Cancer Diagnosis: Firefighter Families Fight for Justice

The attorneys at BKTP Law have handled several firefighter cancer cases which have come to successful conclusion over the past two decades. The firm’s lawyers are very experienced in this field of law and have been called upon to present information nationally to fire fighter associations. The firm works to address legislation which protects first responders and their families.

The union representing most full-time career firefighters in North America, the International Association of Fire Fighters, has been full-throated in its contention that cancer exceeds heart attacks, traffic accidents and traumatic injuries as the top cause of job-related fatalities.

“Cancer is a looming personal catastrophe for all our members, and we are just beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem,” union president Harold Schaitberger said last year in support of legislation that would establish a federal registry of firefighter cancer deaths.

“The uptick in the number of cases has really exploded over the last several years,” said J.R. Boyd, a labor and workers’ compensation attorney based in Independence.

According to the Missouri Department of Labor, just eight claims for compensation were filed by firefighters with a nature of injury listed as cancer. Of those eight claims, one was voluntarily dismissed by the employee, and the remaining seven are pending with the division.

But Boyd thinks more cases have been filed.

During his first 15 years representing employees in benefit cases, he never came across a firefighter cancer case. Now he and the other attorneys at the firm have dozens of cases filed or in the process of being filed.

He recently tried the first of those on behalf of a Gladstone fire captain who died at 54 after a six-year cancer battle.

Click here to read the full Kansas City Star story.

Independence law firm expands presence in KC area

After hiring two litigators with decades of experience, Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish LLC expanded its firm by opening its third and fourth offices.

With the hiring of Dennis Horner and Jeffrey Carey, the Independence-based law firm now has 11 attorneys in Sedalia, Lee’s Summit and Olathe.

Horner has been practicing law since 1974, specializing in workers’ compensation law, personal injury and wrongful death cases. He was listed as one of “America’s Best Lawyers” in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He’ll work out of Olathe, giving Boyd Kenter its first office in Kansas.

Carey has nearly 20 years experience as a lawyer, with specialties in personal injury and wrongful death claims. He received the Legal Champion’s Award from Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly for his work on a federal corruption case and in support of the initiative petition process. He’ll help open the firm’s new Lee’s Summit office.

Boyd Kenter also added Raymond Salva Jr., who earned his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2013. His areas of practice include civil litigation, personal injury and product liability.

“We’re excited to bring Dennis, Jeff and Ray’s complementary expertise to our attorney team,” Boyd Kenter Managing Partner Brianne Thomas said in a release. “Each will deliver the expertise and dedication to civil justice and will serve as passionate advocates for our clients.”

Boyd Kenter was founded in 1983.

 

Click here to see the original Kansas City Business Journal article.

How Do You Make America Great?

This article by John B. Boyd appears in the UFCW District Union Local Two Newsletter.

To answer that question, ask yourself this first. When was the last time billionaires looked out for you, your family, or your friends? If you believe that your vote for the president or a state governor doesn’t matter, then the billionaires win. Instead, think of their actions, not promises, to
see who is looking out for you. Start by looking at Right to Work legislation.

Those who tout this legislation as benefitting workers engage in “alternate facts.” In other words, they lie. Lipstick on a pig doesn’t make the pig something else. Everyone already has a right to work in America. So, just the phrase alone is that lipstick. There are many unbiased studies which demonstrate that RTW states
have lower average household incomes; lower health and all other forms of insurance coverage;
higher death rates of children and greater poverty rates of its citizens. Why would a worker or a well-meaning legislator support RTW laws? Because they are misled into believing it will help them or their economy.

In Missouri, a RTW anti-labor bill in the Senate has been passed. Yet, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has shown Missouri’s economy has continued to grow. Missouri State
Senator Gina Walsh said recently, “In other states, Right-to-Work has hurt their economy, driven down wages, and stifled job growth. Here in Missouri, we’ve rejected Right-to-Work (in the past), invested in our workforce, and seen record job growth. Supporters (of RTW) have put forward no credible reason for passing this law other than to drive down wages and appease special interests.”

Who is behind Right to Work laws?

Historically, these laws originated to suppress workers, Blacks and Jews. Known as “Jim Crow” laws, these were used to force separate and unequal, but superior, conditions for white workers over those of color, of those who religious beliefs were different. In 1941, a newspaper editorial called for banning closed shops, and a white supremacist quickly seized upon that theme and
received massive attention. An anti-Jew and self-proclaimed Christian, he railed against labor unions because he was paid to do so by big business.

Over the course of his career, he fought against giving women the right to vote, against protecting our children in the workplace, and sought to repeal the 8 hour work day. He was financed over the years by anti President Franklin Roosevelt financiers, the billionaires. His message of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Communism and anti-unionism was received with open arms in the South.

Today’s crop of billionaires and multi-millionaires – Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, David Humphreys, just to name a few, are financiers supportive of the efforts to silence the strength of collective bargaining through anti-union legislation. An organization known as ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — influences state politicians to vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. 98% of its funding comes from the Koch Brothers and their foundations. ALEC and the United States Chamber of Commerce are in favor of turning back the clock on workers’ rights to collectively bargain, and that is why they seek to a return of the anti-unionism days that the bigot Vance Muse made popular seventy years ago.

As you contemplate this article, your job security, and your family’s well-being, ask the questions of those who seek to undermine labor laws. If you substitute just a few words for those attributed to the racist Muse, do you see yourself or your friends and family in these cross-hairs? The support for President Trump and Missouri Governor Greitens, by those who would build a wall and who seek to make it impossible for you to leave your children with a better chance so that corporations can make a better profit, will succeed unless labor rallies and stands together.

Here’s a test to which you know the right answer. Yet, those greedy men with money and their corporations would have you believe they are looking out for yourinterests. Really?

Who died for your right to a 40 hour work week?
A) Corporate Executives
B) Conservative radio talk show
hosts
C) Wall Street Bankers
D) Union members

Can you list how have our lives improved because of unions? Here are a few, and all are at risk with RTW and the rest of anti-labor legislation.

  • 40 hour work week.
  • Children are no longer required to work in sweat shops.
  • You can improve security for all through collective bargaining rather than individually trying to negotiate by yourself with your employer.
  • Better working conditions
  • Higher wages
  • Affordable healthcare
  • Pensions
  • Safer workplace through stronger workers compensation and occupational safety and health laws.

So how do we make and keep America and our states great?

We must do a 180 degree turn from where Governor Greitens, Governor Brownback, and President Trump–and their supporters–are taking us. Our elected officials must:

1. Strengthen unions
2. Raise the minimum wage
3. Stop corporate welfare
4. Bring manufacturing jobs back home
5. Tax companies that hide profits overseas
6. End, not pass, so-called ‘Right-to-Work’ laws
7. Get big money out of state and national politics

Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish LLC Adds Attorneys and Expands Its Offices to Include Kansas

Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish LLC is pleased to announce the addition of Dennis L. Horner and Jeffrey J. Carey, both serving as Of Counsel, as well as Attorney Raymond Salva, Jr. to the firm. The additions of Horner and Carey expand the firm’s geographic footprint to now include Lee’s Summit, Mo. and Olathe, Kan.

Horner is a seasoned litigator, practicing law in Kansas since 1974 and specializes in workers’ compensation law, personal injury and wrongful death. He has been listed as one of America’s Best Lawyers in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

For nearly 20 years, Carey has focused on personal injury and wrongful death claims. In 2014, he received the Legal Champion’s Award from Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly for his work on a federal corruption case and in support of the initiative petition process.

Salva, Jr. received his Juris Doctor from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 2013 and his areas of practice include civil litigation, personal injury and product liability.

“We are excited to bring Dennis, Jeff and Ray’s complementary experience to our attorney team,” said Brianne Thomas, Managing Partner of Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish. “Each will deliver the expertise and dedication to civil justice and will serve as passionate advocates for our clients.”

Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish has grown to 11 attorneys in four offices including Independence, Mo., Sedalia, Mo., Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Olathe, Kan.

Congratulations to Duke Dujakovich and Jim Maloney!

The Labor-Management Council of Greater Kansas City (LMC) honored Pat “Duke” Dujakovich and Jim Maloney at its 38th anniversary celebration and 18th awards dinner.
 
More than 230 leaders from labor, management and government participated.  Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, was recognized for Leadership in Labor-Management Collaboration.
 
Maloney is the longest-serving instructor for the LMC’s Mid-Level Leadership Program, done in partnership with Rockhurst University.  The unique program develops leadership skills and relationship-building among up and coming labor, management and community leaders.  He has conducted two of the 16 program sessions each year for nearly 30 years, helping develop communication and leadership skills for more than 400 participants.  An expert in association management, he has also volunteered expertise to the LMC on those issues.

The Incoming Privatization Assault

In The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump wrote about perhaps his first deal ever, made with his younger brother, Robert: “One day we were in the playroom of our house, building with blocks. I wanted to build a very tall building, but it turned out that I didn’t have enough blocks. I asked Robert if I could borrow some of his, and he said, ‘Okay, but you have to give them back when you’re done.’ I ended up using all of my blocks, and then all of his, and when I was done, I’d created a beautiful building. I liked it so much that I glued the whole thing together. And that was the end of Robert’s blocks.”

According to President Trump, Robert, now 67, likes to tell the “blocks” story because it revealed to him where Donald was headed. Now, we know where Donald was headed—to the White House, which comes with a much larger playroom, the most powerful in the world: the federal government of the United States.

 

Read the full article here.

Missouri poised to make it harder for fired workers to win discrimination cases

Missouri Republicans are on the cusp of making it much more difficult to prove discrimination cases against former employers.

The bill, which has cleared the Senate and could be debated by the House as early as next week, would require workers who claim discrimination in wrongful termination lawsuits to prove that bias was the explicit reason they were fired. The current standard is much lower, requiring them to prove only that bias was a contributing factor.

Democrats are crying foul, saying the legislation rolls back decades of progress on civil rights and will make it virtually impossible for a victim of discrimination to win in court. The bill also makes dramatic changes to the state’s whistleblower laws — including removing protections for state employees — which critics say will shield the perpetrators of discrimination, harassment and other wrongdoing.

“It would enable employers to engage in unlawful discrimination with little fear of consequences,” said House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, a Kansas City Democrat.

But to the bill’s supporters, the changes are designed to reduce frivolous lawsuits and improve the state’s business climate.

“Discrimination is ugly and wrong,” said Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “But tipping the standards so far against employers is also wrong. This bill simply provides justice for both parties.”

Democrats say the bill also represents a major conflict of interest because its sponsor, Republican Sen. Gary Romine of Farmington, is entangled in a discrimination lawsuit.

Romine owns the Show-Me Rent-to-Own chain of furniture stores in southeast Missouri. The company is being sued by an employee who says she was targeted with racial slurs by a store manager. The lawsuit also claims the store contained a map with a circle around an African-American neighborhood and a note saying “do not rent to.”

“This senator … seeks to change the law to suit his own personal advantage, and to twist the arc of public policy to suit his personal benefit,” said Rep. Mark Ellebracht, a Liberty Democrat. “There can be no doubt that this legislation is the result of a corrupted and self-dealing individual who no longer honors the oath of office he once took.”

Romine has consistently bristled at the accusations that he’s pushing the legislation to benefit his company.

He says that on three occasions his business has faced accusations of discrimination that were deemed without merit by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. But in each instance, the allegations still ended up resulting in a lawsuit.

“The system encourages individuals to pursue a meritless case simply to force a settlement, costing our small businesses time and money they do not have,” Romine said.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, defended Romine and his legislation.

“He’s trying to do this because he thinks it helps the overall environment for businesses to compete and operate here in Missouri,” Richardson said.

In addition to the changes in discrimination and whistleblower law, the bill also would limit punitive damages for victims of workplace discrimination. Workers could get up to $500,000 if their employer has more than 500 employees; $200,000 if their employer had between 200 and 500 employees; $100,000 if their employer has between 100 to 199 employees; and $50,000 if the employer has fewer than 100 employees.

If the House passes the bill without any amendments, which GOP leaders have said is their plan, it would go directly to Gov. Eric Greitens.

Dream Factory at the Mavericks Game

Our firm was privileged to entertain three families each with a Dream Child at the April 2nd Mavericks Ice Hockey Game. BKTP Law is a proud supporter of the Dream Factory, which grants dreams to critically and chronically ill children from the ages of three through eighteen.

Just because a debt collector says you owe a debt, doesn’t make it true

Debt collectors are banking on the fact that they can hound people or file lawsuits to get a default judgment and garnish wages whether or not the debt was ever valid.

 

For months Lynn Dingwall never told anyone about the debt collector constantly calling her Lee’s Summit home and demanding $10,000 for an unpaid credit card bill. Dingwall knew she didn’t owe the money, but she couldn’t get the caller to leave her alone.

 

“If I had felt that I owed it, I would have paid it off,” said Dingwall who, until then, had a nearly perfect credit history.

 

When the debt collector wouldn’t give up, Dingwall finally told her son what was happening.

 

“I don’t like my kids to worry about me,” she said. “I’m private and it’s embarrassing.”

Her son immediately wrote the debt collector, informing them the debt didn’t belong to his mother and demanding they stop bothering her. But instead of stopping, the debt collecting — Cach LLC — sued Lynn Dingwall. She became one of about 2,000 people sued every year by the Colorado debt buying company.

 

Attorneys, Brianne Thomas and Josh Sanders of Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish, defended Dingwall in court and won. The debt collector didn’t even bother to show up. Dingwall didn’t stop there. She wanted to send a message to Cach LLC that it wasn’t nice to shake down someone for money they don’t owe. Dingwall’s attorneys filed a counter claim accusing Cach of violating the Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act, and of malicious prosecution.

 

“They (Cach) is banking on the fact that they can hound… people or file lawsuits and the consumers won’t show up to court, won’t fight it,” said attorney Thomas. “Then they (Cach) will get a default judgment and garnish wages whether or not the debt was ever valid.”

 

The jury trial showed that Cach had sued about 9,700 Missourians between 2009 and 2014. Cach won 97 percent of the time, often because the person being sued never bothered to show up for court.

 

“The public needs to understand that debt buyers don’t generally receive documentation and evidence to prove their claims,” attorney Sanders said. “So if you are a person who believes you don’t owe the debt you need to require them to prove their case.”

 

As the trial showed, Dingwall’s “debt” was tracked to a credit card that had belonged only to her late husband. It was a credit card she had no idea even existed because they kept their finances separate.

 

“I didn’t even open his mail,” Dingwall said. “He opened his own mail.”

 

Documents produced by the debt collector for the court showed the account was only in her husband’s name — up until the month he passed away of a heart attack. That very next month the account was switched to her name and her husband’s name disappeared. The debt collector couldn’t explain how that happened or even provide proof Lynn Dingwall had ever used the credit card.

The jury ruled that Cach LLC had violated the Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act by pursuing Dingwall for a debt she didn’t owe. The jury also awarded Dingwall $500,000 for malicious prosecution. Representatives for Cach never responded to FOX 4’s phone calls for comment on the trial. Cach has not yet filed an appeal, but has time left to do so.

 

Dingwall agreed to share her story with FOX 4 Problem Solvers so that others know to fight back. Just because a debt collector says you owe a debt, doesn’t make it true.