News

Court Of Appeals Changes Standard For Collateral Estoppel

On December 10, 2013 the Court of Appeals, in a stunning unanimous decision, reversed its own ten-month old determination, that an individual found able to return to work by the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB), was precluded from re-litigating the issue in a subsequent civil suit. The plaintiff in Auqui, Jose Verdugo, was injured on December 24, 2003 when a sheet of plywood fell from a building and struck him, causing head, neck, and back injuries. At a full WCB hearing, in which both sides were permitted to introduce expert medical testimony subject to cross examination, the administrative law judge found that Verdugo wasno longer disabled as of January 24, 2006. On review, the Worker’s Compensation Board panel affirmed the finding. Meanwhile, Verdugo’s wife, acting as her husband’s guardian, brought a lawsuit against the owner of the premises[1]. The owner moved to preclude the plaintiff from “re-litigating” the date his disability…Read More

Will Jonathan Martin Sue the Miami Dolphins?

Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins left the team in November and checked himself into a hospital for emotional injuries he claims he suffered at the hands of a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito and other team mates. The Dolphins spent time in crisis management mode and announced that Mr. Incognito will never play for the team again and it is also clear now that neither will Mr. Martin. What was so compelling about the story is that Mr. Martin is not the typical victim of bullying. As a starting NFL lineman after a stellar career playing with Andrew Luck at Stanford, Mr. Martin was hardly someone with a weak physical or mental disposition. Whatever happened in that locker room apparently was pretty extreme. There really is no reason to doubt Martin’s intentions since he clearly has more to gain playing football for the Dolphins…Read More

Driver with Bikini Emergency Found Blameless in Fatal Crash

Appellate Division Expands Scope of the “Emergency Doctrine” Although the fact pattern of Pelletier v. Lahm, 2013 WL 6084204, 2d Dept., 2013 seems like it was cast from the characters in a lurid reality television show, the case appears to expand the use and scope of the emergency doctrine which in skilled hands can lead to the successful defense of an auto case even where the defendant admits to statutory negligence. Whereas the typical emergency doctrine case involves a driver attempting a defensive maneuver as a result of a car crossing into the defendant’s lane from the opposite direction, Pelletier potentially expands the doctrine to situations involving surprise and/or embarrassment relating to the antics of children and childlike adults. In Pelletier, defendant Brittany, a bikini clad 19 year old was driving a girl friend and two boys home from a weekend at the Jersey Shore. One of those boys, Brandon,…Read More

Does Your Company Provide Coverage for Claims Against Chimpanzees?

On Monday, December 2, 2013, the NYT reported that an animal rights group The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee in Fulton County, N.Y. Although there are laws that protect animal welfare, this is the first time there has been an attempt to establish that a non-human animal has a right to some measure of “liberty.” The head of the Project is seeking to have New York recognize Tommy as a legal person. The Project says the chimp “is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used-trailer lot.” They are seeking to have the court place him in one of the several U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries. The NYT reports that the petition is supported by a “70-plus-page memo rich with legal, scientific and philosophical references” that argues that captive chimps are “enslaved”. The Project argues a chimp is…Read More