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How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse.

We're Reorganized!
As many of our clients know, we've recently reorganized the practice. Dylan Lawrence and Brian S. Ruff have formed their own law firm, "Lawrence & Ruff, LLC," but we're all still in the same suite, and Dylan and Brian continue to work on cases with us. So things have changed, and yet stayed the same. You should have even better service and attention than before. Please feel free to email me about any concerns, but so far, we're all happy with the change.
WELCOME To Our Redesigned Website!
This is the third major redesign of our website in the ten years or so that we've been online. There is new information throughout, new links, and new graphics. Amy Cooper†of Zebrus (†managed the re-design. In the coming months, we'll†also be adding photos and more. Your thoughts and suggestions are welcome. Email us at†
Sam Answers Legal Questions

As a pro bono service to the public, Sam Hochberg has been answering some of the questions posted at "Law," since about 1999. The issues range from Personal Injury and Insurance to Administrative Law, as well as a few other areas of the law.

Read the questions and Sam's answers, by clicking here for Sam’s Answers. If there is a problem with the link, just look us up at, and you'll see a few hundred legal discussions Sam engaged in.

Caution: When you read Sam's answers on LawGuru, remember that EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT, and you should NOT RELY on anything on ANY lawyer's website, other than the general precautions. The reason is that when we represent a client, we conduct a detailed inquiry into the facts of YOUR accident. Sometimes, some small fact that you may think is insignificant, could in fact lead us to give you advice very different from what you may read online.

For additional information about accident cases, see our "Injury Victim’s Legal Guide & FAQ", here at

2007 PRESS RELEASE: An Important Victory for Bikers August 17, 2007


The City of Portland, Oregon, will pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit brought in Federal District Court over a 2004 pre-dawn police tank raid on a local motorcycle clubhouse.

In a multi-agency operation using armored vehicles and tear gas rockets, the 5:30 a.m. raid on July 28, 2004, broke down the front door at the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club on NE Martin Luther King Boulevard. The police were there to execute two search and arrest warrants. Only three people were there, none of whom were the subjects of the warrants. After an extensive search resulting in damage to the walls and other structures, nothing illegal was found.

The lawsuit was brought last year by Patrick Murphy, a member of the club, Suzanne Miller, who was injured in the raid, and “Tomorrow RUS Today,” the corporation owning the clubhouse. The police pulled framed photographs off the walls and deliberately smashed them, in addition to damaging other clubhouse property. Mr. Murphy was handcuffed for five hours and released without charges, and Ms. Miller’s foot was injured in the raid. The suit alleged the police used excessive force with tanks and tear gas rockets, and that they damaged clubhouse property without a legitimate purpose.

The suit also alleged the police intended to create “a chilling effect” to discourage people from associating with club members, in violation of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to freedom of association. Attorneys for the city of Portland agreed to allow a judgment against the city to settle the case. The judgment was signed last week by Judge Janice M. Stewart.

“The way the police handled this, it’s as if they were trying to scare people away from the club,” says Sam Hochberg (HOCK-berg), the Portland attorney for the plaintiffs. “Our law enforcement was acting lawlessly,” says Hochberg. “Bikers still get a bad rap from some very dated stereotypes.”

“The club had to take a stand," says Mark Dencklau (DENK-lau), president of the Portland Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club. “We needed to tell the police that we won’t be treated as second-class citizens. We won’t sit by and be their target anymore.”

“All we ask is for is common decency, ordinary respect for bikers and their property, and the freedom to be left alone,” says Hochberg.

Sam Hochberg & Associates Attorneys at Law - Phone: 503-224-1106
US District Court for Oregon Case No: 06-cv-1085 ST

For your convenience, we now accept PayPal!

Should your claim require any payments – and for our clients with injury claims, that's just to pay for costs such as filing fees, IF that -- we now offer the convenience of online payments from PayPal. For more information, email Sam at

Bush Administration Rules Limiting Lawsuits

This Associated Press story was forwarded to†us by the AAJ, the†American Association for Justice (, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). The AAJ is†the premier national†organization fighting for the rights of injured people in the civil†courts. All the lawyers in our firm are members of the AAJ.

Bush administration rules limit lawsuits
By PETE YOST – May 13, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Faced with an unfriendly Congress, the Bush administration has found another, quieter way to make it more difficult for consumers to sue businesses over faulty products. It's rewriting the bureaucratic rulebook.

Lawsuit limits have been included in 51 rules proposed or adopted since 2005 by agency bureaucrats governing just about everything Americans use: drugs, cars, railroads, medical devices and food.

Decried by consumer advocates and embraced by industry, the agencies' use of the government's rule-making authority represents the administration's final act in a long-standing drive to shield companies from lawsuits.

President Bush has campaigned for lawsuit reform since his days as Texas governor. As president, he has made little headway on the issue in Congress. He's been thwarted by Democrats every time he's tried to tackle the issue head-on.

Turns out there was another way, one little-noticed step at a time.

If the rulemaking at the various agencies had been a centralized effort in the White House or the Justice Department, "it would have failed because immediately everybody would have mobilized resistance," said Michael Greve of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.

Limits on lawsuits have been ordered or proposed for drug labeling and packaging – one issue that will get a big airing, on Wednesday, because of a case involving actor Dennis Quaid's newborn twins – and for rules ranging from mattress flammability standards to school bus passenger seating to dietary sweeteners and roof-crush requirements in car rollovers.

Of the 51 regulations, 41 came from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Ten of 15 federal traffic safety regulations from last year have been finalized by NHTSA and are now in force or soon will be, a development that has gotten minimal public attention.

Underlying this bureaucratic version of lawsuit reform is the concept of federal preemption – a legal idea that is hard to build widespread public interest in.

Rooted in the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal preemption refers to circumstances in which federal law and regulation trump state law, in this instance state laws that govern when one person may be held liable for another's injury.

Frequently filed in state courts, where juries often are more receptive to plaintiffs' claims against corporations, product liability lawsuits are often moved at the request of business defendants to more restrictive federal courts.

Regardless of where the suits end up, the issue is increasingly whether companies can use broad preemption language in regulatory preambles to get cases thrown out.

The preambles are the agencies' interpretation of whether the federal regulatory law permits preemption of lawsuits. An expansive interpretation of preemption leaves little room for consumers to sue, and that is what the national trial lawyers group, the American Association for Justice, says is taking place.

Jon Haber, AAJ's chief executive officer, says the agencies are engaging in "a brazen end run around Congress, the Constitution and the states in an effort to let negligent corporations off the hook and knowingly put consumers at risk."

The real-world impact of preemption will be on display Wednesday when a congressional committee hears from actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, who have sued a maker of the blood-thinner heparin in Illinois state court.

The Quaids sued after their newborn twins were given massive doses of the blood thinner at a hospital. The Quaids claim the manufacturer was negligent in packaging different doses of the product in similar vials with blue backgrounds.

The company – Baxter Healthcare Corp. – is seeking to use the doctrine of preemption to shield it from any civil liability, claiming that once FDA approved the labeling and packaging at issue in the case, the company is immune from civil suits for money damages.

Joan Claybrook, former head of NHTSA during the Carter administration, says her former agency is using regulatory preambles in a campaign against lawsuits.

"What the companies want is complete immunity and the regulators in the Bush administration are helping them," says Claybrook, now head of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

NHTSA denies that it has designed rules to undercut lawsuits.

"After considering both the purposes of each safety rulemaking and possible state actions that might arise, in most cases we have concluded that there are no presently identified factual situations that would create a conflict or frustrate federal objectives," says the agency. "We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that such a factual situation might arise in the future."

Georgetown University law professor David Vladeck calls NHTSA's position "mumbo jumbo that understates considerably the language in the preambles."

"The preambles say that, in the future, once the NHTSA rule takes effect, the agency believes that the rule should have the effect of displacing state tort law," said Vladeck.

The FDA echoes NHTSA's position.

"The preambles to these rules do not seek to preempt, but instead describe the scope of preemption under operation of federal law," said FDA spokesman Rita Chappelle.

Later this year, the Supreme Court will wade into the issue of federal preemption as it relates to lawsuits and prescription drug labeling. The defendant drugmaker contends it should not be in the lawsuit because the FDA had approved the warning label on the drug.

The company is trying to overturn a $6.8 million award given a woman whose arm had to be amputated after anti-nausea medication was inadvertently injected into an artery.

In some instances, judges seem as exercised as consumer advocates about the FDA's undermining of lawsuits under state tort law.

In a recent decision, a federal appeals court judge wrote that the FDA has for over three-quarters of a century viewed state tort law as complementary to the agency's safety warnings on prescription drug packages and "only for the last two years has it claimed otherwise."

The judge, Thomas Ambro, was dissenting from a ruling by two of his colleagues throwing out lawsuits in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The allegations in the suits against pharmaceutical companies linked two suicides to antidepressants.

Judges have cited FDA's regulatory preamble in its prescription drug rule in more than a dozen favorable rulings for pharmaceutical companies. Despite the FDA frequently showing up on the side of industry, judges have ruled for consumers' right to sue about as often as they have ruled against them in cases touching on the regulatory preamble for prescription drug labels.

One expert in the field says the trend may be shifting to industry's favor, in part due to the FDA's regulatory preamble.

"The last four or five cases, industry has been on a roll," says Chicago attorney Mark Herrmann, who defends pharmaceutical companies in liability cases.

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