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  • Carrying on family traditions

    At the Ankin Law Offices, practicing law is a family affair. For over a decade now, Howard Ankin has been defending the rights of personal injury and workers’ compensation clients with his father and law partner, Paul Ankin. In fact, Paul’s relentless work on behalf of his clients is what inspired Howard to become a lawyer, as explained in this recent Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article: Howard Ankin recalled that as a child he toted his father’s briefcase and watched him at work in Daley Center courtrooms. “There was no question that I was going to become a lawyer, said Howard, 42, of Ankin Law Offices in Chicago. About a decade ago, Howard and his father, Paul, worked on a personal-injury case together. Howard suggested to his father that they bring in a co-counsel to work on the case. “My father told me there was nothing doing,” Howard said. “I was going to handle the case; we were partners together.” At the final pretrial, the case settled for $2.6 million, he said. “My father has always made sure to foster my growth as a lawyer and to make sure our law practice was to be a success.” In addition to the law, Howard and his father share another interest as well: toy soldiers. Right around the time that Howard starting carrying his father’s briefcase, he became interested in Paul’s toy soldier collection. Howard describes the start of his life-long hobby in another recent Chicago Law Bulletin article: One of Howard H. Ankin‘s earliest memories, from age 4, is the toy soldiers that he got from his father. They were “dime-store lead soldiers” from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s that his father, Paul, began buying for the son in the 1960s while Paul B. Ankin was in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp at the base at Presidio in San Francisco. After that, collecting toy soldiers “became an activity I did with my dad,” Howard Ankin said. “I would go with my dad and go to an antique show. This collection gave me something to look for. … I was going in because I was looking to see if they had soldiers.” When he was 4, Howard Ankin had 10 to 15 toy soldiers. “By age 10, I had maybe 50. When I graduated from high school, a couple hundred.” Today, Howard said he has hundreds, perhaps a few thousand. The[READ MORE…]

  • Can Personal Injury Law Trump Workers’ Compensation Law for Some Workplace Injuries?

    Image via Wikipedia There’s an interesting lawsuit pending in Florida that addresses just this issue. The lawsuit, Janowski v. Publix, may not be permitted to go forward based upon a Florida statute enacted in 2003, which effectively prevents any lawsuit by injured workers against their employers. However, the plaintiff’s attorney contends that the 2003 statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it prevents access to the courts. In Janowski, the plaintiff, an employee of Publix, was killed at work when a recently fired co-worker returned to the store with a gun and opened fire. The basis of the wrongful death lawsuit is the contention that Publix  should have known that the shooter was potentially dangerous, had no policies or procedures for addressing workplace violence and failed to notify other employees that the shooter had been terminated or of the danger that she presented. A copy of the complaint can be found here. As explained in this ABA Journal blog post, this lawsuit faces a major hurdle due to the enactment of the 2003 statute: Because state law was revised in 2003 to make it virtually impossible for a worker to sue an employer even in a situation where the injury was substantially certain to occur… And, under a state supreme court decision (decided) three years earlier, the family of Greg Janowski has a strong wrongful death case against the Publix supermarket in Tarpon Springs where he worked with the woman who shot him to death, the Tampa practitioner tells the ABA Journal. The supreme court case, Turner v. PRC Inc., 754 So.2d 683 (Fla. 2000), holds that workers’ compensation law doesn’t provide the exclusive remedy when a workplace injury was substantially certain to occur, explains a National Council on Compensation Insurance magazine article (PDF). Common sense dictates that the family of deceased worker who sustained fatal injuries under these circumstances should be permitted to pursue remedies for personal injury and shouldn’t be limited to recovery under the Workers’ Compensation statutes. This was not your typical workplace injury and Mr. Janowski’s surviving family members should be permitted their day in court. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • SCOTUS to Consider Seatbelt Lawsuits Against Auto Makers

    Image via Wikipedia In late May, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to consider the issue of whether certain products liability lawsuits against car manufacturers can proceed. At issue in the case is whether federal regulations that set forth vehicle safety standards may be used as the basis for products liability lawsuits stemming from claims that lap-only seat belts contributed to the plaintiffs injuries. The case being appealed involved a collision with a 1993 Mazda minivan in which the plaintiff, who was riding in the minivan wearing only a lap belt, was killed. The lower courts in California both concluded that the lawsuit could not go forward due to the operation of a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard promulgated under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Specifically, the courts concluded that the lawsuit  could not proceed because it was preempted by the regulation that authorized automakers to install lap-only seat belts. The regulation in question was later changed and now provides that most passenger vehicles built after Sept. 1, 2007 must include shoulder belts and lap belts in all forward-facing seats in the rear of the vehicle. The specific question presented to the Supreme Court is: Whether, when Congress has provided that compliance with a federal motor vehicle safety standard “does not exempt a person from liability at common law,” 49 U.S.C. § 30103(e), a federal minimum safety standard allowing vehicle manufacturers to install either lap-only or lap/shoulder seatbelts in certain seating positions preempts a state common-law claim alleging that the manufacturer should have installed a lap/shoulder belt in one of those seating positions. The court will hear oral arguments in this case during the 2010-2011 term. Briefs and additional information about this case can be found here at the ScotusWiki. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Is Seller of Property Liable for Personal Injuries Occurring After the Sale?

    In a decision handed down in early June, the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeal addressed the interesting issue of whether the vendor of  real property was liable to the purchaser for personal injuries sustained by the purchaser after the sale was complete. In Tindle v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 09-2888, the plaintiffs had purchased a new home built by the defendant and one of the plaintiffs was seriously injured when when his foot and leg sank into a hole concealed underneath the sod in the backyard of his new home. The holes had developed over a period of time on a number of different properties located in the same subdivision following flooding in the area. It was later determined that portions of the subdivision had been improperly graded. A few months after moving into their home, the plaintiffs  complained to the defendant regarding the appearance of the holes in the yard. The defendant later fixed the holes in and around the driveway in the spring of 2004. Later that year, approximately 7 months after the plaintiffs had moved into their home, the injured plaintiff stepped into a hole located elsewhere on the property. As the court explained, the dispute is governed by Illinois personal injury law, which holds that the seller of land is generally not liable for personal injuries occurring after the transfer of title. However, the court noted that there was an exception to the general rule of non-liability: : To state a claim…plaintiff-purchaser must sufficiently allege that (1) defendant-vendor concealed or failed to disclose a condition which, prior to the sale, created an unreasonable risk to persons on the land; (2) the defendant knew or had reason to know of the condition and realized or should have realized the risk involved; (3) that defendant had reason to believe that plaintiff would not discover the condition; (4) that the condition caused physical harm, after plaintiff took possession but before plaintiff knew or had reason to know of the condition and the risk involved; and (5) before plaintiff had an opportunity to take precautions to prevent the injury. In this case, however, the court concluded that the applicability of the exception had not been established and thus the defendant was not liable. The court reasoned that the plaintiff had been aware of the dangerous condition of the sink holes on his land long before his injury occurred[READ MORE…]

  • Apologize and Reduce the Chance of a Lawsuit

    Image by Dave Keeshan via Flickr Growing up, our parents always told us to apologize for our wrongs. Perhaps it’s high time we applied that childhood lesson to real life, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because, as a new study shows, it may reduce the likelihood of lawsuits. The study was conducted at the University of Illinois. The conclusion reached by the study flies in the face of conventional legal advice, which dictates that it is unwise to apologize, since doing so is an admission of liability. Instead, it appears that apologizing may in fact reduce the chance that a lawsuit will be filed as a result of the potentially tortious conduct. As explained in this University of Illinois article, apologies help to placate the injured parties, thus reducing the likelihood of litigation: Jennifer Robbennolt says her studies show that apologies can potentially help resolve legal disputes ranging from injury cases to wrongful firings, giving wounded parties a sense of justice and satisfaction that promotes settlements and trims demands for damages. Of course, as we learned as youngsters, the nature of the apology matters. Simply apologizing for the fact that the incident occurred rather than accepting blame is an unsuccessful strategy. Acknowledging wrongdoing is the key to an effective apology. Although lawyers are traditionally reluctant to encourage apologies, in part out of concern that it may later affect the strength of the case, many jurisdictions are now recognizing the value of apologies. In fact, as explained in the article “(s)tatutes that make at least some apologetic statements inadmissible at trial are now on the books in 35 states, most enacted in the last decade.” This is an issue that personal injury attorneys should keep in mind when negotiating on behalf of and advising their clients. Apologies may not advance their client’s interests in all cases, but in some cases, it might just be a good idea.

  • Chinese Drywall Class Action Certified in Miami

    Image via Wikipedia Earlier in May, we discussed the Chinese drywall lawsuits that are being filed across the Southern United States. As we explained in the prior post, beginning in 2004, defective Chinese drywall that was installed in newly built  Southern homes. The defective drywall eventually broke down in the hot, humid weather and emitted noxious fumes which smelled like rotten eggs. The emissions can cause copper and other metal surfaces, such as pipes and wires, to turn black and powdery and also irritate the respiratory tracts of residents, ranging from sinus problems, asthma and nosebleeds. A few weeks ago, a Miami judge certified a class action filed on behalf of 152 Miami-Dade homeowners. This lawsuit is limited to a specific Miami-Dade housing subdivision and is  just a drop in the bucket given that over 2100 people have filed lawsuits related to the defective Chinese drywall nationwide. It represents a victory nevertheless, since it allows the Miami-Dade plaintiffs a more streamlined path to justice, as explained in this post from the Miami New Times blog: The class action suit is limited to a single subdivision in Homestead, but lawyers say the judge’s decision could be an important precedent for thousands of other victims… Lawsuits have cropped up across the country, but there’s a staggering array of challenges. For one thing, the biggest manufacturers, including Knauf, are based overseas and difficult to serve. For another, no one can agree who’s to blame on the long chain from the factory to the exporter to the builder to the subcontractors. Hopefully this class action certification will pave the way for other lawsuits pending across the country. These injured homeowners, many of whom have been forced out of their homes because of the drywall fumes and are facing foreclosure, deserve justice–and they deserve it quickly. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Illinois Court Holds Personal Injury Attorneys Can Recover Fees From Hospital Lien

    Image via Wikipedia Wendling v. Woolard; Howell v. Dunaway, Nos. 110199 & 110200 Cons. , 5th District of Illinois, is a case that was decided in March 2010. At issue in this case was whether a hospital’s statutory lien for services rendered to an injured plaintiff, which was filed pursuant to the Health Care Services Lien Act, should be subject to a reduction under the common-fund doctrine for attorney fees incurred by the injured plaintiff. The common fund doctrine is a concept that allows attorneys to recoup litigation expenses and attorney fees from funds that were created or increased in value due to the attorney’s efforts. The hospital argued that the common fund doctrine did not apply to hospital liens created by the Health Care Services Act. The Court disagreed, noting that the action before the court more closely resembled that of an enforcement of a statutory lien, as opposed to one for the collection of a debt. Accordingly, the Court held that the common fund doctrine applied to Health Care Services Act liens. The Court explained that the enforcement of the lien was dependent upon the creation of the fund: (The)hospital’s lien specifically attaches only to the settlement funds that are recovered by the debtor in a suit to recover damages for the very injuries which gave rise to the hospital’s debt…(W)ithout the creation of the fund against which to enforce its lien, a hospital would have to use its own legal resources to recover the monies due to it…If we did not allow a division of legal costs, hospitals would be encouraged to sit back and reap the rewards of another’s labor at that party’s expense. We do not believe that is consistent with public policy. All and all a good decision for Illinois personal injury attorneys. It ensures that lawyers receive compensation for the hard work performed on behalf of their injured clients. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Round Up

    Image by Benimoto via Flickr Here’s what other personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers have been talking about over the past few weeks: Rand Paul: “Sometimes Accidents Happen” (And the Lesson for Jury Selection) – New York Personal Injury Law Blog Heart Disease Associated With Overtime Work – Workers’ Compensation Law Blog Gulf Oil Spill: The Impact of Damage Caps Will Be Felt By Tens of Thousands – Day on Torts Science, Causation, and Toxic Torts -TortsProf Blog Is Bayer Warning Or Attacking With Its New YAZ / Yasmin Package Insert, Or Label, In The U.S.? – Drug Injury Watch Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Is using an iPad while driving really a good idea?

    In February we discussed Illinois’ recent ban of texting while driving, and concluded with this advice: “Operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile device is a dangerous proposition…so take heed when you hit the road–protect yourself and those around you–and leave your smart phone where it belongs: in your pocket.” The Illinois ban simply makes sense. While driving, your attention should be focused on the road, not on distracting electronic gadgets. It’s difficult to make a rational argument arguing otherwise, which is why the recent trend to install computers in cars is so perplexing. For instance, as we learn in this blog post from earth2tech, students at the University of Michigan recently completed a project wherein computers were installed in automobiles to facilitate various types of social networking. The screens were readily accessible by the driver and allowed for access to the Internet and interaction with other drivers on the road in order to plan road trips, track fuel usage and report traffic backups. Similarly, as reported in this post at the Raw Feed, an iPad accessory was recently released that allows the iPad to be mounted to the steering wheel so that the driver can read the newspaper while operating the car. Believe it or not, in this this video demonstrating the device,  the laughable suggestion is made that the product actually enhances safety: Hopefully, laws will be passed–and soon–forbidding the use of computers and similar devices by drivers of vehicles.  Technology is changing at a rapid pace and lawmakers need to act quickly to nip this problem in the bud. We need to forbid this dangerous practice now before it becomes commonly accepted. Our safety depends on it. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.