What’s Been Sleeping In Your Bed?

FROM:George Rust/561-644 4128 / ybstag@msn.com

While animal rights’ activists tossed Ringling Bros.[Feld Entertainment] into a legal ring in Washington D.C federal court this month., another case is soon to pounce on Busch Entertainment Corp – – the theme-park subsidiary of InBev/Anheuser-Busch.

The Florida case, however, is more than a contest over cruel and inhumane treatment of animals “on display.” It raises serious health issues for the travelling public.

According to filed court documents, Cuban-born Arlin Valdez-Castillo, a 40-something chambermaid at Boykin’s Miami airport Hampton Inn was assigned to conduct her housekeeping duties in hotel rooms occupied with an unusual clientele: lemurs, spider monkeys, a tropical parrot, and a five-year-old, five-foot long alligator named Bob. Although the rooms smelled like a zoo, according to members of the hotel staff, Arlin did her duty … retrieving feathers and fecal matter left by the untidy exotics. Arlin didn’t know about zoonoses [the medical term for diseases spread from animals to humans] until she fell seriously ill, was hospitalized for two weeks with angry lesions spontaneously erupting all over her body.

That was 2004. Next month, after five years of reoccurring skin lesions, diagnosed by a prominent Miami immunologist to have been caused by exposure to the exotic animals, a federal judge will weigh the evidence between man and beast. Recently, a Miami neurologist, who will testify at the upcoming trial, opined that the initial zoonotic infection has spread to Arlin’s nervous system, causing her severe pain in some extremities which he diagnosed as RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy).

Unable to work, Arlin’s cause of action for payment of her mounting medical bills –- now calculated to exceed $450,000 with no end in sight – and sufficient funds to sustain a modest lifestyle and provide for future care, has been stymied at every turn by Busch lawyers, who claim “it’s her fault” that she had allergies.

Such outrage does not stop with Arlin. Conservation Ambassadors, formerly Wild on Wheels formerly Zoo-to-You, a California company which claims to promote animal conservation and provide an educational experience to curious townsfolk across America. It is no coincidence that Conservation Ambassadors appears to have a single client – Busch – to promote the corporation’s revenue-producing theme parks, including Busch Gardens – Tampa.

But does dragging helpless wild animals cross country, submitting them to the dark, frigid cargo-holds of Boeing’s best for 5+ hours really teach respect for wildlife? Or does it smack of high-powered publicity stunts to lure visitors out of shopping malls into theme parks to pump up the corporate bottom line?

Tourists and truckers should inquire of roadside innkeepers: What was sleeping in my bed before booking their motel rooms. Unwary folks may be exposing themselves to serious infectious diseases. These animals of the wild may not leave the light on for the weary traveler, but deposit dangerous microscopic organisms on the welcome mat in their wake.

Additional information/substantiation available at:
PACER (Public Access Court Electronic Records) www.pacer.gov
Southern District of Florida Case # 1:06-cv-20772-WPD

Previous coverage: as follows
Hotel Online (9/08)

Hotel Online
News for the Hospitality Executive

A Hampton Inn Miami-Airport West Housekeeping Attendant Claims Health

Woes After Cleaning Up for Two Lemurs, a Monkey and an Alligator
By Douglas Hanks, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 24, 2008 – There’s no doubt some guests at the Hampton Inn Miami Airport West behaved like animals during their stay four years ago. They had an excuse, though — being lemurs, a spider monkey, an alligator and a parrot.

The menagerie — stars of a traveling zoo exhibition — lies at the heart of a lawsuit by a maid who cleaned rooms rented by the animals’ handlers for eight days in February 2004. Arlin Valdez-Castillo blames chronic medical problems on exposure to bird feces, monkey dander and other alleged hazards from the exotic guests.

The case, being heard in federal court in Miami, will force a judge to weigh the legal protections for employees, employers and beasts when all three land in close quarters.

Defense lawyers want Judge Shelby Highsmith to throw out the case partly based on court precedents that animal owners face liability only if their charges attack (such as a dog bite) rather than simply perform natural functions (such as spider monkey droppings).

“Plantiff’s alleged allergic reaction was not due to the dangerous propensities of the wild animals,” attorneys for Busch Gardens, which hired the animals for a local publicity tour, wrote in a motion. “Rather, the allergic reaction was due to Plaintiff’s own immune system.”

The case also reveals some of the complications involved when business travel includes the furry and the feathered.

Lawyers submitted as evidence a Busch Gardens manual for traveling with animals. Among the tips: Book a room near an ice machine when on the road with penguins and always put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door when leaving an animal alone in a hotel room.

According to court documents, the messy dispute began in February 2004, when Busch Gardens booked a South Florida publicity blitz for its safari theme park in Tampa. It hired the traveling Wildlife on Wheels animal troupe run by Conservation Ambassadors, a nonprofit in California’s wine country.

On Feb. 9, Maya the spider monkey, Bob the alligator, Tango the Macaw and lemurs Zuri and Rufio were loaded into containers and flown from California to Miami on an American Airlines flight.

They joined Busch Gardens workers for performances at Miami Heat and Miami Hurricanes basketball games, a Florida Panthers hockey game, and school and television appearances.

At night the animals and their Wildlife on Wheels handlers slept at the Hampton Inn, at 3620 NW 79th Ave. in West Miami-Dade.

Valdez claims her superiors forced her to clean the rooms once the handlers and animals left for the day.

Lawyers and executives for the hotel declined to comment.

Alan Landsberg, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing Conservation Ambassadors, said: “We believe the plaintiff has no case.”

In her deposition, Valdez said she made contact with hair, feathers, urine and feces while cleaning the rooms.

“When you walked into the room, it was like being in a zoo,” Valdez said Tuesday afternoon through a translator in the Coral Gables office of her lawyer, John Hess.
But Migdalia Gonzalez, another Hampton Inn maid, said in a deposition that she encountered an “unpleasant” smell and plenty of feathers and bird food while cleaning up the rooms, but no feces, fur or visible urine.

Five hours into her 2006 deposition, Valdez also recounted being kidnapped two weeks earlier from outside her suburban Miami home by two men she claims took her to a cemetery and warned her to drop the lawsuit. Hess said a police report was filed, but no arrests have been made.

Valdez’s suit claims the animal exposure left her with physical and emotional problems, including skin lesions throughout her body, headaches and depression.

A University of Miami doctor, Nancy Klimas, wrote in a 2005 report that Valdez developed severe animal allergies “through a prolonged and dramatic exposure of animal dander and excrements during those 2 1/2 weeks” at the Hampton Inn.

Becca Bides, a spokeswoman for Busch Gardens and its sister park, Sea World, declined to comment directly on the suit but said: “We have been conducting animal interaction programs in our parks, and all over the world, for 45 years. And we have never had a history of such an occurrence.”

The suit says Boykin Management, the Ohio company that owns and manages the Hampton Inn franchise, forced Valdez, 42, out after she complained of health problems from the animal exposure.

But in court filings, Boykin denied making Valdez clean the rooms and rejected allegations she came into contact with feces, dander or other animal substances.
The Busch Gardens travel guide states animals may “roam” in hotel rooms, but all “feces, urine and marking excretions should be properly cleaned if this occurs during playtime.”

Busch Gardens, in a court filing, suggests Valdez brought on the problems herself.

“Plaintiff so carelessly and negligently conducted herself as to cause or contribute to the occurrence of the incident,” the theme park’s lawyers wrote.

But Valdez said she only cleaned the rooms as best she could, scooping up feathers by hand from the sink and scraping droppings off the carpet.

“I did what I had to do,” she said Tuesday.
To see more of The Miami Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.herald.com.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Miami Herald
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

Contact Details:
Plaintiff’s counsel:
Michael M. Tobin, Esq.
Tel: 305-445-5475

John P. Hess, Esq.
Tel: 305-445-9525

Bryan J. Yarnell, Esq.
561-622-1252 x178

Defendants’ counsel:
Robert Blank, Esq. [Defendant Busch]
Tel: 813-223-4253
Email: rblank@rumbergerkirk.com

James E. Mitchell, Esq. [Defendant Conservation]
Alan L. Landsberg, Esq.
Tel: 954-761-8600
Email: jem@bunnellwoulfe.com

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Schillings Will Be Delivering The Closing Keynote Address At This Year’s Trust & Estates Litigation Forum

Schillings, one of the UK’s top law firms dedicated to protecting the reputations of international corporations, brands and celebrities, will be delivering the closing keynote address at this year’s Trust & Estates Litigation Forum.

Rod Christie-Miller, a partner at Schillings, will deliver the closing speech at the Legal Week-sponsored conference, which will discuss and offer advice on managing disputes amid market turbulence to a target audience of lawyers, banks and other financial companies.

With the world’s financial markets having been in the grip of a debilitating crisis since mid-2008, this has inevitably affected the work of trust and estate litigators. The 2009 Trust and Estates Litigation conference programme will examine the impact of this turmoil along with some of the key issues surrounding the current contentious trust markets.

Rod Christie-Miller’s closing address will highlight how the press will report on commercial litigation in the next year and what can be done about it. The press have always been interested in reporting on publicly available Court documents and public testimony as an easy and quick news source and recent commercial and legal developments mean that is going to be increasingly prevalent. Rod will look at the reasons behind this trend, and also outline how the law can be used to counteract that threat.

Rod Christie-Miller is a litigator and leading expert in using the law of defamation, privacy and breach of confidence to protect clients who find themselves in the media spotlight. He specialises in reputation management for companies and their senior executives, public figures, overseas investors, high-net worth individuals and entrepreneurs particularly from the UK and the former Soviet states.

The Legal Week Trust & Estates Forum will take place from the 26th – 28th February at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, France, in association with The American Lawyer and principally sponsored by Legal Week and RBC Wealth Management, with Blackberry, Appleby and Carey Olsen also offering their sponsorship to the event.

For further information about the event please contact Steve Hands on 020 7316 9602 or steve.hands@incisivemedia.com.

About Schillings:
Schillings is one of Britain’s top law firms dedicated to safeguarding the reputations of international corporations, brands, celebrities and high-profile business people. The firm’s track-record in defamation, privacy and copyright cases, as well as commercial dispute resolution is second to none.

Defamation privacy and copyright are at the heart of the firm’s work, prompting The Independent newspaper to call Schillings a “spectacularly efficient media law firm.”

Schillings clients include Lord Browne of Madingley, Las Vegas Sands Casino owner Sheldon Adelson, supermodel Naomi Campbell, actress Nicole Kidman, seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, Harry Potter author JK Rowling as well as corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Kaupthing bank, steel maker Arcelor Mittal, the Harrods Group and the London Stock Exchange.

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Legal Networking Sites Help Lawyers and Law Firms Achieve Far Greater Reach

It looks like the dot com bust of the year 2000 is well and truly behind us if the number of web start-ups in the past three years is anything to go by. F r o m online retail stores to social networking sites, many web based companies have come up and they are not only surviving but actually showing profits with huge valuations against their name.

But it seems in the year of 2007 and 2008 the real winners are the legal networking that provide valuable legal expertise to their visitors and allow registered users to post their problems or legal requirements on their sites. Lawyers can then advise these users on what to do next and even pursue taking up their cases. The fact that these sites have made the common man more comfortable with their legal issues and overall handling of the law, have made them an absolute favourite with users.

Richard Susskind predicted just this back in 1996 who is now in Toronto promoting his new book called ‘The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services’ to Toronto Lawyers. He argues that not so in the distance future majority of the Lawyers and Law Firms will start offering the legal services online while those who are slower to adopt the use of technology to increase their reach online will falter. “I’m seeing a whole wave of new technologies emerging, which are allowing clients to gain cheap and new access to legal services and advice. The classic interface between lawyers and clients is disappearing because online services are replacing it” Mr. Susskind said.

Lawyer Ahead Inc founded in 2007 is one of the most popular legal networking sites that have learnt f r o m the mistakes of their predecessors and now concentrate on offering the best value proposition for their lawyers. They make sure that their users experience is something that they genuinely value and at the same time make it as easy as possible for them to use the facilities of the website. Through compelling offerings to lawyers to encourage them to sign up – not only are they showing profits with huge valuations, they have also made the lawyers understand the importance of harnessing the power of web as a tool for effective advertising. Recent Neilson study shows that 3 out 4 people are now online looking for a lawyer and that number continues to grow month over month. “Lawyerahead services are an inexpensive way to gain internet exposure.”

Said Christopher Hicks, a Criminal Lawyer and a Partner with Hicks Blocks and Adam LLP. “We have received several inquiries f r o m Day 1, their customer focus in number 1 and they do a wonderful job promoting their lawyers as top lawyers. It’s a no brainer.”

It’s no wonder Mr. Susskind has raised quite a stir about his new book. He expects thistrend to continue, he expects continued shakeups in the legal industry, and believes that if a lawyer or law firm is to continue its success in the legal space they are going to have to change also.

About the company
Lawyer Ahead Inc. aims to help consumers find lawyers with the right experience for theirlegal needs. Often choosing a lawyer is an important and difficult task for any consumer.

Lawyer Ahead Inc, narrows the gap here by providing a simple, guided process for consumers to present their legal matters online and then by connecting those consumers to lawyers in an efficient and effective manner. Unlike the yellow pages, lawyerahead.com gives consumers multiple selections of lawyers to choose f r o m as it stands by that giving the consumers the option is a valuable tool when selecting the right lawyer. Lawyerahead.com’s community is constantly sharing their own legal experiences allowing new consumers to learn f r o m their insights and learning f r o m another who has already been there. Lawyer Ahead, Inc also operates under www.lawyerahead.ca to better serve its Canadian consumers looking for legal help for their legal needs.

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California Holistic Lawyer Duane Light Has Introduced A Leading Edge “Flexible Fee” Policy For His New Marin County Law Practice

Clients often open legal bills with dread – afraid of being surprised with costs that are hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than expected. A new, consumer-friendly, win-win approach to fair billing has found its way to the San Francisco Bay Area.

California Holistic Lawyer Duane Light has introduced a leading edge “Flexible Fee” policy for his new Marin County Law Practice. He and the client sit down together, discuss goals and options, and together create a fee structure that is fair, manageable and predictable.

Mr. Light found in the past that client uncertainty about legal fees created stress for them as well as for him. With this more open approach to fees, his clients feel empowered in the process, certain of costs, and more satisfied overall with their legal experiences.

Some attorneys and law firms nationwide have begun to adopt alternative billing practice, where in effect they toss their standard hourly rate out the window. The goal is to give the client more certainty in costs, as well as exactly what the attorney will be doing and in what time frame. In a first, no-cost consultation with Mr. Light, if both he and the client decide to move forward they take a holistic view of the client’s needs and payment options.

Common questions might include:

(1) What are the larger goals that led to a legal consultation? Are there simple and cost-effective ways to achieve those goals?

(2) What is the desired budget and what can be accomplished within that budget?

(3) Are there alternative ways to provide compensation such as creative exchange, bonus, or a percentage-of-recovery fee?

(4) Are there low-cost alternative resources such as self-help books or forms that could lower legal costs?

(5) Are there non-legal approaches to a situation where the attorney would primarily be a guide and advisor?

(6) Can payment be made on a stage-by-stage basis, where client and attorney review the case periodically to decide the most efficient and cost-effective next steps?

(7) Can a fixed fee be set for a certain task or representation so the client can have complete confidence in the cost?

Mr. Light became a holistic lawyer in the mid-1990’s, limiting his practice to people who wish to invoke their highest principals, and create more personally and spiritually fulfilling legal experiences. He immediately found that client satisfaction improved, and cases generally ran more smoothly and more often resulted in win-win outcomes. With Flexible Fees, another avenue has been created for clients to have a more satisfying experience with legal services.

Mr. Light’s website is www.PeaceInTheLaw.com, and he can be reached at Ask@PeaceInTheLaw.com or 877-275-5444.

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Field Fisher Waterhouse has recovered more than £250,000 in compensation at the High Court on behalf of a widow whose husband died from mesothelioma

Law firm, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, has recovered more than £250,000 in compensation at the High Court on behalf of a widow whose husband died from mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.

Mr John Lambie of Spalding in Lincolnshire died in November 2006 at just 62. He died from mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos. He was exposed to asbestos between 1965 and 1970 when he worked for New Century Group Ltd, based in Harlesden, London, as an industrial cleaner, cleaning factories and bakeries all over the South East. His job involved cleaning the asbestos corrugated roofs of factories and cleaning pipes lagged with asbestos.

His widow, Jane Beesley, who has now re-married, nursed him during his illness at home. In addition to general damages, the Judge awarded £25,000 compensation to Mrs Beesley for the care and assistance she gave to her dying husband which is the highest ever award for care and assistance in a mesothelioma claim.

Harminder Bains, lawyer in the Asbestos Claims Group at Field Fisher Waterhouse, was instructed to claim compensation from New Century Group Ltd on behalf of Mrs Beesley. The total award, which included interest, was £253,310. This includes the sum of £72,000 for pain and suffering, one of the highest awards for this type of case, and £25,000 for the care and assistance given by Mrs Beesley, which is the highest ever award for this item in a mesothelioma case.

Harminder Bains, the lawyer who dealt with the case, at Field Fisher Waterhouse said: “Mrs Beesley attended to all of her dying husband’s needs in an attempt to give him some comfort. I am satisfied that in this case the Court recognised the extraordinary effort it takes to look after a dying man. I hope it is recognised in future cases.”

Court number for this case – HQ 08X02073

In 2008, the Asbestos Claims Group at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP recovered over £16 million in compensation for victims of asbestos-related diseases in 124 successful cases. The lawyers in the firm’s Asbestos Claims Group have recovered over £132 million in 2025 successful claims.

About Field Fisher Waterhouse
Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP is a full-service European law firm with offices in Brussels, Hamburg and London. With 119 partners, over 200 other lawyers and nearly 300 support staff, FFW assist a wide range of international clients, advising across a full range of legal issues.

The main areas of practice are corporate and commercial, IP and technology, banking and finance, regulatory and real estate. Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP also have particular expertise in competition & EU law, dispute resolution, employment, asbestos claims, personal injury, brain damage cases, clinical negligence, public sector and tax.

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Injury Compensation Advice Company Accident Advice Helpline Has Launched Its New Website Detailing How Prospective Claimants Could Win Compensation For Their Personal Injuries

The new website intends to make clear the intention of Accident Advice Helpline to assist people with genuine claims discover what compensation they may be entitled to and includes information on the compensation claim process, how to claim online, a FAQ section and company news.

Accident Advice Helpline’s updated site also includes case studies, a 30 second “how much is your claim worth?” calculator and information about different types of injury compensation claims that can be made.

Prospective claimants are invited to visit the new website to read about what is available to them, but Accident Advice Helpline also encourages victims of personal injuries to phone them on a 24 hour free helpline offering legal advice.

From its new website, Accident Advice Helpline offers a no-win no-fee service to clients who have experienced a personal injury through no fault of their own. From traffic accidents to work accidents, Accident Advice Helpline can help victims of personal injury gain compensation. The injury compensation expert specialises in hassle free online and offline service, with no forms to fill.

For those who have suffered accidents at work, road incidents or other accidents, Accident Advice Helpline can provide round the clock assistance and advice – all free of charge on its legal advice helpline.

About Accident Advice Helpline
Accident Advice Helpline was established in 2000 following the removal of legal aid to accident victims with personal injury cases. The company was founded to provide access to justice for accident victims and, since its creation, has helped thousands of people claim compensation against the responsible parties.

The injury compensation specialist is the UK’s leading company of its kind and prides itself on quick and effective claims processing with high quality service and an admirable success rate. The level of customer satisfaction Accident Advice Helpline is known for is characterised by television star Esther Rantzen’s continued support for the company, which she has steadily provided since 2003.

Accident Advice Helpline Direct Ltd
Registered in England & Wales: No: 5107417
Registered Office: Quadrant House (Floor 6), 17 Thomas More Street, Thomas More Square, London E1W 1YW

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2008 – Record Year For Asbestos Claims

In 2008, the Asbestos Claims Group at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP recovered record levels of compensation for victims of asbestos-related diseases in 124 successful cases, resulting in over £16 million. Over the years, the lawyers in the firm’s Asbestos Claims Group have recovered a total of £132 million in 2025 successful claims.

Some of the significant asbestos claims cases over the past year have included:

– Negotiating an award of £703,000 for the widow and family of a 52 year old partner in an engineering firm who died from mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos at work. This is amongst only a handful of awards exceeding £500,000 across England and Wales.

– Winning £100,000 damages (plus legal costs) for a retired teacher who developed mesothelioma by using drawing pins to pin children’s work to the walls of her prefab classroom, which contained asbestos.

– In a landmark case the firm recovered £12,500 for the value of hospice care as part of a £170,000 settlement for a man who worked with asbestos in 1963 and contracted mesothelioma in 2005. The funding of hospice care is almost exclusively by charitable donation and this is thought to be the first time a firm of solicitors has recovered the cost of care in this way.

– Field Fisher Waterhouse acted for the family of a 75 year old man who died due to mesothelioma, and who used to take care of his grandchildren after school in term times. The defendants initially denied that this was compensatable, since there was no reported precedent for it, however the firm recovered£109,352 at a High Court hearing including £27,960 for the grandchildren’s care.

The FFW team of asbestos lawyers has also been actively lobbying the House of Commons, requesting that the Government overturn the House of Lords ruling that pleural plaques – a scarring of the lining of the lungs as a result of exposure to asbestos – is not a compensatable disease. The team also responded to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the Law Lords’ pleural plaques ruling.

Asbestos-related diseases affect thousands of people in the UK each year. Factory workers and labourers are amongst those who are commonly affected, but Field Fisher Waterhouse has also acted on behalf of professionals such as doctors, nurses and teachers who have been exposed to asbestos through their work. Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP is a leader in the field of Asbestos Claims.

Rodney Nelson-Jones, head of the Asbestos Claims group at Field Fisher Waterhouse, said: “I am delighted that in 2008 we were able to win over £16 million in compensation for the victims of these terrible diseases. It is crucial that sufferers and their families receive the compensation they deserve.”

About Field Fisher Waterhouse
Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP is a full-service European law firm with offices in Brussels, Hamburg and London. With 119 partners, over 200 other lawyers and nearly 300 support staff, FFW assist a wide range of international clients, advising across a full range of legal issues.

The main areas of practice are corporate and commercial, IP and technology, banking and finance, regulatory and real estate. Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP also have particular expertise in competition & EU law, dispute resolution, employment, asbestos claims and mesothelioma claims, personal injury, spinal injury cases and medical negligence, public sector and tax.


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