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Lawsuit Filed After E-Cigarette Explodes in New Jersey Man’s Pocket

close up portrait of a man smoking an e-cigaretteA lawsuit was recently filed alleging that an exploding e-cigarette in a New Jersey man’s pants pocket caused severe burns to his leg and emotional hardship sufficient to alter his life. The suit alleges that the store that sold the product, Gorilla Vapes, and LG Chem LTD, a company making e-liquids, knew the product was both defective and dangerous.

Gorilla Vapes sells e-cigarettes and e-liquids in New Jersey, with roughly six stores scattered throughout the state. The exploding product was bought in one. The company’s website indicates that it both sells and develops “designer e-cigs.”

Medical costs sought in e-cig injury lawsuit

The lawsuit was brought by the alleged victim and his wife, William and Kathleen Barrese. Mr. Barrese was hospitalized and consulted a specialist after the explosion, which caused flames to shoot down his leg. He carried the e-cigarette in his pocket at work.

The accident happened in late December. The suit is seeking damages, ongoing medical costs, and legal fees.

Exploding e-cigarettes: an ongoing problem

Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers (where the term “vaping” comes from), are often marketed and used as a way of curbing tobacco smoking, and thus limiting the health risks of smoking.

However, they have turned out to have an unexpected consequence that is not safe. It is increasingly clear that these products pose a serious danger of explosion and burns.

The recent New Jersey suit is one in a line alleging malfunctioning batteries. They can short, explode, and catch on fire. All of this can cause serious burns and other harm to users and people and property in proximity to them.

These lawsuits and reports also indicate problems with charges, both manufacturer and third party. These can also supercharge and explode.

In the e-cig or charger is kept in a pants pocket with change and keys, the metal contact can cause the battery to short and explode.

Given the accumulating evidence that the devices themselves are not safe, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association are becoming increasingly interested in regulating them. This is a separate issue from their healthcare-related safety, as products curtailing tobacco use.

Last year, the FDA’s authority was extended to cover all manufacture, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, distribution, and importation of these products.

In April 2017, the FDA will hold a public workshop to discuss the safety concerns regarding these products. The results will be made public in May 2017.

If your e-cigarette explodes

The e-cigarette explosion lawyers at Edelman Krasin & Jaye want to give all e-cig users a warning about the potential dangers posed by the batteries.

If you have experienced injuries from a device or battery, contact our firm immediately for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal rights to compensation under product liability law.

Given the uncertainty, it might be wise to cease using e-cigarette products until the safety picture is clarified. However, if you have been the victim of an exploding or burning e-cigarette, take prudent steps:

  • Save any evidence, including the device, battery, and charger. Any burned clothing or damaged items should be saved.
  • Take pictures of this evidence and any injuries or other damage.
  • Get all relevant medical records
  • Ask if surveillance video that documented the explosion is available.

We have experienced lawyers who have fought for injury victims for more than 50 years. Call us today for a free case review with a product liability lawyer.

Additional “e-cigarette explosion lawsuit” resources:

  1. McCarthy, Craig. “Man Sues After E-Cig Explodes in Pocket, Shooting Flames Down Pants.” March 27, 2017.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Tobacco Products. Vaporizers, E-Cigarettes, and Other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).

Deaths from Traumatic Brain Injury Rise in Elderly

More elderly people are dying from traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a recent report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The data, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), noted that in general fatalities caused by TBI declined in the 2007-2013 period. However, the drop in the general population was caused by a reduction in TBI-related fatalities related to car accidents. Traumatic brain injury in people over 75 years old rose, likely as a result of falls.

A separate CDC report, issued in 2015, noted that the number of fall-related deaths in the elderly doubled between 2000 and 2013.

In the overall population, according to the MMWR, a fall was the most frequent cause of a head injury, accounting for 47%. Being hit by an object and car accidents were the second and third most common causes, respectively.

TBI-related emergency room visits rise dramatically in elderly

Overall, U.S. hospitals saw 2.8 million TBI-related incidents in 2013, in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

ER visits alone rose 56% overall in the period, to 2.5 million from the 1.6 million recorded in 2007. TBIs related to falls among the elderly (people over 75) constituted 18% of the climb.

Hospitalizations related to concussions were also up among patients over 75 years old in the period, a rise attributed chiefly to falls.

Traumatic brain injury causes 30% of all deaths related to injuries. Close to 1 in 50 emergency room visits overall are for injuries related to TBI.

Identifying risks for traumatic brain injury in the elderly

The MMWR noted that, given the rise of TBI-related falls in the elderly, more attention needed to be paid to effectively identifying risks and necessary interventions.

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, for example, need to be careful of overprescribing sedatives, which may contribute to falls, difficulty walking, and mental impairment. Exercise, medication management, and safe surroundings can all be implemented to make the elderly safe from falls.

For the live-at-home elderly, interventions might also include medication management and environmental adjustments, such as anchoring rugs and letting in more light for optimal vision.

Hurt in a fall? Contact a personal injury attorney

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are seasoned personal injury lawyers who have practiced in New York state for over five decades. Have you or a loved one been hurt or lost a life in an injury caused by a fall? If so, we can explain your rights under personal injury law. You may be able to claim just compensation for medical bills and more.

For a complimentary consultation, call us today. Our attorneys can provide you with a thorough review of your case and clear explanation of your legal options. We can also come to you if traveling is an issue.

Additional “elderly risk for brain injuries” resources

  1. Taylor, Christopher A., et al. “Traumatic Brain Injury–Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths — United States, 2007 and 2013.” MMWRSurveillance Summaries, March 17, 2017 / 66(9);1–16.
  2. United States Centers for Disease Control. Home and Recreational Safety. Older Adult Falls. Important Facts About Falls.

Injured Man Receives $5.4 Million Award Due to Brain Damage

A  jury recently determined that a 63-year-old man who fell off his bicycle as a result of a defect in a road under construction should receive over $5.4 million from Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT). PennDOT was doing construction on the road near a suburb of Philadelphia at the time of the plaintiff’s fall.

Failure to maintain road and negligent design alleged

The man, David Carletti, suffered brain damage in the accident. He hit a patch on the road that caused him to be ejected from the bike’s seat. His head hit the pavement as a result. He suffered brain damage, broken ribs and vertebra, and is subject to ongoing seizures.

Carletti brought a suit against his bike helmet’s manufacturer as well as PennDOT. The manufacturer settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum. Claims against PennDOT were negligence in design and failure of road maintenance.

The total award, $5.46 million, included $2.5 million for medical expenses and lost wages and $2 million in pain and suffering to Carletti. His wife received $1 million for loss of consortium.

Pennsylvania state law limits civil damages against any agency of the state to a $250,000 maximum settlement. Both Carletti and his wife are expected to receive the maximum.

Personal injury liability involved in case

The case illustrates key tenets of personal injury law. Injured parties can bring a suit provided that the entity that caused their injury was negligent. Negligence is often determined by reference to whether a duty of care was owed and whether the other entity knew or should have known that the conditions were dangerous.

PennDOT is charged with maintaining Pennsylvania’s roads in part to make them safe. In addition, although the state maintained that it was not road defects that made Carletti fall off the bike, the jury found for the plaintiff, indicating that they did not agree with the state’s defense.

An accident reconstruction expert was credited with providing the jury with compelling testimony about the cause of the accident.

Mr. Carletti has brain damage and does not remember the incident.

Consulting an attorney about a personal injury

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are experienced personal injury lawyers who have practiced in New York state for more than five decades. If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you deserve just compensation for lost time at work, medical bills, and more. We can explain liability laws in New York State.

Call us today for a complimentary consultation. Our bicycle accident attorneys will answer all your questions about the strengths and weaknesses of your legal case and work tirelessly for just compensation.

  1. Associated Press. “Jury: PennDOT Owes Cyclist, Wife $5.4M Over Brain Injuries.” WJAC, March 13, 2017.
  2. Mitchell, Max. “Delco Jury Awards $5.4M to Brain-Damaged Cyclist.” The Legal Intelligencer. March 9, 2017.

Woman Charges Uber with Sexual Assault and False Imprisonment by Driver

Car Accident Lawsuit New YorkOn February 23, a Minnesota woman brought a lawsuit against ride-share service Uber, charging that the company does not adequately screen its drivers and that, after using an Uber service, the driver sexually assaulted her and held her against her will.

The woman was identified as “Jane Doe.” The driver was identified as Abdel Jaquez. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Was Uber negligent in hiring and screening?

The facts of the suit indicate that on August 5, 2016, the plaintiff and some friends used the Uber app to get a ride. The driver, Jacquez, gave the group his direct number to get in touch with him later in the evening, for a second ride.

During the second ride, Jacquez is alleged to have propositioned the plaintiff. After she refused, he grabbed her aggressively and committed a sexual assault.

The plaintiff’s suit claims Uber Technologies is negligent in its driver hiring and screening practices. It is alleged that a sufficient background check would have revealed that Jaquez had a prior arrest for a sexual crime against another person. The usual standard in the taxi industry is a thorough background check based on fingerprints. The charge alleges that, had Uber done such a check, the incident could have been avoided.

The suit states that Uber, as a transportation company and common carrier, is “directly liable for its negligent hiring, supervision, and retention of Jaquez, directly liable for its advertising misrepresentations holding out its transportation service as a safer alternative to taxis for women.”

The suit also states that the company “placed profits over safety by deliberately lowering the bar for drivers in order to rapidly expand its network of drivers and thus its profits.”

Growing evidence of Uber liability raises concerns

The case unfortunately joins a growing list of cases in which ride-share services like Uber and Lyft have been found guilty of negligence in screening their drivers. The drivers have been charged with a variety of actions, including murder, manslaughter, and rape.

At one point, the ride-share services were attempting to argue that the liability was borne by the drivers alone, as they are contractors and not employees. Courts, however, have increasingly found the companies liable for not conducting proper background checks.

In addition, the companies charge a safe ride fee intended to cover motor vehicle screenings and driver safety education.

Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that Uber and Lyft do owe a duty to passengers. More stringent regulations make the responsibilities and potential liabilities of rideshare services more congruent with traditional taxi drivers. The responsibilities include regular vehicle inspections, more stringent and detailed background checks, mandated proof of liability insurance, and heightened transparency about past driver suspensions and deactivations.

Filing a lawsuit against a ride sharing company

Attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye understand ride sharing liability laws inside and out. We are experienced with laws concerning the ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. Our commercial vehicle accident lawyers guide plaintiffs through the process of filing Uber accident claims and help them pursue maximum compensation for their injuries and losses.  Call today for a free consultation today.

Additional Uber lawsuit resources

  1. Farivar, Cyrus. “Woman: After I Rebuffed My Uber Driver’s Advances, He Tried to Rape Me.” ArsTechnica, February 25, 2017.
  2. Rosenblatt, Joel. “Uber Settles Lawsuit Over Driver Sexual Assault Claims.” Bloomberg, November 3, 2016.

Traffic Deaths Show Most Dramatic Rise in More than 50 Years

auto Accident Victim Waits Outside of Her CarAccording to data from the National Safety Council (NSC), traffic deaths likely rose 6% in 2016. Combined with the 14% climb in 2015, the number of traffic deaths in the past two years have shown the most dramatic spike since 1964 — more than 50 years ago.

The preliminary 2016 figures indicate that up to 40,000 people died on the nation’s roadways last year. The rise means that 2016 was the most dangerous year on the road in nine years, since 2007.

Roughly 4.6 million people on the nation’s roads were injured significantly enough to seek medical attention. The overall cost of vehicle accidents was $432 billion.

Driver actions the cause of growing crash rate

Why are deaths and accidents so high, and rising at such a significant rate?

Unfortunately, it seems to be the actions of drivers themselves. Eighty-three percent of drivers polled by the NSC believe that driving is a safety concern. However, in the same group, 64% confess to feeling comfortable speeding, 47% text, either manually or via voice apps, and 13% drive while under the influence of marijuana. Ten percent drive under the influence of alcohol.

The NSC points out that these actions — and any accidents they cause — are entirely preventable. Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC President and CEO of the NSC, also observed that the U.S. is behind the rest of the developed world in road deaths.

Traffic death solutions advised

The NSC also wants a number of solutions implemented. If enacted across the country, the nation’s deaths from vehicle accidents could be near zero. The solutions include:

  • Expand existing texting while driving laws, including hands-free texting.
  • Require placing ignition interlocks for vehicles of people found guilty of drunk driving and increased education about substance impairment.
  • Utilize automated enforcement methods to catch speeding drivers.
  • Move seat belt laws to primary enforcement from secondary and expand their use to every passenger in every kind of vehicle.
  • Use a three-tiered license system for all new drivers less than 21 years of age. (Currently, this is done only for drivers less than 18 years old.)
  • Manufacture vehicles with safety technologies that can save lives. These include adaptive headlights, automatic emergency braking, monitoring of blind spots, and lane department warnings.
  • Strengthen motorcycle helmet requirements.
  • Institute comprehensive pedestrian safety programs.

Do you need to consult an attorney about an accident?

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye attorneys are seasoned practitioners with wide experience in New York State law regarding accidents. If you or a loved one have been hurt or lost a life in a vehicle accident, we can work with you to gain compensation for lost time at work, medical bills, and more. We can explain liability laws in New York State.

If this has happened to you, call us today for a complimentary consultation. Our vehicle accident attorney team will work for you to receive just compensation.

Additional “traffic death” resources

  1. National Safety Council. Driver Safety Public Opinion Poll. February 2017.
  2. Statistics Department, National Safety Council. NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates.

Report Cites Multiple Cases of Rape, Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

nursing home residentA new investigation by news organization CNN reveals that U.S. nursing homes can all too easily be sites of rape and sexual abuse against patients by the very people charged with providing their care.

The report, “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes,” focuses on the case of George Kpingbah, a Minnesota nursing home aide who committed multiple sexual offenses over a period of at least six years. Despite the repeated crimes against a vulnerable population, he was brought to justice only when the rape of an 83-year-old patient was directly witnessed by another nursing home employee.

Police, nursing homes slow to investigate evidence of abuse

The CNN reports also shines an important light on the multiple issues present in nursing home abuse nationwide.

First, nursing homes don’t always report or investigate allegations or evidence of abuse. They may not believe the allegations. Or, they may be trying to protect the reputation of the nursing home.

Second, police are also slow and sometimes reluctant to investigate. Many senior residents of nursing homes exhibit memory loss or cannot adequately recall — and adequately repeat without changing — a sequence of events. A less-than-cohesive narrative alleging rape or abuse may not elicit police belief.

Third, to successfully make a charge of rape or abuse, there must be evidence. If activities, injuries or fluids are not witnessed, captured, or documented, there may be little chance of successful prosecution and redress. Kpingbah was only suspected and charged because of a witness.

Fourth, employees who abuse nursing home residents are often free to simply move to the next position. There is no central place for flagging suspicious or accusations.

Fifth, there is no national database for reporting elder abuse.

Sixth, and perhaps most heart-breaking, the elderly themselves are often ashamed and reluctant to report abuse.

The law and your loved ones

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered rape or sexual assault in a nursing home, you have multiple recourse. Depending on the nature of the injury, the perpetrator may be charged with rape, sexual assault, or elder abuse. A perpetrator can also be charged with personal injury or wrongful death.

If nursing homes had knowledge of the abuse and failed to prevent it, they too can be charged with crimes including personal injury or wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm

If you or a loved one in Long Island or New York City have suffered harm because of any type of elder abuse, please contact us immediately to discuss possible legal recourse and redress.

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are leading personal injury lawyers in New York City and Long Island. We will fight for those harmed at the hands of negligent healthcare professionals.

Call Edelman, Krasin & Jaye for a confidential, complimentary consultation. We are experts who will provide you with options.

Additional nursing home abuse resources

  1. Elder Abuse. Healthy Aging. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Ellis, Blake and Melanie Hicken. “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes.” CNN.

Drowsy Driving Needs More Study, Prevention

tired woman driving her car, yawning at wheel: drowsy drivingA recent article published in the journal Sleep calls for more study and prevention of drowsy driving, noting that it is a significant hazard on the nation’s roads. The report was spearheaded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). It calls for both more understanding of public perception of drowsy driving and development of public education and prevention methods, such as biomarkers for fatigue.

Drowsy driving causes accidents and fatalities

As the article indicates, there is currently no reliable method of testing for drowsy driving, as there is for, say, alcohol impairment. Estimates of the number of car crashes drowsy driving causes on the nation’s roads, as a result, are not definitive. Right now, drowsy driving is part of a police accident report (PAR) only when there is circumstantial evidence (such as a car being driven off a road at night) or a driver statement indicating drowsiness or fatigue.

Nonetheless, drowsy driving is known to cause a significant number of fatalities and accidents, all of which are entirely preventable.

In 2014, an estimated 846 fatalities were caused by accidents related to drowsy driving. This is roughly 2.6% of all traffic fatalities. From 2005 to 2009, the last years for which statistics are available, 85,000 vehicle crashes were caused by drowsy driving. Of these, 37,000 caused injury and 45,000 caused property damage.

The NHTSA report notes that many societal factors contribute, including the 24/7 work cycle caused by computers and smartphones, and a growing number of people holding two jobs.

Nonetheless, they believe that more education about the dangers, as well as targeted programs to understand the specific causes and potential treatment methods, such as fatigue prevention classes, will be able to decrease the number of drowsy driving accidents.

Drowsy driving in New York State

New York State’s law in cases of vehicle accidents is no-fault. This means that the insurance company of each party is responsible for paying for damages and medical bills, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

There are some exceptions in New York State. If you or a loved one has suffered significant disfigurement, bone fracture, a permanent limitation in body organ or limb use, a significant limitation in a body function or system, or endured substantially full disability for 90 days, you may be able to bring a claim for damages against the person responsible for the accident.

Do you need to consult an attorney about an accident?

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are experienced in New York State accident law. If you or a loved one have been hurt or lost a life in a vehicle accident, we are here for you. We can shed light on how the state determines liability. We fight for your rights.

We will be happy to discuss your case in a complimentary private consultation. Call our offices today for a free consultation with an experienced NYC & Long Island car accident lawyer.

Additional drowsy driving accident resources

  1. Higgins, J. Stephen, et al. “Asleep at the Wheel – The Road to Addressing Drowsy Driving.” Sleep, Jan. 25, 2017. The Sleep Research Society.
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel.

Campaign Targeted at Reducing Train Accidents

In January, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) began a campaign called “Stop! Trains Can’t” focusing on younger male drivers. Its goal is to underscore the potential danger of trying to drive across a railroad crossing when trains are approaching.

The U.S. DOT, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), is in the midst of a two-year overall push to decrease accidents and deaths at railroad crossings throughout the nation.

Train accidents occur every three hours

It’s a needed effort. Deaths at railroad crossings rose sharply in 2014 after decreasing for a decade. In 2016, 232 people died in accidents at railroad crossings.

DOT officials stressed that these accidents are all preventable. Pedestrians and vehicle drivers should never attempt to beat a train at a crossing or to ignore an oncoming train, even if the train seems far enough away. Trains are always given the right of way legally. Why? For the simple reason that they are unable to pull out of the way. They can’t swerve or change directions. In addition, a train traveling at 55 miles per hour will require a full mile to stop, even if the emergency brakes are used immediately. A mile is the equivalent of 18 or more football fields.

Dr. Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA Administrator, noted that the campaign conveys a message that “your life is worth more than a few saved minutes, and trying to outrun a train isn’t worth the risk. When a train is coming, the only choice is to stop. Trains can’t.”

New York among states targeted

“Stop! Trains Can’t” will focus on 18- to 49-year-old men in the states with the 15 most dangerous railroad crossings and the states where 75 percent of crossing accidents happened in 2015. New York and New Jersey are both included.

The others are: California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Arizona.

When you need a train accident attorney

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are established Long Island train accident lawyers. We have convenient office locations in Long Island and the Bronx.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you need experienced lawyers fighting for your rights. Edelman, Krasin & Jaye will negotiate for fair and full compensation in all types of accident cases.

Our law firm will be happy to discuss your case during a private consultation. Call today for a free evaluation with an experienced New York City and Long Island injury lawyer today.

Additional railroad crossing crash resources

  1. “DOT Launches New Railroad Crossing Safety Ad Campaign.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. January 13, 2017.
  2. “Stop! Trains Can’t.” U.S. Department of Transportation,

Bill Targets Nursing Home Abuse with In-Room Cameras

A proposed bill would allow video cameras to be installed in assisted living facilities, in an attempt to deter elder abuse and neglect.

Under the proposal, backed by Missouri Rep. Andrew McDaniel, families would have the option to voluntarily install video cameras in their loved one’s rooms at their own expense. The security cameras would allow them to more actively monitor their relatives, and access live feeds remotely.

Missouri nursing homes have raised concerns that the bill would violate patients’ privacy, and their lobbyists have stopped similar legislation from being passed over the past few years. However, House Bill 398 affords concessions for patient privacy, allowing the cameras to be turned off when the nursing home resident is getting dressed or taking a bath.

House Bill 398 created to deter neglect and abuse

Representative McDaniel says he penned House Bill 398 in response to an alarming number of reports involving nursing home neglect, abuse and sexual exploitation in facilities across the state. McDaniel told a CBS St. Louis news affiliate he received stories of families who found their loved ones covered in bedsores, after being left to lie in their own waste for days.

Proponents of HB 398 argue that the legislation would help ensure the quality treatment of nursing home residents in Missouri facilities, and allow families to monitor medication administration and day-to-day care, in addition to watching out for incidences of neglect or abuse.

Under House Bill 398, nursing home facilities would be barred from accessing video camera recordings without written consent, and anyone caught tampering with or destroying a camera or recorded footage would face criminal charges.

At present HB 398 is pending without a scheduled hearing date in the Missouri House of Representatives. If HB 398 is passed and approved by the Governor, it could go into effect as early as August 2017.

Elder abuse attorneys serving New York

The nursing home abuse lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye handle all types of elder neglect claims on Long Island and the greater NYC metropolitan area. If you suspect elder abuse or mistreatment, you are encouraged to alert authorities immediately and contact us for a free consultation.

Our legal team offers compassionate yet aggressive representation for nursing home abuse victims who suffer at the hands of those who are charged with their care. If investigations or video recordings show evidence of neglect or abuse, victims have the right to file suit and demand just compensation.

If you suspect your elder loved one has suffered physical or emotional assault, sexual abuse, or some other type of neglect resulting in bed sores, malnutrition or dehydration, we are here to answer your questions.

Call to schedule a confidential case evaluation today.

Additional nursing home abuse resources

  1. ABC News KSPR, Proposal calls for cameras in nursing home patients rooms
  2. McKnight’s Senior Living, Missouri says ‘Show Me’ again with camera bills

Bill Jaye Discusses Alleged Tax Rebate Scam on CBS News

JusticeThe Edelman, Krasin & Jaye Law Firm has received a number of inquiries from people looking to recover their hard-earned money after news reports of an alleged tax rebate scam made news headlines.

So-called advisor misrepresented himself, say homeowners

Arie Gal of East Meadow sent out applications to first-time Nassau County homeowners to apply for the New York State STAR tax rebate program. Many homeowners thought they were dealing directly with someone employed by the state – until a fishy invoice arrived from “STAR Exemption Advisor.”

Anyone who signed the paperwork and sent it back without reading the fine print inadvertently appointed Gal as their “advisor”, entitled to the first year rebate as payment for services. This amount could range from $640 to nearly $4,000, depending on the age and income of the applicants.

“I can’t believe this is happening to us,” one homeowner who lost $1,180 to Star Exemption Advisor told CBS News. The application looked like an official piece of paperwork from the county. Otherwise, she would never have signed it. “I didn’t need him to put a stamp on paperwork. I don’t need anyone’s help on that,” she told reporters. “We had just bought a house, we put our entire life saving into and here this guy is taking $1,000 from us that we desperately need to survive the next month,” she added.

“He just takes advantage of people,” attorney Bill Jaye, of the Edelman, Krasin & Jaye Law Firm, told CBS News in an interview. “I’m not going to say it’s illegal what he’s doing, but it’s unfair,” he added.

There are people who act as STAR advisors and typically charge $25 or so for helping homeowners file their paperwork.

NY Attorney General pursues STAR rebate class action lawsuit

So far at least 20 people have formally complained to the Better Business Bureau, but New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says Gal has scammed thousands of new homeowners out of at least $1.5 million. He announced a class action lawsuit against STAR Exemption Advisor and Arie Gal on January 26, 2017. The case will be heard on February 10.

Edelman, Krasin, and Jaye has received dozens of calls from homeowners looking for legal recourse to get their money back – only to find that no laws have been broken. The application contains a disclaimer stating that the form is “not official.” Furthermore, the fine print explicitly states that homeowners are appointing Arie Gal as their STAR advisor, and that upon the application approval, he is entitled to the first rebate check as payment for services rendered.

In the case of Gal v. Delgiorno, the judge dismissed the homeowner’s claim, stating that: “The uncontested evidence showed that the parties had entered into a contract pursuant to which plaintiff was to provide defendant with an application form for a STAR school tax exemption… the defendant’s obligation to pay plaintiff was contingent upon the application being granted… in such instance, plaintiff’s fee was to equal defendant’s STAR tax exemption savings for the first year of her tax exemption.” The plaintiff has appealed the January 8 decision.

How to apply for a STAR tax rebate in New York State

In the past, homeowners who wished to participate in the STAR tax rebate program needed to fill out a form and send it in to their county assessors office. Today, it’s easier than ever, with an electronic submission form available on the Nassau County government website. Homeowners needn’t pay a fee. Most homeowners are required to include copies of their deed or Certificate of Shares (for apartment owners) and proof of residence (voter ID registration, car registration, NYS income tax return, driver’s license, or state ID card). Additional forms are requested if the property has been placed in a trust, the homeowner is deceased, or if the property is considered a life estate – but it’s by no means complicated.

  1. CBS Local - Company Scammed Long Island Homeowners Out Of Tax Rebates; AG Schneiderman Says
  2. Nassau County - STAR Rebate Amounts
  3. Justia – Gal v. Delgiorno