Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP Hartford Personal Injury Attorneys | Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers | Glastonbury CT 2021-02-17T19:32:43Z https://www.bpslawyers.com/feed/atom/ WordPress On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Attorney Bruce E. Newman Filing Class Action Lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of Sportmix Pet Food]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=47592 2021-02-17T16:53:13Z 2021-02-02T06:00:00Z Bruce Newman is filing a class action lawsuit against Midwestern Pet Food, Inc., the manufacturer of Sportmix Energy Plus, Sportmix Premium High Energy, and Sportmix Original Cat food on behalf of pet owners who have lost their pets as a result of these tainted foods. Sportsmix contains potentially lethal levels of aflatoxin. According to the FDA, 28 dogs may have already died as a result of this dangerous pet food. Aflatoxin grows from a mold and is harmful in high doses. Symptoms pets may experience include lethargy, jaundice, and diarrhea. Mr. Newman has been class counsel and represented hundreds of dog and cat owners in connection with the Menu Foods class action in 2007 which involved recalls of over 100 brands of pet food and led to a $24 million settlement. He also served as Plaintiff's Class Counsel in another class action in 2012 against Nestle Purina that led to a $6.5 million settlement for pet owners.

If you, a family member or friend has had a pet affected by Sportsmix pet foods, contact Mr. Newman by calling or texting 860.996.8523 to know your legal rights and remedies.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Low interest rates: Is it worth it to refinance your mortgage?]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48752 2021-02-17T16:53:25Z 2021-01-18T06:00:00Z By now most people have heard that interest rates on home mortgages have been low for many months, but how do you know if it makes financial sense for you to refinance? Fortunately, its relatively easy to analyze this even if you have never considered yourself financially sophisticated. There are several relevant factors. You will need to know what your current interest rate is and the principal amount due on your mortgage. You will also need to know the average current interest rate being charged for 30-year mortgages, or 15-year mortgages if that may be an option for you. This can be quickly determined with a little research or a few quick calls to loan officers. Today's technology allows us to easily calculate what our monthly payment would be if we refinanced, as there are many free apps with loan amortization calculators that allow users to input their potential loan amount and interest rate and receive instant results.

Who are the most likely candidates for a refinance? The list is lengthy: those who want to lower their monthly housing payment, anyone with two mortgages who may want to combine their loan into one mortgage, those who think they may be eligible to eliminate their PMI (private mortgage insurance), or even those who wish to use their equity to take some cash out for a home addition, tuition payments, or other expenses that would otherwise have to be borrowed at a higher interest rate. You will also need to factor in the closing costs, which can often be added into the loan amount, but its always worth shopping around to compare closing costs. The costs can vary widely, as can the customer service that you receive. It is almost always best to have an actual loan originator working on your file, as opposed to filing an online application. That way, if any problems arise, you have a person to call who has a vested interest in addressing the issue in a timely manner.

For most people, their home is their biggest investment and paying for it is one of the longest term financial commitments they make. Make sure you are not overlooking an opportunity to save money for decades to come.

The real estate department at Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP has the experience you need to help you streamline the refinance process so you do not miss out on this opportunity.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Attorney Bruce E. Newman Investigating Class Action Lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of Sportmix Pet Food]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48756 2021-02-17T16:53:35Z 2021-01-06T06:00:00Z Bruce Newman is currently investigating claims that Midwestern Pet Food, Inc., the manufacturer of Sportmix Energy Plus, Sportmix Premium High Energy, and Sportmix Original Cat food contains potentially lethal levels of aflatoxin. According to the FDA, 28 dogs may have already died as a result of this dangerous pet food. Aflatoxin grows from a mold and is harmful in high doses. Symptoms pets may experience include lethargy, jaundice, and diarrhea. Mr. Newman has been class counsel and represented hundreds of dog and cat owners in connection with the Menu Foods class action in 2007 which involved recalls of over 100 brands of pet food and led to a $24 million settlement as well as another class action in 2012 against Nestle Purina that led to a $6.5 million settlement for pet owners.

If you, a family member or friend has a pet affected by these foods, contact Mr. Newman at 860.583.5200 to know your legal rights and remedies.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Nursing Home Negligence Claims in the Covid World]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48748 2021-02-17T16:53:45Z 2021-01-04T06:00:00Z Many of us, including myself, have loved ones who are confined to nursing homes during this Covid-19 crisis. Questions arise as to the level of care being provided, and unfortunately, we cannot always visit to check on the status of our family members or friends. Indeed, our visits are likely limited to outdoor meetings at sporadic times. This raises a concern as to the quality of care which they may or may not be receiving. Meanwhile, there has been an immunity granted to nursing homes by way of executive order from Gov. Lamont. This immunity is essentially as follows:

"any health care professional or health care facility shall be immune from suit for civil liability for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained because of the individual's or health care facility's acts or omissions undertaken in good faith while providing health care services in support of the State's COVID-19 response, including but not limited to acts or omissions undertaken because of a lack of resources, attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, that renders the health care professional or health care facility unable to provide the level or manner of care that otherwise would have been required in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic and which resulted in the damages at issue..."

The bounds of what can be considered "good faith" to provide nursing homes with a shield against lawsuits during the current pandemic have not yet been tested in court. Department of Public Health citations and/or sanctions would presumably be evidence that a given facility did not act in "good faith." If you have questions about the standards of care for a loved one or family member who is presently in a facility, feel free to contact Attorney Bruce Newman at 860.583.5200. 

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[What to do if you are involved in an auto accident]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48759 2021-02-17T16:53:55Z 2020-12-11T06:00:00Z Keep your registration and current insurance card in your car glove compartment.

STEP 1:

  • Be certain that anyone who needs medical assistance obtains it immediately. Do not move an injured person except in cases of immediate danger.
  • If possible, move your vehicle to a safe area, away from traffic.
  • Call police and report any injuries.
  • If your vehicle is inoperable, move ambulatory people to a safe location. Call a towing company to move your vehicle. Get the name, address, and phone number of the towing company.

STEP 2 :

The information you gather at the accident scene will assist the insurance claim process. Although the police gather much of this information, their reports are often not immediately available following an accident. It is very helpful if you can obtain:

  • Name, current address and home/work/cell telephone number of the operator(s) of the other vehicle(s). Obtain the operator's driver's license number.
  • Name, current address and home/work/cell telephone number of the owner(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved.
  • Insurance information for both the operator(s) and the owner(s) of the other vehicle(s). Obtain the name of the insurance company, insurance agency, policy number and policyholder's name. Ask to see the Insurance ID card(s).
  • Name, current address and home/work/cell telephone number of passengers in any vehicle involved.
  • Name, current address and home/work/cell telephone number of any witnesses who observed who observed the accident.
  • The make, model, color and license plate number of all vehicles involved.
  • The name of the police department and officer's name that reports to the scene and the accident report number and ask how to obtain a copy of the police accident report.
  • Note the street names of where the accident happened.
  • Write down some accident details such as direction of travel, speed of vehicles involved and pre-accident actions (e.g. did they brake, any horns sounded, did they swerve to avoid accident, weather conditions, date and time of day, hazards, road conditions). Draw a picture of the street showing stop signs, signal lights, etc. Note any skid marks.

STEP 3:

  • Fully cooperate with the authorities and truthfully answer their questions. Avoid discussing how the accident occurred with the other party involved. Well intended statements such as "I am sorry, I never saw you" can complicate the eventual resolution of the claim.

STEP 4:

  • Contact your auto insurance carrier as soon as possible following the accident.

Additional considerations:

  • Using your cell phone camera, photograph the accident scene and vehicle damage.
  • If you suspect the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, ask the police officer to perform a breath or drug test.
  • Do not accept money to repair damages from the other driver. By accepting money, you may forfeit your right to file a claim against the other driver, especially if damages turn out to be more expensive than you first thought.

The experienced attorneys at Brown Paindiris & Scott are here to assist you every step of the way. 

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Haven for Health Care Professionals- Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48770 2021-02-17T16:54:07Z 2020-11-24T06:00:00Z HAVEN, Health Assistance Intervention Education Network, was set up in 2007 under P.A. 07-103, Section 19a-12b, C.G.S. to provide a confidential alternative for licensed health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, who are confronted with issues involving health and well-being, which may call into questions their ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety. Haven is there to support such licensed individuals experiencing health related issues, such as drug or alcohol addiction or certain mental health issues such as clinical depression, PTSD or severe anxiety.

Normally, one first hears about HAVEN from a mandatory reporter, such as a colleague or fellow members of one's profession. Mandatory reporters in many situations can fulfill their legal obligation by reporting such an individual to HAVEN (860-828-3175) in lieu of reporting them to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The big difference is in confidentiality. If one is admitted into the HAVEN program, both an initial fee and a monthly fee are imposed, in part, based upon ability to pay. Some of the more common reasons a matter is referred to HAVEN are substance abuse issues such as alcohol, prescription drugs (legal pain killers), as well as illicit drugs. While a matter may be referred to HAVEN initially, one could transfer the matter to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, DPH, where procedures can be made public. The manner in which the referral is handled differs in part between HAVEN and DPH in terms of setting up monitoring a program for dealing with one's physical or mental health treatment. It is important that you learn the difference between the two programs in order to make an informed decision; the legal consequences can remain with you for a lifetime. Additionally, the cost and expenses vary significantly between the two programs. The length of time one must spend in such a program also varies in terms of years.

It is submitted that your healthcare license is a valuable property right and privilege; how one handles this intervention with these two alternative programs may affect long term one's professional career. Seeking out the services of an experienced attorney is a smart first move in helping navigate through these rough waters. The experienced attorneys at Brown Paindiris & Scott are here to assist you every step of the way.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Testator’s Selection of Executor]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48764 2021-02-17T16:54:18Z 2020-11-03T06:00:00Z Complaints about the appointment of a proposed executor or successor in a WILL are not uncommon. Concerns of interested parties may range from competency to conflicts of interest. Relatives may be concerned about impartiality, personal animus, or ability. A creditor may be concerned about a potential conflict of interest which may jeopardize the payment of a claim.

A Probate Court has no discretion to appoint someone other than the person named in the Will. Testators are entitled to select their own executors, and those persons may not be rejected unless excluded by common law or statute. "(i)f no person has been designated in a will to be executor, or if the person designated ... has died or refuses to accept or is incapable of accepting such trust, and no alternative or successor has been named the court shall admit the administration of the estate..." Conn. Gen. Stat. Sect. 45a-290(a) (2018).

Challenges to Probate Court appointment of designated fiduciaries have been strictly construed in Connecticut Courts. The cases have long held that the executor is the creature of

the testator and that the courts may not ignore the designation of the executor except in those instances provided by law.

An executor or administrator has a fiduciary duty to the estate and must not act out of self- interest or for the interests of parties other than the heirs, distributees, and creditors of the estate. An important aspect of an executor's fiduciary responsibility is to maintain an undivided loyalty to the estate. "(One interested in an estate has the right to have its representative wholly free from conflicting personal interests." Ramsdell v. Union Tr. Co., 202 Conn.57, 65 (1987).

In summary, as a general rule testators are entitled to select their own executors. The court may refuse to appoint a designated executor only if the chosen person is disqualified by law from serving in that capacity, if the individual is incapacitated, a minor, or a corporation whose charter does not include trust powers.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Single Limits, Split Limits, Conversion, Non-Conversion–What in the world does it all mean on your automobile policy of insurance?]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48774 2021-02-17T16:54:28Z 2020-10-22T05:00:00Z Unfortunately, most vehicle owners buy auto-insurance without knowing the material terms contained in their policy. I hear it every day. They know it is required by the State, and they purchase it-usually under time constraints-without consideration of the numerous options at their disposal to customize said coverage. Given the thousands of dollars that individuals and families spend, that is rather surprising. Given the potential exposure you may face, or money you may lose out on during a difficult time, that is rather incredible. If you are unable to recite your coverage and understand what it means without looking, then this is your wake-up call.

You will find your coverage on the "declarations" page of your policy. Connecticut requires a minimum of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident for bodily injury liability. Sometimes, this is reflected as "$25,000/$50,000" on the declarations pages. These are referred to as "split limits". With those limits, if you injure someone your insurer will pay up to $25k for that person's "bodily injury." If you injure two people, your insurer will pay up to $25k per person, but no more than $50k in total for that accident. Anything beyond that you may be responsible out-of-pocket.

You may also purchase what is called "single limit" coverage, for example in the amount of $300,000.00. In this scenario, only $300,000.00 is available for any and all bodily injuries claimed in a particular accident that you cause.

I often recommend that my clients purchase a minimum of $300k per person in bodily injury coverage to protect themselves from any out of pocket exposure. But, no one can predict the future and at the end of the day it's an odds game. Other factors are important as well: age of the driver on the policy; aggressiveness of driver on the policy; personal assets; miles driven; etc.... You can purchase any number of different dollar amount coverages, as long as it meets the State minimums. Thus, if you are worried about a particular operator, then you should purchase more in coverage.

Underinsured/Uninsured coverage means exactly what it sounds like. If an individual hits you and that individual only has, for example, the minimum coverage of $25k/$50k, but your damages amount to more than $25k, then the individual that hit you is "underinsured". If they did not have any insurance at the time of the accident, then they are "uninsured". At that point in time, your "underinsured/uninsured" coverage kicks in and attempts to make you whole, as if your own policy was possessed by the individual that hit you.

Typically, this underinsured/uninsured coverage matches your underlying coverage (e.g. $25k/$50k underlying coverage, and $25k/$50k underinsured uninsured coverage). Though, you can customize your underinsured/uninsured coverage as well. Underinsured/uninsured coverage is mandatory in Connecticut and is automatic with your general underlying coverage purchase.

Now, because the goal is to protect you up to the point you were willing to protect yourself, you generally cannot add your underinsured coverage to the payment made by the policy of the individual that hit you. Rather, your own insurer/policy gets a credit for payment made on behalf of the policy holder that hit you. By way of example, assume you sustained $125k in bodily injuries in an accident, and only hold $100k in underinsured coverage. If the individual that hit you had only $25k in coverage, they pay their $25k and are considered underinsured. Here, your policy does not simply pay the full $100k in underinsured coverage, but only pays $75k; again, because the $25k and the $75k puts you in the same position as if the person that hit you held what you held in coverage. That is called "non-conversion" underinsured coverage. Put differently, your policy gets a credit for what was paid out of the policy that hit you.

However, if you decide to purchase what is called "conversion" coverage, then your policy does not get the benefit of the monies paid out on the policy that hit you. In this scenario, you would get $25k from the person that hit you, and your full $100k underinsured coverage. You are entitled to that because you purchased that conversion option on your policy. As you can see, this has the potential to make a significant difference should you be found in such a precarious situation. Unfortunately, some of my clients have not been made whole due to limited coverage on the liable policy, and due to not having conversion coverage (or insufficient underinsured coverage) on their own policy.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it is the bare minimum of what you should be aware of when it comes to your policy and options you can purchase. Medical payment coverage and umbrella coverage were not covered in this article, but are additional options you can purchase to protect yourself.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and are worried that the individual that hit you does not have enough coverage to compensate your for your injuries, pain and suffering, do not hesitate to call Attorney Sobin for a complete review. 

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Estate Planning, Elder Law and Medicaid/Title 19 During COVID]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48777 2021-02-17T16:54:38Z 2020-10-05T05:00:00Z As the COVID pandemic reaches the six-month mark, the BPSLawyers Estate Planning and Elder Law Department continues to be busy serving clients, existing and new, through a variety of methods. As an essential business under the Governor's executive orders we have stayed open during the crisis. We are utilizing phone conferencing, various video conferencing tools, and socially distanced in person conferences to serve the needs of clients in virtually any situation. Using these tools and following the Governor's guidelines authorizing remote document execution, including remote witnessing, notarization and recording where needed, we have been able to conference with clients, discuss their goals and needs, explain options and recommendations, and proceed to preparation and execution of appropriate documents to prepare clients for whatever situation they may face or be concerned about. Even clients confined as residents of nursing facilities, assisted living, or hospital settings, with strict prohibitions against in person visitations, have been able to effectively conference with our attorneys, and to make and execute plans necessary to carry out their wishes. It has been possible to accomplish clients' legal objectives without physical meetings or in the privacy of a client's own home. Often this may involve review of existing plans in need of modification to reflect changes in family situations, asset ownership or client goals as time has passed.

The need to address Medicaid/Title 19 and other Elder Law issues continues, often in heightened ways during this crisis, and the transition to remote work status for state employees in agencies that deal with these needs has increased the obstacles and delays for folks needing assistance. It is best not to wait to address these issues as they may take more time to resolve with current limitations and restrictions.

With heightened awareness of mortality risks increased by the current medical crisis and more time to consider and discuss goals and aspirations with family members, you may realize that a plan should be put in place, or an existing plan be updated. You or family members may need to address Medicaid or Elder Law issues. We caution folks not to procrastinate their estate planning or elder law needs during this difficult time. We have the capability and desire to address and assist in resolving those needs despite the physical barriers that may exist - most of which can be overcome with existing tools.

For those with substantial assets that may be exposed to taxation, it is important to consider the potential for significant changes to tax structures - income, gift, and estate taxes, at both the federal and state level. The possibility of a change in administrations in Washington always increases the likelihood of changes in taxes, but that likelihood is particularly high in the current political environment, in the setting of large financial burdens shouldered by the nation to mitigate the effects of the COVID pandemic with reduced cash receipts resulting from a struggling economy. Although it is impossible to predict what tax changes will occur, economists and tax advisers have identified several possible changes that would affect families with substantial assets, and may be reasons to consider taking steps before the end of this calendar year.

The existing federal estate and gift tax exclusion is just over $11.5 Million Dollars for an individual (scheduled to return to $5 Million in 2026 if no legislation changes it before then). On the federal level, an individual can therefore make a gift of up to $11.5 Million Dollars without incurring a gift tax or triggering a later estate tax. It must be noted, however, that the state exemption is less than half this amount and thus a state gift tax would apply for gifts exceeding $5.1 Million Dollars for an individual. The IRS has issued a regulation providing that if a gift is made while the exclusion remains at $11.5 Million, the gift will remain excluded from gift and estate tax even if the exclusion is reduced by Congress in the future. Many advisors believe a new administration may lead Congress to reduce the exclusion, perhaps retroactive to the beginning of 2021. A large gift before the end of this calendar year would lock in the higher exclusion for your estate even if the exclusion is reduced thereafter. This planning would have to be completed before the effective date of any future change, which some predict could be as early as January 1st of 2021.

Another tax change that has been discussed for a long time and could be adopted, in whole or in part, with a change in Washington, involves changing the basis for income tax purposes of certain assets inherited at death. Under long-existing law basis, for most assets, is stepped up or down at death to equal its then fair market value. This eliminates income tax on all appreciated value for a beneficiary who sells after inheriting an asset. Families have used this concept to transfer wealth to younger family members while minimizing income taxation for generations. If you own an asset that you expect to increase substantially in value in the future, and if the "step up" rules are changed, it may be advisable to make an irrevocable gift, to an individual or to a trust, to effectively transfer future appreciation out of your taxable estate since the income tax benefit of holding the appreciated asset until death would be lost or reduced.

If you wish to explore any of your estate planning or elder law needs, we welcome you to contact your BPSLawyer.

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On behalf of Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP <![CDATA[Connecticut Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPT)]]> https://www.bpslawyers.com/?p=48783 2021-02-17T16:54:47Z 2020-09-22T05:00:00Z For many years, Connecticut residents that desired to establish trusts to protect their assets from creditors had to utilize the jurisdictions of Alaska, Delaware and others. These jurisdictions typically required a certain amount of assets to be kept in that State, and for at least one of the trustees to be located there as well. This typically added significant expense to establishing and administering a domestic asset protection trust. This all changed as of January 1, 2020, because Connecticut now permits the establishment of self-settled domestic asset protection trusts (DAPTs). Simply put, Connecticut now permits individuals to establish a trust that protects the individual's assets from their creditors, and still benefit from the assets.

In order to enjoy creditor protection, the trust must satisfy certain requirements, including: 1. Being irrevocable; 2. Incorporate Connecticut law as to its validity and administration; 3. Contain a spendthrift clause; and 4. Use a "qualified trustee". The first three requirements are easily addressed, but the "qualified trustee" requires greater consideration. A "qualified trustee" is either an individual residing in Connecticut or an entity authorized by Connecticut law to act as a trustee. In addition, this "qualified trustee" must maintain or arrange for the custody of the trust assets; attend to filing all tax returns; maintain records of the trust; and materially participate in the administration of the trust. Also, the trustee would not be the individual establishing the trust nor a related or subordinate party. However, the individual establishing the trust can reserve the power to remove and appoint trustees, provided such trustees are not related or subordinate parties.

There are some limits to the creditor protection. It is worth noting that certain claims can still be enforced against a DAPT, including: 1. Tort claims arising prior to the establishment of the trust; 2. Marital support obligations; 3. Fraudulent transfer claims; and 4. Child support obligations. Finally, claims are subject to a four year statute of limitations period.

Connecticut now offers an interesting opportunity for individuals concerned with creditor protection to establish trusts to protect themselves and their loved ones, while reserving certain beneficial enjoyment. When you consult with the attorneys of Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP for your estate planning needs, we can evaluate the usefulness of this technique.

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