Coolidge Wall Co., L.P.A.
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January 2014 Archives

Fleischauer testifies before Ohio House Judiciary Committee

Employment attorney Marc Fleischauer testified before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2014, regarding the impact and legal history of HB 376, the proposed Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill purports to set uniform standards by which Ohio courts would evaluate governmental actions that burden individual religious freedoms. Several states are adopting such standards, in accordance with the United States Supreme Court's ruling in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997). The Flores case held that similar standards under a similar federal statute could not be imposed on the states, absent state legislative action. Mr. Fleischauer is pictured here with the bipartisan bill's sponsors, Rep. Tim Derrickson (R-Hanover Township) and Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland), along with others who testified about the bill before the Judiciary Committee.

Blankenship co-authors article for Dayton Bar Briefs

Coolidge Wall attorney Amy Blankenship and Dawn Frick of Surdyk, Dowd & Turner recently co-authored an article entitled The Techno-Savvy Deposition, which was featured in the December 2013 issue of the Dayton Bar Briefs. Ms. Frick and Ms. Blankenship are the Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, of the Civil Trial Practice Group of the Dayton Bar Association. To view the article, click here: Techno-Savvy Deposition.

What happens to our digital property when we die?

As is often the case, sometimes it takes a while for the law to catch up with society's technological advances. Since the Internet is invisible, most people forget that their intangible digital assets are just as real as their tangible personal property. Currently, there are an estimated thirty million Facebook accounts that belong to people who are deceased. According to McAfee, in 2011 American consumers valued their digital assets, including online gaming, photos, music, client lists, bank accounts and bill-paying accounts at an average of $55,000 per person. And yet, few people plan for what will happen to those digital accounts when they die. Only a handful of states have addressed the ability of fiduciaries to handle and/or close down a decedent's or incapacitated person's accounts.

Sixth Circuit Expands Damages in ERISA Case

In December the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Rochow v. Life Insurance Company of North America. Rochow, the president of a company, began experiencing short- term memory loss and other symptoms of illness in 2001 which led to him being demoted. The symptoms continued to interfere with his performance and he was forced to resign in 2002. Rochow filed a claim for long-term disability benefits and the Life Insurance Company of North America ("LINA") denied his claim and three appeals. Finally, Rochow filed a complaint in court against LINA and stated two claims under ERISA: one to recover benefits due and one to remedy the alleged breach of fiduciary duty. The district court found for Rochow concluding that LINA acted arbitrarily in denying his claim for disability benefits. After the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision in 2007, the district court awarded Rochow the unpaid benefits and found that LINA must disgorge of approximately $3.8 million in profits supposedly earned from the money that LINA failed to pay Rochow.

Arbitration, Should it be the New Litigation?

In 2013, the federal courts decided several cases that upheld arbitration clauses in commercial and employment contracts. These courts further upheld arbitration clauses that require individual as opposed to class action arbitration. Some dissenting United States Supreme Court Justices wrote that it may no longer be economically feasible for individuals to take on big corporations in arbitration.