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Archive for the category: Technology
  • General Motors Has Set A New Precedence For Auto Recalls This Year

    General Motors (GM) has set a new precedence for auto recalls this year, as the first cavalcade of auto recalls quickly turned the safety notices into background noise ignored by many of the effected car owners. GM started the avalanche on February 2014, when they announced that they had to fix a fatally flawed ignition switch on some of their small cars. That was quickly expanded twice and now numbers 2.6 million cars worldwide. The defect is linked to 13 deaths and 54 accidents. Hoping to clean house and avoid more government fines for recall foot-dragging, GM has announced 38 recalls this year through June, covering 14.4 million U.S. vehicles. GM alone will far exceed the past decade’s annual auto industry average of 21 million cars and light trucks. GM’s stepped-up recall pace could continue into midsummer, said GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. In the past month, GM had announced four more recalls, with the largest for 464,712 Chevrolet Camaros. The Camaro ignition key can be bumped out of position, a problem linked to three crashes and four minor injuries. Meanwhile, other automakers are clearing their cupboards of safety-related issues to stay out of the sights of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is promising tougher oversight to prevent a repeat of GM’s 13-year dawdling before the switch was recalled. So far this year, other auto manufacturers have announced 47 recalls, covering 8.54 million U.S. vehicles, according to government records. That’s a lot, even though it seems otherwise when contrasted with GM’s overwhelming numbers. The millions of recalls that have been issued this year made the situation worse and owner response rates even lower. The typical consumer reaction seems to be, “My car’s running fine. Do I need to bother?” The fact is, car owners should be bothered, but getting them to grasp that fact is a bit like trying to push a piece of string. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that about 75% of recalled vehicles eventually get fixed, depending upon the value and age of the vehicle, how serious the problem seems and how likely the owner thinks that the issue might effect their vehicle. The agency believes toning down recall commotion would hurt, not help; safety is their number one concern and they want to increase and improve ways to reach consumers, not limit the number of recalls. It’s easy to see[READ MORE…]

  • Metra Train Passes the Same as a Groupon?

    Retail stores and coupon sites such as Groupon now have to comply with the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act that states that gift cards and gift certificates cannot expire for five years. One commuter is determined to hold Metra to the same standards. In a lawsuit filed in May, the plaintive claims that limited ride passes should be treated in the same manner as a Groupon.  The plaintive in this class action suit states  that the refund policy for the 10 Ride Tickets that was purchased over the last three years is illegal as the refunds for unused tickets or portions of tickets expire in less than one year. The May 10, 2012 article in Courthouse News quoted the plaintive “…sellers – like Metra – who set artificially short redemption periods are planning in advance to make money by not providing the very services for which buyers have paid in advance. By doing so… they also get to earn interest on the money buyers hand over to them for services never to be rendered.” The plaintive is seeking, among other things, an injunction to prevent the sale of limited ride tickets with expiration dates of less than five years. The Chicago Tribune reported that, in 2011, Metra sold 1.9 million 10-ride passes. His lawsuit also suggest that as fares rise, Metra, like the U.S. Postal Service, could create a system for handling fare increases by allowing riders with unused tickets to purchase stamps covering the price increase. Whether a semi-government body is treated the same as a private company we will wait to report.

  • An Online Relationship Goes to the Supreme Court

    The Internet offers a wealth of opportunities to learn, shop, and locate friends while simultaneously posing an alarming array of potential threats and scams for the unwary. In May of this year, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on the case of Paula Bonhomme v. Janna St. James, 2012 IL 112393, deciding that the defendant’s misrepresentation of her sexual identity and affections did not constitute fraud, as there were not business or financial transactions. In 2005, the plaintiff, Paula Bonhomme began an on-line conversation on the website Deadwood Boards, for fans of the television show Deadwood, with the defendant Janna St. James. Several months later Ms. St. James registered on the site under the male name of Jesse James. Under the pseudonym of Jesse James,   Ms. St. James struck up a conversation with the plaintiff while continuing to correspond with her under her female user name. The plot thickened as the relationship between Ms. Bonhomme and the made-up Jesse James became romantic, involving letters, gifts and even telephone calls where Ms. St. James technologically disguised her female voice. Ms. St. James also established additional on-line personas for the fictitious Jesse James including family and friends, continuing for almost two years to craft various scenarios to keep Ms. Bonhomme from discovering the truth. The court documents read like a television script including Ms. St. James killing of the imaginary Jesse James, which allegedly contributed to the plaintiff’s ongoing mental and medical conditions. Only when Ms. St. James came to visit the plaintiff as herself was the actual truth discovered. The plaintiff sued the defendant for complaints including intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and false light. The trial court dismissed all of plaintiff’s counts with prejudice except for fraudulent misrepresentation, which it dismissed without prejudice. Ms. Bonhomme filed motions to reconsider, which the trial and appellate courts denied as well as additional challenges and appeals, all of which failed. Finally the Supreme Court took up the case and, while much of the discussion of the case was based on failures to adhere to procedural and language issues, the court determined that the crucial question was whether the facts were personal in nature or whether or not there was some commercial or regulatory component to the case for fraud. They determined that the relationship, while deceitful was a personal one between two private people. The plaintiff and defendant were[READ MORE…]

  • Gadgets in Cars-Trendy, but Dangerous

    As mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets become increasingly ubiquitous, our culture is becoming more reliant on these tools. While they offer easy and fast access to information on the fly, the use of these technologies while driving cars can create dangerous situations for everyone on the road. Distracted driving is a big problem and if the trend of connecting cars to the Internet increases, it seems things are only going to get worse. Today, over at the New York Times blog, it was predicted that the next big boom in mobile devices will be those installed in vehicles: Cars, one of the great mobile devices to begin with, are about to get connected to the Internet like never before. It will change not just how we drive, but the economics of the car business. “Five percent of cars are connected today,” said Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T’s Emerging Devices business. He was speaking of new vehicles, not all cars on the road. “Three to five years from now, 100 percent will be connected. You’ll see diagnostics, calls when the airbag goes off, real-time traffic reports, entertainment in the back seat.” While some of the technology additions will improve safety, such as the real-time diagnostics, it seems consumers are far less interested in the safety features and are instead lured in by distracting tech gadgets, as recently reported in this Milwaukee Sentinel article: (W)hen it comes to investing in technology that’s designed to make the driving experience safer, Americans admit favoring increased convenience over driver and passenger safety, according to a MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll. “The most recognized and sought-after technology features tend to be those which promote style over substance, when in reality, it’s the less glamorous features like electronic stability control which make for safer vehicles,” says Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home. “By increasing their understanding of the available safety features in today’s vehicles, consumers can make more informed choices about which cars provide the best safeguards to help protect themselves and their families on the road.” Installing these new gadgets in cars may increase convenience, but at what risk? Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Texting or otherwise using mobile devices while driving is dangerous and designing cars to facilitate this type of behavior is questionable at best. Here at the Ankin Law[READ MORE…]

  • No More Texting While Bicycling in Chicago

    The dangers presented by motorists texting while driving has been in the news a lot lately. That’s because it’s an extremely dangerous practice that is becoming increasingly common as smart phone use becomes ubiquitous. For that reason, many jurisdictions have banned the use of smart phones while driving, as we’ve discussed on this blog many times in the past. Here are examples of just a few of those posts:: 1) Maryland Can on Text Messaging While Driving to Prevent Car Accidents 2) the dangers of commercial truck drivers using cell phones; and 3) Illinois ban on texting while driving. The City of Chicago is going even further than the state of Illinois did when it comes to the distractions presented by texting and is extending texting prohibitions to bicyclists. As explained in this Chicago Tribune article, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance last week which bans the use of smart phones while bicycling: The City Council today passed an ordinance prohibiting bicyclists from texting while moving. They also cannot make cell phone calls unless using a hands-free device under an ordinance that passed the council without dissent. The ban will go into effect next month. Fines will start at $20 for a first offense and go up to $100 for a third or subsequent violation. If an accident is involved, the fine could shoot up to $500. This new ordinance is an interesting addition to the anti-texting laws being passed across the country. At first blush, it might seem that a bicyclist texting isn’t nearly as dangerous as the distracted driver of a car, but bikers also pose a risk. If a distracted bicyclist rode into oncoming vehicular traffic, a serious car accident could occur, resulting in severe injuries to both the bicyclist and occupants of cars. For that reason, this new law makes sense and will hopefully prevent car accidents and save lives. The Ankin Law Firm is committed to reducing the number of automobile accidents caused by distracted driving. Please take a pledge not to drive while texting and get a chance to win a new Flip video camera. 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.

  • iPad Apps for Trial Lawyers

    The iPad is turning out to be a very useful tool for litigation attorneys, including personal injury lawyers. There are a number of iPad apps that have been developed over that past year that are intended to assist litigators at all stages of a case, from drafting pleadings and taking depositions to choosing a jury and trying a case. Let’s begin with a few pre-trial apps available that might be of interest to trial attorneys. First, there’s The Deponent App ($9.99), whcih assists lawyers in preparing for and taking depositions. You can find a review here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog. The iPleading App ($9.99) is intended to assist lawyers in drafting a pleading. You can find a review here at the Lawsites blog. Finally, The Mobile Transcript App (free) allows lawyers to review and annotate depositions on their iPads. You can find a review here at iPhone JD. There are also a few apps that assist lawyers in choosing juries. First, there’s Jury Tracker ($4.99) You can find a review here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog or here at TabletLegal. Jury Duty ($29.99) is another similar app. You can find a review here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog. Finally, there’s iJuror ($9.99). You can find a review here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation Technology blog. And, finally, the trial presentation apps. First, there’s TrialPad 2.0 ($89.99). You can find a review of the app here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog, here at TabletLegal or here at Legal iPad. RLTC Evidence ($4.99) is another trial presentation app. You can find a review here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog. Finally there is Exhibit A ($9.99). You can find a review of Exhibit A here (http://www.tabletlegal.com/exhibit-a-interface-issues/) at the TabletLegal blog or here at the Court Technology and Trial Presentation blog.

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