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Monday, February 23, 2015

Mounting Fines for Takata

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it will be fining Takata Corp. $14,000 per day until the airbag manufacturer comes into compliance with Department of Transportation orders. Takata has failed to cooperate during the federal investigation into the company’s faulty airbags – airbags which have made their way into makes and models from nearly all car manufacturers. The DOT is currently requesting more resources from Congress and has asked that maximum allowable penalties for Takata be raised to $300 million.
Fining a company for its refusal to cooperate in a defective product investigation is rarely necessary, but the scope of this investigation and potential liability that Takata faces has created a rather unique situation. Regardless of the outcome of this particular battle, if you or someone you love has sustained injury from a defective airbag, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm are here to help.
The Cochran Firm has been helping victims of negligent corporations for decades and has the resources necessary to win significant settlements for our clients. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed by a defective Takata airbag, please contact us online or call (800) 843-3476 to be put in touch with an experienced attorney in your area today.

posted by Admin at 11:04 AM

Friday, February 20, 2015

Alternative Business Structures: The Future of Legal Services?

Alternative Business Structures: The Future of Legal Services?
Anna Blood, Intern
The Cochran Firm

Many Americans have never heard of an Alternative Business Structure (ABS), nor do they know that it may soon be impacting the way they receive legal services. ABS’s allow non-lawyers to have ownership interests in law firms and permits multidisciplinary practices, which combines legal and non-legal services. For example, why not have your accountant, business advisor and lawyer all under one roof?

With today’s technological advances and the globalization of the world market, clients will likely continue to seek alternative, faster, and more convenient means for obtaining legal services. Many people may feel that they have little options when seeking fast and affordable legal services. This demand will likely continue to fuel the demand for such business structures in the legal field.  

ABS’s are not new to the foreign market. For several years, ABS’s have been used overseas in countries such as the U.K., Australia, Canada, Scotland, Germany and the Netherlands. Multidisciplinary practices have been permitted in Ontario since 1999 and in British Columbia since 2010, with certain restrictions and regulation by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

In 2007, England and Wales approved the Legal Services Act, which allowed for the use of ABS’s, permitting non-lawyer management and ownership, as well as multidisciplinary practices. All ABS’s must be approved and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in the U.K.

Despite this, there has been strong resistance to ABS’s from the American Bar Association, (ABA) in the U.S. ABS’s conflict with the ABA’s Rules of Professional Responsibility that regulate the practice of law in the U.S.  Due to the ABA stringent rules some companies offering legal services, such as Legal Zoom, and so American law firms, such as Jacoby & Meyers are expanding business opportunities overseas where they can operate under an ABS.

Companies like Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer are providing legal services through online legal document creation service. This service is easy to use and more affordable than traditional legal services. However, these companies are also facing negativity from the American Bar Association (ABA), which urges that they may be participating in the unauthorized practice of law.

Under ABA Rule 5.5, non-lawyers are prohibited from creating, owning or managing law firms, either alone or in a partnership with lawyers, and are prohibited from multidisciplinary practices. Under Rule 5.4, lawyers are prohibited from actively seeking clients or advising them in states where they are not licensed.  Additionally, the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 has been very skeptical, despite encouragement to amend some of the rules that would permit the formation of ABS’s.

Nonetheless, the ABA appears to be aware that an assessment of the efficiency of the legal market is necessary. Since 2009, the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has been examining the impact of globalization and technology on the legal profession and whether the Rules need to be amended to better serve the legal profession and clients.

ABA President William Hubbard stated that, “We have a huge gap in our justice system, a justice system that is not accessible to a majority of the poor in this country and an ever growing number of modern-income people.”

Despite pressure to amend the ABA Rules, the District of Columbia remains the only place in the U.S. that permits the use of ABS’s. Companies like Tandem Law in D.C. are working as an ABSand advising clients not only on legal matters, but also on business and growth capital. Additionally Tandem Law is allowing clients to be shareholders in the company.

With this perspective in mind, some may call the current legal industry a monopoly. While the need to regulate the practice of law is justified and can provide peace of mind to clients, the efficiency and cost of legal practices is open for review. Many people may feel discouraged or even intimidated from seeking legal services due to fears that they will be unable to afford it or may be taken advantage of. Additionally, searching for a lawyer can be a daunting task, especially for clients who live in rural areas or are unfamiliar with the legal market.

In spite of this, an ABS could provide some relief, and would be beneficial not only to the client, but also to the growth of the legal market. For the client, it would provide a one-stop shop for all business and legal matters, possibly saving the client time and money. Additionally, allowing non-lawyers to have an ownership interest in law firms would increase investment from other fields which would likely lead to reduced costs for firms and lower fees for clients. An ABS would also promote competition between attorneys, encourage innovation, and promote more choices for clients.

Likewise, the use of technology in an ABS can provide an effective and affordable way for clients to search for attorneys when seeking legal services. Imagine how easy it would be for clients to connect with their attorney via the internet and have legal needs served from the comfort of their home. Further, this would create cost effective solutions that would pass onto the client and allow attorneys to serve clients in multiple areas.

With the growing popularity of online legal services and the expansion of the legal market overseas,  a change in the U.S.’s legal market may be over-due. It is also clear that clients are ready for that change, as well as alternative solutions to legal services. While the evolution of the legal market may be eminent, the standards and values of the legal profession should be maintained.

posted by The Cochran Firm at 3:20 PM

"It Wasn't Me!"

"It Wasn't Me!"
By Amanda Brigman, Intern
The Cochran Firm

If you saw Donya Davis today, you might think he is just a regular guy. You would not know he had seven years of his life stolen from him by the State of Michigan and the criminal justice system.  Davis was wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to prison for 67 years. He had served seven years before the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School was able to have his charges dismissed. 

The incident Donya Davis was tried and convicted of occurred on April 1, 2006, around 5 a.m. The victim was a twenty-three-year-old black female who was removing what personal belongings she had from her fire-damaged apartment.  A man ordered her to go back into her apartment while pointing a gun at her. The man robbed her of her vehicle and purse. When she told the gunman she did not have any money he forced her into the kitchen and raped her. The attacker then locked her in a basement pantry where she was able to escape and called police.  The victim gave a description of her attacker to the police. She said he had a dark complexion, was 5 feet 9 or 10 inches tall and had close-cropped hair. The victim could not remember if he had facial hair.

Through a police tip, a picture of 28 year-old, Donya Davis, was added to a photo line-up.  Davis had a medium complexion, was 6 feet 1 inch tall. He had a small Afro and a thin mustache. One would think his characteristics alone would be enough to distinguish him from the attacker, but they were not. The victim identified Davis as her attacker. A rape kit was performed on the victim after the attack. They found the presence of semen, but the only DNA profile identified at that time was that of the victim.

In March 2007, Davis was on trial charged with robbery and rape. Davis presented several witnesses to offer an alibi that he was at home asleep at the time of the incident. The prosecution only had the evidence of the victim claiming Donya Davis as the attacker.  The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, and the case was declared a mistrial.

Later that same year in October, Davis went to trial again. This time his case would be presented to a judge – no jury.  Davis was convicted on October 11, 2007, of rape, armed robbery, carjacking and use of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 67 years in prison.

In March 2013, the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School filed a motion that would require a DNA sample of Davis to be compared with that of the DNA found on the victim's inner thigh. The motion was granted, and there was no biological match to Davis.

On June 20, 2014, a defense motion on Davis' behalf was granted for a new trial. However, the Wayne County District Attorney's office dismissed all charges on November 6, 2014 citing insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

Michigan unlike other states in the country does not have a compensation law requiring payment to those persons wrongfully convicted. Currently, Donya Davis, 36, is seeking employment. While he was incarcerated, he studied paralegal studies and is hoping to bring awareness to the problem of wrongful incarceration.

The contributing cause leading to the wrongful conviction of Donya Davis was the fact that the victim misidentified her attacker. Eyewitness misidentifications account for the greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the United States, according to The Innocence Project.  However, 75% of these convictions may be overturned via DNA testing.  Though TV shows like Law & Order and NCIS may make it seem as if DNA is left everywhere, the reality is DNA evidence is only present for testing in five to ten percent of all criminal cases. 

The Innocence Project works at exonerating those individuals like Donya Davis, who have been wrongfully convicted through DNA evidence.  They have programs across the nation and work with different law clinics and law firms in many communities. They also are a generous resource for education.  Some statistics about DNA evidence and exonerations:
·       20 people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release
·       50% of those exonerated had the actual perpetrator identified through DNA testing
·       Average sentence served 13.6 years in prison
·       There have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the U.S., in 38 states and Washington D.C.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact the experience Criminal Defense attorneys at The Cochran Firm and allow us to fight for your rights, reputation and freedom.

posted by The Cochran Firm at 3:06 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GM Expands Recall

General Motors has announced the addition of 81,000 vehicles to the 1.3 million vehicles recalled due to power-steering issues last year. This recall involves the same power steering issues that can make a vehicle difficult to turn and can easily result in serious or fatal car accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recalls for defective vehicles more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. Last year alone, 63.95 million vehicles were recalled – 27 million of those were manufactured by GM. This latest recall sets the course for what may again prove to be a record-breaking year for poorly designed and manufactured cars, trucks, and SUVs.
When you are injured in an accident caused by a defective vehicle, you need an aggressive attorney on your side. The accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm have the experience and resources necessary to help victims of negligent companies get proper compensation. And we are prepared to begin working your case right away to ensure you are provided the total compensation your injury demands.
To schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced accident attorney in your area, please contact The Cochran Firm online or by calling (800) 843-3476 today.   

posted by Admin at 9:12 AM

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Football, Brain Injury, and Suicide

Debra Pyk, a mother in Wisconsin filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Pop Warner Youth Football organization last week following the suicide of Joseph Chernach, her 25 year old son. The complaint alleges that Pop Warner “recklessly exposes children to the risk of injury,” something Pyk believes resulted in the dementia and depression her son was suffering when he took his own life. Chernach played youth football with Pop Warner, though continued to play through high school on school athletic teams.
This lawsuit follows several against both professional and collegiate athletic organizations alleging that brain injury – a common consequence of contact sports – causes lasting brain damage. This damage has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, memory loss, and violent or suicidal behavior. Tragically, these issues has been known about in sports circles for years and very little has been done to reduce their prevalence.
Seeking damages following sports injury can be very difficult – particularly if those injuries occurred years before. That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your from the moment your injury is detected.
If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury while playing sports, please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney in your area.

posted by Admin at 10:50 AM

Thursday, February 5, 2015

CNA Financial Corporation Denies Elderly Long-term Care Insurance Claims

CNA Financial Corporation Denies Elderly Long-term Care Insurance Claims
Leslie Watkins, Intern
The Cochran Firm

Long-term care insurance policies purchased by the elderly who depend on the benefits of these policies to offset the costs of assisted living expenses and other healthcare related costs received denied claims from CNA Financial Corporation (CNA) and its subsidiary Continental Casualty Company. Benefits of the long-term care insurance policies help the elderly pay for personal care and lighten the burden of expensive health care costs when they can no longer safely take care of their own personal needs. CNA denied the coverage of long-term care benefits of the elderly causing two major pending class action lawsuits in the states of California and Connecticut. 
Elderly affected by denied claims of CNA long-term care policies

In Connecticut, a 91-year-old woman Marie L. Gardner, a policyholder of CNA, living in an assisted living facility, was denied benefits from her long term care policy – the same policy she has been paying premiums on for over 15 years. Gardner filed the claim after she fractured her hip.

CNA is now facing a class action lawsuit with Gardner and other policyholders living in assisted living facilities in Connecticut after the company denied the monthly benefits of the policyholders. Allegedly, CNA claimed benefits covered only assisted living facilities with a nurse on the premises 24 hours a day. Gardner submitted a claim a few years prior where she was able to receive benefits while at the same assisted living facility. CNA denied Gardner’s claim once her condition improved slightly.

William Crawford, a former sailor in the U.S. Navy, did not receive his benefits covered in CNA’s long-term care policy along with others and filed a class lawsuit against CNA in California. As most people do when experiencing a loved one’s health decline with limited means of paying for personal care, Crawford purchased a long-term care policy with CNA to assist with the financial burden of paying for his personal care in later years. Crawford submitted claims, denied by CNA, to supplement the cost for his personal care while recovering from hip surgery and physical therapy. Even after extensive paperwork submitted by his care providers and medical doctor from May 2012 to December 2012 providing proof of Crawford’s need for assistant care and being legally blind, the claims remained denied by CNA. Due to the delay of benefits from CNA, Crawford absent any other assets to pay for his personal care reduced the hours of care he needed to meet his daily living expenses.

 What can I do to prevent denied claims for long-term care insurance?

To prevent being a victim of denied benefits from a long-term care insurance policy, always work with a knowledgeable advisor you trust who is willing to answer all of your questions and provide the information needed to make the best decision for your financial situation. Even before you choose to purchase a long-term care policy, it is best to consult with an attorney to secure the needed coverage and to consider the costs of paying an insurance premium.  An attorney can help you understand your new or existing policy with your best interests in mind to provide the knowledge needed to prevent claim denials that often stem from over looking the fine print of long-term care insurance policies.

The article is based on the pending class action lawsuits of Gardner v. CNA Financial Corporation and Crawford v. Continental Casualty Company as of 01/19/15.

posted by The Cochran Firm at 1:00 PM

Monday, February 2, 2015

NHTSA Issues Recall for over 2 Million Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a recall of 2.12 million vehicles due to issues that cause seatbelt tightening and inadvertent deployment of airbags. Vehicles impacted by this recall include:
  • Acura MDX
  • Dodge Viper
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Liberty
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Pontiac Vibe
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Matrix
All vehicles involved in this recall were manufactured in the early 2000s.

Recalls and Your Rights
When a vehicle is recalled, owners should be contacted by the manufacturer and provided with instructions on how to get the problem fixed. These fixes should always be free of charge. However, recalls don’t always get to owners and, even when they do, do not absolve the manufacturer of liability in case of injury.

The defective product attorneys at The Cochran Firm have the experience, resources, and tenacity required to get justice for victims of negligent auto companies. If you or someone you love has been injured by a vehicle defect, please call us at (800) 843-3476 to speak with one of our attorneys for free.

With offices in several U.S. locations, The Cochran Firm is able to serve victims of serious injury throughout the country. If you are in need of a personal injury lawyer, please contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation at the office most convenient to you.

posted by Admin at 12:39 PM

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The Cochran Firm handles Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense claims for clients throughout the United States of America. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship.Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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