All Those Things You Hear About The Importance Of A Solid Foundation? They’re True! Ask These Folks.

brick wall foundation

Was it “Wait, I thought we tested the soil?” or “Soil, shmoil. It looks fine to me. Build it!” It’s unclear what happened because the case of the sliding house has not yet gone to trial … but it’s headed there now. As reported by NJ Advance Media for

A $7.4 million judgment for the owner of a Florham Park house that is gradually sliding down a hill was thrown out by an appellate court last month. But another appeal may still bring it to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The initial $7.4 million award was made to homeowner Humayun Akhtar in 2011 when a judge reached a summary judgment without hearing the arguments of the defendants: JDN Properties, Joseph D. Natale, Deltrus LLC, and Randy DeLuca, said the attorney for Natale.

“He improperly suppressed the answers,” said David Stanziale, the lawyer for Natale. “We’re very happy now that Mr. Natale’s going to have his day in court.”

Yes, it’s sliding down the hill! Probably should have tested that soil.

The Akhtars paid $1.56 million to build the home on Beacon Hill Road, according to court documents. The architect’s plan called for testing of the soil, but that testing was never done. The owners closed on the house, but then heard from a plumber doing work on the property that the house was “sliding,” according to the records. The Akhtars never moved in, and the house remains unoccupied, said the attorneys.

The appellate judges overturned the award on Feb. 24, saying that the Consumer Fraud Act and the triple damages that come with it did not apply, since a failure to test soil at the site was not “fraud” — but just potentially a “breach of warranty.”

Akhtar and his wife, however, will petition the New Jersey Supreme Court to try and make the Consumer Fraud Act — and its increased penalties — stick, said their attorney, Jay Rice.

You’ll find photos of the house, and the source, here.

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“Candidates offer competing visions in Wisconsin Supreme Court debate; Ann Walsh Bradley, James Daley make last of 4 joint appearances”

“Candidates offer competing visions in Wisconsin Supreme Court debate; Ann Walsh Bradley, James Daley make last of 4 joint appearances”: Jason Stein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this report.

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“Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law”

“Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law”: Tim Swarens of The Indianapolis Star has an article that begins, “Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to ‘clarify’ that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.”

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“Mercury Rising — The coal industry and 22 states ask the Supreme Court to throw out new restrictions on toxic emissions.”

“Mercury Rising — The coal industry and 22 states ask the Supreme Court to throw out new restrictions on toxic emissions.” Slate has posted online this “Amicus” podcast featuring Dahlia Lithwick.

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“Alabama Supreme Court says SCOTUS ruling on juvenile killers not retroactive”

“Alabama Supreme Court says SCOTUS ruling on juvenile killers not retroactive”: Kent Faulk of The Birmingham News has this report.

You can access yesterday’s 7-to-2 ruling of the Supreme Court of Alabama at this link.

Chief Justice Roy S. Moore issued a dissenting opinion that begins by harshly criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision in Miller v. Alabama prohibiting mandatory life sentences for juveniles and concludes by arguing that the Miller decision should nevertheless be applied retroactively on collateral review.

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“State high court won’t hear arguments in John Doe cases”

“State high court won’t hear arguments in John Doe cases”: Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have this report.

And Dee J. Hall of The Wisconsin State Journal has an article headlined “Supreme Court: No oral arguments in John Doe cases.”

You can access yesterday’s order of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, and the dissents therefrom, at this link.

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Mental Ilness & The Workplace – Employers’ Right To Know

State bar associations already demand information about a history of mental illness. Providing that data can prevent a JD who passes the bar exam from being licensed. And, Uber has been faulted, both in the media and in legal and regulatory actions, for not vetting those whose behavior could and did become aberrant.

Now, after the details have been released about Andreas Lubitz’s mental disorder, there is a push for more organizations certifying, hiring, promoting, disciplining and terminating workers to dig deeper for information about mental conditions. No surprise, Bloomberg has covered this.

Yesterday, Bloomberg’s John Tozzi asks:

“How can employers respect workers’ privacy while preventing people suffering from serious mental illness from putting themselves or others at risk on the job? How can companies assist those who need help without intruding on their workers’ private lives?”

Simultaneously, employees and even On-Demand-Economy independent contractors sense the risk of disclosure, post- Lubitz. Yet, mental illness, or at least a bout of it, afflicts more than one-fourth of the global population.

Had there been no stigma – nada – associated with mental illness, could Lubitz have felt safe sharing his current psychiatric challenges with his employer? But there was a stigma.

The genius of America’s public relations industry can be leveraged to eliminate that stigma.

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Legal and Financial Ramifications of Germanwing Plane Crash

After the shock of hearing about yet another airplane crash sinks in, many people start to wonder, “Who is responsible?”

Germanwings flight 9525 was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it crashed into the French Alps. There were 144 passengers and 6 crew members onboard. Nobody survived the crash. What happened? Why did this happen?

After retrieving the plane’s black box, investigators believe that
the plane’s co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, locked himself in the cockpit
alone and deliberately flew the plane into the mountainside.

Despite the many questions still unanswered by the investigation, one question rings clear. Who is going to pay, and how much?

Montreal Convention of 1999

The Montreal Convention of 1999 (MC99) is a treaty among 111 countries that regulates carrier liability and compensation to victims to airplane crashes. Under MC99, carriers, or airplane companies, are strictly liable for the deaths or injury of passengers. Victims’ families can claim up to 113,100 special drawing rights, which right now equal about $175,000.

MC99 only applies to the passengers. So, the airline and its insurance could pay up to $25.2 million.

However, compensation to the victims’ families isn’t limited to the $175,000 under MC99. Families could demand more money from the airline if they sue for negligence.

Civil Suits

To prove negligence, claimants would have to show that the airline breached a duty of care to its passengers which resulted in the passengers’ deaths. Two issues may make it easy for victims’ families to prove negligence.

First of all, the co-pilot was allowed to be alone in the cockpit. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the United States implemented a policy that required a crewmember must take a pilot’s place whenever he leaves the cockpit. This way, no pilot is ever left alone in a cockpit. However, this is not a policy required in many European countries. German airlines have only recently adopted this rule after the Germanwings crash.

More importantly, CNN reports that investigators may have found evidence that Lubitz, the co-pilot, was unfit to work. German authorities found a slashed medical leave note for the day of the plane crash that declared Lubitz “unfit to work.” Investigators believe Lubitz was hiding an illness from his employers. NPR and German media reports that Lubitz had a history of depression and was undergoing treatment for the last six years.

Was the airline negligent for hiring Lubitz or for allowing him to continue flying despite his medical conditions? If a court says yes, the victims’ families could stand to receive a much larger compensation amount.

Related Resources:

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