April 26, 2011

Representative Robert Watson Will Face Tougher DUI Penalties in Connecticut

Rhode Island House minority leader, Robert Watson, was arrested over the weekend in Connecticut for DUI and marijuana possession. (I will leave it to the reader to supply their own thoughts on the hypocrisy of Mr. Watson whose previous statements suggest that RI is too lax on drug crimes and immigration.) Unfortunately for him, Connecticut is not so lax in the punishment of DUI. The penalties in that State are far more severe than the penalties for DUI in Rhode Island.

In Connecticut, a first offense DUI results in 2 days mandatory jail time with probation up to 6 months and 100 hours of community service as well as a license suspension of one year.
In comparison, first offense DUI in RI very rarely results in any jail time or probation and a license suspension UP TO six months. The amount of community service is usually far less also.

April 26, 2011

"Hot Coffee" Documentary to Debut June 27 on HBO

The civil litigation system has been subject to a PR attack since the 80's launched in large part by large corporations and insurance companies determined to convince the public that tort cases are destroying the economy and benefit only greedy attorneys. While this is obviously untrue, the PR campaign has been effective.

Interestingly, it seemed to gain real traction with the case of Stella Liebeck, who was notoriously injured after hot coffee spilled on her lap at a McDonald's drive-thru. The Hot Coffee case became a part of our culture, joked about in the media and talked about by nearly everyone. The majority were quick to quip - "Coffee is supposed to be hot!" "It was her own fault, how can she sue", etc. Outrage mounted after the jury awarded Ms. Liebeck millions. Did anyone, however, understand the true facts of this case.

No one mentions that Ms. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns over 6% percent of her body and required skin grafting. Nor do they mention that Ms. Liebeck was initially only seeking her medical bills to be covered but McDonald's refused to seriously consider her case even though they had a corporate policy of keeping their coffee much warmer than other coffee suppliers.

The Hot Coffee documentary is about to re-ignite debate on this infamous case. It stands to be interesting and while it will hopefully shed light on the facts of this case, it is certain to re-open debate on the civil litigation system.

April 22, 2011

Follow Entertainment Lawyer Joseph Lamy on Twitter!

Entertainment law has always been one of the focus areas of this law firm and now we have a twitter profile dedicated to entertainment law.

Please follow us on twitter @ArtistsLawyer.

To those of you new to this blog, our office represents and has counseled nearly a hundred musicians, producers, and musical groups. We have assisted our clients with: copyright and trademarks, license agreements, production agreements, recording contracts, and all other contracts related to the music industry. I frequently negotiate favorable contracts for my clients and advise them when a contract is not in their best interest.

In addition, our practice has recently grown to include Film & Television, Writers and Screenwriters, Visual Artists, Photographers, etc. If you are involved in the arts and need an entertainment attorney to assist you with your project and ensure that your rights are protected, do not hesitate to call our office for a free consultation. I have represented and worked with major recording artists, as well as work on feature films. No client is too large or too small.

Entertainment law is transactional in nature, meaning that it is primarily concerned with drafting and negotiating contracts. It is not an area of law that frequently goes to trial (where I am admitted in Rhode Island and Massachusetts). Because of this I can represent clients anywhere in the Country and I often do. I have clients in California, New York, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and even a heavy metal group from Germany.

April 18, 2011

The Serious Dangers of a Slip and Fall Accident

A slip and fall accident is always unexpected and very often serious. Some of the serious injuries that can occur from a slip and fall include: broken bones, scarring, head injuries, and even death. When such an accident occurs on the property of another person or business due to the negligent upkeep of the premises, the owner may be responsible for the damages you incur.

A slip and fall accident can occur almost anywhere. Common defects that can lead to a slip and fall accident are:

  • Wet floors;
  • Missing or uneven steps;
  • Broken or missing stairway rails;
  • Uneven carpet or floor mats;
  • Poorly lit hallways or stairwells
  • Spilled or dropped items that create a hazard.

In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, thanks in large part to our adverse winter weather, potholes, cracks in the pavement and sidewalks, and other surface defects can also lead to a fall.

What should you do if in a slip and fall accident?

If the accident occurs in a public establishment or business and you are able, report the accident to a manager or person of responsibility. Again, if able, take pictures with a cell phone or digital camera or ask a friend to do so. In addition, if any witnesses are at the scene, obtain names and phone numbers so that they can attest to how the accident occured.

It is also important to contact a personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall claims so that you can establish liability and receive the compensation that you deserve. Like other personal injury claims, a victim of slip and fall is entitled to: past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. My office has handled many slip and fall accidents and will aggressively handle your case to ensure that you receive everything that you deserve.

Continue reading "The Serious Dangers of a Slip and Fall Accident" »

April 12, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy Secures Dismissal of DUI Charges!

Another criminal defense success story for the Law Office of Joseph Lamy. Today in Kent County Courthouse, Attorney Joseph Lamy secured a dismissal of drunk driving charges for his client.

The client was involved in an accident in Coventry, RI. At the scene, Coventry police detected a smell of alcohol and asked the client to submit to a field sobriety test, which she subsequently failed. The client refused to submit to the breathalyzer test, but a small bottle of water that contained vodka was found in the vehicle. After aggressively defending the case and showing the weaknesses in the State's case, the DUI charges were successfully dropped.

The client was facing possible jail time and a suspended license of up to one year in addition to fines and other additional penalties. Following today's result, the client avoided all such punishment and avoided any form of criminal record.

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April 8, 2011

Seniors More Likely to be Victim of Pedestrian Accidents

Recent studies are suggesting that elderly and senior citizens are far more likely to be struck in the roadway by a passing vehicle. Motor vehicle accidents in which a pedestrian is struck by a car are always serious. An unprotected pedestrian is likely to sustain very serious injury such as broken bones, scars, head injury, and even death. Such serious injuries are compounded when the victim is a senior citizen.

There may be a number of reasons why senior citizens are a disproportionate number of pedestrian accident victims:

  • Senior citizens are less agile and capable of reacting to a sudden danger;
  • They may be unable to cross a crosswalk in the limited amount of time that the lights allow them;
  • Seniors who are hard of hearing may be unable to hear the horn of an oncoming vehicle;
  • Seniors are more likely to be disoriented or confused at a busy intersection.

A recent NPR study also demonstrated that these statistics become even worse if the elderly person is distracted. In that study, seniors over the age of 59 who were talking to a friend or on a cell phone, were more likely to be injured in a simulated accident than a senior who was not distracted.

It is incumbent on all of us drivers to be careful of pedestrians in the road regardless of age. Particularly in high traffic areas such as city centers, outside libraries or churches, or in parking lots, a driver must always be aware of pedestrians in the road.

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April 3, 2011

Motorcycles Ready to Hit the Roads

The warm weather is (hopefully) upon us soon and that means that motorcycle riders will be breaking out their bikes for the season. Signs on highways across Massachusetts and Rhode Islands are warning us to "share the road" and "watch for motorcycles." It is important for vehicle operators and bike riders alike to share the responsibility of safety. Drivers are not accustomed to looking for motorcycles which because of their small size can often sneak into blind spots and go unseen on the open road.

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Motorcycle accidents are obviously very serious. A motorcycle rider is completely unprotected and can suffer devastating injuries when struck by a motor vehicle. Severe injuries from motorcycle accidents include head injuries, fractures, internal injuries, scarring, and even death. Similar to other personal injury claims, a motorcycle accident victim is entitled to: past and future medical expenses (including surgery if necessary); past and future lost wages or loss of earning capacity; and, pain and suffering.

My office has a great deal of experience with motorcycle accidents and understands the complexity of such claims. I understand that serious accidents and injuries require an aggressive attorney to devote time and attention to the case to ensure that you obtain every penny to which you are entitled.

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March 31, 2011

A Review of Safety is Needed Following Several Serious Bus and Truck Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is hosting a conference in DC this week aimed at reviewing the laws and regulations regarding the safety of commuter buses and commercial trucks. The conference follows a series of very serious accidents involving buses and trucks throughout the country, including a March accident in New York city that killed 15 people. Last summer, a high profile accident injuring several people occurred in Boston involving a "duck tour" bus.

Private bus companies, including national carriers and local tour companies, have been under growing scrutiny after many have been cited for violations ranging from mechanical defects to driver fatigue. Senator Chuck Schumer singled out discount tour companies requesting the NTSB to "examine the overall effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's safety regime for the low-cost tour bus industry."

Bus and truck accidents can be particularly dangerous because of the increased size of the vehicles. Also, passengers in commercial buses lack the safety equipment, such as seatbelts and airbags, that comes standard in cars. The high number of people along with their bags, luggage, and other carry-ons also increases the danger of injury in a bus accident.

The safety conference will likely focus on increased regulation of buses and commercial trucks including more significant penalties for violations and more careful screening of employees and vehicle operators.

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March 27, 2011

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Zeppole from Johnston Bakery

Like a good percentage of Rhode Islanders, I celebrated St. Joseph's day with my family and zeppole. Unfortunately, the Providence Journal is reporting that the holiday tradition caused at least 23 Rhode Islanders to become ill with salmonella. Of those 23 at least 13 required hospitilization for the illness and several remain hospitalized.

The dangerous pastries were from DeFusco's Bakery in Johnston which has since been closed following a Rhode Island State health inspection showed that the cream was kept in unsafe or unsanitary conditions which may have led to the salmonella outbreak. DeFusco's products are also sold and distributed in several other bakeries including Crugnale, Calvitto's, and Sal's Bakeries.

Salmonella is a foodborne illness that can begin to show symptoms a few days after infection. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea, among others. An infection, if untreated, can be extremely dangerous and anyone who feels they may have been infected should contact a doctor immediately and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Anyone injured by this foodborne illness, or another, is entitled to personal injury benefits, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you or a family member has been sickened or hospitalized because of this outbreak of salmonella, contact Attorney Joseph Lamy right away to protect your rights.

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March 24, 2011

Drunk Driving Apps???

Officially, as of today, there is an "app" available on your smartphone for every possible topic. Everyday, there seems to be a new controversial app that incites the public to force Apple and Droid to remove the app, such as the "gay cure" app and the "babyshaker" app. Now pressure is mounting on Apple to remove an app called checkpoints, which along with similar apps, allows users to identify police DUI checkpoints so that they can be re-routed or avoided.

According to a letter from US Senators Lautenberg, Reid, Schumer and Udall, there are several apps with a registered 10 million users! The apps all commonly feature the ability for users to point out road blocks and and police checkpoints that are searching for drunk drivers. Other users who are leaving the bar inebriated can open the app to make sure they are not driving into a drunk driving patrol.

Obviously, our Senators above are looking to have any such app removed immediately because of the risk to public safety. After all, drunk driving related fatalities exceed 40,000 a year!

March 21, 2011

Rhode Island to Consider Tougher Seatbelt Laws

Although similar attempts have been made in the past, the Rhode Island legislature is once again considering a bill to toughen state seatbelt laws. It goes without saying that seatbelts can save lives and reduce the severity of injuries in serious auto accidents, yet thousands still fail to buckle up every time they get in their car.

Under the current laws, the police can issue a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt, but only if they stopped you for another moving violation. In other words, the police can not pull over an adult driver (the laws are different for drivers under 18) if the only law he or she is breaking is failure to wear a seatbelt.

Under the new proposal, police would be allowed to make a traffic stop solely for seat belt use and issue a $75 citation if caught operating without a seatbelt. Thirty States already have similar laws, but previous attempts to pass such a law in Rhode Island have failed. This time around, however, there is $4 million dollars in federal money available if the State should pass such a law.

What I like about this newly proposed law is that it prevents the police from conducting a search of the vehicle unless a violation other than the seatbelt was also committed. In other words, police will not be able to use lack of a seat belt to conduct random unwarranted searches of vehicles and persons, unless additional probable cause exists.

March 15, 2011

Traumatically Induced Cataracts

I do not often hear inquiries about traumatically induced cataracts, but I recently had a conversation with a fellow attorney who was speaking of a case he settled with traumatically induced cataracts. I thought that it was an interesting topic to write about and an injury that many might be unfamiliar with.

Traumatic cataracts can occur when the eye lens is damaged by blunt trauma or penetrating eye injury. Such an injury can occur in a car accident from the impact of the airbag or windshield and is particularly a danger for those who wear glasses. The glasses, or contact lens, can pierce the eye lens capsule which may eventually result in cataracts. Because of the severity of impact required for this type of injury, it will generally occur in very serious car accidents with significant injuries such as head trauma or facial lacerations.

Cataracts are a very serious disability that severely limits vision and often require surgery. If you have suffered this unique injury following a serious car accident, contact our office to discuss your status and a potential claim for damages.

March 12, 2011

Have an Attorney Review Your Music Contracts

The cost of an attorney can be prohibitive for young musicians or bands starting out. I understand that in the early stages a band is so excited for an opportunity that they will sign whatever contract comes to them in hopes of making it big. I have also heard a lot of artists say that "the contract seems pretty straightforward." I ensure you that in the music industry nothing is "pretty straightforward". If it were not drafted in lengthy "lawyer speak" it would not take a 12 page contract to license one song from a band. Do not make the mistake of assuming that you understand every provision in the contract.

As an attorney who has reviewed hundred of recording, publishing, licensing, and management contracts, I must tell you that you absolutely must have an experienced entertainment lawyer review the contract. If you take your music and your band seriously, you can not afford to blindly enter into contracts that you do not understand. I have seen contracts that tie up the artist for several years without a chance to exit. I have seen contracts that grant the record company or manager power of attorney. I have also seen contracts that wrongfully take all the rights to music created and recorded by you. Furthermore, many of these contracts offer nothing in return. There is often no financial advance, no intellectual support, and no promise to promote the band or your music.

I can review most contracts and provide a detailed opinion letter as to its strengths and weaknesses for much less than you might expect. I will make it absolutely clear if it is a contract you need to avoid. In most cases, I will have the response to you within a week. It is an incredibly small price to pay for a service that may save your bands career and save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if the song becomes a hit.

Furthermore, I can review contracts for artists around the Country. While I am admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the language of music contracts is often universal and I can review a contract offered to an artist anywhere.

Continue reading "Have an Attorney Review Your Music Contracts" »

March 9, 2011

Did You Know That You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

If you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be aware that you are allowed to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you will be charged with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test and will be subject to additional penalties, including a six month license suspension. The benefit of a refusal to submit is that the police will not be able to introduce chemical evidence of your intoxication.

Many people, however, fail to realize that even the field sobriety test is voluntary. You are under no obligation to submit to a field sobriety test when asked by the police. If you refuse, the police will be forced to make a decision whether to arrest you based on what little evidence that they have observed (i.e. slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, etc.)

Most people will submit to a field sobriety test because a) they think that they have to; or b) they feel that they can pass the test. As to part "A", I have already informed you that you do not have to submit to the test. As for part "B" - DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOU CAN PASS THE TEST!! Even someone who is completely sober or had a single drink can fail a field sobriety test because it is difficult. I know that if I were asked, even without drinking, that I would have a terribly tough time standing on one leg for thirty seconds without wobbling. In addition, the police officer will be making you nervous and this will make it more likely for you to make a mistake.

Furthermore, the field sobriety test is entirely subjective. There is no scientific basis for this test. Instead, police officers are given a number of signals to look for to identify a drunk individual. However, there is no magic number to the amount of mistakes that you can make and still pass the test. If you still do not believe me, ask a police officer friend of yours how many people suspected of drunk driving actually pass the field sobriety test.

Based on the way you were driving your vehicle, or based on your speech patterns and conduct, the police officer may still decide to arrest you if he feels that he has probable cause. However, by giving the police little additional evidence to support the arrest, you will put yourself, and your criminal defense attorney in a better position to win at trial.

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March 9, 2011

Did You Know That You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

If you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be aware that you are allowed to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you will be charged with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test and will be subject to additional penalties, including a six month license suspension. The benefit of a refusal to submit is that the police will not be able to introduce chemical evidence of your intoxication.

Many people, however, fail to realize that even the field sobriety test is voluntary. You are under no obligation to submit to a field sobriety test when asked by the police. If you refuse, the police will be forced to make a decision whether to arrest you based on what little evidence that they have observed (i.e. slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, etc.)

Most people will submit to a field sobriety test because a) they think that they have to; or b) they feel that they can pass the test. As to part "A", I have already informed you that you do not have to submit to the test. As for part "B" - DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOU CAN PASS THE TEST!! Even someone who is completely sober or had a single drink can fail a field sobriety test because it is difficult. I know that if I were asked, even without drinking, that I would have a terribly tough time standing on one leg for thirty seconds without wobbling. In addition, the police officer will be making you nervous and this will make it more likely for you to make a mistake.

Furthermore, the field sobriety test is entirely subjective. There is no scientific basis for this test. Instead, police officers are given a number of signals to look for to identify a drunk individual. However, there is no magic number to the amount of mistakes that you can make and still pass the test. If you still do not believe me, ask a police officer friend of yours how many people suspected of drunk driving actually pass the field sobriety test.

Based on the way you were driving your vehicle, or based on your speech patterns and conduct, the police officer may still decide to arrest you if he feels that he has probable cause. However, by giving the police little additional evidence to support the arrest, you will put yourself, and your criminal defense attorney in a better position to win at trial.

Continue reading "Did You Know That You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?" »