January 30, 2014

California Continuing Legal Education Deadline

The deadline for California Attorneys in Compliance Group 3 to complete their Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credits for the current compliance period is January 31, 2014. Compliance Group 3 includes all licensed California attorneys whose names end with letters N through Z. Those attorneys have until February 3 to report their completion of these MCLE activities to the State Bar of California. California attorneys are required to report their MCLE compliance to the Bar via their "My State Bar" profile.

Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) refers to the approved continuing legal education required, by statute, of California attorneys. California Attorneys are required to complete a total of 25 hours of approved credit every three years.

California Attorneys can earn up to 12.5 of their required hours via self-study activities. All of these self-study activities can be earned online. Internet For Lawyers has updated all of its online California self-study MCLE exercises for the current reporting period.

Internet For Lawyers offers online California MCLE exercises that satisfy the:

Legal Ethics MCLE requirement
Elimination of Bias MCLE requirement
Substance Abuse MCLE requirement
General MCLE Requirement

The company's online California MCLE activities are priced as low as $15.00 when purchased in bundles.

California attorneys are divided into three compliance groups based on their last names. Compliance periods and reporting dates for the three groups are staggered so that each group reports compliance in a different year. Compliance periods for all California Attorney Compliance Groups are 36 months (three years) in length. Reporting deadlines for each compliance group are listed here.

To ensure that lawyers receive quality legal education, the State Bar approves MCLE providers and education activities. Internet For Lawyers is a California State Bar approved MCLE Provider.

January 30, 2014

Forensic Pathology Expert Witness Testifies In Hyperthermia Death Case

Forensic pathology expert witness Dr. Robert Kurtzman testified in the Grand Junction, CO, case against Heather Jensen. Jensen is charged in the 2012 hyperthermia deaths of her two young sons. Kurtzman described how children succumb to hyperthermia more quickly than adults. Dr. Kurtzman is a Staff Pathologist at the Grand Junction Community Hospital and former Former Mesa County coroner. The Mesa County Coroner's Office website explains their role:

Deaths may be expected, but others; which are sudden, unexpected, and suspicious or from a violent act are investigated by the Coroner’s Office. The responsibility of the Mesa County Coroner’s Office is to conduct a complete unbiased forensic investigation to determine the cause and manner of death, and to answer any questions which may arise. Questions which seem irrelevant in the initial hours after death can become significant in the following months....

Associated Responsibilities

Pronounce the death and establish time of death - Only a physician or the coroner may pronounce a death.
Scene investigation - Colorado law is specific that the body of a deceased person may not be moved until the coroner has responded to the death and conducted the investigation.
Take custody of the body - Colorado law states it is the responsibility of the coroner to see that the body is removed from the scene.
Make positive identification of the deceased - Identification and notification of the next of kin.
Discovery of Remains - Remains that are complete or partial are sometimes found, thus the coroner must follow certain statutory obligations notifying other state agencies.

Suspicious Death Protocol includes:

County Coroner
1. The Coroner’s Office will be notified immediately. As noted above, the official from the Coroner’s Office will be escorted to view the body and pronounce death. Every attempt will be made to insure that the body is not moved until viewed by the Coroner’s Office.
2. If the Coroner’s Office is notified before law enforcement, the Coroner’s Office will immediately advise dispatch to notify the District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement authorities and then proceed to the death scene or to view the body. Prior to entering the death scene, the official from the Coroner’s Office will coordinate his/her efforts with the Crime Scene Supervisor in order to preserve the scene and avoid contamination, as noted above.
3. The Coroner’s Office will determine the need for a forensic autopsy.
4. The Coroner’s Office will communicate directly with the Lead Investigator and the Crime Scene Specialist to facilitate transport of the body to the autopsy and /or funeral home.
5. All unattended child deaths will be autopsied by a forensic pathologist.
6. Depending on the circumstances of the investigation, the autopsy may be attended by Law Enforcement and / or District Attorney or his/her representative. Since the autopsy is part of the investigation to show cause and manner of death, as well as to communicate with law enforcement about details of the investigation, this information would be considered sensitive to the investigation and attendance by others such as defense attorneys, defense investigators and members of the media would not be appropriate.

January 25, 2014

Child Abuse Expert Witness On Abusive Head Trauma

On his website, child abuse expert witness Dr. Michael R. Weinraub, FAAP, explains Abusive Head Trauma. Dr. Weinraub is a Board Certified Pediatrician with three decades of clinical practice experience.

Formerly called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) this form of child abuse is now called Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). While protecting children from infancy onwards from abusive head trauma (AHT) is of primary importance, recent concerns have been raised in specific cases about the degree of medical certainty of AHT as a diagnosis where a broader differential diagnosis may offer explanations of the findings that are not due to abuse.

A standard of care medical work-up of a case of suspected AHT starts with a medical history including a determination of when the child was last well, if ever; a physical examination and review of prior physical examinations and other findings in the medical records; and consideration of current laboratory and radiology findings resulting in a differential diagnosis. This differential diagnosis consideration of various medical conditions as well as of the timing of the findings will assist the physician in forming an opinion of the causation of these findings. For example, findings of brain swelling may arise from an abusive event or may be secondary to a medical condition such as a seizure that caused hypoxic brain injury and swelling. In the process of a medical work-up, one medical explanation may offer the most reasonable explanation for the findings or a medical explanation may offer a reasonable explanation of the findings equally as well as an abusive cause.

Most significantly, the finding of the SBS triad of retinal hemorrhage (RH), subdural hematoma (SDH), and brain swelling is no longer sufficient for making the medical diagnosis of AHT. A closer look at more descriptive factors of each element of the triad is needed including: other causes of retinal bleeding may be found from noting the location, type and quantity of RH along with other findings of retinal injury; SDH may have occurred due to birth injury or a prior infection and an abnormal birth record or pediatric outpatient history may offer evidence of a chronic SDH with re-bleeding as the cause of a child’s sudden deterioration; and brain swelling due to hypoxia from non-abusive causes may be noted without invoking a theory that severe shaking has occurred. As a pediatrician I have the responsibility to both protect children and to preserve families by offering a thorough medical review of the all of the facts available and to examine the reasonableness and certainty of the medical opinions and diagnoses concluded from those facts.

Read more: Dr. Weintraub.

January 23, 2014

Evaluating The School Safety Expert Witness Part 7

In Evaluting An Expert Witness For School Safety Cases, school safety expert witness Michael Dorn writes:

Questions to Ask a Potential Expert Witness for School Safety Cases

...Attorneys, judges and insurance professionals are typically already familiar with general questions that should be asked of an expert. Some specific questions that might help more accurately gauge an expert’s suitability for a school safety case before the expert is retained and sent documents to review include:

“The key issues so far are (insert the issues that need to be evaluated). Do you feel you are qualified to serve as an expert witness for these issues?” If the answer is yes, ask the prospective expert witness to elaborate on the relevant experience.

“How many times have you served as an expert witness consultant in school safety cases?”

“Have you served as an expert for both the plaintiff and the defense?”

“Have you ever been disqualified as an expert? If so, why?”

“Have you ever withdrawn from a case or been withdrawn from a case by an attorney? If so, why?”

“Has an attorney ever terminated your services before a case was concluded? If so, why?”

“Have you ever been arrested or indicted? If so, what were the charges, in what court were they brought, and what were the dispositions of the case(s)?”

“Have you ever been terminated from a job or asked to resign? If so, please explain the circumstances.”

“Have you ever had any certifications or professional licenses revoked or suspended? If so, what license or certification and for what reason?”

“Have you or your firm ever been a party to a civil action including mediation or arbitration arising out of working as a consultant? If so, please explain."

“Have you or your firm ever filed an open records request with a school district, regulatory agency or government agency? If so, please explain when, why and how many times you or your firm did so.”

“Have you or your firm ever filed a formal protest when you or your firm were not awarded a bid for a school safety project? If so, please explain when, why and how many times you or your firm did so.”

“Have you ever had a client terminate or attempt to terminate a contract for professional services such as consulting, training, and assessment? If so, please explain when, why and how many times this has occurred.”

“If asked to do so, could you provide college transcripts and copies of training certificates for the education and training you list in your materials?”

Mr. Dorn is Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center.

January 21, 2014

Mortgages Expert Witness On Hard Money Lending Part 3

Mortgages expert witness Joffrey G. Long will moderate a special session on title insurance as part of the January 30-31 educational program presented by the California Mortgage Association in Universal City, CA. In Securing a mortgage expert witness: Types of real property lawsuits, Mr. Long writes:

There are many types of lawsuits involving loans secured by real property; they often fall into one of six general themes:
4) Loan servicing, default and modification issues: Cases involve what occurred after a loan was originated, including issues about application of payments; the processing, denial, or granting of loan modifications; and foreclosure.

5) Issues relating to licensing requirements and practices, or usury: Not as common as some of the other cases, these often center on the licensing of the originating organization or individuals, and their ability to have legally made or arranged the financing at issue. A related topic is usury, where a dispute exists over whether or not a loan was usurious, or if an exemption from usury applied.

6) Loan fraud issues: Advanced technology and a down economy have contributed to increases in both the quantity and complexity of direct real estate and lending related fraud. Forged documents, false reports, “straw” buyers or borrowers, fraudulent entities, falsified income, credit and appraisal documentation, and “short sale” fraud or fraud related to lender-foreclosed property comprise just a partial list. Having been defrauded and often unable to find or collect from the original perpetrator(s), parties often sue those that can be found and have assets or insurance coverage. These may include loan origination entities or officers, escrow holders or title insurers, appraisers, and loan or real estate brokerage firms.

Mr. Long has been a mortgage broker/lender in hard money and institutional lending since 1979, president of a mortgage company, past president and current education chair and director for the California Mortgage Assn. (Private Money Broker/Lender Trade Assn.)

Read more: Joffrey Long

January 20, 2014

Internet Security Expert Witnesses & The Internet Of Things

What areas of internet technology may internet security expert witnesses consult on? These experts may write reports and testify concerning internet devices, smart appliances, computer security intrusions, hacking, and more. As more objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gain the ability to communicate, malicious e-mails have now been sent by internet connected appliances including wireless speakers, televisions and at least one refrigerator. Guardian Liberty Voice reports that a smart refrigerator was among the more than 100,000 appliances and devices used by hackers to send out spam emails.

McKinsey and Company writes on smart appliances:

When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly. What’s revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention.

Read more from McKinsey.

January 20, 2014

Explosions Expert Witnesses & Grain Handling Facilities

Explosions expert witnesses may consult regarding dust explosions, flammable materials, combustion, and associated matters. On Monday, an explosion at the International Nurtrition animal feed processing plant in Omaha caused part of the facility to collapse and sent more than ten employees to the hospital. OSHA writes:

The grain handling industry is a high hazard industry where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Grain dust explosions are often severe, involving loss of life and substantial property damage. Over the last 35 years, there have been over 500 explosions in grain handling facilities across the United States, which have killed more than 180 people and injured more than 675.

January 17, 2014

Toxicology Expert Witness Testifies In Dallas Cowboys Player Trial

Toxicology expert witness Justin David Schwane testified in the manslaughter trial of Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent. The Dallas County Crime Lab toxicology chemist testified regarding blood alcohol calculations and determined that Brent had been drinking heavily before the accident that claimed the life of teammate Jerry Brown. Schwane went on to say that Brent may have had as many as 17 alcoholic drinks for his blood alcohol level to reach 0.189. Schwane tested three samples of Brent’s blood at the time of the arrest.

Brent drove his car at 110 mph in a 45 mph zone and crashed into a curb which caused the car to fly into the air.

January 16, 2014

Mortgages Expert Witness On Hard Money Lending Part 2

Mortgages expert witness Joffrey G. Long will moderate a special session on title insurance as part of the January 30-31 educational program presented by the California Mortgage Association in Universal City, CA. In Securing a mortgage expert witness: Types of real property lawsuits, Mr. Long writes:

There are many types of lawsuits involving loans secured by real property; they often fall into one of six general themes:
2) The commercial loan gone bad: In this case, again often involving loans originated in 2007 or before, (and with a surprising percentage originated in either 2006 or 2007) a commercial property owner or developer has obtained a loan, or often a series of loans from a commercial institution or private money lender.

Problems in these transactions often revolve around the manner in which the loans were originally set up or documented, claims that rates and terms were usurious, issues related to subsequent loans from the same provider, default penalties and default interest rates, advances or modifications, various lending and borrower entities, documentation, lien priority and matters related to title insurance coverage.

3) Private investor’s loss of capital: Here, the lender, rather than the borrower, has a complaint. In these cases, private investors who have invested funds in private money loans are suing the providers/organizers of the loan investment(s), (who may be loan brokers, “pool or fund” managers, or others who accept funds from investors) the borrowers, or other parties to the transaction. Issues revolve around the manner in which the funds were raised, duties of the provider to analyze and underwrite the loan, disclosure of risk, possible “self-dealing” and undisclosed conflicts of interest, violations of securities laws and failure to properly manage (service) the various aspects of the loan after origination.

Read more: Joffrey Long

January 13, 2014

Forensic Accounting Expert Witness On Corporate Securities Lawsuits Part 4

In EFFECTIVE VALUATION & LITIGATION SUPPORT IN CORPORATE SECURITIES LAWSUITS, forensic accounting expert witness Richard M. Squar, CPA, CVA, ABV, CFF, MBA-Taxation, writes:

In conjunction with statutory definitions of value, additional levels of value are analyzed for their applicability.


Relative Levels of Value
• Enterprise value
• Marketable minority interest value
• Nonmarketable minority interest value

Other Levels of Value
• Forced nature of transaction

The valuation expert considers the appropriateness and applicability of relative levels of value once the standard of value has been determined. Relative levels of value refine the valuation approach to further economic logic. This refinement involves appraising dissenting shareholders’ interests based on a percentage of the enterprise value (value including a premium for company control), discounting the enterprise value for lack of control to determine marketable minority interest value (value based on market prices), or further discounting due to lack of marketability of minority interests to determine nonmarketable minority interest value. Statutory definitions of value must allow for application of these concepts.

Certainly, if allowed by state statutory law in dissenting shareholders’ actions, such as a statutory merger, the forced nature of the transaction supports an economic argument that the dissenting shareholders should receive some premium above a minority interest value. The corporation is forcibly taking their shares, and all shareholders are compelled to tender and forgo future participation in the ownership of the company.

Richard M. Squar has over 23 years experience in public accounting providing expert advice in the areas of business valuations and litigation support; corporate, partnership and individual tax planning and representation before taxing authorities; and profit enhancement.

January 12, 2014

Environmental Forensics Expert Witnesses & West Virginia Chemical Leak

Environmental forensics expert witnesses may consult on environmental health and safety, soil/groundwater investigations, above ground and underground storage sites, and associated matters. In the news, hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents have been without tap water since Thursday after a chemical leak contaminated their water supply. On Friday the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Water and Waste Management issued a Cease Operations Order to Freedom Industries, Inc. and is now requiring the company to remove the contents in the 11 remaining above-ground storage tanks at its Etowah Terminal in Charleston. The chemical MCHM leaked from tanks and entered the Elk River on Thursday and then a water treatment facility. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection reports:

According to the order issued Friday night, Freedom Industries must begin, within 24 hours, removing all material from all above-ground storage tanks and store the material in an off-site area which provides adequate secondary containment.

Also within 24 hours, Freedom Industries must submit for approval an appropriate plan of corrective action which at a minimum shall include, among other things, a detailed plan to appropriately implement a remediation of all contaminated soil and/or groundwater and a plan and schedule for the ultimate disposition of the products stored in these tanks.
On Jan. 10, WVDEP continued its investigation of the release of MCHM from Freedom Industries’ facility. During the course of the investigation, the following was observed and documented:

In addition to the three above-ground storage tanks containing MCHM, 11 additional tanks were reported inside the same failed secondary containment area in which the MCHM leaked. The other materials being stored in the additional tanks include Calcium Chloride and Glycerin.

Freedom Industries has removed most of the MCHM from the above ground storage tanks and staged it off-site at Poca Blending, LLC in four large Baker tanks.

January 10, 2014

Expert Witness Engagement Letters

In I have been surprised, Meredith Hamilton, VP Marketing, Expert Communications, writes on engagement letters, most noticeably: attorneys have changed one or two provisions in the contract without notifying the expert and then sent it back signed without saying a word!

Back story: Last month I attended the FEWA Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter Dinner Meeting at the Tower Club in Dallas. Real estate expert Dr. Jack Friedman was presenting "Advertising and Promotion of Expert Services." And while the topic was of interest to me, in all honesty I was looking forward to hanging out with a couple of our clients I knew would be attending.

Well lo and behold if I didn't hear something that made me sit up straight and pay attention. Jack was discussing the elements and format of an engagement letter. He cautioned against sending as a Word document (or using "Compare Documents" feature if you did) because it could be altered without your knowledge. I thought to myself, "Surely not," but as I began shaking my head, the stories came out from the experts attending. Sure enough, attorneys have changed one or two provisions in the contract without notifying the expert and then sent it back signed without saying a word! It never would have occurred to me to check line-by-line like that, but at least three experts confirmed that this happens.

So two lessons to take from this: There is always something you can learn and check your engagement documents carefully!

Read more: http://www.expertcommunications.com/

January 9, 2014

Advertising Expert Witnesses

Advertising expert witnesses may consult and testify on issues including comparative advertising, deceptive ads, consumer behavior, and false advertising. On 1/9/14, FTC.org reported:

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that nine auto dealers agreed to settle deceptive advertising charges, and the agency is taking action against a 10th dealer, in a nationwide sweep focusing on the sale, financing, and leasing of motor vehicles.
According to the complaints, the dealers made a variety of misrepresentations in print, Internet, and video advertisements that violated the FTC Act, falsely leading consumers to believe they could purchase vehicles for low prices, finance vehicles with low monthly payments, and/or make no upfront payment to lease vehicles. One dealer even misrepresented that consumers had won prizes they could collect at the dealership. The FTC website shows an ad with an advertised price that was after a $5,000 down payment, but that detail was only noted in fine print at the bottom of the ad.

January 8, 2014

Mapping & Surveying Expert Witnesses

What areas may a mapping and surveying expert witness consult on? They may write reports, testify, and consult on issues involving land surveying and boundary line determination, title surveys, easements, and boundary determination. In Angle Points: Having a License Doesn't Make You an Expert, Michael Pallamary, PS, discusses what a professional engineer or land surveyor needs to qualify as an expert witness.

Not everyone is capable of being an expert. The earliest known recognition of the use of an engineering expert arose in 1782, when the noted civil engineer John Smeaton testified as to why Wells Harbor in Norfolk, England was silting up.

Michael Pallamary, PS, has been in the surveying profession since 1971. He is a frequent lecturer at conferences and seminars and teaches real property to attorneys and other members of the legal profession.

January 7, 2014

Evaluating The School Safety Expert Witness Part 6

In Evaluting An Expert Witness For School Safety Cases, school safety expert witness Michael Dorn writes:

Questions to Ask a Potential Expert Witness for School Safety Cases

...Top experts usually welcome and respect intelligent and careful clients who take the time to ensure the capabilities of the expert and the needs of the client are a good match. The most qualified experts know that the closer the prospective client looks, the better the expert witness will look compared to less qualified individuals. Though some experts might answer these questions untruthfully, an attorney might be able to recover damages from the expert if the case is lost due to the false claims of the expert.

Interviewing an expert with appropriate questions during the initial meeting can eliminate many potential problems. While most attorneys who contact a potential expert witness naturally focus on the case they have, it may be more productive to instead focus on whether the person is the right expert for the case. In most cases where I served as expert witness, the attorneys were referred to me by a third party and already knew about me and had vetted me to some degree. But there are things the attorneys would not be easily able to assess without asking me directly. For example, it would be hard for them to determine whether I have ever been withdrawn from a case or fired by an attorney unless they asked me directly. Though I have never experienced either, an attorney would likely not be able to determine this without inquiring.

Mr. Dorn is Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center.

January 4, 2014

Forensic Accounting Expert Witness On Corporate Securities Lawsuits Part 3

In EFFECTIVE VALUATION & LITIGATION SUPPORT IN CORPORATE SECURITIES LAWSUITS, forensic accounting expert witness Richard M. Squar, CPA, CVA, ABV, CFF, MBA-Taxation, writes:

The appropriate standard of value to apply is where the expert often begins.

• Fair Market Value
• Investment Value
• Intrinsic Value
• Fair Value

The purpose and objective of the valuation determines the applicable standard of value. For many of the corporate securities valuation issues, the applicable standard of value is mandated by law and continuously refined based upon court decisions. This can present some concern. Why? Not only is the law fluid and ever-changing, but the facts and circumstances assumed in the determination of value can differ by state, which creates confusion and inconsistent application.

Fair market value is the amount at which property would change hands between a willing seller and a willing buyer when neither is acting under compulsion and when both have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts. Investment value is substantially the same as in real estate terminology as “value to a particular investor based on individual investment requirements.”

Intrinsic value reflects a value determination from examination of the corporation by stock analysts tempered by how noted particular attributes are viewed by one analyst versus another.

For stock studies, intrinsic value is used by a security analyst to determine the appropriate price for a stock. A “fundamental analysis” of the company’s assets, earning power, and other pertinent factors to the specific circumstances is performed. Intrinsic value is a key factor in determining damages relating to corporate securities fraud. One primary theory of calculating damages in fraud cases, the “Market Model” method, focuses on dividing the market price of the shares on the relevant date(s) into: (1) the security’s intrinsic value, the value that would be the market price if not for the fraud; and (2) the fraud component, which is the amount of the market price less its intrinsic value. Application of calculations and differences occurring at dates of alleged fraud and company corrective disclosures are used to determine damages.

Fair value is a legally created standard of value that applies to certain specific transactions. When there is actual or possible stockholder dissent, research of the legal precedents applicable to each case is necessary.

In most cases, a definition of fair value will not be clear and concise. California is amongst a few states with dissolution statutes (California Code Section 2000) in which minority shareholders can trigger a corporate dissolution under certain circumstances. A study of case law and precedents, however, does not necessarily lead one to the same definition of fair value using dissolution statutes in comparison to dissenting shareholder statutes.

Richard M. Squar has over 23 years experience in public accounting providing expert advice in the areas of business valuations and litigation support; corporate, partnership and individual tax planning and representation before taxing authorities; and profit enhancement.

January 2, 2014

Child Psychology Expert Witness Will Testify In Child Care Assault Case

Child psychology expert witness Dr. Sheri S. Corning, Texas Psychology Service, PLLC, will testify on behalf of Christa Williams-Yates and Mark Yates in their case against Kid City Child Care Learning and Sports Center LLC and Symons Kid City Management LLC of Galveston, TX. In the Galveston County District Court case, the Yates claim that their daughter suffered a dislocated arm after being "violently yanked" by a staff member in 2012.

After the incident, the Yates describe their daughter as distrustful of adults and acting out violently. Child psychology expert witnesses may consult on child psychological trauma and conduct disorder, as well as related topics.