Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Civil Justice and the Guillotine Governor...

Ever since his election as Governor of Wisconsin in November 2010, civil justice in this state has inched closer and closer to the guillotine.  In the name of "job creation" and "tort reform" (fancy terms of art which really equate to "I, the Governor of Wisconsin, am sleeping with corporations and to pay them back for electing me, I will allow them to do business here with impunity), he has consistently set out to eliminate any recourse for people injured or killed in this state.  It is so very sad that this state elected him as Governor.  He is supposed to care for, protect, and nourish us, as citizens of the State of Wisconsin.  Instead, he cares for, protects and nourishes the corporations which elected him to power.

He claims to help us by "job creation".  But is he really creating jobs? What jobs is he killing in order to create? And at what cost?

I am a lawyer.  More importantly, I am a civil litigator for individuals who have been harmed through no fault of their own.  I fight for those who have been wronged and cannot fight for themselves.  It is an honor.

However, ever since January 2011 (really November 2010 because we all know the bills introduced in January were drafted even before he was elected) the law (my tool- the mechanism I use to help people)  protecting the civil rights of the citizens of Wisconsin has quickly eroded.

Below is a letter I have sent to various news outlets in the hopes that it will be published, people will read it, and people will oppose the bills I discuss.  Why should these bills be opposed?  Quite simply, the ONLY purpose these bills will be introduced is to severely limit the rights of injured peoples to obtain fair, just and reasonable compensation for injuries they sustain due to the fault of others.  This is not "job creation" or "tort reform".  Bill proposals like this is a declaration of "Screw Accountability".

This is a democracy and we have certain rights and means to pursue those rights.  He cannot and should not take those rights away with autocratic rule.

Civil rights means a lot more than phony "job creation". Please read on and oppose the upcoming legislation:


I have felt it coming ever since he was elected Governor of Wisconsin in November 2010. It began with tremors, that led to outrage (voiced prominently by Unions), which has led to an all out assault by him against the citizens of Wisconsin.

Under the guise of “tort-reform” and “job creation”, he has, and continues to, demolish accountability and responsibility for those businesses, corporations, and reckless individuals that injure others.  But, he has traveled the state and found that employers and workers want a sense of certainty.  However, the only thing certain is that he is out to undermine our civil justice system and prevent persons injured in Wisconsin from seeking compensation they rightfully deserve.

He has already made it incredibly costly (and near impossible) to pursue doctors and nursing homes that negligently or intentionally injure patients.  These people now have little to no recourse for the injuries they sustain due to such carelessness because somehow, his “protections” create jobs.

He has put a severe cap on punitive damages.  The award of such damages is to punish the person/company that committed the wrong and to show that tortfeasor that such conduct is reprehensible and should never happen again.  Now, because “screw accountability” is his motto, said individuals or corporations may merely receive a slap on the wrist even though their actions killed a person, and the individual or corporation knew their actions could result in death.

Now he attempts to pass legislation, which again hurts all citizens.  But hey, hurting citizens is fine with him as long as he can later say, “I created jobs.”  These proposals are LRB 2670, LRB 2890, LRB 2939, LRB 2966 and LRB 2838, and will be discussed March 29, 2011.

He wants to provide immunity from lawsuits to manufacturers and sellers of medical devices/drugs if: their product received approval from the FDA (ever heard of recalls or false tests?); in a failure to warn case, the labeling was made available to the consumer, the person who prescribed the drug/device, and the labeling was in compliance with established FDA standards; and no defect in design if it undergoes a strenuous (like a tough work out?) FDA approval process.

Again, this is in the name of “tort reform” (which really means “Hey, companies, come to Wisconsin- you can produce products that kill my citizens but I, the Governor, have made it so no one will sue you and you can keep on killing) and “job creation” (which is a fancy term of art meaning screw accountability, lets make money and it does not matter at whose expense). 

So WAKE UP WISCONSIN, and oppose these proposals.  “Tort reform” and “job creation” are just terms a sneaky politician uses to lure you in to favoring his goals and forever abdicating your ability to obtain civil justice for an injury you sustain at no fault of your own.


While riding this morning, I saw what is pictured below projected onto part of Miller Brewery.  Very cool.  Go Crew!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Changes Start With Small Steps...

Last week, at the end of my post, I hinted that this week's post would be about helmets.  Well, sorry.  It will not be.

Now that it is darker later in the morning and earlier at night, I had to dig out the bike lights for my road bike, check the batteries, and attach.  As I rode mile after mile looking at another rider's rear red blinking light in front of me, I could not help but think back to an older blog entry I posted: "The Hours of Darkness."

In that entry, I discussed the rules regarding lights and reflectors on bicycles, such as where those items should be located on a bike and when the lights need to be turned on.  What baffled me was that the law stated, "a lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector."  Thus, if you only emitted a red light from a rear lamp, and had no red reflector attached to the rear of your bike, you were in violation of the law.

What!?  According to the law, a reflector, which only reflects light if light is produced upon the reflector, is better than a bright blinking (or steady) red light.  Ah yes, that does make absolutely perfect nonsense.  However, just like having to signal turns with only your left hand  (which if you ride in a group you know is a big no no), these laws are throw backs to older times when drivers had to stick their arms out of automobiles to signal to other drivers that a turn was imminent and batteries and red rear lamps did not exist (I think, not sure on the batteries and am not going to research for sake of this entry).

So, I came in to work today intent on writing a piece on why some laws for cyclists should change to reflect changes in society and innovation.  And then I opened the Off the Couch blog on JSOnline and found out that the Bike Fed already has a legislative effort in place to change these laws: to let cyclists signal with either hand, and dispense with the red reflector if a red rear light is used, among some other changes. YAY!

So I will not wax poetic today dear readers.  Instead, I have included the following links for you to read about this issue (don't worry, the articles are short and worth looking at).

Next week... maybe helmets.

Have a great, safe weekend.  And if you are a Tosa Spokesmen riding to Madison on Saturday- good luck, stay safe, and enjoy the beer at the end!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Door Prize...

I'm pretty busy at work, so don't have time to do a proper post today.  I know... my 3 loyal fans will be disappointed.

However, I did see this on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website:

Don't get the door prize!

  • Ride in a straight line three feet out from parked cars. You'll avoid car doors that open in front of you and you'll be more visible to other drivers.
  • Don't pull into the space between parked cars. Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
  • Ride straight, three feet from parked cars - don't get "doored"
Ride three feet from cars, don't weave in and out

Now, it is good advice from the DOT to ride in a straight line three feet from parked cars and not to weave in and out.

What I don't like is how the DOT, 1) equates getting hit by a car door a "prize" (I picture Bob Barker opening the car door as I pass, hitting me with it, and then telling me to "come on down" as I am the next contestant on car door v. bike), and 2) implies that if a cyclist does get hit by a car door, it is almost certainly the cyclist's fault (hence the language "you'll avoid car doors that open in front of you" and "don't get doored").

While the DOT points out a real danger for cyclists and tells cyclists to remain visible, it ignores the fact that the driver of a car has a duty to look and make sure it is safe to open a car door that opens into traffic.  In fact, later on in the section "Motorist Reminders", the DOT does not even mention that a driver should look to make sure the lane of traffic adjacent to the car door is free from other vehicles before opening the car door.

I'll be sure to do my best to avoid the door "prize", but I am only half the equation and I sure hope users exiting cars do not give me the door "prize".  

At least the DOT reminds motorists that bicycles belong on the road.  However, the DOT should do a better job reminding motorists that motorists have certain duties to maintain safety on the roads for all users.

Next week's post- I'm thinking helmets.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thank You!

I wanted to take a quick opportunity to thank two new readers and followers of my blog- my grandparents!  I have learned that they read and follow my posts old school style- via a printed out copy.  I imagine that instead of reading and then tossing the post away, they 3-hole punch it and add it to a binder in case they want to look back on older posts. That way, when I see them next time, they can tell me that my writing has not improved, but in fact has progressively declined.  (That would probably be what my grandpa would say anyway)

Anywho, thanks to my grandparents for reading, and to all of you who take 30 seconds out of your day to glance at my blog.

Hope to have a new post soon.  If you have ideas on a topic, feel free to email me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Velominati... Espresso Drinking Enforcers of the Unwritten Cycling Rules

It is Friday, and on Friday I try to post something fun (get it... Fun Friday).  If you live in Wisconsin, specifically SE Wisconsin, you will notice that the forecast for the weather today looks anything but fun.  Right now it is sunny, but the wind is howling (I am pretty sure I saw a golfer at Blue Mound just blow of the tee box on the first hole, though he may be about 95 (both age and weight)), and storms are coming in. Which means you may have plenty of time to sit inside and read my post and embedded link.

I rode briefly this morning, just in case I cannot get out this afternoon with a friend.  It was a pleasant 80 degrees and balmy with light winds around 20mph, at 5:45 a.m.  But 6 or so of us rode on, lost one guy due to time constraints and one guy was left behind due to two flats and no spare tubes- left with only a cell phone to call his wife and wake her up to come drive him and his steed home.  I hope he at least bought her a cup of coffee.

Which gets me to the FUN part of this post.  Someone sent me these sacred "Rules"for cyclists, which were written by the Velominati... Keepers of the Cog.  (I'm guessing some sacred sect from Italy who ride secretly among us and will punish any rider who gets out of line or threatens the order, like in that movie with Audrey Tatou and that guy from the movie Big).

At any rate, enjoy reading these rules as they are quite hilarious.  And later today, hopefully I will resist the urge to stay inside if it storms, and instead get out for a ride. Then I will officially be a BADASS pursuant to Rule #9, both because I am riding in stormy weather and it will be 90 degrees.  Booyah!