Recently, the U.S. Patent office cancelled several trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins organization because they found the name to be "disparaging to Native Americans." This is a huge step in the right direction in leveraging Washington's owner Dan Snyder into changing the team name to something not so blatantly racist. I use the word leveraging because that is the only way that Mr. Snyder will change the name. No amount of reasoning or pleading will make him understand how offensive his team's moniker really is. Last year the President of the United States said if he were in his shoes and knew the name offended a group of people, he would change the name. 50 United States Senators... fifty ... sent a letter to the NFL pleading for them to take action against Washington's organization for its overt use of a racial slur. Larry King recently interviewed Terry Bradshaw and they both agreed the name should be changed. A high school in Oregon has recently changed its name from the Redskins to the Red Hawks. Churches across the nation have urged boycotts of Washington's football team, and the list goes on and on. "Never," that all Dan has to say about it.
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By now we've all learned about General Motors' faulty ignition switches, responsible for dozens of deaths (the number is probably numerous unnecessary injuries for its customers. Jim Bordas pioneered certain types of automobile product liability cases decades ago, including the first second-impact seatback collapse case won nationwide, in Strope v. Honda , so these reports are something we watch carefully. What interested me most about the news coverage though, is what we didn't hear or read about the history of this issue. GM's own Valukas report is over 300 pages, so it's understandable a lot of reporters didn't read it all. New accounts tended to focus on the summary, where the report chalked up GM's scandalous behavior as its "failure to understand" a "complicated mystery." But when someone tells you something in plain words and you ignore it - that's not a "failure to understand" a "mystery," it's willful blindness that in this case had many, many fatal results. News sources especially liked a yarn GM spun about how, if only the part number had been changed by a lonely, careless engineer, these deaths could have been prevented. You probably heard that one a lot. Amber Marie Rose, killed in 2006 because of GM's faulty switch (pictured at right), did not live long enough to hear GM spin that tale for its present-day PR purposes.
Jury duty, oh those two dirty little words...or are they? Not too many people get excited when they see that card arrive in the mail--the notification that it's their turn to be a potential juror for the upcoming term in their county. Some people even feel a sigh of relief when their term has passed and they hadn't been called. It has even been joked about in many movies and ridiculed in conversations as to the punishment of jury duty. I ask you to take a different look at things. No matter what type of case you are called to evaluate, do you realize how important a juror is to a case? The jurors ultimately are the decision makers. You decide the case. Of course, you are aided by the guidance and expertise of the judge of that particular court, but you get to listen to the facts of the case and determine the outcome.
I work at a law firm. A really great one. The people within it work tirelessly within each of our now three locations to make certain that justice is served for our clients. I, however, am not a lawyer. I'm not a paralegal. Or a legal secretary. I'm not a legal assistant and I don't handle accounting. I'm quite certain that many of the nearly 40 people that work together to make this law firm the most preferred in the region aren't exactly certain what I do here. They know that from my office comes a lot of noise, laughter, occasional frustration and somehow, someway, exciting and interesting things happen. I am one part of a team of creative minds that help to manage the communications and philanthropic outreach of the firm. What does that mean in real life? Well...it means we wear a ton of hats. Every given day is different. One minute we can be on the phone with Keith Urban's tour manager coordinating a special event for Jamboree in the Hills and the next we can be collaborating with the media to discuss a recent verdict or community issue. Today it could be designing billboards; tomorrow it could be editing a radio commercial or assisting with the Driving For a Cure annual golf scramble for breast cancer survivors. We write press releases, design brochures, coordinate newsletters and execute the social media outreach for the firm. Anywhere across the region, if you see that now very recognizable Bordas & Bordas shield logo, chances are it passed through our hands.
My mother, Carolyn, just turned 83. About a year and a half ago, she bought an iPad! Mom started out with a Kindle and she really loved it. After I received an iPad as a gift from my son, Mom took a gander at it and decided she wanted one of those. So we jumped in the car, went up to Best Buy and she bought an iPad! Mind you, my mother never really used a computer and, in fact, was scared to death of them. So the iPad was truly a new experience. Back up twenty or more years. Pap-Pap Wally, my mother's father, was in his late seventies when he bought his first computer. It was from Radio Shack and had a cassette tape player hooked to it! He loved it and taught himself how to write programs in DOS and use spreadsheets. He bought a new computer about every six months (much to my grandmother's dismay). Pap-Pap Wally was a whiz, especially considering his age. He attempted to teach my mother but she was so afraid she would delete something or make the thing crash, she didn't do very well. Believe it or not, Pap-Pap Wally was instrumental in my beginning interest in computers. When I left work to begin my family in 1980, the office I worked at had just purchased a Word Processor. I didn't get an opportunity to even use it. In 1986, a friend and I opened up a children's used clothing business and decided we should get a computer to keep track of our inventory. So I went to Pap-Pap Wally to take a few lessons! I think my grandfather would now be proud of his daughter and her iPad!
The most recent school shooting in Oregon made its way across my Twitter timeline with the same urgency of a story about the most recent baseball player to be the highest paid at his position. After a full day, I couldn't have told you the exact number of casualties, the names of those who died, or who the shooter was. In fact, I would imagine the majority of people reading this would have a better chance naming every starting quarterback in the NFL than one kid involved in the Oregon shooting. Compare that to Columbine High School, where in 1999 two young men named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire and killed 12 of their fellow students. For weeks, the Columbine story was all we saw on news stations across the country. The names and faces of the victims were etched into our minds, and the shooters' lives unraveled before us. As a nation we truly grieved. Let us fast forward to 2014. School shootings are becoming so commonplace we, without realizing it, brush them off just as we would a mosquito on a soggy summer night. According to The Washington Post, since January 2013 there have been at least 74 other instances of shootings either on or near school grounds. Seventy-Four-in eighteen months. That averages out to one school shooting every 7 days. When I read that figure everything stopped for several moments...and the magnitude of one school shooting per week for the last year and a half sunk in.
Tune into this week's episode of the Bordas & Bordas Legal Review where host Jamie Bordas and guest Chris Regan discuss the Ed O'Bannon law suit against the NCAA that seeks to allow college players to be paid for use of their names, images and likenesses. In the second half of the show, Jamie and Chris discuss GM's difficulties with its defective switch that caused more than a dozen deaths across the country, in a variety of Chevy models. Learn about product liability, antitrust law, and a host of other interesting topics on this week's episode of the Bordas & Bordas Legal Review.
On Friday afternoon, a Wheeling jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty in the much anticipated Craig Peacock Trial. The trial, which focused on the death of Wheeling Jesuit student, Kevin Figaniak, who died after a fight with the defendant, was widely publicized. Within minutes of the jury returning a verdict, social media began to explode with posts and comments. Many of the local news outlets posted BREAKING:NEWS updates informing the public of the recent findings. People were quick to chime in with their opinions on the merits of the case and the decision of the jury. Many were stereotyping pipeliners, some poking fun at the justice system, yet others gently reminded the public that they were not part of the jury, and therefore, did not hear the facts of the case as presented. I, like everyone, was deeply saddened by this story. After all, I am a mother, and the thought of a phone call telling me that my college student child had gotten into a street fight and subsequently died, makes me sick to my stomach. I am also young enough to remember college and nights of drinking and partying and just how horribly alcohol can affect people- their minds, their judgment, their memory, their impulses. Nothing about the story of a young person losing their life is justifiable or excusable. Losing a child is one of the most heart wrenching things I can fathom. And when alcohol is involved, sadly, it is also the most preventable. All of these emotions- shock, sadness, confusion, got me thinking about the significant right and responsibility that we all hold as citizens of the United States.
A question that law students and attorneys are often asked is "so, what made you want to become a lawyer?" The answers to this question are limitless, and certainly a variety of factors influences one's decision to pursue a legal career, but one that I have heard from many of my friends and colleagues is that a family member or other respected person in their life is an attorney. This was not the case for me. Having said that, you may assume that this is because I was not closely acquainted with any lawyers during the time that I was figuring out my career path. Also not the case. My father, who is one of my biggest heroes and role models, is a lawyer, and a good one, at that. You may be wondering, then, how it is that my father's being an attorney did not influence me to become an attorney.
Bordas & Bordas was in trial and I was in a hurry, trying to file a document that had to be hand-delivered to the judge and to our attorneys who were in trial. I was in a very big rush, and one of the clerks asked me a question. When I turned to answer her as I was stepping into the elevator, my car key slipped out of my hand and fell though the small opening at the bottom of the elevator and disappeared into the shaft below. The hole was only about an inch wide. "Oh My Stars!" I said. The clerk looked at me and said "Was that your phone that dropped down into the elevator shaft?" "No," I responded, "It was my car key." Even more unfortunately, it was a car key belonging to my husband's car, and he was out of town. She looked at me and said, "What are you going to do?" I told her "I'll worry about it later, but right now I have to get back upstairs and deliver these documents to the judge and the attorney from our office in trial." The clerk was kind enough to call the building maintenance staff for me to get some help. This is when my story got really interesting. First, I had to call my husband and ask him where the extra key was for his car. He reminded me that I had just dropped the extra key down the elevator shaft, as he had his own keys with him. Things were really starting to look bad for me. The maintenance gentleman told me it was a one in a million shot to retrieve my key. He also said that they would have to call an elevator company out of Pittsburgh to come down to stop the elevator.