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8 posts from April 2008

April 28, 2008

Austrian Man Confesses to 24 Years of Abuse of Daughter

Josef_fritzl The most shocking story I have heard in years, maybe in my entire life!  A 73 year old Austrian man, Josef Fritzl, has confessed to holding his now 42 year old daughter captive in a cement, soundproof basement for the last 24 years.  During that time he fathered 7 children with her, one of whom died at child birth. 

                          According to the BBCElisabeth_fritzl "The woman, Elisabeth (childhood picture to left), disappeared aged 18 on 28 August 1984 when, according to her testimony to police, her father lured her into the cellar, drugging and handcuffing her before locking her up.

She is reported to have been made to write a letter which made it look as if she had run away. "  Read the rest of the story here.

Austrian 'admits daughter abuse' (BBC News Report Below)

Several fascinating links are listed below:

Photos of Josef Fritzl and the Dungeon

Coming to Terms With The Horror, BBC News

Austrian Detectives Study Cellar, BBC News

Timeline: Australian Cellar Case, BBC News

Video of Josef Fritzl At Police Station, BBC News

Profile of Joseph Firtzl, BBC News

Austria: Incest Father Has Sex Assault Conviction, Times Online


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


April 20, 2008

Gas Saving Tips: Video, Links, More

Gas_prices_512_512 It's no secret that gas prices are climbing up, up and away!  So I've done a little research and have found some links and a video with gas saving tips -- the most common sense tip, of course, is slow down!  Yahoo! published a report from Kiplinger which lists 5 gas saving tips:

  • Find the Lowest Gas Prices by searching GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch.com by zip code or city and state to get the lowest prices in your area.
  • Target the Best Time of Day to Buy Gas: The best time of day to fill up your tank is before dawn or late at night, when the sun and traffic volume are both down. Stations usually will raise prices during the day, especially for rush hour.
  • Improve Your Car's Gas Mileage: High speeds, quick starts, and squealing stops burn more gas and money. In his own test, Toews found that he could save 15% by driving 62 mph on the open highway rather than 75 mph. Using cruise control can save you even more. Smoother rides, with less pedal pushing, can save up to 37% in fuel economy, according to Edmunds.com. And don't let your car idle because idling uses up a ton of gas!
  • Keep Your Car in Healthy Shape: Toews says that proper maintenance of air filters, spark plugs, and fluid levels is best for your car and wallet.  And maintain proper tire pressure.
  • Get A Gas Rewards Card: Carrying the right credit card can earn you rebates on gas purchases. One of the most popular rewards cards found using our credit card tool is the Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard. Swiping this card at your gas station earns you 5% cash back, as well as 1% on all other purchases.

Click here to read the entire Kiplinger article on Yahoo!

Here are some links to help you save gas:

Fuel Saving Zone (.com) - Tips, tips and more tips (61 to be exact)

U.S. Department of Energy provides useful information to find and compare cars, gasoline mileage tips, hybrids, diesels and other alternatives and vehicle purchases with tax incentives.

10 Fuel Saving Tips from Gas Buddy in addition to what we've already mentioned, use a/c sparingly, keep windows closed, use cruise control and avoid heavy loads.

The Federal Trade Commission has a fun, interactive website which details how to save gas by paying attention to different parts of your car such as the driver's seat, steering wheel, gas tank, tires, under the hood and the trunk.

Finally, here's a video from www.fuelsavingzone.com describing 7 (of 61) ways to save gas

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


Work Injuries Resulting From Negligent Third Party (Someone Other Than Your Employer)

On_the_job_injury Through California's Worker's Compensation Laws injured employees are able to recover from the limited benefits of their employer's insurance.  But what happens in cases where an employee has sustained an on-the-job injury caused by someone other than the employer? Simply put, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, the injured employee may sue this third party (i.e., other person or entity) in tort law. Third party cases may fall into categories such as traffic accidents, slip & fall incidents, defective products, defective equipment or the exposure to toxic substances and any number of other situations.

If a worker suffers a significant injury, it is highly probable that they will not receive sufficient funds from a workers' compensation claim because workers’ compensation claims are not based upon fault whereas tort claims are based on fault and include monetary compensation for pain and suffering.  Therefore, pursuing claims against a negligent third party is critical to ensure maximum compensation for injuries or death.

           Every on-the-job injury should be evaluated by an experienced attorney to determine if a third party claim exists.

The personal injury component of a workers’ compensation claim is oftentimes overlooked.  Here are just a few examples of such cases that my office has successfully handled (all clients were on-the-job but we also sued a third party on their behalf):

·         Male bus driver rear-ended by automobile.  He suffered a knee injury which required arthroscopic surgery. Significant confidential settlement.

·         Female building maintenance person who slipped due to wet carpets when exiting the elevator of her office building.  At the time of the incident, a carpet cleaning company (third party) was cleaning the carpet and failed to post signs warning of the dangerous condition.  Serious knee injuries. Large 6-figure settlement against the carpet cleaning company.

·         U.S. Postal Worker who was in Los Angeles on business suffered severe burns to his left foot due to the hotel’s providing scalding hot water to the shower.  The client almost lost his leg due to complications.  Significant settlement against the hotel.

·         Male law firm investigator was rear-ended while in the field. He suffered injuries sufficient to require him to undergo neck and back surgeries. Policy limit settlement against the driver of the offending vehicle.

·         Female Cal-Trans worker was in a lift changing a street light when an the top of an 18-wheeler grazed the bottom of her bucket, throwing her several feet out of the bucket. She hung in the air by her safety belts.  The worker suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a result. Significant 6-figure settlement against the trucking company.

The attorney handling the third party portion of the claim must work closely with the workers’ compensation attorney as well as with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier because of the unique legal issues presented in these situations.

If you have suffered a work related injury and have reason to believe that a third-party may bear some liability, please call or e-mail me to discuss your legal rights.


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


April 19, 2008

Foreclosure "Rescue" Scams

001_dreams_foreclosed Yahoo! News published a fascinating article by Nick Carey entitled "Troubled Homeowners Fall Prey to 'Rescue' Scams." 

Among the byproducts of the U.S. housing crisis is a surge in scams that cheat people out of their money, their homes, or both, under the guise of offering to rescue them from foreclosure.

"There is a lot of money to be made if you are good at committing fraud," said Debra Zimmerman, an attorney at Los Angeles-based Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which provides free legal assistance to stricken home owners. "Foreclosure rescue scams are big business right now."

Groups like Zimmerman's say that as soon as borrowers end up in foreclosure -- a matter of public record in the United States - they are bombarded with calls, leaflets and knocks on the door from people armed with fraudulent offers of help.

Huston Julian, 54, of Eastpointe, Michigan, nearly fell for such a scam. Julian bought a home in this working class suburb of Detroit in October 2006, but fell behind with his $1,084 monthly payment when his disability benefits were cut off. He ended up in foreclosure in December. Read the rest of the article here

According to Fraudguides.com, Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Scams usually fall into one of three categories:

  • Phantom Help: The "rescuer" charges very high fees for basic phone calls and paperwork that the homeowner could have done on his or her own
  • Bailout: "Rescuer" helps homeowner get rid of their house and, somehow, title always ends up in the "rescuer's" name
  • Bait and Switch: Scammers tell victim they are signing new loan documents to bail them out of current problems but they are actually signing forged documents that give the scammers ownership of their home.  Victim will still owe for the mortgage but will no longer have the asset.

The National Consumer Law Center, Inc. has published a 4 page treatise entitled Consumer Facts for Older Americans which warns that "older Americans who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments are being disproportionately targeted for so-called "rescue" scams."  They discuss the issues of Phantom Help, False "Bailouts" and Bait-and-Switch scams.  The article goes on to describe how a foreclosure rescue scam works, how to avoid foreclosure "rescue" scams, some major don'ts for homeowners in trouble and they provide a link to their 68 page report Dreams Foreclosed: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity Stripping Foreclosure "Rescue" Scams.

A Google search on Rescue Scams provides a wealth of links with some very valuable information.


How has the Subprime Crisis affected you? 

  • Foreclosure?
  • Victim of Real Estate Fraud? 
  • Skyrocketing mortgage payments?
  • Negative credit rating?
  • Victim of Predatory Lending? 
  • Misled by lenders?

Call or e-mail me to learn about your legal rights.  Maybe all is not yet lost...

Lowell Steiger, Attorney at Law (323) 852-1100


April 13, 2008

Exploding Gas Can Injures Child: Wal-Mart May Be On The Hook


I read a fascinating story in the Torts Law Blog wherein Wal-Mart, based on their own training videos, knew or should have known of the potential danger of explosion in a particular gas can sold by them.  Ultimately, that gas can exploded when a 12 year old boy "poured gasoline from the container onto a pile of wet wood he had been trying to light, and the can exploded." 

From my perspective as a personal injury attorney who has handled many cases where injuries occur as a result of a faulty product (see, for example, The Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle), it is my opinion that manufacturers, as well as others in the chain of commerce (i.e., distributors, retailers), do not always fully explore the dangers of the products that they are hawking or, worse yet, do not fully disclose or warn of the dangers -- and all of this is to the injurious detriment of the unsuspecting consumer.

Please read the story below.

Wal-Mart Video Archive Helpful in Products Suit

Consumerist has a post (based on a WSJ piece) about the second life of thirty years of videos made for Wal-Mart.  The company that did the work evidently retained the rights (oops on Wal-Mart) and Wal-Mart declined to pay as much as the company asked.  Now the company is selling access and it's helped at least one plaintiffs' lawyer:

Plaintiffs attorney Diane M. Breneman stumbled across the videos while working on a lawsuit she filed in 2005, on behalf of a 12-year-old boy, against Wal-Mart and the manufacturer of a plastic gasoline can sold in its stores. Her client was injured when he poured gasoline from the container onto a pile of wet wood he had been trying to light, and the can exploded. The lawsuit alleges that the containers are unsafe because they don't contain a device that prevents flames from jumping up the spout and exploding.

Wal-Mart's lawyers have argued in court filings that the retailer couldn't have known that the product "presented any reasonable foreseeable risk...in the normal and expected use."

* * *

Ms. Breneman says Flagler Productions located videos of product presentations to Wal-Mart managers in which executives gave parody testimonials about the same brand of gasoline can. In an apparent coincidence, one manager joked about setting fire to wet wood: "I torched it. Boom! Fired right up." In a separate skit, an employee is seen driving a riding lawn mower into a display of empty gasoline cans. A Wal-Mart executive vice president observing the collision jokes: "A great gas can. It didn't explode." The tapes were made before the lawsuit was filed.

Ms. Breneman argues the footage provides evidence that the retailer could have foreseen the risk that customers would use the gas cans when starting fires. She says she plans to ask the Kansas City, Mo., federal court handling the case to allow the footage to be used as evidence. Wal-Mart's lawyer on the case didn't return calls seeking comment.


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


April 10, 2008

Roof Top Electrocutes Worker by Charles Samo, Safety Engineer



by Charles Samo, Safety Engineer


Thank you to safety engineer/expert Charles Samo for contributing this fascinating and informative article.  Mr. Samo has been an expert witness in a multitude of litigation matters and can be reached at samoengr@sbcglobal.net.


Have you ever wondered why birds resting on high and bare electric conductors do not get electrocuted? It is because the birds are not grounded or rather in contact with the ground.  This is an interesting phenomenon. Whenever a person comes in contact with an overhead power line, if not in contact with ground, he or she is perfectly safe but as soon as a part of the body touches an object in touch with ground, chances of survival are slim. Clearly before the invention of electricity this type of harm or hazard was nonexistent. I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb which when loosely translated, “may you live in interesting times.”


Interesting times can include exposure to unforeseeable hazards. In one case a man went to work on a roof of a commercial building. He worked for a construction roofing company. He props his metal ladder up against the concrete wall of the building, buckles his tool belt, throwing on his baseball cap but unfortunately leaving his hard hat behind.  He climbed up the ladder onto the old roof, stepped up to the edge of the roof, pulled his metal measuring tape, leaned forward, bent down and began to take roof measurements.  Upon committing the measurements to memory, he rose and leaned back.  Whether he was busy calculating his measurements or just not thinking we will never know, his head came in contact with a high voltage power line conductor, spanning above the roof, electrocuting himself and threw him off the roof.

The lights flickered in the building manager’s office and followed with a momentary black-out.  The building manager went outside to investigate and saw the man on the ground sizzling, his ball cap laid next to him with a hole burnt in the center.


The local city fire department’s paramedics arrived within a few minutes and attempted to revive the barely breathing man, but were unsuccessful.  An extensive investigation was launched to determine the cause of the fatality related to this unfortunate accident. The investigation was undertaken by Electric Public Utility Company operating this particular power line, property insurance organization including U.S Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor. Come to find that the building was constructed first and the power line went up shortly after the building was constructed. The power line poles were placed too close to the building.


Electric safety standards provide safe working guidelines to prevent such accidents. Nearly 100 years prior, in 1897, a document related to electric standards was developed as a result of the united efforts of various safety, insurance, electrical, architectural, and allied interests. This document was called The National Electric Code, or NEC.  It is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Agency, NFPA. At the time of the accident the NEC had specific safety procedures in place to prevent accidental contacts with overhead high-voltage lines.


There were a number of factors which contributed to the death of the worker.  The electric utility company had failed to meet the minimum clearance standards and safety for high-voltage overhead power-lines as required by the NEC. The line spanned too low over the roof and created a significant hazard. NEC required a minimum vertical clearance of 8-feet above the rooftops and a minimum horizontal clearance of 3-feet from the edge of the roofs. Clearly at the time of power line construction these standards were not followed.


As the owner and operator of the electric conductor, the electric utility company is primarily responsible for the death of the worker. The electric company failed to inspect and maintain the line clear from the building as required by its own standards and NEC requirements.

The employer of the deceased failed to provide and maintain a safe working area for his employee who normally worked on rooftops or likely to work near or adjacent to high voltage overhead lines. 

The worker did not take adequate precaution for his own safety while working dangerously close to the high-voltage power line. The deceased had been in construction and roofing business for many years. Either he knew or should have known the hazard presented by overhead electrical wires when working on buildings’ roofs adjacent to overhead lines. Sadly, he was responsible for his unfortunate accident.


The worker failed to follow a simple Federal OSHA’s safety construction industry rule known as a 10-foot Safety Rule. This rule is intended to keep workers away when working near overhead power lines. The rule prohibits workers and equipment from getting closer than 10 feet (radial) to overhead electric conductors.


In our world there are many environmental and occupational hazards that we all face every day. This case is not rare. Very few things in life to which we are exposed are “zero risks”. But like the automobile, and X-rays, there are non-harmful ways to use potentially harmful electricity transported by overhead bare conductors. Applicable industry safety standard practices must be adhered to. If we all follow safety rules provided, it would help to ensure us all live long and ….interesting lives!


E-Mail: samoengr@sbcglobal.net

C. Samo/M. Quecke


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


Toyota, GM Recall 662,000 Cars: Power Window Defects

Toyota_03corolla_angularfront_regul Driver Beware!!!

DETROIT (Reuters) April 10, 2008 - Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors Corp are recalling more than 662,000 vehicles sold in the United States due to defects in power windows, the two companies said on Wednesday.

Toyota will recall 539,500 Corolla and Matrix vehicles for the 2003 and 2004 model years, it said in a statement.

GM said it would recall 122,598 Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks, which share the same platform with Toyota's Matrix and are built by GM in a joint venture with the Japanese automaker.

2009_pontiac_vibe_7_5w On vehicles equipped with power windows, the driver and front passenger glass bolts may loosen and cause the door glass to separate from the window regulator, Toyota said. Vehicles equipped with manual windows are not subject to the recall.

Toyota will notify vehicle owners by mail, beginning in late April. It advised owners to contact their local Toyota dealer for inspection and repairs.

Replacement of the driver and front passenger door glass bolts will be done at no charge, Toyota said.


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


April 02, 2008

Old Lawyers Fight at Deposition: Video

Here's what not to do at a deposition!!!  I've been to some pretty contentious depositions but this is a doozy.  Get your popcorn and enjoy the ride. Although this is fun to watch, I don't recommend this type of behavior at a deposition or any legal proceeding -- it does not foster good will and certainly impedes progress in one's case.


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


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