Brett’s Blog~How Much Should You Rely on a Seller’s Disclosure When Purchasing Real Estate?

real-estate-sign1When you purchase a property you should receive a copy of a Seller’s Disclosure. In this, the seller is supposed to identify any known problems with the property being sold.  How much can you or should you rely on that disclosure?  While most sellers are honest and disclose all significant known defects, it is not unusual for a defect to be accidentally or intentionally omitted.

The seller obviously wants to sell their home and has a financial interest in making that property as attractive as possible even if that means omitting known defects.  Sometimes these omissions are because the seller believes that the defect has been corrected when it hasn’t  Often these defects may be such that a real estate inspector will not be able to find them during an inspection of the property.  Some examples of such defects that I have been addressing on behalf of buyers are an infestation of known recluse spiders, a home that been exposed to cat urine, or contaminated by hidden mold.  In these cases neither the buyers nor their inspectors found the problem. 

Should you or someone you know purchase a property with a material defect which you believe the seller knew or should have known about, please come see me, Brett Coonrod at Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC and let me give you a free consultation. 

Area hospitals are being sued for not submitting bills to health insurers

A situation that is confronting an increasing number of our clients who have been injured in car wrecks and other accidents involves hospitals refusing to accept health insurance.  The reason hospitals do this is to potentially get a bigger pay day by placing a lien against any settlement the victim ultimately receives.  This article discusses some of the recent developments related to this bad behavior that is driven by corporate greed.

By STEVE EVERLY

The Kansas City Star

Jonathon Layden was once confident that if he were ever injured, he could count on his health insurance to help pay his medical bills.

“They’re going to come after you any way they can,” said Layden, who is suing Research for not submitting the bill to his health insurer. “It’s all about the money.”

When hospitals turn down your health insurance, they are then able to avoid the discounted charges they have agreed to with health insurers. In Layden’s case, the hospital went directly to him for the full bill, but the usual practice around the country is to go after whatever money a person injured in an vehicle accident might get from an auto insurance settlement.

Here’s how the practice usually works:

• The hospital first refuses to submit your bill to your health insurer.

• It calculates your bill without the health insurer discounts and instead files a lien against whatever settlement you might receive from an auto insurer.

• The hospital gets paid from the settlement.

In Layden’s case, the hospital allegedly didn’t even file a lien and instead demanded payment directly from Layden before a car insurance settlement was in hand.

A spokeswoman for Research would not comment, citing the ongoing litigation. HCA, the owner of Research and one of the nation’s largest hospital chains, also declined to comment. The hospital in its initial legal brief in the court case denied the allegations. Practice is growing

No figures are available to show how often bills aren’t submitted to health insurance. But the practice is thought to be growing because hospitals are looking for new sources of revenue as health care reforms seek to curb costs. That hospitals are tapping auto insurance settlements is not new. In state laws dating back to the Great Depression, they got the right to place liens on injury judgments and settlements. Hospitals were struggling financially because of a growing number of patients unable to pay. The liens were seen as contributing to the public good by helping the hospitals stay open and treat patients.But critics say in recent years that the liens have morphed into a tool to help maximize hospital revenues by getting more out of patients with health insurance.Kenneth Berger, a South Carolina lawyer, said that in the last two years, it has become an epidemic in his state.

“This is something that really does add insult to injury,” he said.

In this region, Research Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in the Kansas City area and SSM DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, Mo., are facing lawsuits against the practice. The three cases seek class action status to represent other patients who may have been affected.

Kerry O’Connor, a spokeswoman for St. Luke’s Health System, said in an email response that filing liens on injury settlements is expressly authorized by a Missouri statute and that other hospitals in the state are doing it as well. O’Connor said, however, that the hospital is not “asserting” new liens pending resolution of the court case.  She added that St. Luke’s is assuming the risk of not being paid anything if there isn’t an auto insurance settlement. And it still contends it didn’t have to file health insurance for the person now suing the hospital.

Ralph Phalen, one of the attorneys representing patients in the suit against St. Luke’s, disagrees: “It’s our belief the contract (with the health insurer) requires them to accept.”  In some other states, the practice has suffered legal setbacks dating to the late 1990s. But an Illinois court ruled it was legal.

The most public rebuke to the practice occurred in Indiana. Hospitals there were either not filing insurance to collect the gross charge or filing it and then using liens against auto insurance settlements to recover the part of the bill lost to the discounts. Earlier this year, the legislature approved a bill stopping it with large bipartisan majorities, and a conservative governor signed it. The new law went into effect July 1.

Alan Smith, director of the Midwest office of R Street Institute, a think tank based in Washington, called the Indiana move praiseworthy. The state won a skirmish in the battle to make medical bills more reasonable and to help vulnerable patients, he said.

“I can’t believe they (the hospitals) thought they could get away with this.”

Insurers concerned

The practice puts patients in the middle of disputes over medical bills that they thought would be paid with health insurance.  Auto insurance settlements can indeed help pay the hospital bill in many instances, but the inflated cost without the health insurer discount can take an outsize chunk from a pot of money that is also used to cover other expenses, such as lost wages, attorney fees and replacement vehicles.  Auto insurance policies have limits on how much they will pay in a settlement. In some cases in other states, hospitals have submitted bills worth more than the settlement.  Auto insurers have a budding concern that because they don’t have the power that health insurers have to impose discounts, more of the medical costs will be shifted to them. That could end up boosting auto insurance premiums.

“It’s a significant issue,” said David Corum, vice president of the Insurance Research Council, a nonprofit group supported by such insurers as Allstate and State Farm.  Specialized companies are helping hospitals sidestep the discounts.

In its sales pitch to hospitals, Medical Reimbursements of America, based in Brentwood, Tenn., says that while accidents represent just 2 percent of claims, they can generate higher reimbursement rates than any other category.  The company contends that its AcciClaim Auto system ensures that hospitals get more when treating those injured in auto accidents, often 100 percent of the gross charges.  The company recently formed an alliance with Firstsource Solutions of Louisville, Ky., which has employees stationed in emergency rooms and admissions offices at 300 hospitals across the country. Part of their job is to identify and interview auto accident victims.  It was Medical Reimbursements of America that sent a letter to Britanie McKeever telling her that SSM DePaul Health Center in the St. Louis area would file a lien on any settlement gained from the other driver to pay her $31,000 hospital bill.  Her attorney got the bill slashed, but she was shocked that her health insurance didn’t come into play.

“I thought I had full-coverage health insurance,” she said.

SSM DePaul said in a statement that it follows all state and federal guidelines and any requirements set forth by insurance agreements. When treating a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it works with the patients to identify all sources of insurance payers.

Kansas City area cases

Layden didn’t discover that Research wouldn’t be using his health insurance until more than a month after his accident.  His initial bill actually showed the $10,896 bill dropping to $3,281 after an adjustment for the insurer’s discounts. He called the hospital asking if the bill had been sent to Blue Cross but didn’t receive an answer. Soon after, he received a $10,896 bill, the amount without the discounts.  The hospital eventually sent his account to a debt collection agency, which agreed to cut the bill in half. Faced with a falling credit rating, Layden got the loan from his parents.  The hospital ended up getting about $2,000 more by not submitting the claim to the health insurer. The physician who treated him in the emergency room submitted his bill to Blue Cross.

“It’s time for them (Research Medical) to take responsibility for their actions,” said Layden, who eventually received a $14,000 auto insurance settlement.  A spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield said hospitals it contracts with, including Research Medical, are required to submit a claim.  When the issue appeared in the Kansas City area isn’t clear, but it has been simmering for years.

“It seems to have started (in the Kansas City area) five or six years ago,” said Mitchell Burgess, a lawyer with the Kansas City firm Burgess & Lamb, who is representing patients who have filed lawsuits, including against St Luke’s.  St. Luke’s has gotten a Kansas case dismissed, but it received mixed rulings in others.

In 2009, Iretta Morgan was in a car accident and was taken to a St. Luke’s hospital. The hospital submitted an $11,452 bill to her health insurer, which paid a discounted amount. The hospital sent the check back to the insurance company and filed a lien against any settlement Morgan received.  In Jackson County Circuit Court, St. Luke’s argued that Missouri’s liens law gave it authority to use it on health insurance patients. It rejected arguments that it was unjustly enriching itself by seeking to recover the medical bill without the discounts.  The judge agreed, handing St. Luke’s a victory.

Morgan appealed her case to the Missouri Court of Appeals. It ruled the hospital didn’t have unfettered rights to use the liens to collect a higher bill. Instead, the case hinged solely on whether the hospital was required to submit the health insurance and accept the discounts that satisfied the debt.  The case was sent back to Jackson County Circuit Court to determine if the hospital’s contract with the health insurer did require a claim to be filed. It is still pending.  St. Luke’s said the appeals court merely held that the plaintiff is entitled to review the insurance contracts.

“Yes, St. Luke’s contends it was not required by contract, nor by law, to submit the claim to the insurer,” the hospital said in an email response to a question.

Aetna, the health insurer for Morgan, did not return a call seeking comment, but her attorneys say they have seen enough hospital contracts with insurers to be confident there is such a requirement.  Indiana Sen. Brent Steele, a Republican who sponsored the bill reining in the hospitals in his state, said the legal arguments may be beside the point. In Indiana, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, and even trial lawyers and insurance companies united to stop the practice.  The medical treatment by the hospitals wasn’t questioned, but by sidestepping the health insurance they were making up their own rules. He said their attitude reminded him of a scene in the Mel Brooks movie “History of the World, Part I.”

A king was playing a game of skeet, but instead of clay discs, he ordered live peasants catapulted into the air to shoot. He turned to an adviser and said: “It’s good to be the king.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/08/03/4387796/area-hospitals-are-being-sued.html#storylink=cpy

Smith Coonrod Mohlman LLC Attorneys Included In This Year’s Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers List

Missouri and Kansas personal injury law firm Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC, is proud to announce the inclusion of lawyers Rachel Smith, Mike Mohlman and Michael Stipetich in this year’s Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers is a service that rates outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Ms. Smith and Mr. Stipetich have been named Missouri and Kansas Rising Stars as top up-and-coming attorneys. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in any state are chosen as Rising Stars, and selection to this list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers. Ms. Smith has been named a Rising Star every year since 2009. This is the first year that Mr. Stipetich has been included.

Mr. Mohlman has been named to the Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyer list as one of this year’s top attorneys in Missouri and Kansas. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in any state are selected as Super Lawyers. Selection to the Super Lawyer list is made by using a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and reviews by other lawyers. Mr. Mohlman has been listed as a Super Lawyer since 2009.

Ms. Smith and Mr. Mohlman primarily represent people that have been injured through no fault of their own. They focus their practice on serious injury cases caused by car, truck and motorcycle wrecks, wrongful death, premises liability and electrical shock. Mr. Stipetich also handles personal injury cases and other tort cases, but his primary practice is devoted to representing workers in employment matters, including wrongful termination, discrimination/retaliation, worker’s compensation, and wage and hour litigation.

Turn signal neglect, a real danger, study shows.

By Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau

Forget distracted driving.  A new study says there’s a far more serious problem that’s responsible for as many as 2 million accidents annually.
When’s the last time you used your own turn signals?  According to research by the Society of Automotive Engineers, drivers either neglect to use their signals when changing lanes – or fail to turn the signals off – 48% of the time.  And when making a turn the failure rate is around 25%.  That works out to 2 billion times a day drivers fail to use signals, or 750 billion times annually. 
Automakers May Sidestep Resin Shortage
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A lack of courtesy? Laziness?  Poor training?  Whatever the reason, the SAE study says the problem results in about 2 million roadway collisions annually.  That’s more than twice the 950,000 accidents linked to distracted driving, which has become one of the central topics of the U.S. Department of Transportation under Sec. Ray LaHood.
 “This is a first of its kind report on a subject that amazingly, has never been studied,” said Richard Ponziani, P.E., President of RLP Engineering and author of the report. Yet, despite the fact that turn signals are simple, ubiquitous and “extremely effective,” there is an epidemic lack of compliance even though “all drivers have an ongoing duty to use it, just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light.”
Car-to-Car Link Could Cut Collisions by 80%
Anecdotal evidence suggests that police put little effort into enforcement, less than they devote to speeding, or running stop signs and red lights.  Other than shifting priorities, the new study suggests an alternative that it dubs the “Smart Turn Signal.”
They “are the perfect complement to the Stability Control System since Stability Control predominately prevents single-vehicle crashes, whereas the Smart Turn Signal prevents multi-vehicle crashes,” suggested Ponziani.
Such a system would automatically shut off a turn signal, likely by timing out after a set delay or by detecting when a vehicle has finished changing lanes – much as today’s cars automatically cancel the signals after making a turn at an intersection.
Can Chrysler Match Japanese Quality?
For scofflaws who simply don’t use their signals, the system would work much like a seatbelt reminder.  It would be able to sense if drivers routinely ignore their turn signals and start to flash what the study calls a “friendly” reminder.
Using the latest electronics, a Smart Turn Signal system would actually be simpler and less expensive than the current mechanical trip mechanism, according to Ponziani, a press release concluding that, “This breakthrough represents a perfect opportunity to significantly reduce multi-vehicle crash rates, reduce vehicle cost and make driving a lot more friendly and courteous across the U.S.”

http://on.msnbc.com/Ktxf4j

What Does Tupac’s Hologram Mean For Other Celebrity Estates?

What Does Tupac’s Hologram Mean For Other Celebrity Estates?

INDIO, CA - APRIL 15:  A hologram of deceased ...The music world has been buzzing ever since the surprise appearance of Tupac Shukar — well, that is, a digitally-created 3-D image of Tupac — on stage to rap at the Coachella music festival in California.  Some have described this as creepy, like seeing a ghost.  Is this going to be a new trend for celebrity estates?  Should it be?

First, there is the issue of legality.  Was it legal for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to bring Tupac’s image on stage?  Because this was a use of Tupac’s image and likeness for commercial purposes, only the holder of the “right of publicity” for Tupac could authorize it.  That right is owned by Tupac’s estate, under the control of the executor — his mother, Afeni Shakur.

Reportedly, she not only authorized it, but was thrilled with the outcome.  Dr. Dre repaid the estate for this permission with a contribution to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which is Tupac’s charity.

Dr. Dre has already said he’d love to bring out other dead celebrities to perform with him, like Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye.  Michael Jackson’s brothers are planning a reunion tour next year, and hope to have a holographic version of the King of Pop join the tour.  And we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Whitney Houston’s estate take advantage of what could be a new trend in celebrity estates, based on the reports of how much debt her estate has.  Celebrity estates could profit handsomely by allowing the use of holographic images, given how much excitement Tupac’s appearance generated.

Who’s next?  Elvis?  Marilyn Monroe?  Maybe Amy Winehouse?  They all rank highly on Trial & Heirs‘ list of top Twitter accounts of deceased celebrities.  So their estates are already putting words into their mouths through social media, mostly to promote commercial endeavors and raise money for the estates.  It’s certainly not a stretch to envision holographic performances next.

The Michael Jackson estate will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Unlike many other celebrity musicians who passed away, his estate is controlled not by his family, but by professionals.  The Ray Charles estate is another example.  Both have featured court fights between the family and those in charge.  With those estates, the executors — not the family members — have the right to agree to a holographic performance, whether the family members like it or not.

It’s no easy task to balance the desire to profit from a late musician’s image, and the concern of crossing the line into exploiting that image in ways that would leave the performer spinning in his grave.  Even family members can often disagree over this line.  For example, the Bob Marley estate has seen lots of fighting over this very issue, including a recent lawsuit by the estate, controlled by Marley’s mother, suing one of his half-brothers.  That case involves the right to sell Mama Marley fish products and use the Marley name in connection with a popular music festival.  The Jimi Hendrix estate faced similar court fights between half-siblings, one of which involved “Electric Hendrix Vodka.”

In the future, these types of disputes will take on heightened significance if a holographic image of a long-lost celebrity is involved.  Should the ability to profit outweigh the harm that comes with commercial exploitation of what is essentially a ghost?  As this New York Times Op-Ed piece eloquently put it:

[T]he reanimated dead are never the people they were before. Oh, they sing the same, and rap the same, and have the same distinctive tattoos and hand gestures.  But they don’t have the complexity, or the humanity, to really compel our interest. They’re ghosts — ghosts in a new machine, perhaps — but at best they are no more than the shadow of the shadows that they cast upon us, back when they were alive.

Pale imitation of the original or not, holographic performances will surely generate profits from devoted fans who miss their fallen idol.  There will always be legions of devoted followers who would gladly pay to see even a lesser version perform again.  As long as the executor in charge gives the green light, this is all perfectly legal.

But, is it right?  What would Tupac have thought about this?

This is something to think about for many of us.  Even when you’re not famous, and don’t have to worry about whether or not your estate will allow a hologram of you to perform, you have a name and reputation that will live on after you’re gone.  For business owners, there is the added concern of your reputation being properly managed through your business after you pass away.

Who do you want to control your legacy after you pass?  Do you want that person to treat your heirs honorably, as you would have liked?  Do you want your business to be managed in a way that would make you proud?

These are legitimate concerns that many people don’t stop and think about when doing their estate planning.  Creating a will or trust is more than simply deciding who gets what.  Choosing the right person to manage your estate, trust or business after you die is critical, both for your loved ones and often for your own reputation.  Putting the right person in charge can make all the difference between tainting your legacy, and having your wishes and goals followed the way you want.

By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.  You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

http://bit.ly/JGcNPO

KC Teen charged with manslaughter in fatal texting while driving case

A 16-year-old girl has been charged with manslaughter, assault and texting while driving in connection with a September 2011 fatality collision. It’s a moment the young driver can never take back, and one prosecutors said could have been avoided if she’d just put down her phone.

According to the Platte County prosecutor, Rachel N. Gannon, of Kansas City, was allegedly texting on her cell phone when she lost control of her vehicle and collided with a car driven by Loretta J. Larimer, 72, who was killed in the crash.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said Gannon was charged April 19, after having been certified to stand trial as an adult on April 16.

According to court documents, Gannon was traveling north on NW Skyview Road on Sept. 26, 2011 at approximately 3 p.m. when she struck Larimer’s vehicle near Interstate 435.

Gannon was allegedly looking at her cell phone and texting when she ran off the side of the road. When Gannon returned her vehicle to the road, she struck a car heading in the opposite direction.

Larimer was extricated from her car and taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her 10-year-old granddaughter was riding in the back seat of Larimer’s car and suffered injuries which were not life-threatening.

“Enough lives have been shattered and ruined, and I certainly don’t want to ruin this young person’s life, but we want to know what happened,” said John Larimer, the victim’s son.

The victim’s family hopes answers will finally come in Gannon’s trial.

Gannon is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the second-degree, third-degree assault and texting while driving. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Gannon faces up to four years in prison. She faces up to one year in jail on the assault charge and a $200 fine if convicted of texting while driving.

Under Missouri law, texting while driving is only a crime for drivers under age 21. Zahnd said he believed the Missouri legislature should prohibit texting while driving for all drivers, regardless of age.

“Texting while driving is at least as dangerous as drinking and driving. We make a crime of that for anybody, no matter the age,” Zahnd said. “It should also be a crime for anybody to text while driving.”

Gannon posted a $5,000 bond and surrendered her driver’s license as a condition of bond. Her first court date has not been set.

The teen will be tried as an adult, based on the severity of the crime and how soon she’ll come of age.

That’s a decision the victim’s son isn’t so sure about, focusing instead on recovering from the loss of a mother, grandmother and center of a large family.

“It’s better each day, but we still cannot believe this happened,” John Larimer said. “We can’t believe she’s gone.”

The charges against Gannon are merely accusations, and Gannon is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The victim’s son said his niece, the 10-year-old girl injured in the crash, is recovering and doing well. He suggests having Gannon travel around to high schools in the metro area and talk to kids about the dangers of texting and driving. He believes that’s a good way to hold her accountable and spread awareness among young drivers – something he said is most important.

Instead, the teen could face up to four years in federal prison if convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge.

http://bit.ly/Jc4Hwe

This week’s legal resources you might have missed: Jan. 2 – 6

At Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC. we enjoy keeping up with the latest legal news and sharing it with you. We firmly believe that is important to keep up with industry happenings because it is just one more way that we can help you. Drunken-driving related deaths soared in Kansas over the past year, there’s a whole list of laws set to take effect in 2012, and lastly the speeding ticket turned date request turned….lawsuit? These were some of the legal headlines this week and we’ve got the details in our Friday blog. Here you go, happy reading!

1. Alcohol-related deaths declined nationwide in 2011, but not the case for Kansas. Kansas recorded the second biggest increase in drunken-driving related deaths over the past year. This statistic is shocking, and more importantly, avoidable. Is the system in Kansas dealing with DUIs flawed? The Kansas City Star has the full story.

2. California’s new laws for 2012 touch on everything from DUIs to taxes. Elections, employment, health care, the Dream Act and more. These are the laws on California’s legislative plate for the coming year. If these were taking effect in your neighborhood, how would you feel about some of them?

3. A cop issues a woman a speeding ticket, then hunts her down looking for a date. Cute or creepy? The woman found it the latter, apparently, as she filed a lawsuit. The cop in question used the police records to track her after issuing the ticket. Is there more to this story? It will be interesting to follow this.

Thanks for reading, have an excellent weekend.

This week’s legal resources you might have missed: Dec. 12 – 16

At Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC. we enjoy keeping up with the latest legal news and sharing it with you. We firmly believe that is important to keep up with industry happenings because it is just one more way that we can help you. The bench clearing Xavier/UC basketball brawl, the Supreme Court revists AZ’s controversial immigration laws, bipartisan efforts on workers’ comp reform has constituents confused and a complete cellphone banin cars- these were some of the topics gracing legal headlines. So that’s the lineup for this week’s blog. Once again, thanks for reading. We welcome your opinions and discussion!

1. Criminal charges are a possibility concerning the Xavier/UC brawl, prosecutors say. The bench clearing fight that has aired repeatedly on ESPN this week drew multiple lengthy suspensions, but that might not be the end of it.

2. Supreme Court set to hear challenge to Arizona’s immigration law. The state’s controversial immigration law has prompted other states to mirror its policies. The law has been under fire since the beginning. This will be one of the court’s most high profile cases in years.

3. Bipartisan efforts on workers’ comp reform has many confused in Washington. Last week, Republicans approved workers’ comp legislation lauded by federal labor organizations, while Democrats pushed a bill that would sharpen the stipulations of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.

4. NTSB pushes to ban all types of cellphones in the car, including hands-free and bluetooth devices. Safety vs. Convenience are pitted against one another in this debate. People are all for safety, but what if there’s an emergency and you need to make or take a call? And what’s to say car stereos, food and other passengers aren’t a distraction as well?

Thanks for reading. We appreciate any and all discussion! Have a great weekend.

At Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC. we enjoy keeping up with the latest legal news and sharing it with you. We firmly believe that is important to keep up with industry happenings because it is just one more way that we can help you. The Wall Street protests rage on across the country, and it’s not only the average Joe that’s confused. Legal experts are also grappling with how to sustain this unprecedented act of First Amendment expression. Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound that has found an unexpected path into human tissues- through your retail receipts. Lastly, a $10 million medical malpractice suit was recently settled, which brings us to the question of Damage Caps. Should they exist? Once again, thanks for reading and we welcome your opinions and discussion!

1. Legal experts grapple with how to sustain this unprecedented act of 1st Amendment expression. A firefighter and police sweep of Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of Occupy Wall Street, highlighted once again the uneven application of rules pertaining to both the park and the overall protest.

2. There’s more than one reason to check your receipts. Bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, is a chemical compound that most commonly finds its way into human tissues through diet. However, recent research has shown that the chemical is finding an unexpected route into the human system- through the handling of receipts.

3. A little girl underwent an amputation of 3 limbs. Today, a $10 million settlement has been reached. One year ago, a 2-year-old girl was rushed to the emergency room. The doctors diagnosed her with a Strep-A infection, a type of flesh-eating bacteria. The doctors managed to save her life, but while she was on life support, the lack of oxygen to her system resulted in the amputation of three of her limbs. Her life will never be the same.

Thank you for reading! See you back next week. Have a great Friday.

This week’s legal resources you might have missed: Sept. 19 – 23

At Smith Coonrod Mohlman, LLC. we enjoy keeping up with the latest legal news and sharing it with you. We firmly believe that is important to keep up with industry happenings because it is just one more way that we can help you. This week’s stories touch on legal news on both local and national levels. Office chatter via social media, Kansas Voter ID laws and small business: read on, share your thoughts and opinions. We welcome the discussion!

This week’s legal news stories:

1. Social media emerges as a battleground for protected speech at work. With online reputations being as important as they are these days, it’s easy to see why businesses don’t want employees complaining about their day-to-day troubles brought on by their jobs and the workplace in the online environment. But employees are doing it, and employers are getting in trouble for attempting to regulate it. Would you take the office chatter online?

2. Do new voter ID laws actually work to suppress fraud?  Or just Democrats? There have been 221 incidents of voter fraud in Kansas since 1997. Thirty of the these cases were tried and seven fraudulent voters were convicted. Furthermore, Kris Kobach says this is not a “Republican conspiracy,” because two-thirds of Kansas Democrats are in support of his voter ID bill. Are you in support of this legislation?

3. The American Invents Act of 2011- does it shut out small businesses? Most agree the change in patent legislation was necessary and will actually spur innovation in the United States by streamlining the old system and better aligning US policies with those of the rest of the world. However, entrepreneurs, small businesses and small-scale inventors worry that this new system will give larger corporations a leg up.