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Posts made in July, 2014

Background Checks Often Not Enough To Stop Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Child Sexual Abuse, Recent News

Background Checks Often Not Enough To Stop Child Sexual Abuse

Close Supervision and Monitoring Needs To Be Done, Too. Organizations and entities that serve children can be responsible for child sexual abuse — even if they perform their own seemingly vigorous background checks. This simple truth hit home with me as I read a recent article published on the Orlando Sentinel website detailing how Sylvester Johnson, a 62-year-old worker at the Boys and Girls Club of Kissimmee was recently arrested on accusations of lewd and lascivious battery on three young girls in the program. Apparently Mr. Johnson allegedly made several sexually suggestive comments to girls in the program, and allegedly grabbed once of the girls’ buttocks.  He also allegedly took a young girl into a closet and fondled her in exchange for candy money, and told another young girl that he wished he was younger so that he could date her. Boys and Girls Club officials were very quick to state that they ran a very vigorous background check on Mr. Johnson when they originally hired him, as well as recently as a month ago. As a Florida child sexual abuse attorney, I have to wonder why a recent background check was conducted on Mr. Johnson.  Was there some concern about Mr. Johnson, individually?  Was there some concern within the organization that there was a potential sexual abuser on staff? Second, many organizations seem to think that a thorough background check is enough, but it isn’t.  Organizations that cater to children also have a duty to remain vigilant in terms of monitoring and supervising all adults who are placed in contact with the children that they work with.  Sexual predators and child sexual abusers are often very skilled at hiding their prior activities and backgrounds. There are actually websites and other resources available to pedophiles and child predators that tell them how to prepare for a background check.  Experience tells us that these folks generally cannot help themselves and will abuse again and again. Typically these folks have less opportunity to do so if they’re being very closely monitored or watched by their employers. Background checks are essential, but they are not the end-all-be-all. If you have any questions regarding a Florida child sexual abuse case, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901, or visit...

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Nationwide’s Bad Faith May Cost It $18M, On $25K Original Claim

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Motor vehicle accidents, Uncategorized

Nationwide’s Bad Faith May Cost It $18M, On $25K Original Claim

How many people would have the stamina to stay after an insurance company for almost 18 years in an effort to make the company treat them fairly? I have to admit that I was extremely impressed with the determinations shown by Daniel and Sherri Berg of Reading, Pennsylvania, and their $18 million lawsuit against Nationwide Insurance that was recently tried to verdict up in Pennsylvania.  The insurancejournal.com reported that the $18 million bad faith judgment against Nationwide is likely the largest damage award in Pennsylvania history involving an insurance companies wrongful conduct. The dispute started back in 1996 when Sherry Berg was involved in a car accident involving her Jeep.  She took her Jeep to a local repair shop where the initial mechanic recommended that the Berg’s Jeep be considered a total loss.  Unbeknownst to the Bergs, Nationwide rejected this initial appraisal, and asked the mechanic to issue a new appraisal recommending repairs,  allowing Nationwide to save about half the cost of a total loss.  Not knowing anything different, the Bergs approved the repairs.  Of course, the Bergs did not realize that this meant that they were driving a vehicle that was likely very unsafe and not crashworthy had the Bergs been involved in another crash.  The Bergs testified that their vehicle never seem right after the repairs. Nobody would have been the wiser except that an employee of the car dealership secretly called the Bergs several months later and related to them what happened with their vehicle. The Bergs consequently asked Nationwide to do the right thing, consider their vehicle a total loss, and pay them money for the total loss.  Nationwide refused, and a lawsuit ensued. Well, almost 20 years later, the Bergs have secured an $18 million punitive damages award against Nationwide Insurance.  In his ruling, the trial judge noted that Nationwide spent approximately $3 million in attorneys’ fees just to defend its actions on a claim that could have been resolved for $25,000 or less 18 years before.  The judge found that Nationwide and its handling of the Berg’s collision claim demonstrated a reckless indifference to its customer. As much as we would all like to think so, insurance companies don’t always have our best interests in mind — and especially our own insurance companies that we pay valuable premiums to every month.  Unfortunately, as a Winter Park personal injury attorney who deals with insurance companies and insurance issues all of the time, I am fortunately see this all the time.  In Florida, if an insurance company does not attempt to resolve claims in good faith, the company can be made to pay damages plus the claimants attorneys’ fees and court costs. If you have any questions regarding an insurance company’s handling of an automobile accident claim, or if you think an insurance company failed to deal with you in good faith, call Winter Park...

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New Research Compares Tired Driving To Drunk Driving In Fatal Crashes

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Motor vehicle accidents, Wrongful Death Claims

New Research Compares Tired Driving To Drunk Driving In Fatal Crashes

Two new research studies suggest that tired driving is responsible for as many fatal accidents — car crashes involving deaths — as drunk driving.  Reduced reaction time — the time it takes a driver to recognize danger and take physical steps to avoid it — seems to be the culprit. Unfortunately, today’s hectic lifestyles and work schedules mean more and more people operate without sufficient sleep. New research indicates a growing number of drivers admit to actually falling asleep behind the wheels of their cars. This is obviously a disturbing trend that needs to be reversed. Drivers who drive drunk and caused accidents are subject to punitive damages in Florida. It is an interesting question as to whether a driver proven to be driving in a fatigued condition could also be held liable for punitive damages. If you have any questions regarding a Florida car accident, and especially one where tired driving has been suspected, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901, or download a FREE copy of Kim’s Florida car accident book, Asleep At The Wheel, by clicking...

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