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11 posts from March 2009

March 29, 2009

Motorcycle Accident $275,000 Settlement

Motorcycle leg injury (69)      This case is one wherein my client, Bobby, suffered serious injuries as a result of a car making a u-turn in front of him while he drove his motorcycle at a safe speed.  In particular, he suffered a degloving injury to his right leg which necessitated a painful skin graft and had left him with a large permanent scar (see picture to the right). 

    Graphic photos of Bobby's injuries, before and after the surgery, can be seen by clicking here - due to the graphic nature of these motorcycle injury degloving photos, it is inappropriate to just post them here because they are too shocking and one must be forewarned.  You need to affirmatively click here in order to view them.

    Ultimately, the case settled for $275,000 - an amount far and beyond his medical bills and designed to compensate him for the pain and suffering that he experienced as a result of this negligent driver.

Please read excerpts from the mediation brief below.  The names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the parties.

    The instant lawsuit arises out of an incident which occurred on June 24, 2008 on Acme Place just south of Genteel Boulevard in the City of Los Angeles.  Defendant Theresa was driving a 2005 silver Volkswagen Passat in lane 2 of 2.  Plaintiff Bobby, then 24 years of age, was driving his 1994 Honda VFR-750 motorcycle in lane 1 of 2. 

    Bobby, who was suited up with a leather jacket, jeans, safety helmet and motorcycle riding boots,  had been traveling in the same lane, without making any lane changes,  for quite some time.  He was not using his cell phone nor was he listening to any type of music.  He testified in his deposition that he traveled within the 35 mph speed limit for the duration of his drive on Acme.  Further, he was on his way to a cold-reading class at a local community center.  The class, which was only a few miles from his home, was to begin at 7:45 pm.  Bobby would have arrived early having left his apartment at 7:13 pm had it not been for this life-altering accident.

    Plaintiff became aware of Theresa’s vehicle just after passing Genteel Boulevard.  There was nothing in particular that brought it to his attention other than “the fact that there was a vehicle there.” (Bobby Deposition 46:24).  They were both traveling at the same speed and they remained in their respective lanes with Bobby traveling approximately 70 to 80 feet behind.  He noticed her beginning to slow down but because she remained in her own lane he  thought nothing of it until it looked as though she was going to merge into his lane.  He honked his horn, eased on his brakes and tried to move to the left in order to avoid her all the while being mindful of not crossing over the double yellow line into oncoming traffic.

    In actuality, Theresa was not attempting to merge into Bobby’s lane of travel.  Instead, she made a u-turn directly in front of him causing the injuries and damages hereinafter described.

    The Los Angeles Police arrived at the scene, investigated the incident and produced the report.   Theresa stated, in pertinent part, that she made a u-turn in order to change her direction of travel from southbound Acme to northbound Acme and, in so doing, collided with Bobby’s motorcycle.  She says that she never saw him coming which led her to believe that he was speeding.  However, there is no evidence to substantiate that point and, in fact, such a statement is purely speculative.  Finally, she admitted to the investigating officer that the accident was her fault

    An independent witness, Darius, stated that he was driving northbound on Acme and saw Theresa, who was traveling southbound on Acme, make a u-turn.  He witnessed Theresa collide with Bobby’s motorcycle.

    Although Theresa was not cited, the police listed the primary collision factor as a violation of California Vehicle Code §22102 by Theresa.  The code states that

    "No person in a business district shall make a U-turn, except at an intersection, or on a divided highway where an opening has been provided in accordance with Section 21651.  This turning movement shall be made as close as practicable to the extreme left-hand edge of the lanes moving in the driver's direction of travel immediately prior to the initiation of the turning movement, when more than one lane in the direction of travel is present."

*****

    “I felt around my body and thought I was okay at first.  I didn’t notice any problems.  Then I reached to touch my leg, and I felt that it was very small.  So I looked down, and I saw it, and I was actually holding the bone in my leg.  It was completely torn open.  I think the term that the EMT’s used was ‘degloving.’  It was completely torn open, and my hand was inside my leg, at which point I pretty much lost my cool.” (Bobby Deposition, page 58:23 to 59:6)

In this case, it was necessary to file a lawsuit against the driver of the u-turning vehicle in order to move the case along.  Her insurance company, although polite, was not cooperating to the extent that they needed to in order to come to a fair resolution in this matter.  Meanwhile, my client's medical bills were piling up and he still needed skin graft surgery because his wound was not healing.  It remained open!  Aggressive action was required and that action was in the form of a lawsuit.

    The case then moved along quickly.  I found a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who was willing to perform the skin graft on a lien basis.  This means that he was willing to wait until the matter resolved, either through settlement or judgment rendered at trial, before getting paid.  The surgery center worked on a lien basis as well.

    It is important in injury accidents such as these that the legal aspects are properly handled by an experienced attorney.  My client had no health insurance at the time and faced serious medical issues had I not been able to arrange for treatment in the manner described above.

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


March 22, 2009

Fritzl Chooses Luxury Prison - Where's the Outrage?

Timesonline reports that per Austrian law Josef Fritzl, who was convicted of rape, murder, false imprisonment and other atrocities which he committed during the 24 years that he kept his daughter Elisabeth and the 6 surviving children that he forced her to bear in while confined in a windowless dungeon, will get to pick his poison ... I mean prison. (I apologize for the long sentence but, after all, I am a lawyer and we tend to be verbose). 

Associated Press Video


Can this horrific story get any more bizarre?  73 year old Fritzl, a creature who has no right to call himself a human being, was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole in 15 years.  I am disgusted by the fact that he was allowed to choose to spend his incarceration at Garsten,  prison for the "psychologically abnormal" where, according to Timesonline, "he will be able to improve his English or study other foreign languages, as well as singing in the choir or training in a gym that is better-equipped than those of many hotels. As an inmate, he will be offered a wide variety of hobbies and entertainment, including tennis, darts and art classes."

Where is the outrage?  This treatment calls for reform.  Garsten is set in the foothills of the Alps and boasts of one of the largest prison libraries in Austria so that Fritzl won't be deprived of the ability to indulge in his passion for reading.  What about Elisabeth's passion for, well, anything?  Even though she's been freed from her prison, common sense dictates that she will never be freed from the memory of the horror that was her life.

Details of Elisabeth Fritzl's Abuse at the Hands of Her Father, Josef Fritzl

Fritzl's fellow inmates include such dignitaries as a former TV presenter, Helmut Frodl, serving life for murdering a rival and dismembering his body with a chainsaw. Frodl is working on a PhD and is allowed out twice a month with an escort to discuss his thesis with a professor.

Although in theory it's commendable that, per a spokesman for the Austrian prisons, “The Austrian penal system aims not only at enforcing punishment, but also attempts to bring the inmate back within the norms of society,” the inhuman wrongs that this man committed against his daughter and the children that he begat with her, can never be made right.  Every day of the rest of his life should be filled with the same fear, terror, frustration and horror that he bestowed upon his family.

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"



March 19, 2009

Josef Fritzl Sentenced To Life in Mental Hospital

Fritzl Croaking Voice Joseph Fritzl, the monster who imprisoned, raped and tortured his own daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years while forcing her to bear 7 of his children, has been sentenced to life in a mental hospital -- a mental hospital of HIS own choosing. 

In general, I'm not a punitive person.  However, in these circumstances, this man should be afforded absolutely no choice as to any aspect of his life, not the least of which is where he will spend the rest of his days.  He should be afforded the same choice he gave to his daughter - none.

According to Timesonline:

Josef Fritzl barely quivered when he was sentenced yesterday to life in a prison for psychologically disturbed criminals. He was found guilty of murdering a boy, one of seven children fathered with his daughter, of enslaving her, incarcerating her, beating her and raping her 3,000 times in the cellar of the family home.

Fritzl, 73, said in a croaking voice that he accepted the verdict — there will be no appeal — and he was marched off by a phalanx of policemen to a cell that lets in more sunlight than his daughter Elisabeth saw in almost a quarter of a century.

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March 18, 2009

Joseph Fritzl Pleads Guilty to All Charges - He's Still a Monster

In spite of the fact that Josef Fritzl pled guilty to ALL charges today, he remains one of the great monsters of all time.  Click here, here, here, here and here to read previous, detailed postings of his horrific crimes.

Please watch the CNN Video News Report below for greater details of today's guilty plea.



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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"



March 17, 2009

Details of Elisabeth Fritzl's Abuse at the Hands of Her Father, Josef

Josef-Fritzl-arrives-for--001 I am sickened by the account of Josef Fritzl’s treatment of his daughter, Elisabeth Fritzl, during the 24 years that he imprisoned her in a purposefully built cellar. 

This Josef Fritzl calls himself a man, a human being.  I don't perceive him as human.  The horrors that he bestowed upon his daughter beginning with drugging her at age 18 in order to imprison her in the dungeon that became her 24 year torture chamber and the deceit that he so brazenly perpetrated to friends and family during that time boggle the mind and shock the conscience. 


Here is, in part, what the indictment states:

  • He chained his daughter up, strapping up her arms and tying her hands behind her back with an iron chain, which he then secured to metal posts behind her bed. She could only move approximately half a metre either side of the bed.
  • After two days he gave her more freedom of movement by attaching the chain around her waist. Then around six to nine months into her imprisonment, he "removed the metal chain", because "it was hindering his sexual activity with his daughter".
  • He forced her to endure sexual abuse and rape at his hands sometimes several times a day, from the second day of her incarceration right up until her release last April. During the first nine months he kept her on a lead and "constantly covered her mouth and prevented her from breathing".
  • He repeatedly threatened her with the statement: "If you do not do as I say, your treatment will get worse and you will not escape from the cellar anyway."
  • He repeatedly beat and kicked her.
  • Subjected her to humiliating sexual abuse, including forcing her to reenact scenes in pornographic films with him as well as inserting objects into her in a violent manner.
  • Fritzl threatened Elisabeth and her children, warning them that if they tried to escape they would be killed. "He told them he had installed a system so that the doors would give them electric shocks if they tried to open them and that poison would be released into the cellar if they tried to escape, killing them all instantly."
  • He would punish her by switching off all the power to the cellar for days at a time "so she was left alone in total darkness".
  • The jury will hear three expert testimonies including the psychiatric assessment of Fritzl, and evidence from a technical expert and an electrical engineer who have inspected the dungeon prison, including its complex locking system and the eight doors which separated Elisabeth and her family from the outside world.

The poison that ran through this man's veins is incomprehensible.  I'm speechless.


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Fritzl Trial Media Frenzy



The trial begins.  From CNN:

One of Elisabeth Fritzl's brothers, Harald, also testified by video, a court spokesman said. The media and public have been barred from the courtroom for sensitive parts of the trial.

Fritzl has pleaded guilty to incest and other charges, but denied murder and enslavement.

He pleaded "partly guilty" -- an option in Austrian court -- to multiple charges of raping his daughter, Franz Cutka, a spokesman for the court in Landesgericht St. Poelten, said. A verdict is expected on Thursday, Cutka said.

Elisabeth testified on an 11-hour videotape. Portions of the tape were played Monday, and Fritzl was asked about it. The remainder of the tape was played Tuesday, officials said.

Authorities have said Elisabeth and her children were given new identities and are in a secret location.

Will there ever be justice for this family?  It doesn't seem possibleto me that Elisabeth Fritzl and her six surviving children can ever lead normal lives.  However, their new found freedom may send them on their way to integration and reintegration into society especially with the assumption that Josef Fritzl will be locked away for many years to come.  It's daunting, though, to know that his plea deal may include incarceration in a resort-like prison where the inmates are given the luxury of daily activities such as classes, tennis and other recreational sports.


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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"






March 15, 2009

Toxic Mold Symptoms Affecting Your Family and You

Toxicblackmold Do You or Your Family Have Symptoms of Toxic Mold?

Our homes are our sanctuaries, our safe place in this hectic world.  What if your home is sick with toxic mold?  Do you suspect that your house or apartment is sick with mold?  If you, your children, spouse or housemates experiencing unexplained symptoms such as

  • Memory Loss, Anxiety, Personality Disorders, Mood Swings
  • Sore Throat, Shortness of Breath, Nosebleeds, Cough
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Hair Loss,Skin Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or Pain in Extremities (arms, legs)
  • Headaches
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Tremors
  • Fibromyalgia

your living space may be infected with toxic mold.

View Graphic Photos of Toxic Mold, Victims and Repair


Who is Responsible For Toxic Mold in Your Home?

Judges-gavel

Who may be responsible for toxic mold in your home?  Is there someone whose action, or lack of action, is the legal cause of your current mold-related health problems?  They may have insurance that will compensate you and your family, housemates, etc. for the potentially life-altering and lifelong injuries that you have sustained.  Here is a short list of possible parties who may be responsible for either the mold in your home OR for not discovering and/or disclosing the fact that there is mold in your home:

  • Builder
  • Developer
  • Architect
  • Subcontractors
  • Remediation Consultants
  • Homeowners Association
  • Landlord
  • Property Managers
  • Real Estate Agent or Broker
  • Inspectors
  • Former Owner
  • Sewer Repair

Our experienced litigation attorneys will analyze your situation from a legal perspective and advise you as to whether or not you have a toxic mold case and are entitled to compensation.

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

March 10, 2009

Josef Fritzl: Evil Father Goes on Trial for Crimes Against Daughter, Elisabeth

Fritzl 2009-03-10 005 You may recall the horrific story of Elisabeth Fritzl, the Austrian woman who was held captive, raped and tortured by her father for 24 years.  So many of you were incredulous at the horrific story that captured the world's attention and sympathy.  I blogged on it here, here, here and here.  Many of my blog postings include videos and photos of the crime (thus far) of the century.  There was also a link to a photo album containing nine photos of, among other things, the victim and her father.

Well, the outrage continues.  Josef Fritzl has admitted to his acts.  He is going on trial next week for murder, incest, unlawful imprisonment and enslavement.  His attorney, Rudolf Mayer, says "He is not a monster.  He loved his daughter in his own way."  This is love?  I don't know about you but I'm deeply offended by the callous disregard for the lives of his daughter and the 7 children (the product of repeated rapes by her father) that she bore from the depravity that defined her existence.  One of the children died in infancy, in the dungeon that was their home, while turning blue in her arms.   Josef Fritzl incinerated the body and, although it is believed that he won't be so convicted, this death is the subject of the murder charge against him.

It is quite possible that, under the current Austrian laws, Fritzl could get out of prison in less than 10 years (rape has a maximum sentence of 15 years and, with good behavior...).  To add insult to injury, it is rumored that his attorney has made a deal where Fritzl gets to choose the prison in which he will be held to pay for his crimes and that the chosen location will provide mediation, tennis, football and darts as well as cooking lessons. 

Elisabeth Fritzl has filmed 11 hours of testimony wherein she describes being assaulted by her father for the first time at age 11.  She tried to defend herself against his rape by kicking and screaming.  She became his captive at the age of 18 when he locked her in the dungeon that he purposefully built beneath their house (I'm loathe to call it a home) and, in an effort to cover up his perverted acts, forced her to write a letter saying that she had run away to join a cult.

The father's defense: He was protecting her from smoking, drugs, sex and drinking.  Oh, did I mention that he gave his captives a bird?  Oh, yes, the bird was able to live down there so it proves that he provided them with good air quality.  In addition to the bird, the police found whips and handcuffs.

The details of the upcoming trial and Elisabeth Fritzl's diary of her 8400+ days of captivity are plentiful on the Internet.  In particular, I found the following three articles which lay it all out:

Fritzl Daughter Tells of Fight to Save Children: Timesonline

Evil Father Goes on Trial: Babble.com

Fritzl Girl's Dunegon Diary Leaked: Ninemsn.com

And, of course, a Google Search on Elisabeth Fritzl or Josef Fritzl will yield a plethora of information.

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March 06, 2009

Nautilus Recalls Bowflex® Home Gyms Due to Risk of Injury

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Bowflex trainer The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued information regarding the Nautilus Bowflex Home Gyms (see below).  If you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of this unit, please call the Law Office of Lowell Steiger to find out your rights.  Injuries from the Nautilus Bowflex (or other defective products) fall under the category of Product Liability.

Can you sue if you're injured as a result of a defective product?

Yes.  Injuries related to bad design or manufacture of a product fall into the product liability category.  If an injury is sustained as a result of bad design or manufacture, then everyone in the chain of commerce (i.e., manufacturer, distributor, retailer) can be held liable for that injury or injuries.  When you buy  or use a product, it is reasonable to assume that the product will be safe when used for its intended purpose.  It is also reasonable to assume that the product will warn you of any potential dangers.  If the product is then unsafe for use or if you have not been warned of its potential dangers, and if an injury occurs, then you have the legal right to take everyone in the chain of commerce to task.  Will they put up a defense?  Yes.  Are you guaranteed to prevail?  No.  However, an attorney experienced in the area of product liability will analyze the facts as they apply to the law and determine whether you have a viable case and proceed from there.   Click here for other Product Liability posts

The Scoop on the Nautilus Bowflex Home Gym Recall

Nautilus bowflex WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of product: Bowflex® Ultimate 2 Home Gyms

Units: About 78,000 (about 68,000 home gyms were recalled on December 6, 2007)

Importer: Nautilus Inc., of Vancouver, Wash.

Hazard: The home gym's horizontal seat rail is designed to be latched in a vertical position for storage. If the seat rail is not manually latched, it can fall unexpectedly on the user or a bystander, posing a risk of serious injury.

Incidents/Injuries: Nautilus has received 18 reports of injuries caused by unlatched seat rails that have fallen, resulting in head and shoulder lacerations, some requiring stitches or staples.

Description: This recall involves the Bowflex® Ultimate 2 Home Gyms. The home gyms are equipped with pulleys, resistance rods, and other equipment, which allow the user to perform a variety of exercises. “Bowflex Ultimate 2” is written on the vertical part of the frame.

Sold at: Specialty fitness retailers nationwide and through direct Nautilus sales from June 2005 through January 2009 for about $2,300.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers may continue to use their home gyms for exercising, but should not place the seat rail in the vertical (storage) position until the repair is performed. Registered owners are being sent a free repair kit. Owners who have not received a repair kit by March 10, 2009 should contact the firm.

Firm’s Recall Hotline: (800) 259-9019 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT M-F or www.bowflex.com )
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


March 01, 2009

Law School Musical, A Video

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I just watched this very cute video on Youtube and thought I'd share it with you. It's a song about the rigors of law school replete with appropriate drawings.  Enjoy!



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