Guardianship Laws Create Pathway for Abuse

woman holding face and crying

As the “Free Britney” movement gained traction over the last year, questions over the reasoning and validity of the Britney Spears Guardianship became widespread. However, hers is not an isolated case. Although it can be an important tool in some cases, the guardianships can also be used by family members, business associates, and others to syphon assets.

As detailed in a recent Law360 article, findings of incapacity are often motivated by reasons other than care for the individual or a genuine concern for maintaining their assets. Instead, they can be initiated by family members who dislike a new spouse, by children seeking to take control of stock or other assets, or for nearly any other reason.

Once a guardianship has been established, existing laws make it extremely difficult to reverse the finding of incapacity or to wrest control of assets back from the guardians. While there are efforts to change the rules, such as the proposed Uniform Guardianship Act, states have been slow to adopt those changes because of the costs associated with oversight.

For those seeking to challenge a finding of incapacity or to dissolve a guardianship, it is imperative to work with an established attorney who understands the relevant law.

Report Reveals Gopher Resource Failure to Protect Workers, Residents from Lead

A newly published report from the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (ECP) details critical environmental violations at Gopher Resource, LLC’s Tampa Plant, making the workplace unsafe for employees and potentially releasing lead toxins into the atmosphere.  The report details eight violations associated with fugitive capture and ventilation systems, three associated with process and hygiene systems, and three associated with SO2 emissions from the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new report follows a series of investigations conducted by regulators and outside consultants, all of which how egregious failures to manage lead toxins inside the plant, or to protect the surrounding areas from their release.  According to the ECP, visible emissions were observable, confirming that various chemicals reached life-threatening levels in the furnace department.  And in the same department, lead-laced dust was blanketing the floor.  Despite being cited for repeated violations in the past and receiving numerous recommendations for improvement, Gopher Resource and its parent company, Energy Capital Partners, failed to make critical improvements to keep workers and surrounding residents safe.

Lead poisoning can lead to a wide variety of physical and mental problems, including severe abdominal pain, sleep problems, headaches, and aggressive behavior; and it can severely affect mental and physical development in children.  In the United States, recent studies estimate that over 400,000 deaths are caused by lead exposure in the United States.

To learn more about Gopher Resource’s failure to protect its workers, click here.  

Paul Napoli Joins Ben Crump in J&J Talcum Powder Suit

Paul Napoli has joined famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women, alleging that the pharmaceutical giant intentionally targeted Black women with advertising for talcum products linked to cancer.

According to the lawsuit, even though numerous scientific studies have shown a conclusive causal link between ovarian cancer and Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and shower powder products, the company actively targeted Black women with advertising in a years-long campaign, including placing advertising on television programs and in publications aimed at Black women and pursuing endorsement deals with public figures revered by the demographic group.  The attorneys claim to have voluminous evidence showing a pattern of racially-biased marketing and advertising strategy, including internal company documents.

A civil rights attorney with decades of experience, Ben Crump is best known today for representing the family of George Floyd after his murder by Derek Chauvin in 2020, an event that set of nationwide protests against racial bias in policing.  Paul Napoli is a celebrated and experienced class action litigator who has won billions of dollars in damages for victims of medical and pharmaceutical malpractice, environmental contamination, and products failures.

For more information on the lawsuit, read the article here.

Paraquat Poisoning Extends Beyond Farm Workers

Paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide usually sold under the brand names Gramoxone, Parazone, and Firestorm, has been the target of increasing legal action by farm workers who suffered either acute paraquat poisoning or the life-altering effects of sustained exposure through their work.  However, farm workers are not the only ones affected by paraquat exposure.  Those who live near agricultural areas where it is used or who have unknowingly ingested contaminated food may also experience long-term effects, including Parkinson’s Disease.

The most commonly used herbicide in the United States, paraquat is used on large-scale farms growing soybeans, vegetables, tubers, fruit, and other crops.  Since 2016, use has been controlled by regulations requiring those who apply paraquat products to receive a certification.  Before 2016, however, application of paraquat was much less regulated, and many farm workers sprayed the herbicide without proper training or protective gear. 

Because paraquat is applied by spraying, a certain amount of the chemical “drifts” to surrounding communities, potentially resulting in sustained, long-term exposure within the population.  In addition, improper application or storage of paraquat can lead to food contamination, meaning the end consumer ingests far more of the herbicide than is allowable, or safe.  The most severe outcome of paraquat poisoning is Parkinson’s Disease – a devastating illness that is not always traced to its root cause.

Those who have lived near large-scale farms and have developed Parkinson’s Disease or experienced other acute health problems should investigate legal action against the manufacturers and distributors of paraquat.  For more information, please read this blog post.

Fake License Plates Derailing Police Investigations in New York

During the coronavirus lockdowns in 2020/2021, with New York Department of Motor Vehicle offices closed statewide, the prevalence of fake and fraudulent license plates increased.  Usually, the fakes are temporary license tags from New York or New Jersey, displayed in the car’s window.

In addition to the obvious crime of using fraudulent documentation, these fake plates complicate police investigations into both serious crimes (such as shootings and robberies) and traffic crimes, such as hit-and-run accidents.  Often, police have only a partial plate as initial evidence when an investigation opens, and when that partial plate is fake it can delay and even entirely derail the investigation.  For police, this represents an escalating concern: in the last few months, fake plates have been linked to thirty-three shootings and over five hundred car crashes.  

For the victims of those crashes, fake plates sometimes make police investigations ineffective.  Those victims must then pursue the responsible party through a civil investigation conducted by a personal injury attorney, as civil actions require a lower burden of proof.

Learn more here:  Authorities Get Tough on Fake Plates.

How Environmental Contaminants Can be Found Defective When They Meet Regulatory Standards

Enforcing environmental laws is often a highly challenging process. Manufacturers and distributors seldom have the type of direct connection to the contaminated property needed to sustain an action under federal and state environmental statutes.

To make matters worse, there are potentially tens of thousands of unregulated, “emerging” contaminants such as PFAS that neither CERCLA nor RCRA can provide a remedy for because they have yet to be listed as hazardous substances under CERCLA. In fact, the scientific community has provided ample evidence that chemicals produced for industrial and other uses have contaminated much of the country’s water supply and groundwater. But while these contaminants may create a future cause of action for past remediation and response costs under 107(a)(4)(B) of CERCLA, property owners who live adjacent to contaminated sites are often left to shoulder the burden of any cleanup efforts themselves at those sites today.

Despite these obstacles, victims of this type of contamination can assert another cause of action. It is one that does not necessarily require proof of foreseeability, and that allows a recovery from this broader definition of responsible parties, the manufacturers, and distributors of the chemicals. That cause of action is strict products liability, which stipulates that a manufacturer should be held liable for injuries from their product only when they ought reasonably to have foreseen such injury in an appreciable number of persons. [Cudmore v. Richardson-Merrell, Inc., 398 S.W.2d 640 385 U.S. 1003 (1967).]

Learn more in my Medium article: Product Liability Law: Another Weapon in The Arsenal Against Environmental Contamination.

The Alarming Numbers of Racial Profiling

I have seen incidents of racial profiling rise to alarming numbers.

While leading plaintiff civil rights actions in such cases as Wayne Martin’s, whose life sentence was overturned after serving 11 years in jail for a crime he did not commit, I have fought against such social injustice. My work in the Flint Water Litigation resulted in a $641 million dollar settlement for residents — residents who were marginalized because of their color and low-income status. As co-counsel with Ben Crump on the Robert Maraj (Nicki Minaj’s father), Keyon Harrold Jr./Arlo Hotel and other cases, I recognize racial profiling is a human rights issue.

Racial profiling deprives people of color of their dignity and justice. Using race or ethnicity as a factor to determine which people are suspicious enough to warrant police stops, questioning, searches, and other routine police practices is a human rights violation and needs to stop. Hundreds of violent police encounters and hate crimes each year solidify racial discrimination as a public health issue, as well. There need to be clear legal consequences for racial profiling. Otherwise, we can only expect it to persist, and for those who practice it to continue evading justice while countless lives are interrupted, or worse, ended.

My article on Medium, The Price of Profiling, explains why in more depth.

A Chance To Do Some Good

In crises big and small, New Yorkers have a well-deserved reputation for coming together and helping out in any way possible. Marie and I think the same thing will happen with regard to our longtime friend John Cottone.

One morning in 2018, John noticed that he looked rather jaundiced. He notified his doctor, and a few hours later, he was in a hospital emergency room. A few days later, Dr. Cottone’s test results came back. Doctors said he had stage four pancreatic cancer. He is understandably quite concerned about future medical bills. Moreover, he may have to leave his dental practice, which would be a devastating blow for his family.

Most of all, however, John is concerned about the family time he will miss. No amount of money can replace things like coaching your son’s ice hockey team, but your donation will go a long way towards making things right again.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Options

As late as 1995, almost any cancer was essentially a death sentence. That was especially true of late-stage diagnoses. In these cases, even the most skilled doctors could do little more than make their patients comfortable.

But cancer survival rates have increased significantly since then. Even situations like the Cottone family faces — serious cancer at an advanced stage — are far from hopeless. Doctors have a number of options in terms of both traditional and innovative therapy.

Traditional therapy usually involves radiation to shrink the tumor, surgery to remove part of it, and chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. There have been a number of improvements here. Targeted radiation shrinks the tumor but does not affect surrounding organs, advanced surgical techniques enable doctors to remove more of the tumor, and chemotherapy drugs have fewer side-effects to patients can tolerate stronger drugs for longer periods of time.

There are non-traditional therapies as well. Proper nutrition and exercise helps the body fight the cancer, and this natural defense may be better than any artificial chemicals known to medical science.

Progress is not cheap. The average pancreatic cancer treatment costs close to $200,000 per round. Even these costs represent only a tiny fraction of the overall costs. On top of the medical bills, most cancer families must deal with lost income. Simply paying the bills becomes an ordeal, and the stress makes the recovery process even more difficult.

How You Can Help

Now, you have an opportunity to reverse this cycle. Your donation not only helps end the downward spiral of bills and depression. It lets a dear family know that someone cares about them. As much good as the financial donation does, the emotional support may be even more important.

Your gift does not just help the Cottones. Altruism (giving without the expectation of return) is the highest form of charity. That’s the best kind of giving, as it accurately reflects the spirit of most New Yorkers.

Mesothelioma and Why it’s Important to You

Wіth аn іnсrеаѕе іn mеѕоthеlіоmа саѕеѕ асrоѕѕ thе NY, іt’ѕ іmроrtаnt fоr іndіvіduаlѕ tо lеаrn thе еѕѕеntіаl ѕtерѕ іn tасklіng thіѕ dеаdlу саnсеr. Onе оf thе fоrеmоѕt іtеmѕ іѕ thе ѕеlесtіоn оf a соmреtеnt mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеr. Tоdау thеrе іѕ nо dеаrth оf mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеrѕ іn thе NY. Wіth thе іnсrеаѕіng numbеr оf mеѕоthеlіоmа саѕеѕ, lаwуеrѕ dеаlіng wіth mеѕоthеlіоmа аrе аlѕо оn thе rіѕе. Mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеrѕ in NY hаvе еxреrіеnсеd рrоfеѕѕіоnаlѕ whо hаvе dеаlt wіth ѕеvеrаl ѕuссеѕѕful mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwѕuіtѕ.

Thе rоlе оf thе mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеr bеgіnѕ аѕ ѕооn аѕ thе dіѕеаѕе іѕ іdеntіfіеd. Mоѕt mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеrѕ рrоvіdе сlіеntѕ wіth dеtаіlѕ оn fасtѕ аnd fіgurеѕ оn рrеvіоuѕ mеѕоthеlіоmа cases thаt thеу hаvе hаndlеd. Thіѕ еnаblеѕ vісtіmѕ tо аѕѕеѕѕ thе сrеdеntіаlѕ аnd соmреtеnсе оf thе lаwуеr. Hоwеvеr, thеѕе lаwуеrѕ оftеn dо nоt рrоvіdе thе dеtаіlѕ оf рrеvіоuѕ mеѕоthеlіоmа cases whеrе thе іnfоrmаtіоn іѕ оf a соnfіdеntіаl nаturе. Mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеrѕ in NY саn аlѕо hеlр уоu fіnd оut аbоut unѕuссеѕѕful mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwѕuіtѕ аnd thе rеаѕоnѕ fоr thеіr fаіlurе. Idеntіfуіng thе еlеmеntѕ іn a mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwѕuіt thаt lеd tо іtѕ fаіlurе wіll еnаblе іndіvіduаlѕ tо іdеntіfу thе рrоbаblе ріtfаllѕ оf thеіr оwn саѕе.

Thuѕ, fіndіng аn еxреrіеnсеd mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеr in NY аѕ ѕооn аѕ thе dіѕеаѕе іѕ іdеntіfіеd іѕ реrhарѕ thе mоѕt іmроrtаnt ѕtер іn a ѕuссеѕѕful lаwѕuіt. Mоѕt NY city hаvе a tіmе lіmіt wіthіn whісh a lаwѕuіt саn bе fіlеd, ѕо іt іѕ іmреrаtіvе thаt vісtіmѕ dо nоt mіѕѕ оut оn thе tіmеlіnе. Aftеr lосаtіng a соmреtеnt lаwуеr, уоu wіll nееd tіmе tо undеrtаkе thе nесеѕѕаrу rеѕеаrсh аnd wоrk оut a саѕе аgаіnѕt thе nеglіgеnt раrtіеѕ.

Thе rоlе оf a mеѕоthеlіоmа lаwуеr in NY bесоmеѕ реrtіnеnt whеn іt соmеѕ tо hаndlіng сrіtісаl іѕѕuеѕ. Fоr еxаmрlе, vісtіmѕ uѕuаllу fаіl tо іdеntіfу whеn аnd whеrе thеу wеrе еxроѕеd tо аѕbеѕtоѕ ѕіnсе thе dіѕеаѕе mаnіfеѕtѕ аftеr ѕеvеrаl dесаdеѕ. Durіng thіѕ lоng реrіоd, thе vісtіm mау hаvе wоrkеd іn ѕеvеrаl рlасеѕ аnd mау nоt еxасtlу rесоllесt whеn аnd hоw thеу саmе іntо соntасt wіth аѕbеѕtоѕ. Lаwуеrѕ hеlр vісtіmѕ tо іdеntіfу рrоduсtѕ аnd аlѕо thе рlасе аnd tіmе whеn thеу wеrе еxроѕеd tо аѕbеѕtоѕ. In ѕоmе саѕеѕ, lаwуеrѕ еvеn gо tо thе еxtеnt оf hіrіng a рrіvаtе іnvеѕtіgаtоr tо ріnроіnt thе соmраnу whеrе thе аѕbеѕtоѕ еxроѕurе tооk рlасе.

Althоugh реорlе іdеntіfіеd wіth thе саnсеr аrе оftеn bоggеd dоwn wіth tоо muсh оn thеіr mіndѕ, аnd fіlіng a lаwѕuіt іѕ реrhарѕ nоt thе fіrѕt thіng оn thеіr lіѕt оf рrеfеrеnсеѕ, thе tіmеlу ѕеlесtіоn оf a lаwуеr аnd fіlіng a lаwѕuіt саn еnаblе vісtіmѕ tо ѕесurе thе futurе оf thеіr fаmіlіеѕ аnd dереndеntѕ.

Aѕbеѕtоѕ Nеw Yоrk Invеѕtіgаtіоnѕ

Thе Nеw Yоrk Cіtу Dераrtmеnt оf Envіrоnmеntаl Prоtесtіоn саrrіеd оut a ѕurvеу іn thе 1990ѕ tо аѕѕеѕѕ thе рublіс’ѕ rіѕk оf аѕbеѕtоѕ еxроѕurе іn buіldіngѕ. It fоund 68% оf buіldіngѕ іn thе сіtу соntаіnеd mаtеrіаlѕ wіth аѕbеѕtоѕ. At thе tіmе, thе еѕtіmаtеd tоtаl аmоunt оf аѕbеѕtоѕ-соntаіnіng mаtеrіаlѕ іn thе сіtу wаѕ 323 mіllіоn ѕԛuаrе fееt, mоѕt оf whісh wаѕ thеrmаl ѕуѕtеm іnѕulаtіоn.

Ovеr thе уеаrѕ, buѕіnеѕѕ аnd рrореrtу оwnеrѕ іn thе ѕtаtе hаvе tаkеn ѕtерѕ tо rеmоvе thе аѕbеѕtоѕ frоm thеіr buіldіngѕ, аnd Nеw Yоrk hаѕ еnасtеd lаwѕ аnd rеgulаtіоnѕ tо рrоmоtе ѕаfе hаndlіng аnd rеmоvаl оf аѕbеѕtоѕ-соntаіnіng mаtеrіаlѕ.

In 2009, hоwеvеr, the ѕtаtе lаunсhеd ѕеvеrаl іnvеѕtіgаtіоnѕ іntо аѕbеѕtоѕ-аbаtеmеnt соntrасtоrѕ аnd соnѕtruсtіоn-buѕіnеѕѕ оwnеrѕ whо wеrе ѕuѕресtеd оf іmрrореr hаndlіng оf аѕbеѕtоѕ, dеѕріtе thе knоwn hеаlth rіѕkѕ.