Posts tagged civil justice
Kentucky is one of a Handful of States that Require Paid Breaks for Employees

I read an article recently that explained that Kentucky was one of only eight states that had a statute that required that employers allow employees to take (and be paid for) at least two 10-minute breaks during an eight hour workday.  

I have to say, as a Kentuckian I have grown accustomed to seeing Kentucky appear at the bottom of lists we would like to be at the top of and the top of lists we'd like to be at the bottom of. So, discovering that we offer workers the basic protection and dignity of two ten-minute breaks during a day's work was heartening. The Department of Labor provides summaries of mandatory rest periods and lunches in Kentucky and across the nation. 

Of course, having the statutory right to a break and actually getting the break are two separate matters. In this lawyer's opinion, employers who do not provide workers with those breaks are violating Kentucky's wage and hour laws. These employers are opening themselves up to potential liability for money damages awarded to their employees for denying their employees these breaks.  

If you or someone you know is working for a business that does not provide its employees the breaks its workers are entitled to by statute, you should contact an attorney today

Follow-up to Survey of Kentucky Cyclists' Fears

Earlier this year, I asked Kentucky cyclists what their greatest fears were. In a totally unscientific tallying of the responses, here's my impression: The two most commonly cited fears were, unsurprisingly, getting hit by a moving car and getting doored. I can sympathize. I'm looking in the rear window of every single parked car I ride past  to see if there is a driver getting ready to exit the vehicle and throw me into traffic. 

I also asked what Kentucky cyclists fear that I had not considered. Boy, you all are creative bunch. Among the things you fear (and that I now have to consider) are:  

  • Handle bars torque while at top speed going downhill.
  • Vision impaired in both eyes due to cloud of gnats.
  • Having your butt crack peek out of your pants as you bend forward to reduce wind resistance.
  • Having a can thrown at you from a passing car window, looking down and then being smashed by a semi only to then have a bee sting you! 
  • Being lasso'd in the middle of fricken nowhere and thrown in the back of a truck of a psycho woman and carted off to some hole in the ground.
  • When in Kentucky... being bitten by dogs.
  • Unexpected rain.
  • River Road and people from the East end.
  • I can't say that every single thing on this list is actionable in a court of law, but if you or a bicyclist you know are injured by a driver's carelessness, please, get a lawyer. If it's me, great. If not, that's fine, too. But, you need to get a lawyer so that the driver compensates you for all of your injuries. This includes your medical bills, lost time at work, property damage, and your physical pain and emotional suffering. 




Increase the Price to File a Foreclosure in Kentucky

I was in Fayette County this to appear for my client, a homeowner facing foreclosure. I counted the number of motions that were foreclosure-related and how many were other civil actions. Of the 32 motions made, only seven were not related to foreclosures. Twenty-seven (84%) were foreclosures.

With foreclosures dominating motion hours and dockets across the state and straining Court resources, it is time to increase filing fees on foreclosures? Increasing foreclosure filing fees would be a great and long-overdue way for Kentucky courts to fund foreclosure mediation and dispute resolution efforts.  The current system was not designed to deal with the volume of foreclosures currently filed each year and each case is fact-specific and requires the Court's attention to ensure banks do not inflict needless foreclosures on our communities. 

Kentucky needs additional systems to deal with foreclosures and increasing the filing fees on foreclosures can help fund the construction of that infrastructure.  

Update to Typography for Lawyers Essay: When Ten Pages are Thirteen

My essay encouraging lawyers to adopt better typographical practices appeared today in The Advocate, the bimonthly publication of the Kentucky Justice Association

In it, I explain how making a few small changes to your letters, briefs, and presentations can make your words more beautiful and engaging on the page. I also explained that these changes may also help you fit more words on the page while staying within court-mandated rules governing type size, line length, and line spacing. 

One of the biggest changes comes from using true double spacing (set your line spacing to "Exactly" 24 points rather than Microsoft Word's default "Double Spacing" option (which is actually a bit taller than 24 points). 

Here, I've created a couple of documents that will show you the difference between the two approaches. I've created two separate documents so you can download them and compare side-by-side. Do that now.

Download the Appellant Brief sample
Download the Appellant Reply Brief sample

Here are some of the changes I made in the Reply Brief:

  • Used small caps for the section titles (Matthew Butterick's typeface, Equity, has beautiful small caps),
  • Removed ALL CAPS from the headings, opting instead for simple bold or italics,
  • Removed capital letters in headings
  • Used a table rather than a series of ........................... to denote a page number in the Statement of Points and Authorities (using a table also makes formatting way less of a hassle), 
  • Changed the typeface from Times New Roman to Equity (look at Equity's italic: beautiful)
  • Reduced the line spacing from Microsoft Word's default "double space" to true double spacing (set line spacing to "exactly" 24 points)

Here's the skinny: the Reply brief is more beautiful, it's easier to read, and therefore, more likely to be read. (Judges and their law clerks are looking for any reason—any reason—to stop reading. Even if that reason is the "blah" vibe that your brief is giving off. Sorry, it's true.) 

The Reply brief also fits more words onto the page. The "Argument" page in the Appellant Brief is 284 words long, including footnotes; the "Argument" page in the Reply Brief has 358 words. Reducing the line height to 24 points allowed me to fit 74 more words (26%) onto the first page of my brief. Multiply that by the ten pages allowed by the Court of Appeals for a Reply Brief, and I get 740 more words than an attorney using Microsoft's default double spacing. That's 3 extra pages of argument. That's a big advantage. 

If successful, our appeal will allow injured temporary workers to pursue lawsuits against temporary employers. Currently, these businesses enjoy both complete immunity and complete control over a temporary worker (whose workers' compensation benefits will be paid by their temporary employment agency). This encourages businesses to misuse and abuse temporary workers for the business's most dangerous work. A win would mean accountablity where there currently is none. That's a big deal. 

We all have cases that can yield big change if we win. I'm happy to have an additional three pages (when I need them) to explain to the Court why we should win.  

Foreclosure Presentation: Loan Modifications and Foreclosure Mediation

The Network Center for Community Change pays me (yes, it is a great job) to train attorneys attorneys to defend homeowners facing foreclosure and work with courts to implement processes that ensure everyone is getting a fair shake during a foreclosure. This is a presentation from last fall at the Kentucky Bar Association's Kentucky Law Update in Covington, Kentucky in which I explain to attorneys how they can profitably incorporate foreclosure defense into their practice, how loan modifications work and don't work, and why the court system needs to change how it handles foreclosure proceedings. Somehow, I also talk about the Sausage of Justice.

Read more about the Network Center for Community Change:

If you would like for me to come to your area to give a talk, I'm available

Consumer Law Conference: Excellent Every Time


I didn’t think practicing law was going to be fun. This weekend, I am at the National Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, hosted in Chicago this year by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). Three years ago, at their conference in Portland, the NCLC showed me just how much fun being an attorney was going to be.

I could sue banks. I could defend homeowners. I could pursue creditors who pursued my clients. I could make them pay. Wow.

If you went to an Occupy Wall Street gathering and found the prevailing attitude towards banks a little tame, this conference is for you.

I’m learning about consumer arbitration agreements, consumer class actions after Concepcion, credit reporting, loan modifications, payday loans, predatory lending, auto fraud, expert witnesses, lemon laws, foreclosure mediation programs around the nation. The speakers include the great Paul Bland and Deepak Gupta (who argued Concepcion and who shared 30 minutes of his time with me in his office while he was at Public Justice. Last night, Matt Taibbi addressed the members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA); we gave him our annual Media Award for his work publicizing the dastardly deeds of foreclosing servicers, banks, and attorneys. Today, we’ll hear from Susan Saladoff, director of Hot Coffee and I’m spending all morning with Ron Burge. Tomorrow, I’m attending the Consumer Class Action Symposium.

I like so much about this conference. So much. I like that I learn about both the substance and procedure of practicing consumer law. I like that this conference gives me big ideas about expanding what I can do for my clients and big ideas about what I can do to change the terms of debates in the public sphere: debates about our civil justice system, mandatory arbitration, the utility of foreclosure mediation. Each year, I come away energized and inspired. These attorneys are so good.

The odds we face are enormous. The monied interests have bought our politicians, they’ve funded aggressive public relations campaigns that seek to close the courthouse doors to you and me. But, the NCLC and NACA and Public Justice (and KJA) are working hard to make us better attorneys for our clients and better advocates for the system of justice for which our founders fought.