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$1.85 million settlement in nursing home neglect case

By: Phillip Bantz, Source: SC Lawyers Weekly, Originally Published: 2.6.17

A wrongful death suit against a nursing home in Aiken has settled for $1.85 million – which is believed to be the highest pretrial settlement in this type of case in South Carolina history, according to an attorney for the plaintiff, Gary Poliakoff.

For the full story, read the attachment here:

$1.85M settlement in nursing home neglect case -Poliakoff Associates

SCDOT unveils safety plan for 'deadliest roads'

By: Nickelle Smith, Source: WSPA, Originally Published: 1.19.17

GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – There’s a new plan to cut the death toll on rural roads in South Carolina.

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall says the state has the deadliest roads in the nation and unveiled a plan Thursday to tackle the issue.

“South Carolina has the deadliest roads in the nation. Nearly 30% of our rural fatal and serious injury crashes take place on just 5% of our highway system outside of our urban areas,”  Hall said. “Our Interstate highways and US primary routes in our rural areas are the deadliest roads in the state.”

Bernard Brown said he’s no stranger to seeing wrecks along the Upstate’s roads.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad accidents and been in a lot of traffic jams,” he said.

Kinder Morgan kicks off earnings season with $170 million profit

Pipeline giant posts a profit in a sign of an industry rebound

 

Houston pipeline giant Kinder Morgan kicked off earnings season for energy companies Wednesday, swinging to a profit from a steep loss a year earlier.

While the $170 million earned by Kinder Morgan in the fourth quarter fell short of Wall Street expectations, it was a sign that an industry recovery is slowly taking shape after several quarters of dire earnings and red ink reported by a wide range of energy companies. It was also far better than the third quarter of 2016, when the company lost $227 million, and the fourth quarter of 2015, when the company lost $72 million.

The company’s quarterly revenue still slipped 7 percent to $3.39 billion, compared with $3.64 billion during the last quarter of 2015, showing that the energy rebound isn’t in full swing by any means after a two-year bust.

Executive chairman and co-founder Rich Kinder emphasized that the company has tightened its budgeting and will reward investors more in due time. Kinder Morgan took a big hit on Wall Street at the end of 2015 when it decided to slash its dividend payments to shareholders by 75 percent in order to cut costs and better survive during the downturn.

In October, the company said it would maintain its reduced dividend of 12.5 cents per share each quarter, from 51 cents as recently as 2015. Kinder on Wednesday reiterated plans to “substantially” drive that dividend back up in 2018.

U.S. regulator to probe Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline rates

U.S. federal energy regulators said Thursday they would investigate rates charged by two natural gas pipelines operated by Kinder Morgan Inc to determine if they may be over-recovering costs, resulting in unjust and unreasonable rates.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it reviewed cost and revenue information provided by the Natural Gas Co of America (NGPL) and the Wyoming Interstate Co pipelines in their publicly available annual reports for 2014 and 2015.

In response to the FERC investigation, Tom Martin, president of Kinder Morgan Natural Gas Pipelines, said in a statement, “The FERC has chosen to interject itself in an unwarranted and unfair manner in the productive relationships between the companies and their customers.”

“FERC is launching this effort based on stale data in a rapidly evolving environment, and without a full understanding of the facts and the changing market conditions faced by the pipelines that could have been gained through engagement with the companies prior to taking any action,” Martin said.

Safety Groups Want Behind-the-Wheel Training Rule for New Truckers

By: Clarissa Hawes, Source: Trucks.com, Originally Published: 1.12.17

Highway safety advocates and independent truckers are frustrated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration doesn’t plan to require a minimum number of hours of real-world driving for new truck drivers.

A coalition of organizations that includes Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, or CRASH, have petitioned the FMCSA to include a driving requirement in its recently issued final rule for entry-level commercial truck drivers.

The FMCSA said it didn’t include behind-the-wheel training in its rule because such a requirement didn’t make fiscal sense and its safety benefits were hard to quantify. The federal agency is required to consider a cost-benefit analysis when it issues a new rule.

Kinder Morgan CEO to be deposed in Belton leak case

By: Mike Eads, Source: Independent Mail, Originally Published: 12.21.16

GREENVILLE – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Kinder Morgan CEO Ron McClain can be deposed for a lawsuit that alleges his company ruined several hundred acres near Belton with a 2014 gasoline leak from its Plantation Pipe Line.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Herlong said attorney Gary Poliakoff could question McClain as part of the lawsuit he has brought on behalf of Eric and Scott Lewis against the Houston-based pipeline operator regarding the December 2014 leak. State officials and environmental watchdog groups have said that more than 369,000 gallons of fuel spilled into the soil and groundwater on and around the Lewises’ 350-plus-acre farm northwest of Belton, near the Cheddar community.

At the preliminary hearing Wednesday in Herlong’s court in downtown Greenville, Poliakoff argued that McClain was a party to several communications with federal regulators regarding pipeline maintenance and other issues related to the Plantation line.

The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (Revised)

The DOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have released a study on motor vehicle crashes. The following is an excerpt from the introduction.

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $242 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $242 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of $784 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.6 percent of the $14.96 trillion real Gross Domestic Product for 2010.

Read the full report here. 

Donald Trump Agrees to Pay $25 Million in Trump University Settlement

By: Steve Eder, Source: NY Times, Originally Published: 11.18.16

Donald J. Trump has reversed course and agreed on Friday to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from his defunct for-profit education venture, Trump University, finally putting to rest fraud allegations by former students, which have dogged him for years and hampered his presidential campaign.

The settlement was announced by the New York attorney general just 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury. The deal averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration.

It was a remarkable concession from a real estate mogul who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them.