The Pemberton Mill collapse in 1860 bears a strong resemblance to a tragedy that occurred just a few month ago in Bangladesh. An eight-story garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka collapsed killing over 1,000 people and injuring many more. The accident is blamed on substandard construction and poor enforcement safety regulations.

The 1862 Boston Almanac describes the Pemberton Mill accident: “The Pemberton Mills at Lawrence, Mass., through a defect in the cast-iron columns supporting the interior of the building, fall-in while nearly 800 operatives are at work, and bury many in the ruins. About four hours after the fall, a fire breaks out, and destroys those not extricated from the ruins. More than 115 people perish by the awful catastrophe, and 165 are more or less injured.”

While the United States has adopted building codes and worker safety regulations to prevent industrial accidents, they still occur with regularity in countries overseas. In many respects, the factories in Bangladesh and other poor countries are no different than those operating here during the first industrial age.

The April factory collapse and the public relations fallout have forced U.S. companies to reconsider the safety of their factories overseas and those used in their supply chains. Unfortunately, improving overseas working conditions is no easy task and involves a concerted effort by a number of different parties, including retailers, suppliers, factory owners and local governments.

A coalition of U.S. retailers, including Gap Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is reportedly close to a deal that would create a $50 million, five-year fund to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh garment factories. European retailers previously inked an agreement to improve factory safety, but most U.S. companies declined to join due to liability concerns.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the European pact involves labor groups, which would be empowered to bring disputes to a steering committee responsible for managing the safety program. Appeals would be subject to a final and binding arbitration process. Under the U.S. proposal, signatories could only be held liable if they fail to make promised financial contributions or continue to use unsafe manufacturing facilities. However, because labor organizations would not participate, it is unclear who would pursue violations.

If attempts to police their own industry fail, retailers may also be subject to additional federal regulations. The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recently conducted hearings on labor issues in Bangladesh, particularly the responsibility of U.S. corporations for overseas working conditions.

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The amount of people who are shifting to online behavior is consistently increasing. What does this mean for your law firm? It means that more and more potential clients will be searching for lawyers via their mobile devices. As mobile device adoption continues to grow, not having an optimized mobile web presence means you could be missing out on a growing segment of potential new clients.

In case you didn’t know: mobile devices and smartphones have been sold far more than PCs since around the late 2010! Even tablets are predicted to start outselling PCs in 2015. In just a year, the number of users on mobile has grown more than 30 percent up to about 1.5 billion users.

Why do you need a mobile site? Well, mobile devices aren’t the same as PCs, and therefore mobile sites work very differently from desktop sites. When a user accesses information from a mobile device, they’re looking for a more action-oriented, problem-solving platform – not just browsing. It’s important that your website delivers content quickly and is easily navigable on mobile devices.

What are some other reasons why you should invest in a fully-optimized mobile site?

  • If a client wants to look up the firm’s address on-the-go.
  • Your mobile site should be able to update on alerts, publication, and company news so that mobile viewers are aware.
  • To have a place where clients can use their mobile to verify a lawyer’s credentials on the spot.

Still not sure if you need to worry about mobile? Think again next time you pick up your cellphone to look up an intended purchase, or check up on a potential employee’s background – it’s often. LexisNexis has experts at creating mobile websites. Call 866-799-3717 today or click for a free website evaluation.

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Lawsuits alleging injury from the da Vinci surgical robot increased from 33 to 50, Intuitive Surgical Inc. reported Oct. 18, a 51 percent jump in three months.

In a Form 10-Q report to stockholders filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Intuitive said the lawsuits have been filed in various federal and state courts by plaintiffs who allege that the da Vinci Surgical System caused personal injuries or the deaths of family members.

It said a class action has been filed in a Louisiana state court.

“We have seen a substantial increase in these claims; however, we have not received detailed information regarding many of these claims,” Intuitive said.

Tolling Agreements

“In an effort to provide an orderly process for evaluating claims before they result in costly litigation, we have entered into tolling agreements with certain plaintiffs’ counsel acting on behalf of such claimants,” it continued. It said the agreements toll statutes of limitations for three to six months so the company can evaluate claims and “explore whether the claims have merit and whether they can be resolved without litigation.”

One wrongful death case has gone to verdict, Josette Taylor, et al. v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (No. 09-2-03136-5, Wash. Super., Kitsap Co.). Intuitive said the plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal.

The da Vinci device is used in abdominal/pelvic cases, such as prostate surgery. Plaintiffs allege that the device can cause unintended damage, resulting in perforation and bleeding, requiring surgeons to abandon the device and perform traditional surgery.

Intuitive has argued that injuries have occurred as a result of surgeon error.

No MDL

Last year, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a plaintiffs’ motion to centralize federal lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation, finding that there were then too few cases and that individual issues predominated over common ones (In Re: Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2381, JPMDL).

Intuitive also reports that it faces several lawsuits by shareholders alleging that the company either inflated stock prices or failed to disclose problems with the da Vinci system.

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Video is among the most powerful forms of mediums. Law firms are beginning to embrace the platform more and more as a method of educating viewers, highlighting the firm’s legal talent and areas of expertise and generating qualified leads.

As video begins to invade all platforms of social media and the web (Twitter’s Vine, Instagram’s Video, G+ Hangouts, etc.) it is clear to see that media platforms are becoming a staple in marketing. YouTube, which is now the world’s second-most popular search engine has its video’s played more than four billion times a day. Both Twitter and Instagram recently added video functionality to their platforms, and more than 40 billion videos are streamed a month in the US.

The American Bar Association has come to appreciate video as a tool for marketing law firms and lawyers. Therefore, in recognition, the Law Practice Division of the association presents Golden Gavel Law Video Awards to several winners in different categories for best legal videos.

So what are the benefits of video marketing for lawyers in any realm of practice, or any sized firm?

  • You will help the firm stand out among the abundance of other firms in the marketplace. And you can highlight particular lawyers, as well as your firm as a whole.
  • When clients view a video, they are able to connect, and can feel as though they have already established a personal relationship with the attorney.
  • When visitors view the video, the attention-grabbing, high-quality content can often turn a viewer into a solid lead.
  • Having video content on your site will complement the other forms of content you provide to viewers, all while helping your SEO value and improving your marketing tactics.

Make sure you’re using all platforms of marketing to your fullest advantage: including video! Learn more about how video can benefit your law firm by contacting the legal marketing experts at LexisNexis.

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- From LexisNexis® Mealey’s™ Daily Legal News.

Boston Scientific Corp. and its Guidant subsidiaries have agreed to pay $ 30 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that between 2002 and 2005 the defendants caused the submission of false claims to Medicare for implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) that they knew were defective, the U.S. Justice Department said in an Oct. 17 press release (United States of America, ex rel.

The government alleges that Guidant learned as early as April 2002 that its Prizim 2 ICD contained a defect that caused an electrical arc that short-circuited the device and failed to deliver therapeutic shocks to the hearts of patients with heart arrhythmias. As early as November 2003, Guidant knew that there was an arcing problem in its Renewal 1 and 2 ICDs, the government says.

The government alleges that Guidant took corrective action but continued to sell defective devices that were in stock. It says that when the defendants learned about the cause of the defect, it “took steps to hide the problems from patients, doctors and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

News Article Forced Recall

“Instead of disclosing the problem, Guidant issued a misleading communication to doctors regarding the nature of the defect and did not fully disclose the problem with the device to doctors and the FDA until May 2005, after first being contacted by a New York Times reporter,” the government says. “Subsequently, the company recalled the devices after a front-page article about the defects appeared in The New York Times.”

Under the settlement, parent company Boston Scientific and subsidiaries Guidant LLC and Guidant Sales LLC and Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. will settle allegations that their actions resulted in Medicare patients getting implanted with ICDs for which the government paid.

Boston Scientific bought Guidant in 2006.

$ 2.25M Relator Share

In 2011, James Allen filed a False Claims Act suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of the United States. The federal government elected to intervene, and after motion practice, a trial was scheduled for November.

Allen will get $ 2.25 million as his statutory share for bringing the claim.

In May, Judge Donovan W. Frank stayed the case. The docket indicates that settlement discussions have been taking place since at least May.

$ 536M Prior Payouts

Boston Scientific and Guidant have already paid $ 536 million to settle federal criminal and civil claims and product liability claims involving defective heart devices. In 2011, Guidant LLC pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for failing to tell the FDA about product defects.

Guidant paid $ 296 million in criminal fines and forfeiture and was placed on three years’ probation.

Previously, Guidant paid $ 240 million to 8,550 personal injury plaintiffs to settle civil liability claims.

Counsel

The United States is represented by Chad A. Blumenfield, Pamela Marentette and D. Gerald Wilhelm of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis and Jonathan H. Gold and Jamie Ann Yavelberg of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Boston Scientific and Guidant are represented by Gabriel Egli and Michael L. Koon of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo., Rachel A. Simek of Shook Hardy in Washington and Leif T. Simonson and James L. Volling of Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis

Allen is represented by Daniel C. Adams of Larson King in St. Paul, Minn., Jonathan H. Bard and Dennis R. McCoy of Hiscock & Barclay in Buffalo, N.Y., and James I. Myer of Myers, Quinn & Schwartz in Williamsville, N.Y.

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JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. has agreed to pay $ 100 million and to cease and desist in the violation of provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) for its role in manipulating a massive credit default swap (In the Matter of JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., No. 14-01, CFTC).

Under the terms of the settlement, in addition to the civil penalty, JPMorgan will cease and desist from violating Section 6(c) of the CEA, which was amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Regulation 180.1.

JPMorgan and its successors and assigns must also comply with a number of “conditions and undertakings” as part of the settlement agreement.

Written Enhancements

“JPMorgan undertakes to continue to implement written enhancements to its supervision and control system in connection with swaps trading activity, including trading and risk management controls reasonably designed to prevent and promptly detect mis-marketing of its books, enhanced communications among risk, control and supervisory functions, and the development of additional surveillance tools designed to assist supervisors with monitoring trading activity in connection with swaps,” according to the CFTC’s order instituting the proceedings and making findings and imposing remedial sanctions.

The CFTC filed the administrative proceedings against JPMorgan, which is a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase and Co., alleging that JPMorgan violated Dodd-Frank’s prohibition on manipulative conduct when it engaged in an “aggressive trading strategy” and massive sale of a particular credit default swap known as CDX.

The CFTC contended that JPMorgan “recklessly disregarded the fundamental precept on which market participants rely, that prices are established based on legitimate forces of supply and demand.”

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The representatives of a class of customers who sued MF Global Inc. (MFGI), an affiliate of bankrupt MF Global Holdings Ltd. (MFGH), on Oct. 11 filed a brief arguing that the “soft cap” the bankruptcy court imposed on expenses should not be lifted to permit the payment of defense costs (In Re: MF Global Holdings Ltd., No. 11-15059, Chapter 11, S.D, N.Y. Bkcy.).

In 2011, MFGH filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. As an affiliate of MFGH, MFGI also entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy at that time.

SIPA

Individual investors who had accounts with MFGI, the arm of the company that handled the money of individual customers, filed a class action against MFGI in the Bankruptcy Court under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA), seeking to recover the money they lost in the bankruptcy.

The customer class for the individual investors contends that the Bankruptcy Court should not raise the “soft cap” to $ 40 million at least until related underlying litigation is resolved.

The customer class argues that its claims trigger coverage under MFGI’s insurance policies covering directors and officers (D&O) and policies covering executives and officers (E&O). Moreover, the customer class contends that the claims amount to $ 632 million, which “far exceeds” the totality of the combined limits on the D&O and E&O policies

Cap

MFGI argues that the “soft cap” should be raised from $ 30 million to $ 40 million to pay defense costs associated with a lawsuit filed against it by Sapere Wealth Management.

The customer class maintains that the Bankruptcy Court took that litigation into account when it set the “soft cap” and, therefore, no adjustment is needed at this time.

MFGI has not identified a single specific hardship caused by the “soft cap,” the customer representatives insist. And “changed circumstances do not support unabated defense costs at this time,” the customer representatives add.

The customer class is represented by Andrew J. Entwistle and Joshua K. Porter of Entwistle & Cappucci in New York and Merrill G. Davidoff and Michael Dell’Angelo of Berger & Montague in Philadelphia.

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When searching in Google for phrases such as, “dui lawyer Los Angeles,” or “Chicago personal injury lawyer” have you noticed that some lawyers’ images appear next to their results? Where do these images come from?

When a user implements Google Authorship, the images appear, but what does this mean for your law firm? Studies have shown that search results with Authorship markup can increase click through rate by up to 150 percent, which directly translates into more traffic and leads for your law firm.

In addition to an increased click through, Authorship helps to establish you as a thought leader in your legal field by showing how many Google+ circles you are in and a description about your professional background and services. As you begin to grow your Google+ network, Google will place additional weight on your social credibility, thereby making Google Authorship a key component when it comes to SEO for law firms.

Setting up Google Authorship is a simple two-step process. When you set up a profile on Google+, you can verify your identity by linking your Google+ profile to your website, setting the foundation for your clients to easily decipher who is reputable, and who is not.

To set up Google Authorship:

  • Create your own Google+ profile. Make sure your information for your public profile is filled out correctly and as completely as possible. Upload a high-quality and professional headshot and fill out your contact information.
  • Once you are established as a Google+ user, go to plus.google.com/authorship, sign up with your email and click on the verify link, which Google will send you in an email. Alternatively, you can also establish authorship by adding a rel=author tag to your website and by adding a link to your website from the Contributor To section of your Google+ profile.

Along with getting your picture to appear in Google searches, Authorship gives you an authoritative presence online, and generates a feeling of trust between you and your potential clients.

Need help establishing a Google+ presence for you or your law firm? Contact LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing today to get started.

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Building a law firm from its roots starts by embracing new development models for your business. As social media platforms become a leading market for development, lawyers are beginning to see the benefit of embracing it in their practices. There are endless amounts of resources in the social media world, from LinkedIn to the ever-present Facebook; lawyers have an array of choices when it comes to incorporating the social media realm. However, when it comes down to choosing, blogging is a great way to get started in the social media world.

Have you created a blog yet? If not, do you know the basics; such as, where to post, what to write, and what time of day to post and where to even get started?

Read on for three easy tips to get your legal blog kicked off or freshen up an existing drab one:

Start by brainstorming and choosing a topic. The idea of a blog is to engage and interest your main audience, in other words: clients. Whether you’re targeting current clients, or future clients, you need to pick a topic that will interest your users. There are two approaches to consider: a broad appeal topic that can interest a large portion of your audience, or a specified subject matter that will target an audience you know will be interested.

What are the advantages of a broader topic? It’s always good to interest a large group. The more attention to your blog you are able to generate, the more traffic your blog will get, increasing your chances of generating more leads through your website.

When you narrow down your topic to a post that will apply to a smaller, more niche group, there are also advantages. You may have fewer potential readers; however you have a better chance of establishing yourself as a thought leader on a particular subject. This will ensure a loyal fan base of readers who will come back for more.

Your post has to start with purpose. While you may have established the topic for your post, you will also need a purpose. Yes, they’re different. While your topic is more distinct and tells what the blog post is going to be about, your purpose is going to be what you personally are trying to achieve by writing it. Are you going to give your readers information? Maybe you’re trying to persuade a particular client group to invest in a new service they didn’t know they needed. Whatever your goal is, it should be established before writing.

Who is the target? You may not realize it, but you’re in control of who reads what you write. It all depends on how well you know your target market. You have to know who you want reading and responding to it, their knowledge level of the subject, as well as what your audience’s basic needs are.

Armed with your purpose, content ideas, and who your audience is will give insight into what type of blog post you should write. Here’s a look at some basic formatting styles you can use for the organization of your blog posts:

  • Educate your readers. As a law firm, you will have knowledge on legal matters that readers and potential clients will want answers to. The most widely used format is addressing the problems of your audience with simple answers and solutions, and it is a good way to start posting to your blog.
  • Order of events. Telling a story with a background on some history, leading up to the current condition is a helpful way to explain things to clientele.
  • Narration. Tell your audience a story. This is a good way to engage readers and interest them with emotion and dramatic turns of events.
  • Engage the reader.  If you instigate a conversation, you establish a social atmosphere that encourages users to engage in your brand. You can achieve this by asking questions, encouraging readers to comment with opinions, and making sure to respond to those who do provide feedback. However, be aware that there is a time commitment to keep up so ensure you have the resources available before undertaking this approach.

Of course, there are many other aspects to creating a successful blog. Let us know what has worked well for your law firm in the comments below. Or contact LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing to get started with your blog strategy today.

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A Florida federal court entered judgment in favor of an insurer on Oct. 8 in a lawsuit seeking coverage for a $ 20.8 million default judgment entered against an insured, finding that the insured failed to satisfy its claims-reporting obligation under a title agent’s professional liability insurance policy (Lake Buena Vista Vacation Resort L.C. v. Gotham Insurance Co., No: 6:12-cv-1680-Orl-31DAB, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144729).

Lake Buena Vista Vacation Resort L.C. (LBV) and Coastal Title Services Inc. collaborated to develop the condominium project San Marco Resort.

On June 30, 2008, Andrew and Susan Mathew sued Coastal, one of its principals Ira Hatch and LBV for breach of contract, conspiracy and unjust enrichment. The Mathews sought the return of two deposits of $ 27,000 total that they had made in connection with the San Marco Resort project. LBV cross-claimed for breach of fiduciary duty against Hatch and breach of contract against Coastal.

$ 15.6M Judgment

On Sept. 21, 2011, a judgment of $ 15.6 million in damages and $ 5.2 million in prejudgment interest, as well as all of Coastal’s property, was awarded in favor of LBV. On April 30, 2013, an amended default judgment was entered against Coastal.

LBV then sued Gotham Insurance Co. in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in and for Orange County, seeking recovery of the judgment under a “Title Agent’s Professional Liability Insurance Policy” that Gotham issued to Coastal.

The insurer removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and moved for summary judgment.

‘Woefully Short’

Gotham argued that there is no coverage for LBV’s cross-claim against Coastal because notice of the claim was not provided before the policy’s Oct. 3, 2007, cancellation date.

Judge Gregory A. Presnell agreed, noting that an October 2007 letter written by Hatch “falls woefully short of providing notice of LBV’s cross-claim.”

“Among other failings, the Hatch Letter does not report an actual claim; it reports a ‘possible claim.’ It does not identify LBV, the Mathews or anyone else as the entity or individual who might make a claim against Coastal. It does not even associate the San Marco Resort project with the potential claim. It does not describe the amount of money at issue or, except in the vaguest possible terms, describe the circumstances giving rise to the potential claim. Moreover, there is no evidence in the record that Hatch even knew by October 4, 2007 – the date of the Hatch Letter – that LBV intended to pursue Coastal in connection with the failure of the San Marco Resort project. Even assuming Hatch knew this, however, the Hatch Letter did not provide the required notice to Gotham,” he said.

The judge also rejected LBV’s contention that Gotham received timely notice of the underlying suit and LBV’s cross-claim because LBV served a subpoena for deposition duces tecum on Gotham on Sept. 30, 2010.

“Even assuming that the subpoena did provide the requisite notice, which Gotham denies, it was received years outside the policy period and therefore could not bring LBV’s cross-claim within the coverage provided by the Policy,” the judge said.

The judge also dismissed LBV’s argument that Gotham is estopped from arguing that the Hatch letter was not a valid report of a claim.

“LBV has provided no evidence (or even an argument) that Coastal changed its position in any way in response to Gotham’s use of the term ‘this claim’ or assigning of a claim number in response to the Hatch Letter. Accordingly, equitable estoppel cannot apply here,” he noted.

Policy Exclusions

Gotham also argued that several policy exclusions bar coverage for LBV’s cross-claim, including exclusion I for acts, errors or omissions committed with dishonest, fraudulent, criminal or malicious purpose, exclusion V for damages from conversion, misappropriation, commingling or defalcation of funds, exclusion VII for breach of any express contract (other than those regarding the state of a title) and exclusion XXV for any willful or intentional failure by Coastal or Coastal employees to comply with escrow instructions.

The judge agreed.

“The theft of the escrow funds was the core of the allegations set forth in the cross-claim, despite LBV’s current effort to reinterpret that document. The exclusions therefore apply,” he said, granting the insurer’s motion for summary judgment.

Counsel

Daniel J. O’Malley and David H. Simmons of DeBeaubien, Knight, Simmons, Mantzaris & Neal in Orlando represent Lake Buena Vista.

Brian W. Bennett of Page, Eichenblatt & Bennett in Orlando, Christina R. Salem and Christopher R. Carroll of Carroll, McNulty & Kull in Basking Ridge, N.J., and Michael J. Tricarico of Carroll, McNulty & Kull in New York represent Gotham.

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