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Paul Stritmatter Honored with “Legacy Award” & Ray Kahler Receives “Next Generation” Award

Earlier this week, Paul Stritmatter received the “Legacy Award” from the Hoquiam Business Association. The award was in honor of Paul’s work in the community.  Most recently, Paul initiated the “Paint the Corridor” project, which was initially focused on sprucing up the town for tourists, by painting 26 owner-occupied homes. However, the project quickly turned into a celebration of volunteerism and hometown pride. Stritmatter Legacy Award.JPG

Ray Kahler received the “Next Generation Award”  as a young professional on the rise. He was recognized especially for his talents displayed at the 7th Street Theatre. 

Kudos to both of you, Paul and Ray!  We’re proud of you for doing so much outside the office, in addition to all that you do for your clients! 

 

The number one reason for the health care crisis: health insurers

2003838204.jpgDespite the historic recession, health insurance rates are sky rocketing.  Our small group has seen our Regence premiums grow 150 percent over the past decade.  As bad as that is, it is less than the 201 percent increase by Premera.

Mike Kreidler, our Insurance Commissioner is one of the best public officials our state has ever had.  He is requesting the legislature to enact HB 1301 (SB 5247).  This would allow him to consider a not-for-profit health insurer’s surplus when regulating its rates.

The insurers are up in arms.  They say consumers need “strong muscular companies.”  They use scare tactics by alluding to possible earthquakes, epidemics, and President Obama’s health reform.  But according to The Seattle Times they have piled up $2.4 Billion in surplus – triple what it was ten years ago.

No one can afford to send more lobbyists to the halls of our government than insurance corporations.  But we the people can join together to support Kreidler and the legislators who will vote for this bill. 

We need to stop the madness.  Insurers need to be regulated.  Enough is enough.

 

Facebook Snoopers

facebook-poder.jpgIn the “old days,” plaintiffs were often shocked when judges ruled they had to turn over their personal diaries to the defense lawyers.  Their deepest most personal thoughts were laid bare before the scrutinizing eyes of the defendants, their experts, and sometimes juries.

Facebook is the new diary.  And defense lawyers want everything ever posted to a plaintiff’s profile.  Because social networking is relatively new, the courts are not uniform in how they treat posts. 

In New York, one judge recently ruled the defense was entitled to dig through Facebook: 

“Plaintiffs who place their physical condition in controversy, may not shield from disclosure material which is necessary to the defense of the action.”

Some courts refused to grant these types of discovery requests, calling them “fishing expections.”   But there seems to be a growing trend favoring the defense.

If you are in litigation, it is wise to discontinue your social networking until the end of the case.  Alternatively, use the highest privacy settings available.  And do not post anything related to your case or that may be used against you.

Keep State Agencies In Check

In case you missed it, an insightful editorial appeared in this Sunday’s The Columbian, “Courts keep failures by state agencies in check.” Magana and Wieland point out the serous problems with endorsing special legal protections for state government agencies whose negligent actions or inactions cause harm to citizens. 

Importantly, Magana and Wieland explain that “government is never responsible for anyone’s actions but its own, and is never judged on any failures or bad choices except for its own.” Only if “but for” the government’s failures did an injury arise, then it could it then be held liable.

Please read the piece in its entirety for a thoughtful and accurate explanation to understand why we must continue to hold the government accountable via lawsuits in Washington state.

In the interest of full disclosure, one of the authors of this editorial is Jesse Magana, a client of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan.

Time for a better DUI law

Hailey-Huntley[1].jpgYou’d think that being pulled over once and charged with DUI would be enough for one night.  But too often, a drunk will get back to the car and drive again.

Hailey’s Law is named after a woman who was almost killed.  A a drunk crossed the center line and plowed into her AFTER already being pulled over once that night.  The drunk – Janine Parker – called a cab who took her back to her car.

Hailey’s law is being considered by our legislature.  If it passes, drunk drivers’ cars would be impounded for a mandatory 12 hours after their arrest.

People against the law complain that towing and impound charges would have to be paid by the driver.   But payment of such a small and deserving price, would have spared Hailey 15 surgeries. 

Celebrity DUI mug shots seem to be gaining popularity.  But there’s nothing glamorous about causing an accident and killing or maiming an innocent person.  Contact your representative and urge them to pass this bill.

 

Visit New KeepWASafe.com Website & Blog

As we head into this year’s first legislative session, the law firm of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan (SKW) wants to provide an informational resources via a new website, KeepWASafe.com. As the days and weeks progress, please visit it frequently for more information, which will help you understand why the agenda to bar lawsuits against the state for tort cases will make Washington less safer for all of us.  

KeepWASafe WEBSITE screenshot.jpg

We welcome your comments and questions.  

Should Our Government Be Above The Law?

We pay a lot of taxes.  Our Government gets to use those taxes to supposedly help take care of us.  It is supposed to build and maintain safe roads for us.  Monitor and take care of our state’s abused children.  Make sure that criminals on parol are actually being watched over so they don’t kill us in our sleep.

But our government doesn’t always do a good job.  We find this out through tragic headlines.  We find it out when people sue to hold the Government accountable.  To prevent bad practices from continuing. 

Our State Attorney General wants to limit lawsuits against the Government and its insurance companies.  It wants to create a special class that is above the law.  And it wants to be the only one in that class.

All the rest of us are responsible if we mess up.  But the Government won’t be if new laws are passed.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013787841_apwastatejudgments1stldwritethru.html

This may save money in the short run.  But what about the long haul.  If we take away government checks and balances, then what kind of a monster will we be creating.  What incentive will the government have to get things right – if they are above the law.

 

SCIAW Lauches Its New Site: New NonProfit Organization for Spinal Cord Injury Survivors & Supporters

The new nonprofit organization, the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Washington (SCIAW) SCIAWlogo_C_web.gifis pleased to announce its launch of its new site, SCIAW.org.  SCIAW.org provides resources for those surviving or supporting spinal cord injuries (SCI) with focus of those in Washington State. SCIAW’s parent organization is the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. 

In the fall of 2010, SKW partner Karen Koehler created SCIAW in association with Dr. Charles Bombardier, Ph.D, Project Director for the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System; Vivian Moise, MD, the Medical Adviser/Director for the SCI Program at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital (Spokane, WA); Anthony Choppa, M.Ed, Owner of OSC Vocational Systems, Inc.; and Jesse Magana, spinal cord injury advocate.

SCIAW is a Washington State nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports all of the interests of SCI survivors, regardless of the cause of the injury or the severity of the impairment.

For more information and to donate, please visit SCIAW.org today!

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