April 15, 2010

Boy Scouts Of America Found Liable In Sex Abuse Case

Boy Scout Emblem.jpgAfter 3 weeks of trial and two days of deliberations, a Portland jury returned a $1.4 Million verdict finding the Boys Scouts of America liable for negligently allowing a confessed child abuser to continue having contact with other Boy Scouts, including the man who brought the lawsuit. The assistant Scout master had admitted to abusing 17 out of 30 young boys in his troop.

During the case, the victim's attorneys were able to introduce evidence from the Scout's own "Perversion Files" which contained information the Scouts had gathered about its leaders who had sexually abused young boys in the Scouts. The jury, during its deliberations, were able to review approximately 1000 of the Perversion Files. Not only did the jury find the local chapter liable for allowing the abuse to continue, but it also found the national Scout organization, based out of Texas, liable for punitive damages. The jury did not decide the amount of punitive damages owed. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant and to deter it and others from committing similar wrongful acts in the future.

This $1.4 Million verdict is only the first phase of the trial, in that the case will resume on April 20, 2010 to begin the punitive damages portion of the trial. In many civil trials where punitive damages are alleged by the victim, the defense attorneys will ask the court to bifurcate the trial into two phases, a compensatory damages phase and a separate punitive damages phase. This tactic keeps the jury from hearing some of the most egregious evidence until after it has decided the amount owed for compensatory damages. Once a jury finds a defendant is liable for punitive damages, settlement negotiations often ensue as most defendants do not want to risk a huge punitive award.

The Boy Scouts have vowed an appeal, but, in my humble legal opinion, their chances of getting the verdict overturned are slim, unless the appellate court finds that the statute of limitations has already run.

At Davis Law Group, we have compassionately represented many individuals who have suffered abuse by those in whom their trust was misplaced. We have successfully argued that statutes of limitations have been tolled (suspended) due to the psychological nature of the injuries inflicted and the defendant's horrifically egregious conduct. If you or a loved one feel that you have a claim for sexual abuse, contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney to discuss your case and legal options.

April 12, 2010

North Carolina TV Station Is Focusing On Truck Accidents

Pate-Dawson Co.gifToday, a senior producer from a regional television station contacted me about Truck Safety in North Carolina. She started the conversation off by noting how many recent tractor-trailer accidents appear to be the result of either truck driver fatigue or unsafe truck equipment.

The producer told me that she was working on an upcoming program that will focus on truck safety and how some truck driver's and truck company's failure to be safe have seriously injured or killed North Carolina citizens. She wanted to know if I had any former clients whom I thought would be willing to be interviewed for her news article. One case immediately popped into my mind. The case was against a motor carrier called the Pate-Dawson Company.

One evening a few years ago on a dark rural highway outside of Goldsboro, NC, a tractor-trailer truck owned by restaurant food distributor Pate-Dawson Company ran over a young boy on a bicycle. At the time, the boy was riding his bicycle on the side of a two lane road outside of Goldsboro. The tractor-trailer came up from behind and ran him over.

After the wreck, the truck driver lied and told the police that the bike had darted-out from a side road into the highway, and that he had no time to react. The truck driver also lied and told the Trooper that he had only been on duty for 11 hours at the time of the wreck. The truck driver lied again telling the Trooper that his on-board electronic computer (black box) was not working and contained no electronic data about the crash. This information was confirmed to the Trooper by several company executives (including the owner) who rushed to the scene trying to perform damage control.

When the investigating State Trooper looked inside the cab of the big rig, he found two separate driver's daily log books. In the truck business, this conclusively shows that a truck driver is trying to beat the system and driver more hours than the law allows. The Trooper charged the driver with falsifying his logs.The Trooper did not charge the driver with anything else at the time because all he had to go on was the trucker's and company executives' word. Little did the Trooper know that everything he had been told was a bald-faced lie.

We were extremely lucky in this case in that after the crash, a cousin of the young boy who had worked in the trucking business applied for and took a job as a dispatcher at the company that owned the tractor-trailer - Pate Dawson Company (PDC). His sole goal was to find out what happened to his younger cousin. As a dispatcher, the cousin secretly investigated the crash and discovered the hidden electronic evidence proving the truck driver had been on duty and driving for 23.5 hours at the time of the wreck. When the family showed the Trooper what the cousin had found, the Trooper re-opened the investigation and did a reconstruction of the crash - concluding that the truck driver could have seen the young as far back as 1200 feet from the point of impact - significantly more than enough distance to stop a tractor-trailer that's going 55 mph.

The parents of the boy hired us approximately 2 years after the truck accident. Our team of experts thoroughly investigated the case and conclusively proved that the boy did not dart-out from a side road, that the collision actually took place just outside of the truck's lane of travel - on the shoulder, that the truck driver was speeding (73 in a 55 mph zone) when he struck the bicycle, and that the trucker had been on duty for 23.5 hours when the fatal collision occurred. Most importantly, we were able to show that the truck driver's employer not only knew about his numerous safety violations, but it encouraged, endorsed and at times demanded it.

During litigation, we uncovered unbelievable information about how this motor carrier had thumbed its nose at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by not adhering to the hours of service regulations. We discovered internal company memos that showed this particular driver had been found to be "habitually driving more hours that the law allowed," and one manager at the company tried to persuade the President of PDC, Matt Sullivan, Jr., to put a stop to the illegal driving, but Matt Sullivan refused and knowingly kept putting this and other illegal drivers back on the road. A significant number of this company's tractor-trailer drivers were driving over the legal hours limit and had been for years. Unfortunately, this boy's death was the result of their refusal to operate safely and within the law.

Not surprisingly, the case settled as it neared the courtroom. At the time of the settlement conference, the owner of the company told the boy's father that his company had been doing some things it should have not been doing, and that they had changed their (evil) ways. It is just horrible that someone had to die and a family had to be torn apart for the truck company to understand why these safety laws are in place. Sadly, if the cousin had not gone undercover and discovered the damning evidence, the truck company would have completely gotten away with reckless homicide.

After confirming the television producer's credentials, I contacted the young boy's parents and they agreed to participate in the news report and tell their story. The senior TV producer says the parents' story is compelling and the news article will air in a few weeks. I will try to post an update as to the program's date and time. It should be interesting....

Brian Davis is recognized as one of the nation's top experts in serious truck accident injury cases. He serves as a national adviser for the Association of Plaintiffs Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and is a member of the Interstate Truck Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Attorney Davis' goal is to help reduce the number of preventable truck accident cases in North Carolina.

April 8, 2010

$48 Million FELA Jury Verdict Against Railraod Affirmed On Appeal

Union Pacific Railroad.jpgA recent appellate decision affirmed an enormous jury verdict in favor of a railroad worker who was paralyzed while on the job. The railroad worker, Eric Doi, sued Union Pacific Railroad under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) after a co-worker lost control of a company vehicle and crashed, causing Doi to become paralyzed. At the time of the wreck, Doi and the co-worker were going to Wal-Mart to buy food and drinks to be consumed while at work. The big question on appeal was whether Doi and the driver were acting within the course and scope of their employment with the railroad at the time of the wreck.

The FELA provides that a railroad is liable to a railroad employee that suffers injury as a result of the negligence of an employee of the railroad. After a thorough and well-reasoned analysis, the Court of Appeals found that Doi and the driver were acting within the course and scope of their employment in that the act of going to buy food and drink to be used at work constituted conduct that was "incident to" the work they were going to be performing later in the day.

While the jury's verdict was huge, Doi's damages were unbelievably horrible. Some people see or hear about a large verdict and immediately conclude that the jury made a mistake, but in my experience juries make the correct decision in the vast majority of cases.

Just a few of the issues Doi must now deal with after becoming a quadriplegic include having no feeling below his nipples and no control over his bladder and bowels. His penis has to be catherized several times a day, and the stool in his bowel must be physically removed from his body each day. He can no longer have sex. He suffers from frequent pressure sores. As a result, he has to be turned every 15 minutes, and this happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He experiences swelling in his feet and legs, severe headaches, bladder infections, and abnormal bone growth in his hip that will require surgery. He must have nursing care 24 hours a day. He now suffers from clinical depression and has been diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) His life expectancy is 29 percent less than it was before the wreck. At the time of the crash, Doi enjoyed numerous outdoor sporting activities and was about to marry and start a family. Instead of thinking about marriage, his thoughts now focus on committing suicide, and he has trouble envisioning anything meaningful in his future. Nursing and medical care alone will likely exceed $25 Million over his lifetime. With harms and losses like these, the verdict seems just.

At Davis Law Group, we help injured railroad workers recover the compensation they deserve. We have handled serious injury cases involving quadriplegia, brain injury and amputations. If you have suffered a serious injury while employed by a railroad and would like to consult with an experienced FELA attorney, give Brian Davis at Davis Law Group a call. The consultation is free.

April 5, 2010

Boy Scout's President Blames Parents

boy scouts.1.jpgIn the highly publicized lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, a local Scout executive has testified that he believes the parents of the abused scouts are to blame. The AP wire service reported that Eugene Grant, President of the Portland metro area Scout's Council, testified he thinks that the parents of the boys who were abused were negligent and even criminally responsible for the abuse by allowing their sons to attend sleepovers at a former scout master's home. Grant told the jury that the parents should have known better than to allow their sons to spend the night in a single man's apartment. He also testified that the Scouts did not have a policy prohibiting unauthorized sleepovers in the 1980s. Grant told the jury that he does not think the Cascade Pacific Council is responsible for any of the abuse.

It amazes me that a leader of this organization can cast stones at the victims' parents and at the same time deny that the Boy Scouts are in any way responsible for what happened to these children. If Grant thinks that the parents were negligent for allowing their young boys to spend the night at the defendant's apartment, how can he deny that the Boy Scout Council was negligent when the council was aware of allegations of abuse by this scout master and yet continued to send these same boys into the woods with this pedophile for overnight camping and hiking? Who was in a better position to suspect abuse? Parents who had no knowledge of any abuse allegations or the Scout Council who had received complaints of abuse?

As I mentioned in my earlier post on this case, the court has ruled that the victim's lawyers can use the Boy Scout's secret files, known as "the Perversion Files," to try and prove a pattern by Scout officials of ignoring suspected abuse or allowing pedophiles to return to their leadership roles. Such evidence would be compelling and might well lead to a substantial punitive damages verdict against the Scout organization. Most other lawsuits filed against the Scouts for sexual abuse have settled out of court.

So far, since the jury trial began on March 17, the victim's lawyer has opened up six large boxes filled with over 20,000 pages of files the Boy Scouts of America maintained on over 1,000 national volunteers who sexually abused boys between 1965 and 1984. The victim's lawyers have not shown the jury a file connected to the defendant in this case, but I would not be surprised if that file is the last one introduced into evidence. That would be a strong way to end the case.

At Davis Law Group, we believe that all organizations that take on the responsibility of caring for and supervising children have a duty to protect those children from abusers. This seems like a very common sense concept, yet there are still dozens of youth organizations that have not adopted any policies about how to make sure abuse does not happen within their organization. Failing to adopt such anti-abuse policies can lead to abuse. If you are a parent whose child or children belong to youth organizations, whether in church, school or athletics, you should ask the leaders of those organizations about their policies for preventing sexual abuse. If they have no policies, then you should decline to have your child involved in that organization. To learn more about child sexual abuse prevention, visit Darkness to Light.

March 31, 2010

Charlotte Truck Driver Charged With Reckless Homicide In KY Crash

truck crash in KY.jpgA Charlotte tractor-trailer driver, Arthur A. Davis, 44, has been charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide arising out of a crash that he caused on Tuesday morning in Kentucky at the intersection of US Hwy 460 and Kentucky State Road 1499. Authorities in Pike County, Kentucky are holding Davis under a $2 Million bond. In addition to the homicide charges, Davis faces charges that he had No Operators License, No Commercial Motor Vehicle License, a Driver's Daily Log that was Not Up To Date, and a Radar Detector In A Commercial Motor Vehicle. These are all serious violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Seven minutes prior to the truck crash, several other truck drivers heard Davis asking on his CB radio if there were any big hills in the area because his brakes were not working well. At the time of the wreck, the truck driver was hauling several mini-excavators and other heavy equipment. As Davis went down a steep hill, he lost control of his big rig, swerved to avoid hitting a building, and struck 2 men who were part of a tree trimming crew. Both pedestrians were killed by the run-a-way truck.

Investigators found that the reckless truck driver had 10 different brakes on his vehicle, but 5 out of the 10 brakes were not working at all, and 2 of the remainder were not working properly. To operate a commercial motor vehicle when one knows that the truck's brakes are not working correctly is reprehensible, and this truck driver should go to jail for a long time for his grossly negligent and recklessly indifferent conduct. If this truck driver was driving for a company, then the company's management should also face criminal charges for their complicity in failing to keep this driver off the road. In several similar truck cases we have handled, we have been successful in convincing the US Attorney's Office to pursue criminal charges against the management of the truck company. That should happen in this case.

This is a pure tragedy because this wreck was totally preventable. Truck drivers and the companies they haul for are required to inspect the brakes on a tractor trailer before the start of each trip. If there is a problem with the brakes, then the trucker is not supposed to start the trip. The repairs are supposed to be completed first. End of story. But unfortunately, some truck companies force their drivers to operate unsafe tractor trailers because in many instances, the truck company's philosophy is "profits over safety." In the industry, these are known as "forced trips," because the company tells the driver to either drive the truck as it is or lose their job. This philosophy is one of the reasons why there are so many unnecessary truck crashes.

The Association of Plaintiffs Interstate Truck Lawyers of America (APITLA) has, as its goal, to eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer, then you should immediately consult with an experienced interstate truck lawyer. Attorney Brian Davis is a National Advisory Board Member of APITLA.

March 28, 2010

Big Verdict Against DuPont Could Impact Asheville CTS Site

DuPont Logo.jpgLast Friday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld most of a $381 Million verdict entered against DuPont by a West Virginia state court jury. DuPont, Co., the world's third largest chemical company, was found liable for damages caused by a waste pile DuPont created at a zinc-smelting plant in Spelter, West Virginia.

The Harrison County jury found that DuPont negligently created a 60-acre pile that contained arsenic, cadmium and lead. As a result of the verdict, DuPont had to pay $55.5 million to remove potentially hazardous soil and dust from surrounding homes and businesses, approximately $130 million for medical monitoring of those living near the plant, and $192.2 million in punitive damages. The jury found that DuPont actively tried to conceal the harm they had caused.

I have previously posted about the TCE contamination at the CTS Asheville Mills Gap Facility. One wonders why none of the residents who live near the CTS contamination site in Asheville, NC have taken legal action against CTS. The toxic chemical contamination surrounding the Mills Gap site has caused residents living nearby to have various health problems, and most of them have had to stop using their well water. So far, there has been no clean up of the contamination. One also wonders why the City of Asheville has not called for CTS to clean-up of the area.

The answer as to why no one has sued CTS may be because those harmed by the contamination simply waited too long to act. In North Carolina, there is a 3 year statute of limitations for most tort actions, including negligence claims. This means that someone who has suffered an injury as a result of an individual's or a corporation's negligence has 3 years in which to file a lawsuit. Failing to file a lawsuit before the 3rd anniversary of the injury may be fatal to the claim, and the injured person may be forever barred from recovering for their harms and losses. In some instances, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or put on hold, such as where the injured person first learns of the harm after the statute of limitations has already ran. Either way, CTS should at least pay for the clean up of the Mills Gap site.

If you have been seriously injured or harmed as a result of another's negligence or recklessness, you should speak with an experienced trial attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney early enables your attorney to protect your legal rights from the beginning.

Many people take the "wait and see" approach, hoping that they can negotiate a settlement with the adverse party's insurance company. This is optimistic at best, and naive at worst. Insurance companies have the upper hand in this situation because they know how the system works. They know that individuals do not know the law, and they know that the longer they can string an injured person along, all the while delaying the hiring of an attorney, the more difficult it will be for the injured person to prove their case if they do end up filing a lawsuit. Very often, important evidence disappears with the passage of time. Witnesses' memories fade.

Taking the "wait and see" approach will adversely affect your ability to recover full damages for your harms and losses.

March 26, 2010

Trucker Crosses Median in KY Killing At Least 11 People

KY truck crash.jpgA truck driver crossed the median on I-65 in Kentucky early this morning and struck a church van head-on. At least 11 people are known to have died as a result. A Kentucky State Trooper reported that 2 children survived the crash. The truck driver also died in the collision, and his truck was burned beyond recognition. The people in the van were on their way to a wedding in Iowa.

The National Transportation Safety Board has already dispatched a team of investigators to the scene to try and find out how and why the crash occurred.Since the truck driver did not survive the crash, it is unlikely that authorities will ever truly know why the crash happened. In most instances where a truck unexpectedly crosses into the oncoming lanes, and particularly in crashes that happen early in the morning or late at night, the truck driver is usually fatigued and/or sleeping.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require truck companies to monitor their truck driver's hours of driving and of being on duty. Truck drivers are also required to keep an hourly log of their time in what is called a Driver's Daily Log. As I have discussed in prior posts, in the cases where we represent the victims of truck crashes, we often find that the truck driver was over the legal number of hours at the time of the crash.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision with a large truck, then you should hire an attorney that is experienced in interstate truck litigation. The Association for Plaintiff Interstate Truck Attorneys of America is a good resource for finding qualified truck litigation attorneys in your area.

March 25, 2010

Boy Scout "Perversion Files" May Reveal Abuse In North Carolina

Boy Scouts.jpgThe Boy Scouts of America, one of the most respected organizations in the world, has kept secret files for decades on Scout leaders who have been accused of and caught sexually abusing young boys. The leadership of the Scouts have allegedly referred to the files as the "perversion files," and they have fought long and hard to keep the files from being made public. These sex files have only been seen by the public in one other case in the 1980s.

Dozens of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts have been filed over the years alleging sexual abuse by Scout leaders, but judges for the most part have denied access to the sex files or the Scouts have settled the lawsuits before trial. Attorneys for the plaintiff in the Oregon case contend that the sex files show a pattern by Scout officials of ignoring suspected abuse or allowing pedophiles to return to their leadership roles. The attorneys represent a 37 year old Oregon man who was abused by a Scout leader in the 1980s. The defendant in the Oregon case has admitted abusing 17 out of the 30 boys in his troop.

One document from the files, by a Scout leader in an undisclosed town, states that a Scoutmaster who admittedly slept in the nude and showed pornography to Cub Scouts showed bad judgment, but shouldn't be dismissed. Another document noted that a Scoutmaster who admitted sexual abuse was allowed to return to his duties after seeing a psychiatrist. Such evidence could certainly cause reasonable jurors to conclude that the Boy Scouts of America intentionally continued to expose young boys to sexually abusive leaders. Such intentional conduct could result in a substantial punitive damages verdict in the Oregon case.

There are over 4.5 million young boys between 7 and 20 years of age involved in the Scouts, and the Scouts have more than 300 leadership councils throughout the US. With thousands of Scouts in North Carolina, it is likely that some of those have also been abused by Scout leaders.

A spokesman for the Boys Scouts of America, Deron Smith, said "unfortunately, child abuse is a societal problem and there is no fail-safe method for screening out abusers." While this may be a technically true statement, there are proven methods for preventing child sexual abuse. As I have previously written, the most important rule any youth organization must have is a firm policy that prevents one adult to be alone with one child at any time. You can read about ways for preventing child sex abuse at Darkness To Light.

At Davis Law Group, we have successfully represented those who have been sexually abused by trusted adults. If you have any questions about your legal rights, feel free to call and discuss your situation with an attorney who is experienced representing those who have been sexually abused.

March 22, 2010

Asheville Residents Call For Investigation Of CTS Site

Thumbnail image for CTS Contamination 1.jpgFor years, those living near the former CTS Corporation on Mills Gap Road in Asheville have complained of foul smelling tap water, contaminated ground water, and health problems neighbors believe are caused by the dumping of the dangerous solvent TCE. Despite the documented pollution, no clean-up has occurred, and CTS refuses to accept responsibility.

Concerned citizens from Asheville gathered in Skyland last week and called for investigations by Congress and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office regarding alleged mistakes and cover-ups by those charged with investigating the pollution at the former CTS/Mills Gap site.

The citizens group criticized a recent report released by the North Carolina Division of Public Health. That report concluded that private well samples collected over the last 10 years did not pose a danger to the public health because those living in the area no longer use their private wells or the levels in the wells that are still in use are too low to cause harm. The report's conclusion is evasive and vague. The only reason the private well water of those living close to the former CTS site is not harmful is because those residents have stopped drinking the water. The citizens group clearly has a valid point.

Further investigation is warranted, and a major clean-up is needed to restore this area in Buncombe County to its unpolluted condition. CTS should step up financially and make right the wrong it has inflicted. Dumping industrial solvents onto the ground near a residential area is idiotic and indicates a reckless indifference to the rights and safety of those living in close proximity to the site.

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March 18, 2010

Popular High Chair Poses Danger to North Carolina Children

gracochair.jpgThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a recall of over 1.2 million Graco "Harmony" high chairs. Fourteen injuries have been reported from children falling out of the chairs because the screws holding the front legs of the high chair can loosen and fall out. The plastic brackets that hold the legs together can also crack, causing the chair to suddenly tip over. The injuries reported include cuts, bruises and scratches to infants heads, arms and legs from the falls. One parent reported a broken arm. If you own a Graco Harmony High Chair, you are asked to call 1-800-345-4109 to get a repair kit.

This is the latest of many recalls issued by Graco over the last several years. Prior recalls have involved child car safety seats, bassinets, strollers, booster seats and cribs. The company uses cheap and unreliable materials in its products in order to keep manufacturing costs down and profits high. Such conduct has led to multi-million dollar fines against Graco by the CPSC and also several multi-million dollar jury verdicts, including one verdict for $11.3 Million. These fines and verdicts have yet to get Graco's attention, in that they continue making and marketing cheaply made and unsafe child products.

If your child or the child of a loved one was seriously injured because of defective crib, car seat or other child product, you may want to contact a defective product attorney about a possible product liability lawsuit.

March 17, 2010

Why Everyone in North Carolina Needs More Than The Minimum Limits of Car Insurance

head on collision.jpgIf you have less than $100,000 in car insurance on your vehicle, you are rolling the dice and risking financial ruin every time you drive your car. In North Carolina, the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by law is $30,000. But what most insurance agents fail to tell you is that unless you purchase more than the minimum limits of coverage, you are really not protecting yourself or your family from irresponsible drivers, particularly younger drivers. Here's why.

Last week, one of our new clients was on her way home from work, and the traffic in front of her slowed to a stop because a car had stopped to make a left hand turn. She also slowed down and stopped. Ten seconds later, she looked up just in time to see a large SUV barreling down on her. She recalls starting to yell, but the next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed 3 days later. After 2 weeks in the trauma unit and 3 surgeries later, she is trying to figure out how to pay for her hospital bills. Unfortunately, the young girl who did not see her because she was texting and driving has the minimum limits of insurance coverage - this means that the most the young girl's insurance company will ever pay is $30,000. The client's medical bills are over $100,000 already, and she still has months of rehab to complete before she can return to work. There is a way to protect yourself from this very real risk.

You should tell your insurance agent that you want to have at least $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage. The increase in your premium should be less than $50 every six months. If you are able, you should ideally purchase a $1 Million umbrella policy that also provides you with UM and UIM coverage. This is the best way to make sure that, if you or a loved one is seriously injured in a car accident, you have the insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses, such as medical bills and lost wages.

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March 12, 2010

Asheville Music Minister Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Porn

darkness to light.gifThe former music minister at St. Eugene's Catholic Church pleaded guilty yesterday to coercing a 13 year old girl to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a child porn video. Paul Lawrence Berrell, 29, faces between 15 and 30 years in prison. Hopefully, the Federal District Court Judge who sentences him will give him the maximum prison term.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse of children happens much more often than most people think, and the statistics of child sex abuse are shocking!

According to the advocacy group Darkness to Light, 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they reach age 18. Thirty to forty percent of children are abused by a family member. Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family that they know and trust. Approximately 40% are abused by an older or larger child whom they know. That leaves only 10% to be abused by a stranger.

Child sexual abuse is the least known epidemic in our society. The biggest thing that you can do to protect your children and prevent this from happening to a child that you know is to get actively involved in the prevention effort. Darkness to Light is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse. If you want to stop child sex abuse, go to their website and get involved.

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March 11, 2010

Police Charge Asheville Wrong Way Driver

Wrong way car.jpgNorth Carolina State Troopers have charged a Brevard man for driving the wrong way on Interstate 26 between Asheville and Hendersonville. The wrong way driver, James Mint Barton, age 65, apparently traveled at least 15 miles in the wrong lanes before he was apprehended by State Troopers. He told Troopers that he was on his way to the Asheville Airport.

Not surprisingly, Troopers charged Barton with Driving While Impaired. Trooper RE Baker stated that Barton was also charged with reckless driving and driving the wrong way on a dual lane highway. Barton ran several cars off the Interstate during his extreme drunk driving, but fortunately no accidents occurred and no one was injured.

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March 8, 2010

North Carolina Firefighters May Seek Damages for Hearing Loss

Asheville fire truck.jpgA recent verdict in Pennsylvania may open the way for firefighters in North Carolina and across the country to recover damages for hearing loss caused by defective sirens. Most cases filed against the manufacturers of firetruck sirens have been dismissed by various courts around the country, but that may be changing.

In the first case to go to trial in Philadelphia, a state court jury found that Federal Signal Corporation negligently designed the Q-Sirens it sold the the City of Philadelphia, and that those sirens were a cause of firefighter Edward Smyl's hearing loss. The lawsuit alleged that the sirens were defective because they emitted such an intense noise that it caused permanent hearing damage to the firefighter. The jury's verdict found that the firefighter was entitled to $100,000.00 in damages. This is a huge victory for firefighters in North Carolina and across the nation.

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March 5, 2010

Toyota Recall Not Fixing Some Vehicles In North Carolina

toyota accelerator.jpgThe National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 60 reports from Toyota owners who claim they have experienced sudden acceleration events after having their cars fixed for the very same problem. The safety agency is in the process of contacting each of the owners to gather more details about the reports. Many safety experts and those in the industry believe that Toyota's problem is electronic and not mechanical as the largest automaker in the world has claimed. The recall involves installing a metal piece the size of a postage stamp and shortening the length of the accelerator. As I have mentioned in prior posts, Toyota so far has recalled over 8 million vehicles.

Many of those who have been seriously injured or killed in sudden acceleration events have sued Toyota for selling a dangerous and defective vehicle. Click here to see a copy of one of the complaints. One hot issue in all of these lawsuits has been the information contained in each vehicle's black box. Each Toyota has a black box, like those on airplanes, that records various data when the vehicle is in a crash - such as speed, whether the accelerator was depressed or whether the brake pedal was depressed. Toyota has fought tooth and nail to keep from having to turn over any of the specifics about the black boxes in these cases. Toyota has settled most of these cases out of court, but several are pending. This author thinks Toyota is afraid to have their black box information made public for a very good reason.

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