Monday, March 14, 2011
Legal Pub's Example Of A Target Defendant Needs Work ~by Blond Bombshell
Some men can't see the trees because of the forest! Here I am sitting in a trendy pub Sunday evening sipping an Irish Coffee when I witness the following exchange:
Women: Excuse me, sir. Are you an attorney?
Lawyer: Why yes mam, I am.
Women: Can you please tell me what lawyers mean by "a target defendant?"
Lawyer: Sure. Have you heard of the World Wide Travel bus company?
Women: I think that's the bus company whose bus crashed in New York yesterday ( Saturday.) But why are they are they "a target defendant?"
Lawyer: That is correct. Yesterday, 14 people died in the accident.* It appears that the company has been involved in at least two other crashes with injuries in the past two years. If this is true, then World Wide Travel may have a bulls eye painted on its back.
Woman: What other accidents?
Lawyer: Well, government records are consistent with the company being involved in a crash in New York in 2009 that resulted in one injury, and a crash in New Jersey in 2010 that resulted in an injury. (See the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website for more information.) Not only that, but the company drivers have apparently been cited five times for "fatigued driving" between December 2009 and October 2010. (Twice in in New Jersey, twice in Pennsylvania and once in Connecticut.)
Woman: I guess if I was family of one of the 14 passengers who died, I would be looking to sue the company if the driver of the tour bus lost control and struck two sign poles as reported in the papers. I hope this company is as sorry as I am for asking you a question...
Lawyer: World Wide Travel published a statement saying the company was "heartbroken" over the deaths and injuries. The statement read, " We are a family owned company and realize words cannot begin to express our sorrow to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured in this tragic accident... Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to assist and work with investigators to determine what happened."
Woman: Sir, I know all about broken hearts, but what caused this accident?
Lawyer: Well, obviously I was not there. But I read that the crash occurred about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. It was on I-95 (the New England Thruway) near the Bronx-Westchester County line.
Woman: Besides the one's killed, I presume that others were also hurt?
Lawyer: As I understand it, eight of the 31 passengers suffered severe injuries. Five people at New York's St. Barnabas Hospital were being treated for skull and spinal fractures, internal bleeding and broken bones.
Woman: Well was was the bus at least coming from some place romantic?
Lawyer: The bus was traveling from the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut to Chinatown in Manhattan.
Woman: Not exactly my idea of a place for a good time. What happened to the bus driver?
Lawyer: Ophadel E. Williams, 40, had relatively minor injuries. Williams told police that he swerved to avoid a tractor-trailer. The bus then flipped on its side and hit the poles. The driver of the tractor trailer has denied that he collided with the bus before the crash. Federal investigators are considering all potential causes of the crash, including mechanical problems, steering and brake issues as well as the possibility the driver fatigue. If the bus rolled over some rumble strips before the crash, then driver fatigue may have played a role in this tragedy.
Woman: Any good dirt on the bus driver?
Lawyer: Ophadell Williams was apparently ticketed in 1995 for speeding and twice for driving without a license. On at least one occaision, Williams allegedly gave the police the alias of Erik Williams. (Williams' driving privileges were at one time suspended.) But perhaps even more concerning is that Williams has a 20-year-old manslaughter conviction. Expect Governor Andrew Cuomo to launch a state investigation into how Williams aquired a valid commercial driver's license at the time of the accident.
Women: (Looking completely bored out of her mind.) Was the bus speeding?
Lawyer: Investigators are looking into the possibility. Two UPS couriers (Joe Insalata and Ira Berman) apparently told WABC-TV that they thought the bus was traveling very fast on the highway before the accident. Investigators will likely examine Williams' background and of course he probably had his blood drawn for analysis shortly after the crash. It will be interesting to see what the bus video camera reveals leading up to the accident. The bus engine control module(the black box) will also be analyzed for data leading up to the accident. The skid marks left by the bus which appear to show the bus hitting the guardrail on the right at least three time in 480 feet will be scrutinized by accident reconstructionists. At the end of all the investigation, there should be a pretty good understanding of what probably happened. In the interim, we all know that mistakes can happen.
Women: I know all about mistakes. Can I be honest with you?
Women: I originally I only asked you if you were a lawyer so as to break the ice and start a conversation.
Women: What a mistake. I wondered if you might be an interesting person. Now you have removed all doubt. Excuse me, I have to go. (Walks away about 25 feet towards another gentleman.) Excuse me sir, are you a DOCTOR?
I suppose what more can I expect hanging out in a "Legal Pub" on a Sunday evening? ~Shell
Legal Pub Disclosure: As of this date no one knows what caused this fatal tragedy. No facts are known nor have any facts been proven as of this date. Both the driver and the bus company are to be presumed innocent.
*As of 3-14-11, 15 people had died.