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New Year’s Shout Out To Our F&B All Stars

Randy Freking

We congratulate members of Freking and Betz for their selections as Ohio Super Lawyers/Rising Stars by Thomson Reuters: Kati Neff (Rising Star among Labor and Employment Attorneys); Mark Napier (Super Lawyer among Personal Injury Lawyers); Kelly Myers (Super Lawyer among Labor and Employment Attorneys and Rated as one of the Top 25 Female Attorneys in Cincinnati); and Randy Freking (Super Lawyer among Employment Litigation Attorneys, One of Top 100 Lawyers in Ohio, and one of Top 50 Attorneys in Cincinnati.)

Selections are based upon nominations by peers, independent research by a third party research team, and evaluations that result in rankings in practice areas.

5% of lawyers in Ohio are selected as Super Lawyers; only 2.5% are identified as Rising Stars.

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Forced Arbitration Is Bad for All Americans

Mark Napier

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on December 18 on the pending Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013 (S.878 / H.R. 1844.) This bill is critical to employees, nursing home residents, credit card holders, banking customers, and other consumers – virtually all Americans. Forced arbitration language is becoming commonplace in employment handbooks and consumer agreements. Persons who agree to forced arbitration typically never know they forfeited their rights until a dispute arises.

Forced arbitration takes away the rights of the employee or consumer to seek redress in our courts. Forced arbitration favors Big Business who gets to call the shots on where, when, how, and who decides the employee’s or consumer’s dispute. Forget about an unbiased jury or judge, discovery procedures to uncover evidence, and reasonable costs. Without passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act, Big Business gets to eliminate most employment civil rights and consumer protections. Congress must protect Americans from forced arbitration and restore Americans’ rights to seek justice in our courts with unbiased jurors, not hired arbitrators paid for by Big Business.

Please email your U.S. Senator and Representative today to urge passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act.  You may also contact Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Whistleblower Protections for Truck Drivers

Mark Napier

Big trucks, truckers, and trucking companies are subject to numerous federal and state safety regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations apply to any commercial vehicle over 10,001 lbs. engaged in interstate commerce. These same regulations, which have been adopted in Ohio and most states, are also applicable to intrastate commerce. The trucking and logistics industry is highly regulated because big truck crashes often result in fatalities or permanent, horrible injuries.

The trucking and logistics industry is also quite competitive. Any experienced trucker will verify that trucking company managers and dispatchers often pressure the trucker to get a load to a destination by a certain date and time that guarantees the trucker must violate mandated hours of service regulations and speed limits. When big trucks are traveling at an excessive speed, and with a driver who is fatigued, it’s a recipe for disaster for the trucker and other motorists.

In order to protect truckers who say no to their employers that want them to violate safety regulations, the federal law The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 was passed. Section 405 of this Act protects drivers, mechanics, freight handlers, and certain other employees in the transportation industry from retaliation from their employer when reporting safety violations.

If you as a trucker are considering reporting unsafe practices by your employer, or you have done so and have experienced retaliation, consider phoning Freking & Betz at 513-721-1975 to schedule a consultation.

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United States Senator Explains “The Dwindling Jury”

Randy Freking

On June 10, United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a member of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and a former U.S. Attorney, wrote an article that explains how the Supreme Court and Congress have watered down the Constitution’s guarantee of a right to a civil jury trial.

Many of our clients are surprised to learn that judges have the discretion to dismiss cases prior to trial, despite the Constitutional guarantee, and that many cases are forced into mandatory arbitration to be decided by one or more arbitrators rather than juries.

Unfortunately, many politicians who claim to be “strict constructionists” of the United States Constitution have failed to take any action to prevent the erosion of your constitutional right to a jury trial.

For a more complete analysis, see this link.

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Proposed Ohio Sales Tax Threatens to Restrict Access to Justice

Charlie McGinnis

Governor Kasich recently proposed an extensive broadening of Ohio’s sales tax to cover many items and services not previously taxed.  One of those is fees for legal services – meaning you could pay more for legal services if this tax is enacted.

This isn’t just a tax imposed at the corporate level.  It would impose an additional burden on individual Ohioans seeking legal services on many levels.  If you are seeking representation to protect your rights as an employee in the work place, having your wills drafted, or seeking damages for personal injury or for any other reasons, Ohio would collect a sales tax on the fees you pay.

Imposing a sales tax on necessary legal services will create an additional barrier for those seeking representation in our legal system. Individual rights in Ohio have already been restricted in recent years with the enactment of various laws effecting amounts you can recover  for your damages in personal injury or malpractice, consumer cases and employee rights.  Increasing the  cost of legal representation through a sales tax serves as a disincentive for individuals and small businesses to seek legal representation.  Large businesses who employ their own in-house counsel for representation would not be taxed.  This widens the divide of access to the court system for individuals and small businesses.

If you are concerned about this proposal and its impact on your rights, please contact your state representatives in Columbus to oppose this change.

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