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Daycare Injuries


Day Care Providers – What You Need to Know to Protect Your Children

Working parents throughout Virginia depend on day care providers to look after their children. Unfortunately, children at day care facilities who are injured often are too young to speak up for themselves. These injuries are varied and numerous and can range from milk bottle burns to playground accidents to being left behind abandoned on a field trip. If you are a parent of a child in day care, what do you need to know about the daycare to ensure the safest environment for your child? What should you know to be able to obtain adequate remedies in the event of injury?

Licensing. To ensure your child is in the safest environment possible, make sure that your child’s day care facility is licensed and regularly inspected by the Virginia Department of Social Services. Not all childcare providers are subject to the same background check, training, qualifications, health, safety, and inspection requirements as licensed providers. In fact, some programs, including religious exempt daycares, can be unlicensed but regulated, or unlicensed and unregistered. Ask for a copy of the license. More information about the types of day care programs in Virginia can be found on the Department of Social Services website at: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cc/index.cgi. For the programs that are regulated by DSS, parents can check for inspection reports and violations at: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/search/cc.cgi.

Insurance. In selecting a day care provider for your child, make certain that the provider is properly insured. There must be adequate insurance to cover any injuries that your child might suffer. If a day care provider is licensed, it should also be insured; however, we have handled cases where the provider let the insurance lapse. Insurance is critical, because even if you have a valid claim, a lack of insurance will prevent a full and just recovery. Ask them for proof of current insurance coverage. Also ask them if they have medical payments coverage under their insurance to cover any medical bills regardless of fault.

Training. Finally, find out what qualifications the employees hold and what training is provided. Ask how injuries will be handled, reported and documented. While you are at work, you want to have peace of mind that your child is going to be cared for very well.

At Quinn Law Centers, we have handled many matters involving injury to children including daycare injuries. To explore a civil recovery for a daycare or similar injury, contact info@lockequinn.com. This article was written by Colleen M. Quinn, Esq., and Kati Kitts Dean, Esq., and provides general information only. For more details, please be sure to contact an attorney.

Legal Brief – Choosing Between Assisted Reproduction and Adoption


On this radio show sponsored by Creating a Family, Colleen Quinn, owner of the Adoption & Surrogacy Law Center at Locke & Quinn, joins host Dawn Davenport and Andrea Braverman, a therapist specializing infertility and alternative family building, to talk about “Choosing between Assisted Reproduction and Adoption.” For patients who have not been successful with IVF, the next decision many infertility patients face is whether they should move to third party reproduction (donor sperm, donor egg, embryo donation (or embryo adoption), or surrogacy) or should they move to adoption. Quinn addresses many of the legal aspects entailed in making these choices.

Listen to the Radio Show

When Victims Prefer Female Personal Injury Lawyers – Are They Available?


A woman with horrific scaring after a botched breast reduction; a rape survivor suing her landlord for hiring the convicted criminal who attacked her; a class action lawsuit against a trans-vaginal medical product – all scenarios where plaintiffs might feel more comfortable working with a female personal injury attorney.

However, they may struggle to find one. An ABA study titled “First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table”, discovered (using 2013 data) that women represented just 32% of lawyers on civil cases, 27% at trial, and 24% as lead counsel. This is in comparison to 68% of men taking on civil cases, 73% showing up to trial, and 76% being appointed as lead counsel.

The report notes that the disparity is even higher in tort (personal injury) cases, with 79% of lead counsel being male, and only 21% being female.

“What these numbers show is that the steps to the role of lead counsel and trial attorney are much steeper for women than men,” the report states. “ …While women lawyers have been entering the profession in large numbers for three decades, they have not advanced at nearly the same rate as men.”

The reports cites the impact of children and other family responsibilities on women’s careers; bias in the law field; male-centered social norms; outdated law firm cultures, policies and the short-term business focus of many firms among other factors in this disparity.

Where are the female tort lawyers?

Despite the fact that women have been getting law degrees for decades, there has not been a proportional growth of women in leadership positions at plaintiff-focused law firms.

“Since 1980, women have earned at least a third of all law degrees; currently the figure is 47%. So we are not talking about a sudden influx of women in law,” said Rayona Sharpnack, founder and CEO of the Institute for Gender Partnership™ and the Institute for Women’s Leadership. “They have been joining Big Law firms for decades.”

“But they don’t get much of anywhere. Today they make up 45% of associates—but only 25% of nonequity partners and 15% of equity partners,” Rayona said. “Traditionally biased attitudes, lack of challenging opportunities, inequality in compensation, and lack of professional recognition methods all contribute to keeping women from making a full contribution to their profession of choice.”

As a result Rayona says, there are fewer women lawyers – especially fewer high-powered ones – available to fight the good fight for women clients.

Jennifer Kain Kilgore, attorney editor at Enjuris.com, recalls that her law school class had far more women than men enrolled, and that this year her school’s daytime class actually has 68% female enrollment.

“We definitely outnumbered the boys,” she said. “Most of us went on to do great things. We’ve only been out for the better part of four years, though, so none of us would be partners yet unless we started our own firms — which some of us did! I have a fair number of friends who started practices because they were dissatisfied with the opportunities in the legal market.”

Some law firms stepping up

While the disparities remain high at the class-action level, there are some individual attorneys and smaller firms that are seeking to address the gap in personal injury law.

Colleen M. Quinn runs the Women’s Injury Law Center out of the firm Locke & Quinn in Richmond, VA, where she is a partner. The Center provides legal services for women who want to be represented by women.

She launched the Center because “it was clear to me that there were injury issues unique to women, especially in the areas of civil recovery for rape and sexual assault, head injuries that affect women differently and plastic surgery and cosmetology injuries,” Colleen said. “In many of these areas women prefer to work with a female attorney.”

Civil case options for assault victims

Colleen also wanted to raise awareness for victims of rape and sexual assault who may not realize that there are potential civil recoveries that they can receive, in addition to a criminal case.

While there can be compensation in a criminal trial, it is often minimal as compared to a potential civil case outcome, Colleen said. For example, one of her clients was raped, stabbed and left to die by a maintenance worker at her apartment complex.

Colleen and her client launched a civil case against the temp agency that employed the worker, which failed to do a thorough criminal background check on him, and the apartment complex that did not allow tenants to install deadbolts in their apartments.

Both companies were found liable and the woman received $3 million in settlement, which helped cover her therapy and other recovery needs, including her move to a house in safer part of town with a security system.

Colleen, herself a domestic violence and stalking survivor, worked during law school with battered women’s programs and realized that nobody was creating awareness for women on their potential civil rights in these cases.

“A civil lawyer can make sure that every stone has been turned over and that all remedies are looked into,” Colleen said.

Victims in scenarios like this find empathy and comfort from having a female attorney, Colleen said. “I have a good appreciation of what they are going through and it makes it easier for them to open up. I also make sure that therapists are still involved with the victims during the civil case.”

Head injuries and women

The Center also takes a different approach to traumatic brain injuries, arguing that women are impacted differently than men.

“Women have unique multi-tasking abilities,” Colleen said. “I describe it as women having 10 dresser drawers open and working on them all at once. Head injuries can impact that focus and attention in a different way for women.”

Botched medical procedures

There are also medical issues where women may feel more comfortable dealing with a female attorney, such as a botched breast reduction surgery or cases involving scars or disfigurement. But Colleen doesn’t see many firms reaching out to women in the way that hers does. She feels that it gives her firm an advantage when talking with clients.

“I saw all of these areas and just wanted to make sure that women knew there were empathetic female attorneys to help them,” Colleen said.

Women getting a seat at the table in class-action cases

Since the 2013 ABA report there has been some progress for female representation in class action lawsuits. As a Law360 article notes, female lawyers are gaining influence in multidistrict litigation (MDL).

The first female-dominated plaintiffs’ steering committee was formed after U.S. District Senior Judge Kathryn H. Vratil gave a speech at a 2014 MDL conference at Duke University, where she called for greater diversity among plaintiffs’ leadership.

The following November, in a product-liability MDL involving power morcellators, the judge worked with attorneys to appoint the first female-majority plaintiffs’ steering committee. (Power morcellators were found to potentially spread cancer and decrease the long-term survival of patients when used to remove uterine fibroids.)

Finding female attorneys

While their numbers may be less, there are ways of finding female attorneys to represent you in a personal injury or other civil case.

The National Women Trial Lawyers Association offers a directory listing female attorneys and their geographic location and practice areas.

The National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms offers a directory that allows searches by practice area.

The American Bar Association provides links to national and local women lawyers’ associations, some of which provide listing of local attorneys.

Many state bar associations have a women’s network and local contact information. For example the, Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts offers a directory for female attorneys broken down by practice area.

Benefits to having a female lawyer

In addition to adding personal comfort for some plaintiffs, having a female lawyer can also offer practical benefits, according to the ABA report:

“Women lawyers have many advantages in the courtroom—they connect well with jurors, particularly with women jurors, who often comprise half or more of the jury pool; are viewed as more credible and trustworthy; and are in many instances overprepared rather than underprepared. Women litigators have ample reason to be confident in their effectiveness as trial counsel.”

 

This article was originally posted on Enjuris.com.

New Laws Regarding Domestic Violence and Stalking in Virginia


As of July 1, 2016, new laws took effect in Virginia in the following areas relevant to domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking:

1. Protective Orders (“POs”)

  • Emergency POs to prohibit respondents from being in the physical presence of their victims can be obtained. These include prohibiting a respondent from intentionally maintaining direct visual contact with the victim or unreasonably being within 100 feet from the victim’s residence or job.
  • Where a victim is not a tenant of a residence but obtains possession of the premises through a PO; the law outlines the process by which the victim may become a tenant, and alternatively grants the victim 30 days to vacate.
  • Amendments to the laws make it a Class 6 felony if a respondent violates a PO to stalk or cause bodily injury to a victim.
  • Respondents under Family Abuse POs may not “knowingly possess any firearm while the [PO] is in effect.” The law allows them 24 hours after being served with the PO to transport a firearm in order to sell or transfer it. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services provides a list on their website of agencies willing to accept firearms from respondents under Family Abuse POs.

2. Stalking

  • It now is easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions for stalking; and there is a higher penalty for certain repeat stalking offenders as well as lower requirements to obtain a Class 6 felony charge.

3. Trafficking

  • Virginia law now provides a civil cause of action for any person injured by certain human trafficking violations, which allows victims to pursue financial recovery.

Seeking Help

If you need help or know someone who does, the following resources are available:

  • YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline – 804-643-0888
  • Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-838-8238
  • The victim advocate program at your local Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court

To explore a civil recovery for domestic violence or sexual assault, contact the Women’s Injury Law Center at Locke & Quinn at http://www.lockequinn.com/womens-injury-issues/ and quinn@lockequinn.com. This article was written by Colleen M. Quinn, Esq., and Kati Kitts Dean, Esq., and provides general information only. For more details, please be sure to contact an attorney.

November is National Adoption Month


As President, of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and owner of the Adoption & Surrogacy Law Center, I wish you a very happy, meaningful and fruitful National Adoption Month. As the events unfold this month in our city and region, we all can be inspired by each other and by the one out of three families touched by adoption.

History of National Adoption Month

For over two decades, National Adoption Month has been celebrated across the country. Many national; state; local agencies; and foster, kinship care, and adoptive family groups will arrange programs, events, and activities during the month of November to raise awareness for the hundreds of thousands of children and youth in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.

  • 1976 Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week in his state to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care.
  • 1984 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week.
  • 1995 President Bill Clinton expanded Adoption Awareness Week to the entire month of November.
  • 1998 President Bill Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care.
  • 2008 President George W. Bush provided an explanation of National Adoption Month in Spanish.

For small ways to celebrate, drop a kind note to prospective adoptive parents going through the adoption process, provide a thoughtful gift to a child in foster care, say “thank you” to a foster or adoptive parent, or give a book about adoption to someone special just to raise awareness – there are hundreds of adoption books for children and adults!

For bigger ideas about how to celebrate National Adoption Month, the Children’s Bureau of U.S. Health and Human Services has a terrific social media toolkit found here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/ adoption/nam/about/

And the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute has a list of events and well-vetted ideas about impactful ways to celebrate the month or National Adoption Day (November 19, 2016) events in your community at http://www.ccainstitute.org/ programs/view/national-adoption-day-engage.

To learn more about adoption, visit the Adoption & Surrogacy Law Center at http://www.virginia-adoption-attorney.com .

This article provides general information only. Article provided by Colleen M. Quinn, Esq. at https://plus.google.com/+LockeQuinnColleen MQuinnRichmond/about and http://www.quinn lawcenters.com/law-centers/adoption-and- surrogacy/team/attorneys .

2016 New Overtime Rules – What Businesses Need to Know


On December 1, 2016, new rules will go into effect regarding overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, most hourly and salaried blue-collar workers are entitled to time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, the FLSA also contains several exceptions to this rule. The most common is the “white collar exemption” – an exception for higher-paid workers who generally have better benefits, job security, and opportunities for advancement, who generally meet three criteria:

  1. First, they must be paid on a salary basis (rather than hourly, for example).
  2. Second, they must pass the “job duties” test, meaning that they perform the type of work associated with exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees.
  3. Third, their salary must meet the “minimum salary threshold” established by the Department of Labor. The biggest change that will occur on December 1 is this amount will be raised to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year, almost double the current threshold amount. Most employees earning less than $913 per week will be entitled to overtime once the new law goes into effect, regardless of whether they are salaried or pass the “job duties” test.

Bonuses and Commissions – The new law will permit up to ten percent of the white collar exemption salary threshold to be met by non-discretionary bonuses, incentive pay, or commissions, provided these amounts are paid on at least a quarterly basis.

Exceptions – Some types of employees may fall into another exemption under the FLSA, which does not require them to pass the white collar salary threshold test; therefore, these employees will not be affected by the new regulations. These types of employees include among others:

  • Outside Sales Employees
  • Drivers who fall under the motor carrier exemption.
  • Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers

“Highly Compensated Employee” (HCE) Threshold – Another change is to the salary threshold for the “highly compensated employee” exemption which is currently $100,000 per year, with at least $455 per week on a salary or fee basis. That amount will be raised to $134,000 per year, with at least $913 per week on a salary or fee basis.

 Future Planned Increases – Employers should prepare for the minimum threshold amounts for both the white collar and the HCE exemptions to change regularly every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.

 Options for Businesses after December 1, 2016 – For employees who do not currently receive overtime, but may be eligible after December 1, employers may opt to:

  • Raise Salaries
  • Pay Overtime, and/or
  • Cap Hours and Hire Part Time Employees

This article provides general information only. A more detailed summary is available by email to quinn@lockequinn.com or dean@lockequinn.com Locke & Quinn provides employment law services. Article provided by Kati Kitts Dean, Esq. and Colleen M. Quinn, Esq. at https://plus.google.com/+LockeQuinnColleenMQuinnRichmond/about

Product Liability


Product liability law involves issues with anything available for purchase. Listen as attorney, Colleen Quinn discusses three primary types of product liability cases: defect in design, defect in manufacturing, or failure to warn of a potential danger. Colleen details examples of prior cases in each of these three areas including a case about an exploding soda bottle, an improperly designed weight machine at a gym that resulted in crushing a finger, glass in a soda can, and a dead mouse in a potato chip bag. In addition to case examples, Colleen also provides answers, in this radio segment, to many of the questions that arise in product liability cases, such as: “Can medical devices like artificial joints be the subject of a product liability case?”, “What role does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play in protecting the public from faulty food and drugs?”, and “What sort of evidence and/or witnesses might be necessary to be successful in a product liability case?”

Legal Brief – Automobile Liability


In this radio show segment, Colleen Quinn addresses the topic of automobile liability, including the comparison of Virginia’s contributory negligence (fault) system versus the comparative negligence systems of the majority of states. Colleen also explains the concept of “maximum medical improvement (MMI)” as well as “uninsured motorist insurance coverage” and “negligent entrustment” (when the keys to a vehicle are given to someone that the giver knows will be a dangerous driver). Answers to prevalent automobile liability questions are provided in this segment, as Colleen explains why motorists should be cautious about signing releases following an accident, how worker’s compensation factors into the recovery equation, how liens can effect the amount recovered, how contingent fee contracts with attorneys work, and what information should be brought into Colleen’s office when the injured party decides to come in for their free auto case consultation at Locke & Quinn.

Equal Pay Act (EPA) v Title VII


The Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII both were created in an effort to stem discrimination in the workplace. When thinking of the EPA and Title VII, a lot of people think of salary and gender discrimination, but it may be easiest to think of them as swimming pools. The EPA is like a kiddie pool that can only fit a small number of people whereas Title VII is an Olympic-sized pool that can fit a large number of people.

Who is protected?

Under the EPA, individuals can only sue if their employer is paying them differently than another employee based on their sex. Furthermore, you have to compare yourself to an employee whose position is substantially equal to yours. This tends to be the most difficult part of filing an EPA claim because many people choose to compare their wages to people who aren’t in similar positions. Lastly, as if all of those hoops were not enough, the law gives employers exemptions in certain situations for paying their employees less based on sex.

On the other hand, Title VII is a lot broader than the EPA. Under Title VII, individuals can sue if their employer is discriminating against them based on their race, color, national origin, sex or religion. Title VII can encompass discrimination other than visit in pay differential such as sexual harassment, unlawful termination or other discrimination in the provision of job benefits.

So, why would anyone file an EPA claim?

You’re probably wondering “If an EPA claim is so hard to file under, why would anyone use it?” There are two main reasons someone might file an EPA claim over a Title VII claim for wage discrimination on the basis of sex. First, in order for someone to file a claim under Title VII, your employer must employ at least 15 people. If your employer has less than 15 people working for them, no Title VII claim can be filed. However, under the EPA, there is no minimum number of employees needed to file your claim. Second, in order for someone to file a claim under Title VII, they have to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing suit and the EEOC has a mandatory 180 days to consider the claim. Under the EPA, you don’t have to go through the EEOC, which means that a lawsuit can be filed much sooner.

Legal Brief – Surrogacy Law


In this radio clip, attorney Colleen Quinn talks about the legal aspects of surrogacy. Quinn is the current President of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys and is recognized as an expert in surrogacy law. Quinn answers questions about how to choose a surrogate, what type of screening surrogates should receive and the typical cost of surrogacy to the intended parents. She also details the difference between a surrogate being a compassionate carrier versus an arms-length carrier, and how that changes the costs of surrogacy. Lastly, Quinn details the legal rules of surrogacy including which states don’t allow surrogacy (this one may surprise you) and the legal rights over the child while it’s being carried by the surrogate.

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