West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

All Eyes Are On Ferguson, Missouri

For the past week or so, the attention of the nation has been focused on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the shooting death of 18 year-oldjea.jpg Michael Brown. While there are relatively few undisputed facts known thus far, we do know that Brown was shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson PD. Accounts of what actually precipitated the shooting vary wildly. One account has Brown essentially being executed while attempting to surrender with his hands in the air, while another has Brown being killed after attacking the officer and trying to take his gun. An investigation is underway, and the entire nation is watching.

As always seems to happen when a tragedy like this hits the national news, social media has exploded with reactions covering the entire spectrum of possibilities. One side argues that Brown was a law-breaking, drug-selling thug who got what he was certainly going to get at some point in his young life, while the other screams that this is yet another case of an out-of-control, power-crazed, ticking time bomb of a police officer over-reacting to what should have been a routine situation. The fact is that the investigation is ongoing, and until it has been completed we really won't know what happened or, perhaps more importantly, why it happened.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Until last Sunday morning, I was one of those people who thought the Ice Bucket Corey P.jpgChallenge was silly and annoying. I could not believe how many times my husband could scroll through Facebook and watch people dump ice water over their heads. When I would see video clips in my own Facebook feed, I would not watch them for two reasons - because I was bothered by the fact that my friends had little else to post and because I was hoping no one would nominate me. I was also disappointed that people would rather douse themselves in freezing water than donate to a good cause. Those feelings came to an abrupt halt last Sunday morning when I happened to catch a feature on ESPN about Pete Frates. 

Let the Tans Fade

As I was given the opportunity to intern at Bordas & Bordas this summer, I knew skin cancer awareness.jpgthat I would be facing a new way of life, a way of life that many refer to as "the real world." I knew things in my life would change, like sleeping in no later than 7:30 a.m., being in bed by 10:30 p.m., and not having eight hours a day to do whatever I please. One thing that really got to me was that I had no time to catch some rays and lay by the pool as much as I had in the past. As my friends were all enjoying the sun and comparing tans, I was getting paler and paler. So, just like any other person my age, I made appointments at the local tanning salon and soon enough had some color. I thought, "What's the big deal? I have been tanning for homecomings, proms and weddings since I was in high school."

The problem with my generation is that we all think that we are invincible. We see things like car wrecks, drugs and alcohol abuse and think, "That will never happen to me." The more I think about that statement, I find that I think the exact same thing when it comes to putting myself under the florescent, ultra-violet rays. If you haven't figured out where I am headed with this entry, I am talking about skin cancer. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? That more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually? Or that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime? If not, skincancer.org can inform you of these statistics and more.

Invitation to Have Fun and Get Exercise

Well, in my world, summer is officially over. Sure, there are a few more summer Linda Scaggs.jpgdays on the calendar, but the Bordas & Bordas bowling league begins on Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 6:10 p.m. at St. Clair Lanes. This signals the end of my summer, since I am secretary of that league. I am also President of the United USBC Board of Directors, so I like to encourage other women to join our sport.

I gave those League details because we are in desperate need of bowlers - first time bowlers, experienced bowlers, old bowlers or young bowlers (18 or older), we don't care. The Bordas & Bordas league has bowlers from 21 years of age to those in their 80's, with averages from under 100 to over 200 (I fall right in the middle). We are the largest league in our United Bowling Association with 17 teams of five women. Well, five is how many a team is supposed to have, but this year some teams only have three or four bowlers.

New Studies Raise Additional Concerns Regarding the Health and Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

As hydraulic fracturing continues its march as the darling of natural gas drilling Zak Zatezalo small portrait headshot.jpghere in the Ohio Valley, so does the evidence of its potential to induce harm to humans and the environment. The uncertainties of the health risks associated with horizontal drilling, using massive amounts of water, pressure and certain hazardous chemicals to break down shale formations for natural gas extraction, has pushed countries worldwide to proactively regulate the use of this technology, such as a temporary ban in Germany in 2012 and a ban in France in 2011. While industry mouthpieces continue to reassure the public that all is well and there's nothing to be concerned about, ongoing research continues to suggest that these countries' efforts are well-founded, and two recent studies provide mounting evidence that we all need to be concerned about the knock-on effects of the Ohio Valley's natural gas boom.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looked at over 41,000 wells in Pennsylvania shows that newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones. The results suggest that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation. A team of four scientists analyzed more than 75,000 state inspections of gas wells done in Pennsylvania since 2000.
Overall "traditional", or vertical, wells drilled before 2009 had a leak rate of about 1 percent, while newer traditional wells drilled after 2009 had a leak rate of about 2 percent. However, the leak rate for "unconventional" wells - those being drilled horizontally in the Ohio Valley's fracking boom - was as high as 10 percent. Even more concerning is that the scientists don't know the size of the leaks or even their causes, but suspicion that companies are cutting corners amidst this drilling boom was strong enough to cause Pennsylvania to increase its efforts to stress proper cementing practices and make leak protection efforts on unconventional wells more stringent.

Adopt-A-Highway Update: The Second Clean Up Was Held on Sunday, June 22, 2014

I participated in the second of the three required Adopt-A-Highway clean ups for 2014 in memory of Stephanie K. Ward Stahl. I missed the first clean-up which wasStephanie K Ward-Stahl (3).jpg held on April 13, 2014 due to a prior commitment. I did chat with my friend, Sandra Ward Miller, Stephanie's Mom, at the clean-up. She mentioned that the April clean up only took an hour because there were so many volunteers. That truly shows the devotion of all the volunteers who consisted of family, friends, etc. It makes me very proud of the people in our little corner of the world. I'm just sorry that the reason that brings them all together is because a young person was taken away from her family and friends way too soon. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason in our lives. What that reason is in this particular incident, I do not know.

If I Could Keep You Little

A little over five years ago, my world changed. Allison Jo McGraw was born on July Allie 1.jpg2, 2009. While she wasn't born on the 4th of July, she did come home from the hospital on Independence Day which is quite fitting. Allie, from early on, has been fiercely independent in her own thoughts and opinions. She is strong willed, beautiful and loving. Even though it is very cliché, I could never have imagined the effect she would have on my life. Allie was the first little girl born on my side of the McGraw family in 60 years. You can imagine the disbelief from my parents when we found out that she would be a girl. I will always remember my quiet and reserved mother screaming over the phone "MIKE, PICK UP THE PHONE," to get my Dad to hear the news. From that time forward our lives exploded into a blur of pinks and purples. We picked the name Allison very quickly and knew we wanted to call her Allie. Her middle name, Jo, wasallie 2.jpg not selected so quickly. My wife wanted Allie's middle name to be Elizabeth and I preferred Jo. Jo is also Amanda's middle name. As we neared the due date Amanda told me I could go ahead and pick the middle name and whatever I chose would be fine. I now know, after telling the nurse to putAllison Jo on the birth certificate, that Amanda fully believed that I would pick Elizabeth after watching her go through labor.She was wrong. While Amanda has come around on the name Jo, I did not get the final choice for our second daughter, Lauren Elizabeth's name.

The Moundsville Power Project

Over the past several months, a good deal has been written about the proposedThumbnail image for Bordas_0051john.jpg Moundsville Power facility that is set to be constructed on the former Solvay site just south of Moundsville. Pretty much everyone agrees that construction of the facility is a positive thing for Marshall County, and it would be darn near impossible to argue otherwise. The debate has been over what happens once construction is complete.

The existing proposal calls for Marshall County to take ownership of the power plant under what is known as a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) arrangement. PILOT programs generally provide that ownership of a particular facility is transferred to a tax-exempt entity in exchange for specified payments being made over a certain period of time. In its simplest terms, a PILOT arrangement provides a way for the company to avoid paying property taxes at the full rate. PILOT arrangements have been around for many, many years and are a means for attracting business and industry to a particular area. The CertainTeed Gypsum plant that opened south of Moundsville back in 2008 was the subject of a PILOT arrangement, as were many other major industrial projects in the state over the past 20 years or more. The proposed agreement for the Moundsville Power project calls for county ownership of the facility for 30 years, during which time the business would pay around $31 million in annual lease payments. According to the Marshall County Assessor, the PILOT agreement results in a tax break for the facility of approximately $13 million over 30 years.

Taking care of a loved one with Dementia/Alzheimer's

When my husband's job brought us to Wheeling, I thought we would be starting a new chapter in our lives. Little did I know what a big chapter it would turn out to be. At the time of our move, my grandmother, who was 86 years old, hadBordas_0046-thumb-300x375-22211.jpgfallendown her steps and was in a Pittsburgh hospital. While in the hospital, she was diagnosed with dementia, and I was told she could not be in her home alone. So we did what any loving family would do; we brought Grandma with us to liveBordas_0046-thumb-300x375-22211.jpg in West Virginia. I had no idea how hard and how much fun it would turn out to be.

Our two boys were eleven and six years old at the time, and having their great-grandma who was now acting like a child herself was very challenging. I'd be up half the night with her because she was very confused on where she was and would try to leave the house. When it was time to get the boys ready for school, and us ready for work in the morning, I would be a walking zombie. We tried to have people come to our home and stay with her, but they never worked out. I was blessed to find Family Service-Upper Ohio Valley in downtown Wheeling; a business that offered adult day care for dementia/alzheimer's adults. Now we all had to get up and get ready for work, school and adult day care. My mornings started at 3:30 a.m. to get everyone on the buses to their destinations and be at work by 7:30 a.m. This went on for nine years.

Looking Forward to Wheeling's First Dog Park

The Ohio Valley is filled with a variety of different people, all of whom have unique images (2).jpgpersonalities. We all have different careers, stories and experiences. Although many of us may not know each other, there is one thing that we may have in common; a love for animals. Last year, an announcement was made that the city of Wheeling had formed an association with hopes to open a dog park. Sure there are plenty of parks throughout the valley, but not all dogs like being on a leash, and the bigger the dog the more they want to run.

People may wonder what the difference is between a park, like Oglebay, and a dog park. Although our local parks are all dog friendly, the dog park will have a different set of rules. At the Wheeling Dog Park, pets will be allowed to run and play in an environment where they will be allowed off of the leash. The park will have an area for both large and small dogs to sniff and play. Pets need to socialize just like humans and at the dog park, both pets and humans can associate with one another. The canine park not only benefits our four legged friends, but it is also good for the elderly and disabled citizens who need a service dog by their side when exercising. It also builds tourism for people driving through the area and allows for the community to be more open to animals.

recent verdicts & news

Winning Experience: Read about our Appellate Decisions, as well as our Verdicts and Settlements.  Recent cases: Kilgore v. Bedi , (Ohio County, West Virginia, 2013) - Medical Malpractice, Personal Injuries - nearly $900,000 Verdict -- Turkoly v. Gentile et al. , Verdict, $5,100,000.00 (Medical Malpractice, Mahoning County, Ohio, 2013) -- Cox v. Personal Service Insurance Company , (Belmont County, Ohio, 2012) - Bad Faith Insurance Practices - $10,000,000.00 Verdict;