Editor’s Choice: Top Five Legal News Stories of the Day

Posted August 15, 2011 in Jury Awards by Heather McGowan

Here are some news stories we thought you’d find interesting:


  • Flood insurance reminder. Across the nation, it’s been a rollercoaster ride in terms of the weather this spring and summer. Your afternoon at the pool may end up washed out by flash flood conditions, as in many New Jersey counties. Don’t think about flood insurance after your basement floods.


    Set aside some time to go over your insurance and product warranty contracts, and make sure you’re high and dry at home before heading out for summer and vacation fun. Review your insurance from time to time – your insurance company is. Keep up on the age of your sump pump or hot water heater, and whether warranty protection still applies.

    Know what loss types your insurance covers, and how much your insurer will pay. You probably have less coverage for claims from sewer and drain backup than you think. Like the TV ads say, you don’t have to live next to water to need flood insurance, which covers flood losses standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t. Water finds its way, and hopefully it isn’t into your home.

  • Baby-selling ring ends with lawyer’s guilty plea on conspiracy charge. A California lawyer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, ending her role in a baby-selling ring. The ring centered on surrogate mothers who received donated embryos in procedures performed in the Ukraine. Defendants also broke California laws based on false statements related to California surrogate contracts.

    Potential adoptive parents were told the babies became available when surrogate contracts fell apart, and they paid fees of around $100,000 to complete the adoptions. Federal authorities say that children won’t be removed from adoptive families.

    Adoption costs are high, both in terms of emotion and finances, and there’s no guaranty on how anyone’s adoption journey will end. No matter your role in an adoption, work with reputable adoption agencies and lawyers, learn all you can about adoption, ask questions and demand answers.

  • Things to think about as you start a new work week. What’s your co-worker’s real story? US Sen. Charles Schumer proposed a bill requiring background checks for all employees of all utility company types, including water, electric and gas. Not all employees go through the rigorous background checks that are standard for nuclear power plant staff.

    Utility plants are a prime potential target for terrorists, and terrorist groups look for recruits among unhappy utility employees.

    Pass the background check and you may find your employer is taking a new interest in your health. Wellness programs yield employer savings for health insurance, and perhaps better worker performance.

    Some do find concern when employees face higher costs for not participating in wellness programs or making unhealthy choices such as smoking. Program promoters are quick to point out compliance with health care and discrimination laws.

  • Watching out for water hazards at your local pool. While pool hours and summer days are growing shorter, think about safety and awareness as you grab what’s left of summer fun. One Chicago woman ended up with a broken nose and a concussion after hitting submerged and unmarked metal bars separating the shallow and deep ends of a local pool. The park district honored the woman’s request to mark the bars so nobody else gets hurt.

    While accidents do happen, and negligence may mean there’s someone liable for your losses, do your best to keep yourself safe. Whether you’re at work, at play or just out in the world, prevention is better than needing a cure.

  • Mortgage fraud is still out there. Mortgage fraud is part of the reason honest and qualified borrowers are facing headaches when it comes to refinancing or getting a new home loan. An annual FBI mortgage fraud report finds fraud rates haven’t declined in the past couple of years. Some types of fraud are hard to detect, hard to stop, and remain profitable for perpetrators.

    Who is behind the fraud? Buyers, real estate professionals, from sales and mortgage brokers and agents to appraisers, people working in the industry without valid licenses, and even organized crime. Falsifying loan documents to qualify buyers and properties remains a common method to commit fraud.

    Mortgage fraud costs everyone, from higher loan costs to more stringent lending standards, and for some, it means the loss of their homes.

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