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Court to review class action status in Wal-Mart suit
Attorney Blogs | 2010/12/14 10:45

The Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide if the largest sex-discrimination class-action lawsuit in U.S. history against Wal-Mart Stores Inc can proceed, a case involving women workers who seek billions of dollars in damages.

The nation's highest court agreed to hear an appeal by the world's largest retailer and the largest private employer arguing the claims of as many as 1.5 million current and former female employees were too diverse to proceed as a single class-action lawsuit.

The justices decided to review a ruling by a appeals court in California that upheld the class-action certification in the lawsuit alleging discrimination against every woman employed over the past decade at the company's 3,400 U.S. stores.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case, which immediately became the most important business dispute before the justices this term, in March, with a ruling likely by the end of June.

The ruling could affect other class-action lawsuits. Anthony Sabino, a professor of law and business at St. John's University in New York, said the case "will test the very limits of class litigation."

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart said in a statement it was pleased the court granted review in the important case and it looked forward to the court's consideration of the appeal.



Eugene, Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer
Attorney Blogs | 2010/08/12 09:24
Max Mizejewski received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. In 1997, Max graduated from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College and went on to work in the public sector before entering private practice. As Manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation Environmental Unit, Max gained valuable experience negotiating, problem solving and working through confrontational issues with emotionally charged individuals. Max brings this experience to his private practice which focuses on criminal defense and family law.



Max believes in taking the time to understand each clients unique situation and specific needs. Max represents clients in criminal prosecutions, administrative hearings, dissolution of marriage, custody matters and appeals. Max's tenacious attitude and strategic mindset make him the right advocate to have on your side.

Mr. Mizejewski believes everyone's rights should be protected, and everyone deserves the best possible defense. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you need to know your rights.  We can defend you against your criminal charges, including the following:
  • Drunk Driving (DUII, DUI, DWI) - including underage drinking and driving, refusing a breathalyzer test, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other drug or alcohol related driving offenses
  • Criminal Driving Offenses - including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, hit & run, attempting to elude police, reckless driving and licensure issues
  • Drug Crimes - including possession

    , delivery, and manufacturing of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, designer drugs and prescription drugs
  • Property Crimes - including theft, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, computer crimes and burglary
  • Violent Crimes - including menacing, stalking and assault
  • Stalking - including criminal offenses and civil actions
For more information about Oregon criminal law, Oregon criminal courts,  the criminal process, or to discuss your criminal charges with an experienced criminal defense attorney, please call 541-505-9872 or contact us online.


John Crane Inc. Found Liable for Engineman’s Illness
Attorney Blogs | 2010/06/16 17:00

A Philadelphia court has awarded more than $4.5 million to a mesothelioma plaintiff and his wife of 57 years. Few mesothelioma plaintiffs live long enough to hear a final verdict in their cases, making the outcome of this reverse bifurcated trial especially significant.

Waters & Kraus, LLP, and the Shein Law Center, LTD, served as plaintiff’s counsel for former U.S. Navy engineman John Koeberle. The plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in April 2009. Under the reverse bifurcated system, Phase I requires a jury to first determine whether the plaintiff’s illness was caused by asbestos exposure. Neither the names of the manufacturers nor a suggested dollar amount for damages may be mentioned to the jury during this phase. According to Waters & Kraus attorney Demetrios Zacharopoulos, the team’s first order of business was to support the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Typically, the diagnosis is based on hard tissue samples, but Mr. Koeberle’s doctors advised that the physical risks associated with obtaining tissue samples from his lung were not in the plaintiff’s best interest. As a result, the diagnosis was made based on cytological examinations of fluids taken from Mr. Koeberle’s chest cavity — a diagnosis which was made by Mr. Koeberle’s treating physician and confirmed by Plaintiff’s medical expert Gordon Yu, M.D.

According to Mr. Koeberle’s testimony, his Naval duties from 1948 to 1957 included maintenance work on diesel engines, valves, and pumps requiring the replacement of asbestos-containing gasket and packing materials. Frequently, the removal of these materials involved scraping and wire-brushing, which generated conditions he described as “very dusty.” In addition, the process of inserting new gaskets and packing often involved cutting sheet material to fabricate a custom fit.


After a nine-day trial, the jury concluded that Mr. Koeberle’s exposure to asbestos was indeed a contributing cause of his mesothelioma. Mr. Koeberle was awarded $3 million under the Survival Act, and Mrs. Koeberle was awarded $1.5 million for loss of consortium, or deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to illness or injury.

The Phase II liability proceeding was a bench trial in which the court found John Crane Inc., the lone remaining defendant of seven original manufacturers in the case, liable for Mr. Koeberle’s illness under Section 402A’s strict liability rule. The plaintiff recalled seeing the name of the defendant and manufacturer, John Crane Inc., on the boxes he used while maintaining and repairing equipment for the Navy.

The judge ruled that Mr. Koeberle’s exposure to John Crane asbestos-containing gaskets and packing was a factual cause in the development of Mr. Koeberle’s mesothelioma. As a result, John Crane is liable for one-seventh of the amount of damages rendered by the Jury in Phase I.

Although Mr. Koeberle was too ill to be in the courtroom when the final decision was announced on June 3, WK attorney Demetrios Zacharopoulos said the plaintiff and his family are both pleased and relieved.

“These cases are never easy,” explained Mr. Zacharopoulos. “As with all of our cases, we pushed to expedite proceedings — and in this instance, Mr. Koeberle and his family were able to witness justice being rendered and having John Crane held accountable for its actions. They’re very pleased with the result, and they’re relieved that they can now move on and experience some closure.”

About Waters & Kraus, LLP
Waters & Kraus, LLP, is a plaintiffs’ firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases. The firm’s diverse practice includes toxic tort (asbestos and mesothelioma) litigation, pharmaceutical product liability, negligence, and consumer product liability, as well as qui tam (whistle-blower), and commercial litigation. With offices in Maryland, Texas, California, and Waters & Kraus has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the United States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states, as well as foreign governments.



Arnold Law Office, LLC - Oregon Criminal Defense
Attorney Blogs | 2009/12/17 09:23
Personal Injury

  - Auto Accidents
  - Premises Liability
  -
Dangerous Products

Wrongful Death

Criminal Defense

DUII, DUI, DWI

Domestic Relations
  - Dissolution, Divorce
  - Child Custody
  -
Parenting Time
  - Support

Juvenile/DHS  - Dependency
  - Delinquency

Civil Litigation
  - Business Disputes
  -
Stalking Orders
  - General Litigation



Imagining a Public Law Firm’s Earnings Report
Attorney Blogs | 2008/04/23 12:39

Nearly a year after an Australian law firm went public, many in the legal profession are still tittering over whether any American players would follow suit.

By necessity, law firms are fairly tight-lipped about much of the work they do. That would have to change if any were to become a publicly traded company, what with the disclosure requirements and the probing questions of shareholders.

In the midst of earnings season, Above the Law’s David Lat pens a mostly tongue-in-cheek piece for The New York Observer speculating on what a quarterly earnings report by an American firm would look like. (A hint: It wouldn’t say much.)

Mr. Lat, a former corporate lawyer himself, gently jabs the pampered-partners culture of Big Law, which may take a hit as corporate profits slide. Niceties like $160,000 starting salaries for first-year associates, 18 weeks of paid parental leave and Friday Swedish massages, he imagines, would go out the window.

And how would the firm describe secrecy-shrouded practices like mergers and acquisitions work or criminal defense? Perhaps thusly:

The M&A department spent a significant amount of time on several potential transactions for a client in the energy sector that were never consummated. Unfortunately, the firm was unable to bill for most of this time …

The firm cannot provide additional details about this representation, due to client confidentiality rules.

As a point of comparison, consider the semiannual disclosures of Slater & Gordon, the personal injuries firm that now resides on the Australian stock exchange. Its recent annual report (PDF) resembles virtually any other public firm’s, with general income statements and descriptions of its business.

Which is not to say that public law firms would ever fully open their kimonos, much as representatives of another industry tend to play their cards close to the vest. Alternative asset managers — including private equity firm Blackstone Group, buyout- and hedge-fund manager Fortress Investment Group and hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management — have been criticized by some analysts and investors as presenting opaque looks into their businesses.



Same-sex marriage on court docket
Attorney Blogs | 2008/03/03 16:57

As gay-rights groups call for marital equality and opponents warn of a public backlash, societal decay and religious conflict, the California Supreme Court is prepared for an epic three-hour hearing Tuesday on the constitutionality of the state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It shapes up as the most momentous case the court has heard in decades - comparable to the 1981 ruling that guaranteed Medi-Cal abortions for poor women, the 1972 ruling that briefly overturned the state's death penalty law, and the 1948 decision, cited repeatedly in the voluminous filings before the court, that struck down California's ban on interracial marriage. The arguments on both sides are weighty.

Supporters of same-sex marriage invoke the state's commitment to equality regardless of gender or sexual orientation, the needs of the children of gay and lesbian couples, the persistence of societal discrimination, and legal rights such as freedom of expression, association and privacy.

In defense of its law, the state cites a cultural tradition far older than statehood, the will of the people as expressed in a 2000 initiative, the steps California has already taken toward equal rights for gays and lesbians, and the power of lawmakers and voters to determine state policy.

Beyond those arguments, groups opposing same-sex marriage want the court to justify the state law on moral or scientific grounds, as an affirmation that limiting matrimony to a man and a woman is best for children and society.

A ruling is due within 90 days. The case combines four lawsuits - three by nearly two dozen couples who want to marry and the fourth by the city of San Francisco, which entered the dispute after the court overturned Mayor Gavin Newsom's order that cleared the way for nearly 4,000 same-sex weddings in February and March 2004.

The suits rely on the California Constitution, which state courts have long interpreted as more protective of individual rights than the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs invoke a passage in the 1948 ruling on interracial marriage - the first of its kind by any state's high court - in which the justices recognized a "right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice."

Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco Superior Court echoed that language in March 2005, when he ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violated "the basic human right to marry a person of one's choice." He also said the marriage law constitutes sex discrimination - prohibited by another groundbreaking California Supreme Court ruling in 1971 - because it is based on the gender of one's partner.

But a state appeals court upheld the law in October 2006. In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected Kramer's findings of discrimination and said California was entitled to preserve the historic definition of marriage while taking steps to protect the rights of same-sex couples who register as domestic partners.

Advocates crowd in

As the case reached the state's high court, the participants and the arguments multiplied. Conservative religious organizations, including sponsors of the 2000 ballot measure that reinforced the opposite-sex-only marriage law, accused the state of making a half-hearted defense of its law and sought to justify it as a pro-family measure. Marriage is for procreation, and children fare best with married fathers and mothers, they argued. They also said the definition of marriage is so deeply engrained in the law that judges have no power to change it.

The coalition of conservative religious groups warned that a ruling against the state law would "fracture the centuries-old consensus about the meaning of marriage."

An opposing assortment of liberal denominations counseled the court against a state endorsement of "the religious orthodoxy of some sects concerning who may marry."

The court also heard from hundreds of organizations representing psychologists, anthropologists and other professions, city and county governments, law professors, businesses, civil rights advocates and social institutions.

Judges and limits

Underlying all the arguments is a debate about the proper role of courts in a democracy, particularly on contentious social and political issues. It's the same question - how far, and how fast, judges should move to correct injustices they perceive in the actions of elected officials - that has confronted jurists pondering such issues as segregation, school prayer and abortion.

The subject was raised with unusual frankness in written arguments by Attorney General Jerry Brown's office, which is leading the defense of the marriage law that Brown signed as governor in 1977.

"One unintended and unfortunate consequence of too radical a change is the possibility of backlash," said Deputy Attorney General Christopher Krueger. Same-sex marriage may someday be legalized in California, he said, "but such a change should appropriately come from the people rather than the judiciary as long as constitutional rights are protected."

Brown said last week he wasn't asking the court to sacrifice principles to politics, only observing that rulings that "ride roughshod over the deeply held judgments of society" can have unintended consequences.

He noted that the court majority swung from liberal to conservative after three of his appointees, including Chief Justice Rose Bird, were unseated in a 1986 election that centered on their votes to overturn death sentences.



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