German Exchange Student obtains $5,000,000.00 settlement in complicated medical malpractice case.

Medical malpractice, German exchange student, litigation, international law firm

German exchange student achieves $5,000,000.00 settlement.

By Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

The Jackson Law Firm achieved a $5,000,000.00 settlement on behalf of a German exchange student in Minnesota after a physician and hospital failed to properly diagnose a devastating injury to his leg. The student, Lukas (his name has been changed in order to comply with the case’s Confidential Settlement Agreement), had been sent to the United States at the tender age of 16 to study for a year in Minnesota.  Shortly before the end of his exchange program, Lukas was taken to the emergency department of a local hospital after sustaining a knee injury in a water-skiing accident.  In the emergency department he was seen by hospital nurses and an emergency physician and examined.  Lukas informed the nursing staff that he had been injured water-skiing and that he had felt his knee “pop out, then in”.  Lukas was noted to have pain of “10” on a scale of “1-10.”  He was documented as having “tingling” in his foot by the physician, even though the nurses had initially charted the foot as being “numb.” The physician recorded that he was able to put Lukas’ leg through a normal range of motion – meaning that his movement was not limited by the injury.  While this German exchange student did not know the English word for dislocation, he explained to the physician, too, that he had felt his knee “pop out” and added that it had “popped in again.” No translator was provided for Lukas during his stay in the emergency department.

Basically, through the impact with the water, Lukas had dislocated his knee, but before arriving at the hospital the dislocation had spontaneously reduced or corrected itself. The emergency physician told Lukas that he did not believe that the knee had dislocated, but did order x-rays.  After diagnosing an avulsion fracture, which is a small fracture that is most often treated non-surgically, Lukas was sent home with his host parents for follow-up during the week with an orthopedist.  However, unbeknownst to Lukas, the avulsion fracture was the least of his medical problems.  As it turns out, Lukas had also experienced 1) a subtotal tibial avulsion tear of the anterior cruciate ligament; 2) a posterior cruciate ligament tear; and 3) a left medial meniscus tear (posterior horn). This meant that his knee was incredibly unstable and could not possibly have been put through normal range of motion exercises in the emergency department. This fact was but one issue that called the examination in the emergency department into question.  However, these additional injuries also set the stage for Lukas to develop a far more significant medical emergency.

Most of Lukas’ injuries are not visible on simple x-rays. The crux of this case, therefore, turned on the fact that the mechanism of the injury, i.e., the high-velocity impact, and the patient’s complaints should have alerted this physician that there might be a more significant danger for this patient.  In fact, this type of injury is considered to be a vascular emergency because of the risk of arterial compromise, i.e., damage.  In this case, the patient’s history and mechanism of injury should have been enough to raise the concern for a dislocation in a prudent medical doctor.  That concern then leads the prudent physician to think popliteal neurovascular injury.  If so, additional testing is warranted or, at minimum, the patient should be been kept overnight for observation.  Instead, Lukas was discharged.

Within the course of that evening, Lukas’ pain continued. The host parents called the hospital’s nurse-advice line, but were told it would get worse before it became better.  However, the additional injuries caused progressive ischemia (insufficient blood flow) to lead to the development of compartment syndrome in Lukas’ lower leg.  The host parents chose to take Lukas to a different hospital after his problems persisted.  The doctors who examined Lukas there immediately recognized the significance of his injuries.  Lukas remained hospitalized for several weeks.  As a result of the physician’s failure to timely intervene in this process, the inadequate circulation to the leg was woefully insufficient to maintain tissue viability and by the time the nature of Lukas’ injuries were truly appreciated by the physicians at the second hospital, the damage was done and the physicians urged an amputation of Lukas’ leg.  Ultimately, at the insistence of Lukas’ mother, Lukas was sent by air ambulance back to Germany, where he was treated for an extended period of time by German doctors who were able to save his leg.  However, he underwent 14 surgeries to attempt to correct the severe damage to his leg.  Despite these efforts, the damaged muscle tissue in his leg was beyond repair and left him with what doctors there referred to as a “stork leg.”

Lukas was an avid tennis player. Before the accident, he played soccer and also jogged, skied, engaged in in-line skating, and rode his bicycle.  All of these activities became difficult to impossible for Lukas due to his injuries.  Obviously, so much of Lukas’ life has been impacted on a daily basis.

The Jackson Law Firm hired ten experts to help properly prepare this case for trial, including an emergency room physician, a pediatric emergency room physician, an orthopedic surgeon, a German orthopedic surgeon to address the care in Germany, a vascular surgeon, a physiatrist, a psychologist, a life care planner, a German business and occupational expert, and an economist. Lukas was flown to the United States so that most of the hired experts could evaluate him in person.  The reports from these experts were comprehensive and painted a picture for the defense that trial presented a significant risk to them.  While Minnesota allows health care providers to opt out of mediation, ultimately it was the defendants – when faced with the overwhelming evidence that would be put before a jury – who requested the mediation.  Ultimately, The Jackson Law Firm achieved a $5,000,000.00 settlement for this German exchange student.

When you hire a law firm to represent you, consider two important factors: 1) does this law firm have the experience to handle my case and 2) will they be able to properly prepare my case for trial, so that the defendant[s] fully understand the risk of actually going to trial. These two factors will go a long way toward ensuring your success in your case.  While other firms may claim to have such skills and ability, take the time to verify the truth of those claims.  Lukas’ family did take the time to fully vet this law firm, and now have the peace of mind of knowing that they achieved a significant settlement for Lukas.  In fact, the size of the settlement exceeded norms within the Minnesota medical malpractice community.  The nature and size of the settlement has allowed Lukas to pursue a new career path in the field of engineering.  A bright young man, Lukas – through the resolution of this difficult chapter in his life – has been able to make peace with his life.  In fact, I and two other attorneys within the firm have visited Lukas and his family several times in Germany since the resolution of the case, and still hear from them on a regular basis.  It is a reflection of how we see our clients –an extended family for whom we diligently strive for success.

The nature of this case underscores another point which lies at the core of this law firm. We routinely represent German clients in lawsuits throughout the United States.  A generic American attorney / law firm simply cannot understand a German client’s needs, based upon language and cultural differences, on the same level that The Jackson Law Firm is able to offer.  Our ability to handle these nuances often is the key to a successful outcome.   Similarly, in those firms that use a German attorney inexperienced in such matters to bridge the gap for their U.S. counterparts, mistakes are bound to creep into the process.  Insist on someone not only capable of speaking the language but also experienced in your type of case – we look forward to serving your needs.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2016

The Hague Service Convention – Service of Process in Global Litigation.

Hague Service ConventionBy Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

Each day the nature and level of interaction among individuals and businesses becomes increasingly global in nature, and, as dealings become more international in character, the natural outgrowth is global litigation. Many such examples abound.  Two German business partners agree on selling a luxury bus in a showroom in the United States, but the deal goes awry and while the vehicle is now located in Florida and becomes the subject of a dispute in a United States courtroom the defendant is to be found abroad.  What if instead, your company entered into a business agreement with a Norwegian shipbuilding company but the purchased vessel is substandard and the purchase agreement allows for suit in the United States.  Alternatively, your company reaches an agreement with an Australian national and an Indian manufacturing company for exclusive distribution rights of a certain product within the United States.  A year later you learn, however, that a distributor located in Texas has been allowed to distribute large volumes of this product within the United States in contravention of this agreement.  Instead, you may discover as a result of being sued that your former business partner in a real estate finance and development company has been diverting investor money for personal use, and you need to add him as a party to the litigation.  The only problem is that he is a Serbian national who has returned to his home country.  Finally, you are an attorney and represent an individual in a vehicular accident.  Unfortunately, the driver who caused the accident is a tourist who returned home to France.  Such examples may be found on a daily basis.  In each instance, what do you do?  First and foremost, you must have a grasp of issues relating to service of process abroad as governed by the Hague Service Convention.

Despite the increasing globalization of business and interpersonal relationships, even U.S. attorneys often remain uncertain about litigating on a global scale. Jurisdictional questions are daunting in the prism of international litigation and the simple task of service of process becomes confusing when service of process is to occur in a foreign jurisdiction.  Recognizing a need to stream-line this process, a large number of countries acknowledged the need to transmit judicial documents from one country to another without the burden of following diplomatic channels nearly a half century ago.  The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization which has worked to unify the rules of private international law, put forth a treaty known as The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters on November 15, 1965 (more commonly known as the Hague Service Convention).  Just this year already, in Costa Rica and Vietnam the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters has been ratified and will take effect in both countries as of October 1, 2016.  Thus, as of today, there are 71 total contracting States to the Hague Service Convention – the United States having done so in 1967.  Nevertheless, the treaty remains somewhat enigmatic to many U.S. litigators.  The Member Contracting States and Non-Member Contracting States may be broken down as follows:

Member Contracting States

Albania

Argentina

Armenia

Australia

Belarus

Belgium

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bulgaria

Canada

China, People’s Republic of

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Egypt

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

India

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Korea, Republic of

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

Mexico

Monaco

Montenegro

Morocco

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Republic of Moldova

Romania

Russian Federation

Serbia

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sri Lanka

Sweden

Switzerland

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Turkey

Ukraine

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United States of America

Venezuela

Vietnam

Non-Member Contracting States

Antigua and Barbuda

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Botswana

Colombia

Kazakhstan

Kuwait

Malawi

Pakistan

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

San Marino

Seychelles

The Preamble to the Hague Service Convention clearly delineates that the purpose of this treaty is “to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad shall be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time” and to “improve the organization of mutual judicial assistance for that purpose by simplifying and expediting the procedure.” Moreover, Article 1 of the Hague Service Convention provides that it applies “in all cases, in civil or commercial matters, where there is occasion to transmit a judicial or extrajudicial document for service abroad.”  So, whether you are an individual or are acting on behalf of a corporation, if you need to serve a legal document in a signatory country, you must abide by the requirements of the Hague Service Convention.  That is not to say, as pointed out by the United States Supreme Court in Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694, 701 (1988), that the Hague Service Convention actually prescribes standards for determining the legal sufficiency of the actual service of process – instead, to do so, the litigant must refer to the internal law of the forum state.

In the examples above, France and Germany ratified the Hague Service Convention as long ago as 1972 and 1979, respectively. Conversely Australia ratified the Convention as recently as 2010, whereas India and Croatia ratified it in 2006.  The most recent countries to ratify the Hague Service Convention are Costa Rica and Vietnam, having done so on March 16, 2016.

In the cited examples, the potential parties are located in contracting states. Setting aside jurisdictional questions in the analysis, if you intend to seek a judgment that you can then enforce in the foreign party’s home jurisdiction, you will need to ensure that your judgment was obtained through means that utilized valid service of process as recognized by the applicable foreign court.  In applying the Hague Service Convention, though, keep in mind that the party’s foreign citizenship is not the deciding factor; rather, application turns upon whether service of process is to be made in a contracting state.  Therefore, the Hague Service Convention does not apply where the foreign national or corporation or his/its domestic agent is found within a judicial district of the United States.  In such an instance, the local governing rules of procedure would apply to the service of process.

Where service is to be made in a foreign contracting state, attention must be given to Article 2 of the Hague Service Convention, which provides that each state is to designate a Central Authority “which will undertake to receive requests for service coming from other Contracting States and to proceed in conformity with the provisions of Articles 3 to 6.” Article 3 provides that a Hague Service Convention request form must accompany the document to be served and that each is to be forwarded to the Central Authority in duplicate.  Article 4, in turn, provides that the Central Authority will advise the requesting party of any deficiencies with respect to the request.  Article 5 of the treaty provides that the Central Authority will either serve the document itself or cause it to be served by means consistent with internal law or as set forth within the request, as long as the means requested are not inconsistent with the laws of the forum.  The forum state may also require the document to be translated into the official language of the contracting state.  Article 6 provides that the Central Authority shall complete a certificate corroborating service or delineating the reason[s] why service could not be accomplished.  If served, the certificate will include the method, place, date of service, and the identity of the person to whom the document was delivered.

The Hague Service Convention also provides for an alternate scheme of service, i.e., other than proceeding through the Central Authority. Such alternate means include, as set forth under Articles 8 and 9, effecting service upon individuals through its diplomatic or consular agents and/or consular channels.  Further, under Article 10, it is clarified that the Hague Service Convention does not interfere with 1) the freedom to send the documents by mail or 2) the freedom to effect service through judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.  However, Article 10 also provides that such alternate means may only be utilized if the State of destination does not object.  The Federal Republic of Germany, for example, has filed specific declarations with respect to these alternative channels of service.  Therein, Germany objects to service in its territory by foreign diplomats upon German nationals.  Although U.S. consular officials may effect service within Germany upon U.S. citizens, generally they will not do so.  Germany has also objected to service by mail or through a judicial officer.  Moreover, Germany requires an official translation into German of all documents to be formally served.

Ultimately, a judgment obtained in a U.S. court will not likely be enforced in a foreign state if service of process upon the defendant[s] was not effectuated properly. Thus, much time will have been spent and expense incurred in procuring a meaningless judgment. The Jackson Law Firm is experienced in assisting individuals and companies with such issues of international law as the Hague Service Convention, and with a network of foreign attorneys to whom we can refer you, should the need arise, your options to pursue legal claims in foreign jurisdictions increases significantly. By the same token should you need to domesticate and enforce a foreign judgment within the United States, we stand ready to put our experience to work on your behalf.

We encourage you to explore our website – www.thejacksonlawfirm.net – to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, P.A., the attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  International Litigation typically presents the courts, attorneys, and parties with unique challenges that fall outside of the general experience of law firms that have not routinely handled such matters.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients and other law firms in matters relating to the Hague Convention of Service of Process.  The Jackson Law Firm, P.A. takes pride in its international experience, and looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for its clients.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2016

Pursuing Legal Action in Germany: Finding German Attorneys and German Law Firms

German attorneys, German law firmsBy Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

Finding German attorneys and/or a German law firm to address your legal needs in Germany does not need to be complicated.  The Jackson Law Firm has firm roots in Germany, inasmuch as the majority of its clients come from Germany and are pursuing legal recourse in the United States. In the course of representing both German individuals and German companies, our law firm has developed strong connections with German attorneys and German law firms throughout the Federal Republic of Germany.  These connections, in turn, have resulted in more and more individuals and companies coming to us to help them pursue their legal matters in Germany.  We are able to assist in the sense that we bring together these individuals and companies with well-regarded German attorneys and German law firms throughout the Federal Republic of Germany.  Typically, we are asked to remain involved on the U.S. side in order to facilitate the representation by the Germany attorneys and German law firms of our clients.

If you are in need of pursuing a legal matter in Germany, and need a competent and trustworthy attorney anywhere in Germany, please contact us to discuss your matter. Frankly, the same can be said for the German-speaking countries of Austria and Switzerland, as our network in those countries is also fairly established.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2016

Enforcing Foreign Judgments

Foreign Judgment collectionBy: Bonnie J. Jackson, Shareholder

The enforcement of foreign judgments in the United States requires an understanding of the state’s laws within which one seeks to enforce such a judgment. Enforcing foreign judgments in Florida, as one example, is governed by Florida’s Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act.  Specifically, if a creditor has obtained a money judgment in a foreign country against a corporation or individual located in Florida, or with assets located in Florida, there is a statute that can provide assistance in obtaining recognition for the purpose of enforcing foreign judgments in Florida.

In order to obtain recognition in Florida of the out-of-country foreign money judgment, the judgment creditor must satisfy the requirements set forth in Florida Statute §55.601 et seq. (“the Act”).  The Act applies only to out-of-country foreign money judgments that are final, conclusive, and enforceable where rendered. See Fla. Stat. §55.603.  Also, the Act contains mandatory procedures that must be followed for recognition and enforcement.  Those mandatory procedures are set forth in Florida Statute §55.604 and state that:

(1) The out-of-country foreign judgment shall be filed with the clerk of the court and recorded in the public records in the county or counties where enforcement is sought.

(a) At the time of the recording of an out-of-country foreign judgment, the judgment creditor shall make and record with the clerk of the circuit court an affidavit setting forth the name, social security number, if known, and last known post-office address of the judgment debtor and of the judgment creditor.

(b) Promptly upon the recording of the out-of-country foreign judgment and the affidavit, the clerk shall mail notice of the recording of the out-of-country foreign judgment, by registered mail with return receipt requested, to the judgment debtor at the address given in the affidavit and shall make a notice of the mailing in the docket. The notice shall include the name and address of the judgment creditor and of the judgment creditor’s attorney, if any, in this state. In addition, the judgment creditor may mail a notice of the recording of the judgment to the judgment debtor and may record proof of mailing with the clerk. The failure of the clerk to mail notice of recording will not affect the enforcement proceedings if proof of mailing by the judgment creditor has been recorded.

See Fla. Stat. §55.604(1)(a) – (1)(b). Upon the recording and filing of the affidavit and judgment, the purported judgment debtor(s) has the right to notice of any attempts to domesticate the out-of-country foreign money judgment, as well as the opportunity to respond to such attempts.  These procedures are set forth further in the Act and state as follows:

(2) The judgment debtor shall have 30 days after service of the notice to file a notice of objection with the clerk of the court specifying the grounds for non-recognition or non-enforceability under this act.

(3) Upon the application of any party, and after proper notice, the circuit court shall have jurisdiction to conduct a hearing, determine the issues, and enter an appropriate order granting or denying recognition in accordance with the terms of this act.

(4) If the judgment debtor fails to file a notice of objection within the required time, the clerk of the court shall record a certificate stating that no objection has been filed.

See Fla. Stat. §55.604(2) – (4). If the judgment debtor fails to object and the clerk’s certificate is recorded, or if there is an objection and the evidentiary hearing results in a determination in favor of the judgment creditor, then an order of recognition can and must be obtained by the judgment creditor. At that point, the out-of-country foreign money judgment may be enforced as if it were rendered in Florida.  See Fla. Stat. §55.604(5) & (6).  This means that the order of recognition and judgment may be recorded in other counties in Florida in the same manner as a judgment rendered by a Florida court.

By recording the order of recognition and judgment in the official records of any Florida county, the judgment creditor establishes a lien on the real estate of the judgment debtor in the county of recording. Also, the priority of that lien in competing with other liens that may have been recorded is established at the time of the recording. See Fla. Stat. §55.604(7).  The axiom ‘first in time, first in right’ establishes the lien priority.

Alternatively, if the judgment creditor seeks to create a lien on personal property, then a different procedure must be followed. In that event, a judgment lien certificate must be filed with the Florida Department of State in accordance with Florida Statute §55.203.

It is important to have a skilled litigation attorney involved in enforcing foreign judgments in order to evaluate the out-of-country foreign money judgment to determine application of the Act, and to handle the preliminary steps required by the Act. For instance, a judgment creditor should not record and file the Affidavit and out-of-country foreign money judgment in any Florida county, but rather in a county where enforcement proceedings are sought.  Also, an out-of-country foreign money judgment that has been partially satisfied or that was obtained without due process afforded to the judgment debtor may not be recognized in Florida.  By hiring The Jackson Law Firm, you get an attorney experienced in international litigation issues and specifically in enforcing foreign judgments, so that precautions can be taken to help ensure recognition of the judgment, and guard against potentially lengthy and costly litigation that may follow.  Whether you seek to have the foreign judgment enforced in Florida or elsewhere, feel free to contact our law firm to discuss such foreign judgment enforcement.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2016

German Exchange Student obtains $5,000,000.00 settlement in complicated medical malpractice case.

German Exchange Student

German Exchange Student suffers serious injuries leading to $5,000,000.00 settlement.

Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

The Jackson Law Firm achieved a $5,000,000.00 settlement on behalf of a German exchange student in Minnesota after a physician and hospital failed to properly diagnose a devastating injury to his leg.  The student, Lukas (his name has been changed in order to comply with the case’s Confidential Settlement Agreement), had been sent to the United States at the tender age of 16 to study for a year in Minnesota.  Shortly before the end of his exchange program, Lukas was taken to the emergency department of a local hospital after sustaining a knee injury in a water-skiing accident.  In the emergency department he was seen by hospital nurses and an emergency physician and examined.  Lukas informed the nursing staff that he had been injured water-skiing and that he had felt his knee “pop out, then in”.  Lukas was noted to have pain of “10” on a scale of “1-10.”  He was documented as having “tingling” in his foot by the physician, even though the nurses had initially charted the foot as being “numb.” The physician recorded that he was able to put Lukas’ leg through a normal range of motion – meaning that his movement was not limited by the injury.  While this German exchange student did not know the English word for dislocation, he explained to the physician, too, that he had felt his knee “pop out” and added that it had “popped in again.” No translator was provided for Lukas during his stay in the emergency department.

Basically, through the impact with the water, Lukas had dislocated his knee, but before arriving at the hospital the dislocation had spontaneously reduced or corrected itself.  The emergency physician told Lukas that he did not believe that the knee had dislocated, but did order x-rays.  After diagnosing an avulsion fracture, which is a small fracture that is most often treated non-surgically, Lukas was sent home with his host parents for follow-up during the week with an orthopedist.  However, unbeknownst to Lukas, the avulsion fracture was the least of his medical problems.  As it turns out, Lukas had also experienced 1) a subtotal tibial avulsion tear of the anterior cruciate ligament; 2) a posterior cruciate ligament tear; and 3) a left medial meniscus tear (posterior horn).  This meant that his knee was incredibly unstable and could not possibly have been put through normal range of motion exercises in the emergency department. This fact was but one issue that called the examination in the emergency department into question.  However, these additional injuries also set the stage for Lukas to develop a far more significant medical emergency.

Most of Lukas’ injuries were not visible on simple x-rays.  The crux of this case, therefore, turned on the fact that the mechanism of the injury, i.e., the high-velocity impact, and the patient’s complaints should have alerted this physician that there might be a more significant danger for this patient.  In fact, this type of injury is considered to be a vascular emergency because of the risk of arterial compromise, i.e., damage.  In this case, the patient’s history and mechanism of injury should have been enough to raise the concern for a dislocation in a prudent medical doctor.  That concern then leads the prudent physician to think popliteal neurovascular injury.  If so, additional testing is warranted or, at minimum, the patient should be been kept overnight for observation.  Instead, Lukas was discharged.

Within the course of that evening, Lukas’ pain continued.  The host parents called the hospital’s nurse-advice line, but were told it would get worse before it became better.  However, the additional injuries caused progressive ischemia (insufficient blood flow) to lead to the development of compartment syndrome in Lukas’ lower leg.  The host parents chose to take Lukas to a different hospital after his problems persisted.  The doctors who examined Lukas there immediately recognized the significance of his injuries.  Lukas remained hospitalized for several weeks.  As a result of the initial physician’s failure to timely intervene in this process, the inadequate circulation to the leg was woefully insufficient to maintain tissue viability and by the time the nature of Lukas’ injuries were truly appreciated by the physicians at the second hospital, the damage was done and the physicians urged an amputation of Lukas’ leg.  Ultimately, at the insistence of Lukas’ mother, Lukas was sent by air ambulance back to Germany, where he was treated for an extended period of time by German doctors who were able to save his leg.  However, he underwent 14 surgeries to attempt to correct the severe damage to his leg.  Despite these efforts, the damaged muscle tissue in his leg was beyond repair and left him with what doctors there referred to as a “stork leg.”

Lukas was an avid tennis player.  Before the accident, this German exchange student played soccer and also jogged, skied, engaged in in-line skating, and rode his bicycle.  All of these activities became difficult to impossible for Lukas due to his injuries.  Obviously, so much of Lukas’ life has been impacted on a daily basis.

The Jackson Law Firm hired ten experts to help properly prepare this case for trial, including an emergency room physician, a pediatric emergency room physician, an orthopedic surgeon, a German orthopedic surgeon to address the care in Germany, a vascular surgeon, a physiatrist, a psychologist, a life care planner, a German business and occupational expert, and an economist.  Lukas was flown to the United States so that most of the hired experts could evaluate him in person.  The reports from these experts were comprehensive and painted a picture for the defense that trial presented a significant risk to them.  While Minnesota allows health care providers to opt out of mediation, ultimately it was the defendants – when faced with the overwhelming evidence that would be put before a jury – who requested the mediation.  Ultimately, The Jackson Law Firm achieved a $5,000,000.00 settlement for this German exchange student.

When you hire a law firm to represent you, consider two important factors: 1) does this law firm have the experience to handle my case and 2) will they be able to properly prepare my case for trial, so that the defendant[s] fully understand the risk of actually going to trial.  These two factors will go a long way toward ensuring your success in your case.  While other firms may claim to have such skills and ability, take the time to verify the truth of those claims.  Lukas’ family did take the time to fully vet this law firm, and now have the peace of mind of knowing that they achieved a significant settlement for Lukas.  In fact, the size of the settlement exceeded norms within the Minnesota medical malpractice community.  I and two other attorneys within the firm have visited Lukas and his family several times in Germany since the resolution of the case.  It is a reflection of how we see our clients –an extended family for whom we diligently strive for success.

The nature of this case underscores another point which lies at the core of this law firm.  We routinely represent German clients in lawsuits throughout the United States.  A generic American attorney / law firm simply cannot understand a German client’s needs, based upon language and cultural differences, on the same level that The Jackson Law Firm is able to offer.  Our ability to handle these nuances often is the key to a successful outcome. Similarly, in those firms that use a German attorney inexperienced in such matters to bridge the gap for their U.S. counterparts, mistakes are bound to creep into the process.  Insist on someone not only capable of speaking the language but also experienced in your type of case – we look forward to serving your needs.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2015

Pursuing a Lawsuit Against German Automobile Giant Volkswagen

VolkswagenBy Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

Volkswagen and Audi owners the world over are presently weighing on an individual basis whether to pursue a lawsuit against German Automobile Giant Volkswagen.  In giving consideration to such an option, it is critical to locate a law firm with the experience, knowledge, and wherewithal to take on such a corporate powerhouse. The Jackson Law Firm has firm roots in Germany, inasmuch as the majority of its clients come from Germany and are pursuing legal recourse in the United States. However, the law firm also represents individuals against German entities in the U.S. legal system, and, because of its German-speaking attorneys and staff, this firm can more comprehensively represent the interests of those claimants seeking compensation against a German corporation. That is particularly so with respect to the international scandal that has surrounded the German auto giant Volkswagen. Often critical pieces of evidence are found within key documents, and, in a case such as this, those documents are likely to be in German. There exists a distinct advantage when your attorney speaks the same language as what is utilized in key evidence in your case and/or speaks the same language as your opponent.

Accounts reflect that 11 Million vehicles are affected in the Volkswagen Emission Scandal. Already the CEO of the company, Martin Winterkorn, stepped down from his post last week amidst the scandal. The new Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Müller, indicated that the owners of affected vehicles will be notified in writing regarding the need to bring in their vehicles for “service measures” without explaining, though, what those measures might be. In the USA it is believed that 482,000 vehicles alone were involved in this emission scandal.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2015

Enforcing Foreign Judgments

By:  Bonnie J. Jackson, Shareholder

Enforcing foreign judgments in Florida is governed by Florida’s Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act.  Specifically, if a creditor has obtained a money judgment in a foreign country against a corporation or individual located in Florida, or with assets located in Florida, there is a statute that can provide assistance in obtaining recognition for the purpose of enforcing foreign judgments in Florida.

In order to obtain recognition in Florida of the out-of-country foreign money judgment, the judgment creditor must satisfy the requirements set forth in Florida Statute §55.601 et seq.  (“the Act”).  The Act applies only to out-of-country foreign money judgments that are final, conclusive, and enforceable where rendered.  See Fla. Stat. §55.603.  Also, the Act contains mandatory procedures that must be followed for recognition and enforcement.  Those mandatory procedures are set forth in Florida Statute §55.604 and state that:

(1) The out-of-country foreign judgment shall be filed with the clerk of the court and recorded in the public records in the county or counties where enforcement is sought.

(a)  At the time of the recording of an out-of-country foreign judgment, the judgment creditor shall make and record with the clerk of the circuit court an affidavit setting forth the name, social security number, if known, and last known post-office address of the judgment debtor and of the judgment creditor.

(b) Promptly upon the recording of the out-of-country foreign judgment and the affidavit, the clerk shall mail notice of the recording of the out-of-country foreign judgment, by registered mail with return receipt requested, to the judgment debtor at the address given in the affidavit and shall make a notice of the mailing in the docket. The notice shall include the name and address of the judgment creditor and of the judgment creditor’s attorney, if any, in this state. In addition, the judgment creditor may mail a notice of the recording of the judgment to the judgment debtor and may record proof of mailing with the clerk.  The failure of the clerk to mail notice of recording will not affect the enforcement proceedings if proof of mailing by the judgment creditor has been recorded.

See Fla. Stat. §55.604(1)(a) – (1)(b).Upon the recording and filing of the affidavit and judgment, the purported judgment debtor(s) has the right to notice of any attempts to domesticate the out-of-country foreign money judgment, as well as the opportunity to respond to such attempts.  These procedures are set forth further in the Act and state as follows:

(2) The judgment debtor shall have 30 days after service of the notice to file a notice of objection with the clerk of the court specifying the grounds for non-recognition or non-enforceability under this act.

(3) Upon the application of any party, and after proper notice, the circuit court shall have jurisdiction to conduct a hearing, determine the issues, and enter an appropriate order granting or denying recognition in accordance with the terms of this act.

(4) If the judgment debtor fails to file a notice of objection within the required time, the clerk of the court shall record a certificate stating that no objection has been filed.

See Fla. Stat. §55.604(2) – (4).  If the judgment debtor fails to object and the clerk’s certificate is recorded, or if there is an objection and the evidentiary hearing results in a determination in favor of the judgment creditor, then an order of recognition can and must be obtained by the judgment creditor.  At that point, the out-of-country foreign money judgment may be enforced as if it were rendered in Florida.  See Fla. Stat. §55.604(5) & (6).  This means that the order of recognition and judgment may be recorded in other counties in Florida in the same manner as a judgment rendered by a Florida court.

By recording the order of recognition and judgment in the official records of any Florida county, the judgment creditor establishes a lien on the real estate of the judgment debtor in the county of recording.  Also, the priority of that lien in competing with other liens that may have been recorded is established at the time of the recording.  See Fla. Stat. §55.604(7).  The axiom ‘first in time, first in right’ establishes the lien priority.

Alternatively, if the judgment creditor seeks to create a lien on personal property, then a different procedure must be followed.  In that event, a judgment lien certificate must be filed with the Florida Department of State in accordance with Florida Statute §55.203.

It is important to have a skilled litigation attorney involved in enforcing foreign judgments in order to evaluate the out-of-country foreign money judgment to determine application of the Act, and to handle the preliminary steps required by the Act.  For instance, a judgment creditor should not record and file the Affidavit and out-of-country foreign money judgment in any Florida county, but rather in a county where enforcement proceedings are sought.  Also, an out-of-country foreign money judgment that has been partially satisfied or that was obtained without due process afforded to the judgment debtor may not be recognized in Florida.  By hiring The Jackson Law Firm, you get an attorney experienced in international litigation issues and specifically in enforcing foreign judgments, so that precautions can be taken to help ensure recognition of the judgment, and guard against potentially lengthy and costly litigation that may follow.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, its attorneys, and the firm’s practice areas.  Our international experience allows us to assist clients in international matters, and the firm looks forward to the opportunity to put that experience to work for you.  Feel free to contact us via email to discuss your matter.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2014

When a Power of Attorney is Misused – What can a Foreign Claimant do?

Power of AttorneyBy – Michael R. Jackson, Shareholder

Instances arise where one individual must confer or give the power to make decisions on their behalf to another person.  One such method is the use of a Power of Attorney, which consists of a written authorization that allows the attorney-in-fact or agent of the one granting such power (the grantor) to act for the grantor in their personal or business affairs or with respect to a legal matter.  By being conferred such power, the agent or attorney-in-fact is bound as a fiduciary to act in good faith on the grantor’s behalf.  Unfortunately, a breach of such trust occurs all too often.

One example that our law firm litigated involved an elderly woman, M.H., from Munich, Germany who had utilized her life savings to purchase a home in Arizona.  M.H. spent part of the year in her native Germany, and her friend, G.C., a German who had immigrated to the United States, looked after the home for her.  G.C. ultimately desired to move out of state, and convinced M.H. to sell the home, assuring her that she would forward to M.H. the sale proceeds.  In order to accomplish that goal, G.C. told M.H., she would need a Power of Attorney in order to sign the listing agreement, related real estate documents, the purchase agreement, and ultimately the closing documents.  As part of the process, G.C. was to use the Power of Attorney to collect the full sales proceeds for the home.  The home was sold, the proceeds were collected, but the funds were never sent to Germany.  M.H. was in her 70’s, spoke no English, and was devastated.  Utilizing my native German proficiency, I was able to explain to M.H. that we would sue G.C. where she currently lived in order to pursue the money.  A lawsuit was brought in federal court, asserting claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment, promissory estoppel, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, fraudulent transfer, and civil conspiracy.  As we learned, G.C. had utilized the money to purchase a large acreage and home, and she had placed this property into a living trust in an effort to shelter it.  Through litigation, however, The Jackson Law Firm, P.A. was ultimately able to seize control of this property on behalf of M.H. With the aid of a local realtor, and, ironically, by utilizing another Power of Attorney, we were able to sell the property on behalf of M.H. and collect the proceeds on her behalf.  Thus, the moral of the story is to only grant the powers set forth in a Power of Attorney to someone whom you can truly trust.

Not every abuse of a Power of Attorney has such a satisfactory ending.  However, if you have questions about your rights, we urge you to contact us to discuss them.  Please remember that such claims can only be brought for a limited time, as set forth within the applicable statute of limitations.  Thus, we urge you not to delay in seeking advice.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2013

What is Legal Malpractice?

By – Bonnie J. Jackson, Shareholder

Most attorneys are trusted advisors to their clients, and are competent in the law.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Just like other professions, there are times when an attorney falls below the expected standards.  When that happens, the client seldom knows where to turn for help and may lose trust in our system of justice.  Even worse, the client may be left with large damages.  So what can you do?

Our law firm handles cases involving legal malpractice, which is sometimes referred to as professional malpractice or professional negligence.  A claim of legal malpractice requires proof of three things:  (1) the formation of an attorney-client relationship; (2) the attorney’s neglect of a reasonable duty to the client; and (3) proximate cause.  The term “proximate cause” for a legal malpractice claim means that damages to the client were caused by the attorney’s neglect of a reasonable duty and not some other cause.

At The Jackson Law Firm, P.A. we have handled cases against attorneys and law firms in a broad arena of practice areas.  Some include claims against immigration attorneys; family / marital law attorneys; real estate attorneys, including issues relating to loan modifications; and appellate attorneys.  One of our successful cases involved a lawsuit in Orange County against Kaufman, Englett & Lynd, PLLC (a/k/a K.E.L.) alleging, among other things, the failure to take diligent action, the failure to properly investigate the case, the failure to communicate with the client, and the failure to supervise a freshman attorney assigned to the case.  The lawsuit filed by The Jackson Law Firm, P.A. resulted in a favorable settlement to our client.

If you believe that you have suffered damages as a result of an attorney, do not wait to take action.  Just like other civil claims, there is a window of opportunity.  In the case of legal malpractice, a person has two years to assert a claim.  There are some circumstances that may delay the starting of the two-year clock, so consultation with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case would be necessary.  Whatever your circumstances, do not delay in seeking in legal advice.

If you think that an attorney failed to take action on your behalf, please give us a call so that we can evaluate your case.  We encourage you to explore our website –  www.jacksonlawfirm.net to learn more about The Jackson Law Firm, P.A., our attorneys and practice areas.  Any law firm that you choose should have the experience and ability to take your case through trial and appeal, if necessary.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© The Jackson Law Firm 2013

Are Lawsuits in the United States that Different? What to Expect.

Lawsuits in the United StatesWe begin this post by asking a question that must be on the minds of many persons from abroad, who, for one reason or another, need to bring claims or lawsuits in the United States: what makes litigation in the United States different? Procedures? Rights? Damages?

What are some of the actual differences that may exist? For those familiar with the civil law, as it exists in most of the European Union nations, the question is, how does the European civil law compare with the United States’ legal system?  To begin with, the “law” of the United States is really composed of the laws of its individual states. Each state has its own “common law”, that is, a body of recorded and accepted decisions in cases from the past, which is used to provide precedent for current cases. States have their own legislatures too, which may create new rights or remedies for certain claims which are not available in another state.

Most lawsuits in the United States are filed in the courts of the 50 states. In some respects, the different states within the United States can be seen as sovereign entities. Many have different legal traditions and heritage. Every state has its own legal heritage, procedures and statutes.  The damages you may be entitled to, or which you receive, may also be different from another case you may have heard about, because of the state laws where your claim has to be filed. However, state courts and legislatures have limits.

There are statutory federal laws, and federal courts, which handle certain types of legal claims, and disputes between citizens of different states or even citizens of foreign countries, but the amount of the claim involved must be big enough.  A European should be somewhat familiar with a federal system from the European Union. The federal legal system in the United States, however, is much stronger and has a broader reach than any European court at the present time. Federal cases generally proceed to trial in a shorter amount of time, and the judges are appointed instead of elected. Some matters, like immigration or intellectual property (copyrights, patents, trademarks), are governed directly by federal laws. If your case involves a maritime contract, or an event that occurred on the seas or inland waters, it will be governed by “admiralty law”, which is its own federal body of law (although the case can be in a state court).

How does this complex, mixed legal system substantively affect lawsuits in the United States? An individual with experiences from a European or civil law legal system may have certain expectations or assumptions as to how the process works, but things can be quite different in the United States. Here are a few, but by no means all, such differences:

  • Jury trials. One aspect of our legal system, in all 50 states within the United States and in federal courts, is the trial by jury; though, it is not mandated in all cases. Not every claim is brought to a jury trial.  For example, sometimes you may not want a jury because the lawsuit is quicker and simpler that way, and less expensive. On the other hand, you may want to demand one, because of who the parties involved may be, or because you are worried about getting a fair result from a certain court.
  • Punitive damages and legal fees. Some states and some types of legal claims allow for an award of “punitive” damages (derived from the Latin: “to punish”), in addition to the other damages you may have.  To my knowledge, this is very unusual in the civil law tradition.  Also many states have rules that provide for the award of legal fees and expenses. Again, however, depending on the state, these awards may not be available. Generally, there is no nation-wide “loser pays the fees” rule, like in some countries. Sometimes a statute provides for recovery of fees and expenses, but this is another factor your lawyer must determine in your suit.
  • Pre-lawsuit procedures. In many states, some types of claims require that a specific procedure be followed before a lawsuit can even be filed. For instance, in medical malpractice claims, many states require some form of pre-suit finding or determination by a medical expert, that there was even a possible wrongdoing, improper procedure, or breach of the standard of care by a doctor, before the suit may proceed.  Another example is that with contract claims, the contract itself may contain a provision requiring the case go to arbitration instead of to court, or it may have a valid clause selecting the specific state where a claim must be filed.
  • Length of time for the case to go to trial.  The time it takes for a lawsuit to actually get to trial differs widely depending on where in the United States the case is filed. Federal cases are usually on a faster track than state cases. Some state courts are slower because the state sees a much greater volume of litigation than other states. This can be true even between different courts within the same state.  Your lawyer should be able to advise you on how long your case may take to litigate, given where it will be filed.

In summary, a person from abroad may find that they have remedies and damages available in the United States that are rare or that may not exist in their own legal system. On the other hand, sometimes they may find that rights and procedures they were familiar with in their own country do not exist in the United States, or work differently than they anticipate, and may take longer to litigate than at home.

We at Jackson Law International, take pride in making the effort to advise individuals from other countries on their rights, remedies, and potential recoveries for claims which must be brought within the United States legal system. We strive to explain any legal particularities to our clients, and relate them in terms with which they may be familiar.

Please remember that we do not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until we enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement. If we do not respond to your inquiry or are unable to take your case, please contact another law firm immediately to have your case assessed.

© Jackson Law International 2013