Friday, December 28, 2007

On the Road Again

Connecticut State employees that are placed in harm's way on an almost daily basis have always been given special status under Connecticut Worker's Compensation Law. One such group is Corrections Officers who are often exposed to the danger of physical harm on a daily basis.
In a right thing to do gesture, regulations have been implemented effective December 20, 2007 to expand the worker's compensation protections to Correctional Officers called into work from home. The benefits of the Connecticut Worker's Comp laws begin at such time as the officer leaves his or her home.

For a more detailed discussion of this new regulation, or for a discussion of any worker's compensation issue, feel free to call me at 860-523-8783. I would be glad to speak with you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I love dogs, I really do. I have a 125 pound Newfoundland and an 11 pound miniature dachshund to prove it. But when it comes to dog bites, I tend to agree with the rule in Connecticut that it's one bite and you're out.

Connecticut has what is called strict liability when it comes to dog bites. That means unless the person who was bitten was in some way "tormenting or teasing" the dog, then if they get bit, you are going to pay. And pay dearly you may. In this case the the award was $200,000 for bites sustained by a Bridgeport physician's assistant at the jaws of her neighbor's unrestrained pit bull.

There is no excuse for anything like that happening. If you own or keep a dog, especailly one that may have a tendency to bite, then you owe it to the public at large to keep the dog secured. If you don't and someone gets hurt, the next call you make better be to your homeowner's insurance company's claims department.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On This Most Special Day

We stop and take some time to be with those who are nearest and dearest to us. From all of us at the Law Offices of James F. Aspell, P.C., we wish you a safe and merry Christmas. You my clients and friends are the best present anyone could ever wish for. Thank you for being in my life.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Word About Real Estate Transactions

Recently, a $700,000 settlement was disclosed concerning an alleged kick back scheme between a prominent Farmington law firm, a realtor and a mortgage company.

As a consumer, the take away message for you, is that your closing is a commodity like so many other things, and it behooves you to pay attention to what you are being charged and to compare fees and costs of various attorneys. My particular office charges a flat fee of $600 to buy a home, $500 to refinance, and $450 to handle a sale. In most instances, I am also issuing a title insurance policy which is required by virtually all mortgage banking institutions. I receive a commission on that premium as do all attorneys. Any additional charges would be clearly explained to you by me personally at the time they are incurred. I am available by phone to answer any questions about costs you may incur in your next real estate transaction. I would love to speak with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

On those days when your ceremonial office happens to go up in smoke, even the slightest appearance of foul play may be grounds for a criminal investigation. When in doubt, remain silent and by all means call me. Well...Dick???...I'm waiting?....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thou Doth Protest Too Much

I find myself more than skeptical of the Rocket's recent protests that he has been ridden roughshod over by the Mitchell Report. When the Sox released Roger, he had worn out his welcome in Boston, winning only 11 games in his last season at the Fens, and thought by most to be in the twilight of his career. He was portly, out of shape, and sporting a delivery worth of a Junior Varsity player. Only after landing in Toronto did he return to the mound sporting a physique not seen since his high school days playing Texas ball, and hurling 97 mph fastballs on his way to Hall of Fame status. A trend that continued while in pinstripes. To believe Roger, it is merely coincidence.

At least Andy Pettitte had the balls to come clean.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

I represent a fair number of landlords in Hartford County and a recurring problem I hear is that the tenants fail to maintain the apartment in a clean and habitable condition. The high degree of squalor that my clients recount to me frequently comes to light only on the post move out inspection. Keep in mind this pointed reminder from our friends at the Landlord Protection Agency when interviewing a propsective tenant. A well placed call to a previous landlord goes a long ways towards heading off problems later on.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Less For the Road, Lido...

In her Fall newsletter, the presiding Judge of Hartford's Community Court leaves no doubt as to her views on underage drinking: "it's a crime."

As we head in to the last few weeks of the holiday season in earnest, many temptations will arise to let your kids have a drink under certain social situations. Or worse, to turn a blind eye as they head out with a car load of friends for a night that you know in your heart of hearts will involve drinking.

In any given week I receive one or two calls from a parent whose child has been charged with DWI, or has been involved in an alcohol related accident. Sadly, the news that I have to deliver to the parent is often not encouraging. Connecticut looks quite seriously on alcohol related offenses involving minor children, and while there are legal strategies that can be employed to soften the blow, a DWI charge is rarely nolled these days.

Please do yourself and your child a favor. Tell them not to drink and drive this holiday season. Remind them not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking. Be a nag. Be a nudge. Be all those things you have to be and let them know you care.

Take Your Court To School Day

If the thought of your child becoming a lawyer doesn't send chills down your spine, then you may agree with me that this is actually a pretty good idea.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wii Wii Monsieur

Here it is, December 15th and I now hold in my hot little hands the Nintendo Wii, a device I swore I would never own. I was worn down, I tell ya. Worn down.

I was worn down by my three kids, all of who listed this ubiquitous piece of white plastic as item number one on their Christmas lists to Santa. Worn down by my neighbors who by will power or dumb luck had all managed to land one of these coveted pieces long before today. Worn down by last week' s cry of, "every one of my friends got a Wii for Channukah."

But I got one. And I have to tip my hat to the nice folks at Toys R Us in Corbin's corner. For weeks, I have been stalking this thing. Trying to go the non-chalant route, sauntering in and up to the counter. Asking, in my most laid back manner, "you dont have any wii consoles do you?", and nodding, in complete understanding when store clerk after store clerk would look at me with pity and shake their head, "no."

But then came Tuesday. On Tuesday, I made another non-chalant laid back visit to Toys R Us. "No," the girl said. "We dont have any. But (leaning into me, soto voce,) we are getting some Saturday night, after the store closes to go on sale Sunday morning. We don't know how many, but we will have some."

This little fact burned in my brain. A glimmer of hope.

The weather forcast for Sunday morning called for a Noreaster with a side of destruction. I sensed my chance. Only the halest and heartiest of the Wii Questors would venture into a maelstrom just to buy a videopgame. "I'm going to get up at 6 and venture into the maw of the storm I told my wife. If I succeed, so be it. If I don't, well then it wasn't meant to be."

Sunday dawned. As the alarm buzzed, a could hear the sleet pounding down onto the house. A good sign.

I ventured out into the dark. In 15 minutes I had made my was across town and was in line. The wind was howling and it was still dark. The thermometer I saw read 21 degrees. Folks sat huddled in a line outside, some in tents, some swathed in blankets. I was sort of surprised no one had broken the window of Pier One and used the display furniture for firewood.

The news was encouraging. The adjacent Best Buy had just distributed 80 tickets which left me a in a line with only 20 folks ahead of me. The guy in front of me jumped up and down, trying to keep warm in his dress loafers. He and I were Red Sox fans. the two guys beghind us wore Yankees hats. We all chatted amiably, in this one quest together. We all laughed at the guy who was in line to get one for his mother in law. Way above and beyon the call, we all said.

At 7:30, the store manager emerged and began passing out the tickets. He had one for me, and everyone in line behind me. We all made it. We were all able to leave our posts and run back to the cars to warm up while we waited for the doors to open at 8. I couldnt feel my hands but I was smiling nonetheless. I was getting my kids a Wii for Chirstmas. And for some reason, that was the only thing that mattered.

Lost: One good and honorable Man

Howard Belkin, a fairly recent appointee to the Connecticut Worker's Compensation Commission, lost his battle with stomach cancer this month and went on to that place where all of us lawyers eventually go. Commissioner Belkin was one of the funniest men I have ever met. He was never at a loss for a joke, delivered in his best Catskill lounge act style, always doing his best to put all of us who appeared before him at ease , as we argued the various pros and cons of our client's cause. But more importantly, Howard was an good and decent man. He was not flashy. He was not a show off. He never let the importance of his role in the arbitration of worker's comp claims go to his head. He was simply a great guy.

In the many months before his passing, when all of us who appeared in front of him new he was terminally ill, I would often go home and say to my wife, "I love Howard Belkin, and I am going to miss him when he's gone."

There is really nothing I can add. I am just so lucky to have gotten to know him these past few years. If you have ever had the honor of meeting Howard Belkin, then you know what I mean. If you haven't, you can only take my word for it. I loved Howard Belkin and I will miss him.