December, 2013

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Executor removed from Howie Chizek estate

Estate executors have duties that they must perform, or they will be removed by the court.  The Summit County Probate Court is in the process of removing the executor of radio host Howie Chizek’s estate for malfeasance.  The Court also denied his requested fees.

Executor removed from Howie Chizek estate – Break News – Ohio.

Avoid Drunk Driving with DUI Apps this Holiday Season

There’s an app for that.  The Greedy Associates blawg lists a number of DUI-related apps that are now available.  These include apps that analyze your horizontal gaze nystagmus, or that will track your drinks and target BAC level.  You can even get keychain versions of a breathalyzer to work with your app.  Of course the safest thing to do is not to drink alcohol if you are driving.

Avoid Drunk Driving with DUI Apps this Holiday Season – Greedy Associates.

NSA phone collection program likely unconstitutional, federal judge says

The U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. held that the NSA’s telephone record collection activity “almost certainly does violate” the Constitution.   The Wall Street Journal LawBlog tries to sort out what it means in practical terms: What Does Monday’s NSA Ruling Mean? – Law Blog – WSJ.

Rochow v LINA – 6th Circuit Rules For ERISA Claimant, Ordering Insurance Co. to Pay $3.8 Million in profits to Claimant in Addition to Lost Benefits.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an insurance company (LINA)  had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it denied Daniel Rochow benefits.  The Court upheld an award for lost benefits and an order for LINA to disgorge $3.8 million in profits to Mr. Rochow under an equitable theory of unjust enrichment.  The full opinion is available here: 13a0338p-06.pdf.

What is the loss of your pet worth under the law?

If someone kills your dog, should you be able to sue for emotional distress or suffering caused by the loss?  Most courts have said no.  The Stanford Journal of Animal Law & Policy recently published an article stating that this is the best policy and in the best interest of the pets themselves. This may be a tough sell for pet owners.

Courts and Legislatures Have Kept the Proper Leash on Pet Injury Lawsuits: Why Rejecting Emotion-Based Damages Promotes The Rule of Law, Modern Values, and Animal Welfare | Stanford Law School Student Journals.

Senators Ask DOJ To Clear Up Past Lies to Supreme Court

It is no wonder there is a lack of trust in the federal government.  The NSA lied to the Department of Justice, and by extension, to the Supreme Court.  Nine months ago, the court decided Clapper v. Amnesty International, denying standing to the plaintiffs because it was speculative that they were being spied on by the government.  But we now know the plaintiffs were right.  The Supreme Court’s decision relied, in part, on misrepresentations by the Solicitor General, which were in turn caused by misinformation from the NSA.  Three congressmen, Senators Mark Udall, Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, in a letter to the Solicitor General,  are asking the government to clear up any inaccuracies in the record.

Senators Ask Solicitor General To Clear Up Past Lies to SCOTUS – Technologist.

Is a hotdog toss an inherent risk at a baseball game?

Should a baseball club be liable for injuries from mascots tossing hotdogs into the stands?  Robert Coomer was injured sitting in the stands watching a Kansas City Royals game. He knew from his many previous visits to the ballpark there was a tradition of a hotdog toss at the ballpark. Sluggerrr, the mascot, fired a hotdog underarm into the stands. Coomer, who’d looked away to check the out-of-town baseball scores, was smacked in the eye. He suffered a detached retina.  A jury found that Coomer was to blame for his own injury, because he wasn’t paying attention to what was going on. The state appeals court threw out the verdict, finding that the trial judge had made a mistake in instructing the jury that if they saw the threat of getting hit during the hot-dog throw as inherent to the risk of attending the game, they should find in favor of the Royals.  Did they make the right call?  The case is currently before the Missouri Supreme Court for review.  See more at Coomer v. Kansas City Royals: The case of the killer hot dog toss..

Reasons to Talk to Your Children About Their Inheritance

Forbes has a good article on seven reasons you should talk to your (adult) children about estate planning.  The most important reason of course is that it can help to avoid problems later.  But the Forbes article discusses the following seven reasons:

  1. Avoid surprises.  Don’t leave them wondering about your intentions.
  2. Refine your plan.  Getting feedback might make you think twice about your current plan.
  3. Save taxes.  In some cases you may be able to instruct them on helping to save taxes.
  4. Adjust expectations.  Make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid fights later.
  5. Explain yourself.  Children may accept your decision more easily if you’ve explained why you made your decision.
  6. Anticipate a disclaimer.  In some cases you need to know if your child would consider disclaiming their inheritance.
  7. Promote harmony.  Talk to each child about their ideas and opinions.