93.1. Kiss FM – Ask A Lawyer – Part 2 – June 23, 2022

Ask A Lawyer - Michael Gopin

Tricia: You’re listening to 93.1, KISS FM.

Mike: “Ask a Lawyer With Michael Gopin” is the feature that we’re doing. It’s our monthly feature. Again, if you’d like us to put a legal question in front of Mr. Gopin next month when he’s back, just tap the free 93.1, KISS FM mobile app, or submit on kisselpaso.com. Look for “Ask a Lawyer” at the top of the page.

Tricia: And we’ve got a question from Timothy Berkshire. Hello, I am a 20-year military vet with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. We used those earplugs during our tour. Can you tell me more about the earplug cases?

Mr. Gopin: Yes. If people had used the earplugs between 2003 and 2015, those are the years and the devices that cause the problems for people. If you had tinnitus, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, all those type of hearing symptoms and problems, you’d be eligible for this case. Time is really of the essence. Now, there’s been many, many trials. They call them Bellwether Trials to determine kind of the range of damages that people have had. And they’re going to start negotiating these cases really soon, and there’s, you know, hundreds of thousands of them. But time is really of the essence. So if you have one, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help and get it in on time.

Mike: And why Bellwether?

Mr. Gopin: Well, Bellwether just means that they pick each side, 3M and the plaintiffs pick a group of cases that they actually go to trial on and get verdicts.

Mike: Oh, because these are class action?

Mr. Gopin: This is the class actions. There’s hundreds of thousands of cases. But the Bellwether means it’s like a trial of a trial. So, you’re just trying to get a idea of what the juries think of these cases. So, there’s been many, many trials and most of them have gone very well for the plaintiff’s side and have been huge verdicts which is really, really good. Doesn’t mean that everybody’s gonna get huge multimillion-dollar settlements, but they kind of get a range of what the cases are worth and they negotiate cases based on that. So, it could be, well, if you had this percentage of hearing loss, you’re going to be able to get this kind of money. If you just had tinnitus, you get X dollars. And then they’re gonna settle them all at the same time, all the hundreds of thousands of cases. And there’s over 200,000.

Mike: Okay. And then is there like a deadline for this?

Mr. Gopin: There’s not a strict deadline, but there’s going to be a point in time where they’re not gonna accept any more cases. The judge in Florida will just say, “That’s it, we’re done.” But that’s coming up really soon.

Mike: Okay. All right. “Ask a Lawyer Michael Gopin.”

Tricia: Theresa Martinez is asking, she’s saying, “Our mother was in a nursing home abuse situation. The staff was mean to her, didn’t change her when she needed to be changed, gave her medication on time and she just recently passed away. Is there anything we can do here, Mr. Gopin?”

Mr. Gopin: I’m really sorry to hear about your mother Theresa. I know how painful that is. It’s my mom’s birthday actually today. So I totally understand how you feel. With regards to the potential case, there’s a lot of questions I have for you. Did you notify the nursing home at all about these problems while your mom was still alive? Did you complain? Did you have anything documented regarding the problems that you were having like she needed to be changed and wasn’t, the medication? All these problems now that your mom isn’t here to discuss them and tell them, we would need some type of documentation to prove that there was nursing home abuse.

I don’t know if you’re claiming by your message here that her death was potentially because of the abuse or not. It may have, it may not be related at all, I have no idea based on what you told us. But those are some of the questions that we need to answer. Yes, you do have a potential case, but the real question here, did you document it? Did you complain before? Or did you, you know, now that things are passed, remembering all the problems and are angry, which I totally understand? So those are some of the things that we would need to look at.

Mike: And it would only be a case if her passing away was related to the mistreatment?

Mr. Gopin: Well, that would be a wrongful death case against the home, but there’s also, you know, just abuse by neglect and things like that that caused her damages along the way, that didn’t cause her death, but caused her suffering and so forth, like not changing her, maybe she had bed sores that were…or diaper rash or things that were documented in her medical records that we could show.

Mike: Is this the type of a case that you take as well?

Mr. Gopin: We don’t typically take these cases. We can certainly find a lawyer who’d be able to help you with the nursing home abuse case.

Mike: Okay.

Mr. Gopin: But those are the things that are important and would be necessary to go forward on one.

Mike: Right. Okay. All right. This brings us to the next question.

Tricia: We have Tanya Montoya, who’s saying, I was in a really bad accident about a year and a half ago, and I’m still paying the medicals from this accident. I didn’t hire an attorney and the insurance company barely gave me anything to cover the medical bills. Can I reopen my case?

Mr. Gopin: Well, Tanya, I’m sorry about your accident. The question is is did you sign a release? That’s the entire question here. It’s not too late if you did not, because it is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident to file a claim. But if you signed a release and they gave you money, you’re out of luck. So that’s the question here.

Mike: And they’re not going to give you money if you don’t huh?

Mr. Gopin: Yeah. Right. If they signed away, it’s over forever, regardless of if you had a lawyer or not. If you signed a release saying that this is it, that’s over. And the insurance company is notorious for running to the scene of the accident and getting you to sign a release for $500. Don’t do it, ask a lawyer first because, you know, once you sign we can’t help you.

Mike: It’s over. Yeah. Okay.

Mr. Gopin: So if you sign Tanya, the case is over. If it’s not, then you do have time, but time is coming here quick, because it’s been a year and a half, so you only have six months left.

Mike: Okay.

Tricia: Nice.

Mike: All right. That brings us to our final, “Ask a Lawyer Question With Michael Gopin.”

Tricia: And this is from Vilma Diaz. “My wife was assaulted at a local bar for being too intoxicated. The bouncers grabbed her, causing her to fall and fracture her right wrist, and she has an elbow strain. We went to the ER and she now has a cast on her arm. The bar is denying anything happened. What can we do?” That’s interesting.

Mr. Gopin: Well, I would definitely need more information from you. I don’t quite understand why they assaulted her. Was she being outrageous, her conduct at the bar? Was she doing things she shouldn’t have been doing, so they tried to restrain her? Was it because of the intoxication? I mean, just because you’re intoxicated, I wouldn’t expect a bouncer her to grab you and throw you to the floor. So we would need to find out all the facts of what’s going on at the bar that day. I don’t know if she was with other people at the bar that we could have some witnesses that can’t afford. Even some video of someone actually taped what was going on. But yeah, if the bouncers did so without provocation and caused her these damages, yes, you could certainly have a case against the bouncers in the bar for what happened. The question is really exactly what happened, why they restrained her, and how she was involved with her conduct here.

Mike: Yeah, in this day and age…

Tricia: There’s videos that…

Mike: Don’t you think?

Tricia: Well, the bars have…

Mike: The cameras too

Tricia: …the camera, but I mean, does the bar have to give them or can they say no, we’re not going to give you the…

Mr. Gopin: Well, they could… Once you file lawsuit, they’re gonna have to turn it over. So in pre-litigation, they don’t have to turn it over if they don’t want to. Of course, if it helps them, you know, they’re gonna want it turn over.

Tricia: Yes, if they see it and they’re like, nothing happened, here you go. That’s true.

Mr. Gopin: So it just depends, but I would gather up some information, see who the witnesses are and we’d be happy to talk to you about the possible case.

Mike: Like I saw one recently on FitFam.

Tricia: That’s why I was like, “Is it this one?”

Mike: Yeah. Where the guy…

Tricia: Carried her out…

Mike: …was carrying her.

Tricia: …and she was kicking her feet back and forth.

Mike: Yeah, but then she was also like falling asleep or something. I don’t know what it was, but it looked really funny. It looked like when you win those giant teddy bears at the carnival.

Tricia: And you’re walking?

Mike: And you’re walking with the giant teddy bear, that’s what it looked like.

Mr. Gopin: The teddy bear was kicking, right?

Mike: Yes.

Tricia: Yes. That’s a live teddy bear.

Mike: That’s what it looked like, it really did. And it looked like she was just standing outside, like she wasn’t in the bar just yet, but she was clearly from the video intoxicated. Yeah. So in a situation like that, you see her, you see that she’s picked up.

Mr. Gopin: Right.

Male Speaker: So, I mean, that would be like when he put her down and she fell, would that be a situation like…?

Mr. Gopin: Well, I mean, it’s a tricky situation, because I mean, the bouncers were doing what they needed to do.

Tricia: Their job.

Mr. Gopin: In this particular case, they needed to remove her from the situation. She was obviously out of hand, kicking, screaming out control. So, if they, you know, the video would tell the story, but if they did so gently, and the real reason that she fell was because of her intoxication, that’s on her.

Tricia: That’s true.

Mr. Gopin: So, it’s just a fact question and something we’d need to discover.

Mike: Yeah. Okay.

Mr. Gopin: But I hope, you know, your wife recovers from those injuries really quickly.

Mike: Yeah. They sound painful, man.

Mr. Gopin: Yeah, no doubt.

Mike: Okay. All right. Well, we thank you again. We appreciate your coming here…

Mr. Gopin: Well, you’re welcome, buddy, nice to be here.

Mike: …and giving us your legal expertise. So he’s gonna be back next month at the end of the month, “Ask a Lawyer With Michael Gopin.” If you have a legal question that you would like him to look into and answer, again, go to the free 93.1, KISS FM mobile app, or go to kisselpaso.com. Look for “Ask Michael Gopin” at the top of the page and submit your question there. Mr. Gopin, thank you again.

Mr. Gopin: Thank you very much, guys.

Mike: Have a wonderful day.

Mr. Gopin: You too.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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