Michael G. Donahue, Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group, will present a seminar entitled, Litigating Product Liability Cases in New Jersey, in conjunction with the New Jersey Law Journal as part of their Autumn CLE Package. 

The seminar will take place Wednesday October 5, 2011 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Sheraton Edison Hotel Raritan Center in Edison, New Jersey and on Thursday October 27, 2011 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. 

Mr. Donnahue will focus his presentation on:

  • Is it a case? Using the law and common sense in evaluation and initial investigations
  • Selecting the key players: retaining and working with expert witnesses 
  • Capitalizing on discovery: using traditional and non-traditional techniques to maximize success
  • Preparing for trial: witness preparation, demonstrative evidence and focus groups
  • Presenting the case: coir dire to verdict

For additional information, or to register for the seminar, please visit the New Jersey Law Journal’s website

BMJ’s journal, Tobacco Control, just released a study recommending that the FDA do more to control Juul’s e-cigarette advertising in social media. The study included review of over 15000 posts in a three-month period during 2018. Approximately 30% of reviewed posts were promotional, e.g., leading to Juul purchase locations, and over half the posts included “youth” and “youth lifestyle” themes. Because many of these posts were re-posts or user-generated, rather than ads specifically placed by Juul, the company protested that 99% were third-party content over which Juul had no control. However, the intended goal for social media advertising is to “share” and to inspire creation of third-party user-generated content that is also shared. Juul’s public comments weirdly suggest they don’t understand social media advertising. That is quite unlikely.

Continue Reading How Social Media Impacted the Teenage Juul Epidemic: Study Recommends Strict FDA Control

The Tobacco Advertising Collection at the Smithsonian Institution contains more than 30,000 examples of cigarette advertising by tobacco companies. Entitled “Not a Cough in a Carload: Images from the Tobacco Industry Campaign to Hide the Hazards of Smoking,” the twelve-part archive series, created by Dr. Robert Jacklar, emphasizes the deceptive advertising practices used to convince people that tobacco products were safe.

Dr. Jacklar, who treated many patients for cigarette-related illnesses and later lost his mother to cancer, is now creating a similar collection—this time with e-cigarette advertisements. According to Jacklar there is little difference in the messaging. He has reportedly collected 13,000 examples of deceptive e-cigarette ads and is vocally adamant that the industry is ignoring all of the agreements and bans that were agreed to by tobacco companies. Referencing the new Juul product as an example, Jacklar was quoted in Smithsonian to say, ““Very clearly, they do the same damn thing today as they did then. The messaging is very subtle, very carefully crafted…to appeal to adolescents.”

Continue Reading E-Cigarette Campaigns are Disturbingly Similar to Banned Tobacco Ads

The Juul looks like a computer flash drive but it is a vaping device. It’s sleek, it’s discrete, and it’s becoming very popular with underage nicotine users.

Juul, the company that manufactures the device, states it targets only adults; however, the nicotine liquid flavors include “virginia tobacco, cool mint, fruit medley, creme brulee & mango,” which are arguably appealing to children. “Juuling,” has become a disturbing trend in schools and is increasing at an alarming rate. More than one school, including an entire Pennsylvania school district, have banned flash drives in an effort to prevent juuling by underage school children.

Continue Reading The Juul of Teen Nicotine Addiction

If you believe the hype from the vape industry, e-cigarettes don’t explode; and if they do, it is a rarity caused by the user. This story has been disproved time and again. Just read some of our other e-cigarette blogs.

What the vaping industry doesn’t tell you is that when an e-cigarette does catch on fire (as we often see in the news), the consequences can be severe and life-altering.

Picture Denver International Airport (DIA), January 30, 2018. DIA reported a record number of passengers in 2017, servicing nearly 53 million people; up to 19,000 per day. Now picture a crowded security line. This was the scene when a passenger bag that had just passed the x-ray machine burst into flames. The fire sent people running and shut down security scanning and inter-terminal train service for an unspecified time. Luckily airport personnel were able to extinguish the flames with a nearby fire extinguisher.

The cause of the fire and ensuing panic? An e-cigarette.

Continue Reading E-Cigarette Starts Fire/Panic at Airport

Stark & Stark is pleased to announce the election of Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. as Managing Shareholder of the firm, effective May 1, 2016.  In this new leadership role, Mr. Donahue will oversee the day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning of the firm.  His election to Managing Shareholder coincides with his upcoming June installation as President of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) for the 2016-2017 term, where he also serves as co-chair of NJAJ’s Amicus Curiae Committee.

Mr. Donahue, who has been with the firm since 1995, is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney and focuses his practice on products liability and serious personal injury litigation. He is a prolific legal presenter, a member of several New Jersey-based law associations, and very active in area charitable and philanthropic organizations, including Boheme Opera New Jersey, the Trenton Area YMCA, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra, and Theater Exile in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Continue Reading Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. Elected Managing Shareholder of Stark & Stark

Once a legal complaint in a personal injury case is filed and served in New Jersey the discovery phase of the case begins. Discovery is the word used to describe the exchange of information and evidence between the parties to a lawsuit. Pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 4:24-1 the time for completion of discovery and other pretrial proceedings in personal injury cases such as motor vehicle accidents, slip, trip or fall accidents and the like is 300 days. The period of discovery in somewhat more complex cases like medical malpractice and products liability is 450 days. In most cases extensions of the discovery period is also allowed if good cause is presented to the court. Additionally there are circumstances where discovery is extended significantly if there are exceptional circumstances that require it. Therefore as a personal injury client once a lawsuit is filed you can expect in general the discovery period to take anywhere from 1 year to 2 years in duration, or more in complex cases.

As the client you should expect several things to happen during the period of discovery. During this time the attorneys for all the parties will exchange all the evidential documents that will be relied upon in the case. This includes things like medical records and reports, police reports and other investigation materials to name just a few. In addition you as the client will be involved in several key aspects of the discovery. You will be asked to answer written questions called interrogatories dealing with how the accident happened, what injuries you sustained and what damages have been caused such as lost wages or similar things. You also will likely be required to attend a deposition which is a procedure where the attorneys can ask all the people involved questions in person about the accident and its consequences. In almost all cases you will be required to sign authorizations allowing the attorneys to get records from your doctors, your job and anything else related to the claim. Another common part of discovery is your requirement to attend medical exams with doctors the opposing attorney chooses to evaluate your medical condition.

These are just a few of the many things that occur during the court mandated discovery period. The attorneys are even more involved in exchange of information and many discovery procedures that do not require the direct involvement of the client. As the client it is important to understand what is happening and why during this 1 to 2 year period of time. What happens during the discovery phase is one of the most influential and important factors in the successful resolution of your case.

If you have questions regarding the discovery process, feel free to contact me here in my firm’s Marlton, New Jersey office to discuss this matter in more detail.

This is part three of a four part series discussing the spoliation of evidence. For previous posts discussing the spoliation of evidence, please click here.

When I took on the case, the only favorable known fact was that the tractor trailer owner pled guilty to eleven minor, maintenance violations involving the tractor trailer’s maintenance logs, license plate light and brake adjustments.  Among those eleven minor violations were three “out-of-adjustment” brake citations, which although apparently insubstantial, could provide the fuel to tip the balance of liability in my client’s favor.  Could any of those brake adjustment deficiencies have contributed toward this crash, I wondered?  If I could prove that theory, the balance of this “red light/green light” stand-off could resolve in John’s favor.  Without such evidence, it was unlikely that I could sustain plaintiff’s burden of proof.

Unfortunately, by the time John was well enough to speak with me to ask for my help, the tractor trailer’s brakes were no longer available.  During litigation, I deposed the trucking company owner.  He testified that he altered the tractor trailer in the months postaccident by salvaging serviceable parts and discarding damaged parts whose utility was rendered worthless by the crash.  A case of evidence spoliation was slowly evolving.

I then compared that testimony to the document demands which I had served upon the lawyer for the trucking company.  The trucking company lawyer’s response to my document demand contained a list of objections to the documents I requested.  That list recited dozens of objections in a “privilege log” in which the defendant’s lawyer objected to furnishing me with a variety of documents.  The basis of each objection was listed as attorney-client privilege and work product “in anticipation of litigation.”  This objection was key because it proved that the defendant was reasonably aware that litigation may arise from this accident.

But, the critical question here was whether the defendant anticipated litigation before or after the trucking company’s owner spoliated the evidence.  As luck would have it, a separate property damage (subrogation) dispute ensued immediately after this crash.  Insurance carriers for both vehicles sought contribution from each other to pay for the property damage to the vehicles, street lamps and signage damaged in the crash, each claiming that their insured had the green light.  That property damage  dispute ended in a draw, with each carrier bearing the cost to repair its own vehicle.

The “arbitration judges” which decided the inter-company property damage dispute determined that 1) there was no evidence to implicate either driver; and 2) those eleven minor tractor trailer violations could not be linked to any cause of the crash.  In other words, in the personal injury case that I filed, I would have to find a way, with the same exact evidence, to prove that the tractor trailer driver was at fault, something that my client’s own insurance company was unable to do in the inter-company property damage dispute.

To accomplish this objective, I scoured the spoliation landscape like a highly-evolved primate foraging for food in the wilderness.  Alas, the forbidden fruit revealed itself.  The import of that subrogation action was that the “anticipation of litigation” objection was lodged by the trucking company attorneys BEFORE the trucking company owner himself destroyed the evidence. Thus, I was able to establish beyond any doubt that the defendant spoliated this evidence. I successfully argued that the trucking company’s liability insurance carrier is essentially the alter ego of the insured itself.  The drama of spoliation was beginning to unfold.