What To Do When Your Home Explodes Into Smithereens!

An explosion on Tuesday June 27, 2017 at 1717 Hercules Avenue in Evansville, Indiana was reported at 8:45 in the morning. Sharon F. Mand and Kathleen Woolems were killed when the home was leveled in the blast. A two-year statute of limitations was about to expire when three victims (Michael Kneer, Tara McKnight and her son) filed a lawsuit against a CenterPoint Energy Company currently merging with Vectren, which is allegedly responsible.

Initial reports and a number of subsequent rumors suggested that the blast had occurred because of a faulty oxygen rank or even a meth lab. Needless to say, the rumors didn’t get the story quite right.

According to a news release, “The multiple investigations of this incident by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Evansville Fire Department, the Evansville Police Department, and the attorneys for the victims did not reveal any evidence to support these rumors.”

Continuing, it said, “Investigators for the government agencies and the parties carefully sifted through the debris and found no evidence of a drug lab or oxygen tanks. Instead, the evidence supports the conclusion that, given the magnitude of the overpressure event which was heard and felt by numerous eyewitnesses and neighbors, the tragic explosion occurred due to the ignition of accumulated natural gas in the home.”

Such an accident due to accumulated natural gas is extraordinarily rare. Even when these gases are ignited, they are normally fast-burning and there is rarely enough pressure to result in so much damage. So why did this explosion occur?

Attorneys for the plaintiffs have requested that Vectren provide service records to shed light on the blast’s origin, including when technicians for the company were last present at the home and what they were doing. Vectren did not cooperate. Assumedly this information will be provided with the relevant documents via court order should a judge allow the case to move forward as expected.

A statement by Vectren suggests that the company does not take responsibility for the tragic accident: “Pursuant to a third-party investigation, which was completed immediately following the incident, it was determined neither Vectren natural gas nor electric facilities were at fault for the explosion.”

If that’s true, then why don’t we know how the explosion occurred yet?

The company is currently seeking approval for a new power plant that would replace an older coal-burning model. The proposed power plant will generate between 800 and 900 megawatts of energy using natural gas — which might not sound so great when homes are exploding due to natural gas buildup!

When Is The Prosecution Of A Crime Not Restricted By A Statute Of Limitations?

A statute of limitations places a cap in the amount of time in which criminal or civil litigation can proceed. This idea was conceived as way to preserve evidence. The more time passes before a case is tried, the less evidence will exist. The more time passes before a case is tried, the less likely it is for witnesses to come forward. A statute of limitations makes it more likely that cases will be tried soon after a crime is committed, but in some cases this cap will tie the prosecution’s hands, making it impossible to try someone for a serious crime.

A good example of this is rape. Dozens of states still have a statute of limitations for cases involving sexual assault, ranging from an absurd three years to a more reasonable three decades. California changed its own laws following the slew of accusations levied against former comedian Bill Cosby, most of which could not be tried. He is currently serving three to ten years in prison for the crime.

The crimes he allegedly committed were so serious, and it begs the question: are there any crimes for which the prosecution is not restricted by a statute of limitations?

The number is few. In order for this burden to be lifted, a crime has to meet a specific standard: society as a whole must feel the crime is unthinkable. Most of the time murder fits this mold. However, it should be noted that judges can, and do, dismiss murder charges if a long period of time has elapsed between the crime and the prosecution. Usually these cases were already cold.

Many states lift the statute of limitations when crimes are committed against or using minors. Kidnapping is an example of a crime that almost always carries no statute. Others include sex offenses (only against minors), violent crime, and arson. Surprisingly, forgery often falls into this category as well. The latter is a stark reminder that we have a lot of work to do as a society when it comes to categorizing crimes and punishments and limitations in a way that can be deemed proportional.

Some states levy or lift a statute of limitations based on categorization of felony. Some categories have one, and some don’t. This is dependent on the crime itself, and some states don’t abide by this rule.

How Do You Prepare For A Deposition?

The court system can be a scary environment for those not accustomed to working in it each and every day–and heck, it can be just as scary for the lawyers and prosecutors and judges who spend so many hours each day with people’s lives on the line. A deposition is a sort of pretrial motion during the discovery process. During a deposition, sworn testimony and evidence is presented.

Depositions function as a means to streamline the court process. They make it faster and more efficient so judges have more time to hear more cases. They’re part of the reason that your right to a speedy trial is possible.

That said, depositions are something for which you need to prepare. You should take it as seriously as if you were in court at trial.

  1. Don’t lose your temper. Both the lawyer and prosecutor will be attempting to gauge your personality and responsiveness in certain situations of stress. Is it easy to get the required information? Is it easy to trick you into providing information that may damage or repair someone’s case? Could you be used to misguide a jury into believing something that isn’t the truth? Prepare your responses.
  2. Don’t answer without hearing the question. Make sure you think. Know exactly what you intend to say before you say it, and listen to your own response before your lips form those words. Questions are often meant to be confusing, so ask for clarification if you need it. A pause before you respond to the question will also help the court reporter accurately transcribe. Provide verbal responses. “Yes” or “no” when applicable. Don’t mutter.
  3. Don’t make assumptions or guesses when providing testimony. If you’re unsure of the accuracy of your information, then respond as such. “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall” will better serve you during a deposition. If you need to approximate an answer, then use words that define it as such. Never make up information simply because you think you should have the answer for which they’re looking.
  4. If there are documents used during a deposition, read them through before you arrive. Check with your lawyer to see what’s available to you.
  5. Whenever you feel too tired or confused, nod to your lawyer in order to call for a break. Don’t be caught in a lie or contradiction because you were too afraid to ask for a short recess.

New Pennsylvania Law Addresses Improper Personal Drone Use

Although parodied in an episode of South Park years ago (see video below),  Pennsylvania is finally addressing improper drone usage when Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 78 on October 12. Drones have been available for the average everyday consumer for quite a while and while some use it to take videos of nature, aerial views of properties or weddings, some use it to well, take surveillance of their friends and neighbors unsuspectingly.

Now, Pennsylvania will start imposing criminal penalties on improper drone use such as using the device to spy on other people. The new law goes into effect around December 12th so for those peeping toms out there, now is the time to launch. But in all seriousness, the law also prevents municipalities from regulating drones, which is at least a step in a positive direction. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Jeff Pyle of Armstrong County not a representative from Midland and Odessa.

The new law will impose a fine up to $300 if someone uses a drone to invade someone’s privacy or if the drone puts someone in physical harm. The new law also addresses people using drones to deliver contraband to inmates or patients in a mental hospital. It classifies this act as a 2nd-degree felony. There’s a serious penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

However, this law just imposes fines on everyday civilians. Law enforcement officials, government employees, first responders and utility companies are exceptions. This is not the first state to pass this type of law. Other states include California, Florida, and Mississippi.

General Information About Arbitration

Lenzo and Reis, New Jersey Employment Attorneys, explain that arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, and it is seen as being that of a private judicial resolution to some form of dispute rather than arguing your case in court. When you proceed with an arbitrational hearing, most times one arbitrator or a tribunal is utilized. The tribunal generally consists of the desired odd number of arbitrators which have been administered by that of a legal system. The odd number is solely for the purpose of eliminating the issue of the result being tied since no real decision would be able to be made in such a case.

Most times either three arbitrators or simply one arbitrator is used. As a result, the parties which are in a dispute have wilfully handed over their power to an arbitration or a tribunal to decide the outcome of their situation. However, it should be noted, that an arbitration process is widely considered to be the alternate method when compared to that of taking a matter to court. And, it is both binding and final as if it were in a court, therefore, there are no negotiations, conciliations or mediations.

Typically, the principles of arbitrators are quite simple and are briefly explained in the following. An arbitrator’s main purpose is to attain the most unbiased resolution to any situation without delays or expenses which are truly unnecessary. The parties which are involved should be granted the freedom of their agreement or disagreement in the way that their dispute should be resolved. In addition to what was already mentioned, any court of law should never get involved in any arbitration process.

Both tribunal members and arbitrators are generally appointed by one of three ways which are briefly illustrated in the following. Arbitrators as well as tribunal members are commonly appointed by the parties who are in dispute, this is done when they agree mutually or when each party appoints one arbitrator. They are also appointed by that of any existing tribunal member, this falls into the case where both parties have appointed one arbitrator and then one of the two arbitrators appoints a third member to join the tribunal. And, the third method of appointment is by that of an external party such as an institution, an individual or the court.

In addition, arbitrations are also classified into three categories which will be briefly described in the following. The first is that of commercial arbitrations, and just like its name, these arbitrators settle common disputes between two parties, or more so, two commercial enterprises. The second is that of consumer arbitration, these arbitrators aid in settling any dispute which may arise between a supplier of services or goods and a supplier. And last but not least, a law arbitration is that which involves the settling of employment disputes which are divided into an interest arbitration and a rights arbitration.

As we conclude our article, we have just looked at what is arbitration. We have also looked at the core principles of arbitration as well as how both tribunal members and arbitrators are appointed. And, we have also looked at the three categories of arbitrations and where they fit into society.

PA Lawmakers Might Change Statute of Limitations After Sexual Abuse Report

The Catholic Church was delivered a bombshell after a shocking report detailing the deepest levels of sexual abuse of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania. The report outlined that since 1947, within 6 dioceses, there were more than 300 “predator priests” and over 1,000 reported victims, many of who are not within the statute of limitations to file criminal charges. Pennsylvania lawmakers are preparing to vote on whether to either eliminate the statute of limitations and make the window for filing lawsuits longer.

As it currently stands, a victim of child abuse has 18 years to file charges against their abuser. If that time has expired, the law states that the victim can file civil charges against their abuses until they are 30 years old and they can file criminal charges until they are 50 years old. The new bill, SB 261, that is being presented to the state House would remove the time limit completely and raise the civil lawsuit age to 50.

The grand jury that released report recommended removing the statute of limitations stating that “no piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of child sex abuse will find the strength to come forward.” However, this new bill does not help the current victims of sex abuse who have aged out. It will not apply retroactively so to speak. But there are lawmakers who are fighting for those who have been wronged such as state Representative Mark Rozzi who wants to amend the bill to include a 2-year window for anyone who has been a victim to file charges regardless of how long ago the abuse happened.

This isn’t the first time a bill like this has been proposed in the State Senate but they have failed to reach votes. Due to the current controversy House Majority Leader Dave Reed expects this to get to the voting stages this fall. The bill has been passed in the Senate unanimously.

How To Protect Yourself Against Online Identity Theft

Just because you have your credit card, social security number, and other sensitive documents securely on you, it does not mean you cannot become the victim of identity theft. With the boost in popularity of the Internet, more and more people become victims every day. Here are some great tips that will help you stay safe.

Use Unique Passwords

When you are setting passwords for websites, make sure that you select a combination that is unique. It is common for people to use things like their pet’s name, date of birth and other information that may be common knowledge, and this can lead to disaster. If someone is able to guess your password, it means that they can access all of your information.

For this reason, it is important that you choose something that is not easy to guess. In case you need some help creating the perfect one, you should use a site that helps generate random strings of letters and numbers.

Purchase From Trusted Sites

There are numerous websites out there that promise consumers the best deals on anything they could ever want to buy. The problem with this lies in the fact that all merchants are not created equal. You do not want to head to a site in search of discounts and you end up with your identity being taken away from you. The best way to get around this problem would be to only buy items from trustworthy sites that you are familiar with.

Download The Right Software

You should not use your computer without making sure that all of the best software is downloaded. There are several types of programs that need to be there in order to ensure your safety. This list includes:

  • Antivirus protection
  • Protection against malware, spyware and other sneaky programs
  • A firewall
  • A pop-up blocker

As long as you place all of these on your system, you should be able to relax on the Web knowing that you are not going to be vulnerable to any identity threats.

It may seem like a sad state of affairs when you have to jump through hoops in order to make sure that you are not too vulnerable when you are online. Even so, you should make sure to place some focus on the advice here. Otherwise, there is a chance that someone may gain unauthorized access to your information.

What Really Is Commercial Litigation?

Birth injury lawyer and Commercial litigation involve business issues. In fact, it is a broad field of law that involves issues between businesses. It can involve every type of dispute that arises between various businesses. There are many commercial litigation situations out there. In fact, being involved in any type of dispute can negatively affect the image of your business as well as your individual livelihood. That is where you need the services of a reputable and experienced commercial litigation attorney. Such a professional can help solve your dispute and clear the name of your business. Here are the most common types of commercial litigation situations out there.

Contract disputes are quite common among businesses. It can arise in a number of different situations. For example, if a supplier fails to deliver the goods to your company according to the terms of your agreement, you may have to solve such an issue through the commercial litigation process. On the other hand, an employee may have a dispute with his or her employment contract. This also falls under commercial litigation and would require the services of a reputed commercial litigation attorney. A contract is a legally binding document between two or more parties involved in it. It creates an obligation for each party to do or not do certain things during the process. Each party is obliged to perform the agreed-upon contractual duty. If a party fails to act according to the contract, a breach of contract occurs. The non-breaching party may file a case against the wrongful party via the commercial litigation process. You should work with a reliable commercial litigation attorney at all times when filing such a case.

Corporate disputes are quite common in the commercial litigation field. Businesses – corporations and partnerships – may face various legal disputes from time to time. These disputes usually fall under commercial litigation. There could be disputes among the partners or shareholders of a business. That is where corporate litigation comes in handy. You should make sure to choose the right commercial litigation attorney in the area. Your research is very important when picking the right lawyer for your case. You can search Google or Yahoo for this purpose. Make sure to check the reputation and experience of the attorney when choosing the right one. That way you are assured of the services of the best commercial litigation lawyer in the area.

Pennsylvania Passes a Bill Expanding the Legalities of Fireworks

Just in time for the biggest firework holiday of the year, (July 4th), Pensylvania lawmakers passed House Bill 452. Houe Bill 452 expands the class of fireworks to include larger, aerial fireworks, which were illegal prior to the new bill. Bill 452 was officially passed on October 30, 2017, and was passed with the intention of repealing and replacing the Fireworks Act of 1939.

What are the Different Types of Fireworks?

The Department of Agriulture spokesman, Will Nichols, broke fireworks down into three different categories. The first category is ‘pop’. The pop category contains small fireworks, like sparklers. The next category is called ‘bang’. The bang category gets a little more serious as they are still floor fireworks, but they are more like fountains that spray upward without leaving the ground. In this category, you will see floor fireworks that may shoot up, but do not get a lot of height. The ‘boom’ category is for the fireworks that were made legal in October. In the boom category, you have larger aerial fireworks like bottle rockets, roman candles, and mortars (500 mg of explosive material).

What are the Restrictions of Purchasing Fireworks?

Upon entering a firework store, you will be asked to show ID and sign a waiver that you will comply with the local rules of your town or state. In addition, you must be 18 years of age or older to purchase fireworks.

Why is Pennsylvania Passing the New Bill?

Well, as much as they want the residents of Pennsylvania to enjoy the nation’s birthday, that may not be the entire reason for passing the new bill. Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to use the sale of fireworks to fix budget issues the state is having. The state plans to place a six percent tax on the fireworks, but they won’t stop there, as they plan to place an additional 12 percent fireworks tax on the explosives. According to the Associated Press, the state House predicts that this new law will generate greater than $9 million each year.

Pennsylvania Consider Offering Sports Betting

On Monday, the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protect Act, a federal law that prohibited states from allowing sports betting to become legal. This decision was made because the Supreme Court believed that the states should have the power to make this decision on the state level without control of the federal government.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board now has the opportunity to create new rules and regulations involving sports betting that will fall under Pennsylvania’s Act 42 the law that allowed a huge gaming expansion signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in October 2017.

Licensed casinos in the state will now be able to apply for a sports wagering license to conduct sports betting either on location at the casino, an off-track betting location or online. However, it is very expensive to apply for a sports wagering license. The fee is $10 million with a renewal fee of $250,000. Not to mention the high tax rate of 34% to the federal government, 1% to the county and 1% to the municipality.

Governor Wolf believes that the new revenue from the sports wagering licenses will increase yearly budgets for other government programs like education and healthcare. However, this didn’t come under intense criticism as others believe that Pennsylvania should not rely on the public to help balance the state budget.