Thursday, September 26, 2013

Can you recover monies for flood damage?

Most of the folks who suffered flood damage recently - for example in Lyons, Longmont and nearby towns here in Colorado - did not have flood insurance.  Mainly this is because they don't live in recognized "flood zones." Those people are in the (further) unenviable position of having to seek government assistance or make good their own losses.

Some standard home owner's insurance policies provide limited funds ($10,000 is typical) for backed up drains and resulting damage.  Water seeping into basements generally is not covered.  Of course whether there is any insurance coverage, how much, and the details, requires a reading of applicable insurance policies.   A phone call to the agent should be made ASAP too.

We litigated a case out of Lyons not that long ago where a neighbor had altered the drainage on his property, resulting in a massive amount of water/flood damage to our clients' house following a particularly heavy August rain storm.  The jury agreed with us and awarded substantial monies to cover our clients' losses. 

The bottom line is that, absent insurance or government assistance, unless you can show that someone else negligently or knowingly caused water to move onto your property and damage it, little relief is available.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Will the dam burst on doping cases?

The U.S. Postal Service is suing Lance Armstrong, claiming it was hurt by its highly touted sponsorship of his Tour de France cycling team while he secretly was doping (which apparently he admitted on TV?).  No doubt the USPS will be asking for its support money back, and then some.  Lance and his team are fighting hard to get the case dropped.

The case is really interesting because it is based in large part on claims of fraud.  As this blog has discussed in the past, a civil fraud claim provides a powerful remedy (and deterrence) because it can reach back years to the fraud and allow for the recovery of pretty much any and all kinds of resulting money damages - economic loss, noneconomic loss (like pain and suffering if appropriate), punitive damages, attorneys fees, case costs etc.  Most importantly, it could result in a civil judgment collectible from Mr. Armstrong himself (and any other person or entity proven at least partly to blame).

You can bet other professional high-priced athletes (and their lawyers) are watching this case.  Arguably anyone who has been defrauded by athletes who cheat could bring such a lawsuit.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Can new evidence help an old case?

Throughout the summer Colorado media outlets have been reporting problems with the state's criminal evidence testing lab at the Department of Health (formally known as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE).  The CDPHE for example tests blood samples taken in connection with DUI cases.  Based on an independent investigation report, it seems the lab boss was biased for the prosecution, that lab techs were inadequately trained, and that required lab protocols were not being followed, among a host of other problems.  In short, the lab tests could not (and some say still cannot) be trusted.

What about all the DUI cases that went down before this new information about the lab came to light?  Many people accused of that and other crimes went to trial and were convicted based on faulty supposedly scientific evidence against them.

Fortunately the state's rules of criminal procedure (i.e. the rules that help guide when and how the government can proceed against your life, liberty and property) provide a remedy.  Rule 33 (similar to the federal Rule 33) allows a defendant to ask the court for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  Of course there are certain restrictions - like the evidence really has to be new, be of significance to the issues, the defendant has to show he tried to get helpful evidence sooner, and the request must be accompanied by an affidavit (explaining for example why the evidence is new).  The request should be granted if it is in the "interests of justice" to do so.

There is no time limit for seeking a new trial using this rule, other than that it should be done soon once the evidence (its nature, scope, significance etc.) comes to light.  A similar process may be available for cases that pled, that is, where the defendant took a deal (based on bad evidence?) instead of going to trial (by far, most defendants plead their cases).

So pass it along, and if you or someone you know needs help, give us a call.