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October 2014 Archives

Veterans and Sexual Dysfunction

Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Attorney

This is one of those taboo subjects you just don’t bring up in polite company.  But the reality is we hear from veterans every week about their erectile dysfunction, which can be claimed as a service connected disability in many cases. 

As recently reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune: 

The topic is blush-inducing, to be sure. But some post-9/11 veterans received frank talk on the subject at a conference for combat veterans in Coronado last week.

“That fiery, playful sex that people have with their partners is a huge, positive buffer to all the other stuff you go through in life,” said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs psychologist Linda Mona, who runs an intimacy clinic at the VA medical center in Long Beach. …

San Diego County is home to 39,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — by one measure the largest cluster in the United States. About one in three are likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems, according to at least two studies of post-9/11 troops.

Among people with combat stress — officially known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD — the risk of sexual dysfunction is threefold.

In other words, the chance of problems in the bedroom is “ridiculously high” compared to young people who didn’t serve, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and surgeon who directs a monthly sexual medicine clinic at the San Diego VA hospital.

Medication is a factor. By one account, the average number of prescription drugs used by America’s veterans is 17.

Some of those medications, including antidepressants and opiate painkillers, can affect sexual function. Goldstein called most psychiatric drugs “sex unfriendly.”
So if you or your spouse is feeling alone and frustrated take comfort the problem is real and you are not alone.  If you need help sorting out if you have a service connected disability contact us at www.legalhelpforveterans.com. 

You can read more about this problem at:

MI Secretary of State Looking to Crack Down on Insurance Fraud

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), Ruth Johnson, convened a 56 member task force dedicated to addressing insurance fraud in the state. The task force and the SOS recently announced their 17 recommendations.

The recommendations come amid the announcement that the SOS uncovered that a whopping 16% of the documents filed by motorists from 2013-2014 were fake. And you need proof of insurance to receive a license plate in Michigan.

With 16% of documents being fake, one has to ask how that number got so high.

Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan, said he believes the high cost of insurance is driving the search for phony insurance coverage. He recommended a $3 fee to ramp up enforcement efforts against fraud. The SOS task force, however, did not address that.  

Secretary of State Johnson claims the problem is costing Michigan motorists around $220 million per year – which she says is a conservative figure. That's because if a driver with fake insurance coverage gets in an accident, the other drive must pick up the tab for those with no coverage.

Johnson said all sort of crooks are in the insurance fraud game, including a lady working out of a church netting some $30,000 a month to the sophisticated Internet fraud artists who produce documents that look real but are not.

The state police, local prosecutors and the state insurance director are all in on fighting back and the SOS has reported that some reforms have already cut the bogus percentage in half.

The task force’s recommendations also include: streamlining prosecution of offenders, assisting law enforcement in verifying insurance during traffic stops, cracking down on unlicensed insurance agents, and establishing a new “fraud commission.”


If you feel like you are a victim of insurance fraud, contact experienced Attorney Mark Mandell with Fausone Bohn, LLP, at (248) 380-0000. Mark has over a decade of experience fighting for his clients’ rights. 

Lake Erie Water Quality Issues

Paul F. Bohn, Esq.

Not long ago on our Firm’s Facebook page, I posted a link directing folks to a website where they can keep up-to-date on beach closings in and around the southern Great Lakes (myBeachCast).   As some of you have noticed, last summer we saw another record year of beach closings in Lake St. Clair and southern Lake Erie, as well as an emergency shutdown of drinking water intakes in Toledo and other Lake Erie metropolitan areas, which helped focus national attention on this water quality issue. 

Two recent initiatives should help address these growing Lake Erie water quality concerns.  Recently, the 4R Nutrient Council voted to certify three Ohio businesses in 4R’s fertilizer reduction approach.  On the same day, the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) announced an effort to eliminate and reduce fertilizer pollution in surface waters nationwide.  The 4R certified businesses serve landowners who own a combined 180,000 acres of tilled land, most of which drains into Lake Erie.  An overabundance of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie’s western basin has helped feed the annual algae bloom and the recent 2014 summer mega-bloom, which shut down Toledo’s water supply system.  4R approach is directed at reducing phosphorus from entering both surface and groundwater.  The EDF initiative is aimed at supporting national fertilizer retailers, suppliers, agribusinesses and farmers’ efforts to maximize fertilizer efficiency and reduce phosphorus runoff.

In addition to reducing water pollution caused by the introduction of too much phosphorus, fertilizer optimization is expected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities as well.


Non-Compete Clauses 2.0

Matt Worley, Esq.

Back in June I wrote an article about the importance of careful drafting of non-compete agreements for key employees:  2014/06/drafting-non-compete-clauses-to-ensure.html.  A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision illustrates this point perfectly.  Generally, these agreements not to compete are enforceable when they protect the employer’s reasonable competitive business interests and when they are reasonable in duration, geographical scope, and line of business.

In September, the Court of Appeals struck down a non-compete clause that prohibited the former employee from working for any company that “makes or sells any products competitive with a product offered by the company.”  While this may sound like typical language in a non-compete clause, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined it to be overly broad and unenforceable.

In that case, Defendant was a former employee of Plaintiff who resigned to go work for another company.  Both companies manufactured and sold “material handling equipment,” i.e. conveyor equipment.  Plaintiff argued that Mr. Sparling violated his two year non-compete by working for a competitor, Lewco.

The court held that the non-compete was unenforceable because it prohibited defendant from working for any company that offers even a singleproduct that is “competitive” with a product offered by plaintiff.  This prohibited defendant from working for any company that is even in remote competition with plaintiff, and was therefore unreasonably restrictive.

The court went even further and held that Lewco was not even a competitor of plaintiff.  It reasoned that because Lewco sold primarily standard conveyor equipment, whereas plaintiff sold specialized and custom conveyor equipment, they were not competitors.

This recent case is Huron Technology Corp v Albert Sparling,Unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals Opinion No. 316133, 

This case demonstrates how imperative it is to carefully draft contract language in non-compete agreements.  The language in this case was so similar to what is commonly used, but slightly tweaked, and the effect of that change is that the court found it unreasonably restrictive and unenforceable. 

If you own a business and are concerned about protecting your interests, contact the business law and litigation experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP to assist you with drafting your business contracts.  You can reach me at 248/380.3312 or by email at mworley@fb-firm.com. 

Procrastinate Till Death

Jim Fausone, Esq.

On a Saturday night at 7pm just after I was seated at a Mexican restaurant, I took a call from a number that I did not recognize.  It was the President of a local business (“Company”), who has been a client for seven years, telling me that the owner (“Owner”) of the Company was dying.  The Owner, who I have known for probably twenty years, built the Company, which now employs about 20-30 people in an extremely technical field.

During this after-hours conversation, I learned that the highly educated Owner was in the hospital and not expected to make it through the weekend.  The President told me that the Owner had not attended to final plans like the transfer ownership of the Company, will, or estate plan for his mother or adult son and daughter.

Over the next twenty-four hours, Don Knapp and I worked on a simplified stock ownership transfer and a basic last will.  There was no time to tax plan or adopt probate or tax avoidance strategies.  Nevertheless, as the Owner remarked from his hospital bed as he signed the documents: “Something is better than nothing.”

If the Owner had died intestate (without a will), all of his assets including the Company would have transferred to his children who had no interest in or knowledge of the operations of the Company.  In other words, in the absence of an orderly transfer of the Company’s ownership, the viability of the Company would have been questionable, contracts would have been in jeopardy, 20-30 jobs could have been lost, and the Owner’s desire to ensure that his hard work endured after he passed away probably would have not been realized.  

I am glad that I took that call before the fajitas arrived and my phone was turned off so that I could help my friend and client. 


Do not procrastinate to death.  You deserve to have your life’s work and assets transferred to ensure your legacy and to protect your family.  Contact Don Knapp at 248-380-0000, ext. 3213 or dknapp@fb-firm.com to begin that process.

New Insurance Legislation Places Added Requirements on Municipalities

Municipalities be advised: municipalities as additional named insured is not enough anymore under Michigan law when contracting out for services.

Earlier this year the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 715, which changes the insurance law for municipalities in the state and places additional requirements on cities and townships.

The law now requires municipalities to obtain from insurance companies the actual policy documentation containing the endorsement of a municipality as an additional insured. Previously, local governments looking to contract out work – for example, replacing the roof on a City building – could simply call and ask to be added as an insured party without reviewing or obtaining the actual policy.

The law does not expand coverage for local governments, but simply places the added requirement of furnishing the actual insurance policy.

Fausone Bohn has a team of experienced municipal attorneys. The firm has represented and worked with several cities and townships across southeast Michigan, including: Westland, Wayne, Rockwood, and Northville Township.


To consult with one of the firm’s attorneys, call (248) 380-0000, or visit our website
www.fb-firm.com

Fausone Bohn Attorney Joins Effort to Save Livingston Co. Veteran’s Home

Our own Paul Bohn recently joined an effort to help save a Livingston County Veteran’s home, just as he was on the verge of becoming homeless. Paul Bohn and other local attorneys donated their time to negotiate with the redeeming buyer, securing an affordable life lease for the Veteran, Ross Dahlberg, so he could live in his home until he chooses to leave.

And when we say “on the verge of becoming homeless,” it’s true. The deal to save Dahlberg’s home was closed less than 24 hours before he would have lost his home.

Dahlberg said he was overwhelmed with emotions. And he said of his home: "I'm here until I die."

***

Here is the full story from the Livingston Daily:

Last week, Brighton couple Keli Murillo and Jay Bobel, CEO of Northville-based Spartan Equities, stepped forward to put forth more than $142,000 in fees associated with saving Hamburg Township resident Ross Dahlberg's home.

"It's a miracle come true," said Dahlberg, a Korean War-era veteran.

The veteran's home was ultimately sold at a sheriff's auction to Day Glo LLC in March due to what Joshua Parish, a veterans benefits counselor, believes was an error by the state's Step Forward Program. Dahlberg fell behind on mortgage payments because of a divorce and medical issues, which put him in and out of the hospital and rehab care.

A state official refuted Parish's claim that Dahlberg's completed application was received by the state homeownership office on time.

If it weren't for Bobel and Murillo, Parish said he was told "Day Glo LLC was going to have the Sheriff's Department come remove Mr. Dahlberg from his home."

Bobel, whose company regularly assists with home redemptions in the county, said he saw the opportunity to "do good" after reading a Daily Press & Argus article on the topic, which prompted him to call Parish.

"Something just didn't sound quite right to me, and I wanted to help," Bobel said.

Parish's mission to help Dahlberg stay in his home became a community effort in July when he launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign in hopes of securing $130,000 needed to reclaim the home before a six-month redemption period that expired Thursday. Those funds will be transferred into a secure account and go toward Dahlberg's tax payments on the home, where he will virtually live for free.

"I want to go out in the parking lot and do a little dance," Parish said Thursday. "I've exhausted so much time and effort for this project."

The Veterans Affairs official has also secured supplies from Home Depot and Allied Lumber in Howell, Ann Arbor-based Fingerle Lumber and Milford-based ABC Supply to replace Dahlberg's roof that had sustained water damage over a number of years. Work began Thursday by volunteer contractors from Pinckney-based Jim's Roofing.

Dahlberg, who is wheelchair-bound due to the effects of diabetes, said he has met a number of "good people" during his struggle whom he would like to thank. He is now receiving home health assistance seven days per week through a Veterans Affairs program.

"At the moment, I'm a little choked up," Dahlberg said Thursday afternoon. "I'm overwhelmed with emotions.

"I'm here until I die," he said of his home.

Other important players in the effort included attorneys Paul Bohn and John Drury, and Howell-based Matecun, Thomas and Olson PLC, Parish said.

Originally posted Livingston Daily September 25:    



Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Victims to Receive Financial Relief, VA Announces

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will begin covering out-of-pocket health care expenses for Marine dependents who fell victim to cancer and other illnesses from toxic water at Camp Lejeune, NC.

The relief is long-overdue, as victims were promised coverage for their health care costs two years ago when Congress passed the landmark Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. Not to mention, the toxic water problem stems all the way back to the mid-1950s.

The 2012 law provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on the base from 1957 to 1987 and who suffered from any of 15 illnesses named in the law. These included cancer related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys and esophagus, as well leukemia and problems involving female infertility.

Some 750,000 people were exposed to polluted drinking water, which contained harmful chemicals from spills, a dump site on the base, leaking underground storage tanks on base and an off-base dry cleaner.

With the 2012 law, the VA immediately offered full care for veterans who had been stationed at Camp Lejeune, but it also established a waiting period for their dependents who suffered from covered illnesses to be reimbursed.

The most recent announcement from the VA means they will begin reimbursing family members later this year for health care costs incurred since March 26, 2013 – the date which Congress appropriated the funding.

The VA also planned to release a document about health care services to veterans who were on active duty at the base for at least 30 days in the three-decade period.

The news site McClatchy spoke with two individuals who were affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.  Retired Marine Jerry Ensminger’s 9 year old daughter, Janey, died of leukemia in 1985, and Mike Partain, who was born at the base, has suffered from male breast cancer.

The two led the long fight to get the 2012 law passed, and both said they were dismayed by the delay in individuals receiving this financial relief.

“As far as I’m concerned, so many people have already died. They just keep dragging this thing out,” Ensminger said.

Partain said “institutional apathy and incompetence” were the reasons it took two years to write and approve the regulations for how the law would be administered.

For now, at least, the victims of Camp Lejeune can celebrate a step in the right direction.

Read more on this story on McClatchy DC:   

Northville Twp. to Receive $23.4M in Tax Capture from the MI Strategic Fund

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) granted Northville Township, REIS-Northville LLC and REIS-MOB LLC access to $23.5 million in local and school tax capture to convert a former state hospital campus into a public green space and trail system.

The project is expected to generate $130 million in investment for the area. Attorney Paul Bohn, partner at Fausone Bohn, LLP, represented Northville Township in this matter, helping the Township secure MSF approval for the project.

Construction has already begun on the development, and a new, 100,000 sq. ft. University of Michigan Medical Facility opened this past spring.


Paul Bohn is one of the top-tier environmental and real estate attorneys in Michigan. If you need assistance on such a matter, you can give Paul a call at (248) 380-0000 ext. 9988.


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