A Heartfelt Thank You From a MLB Parent Who Understands

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A Heartfelt Thank You From a MLB Parent Who Understands

Ross Stripling had hit 100 pitches with one out in the eighth inning.  Normally, in the first two weeks of the season, this would be touted as a stellar performance.  What was even more notable, was that Stripling was carrying a no-hitter.  Only 2 years removed from Tommy John Surgery, Stripling had noticeably tired and had lost velocity on his fastball.  So, the tough decision for a Manager, do you let your pitcher stay in and try to complete his no-hitter, or, do you take him out to protect his recently surgically repaired arm.  What some may struggle with as a difficult decision, Dodger Manager, Dave Roberts made easy.  Roberts promptly removed Stripling from the game, having thrown 7 1/3 of no hit baseball and 100 pitches.  The Dodgers went on to lose the game in extra innings but many baseball people, Including former Dodger Manager, Don Mattingly, commended Roberts on making the right decision. 

The best part of this story was that Stripling’s dad sought out Manager Dave Roberts in the lobby of the hotel and gave Roberts an emotional and heartfelt “thank you” from both he and his wife for protecting their son’s career. 

The moral of the story…if it’s the right thing to do for a Major Leaguer…then it’s ever the righter decision for any youth player!  Parents, please remember it’s only a game.  And at the younger level, a game that has no bearing on a young player’s future career.  But, the proper choice by a coach may have a profound and permanent ramification on their health.  Our youth must be protected and we need more responsible baseball people like Dave Roberts coaching our youth

Kudos to Dave Roberts for making the right decision.

For original article please visit: 

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160409&content_id=171376494&vkey=news_la&c_id=la

 

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Personal Injury Lawyers Challenging the Stereotypes

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Personal Injury Lawyers Challenging the Stereotypes

Ambulance chaser, Bottom Feeders, Sharks  – it’s not the first time you’ve likely heard these terms used for Personal Injury (PI) Attorneys and it certainly won’t be the last. But hopefully by the end of this article you’ll think twice before using the term and look at attorneys in a different light.

Unfortunately when a personal injury attorney comes to mind, many people seem to have a negative opinion about them, often stereotyping them as money hungry uncompassionate people and garnering them a bad reputation. These false perceptions can be quite damaging, not only to our profession and the legal system, but to society as a whole.  The civil justice system is often the only recourse someone may have after a devastating injury or loss to obtain justice or compensation for a life altering event.

Personal Injury attorneys represent the interest’s and advocate for the rights of individuals against private parties for their negligent acts.  This is necessary to ensure large insurance companies and other corporations are held responsible for negligent actions, that those actions are corrected, and the injured or victims are compensated fairly for their injuries.  Most personal injury lawyers are genuinely trying to do the right thing by their clients. 

So then, where do these negative stereotypes come from? 

  1. The Media - As we know pop culture helps shape the way we think about things and influences our perceptions and decisions we make. TV shows‚ movies, the news… often portray lawyers as greedy and vindictive. 
  2. Attorney Advertisements - We’ve all seen those billboards or TV commercials promising people big money for their accidentsSome ads depict attorneys as aggressive or money hungry often making empty promises to people about their potential claim.
  3. Bad Experiences – With more than 1.3 licensed lawyers in the U.S. it can be a challenge to select one that is right for you, and unfortunately many folks have been romanced by promises or advertisements only to find themselves with lackluster results.  This leaves a sour taste for people when having to search for an attorney again.

Not only do injury lawyers help their clients at one of the most traumatic times of their life‚ but their work ensures that people live in a safe environment.  Personal injury claims can help corporations stay in line; being conscious of the consequences should they decide not to behave in a reasonable manner.  Attorneys are also to thank for the various safety laws and regulations we have in place.  Many of these laws were enacted in response to negligent behavior‚ providing standards with the intention of keeping the public safe.

Although it’s understandable why people have such negative opinions of personal injury attorneys, the truth is that these stereotypes, like most, are largely untrue.  The majority of PI attorneys select this career path in order to help people and keep our society balanced and fair.  Everyday people are able to pay for the care and treatment of their injuries because of compensation they have received from a legitimate case.  Everyday companies are held responsible and sanctioned accordingly so that we as consumers can be kept safe.  Everyday, we have children who have tragically lost a parent or a spouse who’s lost their partner but whose futures are financially protected because of the actions of personal injury attorneys.

There may be a time in your life when you are faced with a situation that will require you to hire an accident attorney.  Selecting an attorney should require serious consideration.  You should always do your homework as with any major life decision.  Don’t be afraid to “interview” your attorney to make sure he/she is right for you.  Ask for references, check out their website, make sure the attorney has experience in handling similar cases successfully, check for certifications, and like with many decisions – trust your gut. 

At Russo Battista Law group we believe that the best representation is one that treats each individual or family with the attention they deserve. We recognize that no case is the same and we make it our priority to identify all the needs of our clients and work together to help address those needs in the best way possible.   

Should you find yourself in a situation that requires legal representation or aren’t quite sure whether or not you may have a potential claim please feel free to reach out to us.  As always, consultations are complementary, and our firm only collects a fee for our services when we successfully obtain a recovery for you.

 

 

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MLB - Protecting the Pitcher

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MLB - Protecting the Pitcher

Concussions seem to be the newest topic to be taking the sports world by storm.  Although we hear about it mainly in Football, head injuries are prevalent in nearly all sports, Baseball included.  If you are a Baseball fan, then it’s difficult to forget the image of a player being struck in the head by a ball traveling over 100 miles per hour, which unfortunately happens approximately 2-3 times a season in the major leagues;  that doesn’t include all the players being hit on a near daily basis in training, practices and games on the little league, high school, college, andminor league levels nationwide.  Although the incidence rate of a ball striking a player in the head is relatively low in comparison to other sports; it is nevertheless a severe and potentially fatal blow.  And the most at risk?  Our pitchers.

Pitchers are the most vulnerable players on the field; their motions and field position leave them without much reaction time in the split-second it takes for a ball to fly off the hitters bat with a projectile path towards their head. And in the event that the ball makes contact with their head, the outcome is not only gruesome but likely life-altering.  Pitchers injuries can be life threatening; like Brandon McCarthy who a few years back while pitching for the Oakland Athletics took a hit to the head and was forced to undergo emergency surgery to relieve the pressure from the internal bleeding in his head.  The scarier part perhaps is that McCarthy walked off the field, yet what was happening inside his head could have proved fatal if not for the proper medical attention.

So the question becomes, how can we protect our pitchers from these rare but devastating injuries?  Baseball has seemed to embrace the protection of our players: our catchers wear ample protective gear, our hitters wear helmets, even our baseline coaches in the MLB wear helmets (a rule adopted after the death of base coach Mike Coolbaugh who was struck and killed by a line drive hit to the neck during a game in 2007). It seems the MLB has been pondering this very question for some time now and the answer may come this spring.  The MLB and MLBPA have approved a new protective headgear design that will be debuted by 20 major-league pitchers this upcoming spring training.

The new Boombang design looks like part helmet part visor and also provides ear protection. Like prototypes from the past, the trick is going to be combining protective technology with comfort that is seamless enough to not distract pitchers on the mound.  Having 20 MLB pitchers on board to actually try out this new prototype is a feat all its own, since the last isoBlox protective cap was sported by only one pitcher in the entire MLB, Alex Torres.  Though the true test won’t be until we see how many pitchers actually sport these helmet hybrids during official game season, this is a start.  

With the number of sports lawsuits on the rise, and recent claims against baseball organizations, bat manufactures and recreational facilities and parks for injuries sustained by line drives to a pitcher, it may be in the games’ best interest to protect the pitcher – and the Boombang head gear may just be the perfect starting point.  Although the MLB’s efforts in introducing this new protective gear at Spring training should be praised, perhaps an even more novel approach should be introducing it to our youngest of players - so that by the time our future athletes are stepping onto an MLB pitching mound, they’ll be doing so with protective headgear that’s just as much a part of their uniform as a baseball glove.

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Concussions & Football - It's a real thing

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Concussions & Football - It's a real thing

Super Bowl 50 may have surprised many with the Broncos’ victory over the heavily  favored Panther’s, but not so shocking was the concussion sustained by Panther’s leading wide receiver Corey Brown. Brown wasn’t alone though, Bronco’s line backer Shaquil Barrett also suffered a concussion during the game – neither player returning after failing the concussion evaluation protocol. 

As spectators of America’s most popular sport, we are sadly immune to the injuries inflicted on players during a game.  But as of late, at least the head injuries are making it into the headlines as well as our conversations regarding the sport.  And with the recent release of the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who took on the National Football League (NFL) with his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain damage suffered by professional football players, the football head injury discussions have only intensified.

Just last week, Pennsylvania High School Senior and talented football player, John Castello, made international headlines with his shocking decision to turn down nearly a dozen football scholarship offers, including Holy Cross, citing major concerns over brain injuries as the reason for his decision.  The issue of Football leading to brain injuries has gained momentum over recent years with medical research exposing the dangers of the sport to the brain and the long term ramifications.  The deaths of many ex- NFL playersnow attributed to brain disease, and manymore former and current players being diagnosed with brain injuries, has prompted a huge controversy in our nation regarding the all American pastime and it’s real dangers.

This controversy exists not only with our famous professional athletes, but perhaps more personally with our own young aspiring athletes at home.  More and more parents are expressing concern about the safety of the sport for their children and as evidenced by Castello’s own decision, the young athletes themselves are becoming very aware of the implications of what playing this sport can mean for their future health.

As with most diseases, prevention is key.  And naturally the best way to avoid brain injuries is to avoid doing the things that put you at risk for getting one.  Yet, despite the warnings and constant flow of research circulating the media regarding brain injuries, some folks enjoy the sport way too much to deprive the next generation from playing it.  Some youth players have already developed a passion for the sport and not playing is out of the question.  For some, they view the sport as their opportunity perhaps for a brighter future.  And since football organizations are not changing the way the game is played tomorrow, the best approach to keep our kids safe is to protect them as best we can from what we know can happen.

Obviously helmets help and must always be worn in the game, but recently technology is also helping to shape the way we can protect our young players.  Several apps have been developed to test players for concussions immediately on the sideline.  Although there is no substitute for seeking immediate professional medical treatment, these apps are useful in helping to assess consciousness and common concussion symptoms. Some of these apps have built-in timers to test for cognitive function and balance. Reports can be e-mailed to a healthcare provider at the end of the questionnaire, to help prepare them for the incoming patient. One app is designed for the athletic trainers, coaches, and health personnel; reports can be sent to the physician, in turn, physicians can notify the coaches and sports league of patient reports, and send information on when the athlete can return to play. For more on these apps click here. (more on these apps in a future blog)

As many of us recover from the Super bowl festivities, we should not forget to think about what these athletes are actually putting their bodies AND brains through and what their recovery looks like.  And though the issue requires far more thought than that, at the very least we need to ensure that we are using the data and research medical experts have worked very hard to obtain, to help guide us in making decisions that are best for our children’s health and futures.

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The 5 Most Dangerous Sports for Your Kids (and what you can do about it)

There is no doubt that when kids participate in team sports that they are learning important life skills – skills that will benefit them throughout adulthood. But these sports are not without their risks. Recently, our research department came across an interesting article that is related to a lot of others we found on the same topic. It outlined the five most dangerous sports for your kids. We thought we would pass this information along to you so that you can tip the safety factor for your children in their favor.

1.      Football. This shouldn’t be considered a shocker. We have written in past posts just how dangerous this sport can be. Common injuries are concussions, knee and ankle injuries. Proper headgear and mouth guards can go a long way in helping to curtail a traumatic brain injury. Why a quality mouth guard? It can help to prevent a shot to the jaw reverberating to the brain.

2.      Cheerleading. We know, it is sacred. We need cheerleaders both on the field/court and in life. We love their positive outlook even when things look bleak during competition. But over the years Cheerleading has become more dangerous because of the desire to perform more high risk stunts. How can it be made safer? People must realize that cheerleaders are athletes and not simply an afterthought. They need proper training and safety equipment. They need to follow the rules which are there for a reason – to ensure their safety.

3.      Soccer. Another one that made the list that should come as no surprise. Soccer players are prone to concussions, torn ACL’s and broken limbs (especially legs). How do we keep our kids from serious injury?  Again, proper safety equipment, training and the avoidance of risky behavior on the field.

4.      Cross Country. This one was a surprise because we were thinking in terms of head injuries, etc. Here’s the rub on cross country. There are a lot of heart related injuries, heat stroke and limb injury due to over use. Before taxing the heart in this regard you should ensure that your child has a healthy heart. Also help them resist overtraining. More isn’t always better.

5.      Field Hockey. The hockey enthusiasts won’t be happy with this one. Due to the fact that players are bent over trying to hit a ball with a stick, it’s no surprise that the majority of injuries are to the head and eyes. To hedge against injury proper safety equipment is a must including mouth and eye gear. It is imperative that players also learn proper technique.

This post isn’t meant to scare you. As a matter of fact, it is meant to allow your children to maximize the learning experience in team sports while at the same time minimizing their possibility of a life altering injury.

What are your thoughts? Any kid’s sports that should have made the list that didn’t? Any more safety advice? Leave your comments below. 

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For Immokalee visit, the Easter Bunny takes flight

Naples Daily News - naplesnews.com                                                            By John Osborne

IMMOKALEE, Fla. – The skies over Southwest Florida were a whole lot friendlier Thursday morning as a Fort Lauderdale-based nonprofit did its best to show that hopping down the bunny trail is strictly for amateurs – or rabbits without airplanes.

Around 9:30a.m., a pair  of Beechcraft carrying some very important cargo circled high above Immokalee Regional Airport before descending onto a runway illuminated by the million-watt smiles of dozens of beaming schoolchildren from the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, an organization that serves the children of migrant farm workers and the rural, low-income families throughout Florida.

Decked out in matching purple t-shirts, the children displayed remarkable restraint as the doors to the airplanes opened and the cargo was revealed, remaining seated in a ruler-straight row on the pavement with their legs crossed and their tiny hands folded neatly in their laps.

But then the star of the show disembarked from the first plane and at least some of the sense of the decorum was lost.

It was the Easter Bunny waving an oversized, snow-white paw in greeting and twitching painted –on whiskers with a button-nose.  Dozens of tiny hands immediately shot up from laps to wave enthusiastically in return.

“It’s the Easter Bunny!” came the excited cries from the children. “The Easter Bunny is really here!”

And with that, the first “Bunny Flight” was officially hopping – an event that traces its roots to “Turkeys Take Flight,” a nonprofit mission started last November by a law firm and an aviation drug-testing company located on the east coast of Florida.

“I’ve wanted to give back all my life – I’ve just always felt the need to give back to folks,” explained Tom Powers, one of the Beechcraft pilots, a Vietnam War veteran and founder of Flightline Drug Testing, which partnered with the Fort Lauderdale-based Russo Battista Law Group to deliver turkeys to needy Immokalee families last Thanksgiving. “And seeing all these wonderful smiles makes it all worthwhile.  It just warms my heart.”

One of those wonderful smiles Thursday belonged to 8-year-old Miranda Salas, a student at Immokalee Community School.  As she clutched an Easter bag filled with such goodies as crayons, coloring books, pencils and enough candy to satisfy even the sweetest of teeth – an Easter bag she received from the Easter Bunny personally – Miranda said she found it difficult to say what she liked best about the event.

“I like it all,” she said with an ear-to-ear grin. “I’m so happy I got this bag, and I’m also so happy that I got to take a picture with the Easter Bunny.  Everything is just very, very exciting.”

Asked then who was her favorite – the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus – Miranda knitted her brow in concentration for a moment before deciding to take the diplomatic route.

“Both!” she said.

Ida Eguia, an RCMA program specialist, said Turkeys Take Flight performed a tremendous service for underprivileged Immokalee families Thursday, much as it did last November when it delivered all the makings for a filling Thanksgiving dinner.

Sweeping a hand toward the assembled children, a wide smile crossed Eguia’s face.

“This means so much to them,” she said. “Most of them wouldn’t have gotten Easter baskets this year otherwise, and this takes a huge burden off the families for needing to buy one.”

RCMA community relations director Gloria Moorman said much the same.

“It’s a wonderful partnership we have with Turkeys Take Flight,” she said, noting that her Immokalee-based organization serves 7,000 children in 21 counties throughout the state, including more than 500 children in Immokalee. “To see them get these Easter baskets means so much, especially since their parents work all day, every day, in the field for very little money.”

Robert Taylor, an investigator for the Russo Battista Law Group – the firm representing the family of a 90-year-old man who was left outside in the sun at a Naples nursing home – said Turkeys Take Flight would like to expand its aviation-based events even further in the future if given its druthers.

“The more sponsors we get, the more we can do for the kids,” he said.

For more information on the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, see www.rcma.org.

For more information or to donate to Turkeys Take Flight, follow Flightline Drug Testing on Facebook or see www.rblawgroup.com.

 

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Brain Injury Awareness Day

It seems as though you can’t watch a sporting event these days without Brain Injuries being discussed.  Unfortunately, brain injuries have become much more prevalent in today’s society, or at very least are finally gaining the public awareness needed to help understand and prevent this type of devastating injury.

While the media is doing a better job of covering Brain Injuries as they relate to sports, primarily football, brain injuries are occurring at a near epidemic level in our country from a multitude of causes.  From sports, to falls, to automobile accidents, a brain injury can happen to anyone and its symptoms or lasting effects are often not visible on the “outside” or for sometime after the injury.

Each year, an estimated two million Americans suffer some form of Traumatic Brain Injury. Even more alarming, is that it is the leading cause of death and disability in persons under 45 years old, occurring more frequently than breast cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury combined. Yet, despite its incidence, TBI remains, for the most part, a "silent" epidemic. According to a recent national survey, only 1 in 3 Americans are familiar with the term "brain injury." And rarely do people associate TBI with the most common form of injury - concussions.

The government is doing its part in helping to raise awareness for Brain Injuries.  The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF), co-chaired by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), has set today, March 18th 2015 as Brain Injury Awareness Day for 2015. The entire month of March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Awareness of Brain Injuries is crucial as prevention is one of the best methods in helping reduce the number of Brain Injuries occurring yearly.  Prevention of a TBI can be as simple as wearing a helmet when engaging in any activity where you leave yourself susceptible to a head injury such as: riding a bike, skateboarding, playing a contact sport, etc.  Using a seatbelt and a proper child safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle can also help prevent a brain injury. For more on how to prevent brain injuries please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Website: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/BrainInjury/.

What should you do if you experience a TBI? Consult with a healthcare provider who can walk you through the process of getting the help you need. Many TBI’s are the results of an accident, if you or a loved one have sustained a TBI you are also welcome to contact our law firm for a complimentary consultation. The Russo Battista Law group helps with the total process of someone who has experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury. On our staff, we have a Registered Nurse Case Manager and a Masters Degree Social Worker, investigators and attorneys that can aid you in getting the help you need. For more information call 888-254-7066 or visit our website at http://www.rblawgroup.com.

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NEW CAR-SEAT LAW NOW IN EFFECT IN FLORIDA

By now, almost every parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or anyone transporting a child on a regular basis is well aware that having a baby or toddler properly restrained in a car seat is mandatory in the State of Florida.

What they may not be aware of is that the car seat law has recently changed to help further protect our children.   The legislation that was passed in 2014, has now gone into effect as of January 1st, 2015, that requires children through age five to be in car seats or booster seats while riding in a vehicle. Prior to this January, children ages three and younger were required to ride in a child-restraint device, while children ages four and five could use seat belts.

Anyone violating the law will face a $60 fine and three points on their driver's license. The law includes exceptions such as when a driver is unpaid and is not a member of the child's immediate family or when a child is being transported because of a medical emergency.

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death of children, ages 3-14. However, many of these deaths can be prevented through the proper use of child safety seats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages one through four.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, reported that in 2014 at least five children died and another 145 were injured because they were not in child safety seats, or the seats were installed incorrectly. 

Although the law is geared to children up to age five,  many experts including the AAA Auto Club recommend keeping children in booster seats until they are at least 4-foot-9, which usually happens around age eight. This is due to children not receiving the full protection of a seat belt until they are tall enough for the belt to properly secure them and be effective.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a 5-point harness until the child is 40 pounds.

Not only is it the law to have a child in a car-seat or booster but it is just as important to ensure that your child-restraint device is properly installed.  An improper installation could leave a child in harm’s way. According to Seatcheck.org, a national campaign to help parents properly secure their children in motor vehicles, 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, while research shows that seven out of ten children are improperly restrained.

According to the site, some of the common mistakes regarding car seat safety are as follows:

  • Not using the right child safety seats for a child’s size and age;
  • Not placing the child safety seat in the correct direction;
  • Incorrect installation of the child safety seat in relation to the vehicle’s air bags;
  • Incorrect installation and tightness of the child safety seat to the vehicle seat;
  • Not securing or tightening the child safety seats harness and crotch straps;
  • Improper use of locking clips for certain vehicle safety belts;
  • Not making sure the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly across the child when using a booster seat;
  • Using a defective or broken child safety seat.

At Russo Battista Law Group, we see victims of car crashes everyday, but nothing is as devastating as seeing a child injured as a result of a crash.  We urge all parents to please help keep their kids safe by using the appropriate restraint device for their child and making sure it is properly installed. For help installing seats properly, including a list of certified technicians to help inspect the installation of your child safety seat,  visit: http://www.safercar.gov/parents/Car-Seat-Safety.htm

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JENNER ACCIDENT PROMPTS QUESTIONS ABOUT CELL PHONE USAGE WHILE DRIVING

By now, we have all heard about the fatal crash that Bruce Jenner was recently involved in.  As with most sensationalized media reports once the buzz dies down the facts start coming to light.

There has been much speculation about the cause of the crash and whether cell phone usage played any role.  Those facts are yet to be determined, but what we have learned is that the tragic accident was a multi-car rear-end collision.   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end crashes are the most frequently occurring type of collision in the US, accounting for approximately 29 percent of all crashes, and resulting in a substantial number of injuries and fatalities each year

The Sheriff’s department investigating the crash reported that on the afternoon of Saturday, February 7th, on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, the driver of a Toyota Prius either stopped or slowed down and was hit from behind by a white Lexus. Jenner, who was driving a black Cadillac Escalade and towing an off-road vehicle, rear-ended the Lexus, which sent the Lexus into oncoming traffic. The Lexus was then struck by a Hummer H2.

The driver of the white Lexus, Kim Howe, 69 was killed in the crash, while all others received little to no injuries.

The Sheriff’s office has reported that as with any fatal accident the investigation could take up to six months before a final determination of fault, if any, is made in this case.

Investigators are working on obtaining cell phone records from the drivers; including Jenner, as California law prohibits driving while reading, writing or sending text messages. It also requires drivers to use hands-free equipment while talking on the phone.

In our line of work here at Russo Battista Law Group, we see a multitude of motor vehicle accidents involving cell phone usage. Whether it is texting or talking on the phone, it’s a major distraction that can prove fatal.  State laws vary on their cell phone and driving laws.

 In Florida texting and driving is a secondary offense, meaning that a driver cannot be pulled over for the sole reason of texting and driving, they must first be pulled over for a primary offense such as failure to stop at a stop sign and then they can be issued citations for both.  

This may change soon however, as several bills have been filed for the 2015 legislative session that would make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida, rather than secondary.

Supporters of the bill claim that presently, there is basically no enforcement of the current texting law and that's why the change is necessary.

We at Russo Battista, stand firmly against texting and driving – we have seen the devastation it can leave in its wake.  No text is worth putting your life or the lives of others in danger.  The Russo Battista Law Group is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For more information, they can be reached at 954.767.0676 or you can visit their website at www.rblawgroup.com. 

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AND THE WINNERS ARE...

Last night millions of viewers from across the globe, tuned in to watch  as our favorite actors, directors, movies and others in the film industry were honored with the highest award in the film industry – an Oscar.  The Academy Awards have become a staple in the awards world, and so it is fitting that the Nonprofits of Broward County should also be recognized in their own rite at a ceremony just as special as the Academy Awards.

On Friday, February 13th more than 800 people showed up in Hollywood… Hollywood, Florida that is, to attend the 5th Annual 2-1-1 Broward Nonprofit Academy Awards held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.  The Awards ceremony has become the “it” event for non-profits in the community – honoring Broward County’s nonprofit organizations and leaders for their dedication and impact on the community.

This year, our very own Anthony Russo was one of the distinguished presenters.  Russo Battista Law Group proudly sponsored the Board Leader of the Year Award, whose nominees included:  Beth-Ann Krimsky Board Member of the I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation; Stephen Moss, Esq. Board Member of the United Way of Broward County, and Maya Ezrati Board Member of the Young at Art Museum.  Awards were presented in the following categories:  Arts, Board Leader, Collaboration, Collective Impact for Youth, Innovation, Lifetime Achievement, Non-Profit Leader, Organization of the Year, and Rising Star.

Mr. Russo had perhaps one of the ceremony’s most memorable presentations.  When the winner envelope went missing – Captain 2-1-1 swooped in to the rescue with the eagerly anticipated information.  Mr. Russo proudly presented the Russo Battista Law Group Board Leader of the Year Award to…Maya Ezrati of the Young at Art Museum. The entire presentation was caught on camera by Eye on South Florida who was on hand at the event (video above, Russo presentation approx minute 14 and minute 18).

The event is not only one of the best attended events, but also one that the entire community enthusiastically awaits because of what it signifies – collaboration and dedication.  It brings together all nonprofits and honors them for their work, that often goes unrecognized yet it so vital to our community.

The funds raised through the spectacular event help support 2-1-1 Broward, a non-profit organization with a live, 24-hour comprehensive helpline, providing all people with crisis, health and human services support and connecting them to resources in our community. 2-11 Broward touches countless lives each year and collaborates with hundreds of non-profits in our community to improve the lives of others.

Russo Battista Law Group is humbled to be able to support such a remarkable organization and so proud to be part of such a significant event.  To see footage from the event please click on the video above.

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Oregon Soldier to Receive Groundbreaking Treatment for TBI

Sgt. Jordan Adams has been in a comatose state since suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2013. The TBI did not happen while he was deployed but rather while he was on leave. Unfortunately,  Adam’s TBI was due to a head injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Motor vehicle accidents are responsible for a large percentage of traumatic brain injuries in the US.

But for Sgt. Adams and his family there is a ray of hope.

Enter Dr.Theresa Pape. Dr. Pape contacted the soldier's family about a new procedure that could possibly aid in Adams recovery. According to reports, it involves simulating different parts of the patient’s brain with magnetic pulses coupled with certain pharmaceuticals. The goal is for the treatment to create new neuron pathways in his brain which, Pape hopes,  could help him regain consciousness.

That's not the whole story. Once others heard about the possibility of helping Sgt. Adams they became involved in the process too. For instance an organization called VitalOne donated all of the medical personnel that were needed to assist Dr. Pape while a wealthy Chicago businessman provided a private jet in order transport him to where the procedure would occur.

We will keep you posted on this incredible story. For now one family is clinging to hope that help is on the way. Will the procedure work? Only time will tell, but in our opinion, it is a step in the right direction.

For our part, we will continue to advocate for the victims of TBI's, as well as helping their loved one’s through the difficult process. When an individual suffers a TBI it is imperative for them to get the best medical help they can and as soon as possible. It is also important that they find a partner that will help them find the necessary resources that are available. Our attorneys not only seek to help with the financial aspect, but we also have social workers and medical professionals available to answer questions, provide guidance and even advocate on behalf of the patient/victim when necessary.

You can read more about this particular story by going here. If you or someone you know has a TBI and you would like further information from our firm please call us at (954) 767-0676.

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Troubling Lawsuits Continue Against GM

General Motors – it seems like every time you open a newspaper or click to read the news online you see GM mentioned. And it’s not in a favorable way.

Some time ago GM admitted that some of their vehicles contained faulty ignition switches. Thus far they've received 2710 claims for compensation for the ignition switch defects. These claims included 303 for death, 202 for catastrophic injury and 2,205 for less serious injuries that still required hospitalization.

Recognizing this issue GM, according to the report, set aside an initial 400 million dollars (yes that's almost half a billion) to cover the compensation cost for claims on behalf of those who were injured or killed due to these faulty ignition switches.

I don't know whether you are as disturbed as we are by this report. All too often of late, there have been an overwhelming number of automobile recalls (not just from GM) due to issues that could result in injury or death of a driver or passenger. That’s not just our perspective. In fact the same publication reported that Automobile recalls in 2014 topped 60 million. That was double the previous recall record set in 2004.

These stats should cause all consumers to ponder the question, “What is going on with the Automobile industry?” Are these parts not being thoroughly tested? Are employees not thoroughly vetted? Are there corporate political issues going on behind the scenes?

It’s likely all of the above and that’s just for starters. Meanwhile, it’s up to you to perform your due diligence and ensure that the car you’re purchasing is the safest and best one for you.

Meanwhile, there are two things that could help to prevent such needless injuries and death in the future.

First is accountability. We are actually seeing this play out in these cases against General Motors. While they have set aside a certain amount of money for compensation, it still negatively impacts their bottom line of profitability and return to shareholders. And once the shareholders get frustrated there's no turning back. Legal remedy in situations where there has been injury and death helps to hold those who are irresponsible accountable.

Second, quality control. Perhaps there needs to be more testing on these parts before they are placed into automobiles. Using lesser quality parts up front seems to save at the beginning but lawsuits like GM is now experiencing costs more in the end. It seems that using quality parts initially actually results in costs savings overall. Big corporations need to look at the big picture. 

This is certainly not an indictment on all car companies. Before you purchase an automobile check some things out. Research safety ratings, crash history (if it is a pre-owned vehicle) and overall customer satisfaction. It is also important to research the manufacturer of the car. Check out their philosophy and mission statement. See if there have been any company complaints and/or lawsuits in the past. Most of all go with your intuition. It could prevent a lot of heartache later.

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Congratulations to "Super Lawyer" Louis Battista

We would like to congratulate our very own Louis Battista on being named as a "Super Lawyer." No he's not some kind of a new superhero although to his clients and us, of course us (we are biased) he is.

According to their website, “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who attain a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement." Their magazine features not only the list but also profiles of selected attorneys from across the United States and in other parts of the world. In fact, their publication boasts a reach of 13 million members. It's no mean task to be selected. In fact that rigorous process involves three steps.

First, a candidate is either formally nominated by a peer or is identified by the research department initially during the selection process. Those are the only two entry points for an attorney to be considered. At no point does Super Lawyers allow a person to “buy their way” onto the list. No, the process is complex and the requirements stringent.

The second step is evaluation. The research Department of superlawyers.com evaluates each one of the candidates according to 12 indicators. Some of these include: recognition of professional achievement, representative clients, and experience and pro bono/community service as a lawyer. Each of the 12 indicators are given a point value, some of which are more valuable than others. Each indicator is carefully considered in the selection of a candidate.

Third, peer evaluation by practice area. The publication also calls this their "blue ribbon review." A panel of their peers then rates the candidates with the highest point values from step two. The list for inclusion is subsequently whittled down from there with the finalists included in the publication. By the publications own admission, the final published list represents no more than 5% of lawyers in their specific state. That means that lawyers considered and included are viewed as the best of the best.

Of course we don’t need a publication to tell us that Louis Battista is a super lawyer, we already knew it. But it's good when an independent publication recognizes the contribution, commitment and character of one of our very own Congratulations once again to Louis Battista. You can read more about our entire team here.

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We've moved but we’re not going anywhere

2014 was a great year for us at the Russo Battista Law group. We served so many new clients, added new staff and of course new practice areas. We are always asking the question, “How can we serve our clients even better?” Often times, the answer to that question results in us making some change in how we are currently doing things. When we began to ask that question in the last quarter of 2014 we had a “eureka” moment of sorts – we realized that the time had come for us to relocate. That being said, we have recently completed a move to our new offices located in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

What prompted this decision? It wasn’t due to anything in the city of Weston, a place that we enjoyed being a part of for many years. Rather it was to better serve our current and future clients. Why?

First, it puts us closer to the courthouse. Since much of what we do is advocating on behalf of our clients that often is done in the courtroom. The close proximity to the courthouse allows us to respond quicker to our clients needs when filing cases and for easier court appearances.

Second, it puts us close to several major hospitals and trauma centers. Why is this important? As we said earlier our new focus in 2014 was spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injuries. In order to properly focus on these injuries, it is important for us to be at the center where we can effectively help our clients more thoroughly. Our team can get to the hospital and to our clients much quicker than in the past and therefore better help to meet their emotional needs and facilitate treatment and care.

Third it puts us closer to you. We are now conveniently located between the tri- -county area and far more convenient for clients and potential clients to visit us.

All in all, we think it was a great move for 2015 and we are excited about starting this year in a new place.

Our new offices are located at 107 SE 10th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Please note the change in your contact records. Our phone number will remain the same, 954.767.0676.

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Mental illness causes a crime spree?

It's not a story that you hear every day or much less a reason for committing a crime(s). In fact, it may sound more like an excuse for Jeffrey Turcotte and his crime spree. This past March, Turcotte spent 24 hours kidnapping, carjacking and robbing victims in Fort Lauderdale. Most were left, according to the article, terrorized.  

Sounds like nothing more than heinous criminal activity, right? But wait, there's more. His family says that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and they have been seeking treatment for him for years. However, he was off his medication at the time when he committed these crimes.  He now faces a minimum 25 years in prison on all counts and due to be sentenced in the near future.

Here is an interesting caveat - there may be some truth to the claims of mental illness. According to the same article, he was put on a different type of medication in 2012. He apparently became stable, made honor roll at the private school he was attending and even was elected student body President. After he moved out of his Mother’s home, things deteriorated for him when he started back on street drugs. That made matters worse. At this point, his defense team is asking that he be placed in a prison with a medical facility so that he can finally receive the necessary help.

Any way you look at this it is a tragic story. If he is, indeed, mentally ill, this presents a new set of issues. It doesn’t change the fact that he must be held accountable but at the same time, he should be treated properly for his mental illness. One thing is for sure, it is time to start addressing the mental illness challenges in our country.

There have been times over last two decades that mentally ill people were released to the streets without a place to go or the proper medication to help manage their disorders. One study on mental illness that was done several years ago estimated that over 250,000 of the homeless population across the US suffered some form of debilitating mental illness. Those are some high numbers. Some of these same people are veterans who served this country honorably but now due to a traumatic brain injury are also considered in these same numbers.  

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t going away any time soon. For our part, we will continue to be advocates for those who can’t help themselves. Everyone needs somebody on their side that will walk with them through the valley.

If you have questions about a case or want further information call us at 954.767.0676 or visit us at www.rblawgroup.com.

 

 

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The Case of the Mortuary Mix-up

It happens more often than you think, and it is devastating when it does. It seems that another funeral home mix-up has occurred, this time in Houston, Texas. According to the Houston Chronicle report, the body of Pearlie Jean Deason was buried with the late husband of another woman, Edna Lawson. To make matters worse, Lawson was apparently never buried due to the funeral home debacle. Once the Mabrie Funeral Home officials realized their error, Mrs. Deason’s body was exhumed and interred in the correct resting place. A hastily planned second funeral service was conducted for Edna Lawson who was then buried with her OWN late husband.

What was the funeral home’s reaction? An apology. Yes, that was it. They made a mistake. What’s worse is that it appears the fines for professional misconduct like this by the state regulators are minimal at best. Thankfully, both families are seeking legal remedy.

It is appalling that this kind of thing can happen and at such a difficult time emotionally. It only makes the devastation worse and causes further emotional turmoil that could take years to recover from.

The article went on to state that the families of each deceased that were impacted are seeking unspecified damages. It also appears that the funeral home did little to make the situation right on their own.

Funeral directors are entrusted with the most precious thing of all – the remains of our loved ones. It is their job to ensure that the process goes smoothly, is handled professionally, compassionately and respectfully. It appears this funeral home failed on all counts.

So how do you know if the funeral home you are dealing with is reputable?

First, use Google. While you can’t always go by the reviews that you see online you will be able to search out news, complaints, etc. You can also check with the department in your state that gives oversight to funeral homes to see what, if any, formal complaints have been filed.

Second, talk to people you know. They will tell you about their experiences. You can also ask your religious advisor or physician for a recommendation if necessary.

Third, interview the funeral home BEFORE you actually need them. Ask the owner or manager the tough questions. It is easier to be objective and to make the choice when you aren’t under emotional duress.

Most importantly listen to your “inner voice.” If it is telling you something is wrong, it may be. Common sense is often the best way to determine what is right for you and your family. 

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The Salvation Army Strikes Gold – a Heartwarming Story About Giving Back

During the holidays, you can’t miss them. They’re in front of many department stores and some local grocery stores – that familiar red kettle and dedicated volunteer ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. Their goal is for people to simply drop spare change in the kettle as they leave the department store. They never ask you for anything. But as you drop money in, they will give you a very polite, “Thank you.” They are both kind and unassuming. Most people wonder, just how much money can the Salvation Army possibly make in just extra change? We’re sure that every little bit helps. But if you were with the Salvation Army and standing in front of several stores in Pompano and Margate over the holidays, you didn’t just get loose change you got gold coins.

It seems that a very generous anonymous donor dropped gold American coins and gold Mexican pesos in the Salvation Army kettles at a Walmart in Margate and two other Walmart’s in Pompano Beach. The 1947 gold coins were estimated at $1400 apiece while the 2006 coin is valued at $350. All told, there were $5000 in gold coins dropped into the donation kettles.

According to the article, this is the first year that gold coins have been given in the history of collections in Broward County. As always, they will use the monies for shelter, caring for the homeless and feeding the hungry. Officials at this point are unsure whether it is one person or several. Whatever it is, people seem to be in the spirit of giving this year. And that giving is making a difference.

That’s what it’s about isn’t it? It doesn’t matter your religion, faith, culture or background. We know that if everyone one of us does what he/she can, we can make a positive difference in the life of another. At our law firm we are involved in “giving back” all year long and it is amazing. We wind up receiving more back than we will ever be able to give. We see the faces of the children we have impacted, the families we have helped and the communities we have served.

All of us together can make that difference. It doesn’t have to be dropping gold coins in the Salvation Army red kettle. It could be getting involved in a toy drive, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or perhaps getting a gift card to someone who needs a meal. As Tony Robbins recently said, “Giving is living.”  Just something to remember as we begin this new year.

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Attorney Anthony russo featured on cbs wink news discussing nursing home neglect case

SWFL widow speaks out about nursing home negligence that killed her husband

  • BY JENNIFER JONES        WINK NEWS           December 23,2014                                                                                      

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A WINK News exclusive, a widow will spend the holidays alone this year after deputies said her husband was forgotten about for hours in the sweltering heat at a local assisted living center. He later died.

“It’s hard not having him here .. and it will be the first Christmas well be not together but I know he’s in a better place” said Frances Bernard.

It happened over the summer at the Aristocrat on Immokalee Road in North Naples about two miles east of US 41.

“His legs were so badly burned the hole side of him was badly burned” said Bernard.

Back in August, Collier County deputies said staff members at the Aristocrat left 90 year old Robert Bernard outside for 3 hours. He went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital where he died.

Frances Bernard tells only WINK News she was on her way to visit her husband that day when she got the devastating news. “When ever I saw him I was heart broken. They were pounding on his chest trying to revive him.”

Robert was a World War II veteran, who received a purple heart, while serving in Germany a grenade went off injuring him.

Frances didn’t lose him then and she never thought she’d lose him this way. “No. No no because he was, the only thing that bothered him was his legs, and as far as anything else went he was alright.”

Frances hopes what happened to her husband of 66 years never happens to another family. “They should really check it out real good to make sure it will be a good place for their loved one that they’ll get good care and so they’ll be happy there.”

Her attorney, Anthony Russo, tells WINK News Bernard’s case is one of the worst death cases he’s seen. “If we just get the awareness out to the people they can do a better job of checking out these facilities and the facilities will do a better job of sticking to what they’re suppose to be doing which is helping people.”

Three staff members at The Aristocrat were fired because of this.

Frances Bernard could take legal action against the assisted living center.

For full article please visit: http://www.winknews.com/2014/12/23/exclusive-swfl-widow-speaks-out-about-nursing-home-negligence-that-killed-her-husband/

 

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A Famous President and a Traumatic Brain Injury

It was November 19, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln was asked to make a “few remarks” at the conclusion of the 2 ½ hour speech by Edward Everett at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When Lincoln rose, no one had any idea what the President would say nor how long he would speak. He began, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.…” He continued, for only 2 ½ more minutes, yet his speech lives on in the conscience of the American public over 150 years later.

Abraham Lincoln will be remembered for a lot of other things too. He was the President that guided our nation through a civil war and also helped end it. He was one of four presidents in US history to ever be assassinated, the other three were James A Garfield, William McKinley and of course John F. Kennedy. There are a lot of other facts about Lincoln that we will leave to the biographers.

But there is one little known fact about the famous President that we wanted to share. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered a traumatic brain injury as a boy? According to a variety of reports he was approximately 10 years old when he was kicked in the back of the head by what was either a mule or a horse. Some bystanders alleged that he lay in a coma unconscious for some 24 hours. Some thought he had died and come back to life. According to doctors who have looked at the case, they blame the TBI for causing defects on the 16th President’s Lincoln’s vision and depression later in life, which was known at that time as melancholia. It also likely caused Lincoln to have what is known as a “lazy eye.”

Fortunately Lincoln recovered with all of his cognitive abilities intact. But there’s no doubt that he did not have the resources or the knowledge then that we have today. We’ve seen the research and witnessed firsthand the debilitating effects of a traumatic brain injury. We’ve observed families and their search for help for a loved who has suffered a TBI. That is why we do what we do. As you know, at the Russo Batista Law group we have put together a remarkable team of people to help a person with a TBI through every part of the process, not only getting the legal help that they need but also the necessary physical and medical help. If you would like more information about our approach to traumatic brain injury, please call us at 954.767.0676. Or you can visit our website at www.rblawgroup.com.  For more information on Abraham Lincoln and his traumatic brain injury, please visit the following links:

http://healthresearchfunding.org/famous-people-traumatic-brain-injury/

http://braininjurygroupfoundation.sharepoint.com/Pages/FamousBrainInjurySurviors.aspx

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/lincoln-kicked-in-head-by-horse.75077/page-2

 

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Auto Zone Seems To Enter the Twilight Zone and It Costs Them Dearly

This is from the “you won’t believe it files.” Here’s what happened. Rosario Juarez joined the Auto Zone team in 2000. She was a hard worker and that hard work was rewarded in 2001 when she was promoted to Parts Sales Manager. By 2004 she was promoted again – this time to store manager. Her problems didn’t begin until 2005. Why a year later? It was simple. Rosario Juarez had a problem (at least from the perspective of some in Auto Zone), she was pregnant. That’s right she was going to have a baby. What normally is an exciting time turned into a nightmare for Juarez.

The nightmare started when she told her manager that she was going to have a baby. The manager responded that he “felt sorry for her” and subsequently began to mistreat her. Juarez took this issue to her district manager who made matters worse. He suggested that she return to parts since she was unable to handle the demands. The problem? iShe was able to handle it. Up to this point, she and her team had both met and exceeded expectations.

After her son was born things got even worse for the new Mom. She received a demotion and a decrease in pay. On top of it all, she had to wait a year to apply for her old management job. She waited the year and was denied. That’s when she took legal action and she went to trial.

The results? The former district manager admitted under oath that he had been directed by a VP with Auto Zone to fire women who were in management positions. The VP also said, “What are we running here, a boutique? Get rid of those women.”  With that evidence, the jury awarded $832,720 in compensatory damages and another whopping $185 million in punitive damages. As of this writing Auto Zone is, of course, appealing.

Pretty appalling story don’t you think? The problem is that it happens more often than you know. So what should a person do who is a victim of workplace discrimination?

First, make sure you have an updated policy manual provided by your employer. Often all one needs to do is point out that they are in violation of their own manual and a remedy is acquired.

Second, document everything. Keep record of the who, what, when, where, why and how. Don’t leave any stone unturned.

Third, report any possible problems to human resources immediately. Again a simple inquiry will often resolve a potentially explosive situation before it gets uncontrollable.

Fourth, keep at it. Don’t quit or get discouraged. Good legal counsel will help you navigate the waters and keep you on course. Don’t give up; your rights are your rights!

You can read more details on this story here.

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