Across the country, attorneys general are opening investigations into misconduct (and worse) at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy. In fact, last week the attorney general for the state of New York issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state, eight in total. Such sweeping investigations into sexual abuse of children and allegations of church cover ups come in the wake of a shocking grand jury report out of Pennsylvania. The report announced the discovery of the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of Pennsylvania priests, and the steps the Church took to hide it.

Since the release of the explosive Pennsylvania report, attorneys general in New York, Nebraska, New Mexico, Missouri, and Illinois have announced they will open their own investigations. New Jersey has announced a criminal investigation. And abuse at the hand of Catholic clergy isn’t unique to the U.S. Allegations of clergy sexual abuse have reached global proportions—from Honduras and Chile to Ireland and Australia.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover-ups in the dioceses,” said New York’s attorney general, Barbara Underwood. “Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well — and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.”

Gurbir S. Grewal, New Jersey’s attorney general, has created a test force to investigate abuse and cover ups.

“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report,” said Grewal. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible.” A Boston clergy sexual abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

Will they Cooperate?

Thus far, church officials have been relatively compliant with subpoenas and requests to provide documentation. In fact, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for New York’s Archdiocese, said that every NY diocese will cooperate.

“It is not a surprise to us that the attorney general would look to begin a civil investigation, and she will find the Archdiocese of New York, and the other seven dioceses in the state, ready and eager to work together with her in the investigation,” said Zwilling. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, victims of most forms of child sexual abuse only have until the age of 23 to file charges. When the case involves rape, there is no time limit, as long as the conduct didn’t occur prior to 2001. In MA, the statute of limitations is slightly more in favor of the victim—28 years after the incident occurred, or 28 years after age 16. A bill to change New York’s restrictive timeline—known as the Child Victims Act—has failed to pass for years. Last week, the bill was again presented. If passed, it would allow victims to file criminal charges until age 28 and to file civil suits until age 50.

“Little is known about clergy abuse of children in New York, because of the state’s antiquated and predator-friendly statute of limitations, and because the church has kept the evidence secret all these years,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org.

“Finally we will learn the truth in New York.” Continue reading

Fund giant Legg Mason has been ordered to pay more than $32 million to resolve a charge with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it was in violation of policies in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to the SEC, Legg Mason paid bribes to Libyan government officials from 2004 to 2010. Permal Group Inc., a former asset management subsidiary of Legg Mason, partnered with French bank Société Générale to pay $26.5 million in bribes to officials under Muammar Gaddafi. Why? So the country would buy bonds from the Paris-based bank, which was managed by Legg Mason at the time.

In 2004, Libya was emerging from international economic sanctions. As a result, Libyan banks and other financial institutions needed to invest their significant assets, and “financial institutions from around the globe aggressively sought access to these assets,” reports the SEC. Contact a MA whistleblower lawyer if you have information about fraudulent or illegal activities against the U.S. government.

“I Cooked Him”

Around the same time, Permal partnered with Société Générale, engaging in an illegal scheme to secure investments by bribing government officials. They used a middleman in these transactions, and coded language to communicate without raising any red flags. For instance, the term “cooking” was used by the middleman in reference to his ability to convince officials to invest through the use of bribes.

“I cooked him,” one banker told another on a recorded call. “Only we have to go there, start the fire, have a barbecue.”

According to the SEC, the person they “cooked” was a Libyan government official, to whose relative the middleman had transferred around $75,000 earlier that day.

Through its scheme, Legg Mason profited more than $31 million in Libyan investments.

The Risk of Corruption

“Companies must take adequate steps to identify and mitigate the risks of bribery and corruption present in their global business. Those risks are particularly acute when, as here, agents and middlemen are used as part of a company’s efforts to obtain business with government clients,” said Charles Cain, chief of the Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit.

After the SEC found Legg Mason to be in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the company agreed to settle the case by paying back $27.6 million in illegally-obtained funds and another $6.9 million in interest.

In a letter to shareholders, Legg Mason wrote that “the misconduct by former employees of the legacy Permal business that the government found was totally unacceptable. It violated our high standards, our long-held core values and our ‘no-chalk’ culture.” A Boston whistleblower attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you have information about illegal or fraudulent securities activities.

Legg Mason is Not a Lone Wolf

The Legg Mason case is only the latest in a surge of Wall Street firms found to be tied to bribes involving the known terrorist regime. In June, SocGen settled for $585 million after being caught paying $90 million in bribes to Libyan officials in a similar scheme. Goldman Sachs was also implicated, with Libya accusing the company of bribing officials with everything from money to prostitutes.

Although many may see the Legg Mason case as vindication and just desserts, the $32 million settlement is not even half of the company’s estimated second-quarter liability. Continue reading


Is wearing a helmet while cycling as effective at preventing serious injuries and death as we’ve been lead to believe? A new study says yes; in fact, helmets are even more important than previously thought. This might not seem like groundbreaking news, but some cyclists have argued that helmets offer little protection in serious collisions with motor vehicles.

According to a recently-published study in Accident Analysis & Prevention, it has been determined that “the most commonly injured body region [in bicycle accidents] is the upper extremities, followed by the lower extremities, face and head and neck.” As such, “wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the best way to decrease the risk of serious injuries,” said Dr. Lara McKenzie, one of the study’s senior authors. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Approximately 11 percent of injuries suffered in cycling accidents include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and many of those involve younger patients under the age of 15. For this reason, helmets are especially important for children. To prevent serious head injury or death in a cycling accident, parents should ensure that children (even those in their teens) always wear a helmet.

How to Prevent Serious Cycling Injuries

By following these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury to you, or to your child.

  • Ensure that your bike is the proper size. A bike that is too big or too small can be difficult to control.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic at all times. Approximately 25 percent of cycling collisions occur when the cyclist is riding against traffic.
  • Always use hand signals to alert motor vehicles to your intended move.
  • Children should never ride alone after dark.
  • Never cycle without a helmet. Ensure that your helmet is in good shape and that it fits properly.

A MA cycling accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Cycling Accident Statistics

There is no denying that cycling is a healthy, economical, and environmentally-conscious form of transportation. That doesn’t mean it’s not without risks. The statistics below illustrate the dangers of cycling. Awareness is key to reducing these risks.

  • In 2015, 818 cyclists were killed in collisions, and 45,000 were injured.
  • Among those injured, 5,000 were children.
  • Among those fatally injured, 37 were children.
  • The vast majority of injuries and fatalities occurred in men (87 percent for injuries, 83 percent for fatalities).
  • Fatal accidents occurred almost evenly during daylight and nighttime hours.
  • Approximately 70 percent of the fatal crashes were in urban areas, 61 percent were in locations other than intersections, and three percent occurred in bike lanes.
  • Cyclist deaths accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015.
  • Among the fatal accidents, more than one-quarter involved alcohol (either cyclist, motor vehicle driver, or both).

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A grand jury issued a report last week revealing that more than 300 priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children over a 70-year period, in Pennsylvania alone. Nearly as disturbing is the discovery that the abuse was covered up by bishops and many others in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church, and that victims and law enforcement were “persuaded” to remain mum. According to the report, there are likely thousands of additional victims who are reticent to come forward, or who have died leaving no record of abuse.

The report includes detailed descriptions of abuse, including the rape of a young girl by a hospital chaplain after a tonsillectomy, a priest who impregnated a young girl and arranged for her abortion, a priest who tied up and whipped his victim with leather straps, and five sisters who were all abused, including the youngest who was 18 months old.

Pennsylvania Isn’t Alone

Boston is no stranger to sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. In 2002, decades of sexual abuse and cover ups were brought to light, resulting in the resignation of Boston’s Archbishop, settlements in the billions of dollars, and the addition of multiple prevention programs. But Boston and PA are far from the only places to be rocked by scandal in recent years; the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, recently resigned after being accused of sexual abuse against minors, and some of these cover-ups have gone as far as the Vatican. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse.

According to the report, some of the church officials who protected abusive priests were not only allowed to remain in office, they got promotions.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” wrote the grand jury in the report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Several bishops are rejecting accusations that the church has been covering up sexual abuse.

“There was no cover-up going on,” said Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. “I think that it’s important to be able to state that. We have over the course of the last 30 years, for sure, been transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring.”

They Put the Church First

But the grand jury doesn’t see it that way, saying that the Catholic Church knew what it was doing by following the “playbook for concealing the truth.” For example, any documentation about incidents used language such as “inappropriate contact” for actions that more accurately described rape. And when priests were removed for misconduct, church officials were advised to say the priest was on “sick leave” or “suffering from exhaustion.” According to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the church put itself first. “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.” Continue reading

Massachusetts has an abundance of coastline and waterways for every type of boating excursion. Boating can be great fun during the warmer months. From water skiing and wake boarding to fishing and summer commuting, boating is a favorite activity for thousands who live in, or visit, MA every year. But boating can become seriously dangerous—even deadly—due to inexperience, speeding, and alcohol use.

Boating Safety Tips

Follow the tips below to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a boating accident.

  • Never combine alcohol and boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol consumption increases the risk of a boating fatality by 34 percent. And alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all boating accidents. Further, it is a federal offense to operate a boat under the influence. If convicted, you could face jail time and fines of up to $5,000.
  • Avoid speeding and reckless driving. You can be cited for speeding and reckless driving, but these dangerous behaviors also dramatically increase your risk of serious injury. A Boston boating accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Leave the volume of your emergency radio at an easily audible level. A fatal duck boat accident in Philadelphia was a tragic reminder of the importance of emergency radios; the boat’s operator missed crash warnings because he had turned down the radio’s volume. As a result, two tourists were killed and the Philadelphia duck boat company settled with the victim’s families for $15 million.
  • There should be an experienced boat operator onboard at all times. In 77 percent of fatal boat accidents, the operator had inadequate boating safety instruction. In fact, the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are inexperience, inattention, speeding, improper lookout, and mechanical failures.
  • Ensure that your boat is well maintained and in proper working order. If you own the boat and someone is injured or killed because it is in poor condition, you could be found liable.
  • Follow life jacket laws. In MA, that means anyone under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket at all times, and that there are ample life jackets for each person onboard. The boat’s owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that life jacket laws are followed. In 2016, drowning was the main cause of death in 80 percent of fatal boating accidents, and of those victims, 83 percent were not wearing their life jacket.
  • Avoid overloading your boat. Too much weight on a boat can lead to capsizing or swamping (taking on water). Check your boat’s weight capacity and ensure that you never exceed it.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure that you have proper safety equipment onboard, that it’s in proper working order, and that you know how to use it. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Check the weather before heading out. Getting caught in bad weather on open water can be deadly.

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Are duck boats death traps? Following a tragic accident that claimed 17 lives in Missouri last week, many experts are saying duck boats should be banned nationwide. Duck boats are amphibious vehicles (originally used during WWII) that can travel on land and water, and they have a deadly history.

Anyone living in the Boston area is likely familiar with duck boat accidents; a woman was killed and a man was injured when a Boston Duck Tours vehicle ran over their scooter in 2016, and another woman was seriously injured months later when she was struck by a duck boat from the same company. A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

The recent accident in Missouri resulted in the death of 17 people, at least one of whom was a child. The Ride the Ducks vehicle capsized on Branson’s Table Rock Lake when a sudden storm brought 65 mph winds. Only 14 of the 31 passengers survived. One of those passengers, Tia Coleman, lost nine family members in the tragedy—three children, her husband, two nephews, her mother-in-law and father-in-law, her sister-in-law, and an uncle. Only she and a nephew survived. Coleman claims that the boat’s captain told them not to worry, and that there was no need to use life jackets. When it became apparent that they needed the life vests to survive, it was too late.

“When that boat is found, all those life jackets are going to be there,” said Coleman.

Sinking Coffins

Not only was this not the first fatal duck boat accident in the country (not even close), it wasn’t the first for this particular company. Ride the Ducks has been sued multiple times for fatal duck boat accidents. Experts are calling these vehicles “sinking coffins.” After an accident that killed 13 people in Arkansas nearly 20 years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the canopies on all duck boats be removed for safer escape. In those 20 years, almost nothing about duck boat structure or operations has changed. Not only are the canopies still there, but the design on most duck boats is nearly identical to their original WWII design.

In addition to their on-water dangers, duck boats are considered to be dangerous when driving on land because their unusual design creates a deadly blind spot. In last year’s fatal accident in Boston, the duck boat driver couldn’t see the scooter stopped at a red light directly in front of him because of the duck boat’s shape. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

In Seattle in 2015, a fatal collision involving a duck boat and a bus resulted in the death of five college students. Another 69 passengers were injured. Branson-based Ride the Ducks, who also manufactured the Seattle duck boats, was fined $500,000. And in 2015, a woman was struck and killed while crossing a Philadelphia street. That duck boat was also connected to Ride the Ducks. Continue reading

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one out of every five fatal work accidents occurs in the construction industry. Considering that more than one-third of these fatalities are due to falls, it’s in the best interest of construction workers in the Commonwealth of MA and nationwide to familiarize themselves with the dangers of construction falls, and how to avoid them.

To protect workers, OSHA has established fall protection safety standards. Unfortunately, fall protection is the number one OSHA standard to be violated by employers. If you work in the construction industry and have concerns about the safety standards at your workplace, speak up. If your supervisor doesn’t readily address and resolve the issue, contact OSHA. It is OSHA’s duty to investigate claims of workplace safety violations.

OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign

Of the 991 construction deaths in 2016, 370 were falls from high elevations. In partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA has developed a Fall Prevention Campaign to educate employers and workers about how to prevent falls from roofs, scaffolds, ladders, and other high elevations. The campaign has three main components: Plan, provide, and train.

Plan

Working from heights requires proper planning beforehand, to ensure that workers are safe at all times. Planning can include outlining tasks that will be involved, listing necessary safety equipment, identifying potential hazards—such as skylights or leading edges—and deciding which workers have proper training to work from heights. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Provide

When it comes to working at high elevations, the right equipment is essential. Any worker who is at least six feet above lower levels must be provided with fall protection equipment. This can include everything from a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) to proper scaffolds and ladders. In addition to providing the equipment, employers must ensure proper fit and that the equipment is well-maintained and in working order.

Train

Any individual who will be working from a high elevation must first receive adequate training. In addition to proper use of safety equipment, workers should be able to identify potential hazards and know how to deal with them. A MA workers’ compensation attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fall-related construction deaths between 1992 and 2005 occurred from the following places:

  • 33% – roofs
  • 18% – scaffolding or staging
  • 16% – ladders
  • 8% – girders or structural steel
  • 25% – other

Fortunately, the vast majority of fall-related construction deaths can be easily prevented. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death by reporting any fall hazards to your employer, and by contacting OSHA if those hazards are not resolved. Continue reading

Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to enjoy nature, make new friends, and get healthy exercise all summer long. Whether it’s a day camp or sleep away camp, safety is always a number one concern. Scrapes and bruises are common, but what about more serious injuries? How can you ensure that your child stays safe and healthy at summer camp?

Summer Camp Safety Checklist

  • Is the camp accredited? To obtain accreditation, a camp is required to pass hundreds of health and safety tests. If the camp is not accredited, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t send your child there, but ask why they are not.

Motor vehicle collisions involving large, commercial trucks often result in significantly more damage than those involving passenger vehicles alone. This can be due to multiple factors, such as the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, as well as an increased risk of fatigue among long-haul truck drivers. Fortunately, if you are involved in an accident with a large truck (a.k.a. big rig, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer), several options are available to obtain compensation.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit after a collision with a commercial truck can help you obtain the compensation you deserve, but it can also be a complicated, lengthy process. A skilled Boston personal injury lawyer with extensive experience in trucking accidents can help to ensure that you receive full compensation in a timely manner. And filing a lawsuit might be your only option to recover damages; insurance carriers often require the insured to attempt to get the responsible party to pay before they will issue any funds. When the other party refuses, a lawsuit may be necessary.

When filing a lawsuit after an accident involving a large truck, one of the challenges is determining who to file it against. Was the truck driver negligent—was he/she texting while driving, or driving recklessly? Was the truck company negligent—did its failure to provide proper maintenance result in a mechanical issue that caused the accident? Was a parts manufacturer negligent—did faulty tires contribute to the accident? Was a third-party responsible—did a bar knowingly over-serve the driver, lending to his/her intoxicated driving? As you can see, determining fault can be a complex matter. And in many cases, multiple parties are at fault.

Driver

Even if the truck driver was obviously negligent (i.e. falling asleep behind the wheel), he/she may not have the financial ability to compensate you for repair bills and medical expenses. In most instances, however, the trucking company is at least partially at fault. A MA trucking accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck.

Trucking Company

Generally speaking, truck drivers are working for a company. As such, the company may be held vicariously liable for resulting collisions. For example, if the driver fell asleep behind the wheel, was it because he/she was working excessive hours at the company’s request? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations on the amount of hours truck drivers are allowed to work. These are known as “hours of service” regulations. Drivers may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours, and they cannot resume driving until a minimum of 10 consecutive off-duty hours have passed. Further, they cannot drive more than 60 hours during a seven-day period, or 70 hours during an eight-day period. Violations can result in civil penalties and fines.

Even if the truck was well-maintained and inspected, and the trucking company adhered to hours of service regulations, the trucking company may be deemed liable for the driver’s negligence. Consider the following scenario: Harold is driving recklessly when he crashes into Maude. Had Harold’s employer, CBA Trucking, conducted a thorough background check prior to his hire, they would have seen multiple terminations due to reckless driving. For this reason, any resulting lawsuit may allege that CBA used negligent hiring practices and is, thus, partially liable for Maude’s injuries. Continue reading

Bicycling in and around Boston  is fun, healthy, environmentally sound, and good on the wallet. As such, cycling—as both a recreational activity and a mode of transportation—is skyrocketing in popularity. This pollution-free, cheap alternative to gas-guzzling cars and trucks is not, however, without risks. In fact, without adequate knowledge of bicycle safety, cycling can be even more dangerous than driving. And without the four-walled protection of a motor vehicle, bicycle accidents frequently result in serious injury, and even death.

Although the most serious cycling injuries typically involve a motor vehicle traveling at 40 MPH or more, accidents can happen anywhere, and at any speed. Cycling injuries often include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, and internal injuries. If you’ve been injured in a bicycling accident, there are certain steps you should take immediately. These include:

  • Report the accident to police. If you are unable to call yourself, ask if someone else can. As soon as the crash is reported, both police and paramedics will be dispatched to the scene. In addition, police will investigate the accident, creating an official police report and collecting witness statements, both of which may be invaluable if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident.
  • Obtain immediate medical attention. Even if you do not have obvious injuries or feel pain, it is important to seek medical attention after a cycling accident. Internal injuries can take days or weeks to present symptoms, and some of these injuries can be extremely serious. Further, medical records can prove quite valuable in an injury lawsuit.
  • Consult with a lawyer. If you have been involved in a serious cycling accident, a MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs. Not all bicycle accidents lead to injury claims, but a serious crash may warrant legal assistance.

How to Prevent Having a Bicycle Accident in the First Place

Unless you are riding only in bicycle lanes and on trails, you will be sharing the road with motor vehicle drivers. As a result, you must follow the same rules. The steps below will help you protect yourself, and everyone with whom you share the road.

  • Always ride with the flow of traffic, and remain to the far-right of the lane.
  • Obey all traffic signals, and use hand signals to indicate turns.
  • Always wear a helmet when cycling, and dress in brightly-colored clothing.
  • If you ride at night, wear reflective gear and affix a headlight to the front of your bike.
  • Wear proper shoes when cycling.
  • When riding past a parked car, give yourself as much distance as possible to prevent “dooring.”
  • Use extra caution at intersections.
  • Never expect that a driver will use his/her turn signal.
  • Proceed slowly when exiting a driveway, and always look left and right.
  • Avoid listening to music, texting, or talking on the phone while riding.
  • Never ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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