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Scott Swanson of Elmira was a Veteran of the Game last season. The Army veteran served three tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea and Kosovo.
The Ziff Law Firm will soon begin its sixth season of honoring Twin Tiers military veterans during Elmira Jackals home games, and is seeking nominations for the 2014-2015 ECHL hockey season at First Arena in Elmira.
The Ziff Law Firm is very proud to sponsor this opportunity for veterans to be publicly thanked for their service. We can’t imagine more deserving recipients of our thanks.
Male and female veterans and active-duty personnel who are home on leave can be nominated for the Veteran of the Game program by clicking here, or by contacting Annette Viselli Thorne at [email protected] or 607-733-8866, ext. 218.
One veteran is honored at each regular-season home game.
Clyde Lahnum of Horseheads, a Navy and Coast Guard veteran, was honored last season.
Those selected receive four free tickets to a game. During the game, the public-address announcer introduces the veteran and reads a short biography of their military service, and then Jackals fans salute the veteran with a big cheer.
“The veterans who are honored say it is a night they will remember forever, and we hope to create more great memories this season for Twin Tiers veterans and their families,” said Annette Viselli Thorne of the Ziff Law Firm.
Opening night for the Jackals is Oct. 17 against the Kalamazoo Wings at First Arena. The Jackals play 35 more regular-season home games before the season concludes in April.
More than 175 veterans have been honored by the Ziff Law Firm and Jackals fans in the last five seasons.
Christina Sonsire called Sept. 12 “one of the most interesting and inspiring days in my legal career.” That was the day our Ziff Law attorney and 11 of the other top trial lawyers in the state interviewed seven candidates for the New York State Court of Appeals, the top court in the state, in Albany,
“The finalists were so intellectually outsanding that at times we were almost in awe of their answers,” Christina said.
The panel of trial lawyers, assembled by the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, advised Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his selection of a new justice following the day of interviews Friday.
Beyond respect for the great judicial minds, Christina also brought home some lessons that helped her immediately in her practice.
“Several candidates were sitting appellate-level judges, and listening to them talk about what is most persuasive to them or what they look for in cases when they are deciding appeals was incredibly helpful,” she said. “I was coming back to the office to write an appeal on a case and the discussion is very much on my mind as I begin to draft it.”
She sees similarities in working with juries and appellate judges.
“When you are talking to members of a jury, you want to give them something to take back with them to the jury room so they can fight for your client when you are not there,” she said. “You want to give them facts, data and arguments they need so that when they go back to the jury room to discuss the case, they might fight for your client.
“Appellate work is very similar. Instead of a jury, you have a panel of appellate judges, and you have to give them enough facts and be as persuasive as you can so they fight for your client when the sit together to decide the case.”
Lawyers across the state have taken note of Christina’s skill as a trial lawyer. Christina is a member of the board of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers and was appointed to the judicial panel by Academy Executive Director Michelle J. Stern.
Christina was selected because of her strong record as a plaintiffs’ attorney, primarily in medical malpractice cases. She has also lectured extensively across the state.
And Christina was the ONLY trial lawyer on the panel chosen to represent the Elmira, Corning, Ithaca and Binghamton region.
The state Commission on Judicial Nomination announced the judicial finalists in a letter to Cuomo on Sept. 3. Cuomo then asked the Academy and other state bar associations to screen the candidates and make a recommendation.
Cuomo is expected to soon announce his selection.
The committee will meet again later in the fall to interview candidates for another position soon to open on the top court.
“It was a great honor to be named to this committee and meet so many professionals with great legal experience. I am sure every time I go to Albany for a meeting, I will come back with new ideas and strategies that will help my clients at Ziff Law.”
The readers of the Star-Gazette have again voted the Ziff Law Firm is the best law firm in the Twin Tiers.
We are honored that, in a poll of 5,000 residents, the Ziff Law Firm was recognized as the best law firm in the region for the second year in a row in the Elmira Star-Gazette’s “Best of the Twin Tiers” Awards, which were announced Thursday.
We are gratified that our hometown newspaper’s readers selected our law firm, out of all the local law firms, as the best Elmira-area law firm.
As much as it is gratifying to have your fellow lawyers name us as the best (for example, Best Lawyers in America, NY SuperLawyers and many other awards), there is nothing more gratifying than having the local folks who know us so well call us the best.
The Ziff Law family prides itself on being a hard-working, dedicated part of the local community, so it means the world to us when our friends and neighbors appreciate us. We have always said our professional reputation is our single most important asset, and we strive every day to uphold that reputation.
It’s summer in the Twin Tiers, and that means it’s time for some outdoor fun on our beautiful lakes or in our pools. It’s also the season of thunderstorms, road construction and contractors signs dotting the lawns seemingly on every block.
Everyone I know has at least one good and one bad contractor story. Usually a good story involves a contractor recommended by a friend or neighbor, and a bad story involves someone hired quickly or without a recommendation.
In a recent Law Talk on WETM-TV News at Noon (every Wednesday at 12:20 p.m.), I provided some advice to those hiring a contractor to work around their home this summer and fall.
Here is the latest installment of our Q & A series, focusing on legal information that can be helpful to residents of the Twin Tiers and beyond.
QUESTION: What are the most important points to remember when people search for a contractor for a home improvement project?
ANSWER: The best advice is do your homework and be very careful about the contractors you hire. If you don’t know the contractor coming to your door or soliciting your business, check them out. Family and friends are always good sources for referrals. Look for contractors with a local connection who have been around for a while. But if it is just someone who pulls up in front of the house with out-of-state plates, then be very careful and be sure you don’t hire the wrong people.
If you are going to hire a contractor, one of the things that is really important is document everything. Keep good records of what they say they will do, when they worked, how much money you have provided them and so on. If they say they are doing a certain scope of work, get it in writing. Be very detailed about what you expect. If it is a roof job, does it include the gutters and hauling away the old roofing material? Make sure you have as much as you can in writing.
Make sure the price is listed, and this is the most important advice I give to everyone: do NOT give the contractor all the money up front! You have to hold back some money. Some companies will require 25 percent or 50 percent up front, but under no circumstances would I hire a contractor who insists that I need more than 50 percent up front.
And do NOT make the final payment until the work is fully completed to your satisfaction. Your money is your leverage against the contractor and that leverage is more important than any legal claim or lawsuit you might have.
Finally, if you have a problem, you can consider taking the contractor to small claims court or to a higher court, if the amount in controversy is more.
The best advice is be very careful BEFORE entering into a relationship with a contractor. Hire people with a good reputation and who have worked in your area or have local connections. Make sure everything is documented. Take photos and videos before, as they make progress and of the finished work.
I recently received a terrific email from a blog reader in Australia who shares my concern for the safety of people around moving vehicles.
Luise Manning’s mission is to protect children from slow-speed runover accidents, and it is a GREAT CAUSE that gets overlooked in all the other accident news here and abroad.
Children are seriously injured or killed every day when a parent or other loved one accidentally strikes a child while backing out or pulling away. We have all read about these tragedies and our hearts ache for the child or children lost AND the driver!
Luise has written a book, “Hold My Hand,” that you can learn more about here and has been the subject of a news story because of her Car Angel campaign.
Be sure to watch the video above to see what her mission is all about. You won’t forget it once you watch it.
Here is the guest blog post from Luise Manning:
5 Steps To Safely Reduce The Risk Of Low-Speed Vehicle Runovers In Driveways And Parked Cars
1. Supervision is No. 1. Adults are responsible for the safety of young children in and around traffic. It will take many years for young children to make safe decisions independently when there are cars about. Actively supervise children whenever vehicles are known to be moving by holding children’s hands or keeping them close to keep them safe. Sometimes they may not want to hold hands; they want to be independent but often they are not aware of dangerous situations.
2. Know where children are before you move the car! Children are run over by vehicles going forward as well as backing up. Be aware of blind zones – they can occur in front of and behind a vehicle.Get in the habit of walking around the car, checking for children before you get in the driver’s side door in driveways or where cars are parked.
Know where your child is. Don’t assume that they are with another person; check before you go to be sure the child is safe.
If you are alone and a car needs to be moved, protect them by placing them in the car seat prior to moving a vehicle.
When you’re out, be alert and keep a lookout for small children as they often do not respond to warning signals or reverse lights.
A reversing camera or sensor may help you avoid incidents, but young children move quickly and you may not have time to stop.
3. Secure doors and gates! Young children are growing and learning every day – one minute they can’t do something and the next they can! Consider installing self-closing gates, doors and childproof locks on doors to prevent children from opening and accessing areas such as the driveway or garage unnoticed.
4. Create safe places to play away from the garage and driveway. A driveway is actually a small road. Fence off access to driveways, and wherever possible, ensure young children play in an area separated from the driveway. Explain to children why footpaths, roads and driveways are not safe places to play. Talk with children about safe places to play. Always check that doors and gates are closed and can’t be opened by children.
The car is not a play area; keep the doors locked when the vehicle is not in use to prevent children from entering the car. Avoid leaving them to play alone, especially around areas near parked or moving cars.
5. Educate – Don’t wait for school; make some cool rules. Early education is the key to minimize the risk of dangers. While we can teach children about road safety and being careful around cars, parents and other caregivers need to be cautious about expecting a child under 10 years old to be safe consistently. Children get distracted and forget to watch for moving vehicles.
Have some family rules about driveway safety – Wave goodbye from behind a door, not on the driveway. Never let children run ahead of you.
Use simple catchphrases to help establish routines and habits. For example, say: “Stand next to the car,” or “Stay where you are,” or “Hold tight, keep me in sight” to encourage children to practice safe behavior.
Everyone needs to be involved! Praise children when they follow instructions, but lead by example to create lifelong habits. Talk with other adults in your child’s life about your family rules to reduce the risk of injury or death from low-speed accidents.
My thanks to Luise for writing this for our readers all over the world!
Ziff Law Managing Partner Jim Reed talked about how homeowners can be better prepared to deal with a disaster on a recent segment of Law Talk on a recent WETM-TV News at Noon.
Question: We have had many storms this summer, including some tornadoes, and lots of property damage in our communities in the region. What do you do right away if your home is damaged in a storm?
Jim Reed: The most important thing is document, document, document. It has become easier to document storm damage than it used to be. Document the damage by taking photos or videos; and copy invoices and receipts for items or services used.
The key thing after damages occur is to promptly walk around your home and write down, photograph and shoot video of the damage to your home and property. The more proof you have, the better.
You also need to report it to your insurance agent immediately. I always recommend to my clients that they get a local insurance agent instead of just buying your insurance over the internet. When you have a claim, your local insurance agent is your first line of defense assisting you with your claim. The insurance agent, because of his or her business relationship with you, should help you in the process of filing the claim and doing what is necessary to help you get paid for your claim. A good local agent who cares about you and your claim can be worth their weight in gold!
One of the things I have been asked about is, “What about this ‘act of God’ exclusion in my policy?” You need to read your policy, review it with your agent and you need to know, whether it’s wind or flood damage or anything else, are you covered? It’s critically important because different insurance companies and even different insurance policies within the same company can have different provisions on what is covered and what is not.
The most important thing to remember when you sit down with your agent is to be absolutely sure you know what is covered and what is not covered. Ask questions like: Is my boat covered if sitting on a trailer in my driveway? Am I covered if the creek in my back yard overflows and floods my house? Am I covered if lightning strikes my house and burns it down? In other words, try to think of the real world problems that might damage your property and ask the agent whether you are covered or not. Don’t leave the agent’s office without all your answers. And it never hurts to take notes of your conversation as to what is covered and what is not.
Thanks for reading. Now is the time to get your insurance policies out and do your homework!
See Law Talk segments at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesdays on WETM-TV News at Noon.
To submit a legal question for the Ziff Law lawyers to answer on one of their blogs, email the question to [email protected]
The hilarious seven-minute video above illustrates the nightmare every trial lawyer has encountered at one time or another – witnesses who are coached by their lawyers to give non-responsive answers so stubborn lawyers like me are left no other alternative than to keep asking the question until we finally get a responsive answer!
In the video, a lawyer is trying to depose a blank-faced witness asks the question that kicks off the confrontation – “Does the Recorder’s office have photocopying machines?” That leads to all sorts of wiggling and dodging by the witness and interference and stalling tactics by his lawyer, all designed to confuse the issue.
The amazing thing is the script for this insanity is from a REAL COURTROOM ENCOUNTER. It was taken verbatim from an Ohio deposition.
You can read more about the case that inspired this insanity, and how one lawyer would have done it differently, by clicking here.
You will see many smiles and handshakes in the news in the coming weeks as Guthrie prepares to cut the ribbon on its new, state-of-the-art Guthrie Corning Hospital in East Corning, just off Interstate 86 at the west end of state Route 352.
But after after all the back-slapping and cheering is over, this is the reality facing patients:
The beautiful new building and the latest, greatest technology don’t mean anything if the quality of care administered by the doctors and nurses doesn’t improve.
In the many medical malpractice cases we have handled against the Corning Hospital and the Guthrie system, the cases have never been about inadequate facilities or equipment. They have been about miscommunication, no communication, overworked staff, under staffing, mistakes, misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, failure to investigate, failure to diagnose, failure to supervise, and failure to use common sense.
A new address and a new building won’t do anything to change the problems that lead to patients being injured by the facility they trust to care for them.
At the Ziff Law Firm, we will be watching carefully for new signs of better care and communication at the new hospital. In the meantime, we will continue to hold the hospital and its staff responsible when their mistakes injure and kill people. It is only when they are held responsible for their mistakes that change will occur.
Unless there is a change of culture at the new Guthrie Corning Hospital, the only thing they will be changing is the location.
Boaters and operators of other watercraft in New York State — including the Finger Lakes, of course — are now required to clean and drain their vessels before hitting the water to help stop the spread of invasive species like zebra mussels.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this month adopted regulations requiring owners to remove visible plant and animal matter from boats, canoes and any other motorized or paddled vessel, before reaching the water. All watercraft owners are also required to clean trailers.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said boats and boat trailers can spread invasive species, a threat to our ecosystem.
Before launching, boaters are asked to inspect and remove all mud, plants and other organic material, and drain the bilge.
The state has a great step-by-step inspection process here. The steps are check, clean, drain, dry and disinfect.
You can learn more about aquatic invasive species in New York State here.
Read some basic questions and answers about aquatic invasive species here to learn more.
Here is the first question and answer:
Q: What is an aquatic invasive species?
A: According to New York State Environmental Conservation Law, an invasive species is a species that is not native to an ecosystem and causes or is likely to cause significant economic or environmental harm, or harm human health. In reality, the species rarely have any human health implications, but do have the potential to outcompete native species and grow or reproduce to nuisance proportions in a body of water. In certain cases, these species may be native to the U.S. or another section of NY, but are not native to the entire state. White perch and alewife are an example of two fish species that are native to the marine and coastal region of NY, but have become problematic when introduced to inland waters. In other cases, invasive species may be introduced from other regions of the world.
Thanks for reading, and remember to check, clean, drain, dry and disinfect!
A friend of Morgan’s was killed when a Walmart tractor-trailer driven by Kevin Roper rear-ended Morgan’s Mercedes limousine at 1 a.m. June 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan is now in fair condition in a New Jersey hospital.
The truck driver, charged with Vehicular Manslaughter By Operating A Vehicle Recklessly and Recklessly Causing Serious Bodily Injury, remains free on $50,000 bail. Prosecutors claim Roper went more than 24 hours without sleep before the fatal wreck. The Jonesboro, Ga., man pleaded innocent last week to the charges in the crash.
In a recent Law Talk segment on WETM-TV News at Noon, I talked about the accident and the charges faced by the truck driver.
Question: Who is held responsible when a truck driver is driving for a company?
Answer: The driver and the owner of the truck are both responsible. The driver has the responsibility of driving safely, and if he is not safe, he can be held liable.
If the truck driver works for Walmart and is operating the truck in the course of his employment, then the company is responsible, too.
In this case, there is an allegation that the driver had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. That would be a major violation of federal trucking regulations.
Federal regulations are very specific. Drivers are not supposed to operate a truck for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period, and after those 11 hours, they are supposed to rest for at least 10 hours. They cannot drive more than 70 hours in a week.
The truck driver is also supposed to list the hours he spends on the road in a log book in his truck. There are many log requirements, but I know from handling many truck accident cases that often the log books are incomplete, and in some cases, falsified.
Sen. Schumer is calling for tougher monitoring of truck drivers.
Drivers are trying to get in more hauls because they get paid by the number of miles they travel and so often, we see truck drivers who have broken the law.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called for “black boxes” (electronic logging devices) in trucks yesterday so trucker hours can be monitored. He cited some startling statistics: 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in accidents involving trucks, and 13 percent of serious accidents are cause by trucker fatigue.
Schumer also wants the federal Department of Transportation to study, and if necessary, increase the insurance coverage level that truck companies are required to cover so victims of accidents receive the compensation and coverage they deserve, he said.
As a lawyer who has handled many tractor trailer cases in N.Y. and PA, I strongly support Senator Schumer’s call for great safety action.
To submit a legal question you’d like answered here on one of our Ziff Law blogs, please send an email to me at [email protected]
Thanks for reading, and remember when you are sharing the road with tractor-trailers, use extreme caution.