Rhode Island Injury Lawyer Blog

A Mississippi man was awarded a staggering $322 million verdict for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and future medical expenses arising from asbestosis which he now suffers from after working many years in a Mississippi oil field.

Asbestosis is one of the two serious conditions that can develop following exposure to asbestos, the other being mesothelioma cancer. Absestosis is an extremely serious disease of the lungs which occurs after breathing in asbestos fibers which become lodged in the lung tissue. The fibers cause inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue which results in difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. The Plaintiff in this case, Thomas Brown, Jr., is on 24 hour oxygen because of his asbestosis.

The defendants in this case were Chevron Phillips Chemical and Union Carbide Corporation, both of whom developed and marketed asbestos products for decades. Despite knowledge that their product was extremely harmful they continued to market and sell the product into the 1980’s. The jury found that the companies had negligently designed their products and failed to supply adequate warnings to users. Asbestos cases are one of the clearest examples of a company putting profits before people and this Mississippi jury has evened the score by punishing the company for their wrongdoing. I applaud the men and women of that jury for their brave decision.

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The Rhode Island State Department of Transportation has completed a list of the 50 worst (as in most dangerous) intersections in the State of Rhode Island. The most dangerous intersection in the State is on Route 146 in North Smithfield where it intersects Sayles Hill Road.

In compiling the list, the State looked at the years 2006-2009 and considered:

  • The number and frequency of accidents;
  • The incidence of injury and fatal injury;
  • The total estimated cost of the accident, including property damage and personal injury.

Providence and Warwick fared the worst in the report, each City having 13 of the 50 worst intersections. In fact, three Warwick intersections are among the top 5 problem intersections in the State, including the intersection of Post Road and Route 37 which accounted for the most accidents over this period of time, 313! Warwick also accounted for the most auto accidents with injuries – the intersection of West Shore Road and Warwick Avenue which accounted for 55 injuries. The intersection with the most auto fatalities was in Pawtucket at the intersection of Route 95 and Lonsdale Avenue.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, very little money is available to address all of the security concerns at these various intersections. For instance, the City of Warwick which accounted for 13 of the 50 worst intersections, only has plans to address 3 of those intersections. 10 problem intersections will continue to remain unchanged.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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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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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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.


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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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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