’s brain, severely delaying his development. Today, Miles cannot walk or talk, and is fed through a stomach tube. He cannot move the left side of his body, and suffers from a number of other mental conditions, including cerebral palsy.

The bacterial infection was caused by an organism called Bacillus Cereus. However, doctors at the hospital could not find any trace of the organism in the hospital, despite repeated tests and consultations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bacillus Cereus organism that has been linked to Myles’ infection is the same one that has been found in contaminated prep pads and wipes manufactured by Triad Group and its sister company, H&P Industries.

Now, the parents have added Triad Group and its sister company, H&P Industries, to the medical malpractice lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, contaminated wipes by Triad Group and H&P Industries were responsible for the bacterial infection.

Earlier this year, Triad Group was forced to recall millions of contaminated prep pads, and more than $6 million worth of products of the company were seized. Since then, a federal court has barred the company from selling and distributing medical supplies.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Stay-at-Home Parents Face Special Financial Concerns after a Divorce

According to the Census Bureau, there are approximately 159,000 stay-at-home dads, and more than 5 million stay-at-home mothers in the United States. As a stay-at-home parent with no personal income of your own, there are special financial concerns that your Los Angeles divorce lawyer will need to address.

A stay-at-home parent’s financial condition may become even more precarious post divorce, compared to persons who have an income of their own. The financial threat to unemployed spouses with no income of their own, can begin as soon as the employed spouse files for divorce. If your spouse’s pay check is being deposited into his or her account, you may be denied access to these funds as soon as, or even before, the divorce papers are served. If you have a joint account, then there may be limitations on your access to the funds.

What that means is that as a stay-at-home parent, your access to any money at all is likely to be very limited while the divorce proceedings play out. Consider that divorce proceedings can stretch out, especially if there is no hope for a settlement, and your case goes to trial. You may have no choice but to look for a job. The current employment market is not too kind to people who have given up their jobs to stay at home for years.

As a stay-at-home parent, you're not eligible any kind of protection. For instance, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are injured or incapacitated, you are also not eligible for disability insurance. The same goes for health insurance and pensions. A major medical condition after a divorce can leave an unemployed person close to bankruptcy. Even after alimony payments and child support payouts are established, you may not be left with funds necessary to maintain your lifestyle as before the divorce.

Monday, 1 August 2011

NTSB Recommends Truck Rollover Accident Prevention Technology

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all tractor trailers come with rollover prevention technology, like stability control systems. The Board’s recommendations came as part of its report into a fatal tanker rollover accident in Indianapolis last year.

The accident occurred in 2009, and involved a tanker truck which went out of control and rolled over ten times near downtown Indianapolis. The tanker was carrying more than 9,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas, which leaked from the tanker. The vapors quickly ignited and exploded, causing a massive fireball that could be seen from miles away. The truck driver as well as one motorist suffered serious injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board has pointed out to the driver's excessive steering maneuvers as a factor in the accident. The Board has also noted that the tractor-trailer combination in this case was susceptible to a rollover because of the high center of gravity. Tanker trucks are especially prone to rollovers, because the liquid that they carry is prone to shift suddenly, causing a loss in balance.

California truck accident lawyers are very concerned about the integrity of tankers carrying hazardous materials. According to the Board, there are more than 1,300 rollovers every year involving cargo tank motor vehicles. The Board recommends that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration work together with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to establish a rollover prevention program. The Board also wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look at cargo tank standards for all commercial trucks and buses weighing over 10,000 pounds.

Stability control systems for trucks have been around for a while now, and many trucking companies have chosen to install these in their fleets. According to statistics, mandating stability control systems on all tractor trailers could prevent nearly 3,500 truck rollover accidents every year. At least 106 lives could be saved in such accidents.