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  • Juveniles Records Expunged

    Juveniles are now able to get their records expunged because of the new “Clean Slate” law. The new law will now expunge the arrests records of many teens with minor offenses. Juveniles who were arrested for non-violent crimes, for less serious reasons or never actually charged, will automatically get a clean slate as soon as they turn 18. Lawyers and state officials say this law will help these kids get into schools and get jobs without arrest records hanging over their heads. Private corporations are able to buy or mine data from local jurisdictions all over the country, not just here in Illinois. Employers are using the data from young people with minor offenses in order to turn them down for jobs that are often completely unrelated to their juvenile records. The “Clean Slate” law will help keep young adults from being pigeonholed by something they did in their teenage years and that should have remained a part of their juvenile records. The legislation stipulates that the teen can’t have been criminally charged, and the arrest can’t be tied to felonies or sex assault cases. Youth Courts have been established downstate as a way to keep kids out of criminal court proceedings. The arrest record would be cleared by a person’s 18th birthday if that arrest didn’t result in criminal charges.  Eligible juveniles must also not have any other subsequent arrests or juvenile delinquency petitions. This isn’t the first change seen from the State when it comes to juvenile offenders. The entire department is undergoing an overhaul, primarily to cut costs by keeping kids out of the system. This bill will give teens a second chance to get onto the right path. It is another tool that gives a minor, and future adult, the ability to be in a positive position as they’re starting college or entering the workforce.    

  • Vehicular Homicide

    Several states have laws referred to as an assault by auto or vehicular homicide as it is considered in Illinois. As the driver of a truck, there is a lot of responsibility; the greatest concern is safety and keeping fatigued drivers off the highway and freeways. There are regulations for when and how long a driver may drive. You don’t know when an accident can occur; recently a tractor-trailer rammed into a limousine bus, because the driver dozed off, setting off a chain-reaction crash. The truck driver was charged with death by auto in the crash that killed a man; two people were seriously injured and flown from the accident scene to a local hospital, where they were left in critical condition. If a driver unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification, they commit Involuntary Manslaughter; if their acts, whether lawful or unlawful, cause the death, are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and it is performed recklessly, it is considered to be Reckless Homicide. A person commits Reckless Homicide if he or she unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.  Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide are each considered to be a Class 3 felony. In cases involving Reckless Homicide in which the defendant drove a vehicle and used an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne and caused the deaths of 2 or more persons as part of a single course of conduct, the penalty is a Class 2 felony. In cases involving Involuntary Manslaughter or Reckless Homicide resulting in the death of a police officer being killed while on the job as an officer, the penalty is a Class 2 felony. Reckless Homicide includes cases in which the defendant unintentionally kills an individual while driving in a posted school zone, while children are present or in a construction or maintenance zone. According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, when construction or maintenance workers are present, that fact may infer that the defendant’s actions were performed recklessly especially where he or she was also either driving at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour in excess of the posted speed limit or violating Section 11-501 of[READ MORE…]

  • Home Kitchen / Chloe Stirling’s

    Twelve-year-old Chloe Stirling’s started a cupcake business, called “Hey Cupcake!” in her parent’s kitchen. On June 10th, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill in her family’s kitchen in downstate Troy, just east of St. Louis MO, that will allow home bakers to start a business in their home and be freed from some government health and business regulations. “Hey Cupcake!” was started by Chloe to sell cupcakes at fundraisers and to friends and family. When the Madison County Health Department got wind of the cottage industry, they shut it down because Chloe Stirling didn’t have the proper business license and the Stirling’s kitchen wasn’t commercially certified. Chloe and her mom went to Springfield where they lobbied for a bill to make it easier for small “home kitchen operators” to sell their goods without having to jump through so many government hoops. Lawmakers passed a bill that creates a new state business category for people who make less than $1,000 per month producing food in their own homes to sell by themselves or for a religious, charitable or nonprofit organization.  House Bill 5354 says home kitchen operators cannot be regulated or shut down by local governments or health departments unless there is a complaint or a health safety issue. The bill defines a “home kitchen operation” and authorizes the state or county health department to inspect a home kitchen operation only in the event of a complaint or disease outbreak. Chloe Stirling and her mother worked tirelessly to get the law passed so home cooks could do what they love, cook and bake. Quinn thanked Chloe for standing up for small entrepreneurs. Quinn has been quoted as saying “Democracy is for everyone and I salute Chloe Stirling for getting involved and making a difference for a cause she believes in.”    

  • Pradaxa and Actos: Is Non-Preservation of Documents an Emerging Trend?

    When a US District Court judge fined Boehringer Ingelheim almost $1 million at the end of last year for failure to preserve documents regarding the blood thinner Pradaxa, the decision served as a precursor to a similar position taken by the Court in regards to the Actos portfolio. The Actos manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, was cited for failure to preserve documents deemed important to legal proceedings. It seems this was the case for Pradaxa lawsuits as well. Pradaxa is a new-age blood thinner approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); it was hailed as a safe and effective alternative to a product that had been on the market for nearly 60 years, a blood thinner that required rigorous and regular monitoring. Pradaxa was seen to effectively prevent blood clotting – an important attribute for patients at risk for stroke. However, a problem with Pradaxa bleeding, characterized by uncontrollable bleed-outs that could not be stopped, quickly put Pradaxa under a cloud. Unlike the older drug Coumadin, where the side effects of bleeding could be reversed with the intervention of Vitamin K and plasma, there is no known or effective reversal protocol for Pradaxa. When Pradaxa bleeding occurs, from a simple cut or bruise, there is no antidote. More than 500 Pradaxa deaths were attributed to the new-age blood thinner over a two-year period, according to various reports. Plaintiffs in Pradaxa lawsuits, which numbered about 1,700 according to a report in Bloomberg News (12/10/13), but is now thought to be closer to 2,000 – allege that dabigatran Pradaxa manufacturer Boehringer knew about the potential bleeding profile of Pradaxa, but withheld their concern from doctors and patients. Pradaxa (generic dabigatran) is a relatively new blood thinner that was introduced as a replacement for warfarin in the prevention of strokes among individuals suffering from atrial fibrillation. However, the potential risk of Pradaxa bleeding side effects has caused serious concern surrounding the drug. Symptoms of Pradaxa internal bleeding may include: Unusual Bruising or Bleeding Pink or Brown Urine (which may be a sign of blood in the urine) Red or Black Tarry Stool (which may be a sign of blood in the stool) Coughing up Blood (which may include vomit resembling coffee grounds) Headaches, Dizziness or Lethargy Bleeding from the Gums or Frequent Nose Bleeds Weakness and Swelling of the Arms, Hands, Feet, Ankles or Lower Legs Side Effects of Pradaxa Pradaxa is part[READ MORE…]

  • Employee Misclassification Act

    The Employee Misclassification Act is a hot button topic at both state and federal levels. The act currently only applies to employers in the construction industry. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division launched an employee misclassification initiative several years ago and has taken steps to increase enforcement, including an information-sharing agreement with the IRS to ensure violators pay employment-related taxes Law abiding employers face a competitive disadvantage when they compete for business or bid for jobs against employers who misclassify. Misclassifying employers have artificially low costs because they have not covered the cost of unemployment insurance contributions and workers’ compensation for their employees. Law abiding businesses that properly classify their employees subsidize businesses that misclassify and they can end up paying higher unemployment insurance contributions, workers’ compensation premiums, and taxes than would be required if all employers followed Illinois law.​ How Misclassification Occurs: Misclassification occurs if any employer treats workers as “independent contractors” when they are actually employees.​ Some employers use this tactic to avoid compliance with the Employee Classification Act and fail to pay: Unemployment benefits for individuals Unemployment Insurance (UI) Workers’ Compensation Minimum wage and overtime Social Security Tax withholding   Service performed by an individual for an employing unit, whether or not such individual employs others in connection with performing such services, shall be deemed to be employment unless and until it is proven in any proceeding where such issue is involved that: Such individual has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of such services, both under his contract of service and in fact; and Such service is either outside the usual course of the business for which such service is performed or that such service is performed outside of all the places of business of the enterprise for which such service is performed; and Such individuals are engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business. Consequences of misclassifying employees as “Independent Contractors” may include: Interest on delinquent unemployment insurance trust contributions at an annual rate of 24 percent Financial penalties for failing to report wages paid to employees Financial penalties for willfully failing to make contributions to the unemployment insurance trust. Additionally, officers and employees who willfully cause a business to fail to make payments into the system can now be held personally liable for the payments due from the business. An employer[READ MORE…]

  • Reproductive Medicine

    According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine In 2010, 61,000 babies were born through assisted reproductive technology; a few State higher courts have addressed what happens to the frozen embryos once a couple separates. The Illinois court has ruled on an embryo case but the ruling still allows many of the issues to remain unresolved because Justice Patrick J. Quinn wrote that the trial court judge should have sought arguments and rendered an opinion on the validity of the first and second contracts rather than ruling on the arguments about the parties’ rights to become a parent. The circumstances began in March 2010 when Karla Dunston was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was told that treatment would likely leave her infertile. With her then boyfriend, Jacob Szafranski, they decided to attempt in vitro fertilization. Szafranski donated sperm samples and Dunston donated eggs on April 6, all of which were fertilized before the couple ended their relationship in May 2010. Both signed an agreement stating that, “[n]o use can be made of these embryos without the consent of both partners (if applicable).” A second agreement was drawn up several days later stating that Dunston would have sole control of the eggs and pre-embryos in case the two split up, and that Szafranski “agrees to undertake all legal, custodial, and other obligations to the [c]hild regardless of any change of circumstance between the [p]arties.” This second contract was never signed. In 2011, Szafranski tried to stop Dunston from using the pre-embryos, arguing that he had a constitutional right not to father a child against his will. Dunston argued that her ex-boyfriend was bound agreement terms because he had donated sperm, thereby performing his obligation and making her believe he was committed to the undertaking. She also argued that Szafranski had intended to sign the second contract giving her control of the pre-embryos but Szafranski disagreed with that, as well as the idea that his sperm donations made the agreement legitimate. A Cook County trial court awarded the rights to the embryos to Dunston but Szafranski appealed. A higher court sent the case back, explaining that the case focuses on prior agreements rather than the interests of either party. The case now concerns whether the pact occurred when Szafranski gave the sample or when they signed the medical consent form requiring joint consent for the use of the embryos. A New York[READ MORE…]

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