Law Court applies "other-owned vehicle" exclusion

 On Thursday, July 14, 2016, the Law Court (Saufley, J.), in Graf v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 2016 ME 109, declined to disregard “other-owned vehicle” exclusionary language in a UM/UIM policy for motor vehicle coverage, and held that where an injured motorist has settled with an at-fault party, the resulting settlement amount must be backed out of the available coverage limits when determining the available coverage of an applicable UM/UIM policy.




On August 4, 2005, Alberta Graf (hereinafter Graf) was operating her motor vehicle when she was struck from behind by another motorist. Graf sustained injuries as a result of the collision. The other motorist—who was found to be solely responsible for the accident—was insured by a $50,000 motor vehicle policy. At this time, Graf and her husband held two State Farm policies:


·         The first (hereinafter “Policy 1”), in Graf’s husband’s name, provided $1,000,000 of UM/UIM coverage, and $100,000 medical payments coverage, but did not cover Graf’s vehicle. This policy contained an “other-owned vehicle” exclusion stating that coverage would extend only to injuries sustained in vehicles insured under the policy. Graf’s vehicle was not insured under Policy 1.

·         The second (hereinafter “Policy 2”), in Graf’s name, provided $300,000 of UM/UIM coverage, and $100,000 medical payments coverage for services furnished within three years of an accident, and covered Graf’s vehicle. Policy 2 provided that “. . . coverage shall be excess over and shall not pay again any medical expenses paid under the medical payments coverage,” and that medical payments coverage would be denied “to the extent workers’ compensation benefits are required to be payable.” 



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Law Court Upholds Judgment in Wrongful Death Case

On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, the Law Court (Saufley, J.), in Estate of Kay v. Estate of Wiggins, 2016 ME 108, upheld summary judgment in favor of defendants Budget Truck Rental, LLC and the Estate of Douglas Wiggins in a wrongful death action maintained by the Estate of Dennis Kay for his death in a work-related motor vehicle accident. In its ruling, the Law Court concluded that Wiggins—and through principles of vicarious liability, Budget Truck Rental, LLC—was in compliance with the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act at the time of the accident and that, therefore, the Act’s exclusivity provisions barred any claims against Wiggins. 

In 2008, Dennis Kay began working for Option Rentals—a furniture rental business owned by Douglas Wiggins. As part of its regular business, Option Rentals maintained an agreement with Budget Truck Rental, LLC (hereinafter “Budget”) to transfer Budget vehicles from one destination to another in exchange for payment. As part of his employment with Option Rentals, Kay regularly transported Budget vehicles at Wiggins’ instruction. On December 30, 2011, Kay was instructed to complete a Budget transfer, but informed Wiggins that he “felt uncomfortable” doing so due to inclement weather. Wiggins then instructed Kay to perform the transfer sometime on the morning of December 31, 2011. On the morning of December 31, 2011, Kay began transport of the Budget vehicle. Sadly, the Budget truck he was operating hit a patch of ice and slid off of the roadway, ejecting Kay, who died from his injuries. Wiggins died of unrelated causes in 2013. 

In July 2013 the Estate of Kay (hereinafter “Kay”) filed a complaint against the Estate of Wiggins (hereinafter “Wiggins”) and Budget alleging wrongful death caused by Wiggins and Budget, and punitive damages. The complaint repeatedly alleged that Kay was “an employee” of Wiggins. 

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Relegating Self-Driving Vehicles to Separate Roadways

On Friday, July 8 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed by a leading computer scientist, Jerry Kaplan, in which he predicts that in order to truly be successful integrating self-driving vehicles into society, we will need to adapt and construct separate roadways purposed solely for autonomous traffic.

Responding to the first known fatality in a self-driving car in May 2016, Kaplan cautions readers that “this was no ordinary accident” and that “the car performed exactly as designed . . . the (non)driver’s failure to take any corrective action could reasonably have been foreseen by [Tesla].” In other words, Kaplan argues that “it’s simply not practical to ask passengers in a self-driving vehicle to remain alert and engaged” –calling the fatal collision “an unwelcome yet widely anticipated milestone [that] may set back progress on what promises to be one of the most valuable technologies of the 21st century.” 

Likening the introduction of today’s early-stage autonomous vehicles to the “‘horseless carriages’ of the early 1900s,” Kaplan warns that automakers like Tesla have “pursued a flawed vision of the future, one in which tomorrow’s technology is simply layered on top of today’s.” Much like the early 1900s, Kaplan reminds readers that it the tangible benefits of self-driving technology won’t be realized until “substantial changes [are made] in our transportation infrastructure,” and that “the true power of the automobile was unleashed only after streets were paved, lanes marked, traffic lights installed, pedestrians confined to sidewalks and horse-drawn traffic curtailed.” Much in the same way, Kaplan argues that in order to harness the power of self-driving technologies we must first separate autonomous vehicles from human-piloted traffic on separate thoroughfares and equip every vehicle with a transponder for sending and receiving navigational information. 

According to Kaplan, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue rules mandating the installation of transponders in all new American automobiles in the near futures. Equipped with this technology, Kaplan states that “vehicle-to-vehicle” (“V2V”) communication will be a reality, allowing automobiles to broadcast their speed, anticipated turns, and other relevant operating information to one another. According to the NHTSA, installing transponders to promote V2V communication could prevent as many as 500,000 crashes and 930 fatalities annually. While impressive in their life-saving potential, Kaplan cautions that transponders are currently only able to assist human drivers, but if paired with self-driving technology on separate roads, the reduction in accidents and fatalities could be much higher.

 Looking ahead, Kaplan predicts that many states could enact reactionary legislation stalling the development of self-driving vehicles as companies scramble to integrate “limited-functionality products with today’s streets and drivers” rendering the technology as “a mere novelty or convenience” until a comprehensive and dedicated infrastructure is implemented to support self-driving vehicles.

 As an interesting coda, in the following YouTube video Kaplan presents a case for the safety-centric ethical considerations that underscore his position that self-driving vehicles need to be segregated to their “own” throughways: Would You Buy a Car That's Programmed to Kill You? 

Stay Safe On The Water This Summer

With more than 6,000 lakes and ponds, 3,000 miles of coastline, and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams, few states can match the magnitude of water that Maine has to offer. Which is why boating adds approximately $150 million to the state’s economy each year. 

But with the scenic waterways comes a substantial number of boating accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there are approximately 5,000 recreational boating accidents in the United States annually, resulting in more than 750 fatalities and 3,500 injuries. Of the 750 deaths, on average over 500 include victims who drowned without wearing a life jacket. 

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we see victims of boating accidents on a regular basis. That’s why we want to help educate boaters on how to be safe when on the open water. Because when it comes to boating safety, a little education can be the difference between life and death. 

• All motorized boats must carry a current registration sticker from the state.

• The age restriction for operating a personal watercraft, including a jet-ski is 16. Boaters between the ages of 16-18 must either be accompanied by an adult or have completed an approved education course and carry proof of completion.

• Every boat should have one life jacket per passenger on board.

• Carry an emergency kit and cell phone, and be sure to tell someone where you are headed and when you expect to return.

• Slow down when near other boats, swimmers, and those enjoying the water. Your consideration will allow others to have fun and remain safe.

• Most boating accidents are alcohol-related. Like driving a car, it is illegal to operate a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content level over .08.

• Educate yourself on basic water safety and boating rules. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boat owners take an official boater education course.

By following a few simple safety tips, boaters can enjoy their time on Maine’s waterways while ensuring safety for themselves and others.

Because at the end of the day, knowing you had a safe and relaxing day out on the water is fun in itself, especially if you don’t rock the boat. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating, swimming, or watersport activity, call the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today for a free and confidential consultation. 

For more information on boating safety tips please visit: 

Law Court upholds SJ in premises liability suit

On Thursday, July 7, 2016, the Law Court (Hjelm, J.), in Estate of Smith, et al v. Salvesen, 2016 ME 100, affirmed summary judgment entered by the Cumberland County Superior Court (Mills, J.) in a premises liability case in which the Estate of Smith (hereinafter “the Estate”) alleged negligence wrongful death. In its holding, the Court held that summary judgment was appropriate where the Estate failed to qualify its witness as an expert based on particular statements, and where the Estate failed to produce evidence sufficient to survive a prima facie showing of causation.


In October 2012, Lois Smith and her husband, Eugene, traveled to Maine where they had made reservations to stay at the Maine Farmhouse—a guesthouse owned and operated by Timothy Salvesen in Woodstock, Maine. Where the Smiths had made their reservations through a third party, they did not receive any specific information about their accommodations or personally speak to Salvesen. Upon arriving at the Farmhouse, the Smiths selected a second-story room and settled in. Unbeknownst to the Smiths, the room they had selected was a second-story suite that was connected to a first story living area by way of a private staircase. That night the Smiths slept in the second-story suite. The following morning, Mr. Smith was awakened by a “loud crash” and the sound of his wife scream. Mr. Smith began searching for his wife throughout the suite when, for the first time, he noticed the private staircase leading to the first floor living area. Mr. Smith found his wife at the landing of the staircase, bleeding from her head. Ms. Smith died the next day from her injuries.


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Tesla's fatal autopilot crash: Family may have grounds to sue

On July 6, the Guardian featured a piece in which legal experts suggested that the family of Joshua Brown—the man who on May 7, 2016, was killed in a fatal collision while traveling in his Tesla Model S vehicle—may have grounds to sue the innovative automaker.

On May 7, 2016, Joshua Brown was killed when the Tesla vehicle in which he was travelling failed to respond to an abrupt change in traffic during ‘autopilot’ mode and collided with the side of a truck before careening off the shoulder of the road. Following the collision, questions remain as to whether Brown was watching a portable DVD player at the time of the collision, while investigators have determined that neither Brown nor his vehicle’s operating system took any evasive actions just prior to the collision. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is conducting an ongoing investigation of the crash.

In response to recent media coverage of the event, Tesla published a blog post in which the automaker described its autopilot feature as more of a “traffic-aware cruise control” than a traditional autonomous operating system, and reiterated its warning to motorists to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times during autopilot operation—a warning made apparent to motorists by visual alerts and mechanical slowing the vehicle until the driver’s hands are detected. Further, Tesla stressed that the autopilot feature present in vehicles like the one involved in the fatal crash is “disabled by fault and requires specific acknowledgement that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled.” Despite Tesla’s recent efforts to point out the shortcomings and operator-dependent nature of their burgeoning technology, the company—through founder Elon Musk—has a history of touting its autopilot feature as “probably better than humans at this point in highway driving.”

Despite these warnings, some legal experts believe that the deceased’s family will have a strong case against Tesla. Anthony Johnson, CEO of the American Injury Attorney Group, says that Brown’s family “absolutely” has a product liability case against the automaker, based on whether Brown “was adequately warned about the potential defects in the system.” According to Johnson, the family will likely argue that “whatever warnings may have been offered, the driver may have been led to believe the system was more capable than it was.” What’s more, according to Johnson, “the term ‘autopilot’ has been used for decades and is understood by the masses as a situation whereby the machine (typically airplanes until recently) pilots the vehicle for the operator. . . you cant sell something at the grocery store that looks like a tomato and is labeled tomato and place in the fine print that its actually a grape.”

Despite this view, not all legal experts believe that Brown’s family has such a strong claim. Farid Yaghoubtil, a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, said that “If there was a sensor, if [Tesla] had the safety features in place and [Brown] ignored them, it would make a huge difference in being able to pursue a case, because at that point [Tesla would be able to shift] the burden from themselves to the user.”

Examining the legal response likely to be levied by Tesla, Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor  at the University of South Carolina, said that the automaker will likely “point to warnings they gave on prior use, point to the fact that this was a beta that required supervision, argue that the acts of the driver was the predominant cause of the crash” in trying to argue that Brown was at least partly culpable for his death. Ultimately, says Smith, the case will come down to reasonableness, with a jury asked to determine “was Tesla reasonable , was its design reasonable, was the driver reasonable?” 

Risks higher for front-seat passengers in some SUV crashes

On June 23rd, the New York Times published an article revealing that front-seat passengers in SUVs may be at increased risk for injury during a motor vehicle collision than drivers.

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (hereinafter “IIHS”) tested seven leading small SUV vehicles by placing them through “small overlap frontal tests,” the newest of IIHS’s tests, which simulates front-end impact to the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Previously, all seven vehicles had been tested by the IIHS for front-end driver’s side impact ratings and all seven vehicles received the highest rating—“good.” However, when IIHS replicated the test for front-end passenger side impact to determine the extent to which they protect passengers, only one vehicle—the 2016 Hyundai Tucson—earned a “good” rating.  Of the remaining vehicles three—the 2015 Buick Encore, 2015 Honda CR-V, and 2015 Mazda CX-5—earned ratings of “acceptable,” while the 2014 Nissan Rogue and 2014 Subaru Forrester received “marginal” passenger protection ratings, and the 2015 Toyota RAV4 received a “poor” result. 

According federal fatality data, the level or protection that small SUVs afford front-seat passengers is of paramount importance, as 1,600 passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014 alone. Heeding the call to help analyze crash data in an effort to make American roads safer, the IIHS began its testing approximately four years ago. Since then, IIHS testing has prompted 13 automakers to make structural changes to 97 vehicles. And while it seems that many automakers are determined to incorporate IIHS safety testing results in the redesign and improvement of their models, some continue to note that IIHS safety standards “:go beyond” that required under federal law. 

Still, manufacturers like Hyundai, are happy to promote their good results, highlighting the “demanding” standards of IIHS testing in light of their vehicles’ top performance.

Law Court reinstates ex parte attachment/priority for estate of Noyes Street fire victim

 On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, the Law Court (Gorman, J.), in Estate of Summers et al. v. Nisbet, 2016 ME 88, reversed the decision of the Cumberland County Superior Court (Mills, J.) to dissolve the attachment that the Estate of Steven Summers had received on an ex parte basis in connection with its complaint against Gregory Nisbet (hereinafter “the Defendant”) in December 2014 and, upon issuing a new attachment, its decision not to effectuate that attachment as of its original date of entry.


On November 1, 2014, Steven Summers perished in an apartment fire on the premises of a building located on Noyes Street in Portland, Maine, and owned by the Defendant. In addition to Summers, Ashley Thomas, Nicole Finlay, David Bragdon, Jr., and Christopher Conlee (represented by parties hereinafter labeled as “the other estates”) also perished in the blaze. On November 21, 2014, the Estate of Summers filed a complaint in the Superior Court alleging various causes of action for wrongful death and pain and suffering, alleging that the apartment building was in a state of disrepair, lacked working smoke detector and a passable secondary means of egress, contained an illegal third-floor apartment, violated various fire codes, and that the Defendant allowed storage of combustible materials on the property. Between the dates of January 6 and January 30, 2015, the other estates filed similar causes of action based on similar facts.


In its complaint, the Estate of Summers sought an order for attachment and trustee process on an ex parte basis. The trial court granted the request, on an ex parte basis, in the amount of $1.7 million on December 3, 2014. The Defendant did not challenge the attachment.


Subsequently the other estates each moved for attachment and trustee process, which the Defendant again did not challenge. Prior to the trial court’s review of these motions, the other estates also moved to dissolve and modify the Estate of Summers’s attachment order on the grounds that the Estate of Summers had failed to meet the requirements for attachment on anex parte basis. Following a hearing on these motions, the trial court dissolved the Estate of Summers’s ex parte attachment of December 3, 2014, and simultaneously granted attachments in favor of the Estate of Summers and the other estates. The trial court’s order resulted in a loss of priority status for the Estate of Summers, which timely appealed.


On appeal, the Estate of Summers argued that the trial court erred by concluding that the other estates had standing to challenge its December 2014 attachment order. Reviewing the standard for attachment on an ex parte basis, the Court held that a plaintiff is required to “establish the same likelihood of success [as required under the rules for seeking standard attachment—a likelihood of success in the underlying suit and of recovering in that amount of greater] but also requires the plaintiff to establish that there is a clear danger that the defendant if notified in advance of the attachment of the property will remove it from the state or will conceal it or will otherwise make it unavailable to satisfy a judgment or that there is immediate danger that the defendant will damage of destroy the property to be attached.”


Upon reviewing the scope of the above inquiry that Maine courts must make in assessing motions for ex parte attachment, the Law Court concluded that once an attachment is challenged, the ex parte portion of the analysis becomes moot, and a motion to dissolve an ex parte  attachment is treated as the equivalent of a contested motion for attachment after notice in which the attaching plaintiff has the burden to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence its entitlement to recovery of an amount equal to or greater than the amount of the attachment. In articulating this rule, the Law Court noted the thrust of the inquiry upon review of a grant of ex parte attachment is whether the plaintiff has made the requisite showing to obtain the attachment in the first place.


The Court finally concluded that where, as here, none of the other estates had challenged the Estate of Summers’s entitlement to an attachment there was no inquiry for the trial court to make into whether the Estate of Summers had in fact met the requisite elements for the granted ex parte attachment, and therefore its dissolution of the ex parte attachment was error for straying outside the boundaries of this narrow inquiry.


Following its decision to reinstate the ex parte attachment order, the Law Court also held that it reinstated the date of the December 3, 2014, as the date of the Estate of Summers’s priority.


Order for dissolution by the trial court vacated. Original ex parte order and priority date reinstated.

Massachusetts family settles claims for wharf death in Port Clyde

On Monday, June 6, 2016, the Bangor Daily News published an article in which it reported that the family of a Massachusetts boy who was killed when he was struck by a runaway vehicle on a wharf in Port Clyde, Maine, has settled claims related to their son’s death. 

On August 11, 2013, nine-year-old Dylan Gold was visiting Port Clyde with his parents and younger brother, waiting on the Monhegan-Thomaston Boat Line wharf for a ferry bound for Monhegan when a Cheryl Torgerson—a New York resident— lost control of her vehicle, sped down the wharf, and crashed into the Gold family. As a result of the collision, young Dylan suffered fatal injuries and his mother was hospitalized for four weeks with multiple pelvic fractures, a perforated bladder, and internal bleeding. Gold’s younger brother sustained minor injuries, and Gold’s father was unharmed.

Following the crash, Torgerson—who was not found to be suffering from any medical condition or to have any alcohol in her system at the time of the collision—informed State Police that her vehicle “suddenly accelerated as if the pedal were stuck to the floor.” State Police found no mechanical defects with Torgerson’s vehicle, though did receive multiple reports of a car matching the description of Torgerson’s vehicle speeding on several occasions in the hours leading up to the crash.

The family filed suit in August 2015 against Torgerson alleging negligent operation of her motor vehicle, and also filed suit against the Monhegan-Thomaston Boat Line and the owners of the property upon which the fatal crash occurred alleging negligence for “failing to erect barriers and gates and failing to safely channel the mix of vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic on the wharf.” 

Recently, the family—represented by Kevin Libby, Esq.—has settled their claims with all three parties, though the terms of the settlement have not been released. Torgerson is represented by Robert Hatch, Esq., and the ferry line and property owners are represented by Thomas Marjerison, Esq. 

Torgerson was not criminally charged as a result of the crash. The Knox County District Attorney’s Office stated that there was “insufficient evidence to show that Torgerson acted in a criminally negligent manner.”

How to Make Hospitals Less Deadly

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal examines the alarming death toll in American hospitals as a result of preventable shortcomings in the health care system.

Structured as a brief list detailing “how to make hospitals safer,” the article examines five ways in which American hospitals are currently failing to adequately meet patients’ needs—exposing the most troublesome areas for fatal medical error—and offers solutions for how hospitals can reduce the number of deaths by medical error made each year (estimated at between 210,000 and 440,000 in 2013):

1.) Adopt Structured Handoffs

• Two-thirds of fatal medical error is caused by miscommunications during staff shift changes. A 2014 study found that structured handoffs—categorizing illness severity, medical actions, and crisis contingency planning—could curb these errors by as much as 30%.

2.) Bring in the Pharmacists

• According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, erroneous medication orders by prescribing doctors kill thousands of Americans each year. A 2001 study found that putting pharmacists in patient areas in American hospitals decreased prescribing errors by 45%, and cut fatal errors by 94%.

3.) Get Serious About Infection

• According to the CDC, approximately 700,000 patients become infected while hospitalized in American hospitals each year, resulting in 75,000 deaths. At present, CDC guidelines for disinfecting surgical tools and devices only become mandatory in the event of a major outbreak.

4.) Fight Diagnostic Error

• The article suggests that the ever-expanding universe of medical knowledge is too much for doctors to navigate and remain updated on alone. As such, the article suggests encouraging physicians to bring pathologists and radiologists into the fold to ensure that they aren’t misdiagnosing, over-diagnosing, or only partially diagnosing their patients’ maladies.

5.) Make Electronic Health Records Interoperable

• According to the federal government, only 14% of clinicians share data with doctors beyond their care organizations—an act that jeopardizes continuity of care and ensuring accurate diagnoses. Congress has already passed legislation directing interoperability of all patient medical records within four years, but the need for universal access to records among a patient’s myriad providers is immediate.

If you or a loved one has been injured or disabled by a medical malpractice, the first step in effective treatment is to contact your physician immediately. And if you or a loved one needs an aggressive, yet compassionate and caring medical malpractice attorney, contact the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today.

We partner with highly rated medical malpractice attorneys who work closely with our law firm to help get our clients the justice they deserve. By joining resources and experience, together we know how to hold medical professionals and their insurance companies responsible.

Medical errors may be third-leading cause of death

An analysis by two Johns Hopkins Medical School doctors finds that medical errors account for over 250,000 deaths a year - or almost 10 percent of the total deaths in the United States.  That equates to nearly 700 deaths per day, third only to heart disease and cancer. 

The two authors said the errors include everything from bad doctors, surgical complications, mix-ups with the doses or types of medications, to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.  The study was conducted to shed light on a problem that many hospitals and health care facilities often avoid talking about. 

Kenneth Sands - Chief Quality Officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston - says the numbers aren't alarming. “There has just been a higher degree of tolerance for variability in practice than you would see in other industries,” he explained.  For example, when passengers board a plane, there’s a standard way attendants move around and prepare for flight.  Yet such standardization isn’t seen at hospitals.

The study contends that death from medical error has been understated, in large part, because such error by health providers is not included on death certificates.  The analysis also highlights the fact that the coding system used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to record death certificate data doesn't capture things like communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors and poor judgment that cost lives. 

While most doctors and other medical professionals are capable and compassionate individuals, medical mistakes continue to occur and the results can be devastating. A medical malpractice claim is a long and complicated legal matter because it's not always easy to prove causation. In addition, claims are bound by a statute of limitations that defines how long someone has to file a claim. With so much at stake, it’s crucial to retain an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. 

If you or a loved one has been injured or disabled by a medical malpractice, the first step in effective treatment is to contact your physician immediately. And if you or a loved one needs an aggressive, yet compassionate and caring medical malpractice attorney, contact the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today.

We partner with highly rated medical malpractice attorneys who work closely with our law firm to help get our clients the justice they deserve. By joining resources and experience, together we know how to hold medical professionals and their insurance companies responsible.

Police Warn Mainers About IRS Phone Scam

Law enforcement officials throughout Maine are advising residents to be cautious in light of a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone scam that is currently spreading throughout the state. 

Police and sheriff departments have reported receiving dozens of calls daily from people in Central Maine detailing the aforementioned fraudulent phone call. During these calls, imposted/fake IRS officials call someone to let them know they owe money and must pay it immediately to avoid arrest or lawsuits. 

There are two types of these phone calls circulating - one that involves a real live person, and the another one that contains an automated, prerecorded message.

If you become a recipient of one of these calls, hang up, do not send any money, and contact your local authorities and the state attorney general's office- 800-436-2131

Authorities are especially concerned about elderly people who may be receiving these calls. Police fear that these individuals might not immediately recognize it is a scam and will be duped into thinking they owe back taxes. 

An official statement from the attorney general's office cautions and reassures Mainers that the real IRS don't initiate contact via the phone without first mailing a postal letter. 

If you think that you do actually owe money to the IRS, contact a legitimate number that you know to be correct or visit  

Portland Bans E-Cigarettes

Effective in less than a month's time, our city of Portland will have a ban on e-cigarettes in public places. The council voted 7-1 in favor of banning these smoking devices in all locations where regular tobacco products are also prohibited. 

E-cigarettes, popular alternatives for those who are trying to quite traditional smoking, deliver nicotine and vapor electronically. 

Portland is the 275th city or town in the country to ban these tools. 

Volkswagen Recalling Millions of Diesel Vehicles

Volkswagen is in the preliminary stages of planning a massive recall of diesel cars affected by the recent scandal, in which the company admitted installing software in some diesel cars that allowed them to pass United States emission standards. The software was designed to make the cars appear that they were within the legal limit for emission standards, when in fact they were not. Volkswagen has admitted that the software was installed in approximately 11 million vehicles, but says that the software was not activated in all of the vehicles. The actual number of vehicles that will be subject to the recall has not yet been determined. The refitting of the affected cars will involve changing of the software that gives a false reading of the engine emissions.

Volkswagen is currently in the initial planning stages for the recall. Any and all changes to the software must be approved by the appropriate State and Federal regulatory agencies before the recall can be implemented.

More information will be available on a website to be established by Volkswagen. The company hopes to have additional information available to customers within the next month.

Harley Davidson Recall Information

Harley Davidson is recalling approximately 46,000 motorcycles in the United States due to defects with the clutch mechanism which can prevent the clutch from fully disengaging.  This can result in the rider losing control of the motorcycle.

The recall covers models from the 2015 and 2015 model years, and includes the Electra Glide, Ultra limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models.

More information is available at the Harley Davidson website, and at

Shark Vacuum Recall Information

The makers of Shark vacuum cleaners have issued a voluntary recall of four models:  NV650W, NV651, NV652, and NV660 due to a possibility of electrical failure.  The affected models are purple or maroon in color.

There have been no instances of injuries caused by the defect in these vacuum cleaners.

More information about this recall is available at

Study Examines Link Between Acetaminophen and Levels of Joy

According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, researchers have found that acetaminophen has the unexpected side effect of reducing pleasure while it reduces pain. Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol and several hundred other medicines sold for pain relief, and is widely used by millions of americans.

The authors of the study say it was already known that acetaminophen reduced psychological, as well as physical pain, but recent research indicates that it also reduced feelings of joy. To conduct the study, the researchers showed photographs of highly pleasant, and highly unpleasant things, to the participants in the study. Half of the participants in the study were given a large dose (larger than the normal dose) of acetaminophen. These participants reacted less strongly to both the positive and negative photographs. Based on this study, the researchers conclude that  the widespread use of Tylenol and other pain relievers containing acetaminophen may have implications for emotional, as well as physical, health.

Further studies are planned to study whether other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, have a similar correlation and effect on joy and pain.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Blizzard Season

Well, Mainers - we've made it through our first real snowstorm of the season. A blizzard or Nor'Easter as it were. Since Winter has only just begun, there are almost certainly several more inches of the white stuff to come in our near future. With snow falling at such a rapid rate as it did the past couple of days, your homes can quickly become covered and this in turn can lead to very dangerous outcomes. 

Local police and fire departments are urging residents to BE SURE to keep furnace and other utility vents clear of snow. When snow is falling at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour, it can quickly build up on surfaces of your home. When a furnace can't breathe, it isn't safe.

It is important to devise a plan to remove all snow and ice from your home's exterior vents and utilities in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. When snow blows against a house, it can block vents, therefore making it so that carbon monoxide has nowhere to go and is ultimately trapped in the house. Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because you can't see, smell or taste the deadly gas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of very important post-blizzard safety measures, including:

  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. 

For more information on this potentially fatal element of extreme snowstorms, please visit:

Space Heater Safety

Now that Winter (and chilly conditions) is in full swing, Mainers are looking for ways to safely heat our homes. Space heaters, commonly used portable heating devices, are great alternatives to expensive or inefficient central heating systems. These small heating units are capable of raising the temperature in a room without also simultaneously overheating an entire home.

While space heaters are cost-effective and practical, they come with several potential dangers/risks. When thinking about heating your home using one of these devices, please consider the following buying/installing safety guidelines via the US Department of Energy:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in 300 deaths and countless hospital visits to treat burns. To avoid becoming one of these statistics, it is critical to follow the aforementioned safety advice when heating your home with a portable heater.

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein wishes you a safe and hopefully warm Winter season. 

Extreme Cold Spell Strikes Maine

Maine, like most of New England, is currently in the midst of an extreme cold spell that should be ending this weekend. Temperatures have dropped to subzero levels today along most of the state, and heavy wind chills have contributed to unsafe driving conditions.

As a result of these freezing conditions, Maine drivers are experiencing dead car batteries that require jumpstarts, as well as frozen fuel lines. AAA advises motorists to keep their cars in the garage to avoid exposure to the severe climate. In addition, drivers should try to keep their gas tank at least half full during this icy period to prevent condensation from building in the tanks. 

The National Weather Service reported that Portland's low temperature of -9 degrees this morning was second only to the record low of -16 degrees in 1942. The NWS's temperature report also determined that inland areas were colder than those towns that are located along the coast. 

Meteorologists believe that temperatures will hopefully start to climb back into the 20's and 30's this weekend. 

Stay safe and as warm as possible, everyone!

'Veterans Helping Veterans' Program Forges Connections and Friendships

Launched last February, Maine-based project 'Veterans Helping Veterans' has paired young and elderly veterans together to bond through shared experiences and stories from their military service. 

According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, the program, which benefits veterans in York and Cumberland counties, has received positive feedback and is looking to expand its impact and reach by adding more volunteers. 

The program, developed by Americorps VISTA volunteer Susan Gold for the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, connects veterans together to spend time with one another and ultimately form a friendship. The project is a heartwarming and meaningful initiative that is strongly rooted in values of compassion and companionship. 

Gold's objective for the program is for these partnerships to successfully fulfill the SMAA's mission of providing outreach and resources that will allow elderly people to live in their homes for as long as possible.

Those who volunteer to be involved in 'Veterans Helping Veterans' receive training on how to tell if the veteran they are visiting has access to proper nutrition, medical care and transportation services if needed. Through the program is independently run, employees regularly communicate with Maine Veterans Services in order to learn of people who may benefit from the visitation experience. 

In addition, the program has employed mental health experts and trainers to keep a close eye on the partnerships and be vigilant of any veterans who may be suffering from symptoms of depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Amy Marcotte, a mental health professional on staff with 'Veterans Helping Veterans' told the Portland Press Herald that "Soldiers tend to feel responsible to their country and one another, and programs like this are a really nice outlet to fulfill that. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for meaningful service to their military brothers and sisters."

If you are interested in volunteering for the program, or want to learn more about the wonderful work and service these veterans do for each other, please contact Susan Gold at 396-6521 or

Federal Appeals Court Rejects LePage's Efforts to Eliminate Medicaid Coverage for Young Mainers

Last month, a federal appeals court rejected Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage's attempt to deny certain young adults Medicaid access. 

In its decision, The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that such a move would violate the Affordable Care Act, a "patient's bill of rights that gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed decisions about their health." 

Governor LePage, a critic of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, had previously proposed eliminating Medicaid coverage for 6,000 non-disabled 19-and-20-year-olds fin an effort to balance the budget. 

The LePage Administration, which wants to cut $220 million in overall healthcare spending, argued that cutting Medicaid rolls in the state would have saved Maine $3.7 million. 

LePage has been quoted as saying that he expects the state's fight with the federal government on this issue to eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

For more information on the Medicaid Program and Affordable Care Act, please visit: and 

Graco Recalling 11 Stroller Models Due to Fingertip Amputation Risk

The Consumer Product Safey Commission has announced that 11 different models of Graco Strollers are being recalled due to the risk of fingertip amputation.  Included in the recall are strollers manufactured between August of 2000 and September of 2014.  To determine whether a stroller is subject to the recall, owners should check the model number and date of manufacture of their stroller. This information can be found on a white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

According to the CPSC's resport, "The folding hinge on the sides of the stroller can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard." The report also says that Graco has received 11 reports of stroller-related finger injuries, with six reports of fingertip amputation, four partial-fingertip amputations, and one finger laceration.

Graco is offering a free repair kit to owners of the affected strollers. The kits will be available in early December. In the meantime, extreme care should be used when unfolding the stroller and placing a child in the stroller seat.

Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Further information about this recall is available at

Laundry Detergent Pods Dangerous for Children

A recent study conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that from 2012 through 2013, U.S. Poison Control centers received reports of 17,230 children younger than age 6 being exposed to chemicals in laundry detergents. This exposure was the result of swallowing or inhalation. As a result of ingesting these dangerous chemicals, 769 young children had to be hospitalized. 

In response to reports that many children still are being injured by ingesting pre-measured laundry detergent packets, the American Cleaning Institute has provided information about the safe handling and storage of these packets. The ACI recommends the following steps:

1. The packets should be stored out of reach and out of sight of children

2. The packets should be stored in their original containers or pouches until ready to be used

3. Children should not be allowed to handle the pre-measured laundry detergent packets

The detergent contained In the pods is highly concentrated, much more so than detergent in the more traditional bottled liquid detergent.  Children who ingest even small amounts of detergent in one of these pods can be seriously injured and require immediate medical treatment.

Airbag Recall: NHTSA Releases Updated List of Affected Vehicles

The U.S. Government has expanded a recent massive airbag recall to now include nearly 8 million vehicles. As part of this product recall, auto safety agency officials are urging drivers to have their airbags repaired due to potential dangers to drivers and passengers. 

The aforementioned faulty airbags are at risk for rupturing due to faulty inflator mechanisms made by Japanese supplier Takata Corporation. This in turn can cause dangerous metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed.  

This highly dangerous malfunction has already contributed to four deaths in the United States, and safety officials have estimated that 20 million vehicles could eventually be affected by this problem. 

On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an updated warning list of cars and trucks included in this recall. These vehicles include: 

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia, 2003-2005 Toyota Tundra 

Maine Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Medical Marijuana

Under a recent change to the medical marijuana law in Maine, nurse practitioners are now permitted to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain medical conditions. Before this change in the law, only physicians were allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in Maine.

Physicians and nurse practitioners are permitted to recommend marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions approved by the State, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 6th, the Department of Health and Human Services held a public hearing on the issue of whether Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) should be added as a qualifying condition for the medical use of marijuana.

A patient who has been legally certified by their treating provider (physician or nurse practitioner) will be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medicinal purposes, or to obtain marijuana from a marijuana dispensary. Certification requires that a patient has had a continuous relationship with their medical provider for at least six months prior to the certification.

The law does not permit medical providers to assist a patient with obtaining, cultivating, or using the marijuana.

Advocates of medical marijuana believe that the new law will be of particular help to rural Mainers, many of whom treat with nurse practitioners, not physicians.

It is important to note that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, despite its legalization in many states. Because of this conflict in the laws, there may still be many medical providers who are reluctant to recommend marijuana to their patients.

Suicide Rates Higher for Smokers According to Study

A recent study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research raises the possibility that the link between smoking and suicide may be stronger than previously believed.

The researchers compared suicide rates in states with aggressive anti-smoking policies with the suicide rates in states where such policies do not exist. States with higher cigarette excise taxes and regulations regarding smoke-free air had lower suicide rates than states with fewer anti-smoking regulations.

The study's lead author, Richard Grucza, concludes a lower risk of suicide exists in states that have implemented strong anti-smoking policies.

United States Department of Agriculture Proposes New Rules to Improve Food Safety

The federal government is proposing changes in the rules governing the processing and sale of raw ground beef. The rule changes are designed to make it easier for the USDA to track the sources of contaminated meat, so that fewer people will be affected by food-borne illnesses.

Under the proposed new rule, retailers will be required to keep detailed records that identify the source and supplier of the raw ground beef they sell. This improved record-keeping will allow the USDA to process food recalls more quickly and efficiently. The USDA expects that the additional record keeping requirements imposed on retailers will reduce illnesses from E.Coli, and will lower the cost of ground beef recalls.

More information is available on the website of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: 

High Rate of Opiate Pain Medication Prescriptions in Maine Causing Concern

The National Center for Disease Control has expressed concern about Maine's high rate of prescriptions for opiate pain medication.

According to recent data from the National Center for Disease Control, doctors in Maine prescribe opiate pain medications, including Oxycodone and OxyContin, at a much higher rate than doctors in other parts of the country. Because these medications include significant risk of overdose and addiction, the CDC recommends that further action  be considered as part of continuing effort to reduce these risks.

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse data from 2012 and 2013 shows an increase in the number of Mainers seeking treatment for addition to opiates including OxyContin and Oxycodone.

The mission of the Office of Substance Abuse is to 'provide leadership in substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. The OSA's website offers comprehensive information about substance abuse issues (including alcohol abuse), including information about prevention and treatment of substance abuse. More information can be found on the OSA's website, is

Mainers To Participate in National Diabetes Clinical Study

As was reported by the Portland Press Herald in an article on March 31st, Maine is one of 20 sites that has been chosen to participate in a nationwide medical study that will examine the relationship between Vitamin D and diabetes. The study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, is a large-scale $40 million endeavor that will work to determine whether Vitamin D can prevent Type 2 diabetes.

The Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough is currently seeking 600 to 700 who are possibly at risk for becoming diabetic to agree to take part in the study. Participants will be asked to tae either a Vitamin D pill or a placebo pill, and in addition may be asked to have their blood drawn. The clinical trial at the Scarborough research center will be among the largest to ever be held in Maine, with Maine Medical Center being given a $1.6 million budget to conduct the process and analyze the findings.

The study will take over a year to complete with participants being followed-up with screenings every six months to see if they went from being at risk of diabetes to having the disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of Mainers with diabetes has doubled since the mid-1990's, and furthermore, Type 2 diabetes is the more common form found among our state's residents.

Per the Portland Press article, within the ongoing research and studies on diabetes, the working medical theory is that Vitamin D helps the body produce insulin. Diabetics have a difficult time producing insulin thus eventually requiring those with the disease to use insulin shots.

While the study will be focused primarily on those who are already at risk for diabetes, medical professionals believe that the findings could also be helpful in determining if Vitamin D can help slow the progression of the disease. In addition, doctors want to be clear that even if the study is effective and the results are conclusive, Vitamin D should not be used as an alternative for diet, exercise and leading a healthy life style as means to prevent diabetes. 

The national research, called the "D2d" human clinical trial, will be led by Tufts Medial Center in Boston and will include thousands of participants from several states.

Those interested in learning more about participation in the study can call (207) 661-7624. The research institute is currently accepting applications from people who might be at risk for Type 2 diabetes. For more information please visit: 

General Motors Preparing to Recall 1.6 Million Cars

General Motors is preparing to recall 1.6 million of its cars due to problems with the ignition switch. In certain vehicles, this switch can turn off suddenly, which in turn disables the air bags and engines in the cars.

Customers affected by the recall will receive notices from General Motors beginning the week of March 10th. These customers will be invited to schedule an appointment with their local car dealer in order to have a replacement ignition switch installed. According to General Motors, the replacement parts have not yet been manufactured, therefore, it is not yet clear when customers will be able to schedule the needed repairs.

The vehicles covered under the recall include: Chevrolet Cobalt (years 2005 - 2007); Pontiac G5 compact (year 2007) ; Saturn Ion (years 2003- 2007); Chevrolet HHR (years 2006-2007); Saturn Sky (year 2007) , and Pontiac solstice (years 2006 and 2007.)

For further information about this recall, please go to

Maine Affordable Care Act

Mainers are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in numbers that exceed the enrollment target established by the federal government.

The vast majority of Mainers who have signed up for insurance under the Act will qualify for federal assistance in paying for their health insurance premiums.  Eligibility for federal help with payment of premiums is based on income.

To date, more than twenty thousand Mainers have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

More information about the Affordable Care Act is available at

Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care ( is a valuable resource for Mainers seeking information about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.

Maine Attorney General Sues Bangor Used Car Dealerships

Janet Mills, of the Maine Attorney General's office, has brought a lawsuit against several Bangor car dealerships, including: My Maine Ride, Bangor Car Care, Inc. and Bumper2Bumper, Inc. 

In her complaint, Mills accuses the dealership of targeting vulnerable consumers with low credit ratings and selling them unsafe cars that fail to pass state inspection. 

In addition, Mills says that her office has received hundreds of complaints against My Maine Ride due to their failure to respond to customer service issues. 

Under Maine Law, used car dealers are required to post a notice on unsafe cars that do not meet the state's inspection standards. The dealer must also disclose information about a used car's history, obtain a written acknowledgement from a prospective buyer, and also arrange for any unsafe motor vehicles to be towed from the dealership lot. 

With this lawsuit, Mills hopes to shut down the aforementioned Bangor dealerships. The owner's License to Operate is scheduled for a hearing before the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 

Portland Panhandling Ordinance Held to Violate First Amendment

Last week a federal judge in Maine declared Portland's Panhandling ordinance to be a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Judge George Singal found that the ordinance violated the First Amendment's right to free speech.

The ordinance, passed several months ago, prohibited people from standing or sitting in street medians, whether or not they were asking for money.  The city argued that the ordinance was a public safety measure, designed to protect both the public as well as the people who stand on the medians.  The ordinance was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the city could find ways to address public safety issues without imposing such a broad restriction on free speech.

U.S. District Court Judge George Singal declared the ordinance to be unconstitutional, in part because the ban did not apply to all forms of speech- for example, it did not prohibit people from planting campaign signs on medians.

It has not been determined yet whether the city will appeal the judge's ruling.

Phone Scam Affecting Mainers

Attention Mainers - if you have recently been receiving phone calls from an unknown number from Antigua or other Caribbean countries, you are not alone. 

The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission has issued warnings about a one-ring phone scam that is circulating around the country, and specifically right now, is targeting people in Maine.

In this particular scam, the caller is most often calling and then immediately hanging up in hopes that people will redial. Those who do call back will get charged for making an international call, and will see the fees reflected on their cell phone bills. 

The state Attorney General's office advises those who have been scammed to screen and ignore the unknown number, and do not call it back. In addition, those who have been scammed should ask their mobile phone company to reverse the charges. 

Graco Recalls 3.8 Million Child Car Seats

According to an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Infant products manufacturer, Graco, has voluntarily recalled 3.7 million child car seats due to issues with a faulty buckle. 

With the company recalling 11 of 18 models of car seats investigated by the NHTSA, this makes it the largest recall in the past five years.

Upon receiving complaints from parents about having difficulty unlatching Graco car seats and getting their children out of the device, the NHTSA began and investigation and found that the red release button in the center of the harness often becomes stuck. The organization determined that this faulty component would make it difficult or nearly impossible to remove a child from the car seat in the case of an emergency. 

There have been no injuries reported on the car seats, which sold for between $99 and $400. 

In addition, Greco has stressed that this buckle issue does not, in any way, affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle restraining a child. The company is offering new and improved harness buckles to impacted consumers at no cost. People can obtain one by calling 800-345-4109 or by emailing

For a complete list of the car seats and booster seats that have been recalled during the investigation, please visit, Graco's official website that contains an official recall announcement. 

Maine Drivers - Be Aware of Deer on Roads

According to a biologist in our great state of Maine, the population of deer is once again on the rise. More deer in our communities also means more deer on our roadways and a potential for dangerous vehicle/deer collisions. 

Maine motorists are being warned to be extra vigilant of these beautiful, yet potentially dangerous, animals while driving on our highways and rural roads. 

The month of November, the official start of mating season for deer, has been a historically popular time for deer accidents to occur. According to the Maine Department of Transportation, in the last decade, 19 percent of our state's deer collisions have occurred in November. 

Insurance companies in New England estimate that one out of every 207 Maine drivers will hit a deer, the second-highest state in New England after Vermont. 

To minimize the risk of a deer collision, Maine drivers should: 

  • Travel extra slowly and be overly cautious in areas that are marked with deer-crossing signs
  • Use high beams when available and safe for themselves and others
  • Always remain aware of surroundings

For more information on large animal collisions in Maine, please go here:

'North Woods Law' Documents Maine Game Wardens

Last week, Animal Planed premiered the second season of North Woods Law, a television show that follows the elite Game Warden Service in Maine. The program, which debuted last year, documents our home state's game wardens as they go about their eventful and often dangerous daily lives.

The Maine Warden Service consists of approximately 95 armed field officers who are trained at our state's police academy as well as a warden academy. In collaboration with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, these officers establish and enforce laws relating to hunting and fishing.    

Night and day, the Wardens of Maine are on call, patrolling more than 18 million acres of terrain filled with wild animals, and often risking their live to protect and serve the public.

Filmed entirely in Maine, the series is produced by Engel Entertainment, a production company that has filmed documentaries for the Discovery, Travel and History channels. The current second season of the show features 10 new episodes that will air into April, and follows officers as they track bears, perform search and rescue missions and navigate our state's hunting season.

North Woods Law, which gained an impressive following during its first season, offers a straightforward look at the lives of game wardens and has educated others on the important work that these offiers do. 

Interested in learning more about the jobs and responsibilites of Maine's game wardens? Tune into North Woods Law - Thursdays at 9pm on the Animal Planet channel.

Drowsy Driving: A Dangerous and Common Road Behavior

Though drunk driving and distracted driving are the most publicized dangerous road behaviors, a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is highlighting another all too common issue on the road: drowsy driving.

The results of this study were released last Thursday and offered this nightmare of a statistic: 1 in 24 adults in the US admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the last month. That translates to approximately 4 percent of drivers in our country driving while drowsy.

Furthermore, the health officials who administered this particular test expect the number of drowsy drivers to be higher than reported. They believe that is because many people don't realize when they drift off for a few seconds behind the wheel.

Additional findings from this report, which surveyed nearly 150,000 drivers in 19 states, concluded that driving while sleepy was more common in people ages 25-34, for those who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night, as well as men. The CDC researchers who are experts in this field were not surprised by the results because they believe that many people are getting insufficient sleep. 

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"Click It or Ticket" Campaign Enforced During Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, with it comes exceptionally heavy traffic on the road. As more people take to the highways as part of their holiday travel, road safety and seatbelt awareness take the national spotlight.

According to the National Safety Council, the six most recent Thanksgiving holiday periods (November 21-25) saw a 9.8 increase in traffic fatalities when compared to non-holiday periods. For more information and advanced statistics on these findings, please visit:

In an effort to raise awareness and reduce safety belt fatalities, The Thanksgiving Holiday "Click It or Ticket" campaign (running from November 12-26) is being enforced along our nation's roadways. During the holiday weekend, law enforcement officials will be ticketing anyone who is not buckled up. Remember to always wear your seatbelt - every trip, every car, every time.

The National Safety Council studies show that when used properly, seat belts are 45% effective in preventing traffic fatalities. However, 1 in 5 Americans fail to regularly wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

For more information on the "Click It or Ticket" initiative, please click here:

During the upcoming holiday period and ALWAYS, remember to buckle up to protect yourself and those sharing the road with you.

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein wishes you and your loved ones a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Stricter Driving Laws For Maine Teens

In an effort to protect everyone on the road and raise awareness about distracted driving, Maine lawmakers have decided to ramp up driving restrictions for new drivers.

As of yesterday, there are new laws in effect pertaining to teenage drivers.

New-driver laws in our state used to cover a six month period of time, the new rules will now span nine months of driving. 

There now is a 270-day period where novice drivers are prohibited from

  • carrying passengers (other than family members) in their vehicles without having a licensed driver who is at least 20 years old accompanying them
  • driving between midnight and 5am
  • using cell phones while operating a vehicle

In addition, fines for texting and driving have been increased from $100 to $250.

Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 make up 10% of license-holders, but are involved in nearly 30 percent of fatal accidents in Maine. By passing tougher new-driver laws, Maine legislators are showing that they are serious about decreasing those staggering numbers and protecting everyone on Maine roads.

Anti-Diabetic Medication Actos Linked To Bladder Cancer

As a result of Actos, a prescription anti-diabetic medication, being linked to reports of bladder cancer, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has updated the drug's label. The new Actos packaging now warns users that taking the medication for over a year may lead to an increased risk of this form of cancer. 

Actos, also known by its generic name, Pioglitazone, is manufactured by global pharmaceutical company Takeda, and is typically used to treat Type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly use insulin and as a result cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood. 

In addition to presenting a potential increased risk of bladder cancer, Actos has been associated with the following side effects and symptoms:

  • Development of certain heart conditions
  • Worsening of existing heart conditions
  • Cause of liver disease
  • Possible weight gain
  • Persistent sore throats    
  • Muscle pain
  • Vision problems; blurred vision
  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Bone fractures
  • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

In June 2011, new Actos safety announcement labels were issued by the FDA upon the completion of a thorough study, which began in September 2010, and analyzed the medication's link to bladder cancer risk. At the same time, drug regulators banned the use of Actos in France and Germany. 

According to the FDA, more than 500,000 adverse reactions to anti-diabetic drugs were reported from 2004 to 2009. Within those cases, 138 instances of bladder cancer were reported, with 1/5 of the cancer patients taking Actos.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious side effects as a result of taking Actos, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call our office for a free and confidential consultation.

Transvaginal Mesh Linked To Serious Health Complications

Transvaginal mesh (TVM), a medical device used during during urogynecologic procedures, has been associated with serious health complications and countless class action lawsuits.

TVM, also known as bladder slings, is a mesh device made from non-absorbent synthetic material that is inserted transvaginally and used in procedures to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Stress Urinary Incontinence. 

Recent research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that these surgical meshes can harm patients and put them at risk for serious side effects including:

  • Severe pain
  • Mesh erosion
  • Additional surgeries
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Organ perforation
  • Neuro-muscular problems
  • Vaginal scarring
  • Mesh contraction
  • Vaginal shortening/shrinking

According to FDA reports, in 2010, approximately 300,000 women underwent surgical procedures in the United States to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and 260,000 women underwent surgical procedures to treat Stress Urinary Inontinence (SUI.) Surgical mesh was used in one out of three POP procedures and 80% of SUI procedures. 

Between 2008 and 2010, the FDA received 1,503 reports of injuries or malfunction due to TVM.

As a result of receiving thousands of reports regarding complications, the FDA issued Public Health Notification warnings to surgeons and patients once in 2008 and again in 2011.   

The FDA is conducting extensive research and testing on urogynecologic surgical mesh devices developed by manufacturers such as: Johnson & Johnson, American Medical Systems, C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific, and Ethicon. These assessments are being done to further evaluate the safety, effectiveness and potential serious complications associated with these devices.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by complications with TVM application and are seeking legal representation, please call our office for a free consultation.

Carmakers Encouraged To Implement Safer Navigation Systems

A recent article in the New York Times highlighed the potential dangers of dashboard entertainment and navigation systems and their potential to distract drivers.

The federal traffic agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is strongly encouraging carmakers to consider designing and implementing navigation systems in a safer manner. The NHTSA has suggested a list of voluntary guidlines in order to help manufacturers develop and adhere to safer standards. 

The article mentions that even though many dashboard navigation and entertainment units are voice-activated, they still do require a bit of hands-on use, thus posing potential safety risks.

While the aforementioned proposed guidelines are not mandatory and will not eradicate all distracted driving, the NHTSA is taking a step in the right direction and their efforts have been recognized and praised by other federal agencies such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Maine Driver Education Programs To Be Reviewed And Updated

Maine teenagers and young drivers are injured or dying in car accidents at an astonishingly high rate and something needs to be done about it. Our state legislators are seeking to bring change by improving Maine driver education programs.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of 16 to 24 year olds. In 2008, people among those ages constituted 14 percent of all drivers and accounted for nearly 37 percent of all crashes and nearly 32 percent of all fatal crashes.

This trend is beyond disturbing and often results in tragic outcomes.

Charles Summers, Maine Secretary of State, is advocating for an overhaul of Maine's driver education curriculums in hopes that stronger programs and enforced education can bring change.

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Texting While Driving Becomes Illegal In Maine

On September 28th, Maine will put one final period on texting while driving as an official ban goes into effect.   
The law, which was unanimously passed by the Senate and House in May 2011, makes Maine the 33rd state to ban this highly unsafe and unfortunately all too common driving behavior.
The minimum fine for texting while driving is set at $100.

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Medical Malpractice Stillborn Birth Cases: Article Highlights Disparities In Compensation

An interesting article in today's New York Times points out the wide discrepancies in damages awards in medical malpractice and personal injury cases.

At the heart of the article is the disparity in medical malpractice cases involving stillborn births. In 2004, New York's highest court allowed mothers to be compensated for their emotional distress and heartache in such cases. The verdict in a Brooklyn case where the mother was awarded $1 million for the stillborn birth of her baby recently was recently upheld after lengthy appeals. In the Bronx, however, a mother in similar circumstances was offered $500,000 by the hospital which she rejected. Her lawyer is arguing that the Brooklyn $1M verdict should be the accepted standard.

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Hip Implant Complaints Rising At Staggering Rate

As reported in the New York Times of August 23, 2011, there has been a dramatic surge in recent months in complaints to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration about hip implants. There have been more than 5,000 reports since the beginning of 2011 about the failure of several prevalent devices called metal-on-metal hips, more than the agency received in the past four years in total.

Experts fear that the devices will be the biggest and most expensive implant problem since Medtronic recalled a popular heart implant device.

Hip replacement is one of the most common procedures in the U.S., with about 250,000 replacements being performed each year. Metal-on-metal replacements account for about one-third of that total. While the problems with the metal-on-metal replacements are usually non-threatening at first, some patients have suffered serious injuries when particles of cobalt and chromium break off as the metal devices endure wear and tear.

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Walmart Store In Auburn Opens Community Health Clinic

Just when loyal Walmart shoppers thought that the giant superstore really had it all, the chain has added a giant perk for its consumers in the Lewiston-Auburn area. The Walmart store in Auburn now features a walk-in community health clinic run by St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

The health facility, known as The Clinic At Walmart, is located in the store at 100 Mount Auburn Avenue in Auburn. Hours of operation are 8am - 8pm Monday through Friday, 8am - 6pm on Saturday and 11am - 5pm on Sunday. The small satellite St. Mary’s office features two exam rooms, a bathroom and a reception area.

The clinic, overseen by a doctor, features a rotating group of a physician's assistant and two family nurse practitioners and will see patients for a variety of ailments. The Clinic At Walmart offers treatment for acute health problems including, but not limited to:

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Extra Strength Tylenol's Maximum Daily Dosage Lowered In An Effort To Reduce Overdose Risk

Many of us have known the name since we were children. The red and white packaging is easy to spot on RiteAid and CVS shelves. It has become the catch-all, cure-all for headaches, sprained ankles, sore throats, fevers and more. Tylenol. The popular over-the-counter painkiller used in homes, schools, offices and pretty much anywhere there is a first aid kit, is now making an effort to become more trustworthy and safe for you and your family.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Tylenol, have announced new, lower dosing instructions for the Tylenol Extra Strength drug. This change comes with the objective of reducing the risk of accidental overdosing on the product’s active ingredient, acetaminophen.

The new maximum daily dose for Extra Strength Tylenol is 3,000 mg which is six pills a day. The previous recommended dosage was 4,000 mg or eight pills a day.

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Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix Linked To Increased Risk Of Heart Problems

Chantix, the leading prescription drug for smoking cessation, has now added another serious health concern to its laundry list of potential risks: cardiovascular disorders for people who do not have preexisting heart conditions. Since its approval in 2006, the medication has also been associated with loss of consciousness, visual disturbances, worsening of diabetes and various psychiatric side effects.

According to a recent report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a study concluded that Chantix increases the risk of hospitalization for heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeats or other serious heart problems by 72 percent.

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Updated Baby Crib Safety Standards Implemented By CPSC

In an effort to ensure the safety of sleeping babies, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced new mandatory regulations for cribs.

These federal restrictions, which went into effect on June 28, 2011, prohibit the manufacture and sale of drop-side baby cribs - cribs that contain a side rail that moves up and down, allowing parents to easily lift their child from their crib. From now on, all cribs sold in the United States must have fixed sides. 

According to the CSPC, drop-side cribs have been blamed in the deaths of at least 32
infants and toddlers since 2000. In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs
have been recalled.

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Caution: HBO's Documentary On McDonald's Coffee Lawsuit A Hot Topic

The highly-anticipated, compelling HBO documentary, Hot Coffeewhich premiered on June 27th and is scheduled to re-air during the next several weeks, is brewing up a great deal of chatter among legal professionals, film critics and journalists.

The 90 minute film chronicles the story of Stella Liebeck, the elderly woman who became unintentionally famous when she purchased a 49-cent cup of hot coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through window in 1992.

Liebeck accidentally spilled the cup of coffee on her lap, and as a result, suffered severe
third degree burns and became the subject of a product liability lawsuit in 1994.

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Supreme Court Protects Generic Drug Companies In Pliva v. Mensing Decision

In Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, 564 U.S. ___ (2011), a decision issued on June 23, 2011 by the United States Supreme Court ruled that generic drug makers cannot be sued under state law on the basis that they failed to provide adequate warning labels about potential side effects, effectively overturning U.S. appeals court rulings that allowed such lawsuits.

The generic drug companies in Pliva argued that federal law requires generic drugs to have the same labels as their brand-name equivalents.

Therefore, if the labels have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, then such lawsuits are barred by federal law.

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Temporary Maine Handicap Parking Passes To Be Issued By Medical Providers Under New Law

A new bill, expected to become a law in September 2011 after the current Legislature adjourns, will allow doctors, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners and registered nurses in Maine to provide certain patients with temporary, 21-day handicapped parking placards.

The idea behind this bill was first thought of by Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey and was introduced to the Legislature by state Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville.

Under this impending law, medical professionals will be able to issue the temporary,  21-day parking passes to patients who are recovering from surgical or other medical procedures and therefore need to park close to pharmacies or doctors’ offices in order to obtain their medication.

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'ARVE ALVE' Time And Temperature Building Message Stands For...

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is using Portland’s only skyscraper to remind Mainers to practice safe driving behavior and to promote the firm’s annual Arrive Alive Creative Contest. The contest is open to graduating high school seniors in Maine who wish to send a message to their peers about the dangers of drinking and driving and the dangers of distracted driving.

Through Friday, May 6, the electronic sign atop Congress Street’s Time and Temperature Building will display the sequence ‘ARVE ALVE’ immediately following the local time and temperature. ‘ARVE ALVE’ represents ‘Arrive Alive’- the name of our contest as well as an important reminder for all.

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Deck Collapse At Sugarloaf-Area Bar Sends Five People To Maine Hospitals

Five patrons of a restaurant near Sugarloaf were injured on Saturday, April 16, 2011, when the wooden fire escape where they were gathered collapsed. At least 10 people fell 15 feet to the ground when the landing and staircase where they were standing crashed to the ground, striking rocks.

Two men and two women were brought by ambulance to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine. Another injured individual was taken to the hospital by private vehicle. Three of the people were treated and released, while one was admitted to the hospital and another was transferred to Central Maine Medical Center.

The cause of the collapse at the The Rack bar and grill restaurant in Carrabassett Valley is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office. The names of the victims have not been disclosed.

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Motorcycle Fatalities Down Two Percent According to Governors Highway Safety Association

According to a report released on April 19, 2011, by the Governors Highway Safety Association, motorcycle fatalities dropped by two percent in the first nine months of 2010. However, this may not represent a lasting improvement in safety, officials warn. While there were 80 fewer motorcycle deaths from January to September, 2010, the number of fatalities began to creep up in the last three months of 2010.

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Court Decision: Fitzpatrick v. Cohen

U. S. District Court Judge Singal entered an order on April 12, 2011, in Fitzpatrick v. Cohen applying the amended Wrongful Death statute, 18-A M.R.S. sec. 2-804 in a case where the injury which allegedly precipitated the death of the decedent occurred before the amendment went into effect.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was seriously injured in a car accident on July 2, 2008. A lawsuit for damages was filed against the defendant on December 29, 2009. On February 11, 2010, Ryan was killed in a skiing accident. His father and personal representative, David Fitzpatrick, alleged that Ryan's death was caused by the 2008 car accident.

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Girls' Day at the State House Proudly Supported By Joe Bornstein

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is pleased to announce our recent sponsorship of the Maine Women’s Policy Center’s 15th annual Girls’ Day at the State House.

Girls’ Day, which took place on Thursday, March 24, 2011, at the Maine State House in Augusta, served as an opportunity for young girls to learn about our state’s government and the legislative process. The event was attended by more than 100 eighth-grade female students from all across Maine.

Working with lobbyists, journalists and communications professionals, participants of this year’s event were taught how to testify at a public hearing, create a message and organize a mock press conference. In addition, the girls held a mock debate to argue for or against an actual bill that is currently being discussed, met several elected and appointed female leaders and got to explore the State House during a scavenger hunt.

Founded in 1990, the Maine Women’s Policy Center aims to enhance the social and political status of women and girls in Maine by teaching them valuable leadership skills and helping them to find and amplify their voices within society and public policy.

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"Move Over, Maine," Instructs State Police


When approaching police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks or other vehicles with flashing lights in the breakdown lane, drivers are required by law to:

  • slow down to a reasonable speed
  • if possible, move into the passing lane

In an effort to keep emergency responders and other motorists safe at the scene of an accident, Maine State Police are ramping up enforcement of the highway ‘Move Over’ law, first introduced in 2001.

The imposed fine for not obeying this law is a minimum of $311 per violation.

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LULAC And César Chávez Celebrated By Joe Bornstein And Local Community

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is proud to join the newly established Portland, Maine League Of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in honoring the life of America’s most prominent Latino civil rights leader, César Chávez.

The César Chávez observance will take place on Thursday, March 31st at 9:00 a.m. at The First Parish In Portland, Maine, located at 425 Congress Street, Portland. The event will include speeches by local politicians, activists and LULAC representatives.

The observance, which is expected to draw 500-800 attendees and will last for an hour and a half, will also feature live music and a march through the city of Portland.

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Court Decision: Peterson v. Jhamb, 2011 ME 35

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting at the Law Court, issued an opinion today, March 22, 2011, by Justice Jabar in Peterson v. Jhamb, 2011 ME 35. In this medical malpractice action for failure to diagnose recurrent breast cancer which had metastasized to the Plainitff's bones, the Court upheld the jury's verdict of more than $1.1M. The action was brought against Plaintiff's, Donna Seabury-Peterson, primary care doctor Kristin Jhamb, M.D. and Mid Coast Medical Group. Mr. Peterson also brought a claim for loss of consortium (companionship) of his wife.

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Rear Facing Car Seats Until Age 2 Recommended By American Academy Of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that children under two years of age be strapped into rear facing car seats, as announced in an article in the New York Times of March 21, 2011. Generally, toddlers are promoted from rear facing seats to front facing ones when they reach one year of age. However, based on a 2007 study by the University of Virginia, the experts are now extending that period for another year.

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ILAP CeleSoirée Sponsor Joe Bornstein Promotes Event On Time And Temperature Building

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is honored to once again support the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project’s (ILAP) 7th annual CeleSoirée: Celebrating Immigration through the Arts event.

The event will take place on Friday, March 25, 2011 from 5 - 9 p.m. at The Portland Company complex at 58 Fore Street in Portland.

This vibrant night of entertainment and fundraising will help to further ILAP’s outstanding, steadfast work on behalf of Maine’s immigrants and their families. In addition, this year’s very special CeleSoirée will also commemorate ILAP’s 10th anniversary as a legal aid agency.

ILAP, a nonprofit organization, advocates for our state’s low-income immigrants and works to improve their overall well-being. By providing education and affordable legal assistance to clients from over 100 different countries hailing from all 16 of Maine’s counties, ILAP helps immigrants stabilize their immigration status and improve their quality of life within Maine society.

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'TWO DROP' Polio Awareness Message Supported By Joe Bornstein

Mainers strolling along Congress Street during this week might be surprised to see a different sequence flashing atop the Time and Temperature Building. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, current tenants of the skyscraper’s advertising space, are proud to use the illuminated sign to promote an important worldwide cause- polio awareness.

The Time and Temperature Building, which typically flashes ‘CALL’ followed by ‘JOE’, will read ‘TWO’ followed by ‘DROP’ through the end of this week. ‘TWO DROP’ reflects the two drops of oral vaccine that are administered to children in an effort to protect them from the highly infectious disease known as polio.

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Maine Driving Law: Windshields And Windows Have To Be 100% Snow-Free

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein would like to remind our fellow Maine motorists that your car's windows and windshields must be clear of all snow and ice before you drive after a storm.

According to Lewiston Police officer, Craig Johnson, the two main causes of winter driving accidents are slippery roads and reduced visibility, both of which can be caused by drivers failing to remove snow from the glass of their vehicles.

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State Legislators Looking To Ban Habits Of Distracted Pedestrians

The New York Times of January 26, 2011, cites further efforts by lawmakers across the country to curb iPod and cell phone usage by pedestrians and bicyclists. Not only are legislators in New York and Arkansas looking to curb distracted walkers, but they are working in other states on banning non-motorists' earbuds. (Interestingly, the Arkansas proposal was withdrawn earlier this week due to a flood of protests by constituents.)

In Oregon, for instance, pending legislation would forbid bicyclists from using mobile phones and music devices, while in Virginia, a bill has been proposed to prevent cyclists from using a "hand-held communication device."

In California, the same state senator who led a successful campaign against text messaging by motorists is now re-introducing a law to fine bicyclists $20 for first-offense texting.

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Court Decision: Lyman v. Huber

In Lyman v. Huber, 2010 ME 139, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sitting as the Law Court vacated a judgment issued by the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Delahanty, J.) in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her $106,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and loss of business opportunity. The unanimous Law Court opinion, written by Justice Jon Levy, found that the elements of an IIED claim, which require proof of such severe emotional distress that no reasonable person could endure it, were not met by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff and the defendant had been romantically involved for a number of years and purchased property together where the plaintiff planned to operate a horse farm. The defendant became increasingly controlling and hurtful in his behavior towards the plaintiff which placed her under a great deal of stress. She filed an eight-count complaint against him, including seeking partition of the property, damages for IIED, and "ouster."

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Court Decision: State Farm v. Linton

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills found that State Farm did not have to provide insurance coverage for an accident that killed one motorist, James Carey. State Farm brought a declaratory judgment action against Roger Linton, who was driving a vehicle owned by his employer and insured by State Farm, and also against the Estate of Mr. Carey.

An independent contractor working for Jonathan Jennings. d/b/a Forgotten Stoneworks, Mr. Linton was given use of a company truck to drive back and forth to work. Although prior to the accident, Mr. Linton had used the vehicle on occasion for personal use, such excursions were to be very limited.

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The Risks Of Non-Recourse Loans In Personal Injury Claims

The New York Times, in an article of 1/16/11, exposes the risks of non-recourse loans to injured plaintiffs. The practice is unregulated in most states and is exempt from laws that protect borrowers from other lenders, such as banks.

A number of professionals--lawyers, judges, and regulators--believe the lack of regulation is resulting in great sums of money being siphoned from the injured into the hands of the lawsuit lenders. Rates often exceed 100 percent a year, according to a review by The New York Times and Center for Public Integrity. Moreover, the lenders are not required to provide prospective borrowers detailed information about the interest rates.

One personal injury attorney in the Bronx calls the practice "legal loan sharking." The state of Colorado has filed suit against two of the largest lawsuit lenders, LawCash and Oasis Legal Finance, charging them with violations of the state's lending laws.

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Joe Bornstein Opens Sanford Office

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is proud to announce the recent opening of our sixth office location at 913 Main Street in Sanford. Adjacent to Bergeron Shoes, we are located in the heart of historic downtown Sanford. This newly renovated office, together with our Biddeford office, will help make access to justice available to Mainers living in York County.

First settled in 1739 and incorporated in 1768, Sanford includes the village of Springvale and is situated on the Mousam River. It borders the towns of Shapleigh, Acton, Alfred, Kennebunk, Wells, North Berwick and Lebanon.

To schedule an appointment at our Sanford office, phone us toll-free at 1-800-CALL-JOE (1-800-2255-563) or call our Sanford office directly at (207) 324-1277. As with all of our offices, the Sanford office is wheelchair accessible to better serve Mainers who are injured or disabled.

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Darvon And Darvocet Recall

In November 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that painkillers Darvon and Darvocet have been voluntarily recalled after studies showed potential harmful side effects. Two of the most commonly prescribed pain medications, the drugs have been associated with serious health problems such as suicide, physical addiction and overdosing.

First introduced in 1957, Darvon and Darvocet contain the active ingredient, propoxyphene, an opioid that is used to treat mild to moderate post-surgical pain. However, a report prepared by the FDA found more than 3,000 cases where the drugs were linked to serious health problems. The agency also indicated that Darvon and Darvocet are no more effective than safer, over-the-counter painkillers. An estimated 22 million people have been prescribed Darvon or Darvocet.

Serious side effects that have been linked to the prescription pain medication Darvon and Darvocet include:

  • Severe heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden death
  • Accidental overdosing
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Attorney C.J. Newman Joins The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein – one of Maine’s leading personal injury and disability law firms – is pleased to announce the hiring of its 11th attorney, C.J. Newman. Attorney Newman joins a staff of nearly 60 legal professionals and is responsible for much of the firm's legal research and writing.

A graduate of the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine School of Law, Newman served as an editor for the Maine Law Review, a biannually published law journal.

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Study of Patient Safety Yields Disturbing Results

According to a large, multi-year study of patient safety practices, hospitals’ efforts are still flawed and falling short.

The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina Hospitals, found that not only was patient risk common, but also that the rate of harm did not significantly decrease during the five-year span of analysis.

Led by Christopher Landrigan, patient safety researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, the study examined records of 2,341 admitted patients and included both rural and urban medical centers of varying size.

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Holiday Gift Giving: 'Tis The Season To Give Safely

This holiday season, The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein encourages adults to consult the 2010 toy recall list and be aware of any and all potential dangers prior to shopping for presents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 44 toys have been recalled this year due to safety hazards including: toxic levels of lead or cadmium, choking risks and sharp edges or protruding parts. In addition, there has been a 7.6 percent increase in emergency room visits among children in the United States due to defective playthings.

Fisher-Price, a trusted brand of Mattel, Inc., recently recalled over 10 million products that were contributing to toddler and children choking and sustaining cuts that required stitches.

The products included in this major Fisher-Price recall are:

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DePuy Hip Replacement Parts Recalled - Over 90,000 Patients Affected

A popular hip replacement part is being recalled.

Johnson & Johnson, in conjunction with its DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary, recently announced that it’s recalling parts used for hip replacements. An estimated 93,000 people will be affected by the product recall.

The DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System are the two products involved in the recall. The Acetabular System helps address pelvic problems, while the Resurfacing System substitutes a metal device for the ball of a human hip. Both carry a high rate of repeat surgeries needed by people who have received the parts.

The decision to recall the two products is based on the findings from a recent study conducted in the UK. The study showed a five-year rate of revision surgery of 12 percent for the ASR Resurfacing System and about 13 percent for the ASR XL system. The double digit rates are uncommon and higher than expected.

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Winslow Homer Stamp Honors Local Legend

On August 12, the United States Postal Service unveiled a new stamp depicting Winslow Homer's painting, Boys in the Pasture. The stamp is the 9th in the American Treasures Stamp series released by the Postal Service and honors the artist who is said to have did for the United States what the French Impressionists did for Europe.

Considered one of the foremost artists in 19th century America, Winslow Homer (1836 –1910) was a landscape painter and printmaker. The 44-cent stamp was dedicated at the 2010 American Philatelic Society Stamp Show in Richmond, Virginia, the largest annual postage stamp show held in the United States. Boys in the Pasture, an 1874 oil-on-canvas, is currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA.

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Maine's "Move Over" Law Facilitates Safety

In attempt to help keep public safety workers safe and eliminate motorists from getting caught in accidents, Maine State Police are promoting Maine’s “Move Over” law.

First introduced in 2001, the “Move Over” law requires drivers to move into the passing lane or slow down when traveling by police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks and other vehicles with flashing lights in the breakdown lane. Since 2003, 16 state police cruisers have been struck from behind while parked alongside the road.

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Social Media Searches And What They Mean To Your Case

Social media websites are more popular than ever. With over 500 million active users, Facebook leads the way. But for as great as social media sites are for keeping in touch with friends and networking with prospective colleagues, they also invite the public into your life. And on occasion that might not be a good thing.

It is well known that employers and colleges take to the web to research a potential applicant, but now, insurance companies have started digging around online to help determine whether you are as injured as you say, or if you’re injured at all.

Due to this new style of background checking, it’s important to assume everything done online is public and can be used against you.

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Harold Alfond Challenge Grant Helps Maine Babies Prepare For College

A new program in Maine is giving newborn babies a $500 grant for college. 

The Harold Alfond College Challenge provides a $500 grant to every Maine baby to start a college savings account. Originally started in 2008 on a limited basis, the program is now offered to all newborn babies in Maine to help their families plan for their children’s college education.

Every baby born in Maine is eligible, and there is no income limit or additional money needed to receive the grant. $500 is deposited into a NextGen fund for the newborn and is to be used for education beyond high school. To qualify for the grant, a NextGen enrollment form must be filled out before the baby’s first birthday.

Harold Alfond was life-long Mainer who founded the Dexter Shoe Company and later established the Harold Alfond Foundation in 1950. Alfond’s love of Maine was apparent through his many charitable causes. His giving focused on education and health care, with the Harold Alfond College Challenge his legacy gift to every Maine baby.

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Tick Season Brings Uptick In Lyme Disease

Because of Maine’s mild winter and early spring, tick season in Vacationland will be more severe than in the past. Unfortunately, with the increase in the amount of ticks comes an increase in the amount of Lyme disease incidents. In 2008, there were 780 confirmed and 128 probable cases of Lyme disease in Maine.

Lyme disease was named in 1977 when several children in Lyme, Connecticut suffering from similar symptoms came down with an unidentified illness later found to be transmitted by deer ticks. Over 20 years later, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are nearly 29,000 cases of Lyme disease annually in the U.S., with the majority occurring in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

It is estimated that more than 75 percent of Lyme disease cases are contracted within 100 feet of the home and that 80 percent of Lyme disease cases occur between May and August.

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Medical Malpractice Complaints In Maine On The Rise

Complaints to the Maine state medical board are on the rise. In the last ten years, the board has seen an increase in complaints of nearly 50 percent with the current pace expected to reach a record high in 2010. In 2009, 224 formal medical complaints were made to the state board.

Patient complaints of physician negligence have grown steadily recently partly due to the relative ease of filing a complaint. Patients can now submit complaints online, over the phone or via mail. Online, patients can easily research information about physicians, disciplines, and licenses. According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, the rate of complaints has increased on average by double digits nationally.

Common complaints to the medical board include drug abuse, incompetence, and doctors developing sexual relationships patients. But as the number of formal complaints rises, the number of people reviewing the complaints has remained the same.

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St. Mary's Hospital Loans Medical Equipment To Mainers

St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston is offering a unique service to residents of greater Androscoggin County. Those in need of medical equipment and unable to afford it are able to borrow various home healthcare equipment for free.

Medical Equipment To Go, or METGO, is a service provided by the hospital to area residents who are unable to buy or rent their own medical equipment. The equipment in stock covers many of the basic needs for home healthcare including crutches, canes, commodes, shower chairs, walkers, IV poles and wheelchairs.

Now in its second year, the program helps patients who are uninsured and those who Medicare denies covering the cost of equipment. The borrowing process is simple, as St. Mary’s asks those in need to fill out a form and will loan the equipment for an unidentified period of time. Some patients borrow equipment for a few weeks while they recover from an injury or illness, others use the equipment upwards of six months to a year.

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File Taxes Online For Free

Mainers can now file their state taxes online for free. Last year, over 375,000 residents took advantage of this free service.

Maine's FastFile is considered the quickest, most accurate and efficient way to file income tax returns. Not only does the free program do many of the calculations for you, it also saves taxpayers money because the return process is less expensive to process than paper returns.

The advantages of filing online include: 

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Gas Powered Generators Can Lead To Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In wake of the recent storm that left many Mainers without power, the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has released an important message:

Improper operation or placement of gas powered generators or similar alternative heating or power sources can lead to Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. The poisonous gas is found in combustion fumes from sources such as cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. The poisonous gas can build up in enclosed areas, harming people and animals who breathe it, as high levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death.

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Court Fees Can Be Paid Online In Maine

Mainers who have an outstanding fine or fee due in any of the state’s courts can now conveniently pay online.

Outstanding fine amounts are updated online every Tuesday morning and can be searched by name and date of birth or court docket number. Those that use the new service will be charged a premium service fee of $6.

When paying an outstanding fine or fee online, you will need:

  • Your name and date of birth or court docket number
  • A valid credit card (Discover, Visa or MasterCard)
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Free Colon Screening For Maine Residents

Underinsured and uninsured Mainers are now eligible for free colon cancer screening.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. among men and women over the age of 50. An estimated 900 people in Maine develop colon cancer each year with roughly a third of them dying from the disease. It is estimated that 90% of these deaths are preventable with proper screenings and follow-ups starting at age 50.

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Free Tax Preparation For Mainers

If you earned less than $50,000 in 2009, you may be eligible to have your taxes done for free.

Every year, thousands of Mainers miss out on income tax credits that they would qualify for, often totaling thousands of dollars per family. In 2009, an estimated 25 percent of qualifying Maine residents did not apply for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), missing the opportunity to collect upwards of $5,657.

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Social Security Backlog Delays Benefits

A recession, rising unemployment rates, and state budget cuts are making Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application backlogs worse than ever.

The Social Security benefits program provides monthly benefits to those who have health problems that prevent them from working. To get Social Security benefits, one must prove they are severely disabled and are unable to work for more than a year. The claims process can take upwards of two years. 

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Health Care Reaches Out To Veterans

Two new community outreach vehicles are travelling through Maine providing veterans with health care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently unveiled a fleet of 50 new outreach vehicles that travel to rural communities to meet with veterans. With many miles of backcountry, Maine was awarded two of the new vehicles, one based out of Caribou and the other out of Lewiston.

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Free Fishing Days Hook On With Mainers

Mainers love fishing. This weekend they can do it for free.

On Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th, people can fish for free on Maine’s waterways. The free fishing event is open to all anglers except those whose license has been revoked or suspended. All normal fishing laws and regulations apply. 

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Heart Health Month Helps Mainers Get Healthy

February is Heart Health Month.

Established in 1963, Heart Health Month is a nationwide campaign designed to educate Americans on the benefits of making healthy living choices to improve cardiovascular health. Considered among the most preventable diseases, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Health Association, one out of every three adults suffers from a cardiovascular disease, with more than half under the age of 60. 

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Truck And Bus Drivers Banned From Text Messaging When Behind The Wheel

A new federal law prohibits truck and bus drivers from sending or reading text messages while driving.

The new law was established to help reduce the number of accidents involving “big rigs” and is effective immediately. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles will be subject to fines upwards of $2,750.

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Operation Keep ME Warm Helps Heat Maine

Operation Keep ME Warm is helping thousands of Mainers this winter cope with rising energy costs.

The statewide energy and heating assistance program is a partnership between government foundations, private contributions, volunteers, and advocacy groups. The goal of Operation Keep ME Warm is to raise money to help those who do not qualify for federal, state, or local fuel assistance. 

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Distracted Pedestrians Walk Into Accidents

Distracted drivers have generated much attention over the past few years -- Enough to get many states to ban cell phone usage and text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Lately, however, a new phenomenon has emerged: distracted walking.

As cell phones, MP3 players, and other mobile devices become more and more ubiquitous, there has been an increase in injuries suffered by pedestrians. People everywhere can be seen walking while talking on cell phones, sending text messages, listening to music, and surfing the web. What they are seemingly failing to see, is what’s right in front of them. 

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Maine Housing Search Makes Moving Easy

A new website is making finding a new home or apartment in Maine easier. is an online rental listing service that “links people who need housing with the housing they need.” Funded by the Maine State Housing Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services, and 2-1-1 Maine, the website is designed to help Mainers with all of their house hunting needs.

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Maine Heating Assistance Helps Keep You Warm

With winter in mid-season form, Mainers are feeling the freeze. Unfortunately, when temperatures drop, oil prices don’t typically follow. There are, however, programs that can help Mainers heat their homes during a cold frigid winter.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists those who cannot afford to heat their home or pay electric bills. The federally funded program aids those in need both throughout Maine and nationwide.

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Texting While Driving Bans Increase

On January 1st, New Hampshire became the latest state to make texting while driving illegal. Maine’s southerly neighbor joined the ranks of seventeen other states, Guam, and the District of Columbia, where driver safety is of utmost importance. In New Hampshire, the fne for texting while driving is $100.

Though not yet illegal in Maine, texting while driving is a dangerous distraction. As other states, including Maine, debate legislature to make texting while driving illegal, it’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before being banned in all fifty states. Currently in Maine, it is illegal to drive while being distracted.

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Obstructed Windshields In Winter: Clear The Snow

After a dusting of snow, sleet, freezing rain, or hail, it’s necessary to clean off your windshield. It’s necessary in order to see and drive safely, and now it’s necessary because it’s the law.

Maine State Police are warning drivers to clear their windshields completely after a snowstorm before taking to the roads. If a driver’s windshield is obstructed, he or she will be fined. Fines for an obstructed windshield reach upwards of $135.

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Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Mandatory In Homes

New home owners in Maine must now prove that their house has a carbon monoxide detector.

A new Maine law is designed to reduce the risk of poisoning by carbon monoxide. The colorless, odorless, and invisible gas is a byproduct of burning fuel such as oil, propane, coal, and wood, and is extremely dangerous. On average, 400 people die annually in the United States with another 1,500 injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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In Maine, Utilities Stay On During Winter Months

According to the Maine Utility Regulators, Mainers who make an attempt to pay their utility bills will not have them shutoff during the winter. The grace period runs from November 15, 2009 to April 15, 2010.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) states that Mainers who contact their gas or electricity company, or the PUC, to make reasonable payments will be exempt from having their utilities disconnected during the winter months. The PUC’s Consumer Assistance Division will help with affordable payment arrangements and find financial assistance for those in need.


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Zimmer Hip Replacement Recall

Between 2006 - 2008, over 12,000 hip replacement patients were implanted with the Zimmer Durom prosthesis cup. The product was designed for use in young, active patients likely to outlive a conventional hip prosthesis. Unfortunately, many of these patients have suffered following surgery.

Intended for patients with noninflammatory degenerative joint disease such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and avascular necrosis (bone death caused by poor blood supply), the Zimmer Durom prosthesis cup is currently under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The cup, also prescribed for conditions needing a longer-lasting fix, such as replacements for previously failed surgery, was voluntarily removed from the marketplace after multiple complaints from patients, surgeons, and doctors.

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New Heating Law Saves Renters Money

A new energy law can save renters money this winter.

The new law states that tenants and landlords can negotiate a rent decrease if heat in a place of residence is kept under 68 degrees. The idea is that by lowering the heat landlords can save on the overall cost, ultimately passing on the savings to the tenants.

When negotiating a decrease in rent, a landlord may provide heat lower than 68 degrees only if an agreement is signed by both the tenant and landlord.

The agreement must:

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Maine Smoking Laws Get Stricter

On September 12th, the State of Maine made smoking in public more difficult. Two new anti-smoking laws were established, making Maine one of the most smoke-free states in the U.S.

New Smoking Law #1: Outdoor Dining Areas Must Now Be Completely Smoke-Free

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Car Accident Fatalities In Maine And Across The Nation Down

Despite more distractions than ever for drivers on the road, car accident fatalities are declining. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the rate of driver fatalities is at the lowest it’s been since the government began tracking such data in the 1970’s.

The current recession is a contributing factor to the decrease in driver fatalities, as fewer miles are driven during a downward economic trend. Though despite the smaller number, adjusted figures show that the decrease in fatalities isn’t only because fewer people are on the road.

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Fire Prevention Week Honors Local Firefighter

October 4th-10th was National Fire Prevention Week, a time when fire education spreads through the U.S. like wildfire. This year, however, the celebration hit close to home on a more somber note.

On November 17, 2008, firefighter Michael Snowman of Hartland died while responding to a house fire in Detroit, Maine. Snowman was the lone fatality of the fire, and one of 103 firefighters who passed away in 2008 while on call in the U.S. On October 4, 2009, each was honored at the 28th annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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New Motorcycle Helmet Law For Minors

Motorcyclists and passengers under the age of 18 must now wear a helmet.

Previously, bikers and passengers on motorcycles under the age of 15 were required to wear helmets, however, a recently passed law is making motorcycle safety mandatory.

Motorcyclists must now wear a helmet when:

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Car Accidents In Rural Areas On The Rise

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorists in rural areas are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than those in urban areas.

Despite more motor vehicle accidents occurring in congested areas, and only 20 percent of the population living in rural areas, 60 percent of traffic fatalities happen on rural roads. One major factor for the high percentage of traffic fatalities is the amount of miles driven. Because homes, schools, businesses, and neighboring towns are spread out, more time is spent behind the wheel. With greater distances to travel, more often than not speed limits are higher, leading to more serious accidents. Typically, there is no public transportation in rural areas.

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Levaquin Linked To Tendon Injuries

Used to treat bacterial infections of the skin, sinuses, kidneys, bladder, or prostate, the prescription drug Levaquin has been linked to an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon ruptures. First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, the drug is also used to treat bacterial infections that cause bronchitis or pneumonia, as well as those exposed to anthrax.

Levaquin is concentration-dependent, meaning it kills bacteria most effectively when the proper amount of medicine has been absorbed into your body. The prescription drug can be taken orally or injected, and costs upward of $100 for treatment. Unfortunately, the drug has been linked to serious tendon injuries.

Tendons are the structures that connect your muscles to your joints. The most common cases of tendinitis and tendon ruptures due to Levaquin involve the Achilles tendon, but cases of the rotator cuff, hand, biceps, and thumb have also been reported. Serious cases of tendon rupture may require surgical repair. 

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Reglan Linked To Involuntary Muscle Movement

Reglan, the prescription drug used to treat gastrointestinal conditions in children and adults, is under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also known by the generic name, metoclopramide, the drug has been linked to Tardive Dyskinesia, an involuntary muscle movement commonly found in the face or tongue, as well as body extremities.

Metoclopramide is the main ingredient found in gastrointestinal medicine and helps speed up the movement of a patient’s stomach muscles. The increase in movement shortens the time it takes for the stomach contents to empty into the intestines. 

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Pedestrian Safety: Make Room For A New Law

Pedestrians, by law, now have more room to run and walk when on the road. A new law protecting pedestrian safety states that drivers must leave at least three feet of clearance between their vehicle and a pedestrian when passing. The decree is a continuation of a similar law for passing bicyclists.

The new law went into effect on September 12th and is being considered by many as an awareness act. Known as “An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and Safety of Pedestrians," drivers must now be more cautious of their actions around pedestrians or they will be fined.

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Swine Flu Prevention And Health Safety Tips

As the weather cools towards winter, colds, flu’s and virus’s become more and more prominent. And with the cooler temperature comes an increased amount of time spent indoors for Mainers, enhancing the opportunity for germs to spread throughout your home and office.

More commonly known as the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, the 2009 flu pandemic is a global outbreak that can be fatal if contracted. Symptoms of the illness are similar to a normal seasonal flu, yet are escalated and prolonged, especially in the very young or very old. According to the World Health Organization, annual influenza epidemics affect an estimated 5 to 15 percent of the world’s population, causing nearly 500,000 deaths annually. The 2009 flu pandemic is expected to peak in North America by mid-winter.

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Yaz/Yasmin Birth Control Drugs Under Investigation

The birth control drugs Yaz, Yasmin, and the generic Ocella, are under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The oral contraceptive pills have been linked to blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Gallbladder disease is also a common side effect, as many previously healthy women have experienced gallstones and been forced to have their gallbladder surgically removed. Since 2004, over 50 deaths have been associated with the drugs. 

First approved by the FDA in 2006, Yaz has become one of the most popular birth control pills on the market today. Amidst a nationwide advertising campaign in 2007, sales of Yaz exceeded $600 million in the U.S. Recently, however, the campaign has been called "deceptive" and "misleading," as it downplayed life threatening illnesses while promoting the drug's benefits.

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Distracted Driver Law Keeps Eyes On The Road

Beginning September 12, a new Maine law will help alter the course of accidents. Now, no longer can a driver operate a vehicle while distracted without being penalized.

The new distracted driver law is an attempt to cut down on accidents in Maine. Many states have previously banned the use of cell phones or text messaging while driving, however, Maine isn’t looking to technology as the root of the problem. It is instead hedging the most common denominator, drivers being distracted. 

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Over The Limit? Under Arrest!

For two weeks, Maine has joined its fellow states by increasing law enforcement over the Labor Day holiday. The extra on duty attention is the latest attempt to curb drinking and driving, which remains one of America’s deadliest driving offenses. In 2008, nearly 12,000 people died in highway accidents involving drivers with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit.

The national campaign, known as "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.”, runs from August 21st through September 7th and is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The campaign involves all fifty states and includes sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, as well as a $13 million national media campaign supplemented by state-funded advertising. This year, specific focus is being put on women, as drunk driving incidents for females were up nearly five percent nationwide in 2008. 

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Maine Holocaust Museum Recognized Nationally

The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) recently received an institute award for its structural design. The Center was one of eleven buildings recognized in the 2009 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2).

Sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction, the program acknowledges structural designs where steel has been utilized in an innovative manner. The eleven 2009 IDEAS2 winners were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received from architectural and engineering firms. The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s structure was selected for its unique design and impressive profile, which sits on the campus of the University of Maine in Augusta.

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Texting While Driving Is Dangerous

A recent study found that texting while driving is among the most dangerous things a driver can do.

The study monitored truck drivers via in-cab video cameras to find that the risk of accident increases 23 times when sending or reading a text message. On average, drivers were taking their eyes off the road for an estimated 4.6 seconds to read or send messages, equivalent to the amount of time it would take an 18-wheeler at normal highway speeds to travel the length of a football field.

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Nursing Home Neglect

Making the transition to a nursing home is a life changing decision. As our elderly become less independent, there comes a time when moving to a nursing home may be inevitable. It is our hope, expectancy, and assumption that our loved ones will be safe in their new community. Unfortunately, however, that’s not always the case.

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Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
– Chinese proverb

With over 2,000 lakes and ponds and nearly 3,500 miles of coastline, opportunities to fish are abundant in Maine. Be it stripers running up the coast, salmon swimming downstream, or trout at the bottom of a brook, fishing in Maine is everywhere. And while some Mainers enjoy fishing year round, most everyone enjoys casting a line in the warm weather.

Depending on your point of view, fishing in Maine can be a profession, favorite pastime, or hobby. Either way, it is a skill that is passed on from generation to generation, which is exactly what Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs intends to do.

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Maine Resident Receives Annual Art Award

Robert Indiana, a Vinalhaven resident best known for his work during the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s, has been named the recipient of the 2009 Maine in America Award. The annual award is given by the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland to honor an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution to Maine’s role in American art. Previous winners of the award are John Wilmerding (2006), Andrew Wyeth (2007), and Will Barnet (2008).

After graduating from technical school, Indiana moved to Manhattan and joined an art movement that combined commercial art with philosophical thought, challenging through irony a traditionally elitist mentality of art. Indiana’s approach is self-described as “sculptural poems.

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Plan To Drive In Maine This Summer Online

Traveling in Maine this summer? Worried about spending your summer stuck behind tourists and construction vehicles? Well, thanks to the Maine Department of Transportation’s travel information service, you may not have to.

Commuters, tourists, and travelers alike can now access information regarding road conditions throughout the state by contacting the Maine 511 Travel Information Service. Be it weather related issues, road construction, or general traffic congestion and delays, information on the highways and byways of Maine is available online or by phone twenty-four hours a day. Travelers can dial 511 from any telephone, including mobile phones, or visit: for real time road conditions updated by the Maine Department of Transportation and State Police staff from dispatch centers throughout the state.

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Don't Forget To Pack Your Passport

Beginning June 1st, travelers wishing to reenter the U.S. at land or sea borders must now show a passport. Neighboring countries that once accepted a valid driver’s license for such travel – Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean – now require stricter personal identification.

Known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the new rule was originally scheduled to take effect over a year ago but was delayed by Congress among concern that Americans weren't prepared for change and that relationships with United States' biggest trading partner, Canada, would be hurt.

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Seniors Save On Car Insurance

The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP) has been offering refresher courses for drivers age 55 and older for the past 25 years. Now, the same driver’s safety course is being offered online. And for those that take the course, they are eligible for a discount on their car insurance.

After years of driving, the AARP says, bad habits start to set in. As one gets older, reaction time and ability to judge distances decrease, while rules of the road and car technologies continue to evolve. A refresher course is recommended for those over the age of 55, and is meant to do exactly that: refresh drivers on the proper rules of the road.

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Mesothelioma On The Rise In Maine

A new federal agency report states that Maine has the highest rate of death resulting from Mesothelioma in the United States. A study from 1999-2005 showed that there were over 170 fatalities during those seven years in Maine alone. According to the report, Mesothelioma related deaths are expected to peak in 2010.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is connected to asbestos. Most people who develop the disease were exposed to asbestos on worksites where they inhaled particles or were vulnerable to dust and fiber. Some of Maine’s largest employers used asbestos until the 1970’s when it was largely banned. Former employees of paper companies, chemical companies, and those who worked at shipyards are said to be most at risk.

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Stamp Increase For First Class

On May 11th, the price of a first-class stamp increased by 2 cents to 44 cents. The rate increase is the fourth consecutive year postage has gone up in the U.S., and is an attempt to offset rising operational costs and the use of the internet to correspond and pay bills. Mail volume is down nearly 15 percent in the past year.

Under U.S. law, the price of stamps is not allowed to rise faster than the country’s consumer price index, which measures inflation. This year’s rate increase is estimated to cost an average family an extra $3 per year. In 2008, the United States Postal Service (USPS) lost $2.8 billion.

Other USPS price increases include:

  • Postcards - up 1 cent to $0.28
  • Large Envelopes - first ounce - up 5 cents to $0.88
  • Parcels - first ounce - up 5 cents to $1.22

According to the USPS, billions of “Forever Stamps” have been sold since their introduction in April 2007 and will continue to be honored for a one ounce letter. The price to buy a Forever Stamp, however, will also increase to 44 cents, and in the future will be valued at the going rate of a first class stamp.

Even amidst the recent price increase, the USPS states that they “continue to offer great service at some of the lowest postage prices in the world.” The World Wide Web, however, is giving them a run for their money.

For more information on the new stamp increase, please

National Work Zone Week's Drive to Survive

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of National Work Zone Awareness Week. The weeklong safety campaign marks the beginning of construction season and educates drivers on the dangers of travelling through and working in highway construction and repair sites.

Each year an estimated 1,000 people are killed in roadway work zones. Of the fatalities, four out of five are motorists, representing two percent of the nation’s driving deaths, with an additional 40,000 injured annually. With $27 billion in economic recovery funds recently allocated to repair the nation’s roads and bridges, the number of injured and deceased may well increase in 2009.

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New Anthem Website Offers Help Around The Clock

For those who have health insurance through Anthem Blue Cross, there is a new website designed to make you and your family healthier. 360° Health is an all encompassing website that focuses on wellbeing and offers its members resources, links and helpful tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To enroll, insurance holders must go to, click on the 360° Health link, and log in with their Anthem ID number. There, members will learn how to:

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Ask Medicare For Advice

Medicare has a new online service intended for caregivers. The website, Ask Medicare, is a resource for those who care for loved ones, friends and neighbors, providing information to assist in making educated healthcare decisions.

The purpose of the website is to raise awareness of the services provided by caregivers nationwide and improve their lives and those that they help. Currently there are an estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. – or one out every five – who provide unpaid care valued at over $350 billion each year, nearly twice the amount spent on nursing homes and homecare services combined.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Pharmaceutical Company

On March 3, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, stating that federal approval of prescription drugs does not prevent lawsuits from injured patients. The ruling came in the case of Wyeth v. Levine.

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Retire Online

With an estimated 80 million baby boomers expected to retire in the next twenty years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has created a new service that allows Americans to apply for their benefits online.

In keeping with the times, the new system allows retirees, who are more computer literate than ever, to navigate the easy-to-use application process at their own convenience, without having to travel to a Social Security office. Filing online decreases the amount of time it takes to apply for retirement benefits from 45 minutes to approximately 15 minutes, and allows applicants to complete the process from the comforts of their own home.

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Kidney Injury Following Colonoscopy

Popular bowel cleansing products (Oral Sodium Phosphate) linked to kidney failure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become aware of problems associated with Oral Sodium Phosphate products (OSP). The products, which are used for bowel cleansing before certain medical exams such as colonoscopy, have been linked to a serious form of kidney failure.

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Fosomax The Next Vioxx?

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association says that people taking the drug Fosomax may be at risk of developing a rare disorder called osteonecrosis. The disease is a condition marked by pain, swelling, and infection in the jaw, and is more commonly known as Dead Jaw.

Manufactured by the pharmaceutical conglomerate Merck, Fosomax is designed to fight bone loss and is used to prevent osteoporosis, a disease that increases the risk of serious and debilitating fractures. The drug is also used by to prevent Paget’s disease and is prescribed to an estimated 10 million Americans with sales topping $3 billion annually.

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Turnpike Tolls On The Rise Again

For the second time in four years the tolls on the Maine Turnpike have gone up. The increase comes one year earlier than planned, as the state looks to fund highway and bridge repairs, as well as combat the increase in maintenance costs such as road salt.

The new toll rates, which took effect February 1, 2009, will be as follows:

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Right Of Conscience Or Right Of Refusal?

A new federal regulation has expanded the rights of healthcare workers in the U.S. The law, known as the “Right of Conscience,” allows healthcare workers to deny services to patients in which they morally object.

The new statute, which was written in regards to abortion and birth control, overrules former state law and is raising concern throughout Maine. Critics are worried, saying the new law is vague, and that in addition to physicians and pharmacists it will include the likes of ambulance drivers and receptionists as well. Opponents are also concerned that the law may play a part in major medical procedures, including end of life decisions.

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New Website Rates Nursing Homes

The U.S. Government has created a new website that provides quality ratings for each of the nation’s 16,000 Medicare and/or Medicaid nursing homes.

The website, Nursing Home Compare, rates each facility on a five-star rating in three critical areas: health inspection, quality measures, and staffing levels. The results are determined by a group of trained professionals who visit each nursing home to check on the quality of care, inspect medical records, and talk with residents about their care. An overall rating is also provided.

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Ruff Ruff - It's Time To Register Your Dog

January is the month to register your dog in Maine, and all dogs over the age of 6 months must be licensed by the end of the month for 2009.

The renewal and registration process can be completed online at the Maine Department of Agriculture’s website or by visiting the town hall in your hometown.

When registering you will need:

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Number Of Insured Drops With The Economy

As the economy continues its downfall, and unemployment rates reach new heights, more and more drivers are letting their car insurance lapse, putting both themselves and others at risk.

According to the Insurance Research Council, several hundreds of thousands of drivers have dropped their auto insurance in the past year. Some experts accredit rising insurance premiums as part of the problem, while others blame the poor economy and industry wide layoffs. Regardless of the reason, the increasing trend of uninsured motorists is bad news for all parties involved.

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FDA Orders Suicide Warnings On Epilepsy Drugs

Makers of epilepsy drugs must now add a warning that states the medicines carry a risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. The companies must also develop a patient-friendly guide explaining the risks.

In January 2008 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that 11 epilepsy drugs doubled a person’s risk of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. In December 2008 the FDA announced it would be mandatory to place this warning on all eleven drug containers.

The 11 epilepsy drugs that must now include a warning are:

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How To Deal With Weather Related Property Damage

In the wake of the ice storm on Friday December 12, 2008, the Maine Bureau of Insurance has outlined the proper steps to take when filing for weather reported property damage. 

Mainers are advised to follow these procedures when safe to do so, and to contact the Bureau with any questions before or while in the process of reporting the damage:

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Process To Renew Driver's License Changes

Beginning November 15, 2008, obtaining or renewing a driver’s license in the State of Maine has become more difficult. Applicants must now prove that they are both a Maine resident, and either a U.S. citizen or in the county legally.

In compliance with federal Department of Homeland Security regulations, all Mainers seeking a new or renewal passenger vehicle or commercial license now have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and show proper identification. After the initial visit they may renew their license online.

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Medicare Plans Set To Change - Are You?

Each year Medicare plans are subject to change, and each year those individuals enrolled in the health care program may change their coverage during the “Open Enrollment Period” that runs from November 15th through December 31st.

During this time, beneficiaries of Medicare have the option to review their current health and prescription drug coverage and its changes for the upcoming year, and compare it to any of the forty-six total plans offered by the national health insurance program.

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Off-Road Vehicle Being Investigated For Safety

The Yamaha Rhino, a popular off-road vehicle, is being investigated for improper safety.

The two-seat UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle), used primarily for trail riding, on farms, and for hunting, was recently featured in a front page article in the Wall Street Journal. It is reported that Yamaha is currently facing over 200 lawsuits in state and federal courts, and as many as 30 deaths have resulted from accidents involving the Yamaha Rhino in the U.S. alone.

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Health Care For Kids

The State of Maine is urging parents to enroll their children in health care coverage so they can get the medical attention they need to stay well and to succeed. 

With nearly 19,000 children and teens uninsured in the state of Maine, and roughly 11,000 eligible for the state’s Medicaid program known as MaineCare, the nonprofit organization Maine Children’s Alliance has partnered with Key Bank to help make it easier for those in need to get proper coverage.

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Life Flight Turns Ten

Since its inception, LifeFlight of Maine has transported over 8,000 critically ill and injured Mainers to state emergency rooms. Now, in its tenth year of operation, the nationally renowned helicopter service looks to expand its services by adding a helicopter launch pad at every hospital in the state.

With two helicopters in operation, the nonprofit organization has decreased the response time for paramedics to reach injured patients throughout Maine and its outer islands considerably. In addition to transporting patients from accident scenes or places of injury, the helicopters also transport patients from one hospital to another as necessary.

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Cold Remedies Not Advised For Children Under Four

In a concession to pediatricians who have long debated whether over-the-counter remedies are effective to young children, companies who produce medicines such as Dimetapp and Pediacare are now advising parents not to give cold and cough medicines to children under the age of four

Doctors instead say that the best remedy for sick children is plenty of rest and fluids, and lots of tender, loving care.  

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New Website Weighs Risk of Meds

A new website weighs the benefits and risks of medications.

Pfizer, a leading manufacturer for pharmaceuticals, developed a website to educate people on relevant information regarding a variety of medicine. The interactive website is designed to be in “plain English” with graphics and video clips to further educate consumers, as well as healthcare providers, public health officials, and caregivers. 

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Illegal To Idle

Beginning October 1st, it is now illegal to let your vehicle idle for more than five minutes in the city of Portland.

The Portland City Council approved the ordinance on September 15, 2008, in an attempt to reduce greenhouse effects, car emissions, and wasted fuel. The ordinance follows a state law for commercial vehicles, however, fire trucks, ambulances, and other public safety and service vehicles are exempt.

Exceptions for the general public include:

  •  If you are in a traffic jam
  • If it is below 32 degrees (you may then idle for fifteen minutes)
  • If you are ill
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Preparing For An Emergency

The State of Maine is advising citizens to prepare and maintain a home emergency kit. With hurricane season in full effect and winter looming on the horizon, state officials recommend that now is the time to prepare for a natural disaster.

On September 9, 2008, Governor John Baldacci signed a proclamation to make September Preparedness Month in the State of Maine. He warned of flooding, road erosion, high winds, large snowfalls and widespread power outages, cautioned Mainers to be prepared for disasters year-round, and reminded everyone that natural disasters have caused millions of dollars in damage and taken the lives of residents across the state.

Items that should be included in an emergency kit include:

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Illegal To Smoke In Car With Children

A new statewide law made it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with children.

Beginning September 1, 2008, it is now illegal to smoke in a vehicle in the State of Maine when children under the age of 16 are present. The law was passed in an attempt to cut down on the amount of secondhand smoke youths are exposed to, as Governor John Baldacci declared that it costs too many lives and too much money.

Violators will be warned during the first year and will then be subject to a $50 fine thereafter.

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Food Stamps Set To Increase

Beginning September 1, 2008, eligible Maine residents may see an increase in the amount of food stamps they receive due to higher home heating and other utility costs.

Food stamps are distributed in the form of a rechargeable debit card called “The Pine Tree Card,” and individuals can currently receive up to $162 per month, while couples can receive up to $298 per month. 

To be eligible, recipients must meet two income guidelines set by the federal government:

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Carotid Artery Device Recalled

The device used in patients to treat a blockage in the carotid artery has been recalled. The blockage of the artery is known as carotid artery disease.

NexStent Monorail was manufactured by Boston Scientific between May 2007 to May 2008, and an estimated 2700 devices were distributed. The product was recalled on June 6, 2008 because its tip has shown to detach during the delivery procedure, potentially leading to increased procedure time, vessel wall injury, stroke, and/or emergency surgery to remove the detached tip.

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Vehicle Registration On The Rise

Beginning September 1, 2008, the cost of registering a vehicle in the state of Maine will increase by ten dollars. The cost of purchasing vanity plates and vehicle titles will also increase by ten dollars.

Registration for passenger and commercial vehicles will now cost $35, while vanity plates will be $25 and title fees will be $33.

The additional money generated will go to bridge and road maintenance, ultimately improving road and highway safety throughout the state of Maine.

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Buckle Up For Safety! Becomes A Law

Prior to May 2007, people in Maine over the age of sixteen were not legally required to wear seat belts.  Now everyone must wear one.

A new Maine seat belt law states that all travelers in a vehicle must now wear a seat belt, with no exceptions The law also states that Maine police can now pull you over if they suspect you or your passengers are not wearing seat belts.

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Massachusetts Based Climbing Rope Recalled

Maxim Apogee and Maxim Pinnacle Dynamic climbing lines and ropes were recalled due to a fall hazard.  

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of the lines and ropes on July 29, 2008, and advises consumers to stop using the lines immediately and contact the manufacturer for a free replacement.

The colors of the two-recalled lines are yellow and black, and red and yellow.  They were sold in retailers nationwide from August 2006 through June 2008 at an estimated retail price between $180 and $262.


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