You and Your Rights
Farah & Farah newsletter: Spring 2010
In This Issue
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Office Spotlight: Jim Brannan, Investigator
Jim Brannan’s investigations of personal injury claims for Farah & Farah take him all over Northeast Florida. But a duty of a different type often keeps him closer to home.
Brannan, a tall man with gray hair and a even–toned, kind voice, is a longtime volunteer for the St. Francis Soup Kitchen in downtown Jacksonville. For over three decades, the St. Francis Soup Kitchen has served the community through regular canned food giveaways, Soup Kitchen lunches, snacks, and coffee distributions on Saturdays, and clothing allocations to those who need them most.
Brannan – friends with Eddie Farah since they attended Bishop Kenny together in the late 1960s – has worked for the firm for over a decade. During this period, he was favored with a spiritual awakening, and he now considers himself a “work in progress towards being a good Christian.”
"I started going to church regularly around 2000, and started attending the Latin Mass at Immaculate Conception around 2007," Brannan recounts. At that time, he befriended a few homeless people near his church and started to bring them goody bags each Sunday – each containing a bottle of water, trail mix, and a small sandwich.
"It was about that time that someone told me about St. Francis Soup Kitchen – which coincidentally was located just behind Immaculate Conception", related Brannan. "I went to the soup kitchen and asked if I could please play a part."
The Soup Kitchen was happy to have him aboard – and the feelings were mutual. "I have been blessed to be part of the Soup Kitchen," he says. His duties are those that anyone could do were he so inspired.
"I greet the people at the door and help direct them to their tables. After they are seated, a prayer is recited by staff and those at the table before eating," Brannan recounts. He estimates that the Kitchen serves approximately 500 guests every Saturday.
As much good as Brannan does in this capacity, he believes that he gets more than he gives from
"It is hard for me to explain the great joy and satisfaction I feel from being a part of the soup kitchen. Probably the most beautiful thing is the love one shares with the less fortunate who walk through that door. Equally beautiful is the privilege of being around others who unselfishly devote their time each Saturday for the love of their fellow man," Jim affirms, before citing a favorite Bible Verse from the Book of Matthew.
"Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the King will answer them: ‘Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it for me.’"
Jim especially credits Jim and Diane McVety – the operators of the kitchen – for their labors.
"They work tirelessly to make sure that guests are provided delicious meals as well as food for their journey."
Jim credits those two pillars of faith – Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta – as the most powerful influences in his spiritual rebirth. "Their words have inspired and guided me, helped me to understand that serving the poor is more than just a spiritual obligation. It is a privilege.”
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A Bitter Pill To Swallow: The Truth About Homeopathy
Americans are increasingly turning to homeopathic medicines these days, spending $3 billion annually on them. Homeopathy is used to treat most common day-to-day ailments. But questions linger about whether or not homeopathic medicine is all its
The centuries-old discipline is supposed to work by giving patients very small amounts of substances that in larger doses would cause the symptoms. In theory, small doses of these substances derived from natural elements increase the body’s own ability to heal and bolster resistance to illness or infection.
And sometimes it works that way. Other times, though, problems arise.
Homeopathic remedies carry with them many potential dangers. They distract patients from effective medicines, and industry from what one expert calls “the difficult and costly search for innovative products.” Additionally, many products billed as homeopathic remedies may include contaminants.
The FDA hasn’t taken much action on homeopathic drugs, but indications are that the Administration is beginning to take their threat seriously. Last June, the FDA sent Matrixx Initiatives, makers of nasal cold medicine ZICAM, a warning letter about several of their homeopathic remedies.
And with good reason: more than 130 people have reported losing their sense of smell due to ZICAM to the FDA. Federal action has brought results: Matrixx removed ZICAM and other questionable products from the marketplace. Homeopathic remedies have not been scientifically proven to be effective, and in many cases, it is entirely possible that those who claim to get “well” from them are actually healing naturally. Given the rampant doubts about them, perhaps it is best to avoid them altogether in favor of proven medicines.
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An Inconvenient Truth
Why Nursing Home Litigation Is On The Rise
A familiar scenario: a family losing a loved one while that person was a patient at a nursing home. Until recent years, families were reluctant to take legal action when a member died of malpractice or neglect at one of these facilities. Now, however, legal action on this front is on the rise.
With this uptick in legal action, we see a corresponding increase in diversionary tactics used by the nursing home industry itself. Many unscrupulous operators have set up limited–liability shell corporations in an effort to evade civil action. As it works out, these shell companies often file for bankruptcy instead of honoring their legal obligations when tragedy strikes.
There are ways to investigate nursing homes before choosing them though. The website http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html rates nursing homes based on health inspections, staffing levels, and quality measures. In addition to internet research, it is advisable to inspect a nursing home in person before
making an informed decision about a facility. Meet the staff and the management. See how they do business.
No one wants to see a parent or another older relative suffer at the hands of a Nursing Home facility in her last days. With that in mind, a bit of fact–finding beforehand can be the best gift you could give someone you love.
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Almost a million passengers embark on vacation cruises from North American ports of call every month. With that many people traveling, legal issues – personal injury claims, especially – have become more common. Before setting sail, some things that sea travelers should know:
- As can be seen in a typical passenger ticket, there is a one-year statute of limitations on cruise ship cases, and a six-month notice provision. With this in mind, early investigation of an incident is essential to protecting both evidence and the integrity of the testimony. Keep in mind that certain key aspects of the investigation, such as crew depositions or vessel inspections, can take place in foreign ports of call.
- General maritime law applies on cruise ships. That said, forum selection clauses in the passenger contract typically dictate that cases are brought to trial in Miami-Dade County.
- A frequently asked question: are cruise lines liable for the medical negligence of their shipboard physicians? The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that in many cases, cruise lines bear no liability.
- Cruises are among the most fulfilling ways to vacation. Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities before going will ensure an even more enjoyable voyage!
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Introducing Our New Attorneys
Kevin A. Brown
Kevin A. Brown is an Associate Attorney at Farah & Farah’s in their downtown Jacksonville offices
A Jacksonville native, Kevin was born June 4, 1968. He studied accounting and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1991. He continued his education at Florida Coastal School of Law, graduating with a J.D. in 2003. Kevin became a member of the Florida Bar Association in April 2004.He has also been a fully certified law enforcement officer since 1998.
Brown is involved in a range of personal injury cases including auto accidents and medical malpractice and personal injury.
Bryan Callaway is an Associate Attorney at Farah & Farah in their downtown Jacksonville offices.
Callaway was born on March 1, 1972, and raised in Cleveland, Tennessee. He then headed east to attend the College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in English in 1996. Callaway graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law with a Juris Doctorate in 2006. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in October 2006.
Callaway has handled a variety of cases in the areas of personal injury, worker’s compensation, bankruptcy, social security disability, mortgage foreclosure defense, and cases falling under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, tort and securities law.
Gregory W. Lineberry
Gregory W. Lineberry is an associate attorney at Farah & Farah in their downtown Jacksonville offices.
Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 4, 1965, he graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1987 with a B.A. in Philosophy. He attended Mercer University in Macon where he graduated cum laude, was on the law review and receive CALI Awards for Excellence in the area of Torts, Contracts, Income Tax, Legal Writing, Employment Discrimination, Labor Law and Law and Religion. Lineberry received his J.D. in 1999.
His work primarily focuses in the areas of wrongful death, medical malpractice, auto accidents, premises and product liability.
Leslie Ng is an Associate Attorney with Farah & Farah in their downtown Jacksonville offices. Ng was born in Can Tho, South Vietnam on August 2, 1973.
Ng worked full–time while attending the University of Arizona, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science in December 2006. She then attended Florida Coastal School of Law. During law school, Ng was honored for achieving more than 700 pro bono hours and was the recipient of a Governor’s Scholarship.
Leslie has handled cases involving civil litigation, wrongful death, personal injury, automobile and truck accidents, slip and fall, premises liability, negligent security, and products liability.
Altrazine: Poison In The Water
Atrazine, a common herbicide, serves many purposes for the agriculture industry. It is used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds in a variety of plants, and is also employed on fallow fields to keep them free of inconvenient plants. As often happens with chemicals used with abandon by Big Ag, this substance has had consequences for the public at large.
According to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Atrazine, a known endocrine disruptor of animal and human hormones that, among things, retards growth for unborn children, has contaminated watersheds and drinking water throughout the United States. According to the study, “the extent of contamination was breathtaking and alarming”, with the EPA finding Atrazine “almost everywhere they looked.”
That same EPA was aware of Atrazine’s toxicity as early as 1994, when the Agency initiated a Special Review on the substance, which has since been banned by the European Union. Atrazine has remained legal in the United States, however, despite the effects of exposure to it being well-documented.
There are things you can do to protect yourself from this malign compound. Principal among them: install a water filter on your kitchen sink faucet. Also, the NRDC encourages people to take on a watchdog role, collecting information on how their public water systems are dealing with the Atrazine menace. For more information, visit their website: www.simplesteps.org/atrazine
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Celebrating Brotherhood of Men
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
On Monday, January 18, 2010 Farah & Farah supported the community through their efforts on behalf of the many walkers in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration 2010 at Metro Park. Employees of Farah & Farah were on hand passing out water bottles and over 750 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to the many participants in this event. The day’s festivities included artists, entertainers, gospel singers and recitations of the speeches made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Poetry readings and dance numbers were also in celebration honoring the famous civil rights leader.
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Farah & Farah Goes Red
Sponsoring American Heart Association’s 2010 Heart Ball
In March 2010, the Law Firm of Farah & Farah sponsored the American Heart Association’s 2010
Heart Ball. The Heart Ball supports the educational programs and research funding for the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association is the nation’s premier volunteer health agency dedicated to reducing disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke, which are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers.
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Ride On Time: New Federal Used Car Database
Anyone who has ever bought a used car knows how important reliable information about the vehicle is. Until recently, the primary source for those details has been the website Carfax.com, which provides a definitive history of a car, but at the cost of $35 a tag. Fortunately for those who don’t want to spend that kind of money, the federal government, at long last, offers a much cheaper alternative.
As part of the federal Anti-Car Theft Act, www.vehiclehistory.gov was launched recently to allow those in the market for a used car to check the legitimacy of a car’s title and mileage, the vehicle’s history of damage, as well as whether or not it had ever been reported stolen. Up until now, there had been no governmental database of automobile titles; this National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database changes that.
Over 7500 businesses – insurance companies, junkyards, and auto recyclers – now report to NMVTIS/ vehiclehistory.gov, which has led to benefits like a 17% decrease in car thefts in Virginia, and most impressively a 99% recovery rate of stolen vehicles in Arizona. The Justice Department estimates that the NMVTIS will save taxpayers $11 billion a year in fraud… and, if you are in the market for a used vehicle, it might just save you from making a big mistake.
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Lethal Cocktails: The Dangers of Alcoholic Energy Drinks
Energy drinks: almost a $5 Billion industry, one predicated on aggressive marketing to youth. 31% of teenagers regularly consume them. And why wouldn’t they? Energy drinks are ubiquitous in their lives, sponsors of sporting events and concert tours, while maintaining high visibility on Facebook. Alcohol producers, always on the lookout for another profit opportunity, have built on the popularity of energy drinks by marketing alcoholic versions… and the results are worrisome.
Brands like Rock Star 21 and Sparks, both marketed as energy drinks, carry quite the alcoholic punch, with up to 7% alcohol, which is twice the amount found in many popular beers. It was only a matter of time, of course, until alcoholic energy drinks were marketed; for years in the club scene, the “Red Bull and vodka” was infamous for blending energy drink stimulation with the familiar depressant qualities of liquor.
Alcoholic energy drinks are most popular with the Under 25 set, the very demographic that should avoid them at all costs. Alcohol itself is the leading cause of death among youth, and with brains developing until people are in their midtwenties, even modest alcohol consumption is known to retard brain development.
In addition to long term consequences from consuming these, AEDs also have awful shortterm effects. One study found that its subjects, after mixing energy drinks with alcohol, performed “significantly worse after ingesting the AED despite their perception of increased alertness and reduced intoxication”.
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Kind of Blue: The Adverse Effects of Antidepressants
Americans have embraced antidepressant medications. As of 2005, one in ten Americans had a prescription for one.
The use of these drugs doubled between 1996 and 2005, and given the universal advertising for them throughout the media in recent years, that rate of growth will only increase going forward.
This increase in antidepressant usage arguably has come at the expense of psychotherapy. In recent years, the percentage
of Americans seeing psychotherapists has decreased – going from 31.5% to under 20%. Drugs are being prescribed to treat a wide variety of mood disorders, and often, it appears, being used in lieu of conventional “talk” therapy.
The marketing has become more aggressive – and it appears that doctors are failing in their obligations to let people know the truth about what they’re taking. A recent UCLA study found that two–thirds of MDs don’t say how long the drugs they prescribe should be taken, and almost half failed to state the dosage or the frequency of the doses.
Another unintended consequence of these drugs: pollution. Pills that are flushed down the toilet whole and medicines that people digest, process, and excrete end up in water treatment plants with no mechanism to remove pharmaceuticals. This, in turn, pollutes the groundwater and affects all animals in the ecosystem – everything from fish in the rivers to our own children – and illustrates the social importance of our individual decisions.
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Draft Chat: Jacksonville Jaguars & The 2010 NFL Draft
- Defensive Tackle
- Round 1 Pick 10 (10)
- School: California
- Conference: PAC 10
- H: 6′ 2″ – W: 295 lbs.
- Defensive Tackle
- Round 3 Pick 10 (74)
- School: Louisana Tech
- Conference: WAC
- H: 6′ 2″ – W: 304 lbs.
The axiom in the NFL: defense wins championships. The Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off a late-season collapse, cleaved to that line of thinking with a defense-centered draft in which they decided to ignore the wishes of thousands of their fans and draft Tim Tebow. Instead, what they did was attempt to fortify the defense with key picks, and trades, that should have an impact for years to come.
The Jaguars’ first pick, and tenth overall in the draft, was the high-motor player Tyson Alualu, a product of University of California Berkeley. The 295 pound Alualu played both end and tackle in college, and former adversaries like current Jags’ offensive tackle Eben Britton commented to local media about how energetic and aggressive the relatively unheralded Alualu was. The Jags, widely expected to trade down in the first round, instead made a pick that they expect will give them a starting caliber tackle for years to come.
The balance of the team’s picks came later in the draft, and they bore a common denominator. The players hailed from small colleges yet, despite their relative obscurity to the casual fan, had big reps with scouts. Last year the team struck gold with players with obscure pedigrees, and this year hopes are that they can do likewise.
3rd round pick D’Anthony Smith, a defensive tackle out of Louisiana Tech, is known as a force against the run and the pass both. The fifth round found the team picking two defensive ends, Central Arkansas edge-rusher Larry "Hitman" Hart and Murray State’s Austen Lane. These two certainly will be forces in the Jags’ defensive line rotation going forward.
Sixth round pick Deji Karim, a running back from Southern Illinois in the Maurice Jones Drew mold, averaged over seven yards a carry at Southern Illinois and promises an immediate homerun threat and insurance for MJD. Another sixth rounder, Scotty McGee of James Madison, likewise is a threat to score six points every time he catches the ball.
The Jags’ best acquisition of the draft, however, may have come via trade – the team dealt a fourth round pick to Oakland for starting middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, who led the Raiders in tackles the last couple of years. Some will grouse that the Jags didn’t draft Tebow, but if Gene Smith’s second draft is as good as his first, the doubts among the Jaguar faithful will subside soon enough.
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Clouds on the Horizon
Florida’s “Lawsuit Climate” Among Worst In Nation
Florida’s lawsuit climate is one of the most toxic in the United States, according to "Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States", a recent study by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The Harris Interactive survey ranks Florida the eighth worst state in the country for "legal fairness".
The survey of 1,482 corporate lawyers reports also that 67% of respondents claim that a state’s "lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their business" – up ten percentage points from just three years ago.
At over 12%, "Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Yet, the state’s poor legal climate is negatively impacting its economic environment by discouraging new businesses and new jobs," claimed Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. "Florida needs more jobs, not more lawsuits."
Rickard lauded Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for his endorsement of an attorney general "sunshine" bill this legislative session. The "Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting Act", SB 712 by Sen. John Thrasher/HB 437 by Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, would promote transparency and accountability in the awarding of contingency fee contracts by the AG’s office to outside legal counsel.
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Sorry, Wrong Number
Telemarketing ‘Robocalls’ Now Illegal
A common nuisance to anyone with a phone: around dinner time, the phone rings. The Caller ID flashes an unknown number. Answer the phone, and, after a brief pause, a recorded voice jabbers on around aluminum siding or some other less-than-pressing issue.
Those calls should be a thing of the past. Starting in September of last year, Federal law requires that telemarketers receive written permission in advance from people before calling them with automated messages. This is true even if a party did business with the company in the past, and even if the person being called failed to sign up for the federal Do Not Call registry.
You do have legal recourse if you receive one of these calls. Contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov.
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Our Personal Promise
Accident victims have specific rights, but by law you have a limited time to take action. When you use our team at Farah & Farah, there are NO up-front charges. Our fee is a percentage of the money awarded payable only when your case is successfully concluded. No matter how many times you call and how long we talk, there is NO CHARGE or cost until your case settles. Do not sign any releases, agreements or give any statements until you have spoken with us about your legal rights. When it comes to getting you more, we won’t settle for less!
We personally promise that you will be treated with the respect and dignity you deserve. We promise to keep you up to date and informed as to developments in your case. Your case is important to us, regardless of size.
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If you have been injured in Jacksonville, please contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Farah & Farah today to discuss your case.