Trial Lawyers Fighting to Protect Your Rights

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If you have been injured due to the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else, one of the most important decisions you have to make is your choice of legal representation.

Any personal injury lawyer will offer to handle your case on a contingency fee basis. This means the lawsuit itself will cost you nothing until the firm makes a recovery for you. Since all law firms offer a similar cost arrangement, it is crucial that you pick the firm that is best at handling your type of case.

At The Ferraro Law Firm, we concentrate on handling the most serious injury cases, such as cancers caused by asbestos, work place diseases such as mesothelioma victims, catastrophic accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, defective drugs and medical devices, environmental toxins, automobile defects and wrongful death. We also represent homeowners and litigate consumer protection cases.

As our client, we will treat you as an individual with the highest regard for your well being. We will assign attorneys and legal assistants to your case so it is handled capably and professionally, and you are treated with the respect you deserve.

We have helped more than 20,000 people recover over approximately $ 1 billion dollars in asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits

The Ferraro Law Firm is one of the top five asbestos and mesothelioma law firms in the nation in the number of claimants we represent and the total recovery we have obtained for our clients. We have proven that we can take on the largest corporations and insurance companies – and win. Our courtroom successes have also given us the financial resources to handle complex cases that require a significant monetary investment on the part of the law firm handling your case.

We have prepared this web site to provide you with information about our firm and our services. Please contact the trial lawyers at The Ferraro Law Firm for a free case evaluation.

We represent persons suffering from mesothelioma and asbestos related cancers nationwide. We represent asbestosis victims throughout Florida and the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. For other types of personal injuries, we represent clients throughout Florida, including Miami, Coral Gables, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Clearwater, Pensacola, Daytona, Gainesville and Palm Beach We represent divorce and family law clients in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

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Copyright Lawyer Career Info

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Duties and Responsibilities of a Copyright Lawyer

Copyrights are an important part of American business and art. Copyrights protect the creators of art, music, thoughts and ideas and other creations, which are generally not covered by American patent law. Due to changing technologies, the role of copyrights is also changing. It is easier than ever before to transfer digital copies of copyrighted material, including movies, video games and music, around the globe in minutes or even seconds. Copyrights are also intended to protect the rights of those who make use of copyrighted material within the limits of the statute. Copyright lawyers must remain abreast of new decisions and cases related to copyright litigation and legislation. They must work closely with clients to assure that both creators and users of copyrighted works are protected to the fullest extent of the law. Many copyright lawyers specialize in litigation, either prosecuting or defending those who have violated copyright regulations. The following postings from Monster.com illustrate other responsibilities expected of copyright lawyers in today's digital age:

  • 'Ensure that all databases and archives of copyrighted material are accurate. Prepare contracts for recording artists to prevent legal and financial liability. Assist financial analysts and company executives in understanding and interpreting copyright law and surrounding issues.' -Sony BMG Music Entertainment
  • 'Oversee and monitor copyright applications and prosecution of potential infringements. Draft and negotiate non-compete and marketing agreements for copyrighted, trademarked and patented software programs and applications. Work with business analysts to meet the needs of the client while protecting the company's interests simultaneously.' -Careers USA

Job Requirements

The most successful copyright lawyers come from a technical background. Often this means completing a bachelor's degree in an Engineering discipline, Computer Science, Information Sciences or Information Technology. These programs can help students with an interest in copyright law to fully understand the underlying technologies that make up the bulk of modern copyright litigation. After completing a bachelor's degree program, a J.D. or Juris Doctorate degree program is required. This is a three-year course of general legal study. During their studies, students will have an opportunity to focus their career interests and develop connections that will aid them in their career search. After completing the J.D. program, copyright lawyers must pass their state's Bar exam before practicing. The Bar exam is a multi-part examination focusing on ethics, state, interstate and federal law and other legal issues.

In addition to meeting all educational requirements, prospective copyright lawyers should have excellent communications and technical writing skills. Often, part of their job will be to communicate technically challenging thoughts and ideas to non-technical individuals, like juries. The following postings from Monster.com indicate other skills and abilities that employers look for when hiring a copyright lawyer:

  • 'A minimum of three years experience counseling on intellectual property business, transactional law and software technologies is required. Experience in preparing software leases and licensing agreements is a plus.' -Ajilon Legal
  • 'Master's degree in Electrical or Computer Engineering is preferred. Admission to the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO is encouraged. Experience working within the telecom industry in any capacity is a plus.' -Verizon Business

Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, expects overall employment of lawyers to grow by about ten percent in the coming decade. Despite this growth, competition for available positions is expected to be fierce, as the number of law school graduates continues to grow. Copyright lawyers may have increased career opportunities due to the constant evolution and change within the industry. The greatest career opportunities will be available to those copyright lawyers with exceptional technical backgrounds. Copyright lawyers must be able to make their clients, who may include artists, writers and musicians, comfortable regarding their technical decisions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics goes on to report that in 2006 the median annual earnings for a salaried lawyer were slightly over $100,000. Salaries in the legal profession are highly variable and depend on the type of work chosen, be it in private practice, public works or the government.

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MESOTHELIOMA DIAGNOSIS

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How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is most often obtained with careful assessment of clinical and radiological findings in addition to a confirming tissue biopsy. (Learn about typical mesothelioma symptoms.) A review of the patient's medical history, including history of asbestos exposure is taken, followed by a complete physical examination, x-rays of the chest or abdomen, and lung function tests. A CT scan or MRI may also be done at this time. If any of these preliminary tests prove suspicious for mesothelioma; a biopsy is necessary to confirm this diagnosis.

Imaging Techniques and Their Value in Diagnosing and Assessing Mesothelioma

There are several imaging techniques which may prove useful when mesothelioma is suspected due to the presence of pleural effusion combined with a history of occupational or secondary asbestos exposure. While these imaging techniques can be valuable in assessing the possibility of the cancer, definitive diagnosis is still most often established through fluid diagnosis or tissue biopsy.

Some of the most commonly used imaging methods include:

X-ray

A chest x-ray can reveal pleural effusion (fluid build-up) which is confined to either the right (60%) or left (40%) lung. On occasion, a mass may be seen. Signs of prior non-cancerous asbestos disease, such as pleural plaques or pleural calcification, or scarring due to asbestosis may also be noted.

Computed Tomography (CT)

CT scans are also able to define pleural effusion, as well as pleural thickening, pleural calcification, thickening of interlobular fissures, or possible chest wall invasion. CT, however, is not able to differentiate between changes associated with benign asbestos disease (pleural disease), or differentiate between adenocarcinoma of the lung wh

ich may have spread to the pleura verses mesothelioma. CT scans may also be valuable in guiding fine needle aspiration of pleural masses for tissue diagnosis.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI scans are most often used to determine the extent of tumor prior to aggressive treatment. Because they provide images in multiple planes, they are better able to identify tumors as opposed to normal structures. They are also more accurate than CT scans in assessing enlargement of the mediastinal lymph nodes (those lymph nodes which lie between the two lungs), as well as a clear diaphragmatic surface, both of which play an important role in surgical candidacy.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET imaging is now becoming an important part of the diagnosis and evaluation of mesothelioma. While PET scans are more expensive than other types of imaging, and are not always covered under insurance, they are now considered to be the most diagnostic of tumor sites, as well as the most superior in determining the staging of mesothelioma. Further explanation of PET scans.

CT/PET

For patients who may be candidates for aggressive multimodality treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation), accurate clinical staging is extremely important. Integrated CT/PET imaging provides a relatively new tool in this respect, and has become the imaging technique of choice for determining surgical eligibility. By combining the benefits of CT and PET (anatomic and metabolic information) into a single scan, this technology can more accurately determine the stage of the cancer, and can help identify the best treatment option for the patient. Read about a study of CT-PET imaging in preoperative evaluation of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

A needle biopsy of the mass, or the removal and examination of the fluid surrounding the lung, may be used for diagnosis, however, because these samples are sometimes inadequate as far as determining cell type (epithelial, sarcomatous, or mixed) or because of the unreliability of fluid diagnosis, open pleural biopsy may be recommended. In a pleural biopsy procedure, a surgeon will make a small incision through the chest wall and insert a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. He will then remove a sample of tissue to be reviewed under a microscope by a pathologist. In a peritoneal biopsy, the doctor makes a small incision in the abdomen and inserts a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity.

Once mesothelioma is suspected through imaging tests, it is confirmed by pathological examination. Tissue is removed, put under the microscope, and a pathologist makes a definitive diagnosis, and issues a pathology report. This is the end of a process that usually begins with symptoms that send most people to the doctor: a fluid build-up or pleural effusions, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. The doctor may order an x-ray or CT scan of the chest or abdomen. If further examination is warranted, the following tests may be done:

  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)

Over the past decade, the use of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) has become one of the most widely used tools in the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Biopsies of the pleural lining, nodules, masses and pleural fluid can now easily be obtained using this minimally invasive procedure, and other therapies such as pleurodesis (talc) for pleural effusions can be done concurrently.While the patient is under general anesthesia, several small incisions or “ports” are made through the chest wall. The surgeon then inserts a small camera, via a scope, into one incision, and other surgical instruments used to retrieve tissue samples into the other incisions. By looking at a video screen showing the camera images, the surgeon is able to complete whatever procedures are necessary

In many cases, this video-assisted technique is able to replace thoracotomy, which requires a much larger incision to gain access to the chest cavity, and because it is minimally invasive, the patient most often has less post-operative pain and a potentially shorter recovery period.

  • Thoracoscopy

For pleural mesothelioma the doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut will be made through the chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs. This test is usually done in a hospital with a local anesthetic or painkiller.

If fluid has collected in your chest, your doctor may drain the fluid out of your body by putting a needle into your chest and use gentle suction to remove the fluid. This is called thoracentesis.

  • Peritoneoscopy

For peritoneal mesothelioma the doctor may also look inside the abdomen with a special tool called a peritoneoscope. The peritoneoscope is put into an opening made in the abdomen. This test is usually done in the hospital under a local anesthetic.

If fluid has collected in your abdomen, your doctor may drain the fluid out of your body by putting a needle into your abdomen and using gentle suction to remove the fluid. This process is called paracentesis.

  • Biopsy

If abnormal tissue is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and have it looked at under a microscope. This is usually done during the thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy, but can be done during surgery. More on needle biopsies.

Pathology and The Role of Pathologists in the Diagnostic Process

Pathology, or the scientific study of cells, tissue, or fluid taken from the body is an integral part of a mesothelioma diagnosis. Most hospitals have their own pathology labs staffed by board-certified pathologists and licensed technologists. The importance of pathological diagnosis can not be underestimated, since the course of treatment is dependent upon an accurate diagnosis.

To make a diagnosis, pathologists examine tissue under a microscope, and based on established criteria, make a determination of benign vs. malignant cells. (More on biopsy tissue processing.) Subsequently, the type of cancer is determined. Although most pathologists have a general expertise of various diseases, a small number acquire training in a subspecialty, such as mesothelioma. These are physicians who have received world-wide recognition as premier experts, and have achieved high acclaim for their research, published articles and abstracts, and teaching. For a list of expert pathologists in the field of mesothelioma diagnosis, please call the MW toll free at 1-877-367-6376 or fill in the form at the bottom of this page specifying your request.

Knowing the stage is a factor in helping the doctor form a treatment plan. Mesothelioma is considered localized if the cancer is confined to the pleura, or advanced if it has spread beyond the pleura to other parts of the body such as the lungs, chest wall, abdominal cavity, or lymph nodes.

Immunohistochemical Markers for Mesothelioma

A diagnosis of any specific type of cancer often means ruling out other cancers in the process. This is true in the case of mesothelioma, where the most common “differential diagnosis” is that of adenocarcinoma versus mesothelioma.

During the biopsy procedure, the surgeon removes tissue samples to be sent to the laboratory. In the lab, slides are produced and then viewed and analyzed by a pathologist. These tissue specimens arrive at the lab with a request form that details patient information and history along with a description of the site in the body from which the specimen was obtained. Each individual specimen is numbered for each patient.

The pathologist then does a “gross examination” which consists of describing the tissue, and then placing it in a plastic cassette. The cassettes are then placed in a fixative that preserves the tissue permanently. Once the tissue has been fixed, it is processed into a paraffin block that will allow the pathologist to slice off thin microscopic sections that will then be stained to determine the patient’s diagnosis.

Immunohistochemistry is defined as “a method of analyzing and identifying cell types based on the binding of antibodies to specific components of the cell”. It is this process that helps diagnose mesothelioma versus adenocarcinoma (or other types of cancer).

Early on, the “markers” which helped distinguish mesothelioma from adenocarcinoma were “negative markers”; those expressed in adenocarcinomas, but not in mesotheliomas. This made it more difficult to confirm a diagnosis, because pathologists were dealing with the absence of, rather than the presence of certain markers. Some of these markers, which are normally “positive” in an adenocarcinoma diagnosis and “negative” in a mesothelioma diagnosis, are carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), CD 15 (LeuM1), epithelial glycoprotein (Bg8), tumor glycoprotein (BerEp4) and tumor glycoprotein (MOC-31).

In more recent years, “positive markers” expressed by mesotheliomas have come to the forefront. Some of the markers which are normally “positive” in mesotheliomas and “negative” in adenocarcincomas are calretinin, cytokeratin 5, HBME-1, mesothelin, N-cadherin, thrombomodulin, vimentin and Wilm’s tumor gene product (WT-1).

It is important to remember that while the above markers are commonly used to help diagnose the epithelial sub-type of mesothelioma, that they may also be expressed in other types of cancer, and may not necessarily apply to the bi-phasic or sarcomatoid sub-types of mesothelioma. Your doctor can always contact a more specialized lab if he/she feels your diagnosis is in any way inconclusive.

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MESOTHELIOMA CAUSE - ASBESTOS EXPOSURE

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At some point in our lives, nearly all of us have been exposed to asbestos in the air we breathe and the water we drink; from natural deposits in the earth, and from the deterioration of asbestos products around us. Most of us, however, do not become ill as a result of our exposure. More commonly, those who at some point are diagnosed with asbestos disease, have worked in jobs where more substantial exposure occurred over longer periods of time. Nevertheless, cases of mesothelioma have been documented as the result of lesser exposure, affecting family members of workers who came into contact with asbestos and brought it home on their clothing, skin or hair, or affecting those who lived in close proximity to asbestos manufacturing facilities. Symptoms of asbestos disease usually are not be apparent until decades after exposure.

Asbestos was used commercially in North America as early as the late 1800s, but its use increased dramatically during the World War II era when shipyards produced massive numbers of ships for the war effort. Since that time, asbestos-containing products were used by the construction and building trades, the automotive industry and the manufacturing industry. All told, more than 5,000 products contained asbestos.

For more than 50 years, products containing asbestos remained unregulated, and the manufacturers of those products continued to prosper, knowing full well that many of the millions of workers who came into contact with their products would ultimately suffer as the result of their actions. Finally, in the late 1970s, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos in wallboard patching compounds and artificial ash for gas fireplaces because the fiber could easily be released during use. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency banned all new use of asbestos, but uses established prior to that time were still allowed. Although awareness of the dangers of asbestos and public concern over the issue have led to a decline in domestic consumption over the years, a total ban on asbestos has not come to fruition. Asbestos is still imported, still used and still dangerous.

Although it is suggested that the number of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. has reached its peak and has begun to drop, a forecast released by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER), in April, 2003, projected the total number of American male mesothelioma cases from 2003-2054 to be approximately 71,000. This number, however, does not take into consideration events such as the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001, when millions of New Yorkers were potentially exposed to air filled with carcinogenic asbestos particles. The incidence of mesothelioma cases by state and county are shown in these tables. When the latency period for asbestos disease is factored in, cases of mesothelioma will continue to be diagnosed for years to come. See our page on mesothelioma risk factors.

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MESOTHELIOMA AND ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASES

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Asbestos exposure is strongly associated with several potentially fatal diseases and illnesses, the most serious of which is malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are smaller than other airborne particles and cause serious long-term consequences by penetrating the lung and infiltrating organ tissues. Asbestos-related diseases generally develop many years, even decades, after initial exposure.

MESOTHELIOMA

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells lining the lung, chest cavity, abdominal cavity or heart cavity. These mesothelial cells also cover the outer surface of most internal organs forming a tissue called mesothelium that helps protect the organs. Although tumors of the mesothelium can be benign (noncancerous), most cases are malignant (cancerous). Virtually all cases of malignant mesothelioma are attributable to asbestos exposure and are both difficult to diagnose and poorly responsive to therapy. As this form of cancer can occur 20 to 60 years after the initial exposure, it is important to recognize the most common symptoms which include:

  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness
  • Recurrent build-up of fluid in the lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

TYPES OF MESOTHELIOMA

Pleural mesothelioma spreads within the chest cavity, sometimes involving the lung. Metastases can occur in any organ, including the brain, and the onset is typically very slow with the most common presenting symptom being persistent pain localized in the chest. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by severe difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss and fever.

Peritoneal mesothelioma involves the abdominal cavity and infiltrates the liver, spleen or bowel. As with pleural mesothelioma, pain is the most common complaint. In addition, patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, swelling of the feet, fever, difficulty in moving their bowels and fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity resulting in an enlarged abdomen.

Testicular and ovarian mesothelioma are rare forms of mesothelioma. Testicular mesothelioma develops in the scrotal sac as the covering layer of the testicles is actually an out pouching of peritoneum into the scrotum during embryonic development. Mesothelioma can also arise from the surface of an ovary. Ovarian mesothelioma is very rare.

Cystic mesothelioma is a rare form of benign mesothelioma involving a thin membrane of mesothelial cells that envelopes many of the organs in the abdomen. This type has been diagnosed primarily in young women, and most patients must undergo surgery.

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What is a personal injury?

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A personal injury occurs when an individual sustains some form of injury, whether it is physical or psychological, as a result of an accident or incident. Any combination of illness, pain, suffering, disability and inconvenience may be experienced.

Often we suffer personal injuries through no fault of our own; that is they are accidental or caused by a third party. Personal injuries can occur as a consequence of any number of situations from a road traffic accident or an accident at work to medical negligence or a slip or trip in a public place. Read more about scenarios in which a personal injury can occur.

Physical personal injuries

Arm Injury

There are a wide range of physical personal injuries that we could suffer but it would take a substantial length of time to discuss them all so we will focus on those that are most common.

Of course, the type of accident or incident that you are involved in will determine the type of injury that you sustain. Read more about types of personal injury.

Here we will consider the physical personal injuries that can be experienced as a result of a car accident or medical negligence.

Personal injury following a car accident

When considering those involved in car accidents, around 20% will sustain a whiplash injury, a stretching and straining of the muscles and ligaments in the neck area that occurs when jolted suddenly. Read more about whiplash and neck injuries.

A closed head injury may be suffered if your head hits the windscreen while an open head injury may occur if a piece of glass or debris from the crash becomes imbedded in the head. Read more about head injuries.

In the absence of frontal air bags, it is also likely that you may receive chest injuries if you hit the steering wheel or damage to your knees if they hit the dash board.

Personal injury following medical negligence

We hear numerous frightening stories in the media about medical negligence. When admitted to hospital for routine treatment you are at risk of contracting diseases or indeed suffering further personal injuries.

Epidemics and superbugs such as MRSA, a bacterial strain which is resistant to antibiotics, were rife a few years ago. A crackdown on cleanliness saw a general decline in cases throughout the UK yet we still hear of some today.

There have been instances when surgical instruments and sponges have been left inside patients and others where the incorrect level of anaesthetic has been administered, leading to further health complications and distress.

General neglect and ill advice during labour and childbirth and careless consultations before operations have also caused unnecessary suffering to patients and significant problems for the health profession.

Other physical personal injuries that our personal injury solicitors are highly experienced at dealing with include: neck, shoulder, back and spinal cord injuries, hip, leg and ankle injuries, vibration whiter finger, carpel tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury and tinnitus. Read more about types of personal injury.

Psychological personal injuries

Psychological injuries are often overlooked as they cannot be seen in the way that a cut or bruise can; however, they do cause substantial suffering. Common symptoms of psychological injuries include mood disturbances, stress symptoms, social anxieties and deterioration in close relationships.

Psychological personal injuries can be caused by another individual and examples include bullying at school or in the workplace.

They also can be a result of stress such as performance anxiety, which is often experienced by musicians and entertainers that are put under substantial pressure to perform to consistently high standards.

It is also common to suffer psychological effects in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a tremendous ordeal such as being involved in a plane crash.

The afflictions of physical personal injuries that leave you unable to undertake everyday tasks, like returning to work or completing housebound chores, can also affect your mental health, causing depression and anxiety disorders. Read more about psychological personal injuries.

The effects of personal injuries

Psychological Injury

If you suffer a physical personal injury, such as a broken leg that leaves you unable to walk without assistance, then you will be temporarily disabled and, depending on your profession, may have to take time off work. This may mean that you suffer a loss of earnings that will further affect your quality of life. On top of this, you may have to fork out for prescriptions, taxis when commuting to and from the hospital and medical fees.

Very serious personal injuries that leave you wheelchair bound will result in many changes to the way you live. You may need to make modifications to your house including wheelchair access and rails in your bathroom. Some personal injuries may also result in a need for 24-hour care which can be both pricey and difficult to come to terms with.

Alternatively, a psychological personal injury could leave you either unable to cope with the stresses of work or a fear of leaving the house. This may mean that you become dependent on the assistance of others and you may need substantial therapy or counselling that can be an expensive, lengthy process. Read more about costs and losses that you can claim back.

Claiming compensation for a personal injury

It is your legal and civil right to claim for personal injury compensation following an accident that wasn't your fault.

We aim to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible and can put you in touch with the very best medical professionals in your area, including doctors, therapists and specialists.

The money sought from a compensation claim can go towards helping you to rebuild your life and allow you to pay for all the extra expenses incurred by your personal injury.

Our personal injury solicitors have an excellent success rate with a broad range of personal injury cases. They are at hand to offer you free legal advice and talk you through each stage of the claim process so that together you can build a strong case and obtain the most amount of compensation available. Read more about personal injury compensation amounts.

We work on a no win no fee basis and making a personal injury claim will be entirely cost-free as we take great care to protect you from yours and the other party's costs. The best news of all is that we guarantee you will receive every penny of compensation awarded to you, providing your case is successful.

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A DUI arrest does not mean you are guilty.

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Contrary to popular opinion, police officers make mistakes. Moreover, the hyper-technical laws surrounding the regulation of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are rife with ambiguities, and these laws are anything but straightforward. Consequently, unless you are an attorney who specializes in defending those accused of DUI, you are probably not qualified to judge whether you have one or more defenses to the charges.

You owe it to yourself to become educated about what to expect and, just as importantly, what to do about it. Much depends on whether you are actually convicted of drunk driving, as opposed to just arrested. In other words, it ain't over 'til it's over. Not only could you suffer a criminal conviction, a jail sentence, a hefty fine, a lengthy DUI education course and up to five years of probation; you would also have to contend with the associated insurance premium hikes. A typical DUI arrest results in two legal proceedings: One against the person (aka "the criminal case") and one against the person's privilege to drive in the state of California. There are many defenses to both of these legal proceedings, and surprisingly few of those address the basic question of "how drunk were you?".

Many traffic stops are illegal

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was intended by our Founding Fathers, and those who enacted the Bill of Rights, to prevent the United States of America from becoming a police state. Many people think that police states are something that happen only in the movies, futuristic novels, or in other countries. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Almost any society can become a police state overnight and, arguably, the United States already has. Nevertheless, here there are mechanisms available to anyone accused of crime to ensure that their fundamental rights to privacy, against warrantless search and seizure, to counsel and against self-incrimination have been honored. However, it is not enough in most cases to simply claim that your rights have been violated or denied. Vindicating these rights requires a skillful attorney and the right facts. If a traffic stop was not based upon a warrant or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the entire case must be thrown out. To find out whether your case involved an illegal traffic stop, you should speak with an attorney who specializes in DUI defense right away.

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FACTBOX-Facts and speculation surrounding Air France crash

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June 2 (Reuters) - An Air France flight carrying 228 passengers and crew crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Below are facts about the doomed flight and some of the speculation about what might have caused the disaster.



FLIGHT AF 447

May 31

2203 GMT - Air France says the plane, an Airbus A330-200, takes off from Rio airport with 216 passengers and 12 crew.

June 1

0148 GMT - The aircraft leaves Brazilian air force radar, flying normally at 35,000 feet at a speed of 453 knots.

0200 GMT - Air France says the plane crossed into a "stormy zone with heavy turbulence".

0214 GMT - The plane sends automatic messages indicating an electrical fault, Air France says. Prime Minister Francois Fillon says messages were sent regularly over a three minute period showing all "systems were out of order". Brazilian authorities are reported as saying messages also indicated a loss of pressure in the aircraft. No mayday or distress signal received.

0220 GMT - Air traffic controllers expect update from plane. Nothing happens. Soon after, it fails to enter Senegal airspace.

0910 GMT - Plane due to land in Paris, but never arrives. Half an hour later, Air France announces the plane is missing.



POSSIBLE SCENARIOS

Whatever happened to the plane, it was brutal and catastrophic. Here are some of the possible issues.

STORM - Air France says a combination of circumstances could have led to the crash, notably citing lightning and turbulence. The plane flew into a notoriously stormy area that shifts around the Equator, known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

Weather experts contacted by Reuters and quoted on the Internet confirm there were storms in the area and that the plane flew through as many as three thunderstorm clusters.

Pilots fly around bad storms when possible, but although the conditions were rough, a source told Reuters two Lufthansa jets passed through the same area just before and after the Air France plane, suggesting that no one thought the weather to be exceptionally bad or dangerous. [ID:nL1719357]

Experts also say jets are designed to withstand lightning, but add that a direct hit might have disrupted the plane's radar and radio, which could explain the communications blackout.

LePoint.fr news website said on Tuesday that some external sensors on the plane appeared to have frozen, which might have compromised cockpit readings. There was no confirmation of this.

TURBULENCE - If the plane was brought down by "natural causes", then turbulence is the most likely culprit. An article on www.weathergraphics.com explains how a sudden, isolated storm cell might have caused severe turbulence, adding that "young updrafts" caused by such a phenomenon are hard to detect and can be very powerful. Some aviation experts have drawn a parallel with a 2006 crash when a Russian aircraft plunged to earth near the Ukrainian border after hitting a storm and turbulence.

TECHNICAL FAILURE - Without the black box it is impossible to know what role, if any, technical problems played in the crash. While malfunctions were signalled by the plane, it is impossible to say if these were the cause of the crash or a side-effect of other problems.

TERRORISM - Both Air France and government ministers say they can rule nothing out, but have stressed that there is nothing to indicate terrorism was involved. An explosion would explain the sudden loss of the plane, but more than 24 hours after it vanished there have been no public statements claiming responsibility

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Air France Crash Update Video

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As I have read in Huliq News, France has said the flight recorders from the plane, which went missing en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 passengers and crew on board early on Monday, are unlikely to be found due to the extreme depth. The France plane was crash in a sea. It is then a tragedy where in people who lost their family is quite hurtful to accept. I just hope so that government should find and help the lost people. Of course it is impossible to get a video from this tragedy but I am sure it is really sad new.

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'Nightmare' for flight 447 families

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photo
PASSENGER TRIBUTES: Brazilian Lucas Gagriano Juca, 24, was one of the passengers of ill-fated Air France flight 447.
An 11-year-old boy returning alone to an English boarding school, three young Irish doctors and prize winners - just some of the victims of Air France flight 447.

"We will miss your dancing feet," read a tribute from the Northern Ireland family of Eithne Walls, 29, a Riverdance dancer-turned-doctor.

"We will miss your silliness, your wit and your hugs. We will always hold you in our hearts and you are never truly gone."

John Butler initially thought his 26-year-old daughter, Aisling Butler, was booked on a different flight and had to retrieve her itinerary from his deleted e-mail folder to check.

"When I opened it up, a nightmare opened up as well," he said, speaking from the family's home in rural County Tipperary.

Walls, Butler and their best friend from Ireland's Trinity College, 28-year-old Jane Deasy - the daughter of a Dublin surgeon - graduated together from medical school in 2007 and had spent two weeks in Brazil as part of a larger group of Trinity grads.

While others traveled on to Australia, the trio headed home to resume their busy medical careers.

"Her friends will, we hope, remember their special time together with fondness and joy, despite its tragic end," read the tribute to Walls, who spent nearly a decade dancing in Riverdance troupes from New York to Shanghai and was pursuing a career as a Dublin eye surgeon.

Some families recalled how their loved ones had survived dangerous jobs or medical crises, only to perish in Monday's unexplained crash over the Atlantic Ocean, which is presumed to have killed all 228 on board.

Christine Pieraerts, a 28-year-old Michelin tyre engineer from France had recovered from a stroke and was returning home after a 10-day visit to see her boyfriend in Brazil.

"We were very happy because she was starting to take up her activities and a normal life again. Fate caught up with her and us," said her older brother Michel.

Graham Gardner, a 52-year-old seaman from Scotland, had braved gale-force winds and other dangers aboard tankers, ferries and container ships before taking charge of an oil pipe-laying vessel, the Lochnagar.

He commuted monthly from Brazil back home to his wife, Joyce, who described him as "such a loving, caring and laid-back man. Nothing fazed him."

Brazil-born orthodontist Jose Souza, had honed his skills as a surfer since the age of nine, traveling worldwide to take on the most challenging waves.

Souza "would regularly chase waves all over Europe and the world at a moment's notice," recalled Ben Farwagi, president of the London Surf Club Big Wave Team, which counted Souza as a member.
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In a statement still posted on the club's Web site Tuesday, Souza spoke of his love of the sea. "I have ridden big waves all around the world, but particularly like Sunset Beach (Hawaii), J-Bay (South Africa) and Mundaka (Spain). I now just want to go bigger!!!"

The two Americans on board the plane, geologist Michael Harris and his wife Anne, had moved to Rio from Houston 10 months ago, and were on their way to Europe for work and vacation, said a spokesman for his employer, Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp.

Harris, who turned 60 last month, had planned to attend seminars in Barcelona, Spain, then enjoy "five days on R&R in Paris," said spokesman Chip Minty.

"They were both gregarious, caring, patient, kind, fun-loving individuals," Anne Harris' sister, Mary Miley, told the Lafayette newspaper The Advertiser. "My only comfort is that they died together."

FREE-TRIP WINNERS

Among the 61 victims from France were 10 salesmen and their spouses from a French electronics supply company, CGE Distribution, who won a company prize of a free trip to Brazil.

They "had a great year that wrapped up with this dream trip," said a CGE manager, Jean-Pierre Nardou.

Salesman Stephane Artiguenave, 35, and his wife Sandrine, 34, left behind a nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son in their Bordeaux village of Saint-Martin-de-Sescas.

The man's brother-in-law, Christophe Champenaud, complained that Air France officials had provided no help. "Not even to figure out how to tell the children about their parents' deaths," he said.

Eleven-year-old Alexander Bjoroy was returning to his English boarding school, Clifton College in Bristol, after spending a school break with his family in Brazil.

"Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the family in Brazil at this time," said the school headmaster, John Milne.

Among the 58 Brazilian victims was Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, a 26-year-old descendent of Brazil's last emperor, Dom Pedro II.

Patricia Coakley's husband Arthur, a 61-year-old English oil-rig engineer, shouldn't have been on the ill-fated flight at all. He was supposed to have taken a weekend flight out of Rio, but was bumped because it was overbooked.

She tried phoning her husband's cell phone Monday, but gave up on Tuesday.

"He worked so hard for his family. That's all he wanted, to retire. It's not going to happen, is it?" she asked tearfully

Label:

Search for Flight 447 continues

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There are few mysteries as puzzling as an airplane lost at sea.

Strewn over miles of ocean surface or buried under thousands of feet of water, airplane wreckage can take months to retrieve and years to understand.

"The Atlantic Ocean is a huge place," aviation-safety consultant John Cox said.

That vastness has now engulfed Air France Flight 447, which disappeared into the Atlantic darkness Sunday night after flying into a wall of thunderstorms and turbulence.

An airplane seat, a life jacket, metallic debris and signs of fuel were found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday by Brazilian military pilots searching for the missing Air France airliner.

The debris was spotted from the air about 410 miles north of the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, roughly along the path that the jet was taking before it disappeared with 228 people on board, said air force spokesman Jorge Amaral.

There were no signs of life in two sightings of separate debris areas about 35 miles apart.

"The locations where the objects were found are towards the right of the point where the last signal of the plane was emitted," Amaral said. "That suggests that it might have tried to make a turn, maybe to return to Fernando de Noronha, but that is just a hypothesis."

Amaral said authorities would not be able to confirm that the debris is from the plane until they can retrieve some of it from the ocean for identification. Brazilian military ships are not expected to arrive at the area until Wednesday.

Former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Jim Hall likened finding the missing plane to "trying to find a needle in a haystack," he said.

Hall oversaw the investigations and water recoveries of TWA Flight 800, which crashed a few miles off the Long Island coast in 1996, and of EgyptAir Flight 990, which crashed 60 miles from Nantucket in 1999. Those investigations were less daunting than the search for Flight 447 but were still difficult. Wreckage was in several hundred feet of murky water that impaired visibility, and shifting currents moved pieces around, Hall said.

Most airplane crashes occur during takeoff or landing, putting the wreckage either on the ground or in shallow water, said Bill Voss, head of the non-profit Flight Safety Foundation. "It's very unusual to have an aircraft encounter a problem while it's cruising," Voss said.

The search for wreckage will strain relatives of passengers. "It's going to be very traumatic for the victims' families because they're going to want to know something as soon as possible for closure," said Cox, who is CEO of Safety Operating Systems, an aviation consultant in Washington, D.C. "A lot of victims' families will hold out hope."

The probe of Flight 447 will depend on several factors, aviation-safety experts said:

•Finding and retrieving wreckage. If Flight 447, a wide-body Airbus 330-200, crashed into the ocean intact, pieces could be spread over several miles. But if the plane came apart at 35,000 feet, "you could have debris scatter a couple of hundred miles," said Bill Waldock, an air-crash expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "The currents could carry parts of the airplane a long, long ways away."

When the cargo door blew off a United Airlines flight in early 1989, killing nine people, the investigation wasn't resolved until the door was retrieved from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean— 17 months later.

"Few ships around the world have the capability not only to explore and map the bottom of the ocean, but also to bring up significant amounts of wreckage," said Todd Curtis, head of the Airsafe.com Foundation, which promotes aviation safety.

•Cooperation in the search effort. Flight 447 appears to have crashed in international waters and had passengers from 32 countries on board, including 61 French citizens, 58 Brazilians, 26 Germans and two Americans. Although France, where the airplane was registered, will lead the investigation, other countries will have a strong interest, particularly Brazil because of the number of Brazilian passengers, Waldock said.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will send experts to help the investigation because the engines on Flight 447 were made by GE Aviation, a division of U.S.-based General Electric, board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

"Anytime you have multiple-country investigations, that makes it a little more complex," Waldock said.

•Retrieving the flight data recorders. Such recorders can be separated from the beacons that send out homing signals to search crews, meaning it's possible that the boxes could never be found at the bottom of the ocean.

When a China Airlines 747 crashed into the Taiwan Strait in 2002, it took 24 days to find the recorders.

Currents and deep water also could make recovery difficult, said Michael Barr, who teaches aviation safety at the University of Southern California. "If they don't locate it within 72 hours, the information is going to be hard to get. After three days, the ocean currents can spread wreckage all over the place."

Although safety experts discounted the possibility that lightning brought down Flight 447, several said that storms and winds that accompany lightning could have severely damaged the 4-year-old plane or caused pilots to lose control.

Aircraft wiring expert Ed Block said in-flight turbulence could cause electrical wires to rub against one another, cracking the wire insulation and leading to an electrical failure or fire. From 1999 to 2004, Block was part of a Federal Aviation Administration advisory group that inspected planes for cracked wiring.

Flights such as the Airbus 330 that crashed have many more miles of electrical wiring because of their in-seat video systems, Block said. Passengers on Airbus 330s can select from among 85 movies to watch on individual monitors at their seats.

Even if the investigation drags on, time is important, experts said. "The investigative process is slow and methodical," said Cox, the safety consultant. "It's most important to be right than fast."

LIST OF PASSENGERS ABOARD LOST AIR FRANCE FLIGHT

Some of the passengers aboard Air France Flight 447, which disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris carrying 228 people:

Luiz Roberto Anastacio, 50; Brazilian; president for South America, Michelin

Aisling Butler, 26; Irish, of Roscrea, Ireland; doctor

Brad Clemes, 49; Canadian from Guelph, Ontario; Coca-Cola executive

Arthur Coakley, 61; British; structural engineer for PDMS

Jane Deasy, 27; Irish; doctor

Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, 26; Brazilian; descendent of Brazil's last emperor

Antonio Gueiros; Brazilian; information systems director, Michelin

Michael Harris, 60; American, formerly of Lafayette, La.; geologist

Anne Harris; American, formerly of Lafayette, La.

Zoran Markovic, 45; Croatian, from Kostelji, Croatia; sailor

Christine Pieraerts; French; engineer at Michelin

Eithne Walls, 29; Irish; doctor

Label:

Air France's Flight 447 renews calls to update black boxes

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06/03/2009

As searchers comb the Atlantic Ocean for debris from Flight 447, their top priority is locating the plane's two black boxes, which hold the keys to reconstructing the crash. Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, says the depth of the ocean could be a problem for recovery efforts, which depend on "pings" emitted from the boxes themselves. "We're closer to the limits of technology than I'd like to be," he says. The crash has renewed calls for updating the black boxes with new technology that would separate the devices from the aircraft in case of an accident. "The circumstances of 9/11 have demanded the need for this type of recorder," former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall says. "This (Flight 447) accident puts an exclamation point on it." USA TODAY (06/02) St. Petersburg Times


Label:

Comcast

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Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA and NASDAQ: CMCSK) is a company founded in 1963 that provides cable television, Internet service and residential telephone service in the United States
Comcast Corporation
Type Public (NASDAQ: CMCSA and NASDAQ: CMCSK)
Founded Tupelo, Mississippi, USA (1963)
Founder(s) Ralph J. Roberts
Daniel Aaron
Julian A. Brodsky
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Area served USA
Key people Brian L. Roberts
(Chairman) & (CEO)
Industry Telecommunications
Products Cable Television, Broadband Internet, Comcast Digital Voice, Home Networking
Revenue US$ 30.895 Billion (2007)
Operating income US$ 5.578 Billion (2007)
Net income US$ 2.587 Billion (2007)
Total assets US$ 113.417 Billion (2007)
Total equity US$ 41.340 Billion (2007)
Employees 100,000 (2008)
Website Comcast.com

History

Comcast was founded in 1963 by Ralph J. Roberts, Daniel Aaron, and Julian A. Brodsky based on a recommendation from Warren "Pete" Musser, of Harrisburg, who brought the deal to Ralph Roberts to buy his first cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi. The company was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969, under the name Comcast Corporation from American Cable Systems. The current name "Comcast" is an amalgamation of the words "Communication" and "Broadcast".

Comcast became majority owner of Comcast Spectacor, Comcast SportsNet (in Chicago, Comcast Television (in Michigan), Philadelphia, Washington DC/Baltimore, MD, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest and metro Sacramento), E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, G4, The Golf Channel and Versus (formerly known as Outdoor Life Network) over a period of years. In 2006, Comcast started a new sports channel in cooperation with Major League Baseball's New York Mets, SportsNet New York in the greater New York City region.

Comcast logo in the 1990s, featuring then-slogan "Everything You Connect With"

Comcast also has a variety network known as Comcast Network, available exclusively to Comcast and Cablevision subscribers. The channel shows news, sports, and entertainment and places emphasis in Philadelphia and the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. areas, though the channel is also available in New York, Pittsburgh, and Richmond. In August 2004, Comcast started a channel called CET (Comcast Entertainment Television). It is only available to Colorado Comcast subscribers. It focuses on Life in Colorado. It also carries some NHL & NBA Games when Altitude Sports & Entertainment is carrying the NBA or NHL. In January 2006, CET became the primary channel for Colorado's Emergency Alert System in the Denver Metro Area.

The UK division was sold to NTL in 1998. After the sale of their cellular division to SBC Communications of San Antonio and the acquisition of Greater Philadelphia Cablevision in 1999, Comcast and MediaOne announced a $60 billion merger which did not occur until three years later (as AT&T Broadband).

In 2002, Comcast paid the University of Maryland $25 million for naming rights to the new basketball arena built on the College Park campus, named Comcast Center.

On January 3, 2005, Comcast announced that it would become the anchor tenant in a new skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia, to be named the Comcast Center, not to be confused with the Maryland arena mentioned above. The 975 ft (297 m) skyscraper is officially the tallest building in Pennsylvania.

In December 2005, Comcast announced the creation of Comcast Interactive Media (CIM), a new division focused on online media.

Presently, Comcast serves a total of 24.6 million cable customers, 16.3 million digital cable customers, 14.4 million high-speed Internet customers, and 5.6 million voice customers. The company employs over 100,000 people. Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also has corporate offices in Houston, Detroit, Denver,and Manchester, NH.[5]

Comcast announced in May 2007[6] and launched in September 2008 a dashboard called SmartZone.[7] Customers can use the service most likely sometime that year according to the Daily Herald near Chicago, quoting a Comcast spokesperson.[7] HP or Hewlett-Packard led "design, creation and management". Collaboration and unified messaging technology came from open-source vendor Zimbra, according to IDG News Service, who spoke with a Comcast spokesperson the previous year.[6] "SmartZone users will be able to send and receive e-mail, listen to their voicemail messages online and forward that information via e-mail to others, send instant messages and video instant messages and merge their contacts into one address book", according to IDG.[6] IDG also noted Cloudmark spam and phishing protection and Trend Micro antivirus.[6] The address book is Comcast Plaxo software.[6]

Comcast announced for the end of 2008 a new network congestion management technique, after receiving no complaints over the summer in five market trials which were held in Warrenton, Virginia; Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Lake View, Florida; and East Orange, Florida.[8]

As of October 30, 2008; Comcast has signed a product development and distribution agreement with ABC Radio that will bring branded content from E! Entertainment, Style Network and G4 to terrestrial radio affiliates. [9]

[edit] Acquisitions

Comcast bought 25% of Group W Cable in 1986, doubling its size. Two years later, it purchased a 50% share in Storer Communications, Inc. Comcast acquired American Cellular Network Corporation the same year before combining with Metrophone in 1990. Comcast became the third largest cable operator in 1994 following its purchase of Maclean-Hunter's American division. Comcast owned the majority of the electronic retailer QVC from 1995-2004 when its share was sold to Liberty Media. Following other acquisitions, Microsoft invested $1 billion in Comcast in 1997.[citation needed]

In 2001, Comcast announced it would acquire the assets of the largest cable television operator at the time, AT&T Broadband (AT&T's spun-off cable TV service) for $44.5 billion USD. In 2002, Comcast acquired all assets of AT&T Broadband, thus making Comcast the largest cable television company in the United States with over 22 million subscribers. This also spurred the start of Comcast Advertising Sales (using AT&T's groundwork) which would later be renamed Comcast Spotlight. As part of this acquisition, Comcast also acquired the National Digital Television Center in Centennial, CO as a wholly-owned subsidiary, which is today known as the Comcast Media Center.

Proposed merger name logo, 2001

When it was first announced that AT&T Broadband and Comcast were going to merge, the chosen name for the new company was "AT&T Comcast". That decision was changed so as to not confuse current and future investors in the company, and the merged company retained the Comcast name.

On February 11, 2004, Comcast surprised the media industry by announcing an unsolicited $66 billion bid for The Walt Disney Company, a deal that would have made Comcast the largest media conglomerate in the world. After rejection by Disney and uncertain response from investors, the bid was abandoned in April. The deal would have also required Comcast to sell off either the Philadelphia Flyers (which they own through Comcast Spectacor) or the Disney-owned Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, since they wouldn't be permitted to own two NHL teams. It was later discovered that the deal was mostly for Comcast to acquire one of Disney's most profitable operations, ESPN, in an attempt to expand its sports reach. Comcast has since opted to rename OLN as Versus and expand their sports coverage with the Tour de France and the NHL. Comcast's NHL deal also obligated them to launch a U.S. version of NHL Network by the summer of 2007. The network finally launched in October 2007. Disney later sold the now-Anaheim Ducks to Henry Samueli in 2005 in an unrelated transaction.

Comcast announced on March 25, 2004 that its new gaming-oriented television network G4 (operated by subsidiary G4 Media, Inc.) would acquire Vulcan Venture's technology-oriented television network TechTV. The deal was finalized on May 10, 2004 - and the two networks became G4techTV on May 28, 2004. On January 11, 2005, Comcast announced that it would drop TechTV from the station's name and again be known as "G4".

On April 8, 2005, a partnership led by Comcast and Sony Pictures Entertainment finalized a deal to acquire MGM and its affiliate studio, United Artists, and create an additional outlet to carry MGM/UA's material for cable and Internet distribution.

On October 31, 2005, Comcast officially announced that it had acquired Susquehanna Communications (SusCom,) a York, PA-based cable television and broadband services provider and unit of the former Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff company, for a net cash investment of approximately $540 million. In this deal Comcast acquired approximately 230,000 basic cable customers, 71,000 digital cable customers, and 86,000 high-speed Internet customers. Comcast previously owned approximately 30 percent of Susquehanna Communications.

On April 3, 2007, Comcast announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire the cable systems owned and operated by Patriot Media, a privately-held company owned by cable veteran Steven J. Simmons, Spectrum Equity Investors and Spire Capital, that serves approximately 81,000 video subscribers. Comcast will acquire Patriot for a net cash investment of approximately $483 million.[10] By acquiring the niche provider the deal will plug a hole in its central New Jersey service.[11]

Adelphia purchase

In April 2005, Comcast and Time Warner announced plans to buy Adelphia Cable. $17.6 billion was to be paid (partly in stock) in the deal that was finalized in the second quarter of 2006 — after the FCC completed a seven-month investigation without raising an objection. Time Warner would become the second largest cable provider in the U.S., ranking behind Comcast. As part of the same deal, Time Warner and Comcast would also trade existing subscribers to create larger clusters of customers for each company in various geographical areas.[citation needed]

The changes became effective on August 1, 2006. As an example, Comcast's systems in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex were traded to TWC in exchange for Time Warner's North Louisiana market, which covers Shreveport and Monroe. Also, Comcast in Los Angeles Area was traded with TWC. Parts of the Orange County area (Fullerton, Buena Park, etc.) that were Adelphia were originally Comcast subscribers until the early 2000s.

Also in August 2006, Comcast and Time Warner dissolved a partnership that controlled the systems in the Houston, Southwest Texas, San Antonio, and Kansas City markets. After the dissolution, Comcast obtained the Houston system, and Time Warner retained the others.[12] On January 1, 2007, Comcast officially took control of the Houston system, but continued to operate under the Time Warner Cable brand in the interim. As of June 19, 2007, the Time Warner name was officially retired and replaced by Comcast.

Comcast also took over Adelphia systems in the State College, Pennsylvania area in addition to the Lewistown, Pennsylvania area.

In early 2007, Comcast took over Adelphia operations in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties in Florida and Bartow, Pickens, Cherokee, and Forsyth Counties in Georgia.[13]

thePlatform purchase

In July 2006, Comcast purchased the Seattle-based software company thePlatform. This represented an entry into a new line of business - selling software to allow companies to manage their Internet (and IP-based) media publishing efforts. Customers of thePlatform include Verizon Wireless, BBC Worldwide, PBS, CNBC, CBS College Sports, and HiT Entertainment .[14] thePlatform also provides media access for Hulu and Fancast.com.

Plaxo purchase

Comcast purchased Plaxo for a reported $150 million to $170 million price.[15]

High-speed Internet service

Comcast offers downstream speeds of up to 1, 6, 8, 12, 16, 22 or 50 Mbit/s and upstream speeds of .384, 1, 2, 5 or 10 Mbit/s for standard home connections. These differing speed options are made possible by loading a particular configuration file into the modem or banding channels together through DOCSIS 3.0. Comcast's "PowerBoost" delivers bursts for all but their highest-end and lowest-end tiers, allowing subscribers to use all excess cable node capacity to speed up the first few seconds of downloads. According to the Comcast High Speed Internet terms of service, customers are provided with dynamic IP addresses.[16]

Comcast has a policy of terminating broadband customers who use "excessive bandwidth," a term the company refused to define in its terms of service, which once said only that a customer's use should not "represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network."[16] Company responses to press inquiries suggest a limit of several hundred gigabytes per month.[17][18] In September 2007, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the company defines "excessive use" as the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month.[19] Other company statements have said the limit varied from month to month, depending on the capacity of specific cable nodes, and that it affected only the top 1/10th of the top 1 percent of high-speed Internet customers.

On August 28, 2008, Comcast confirmed the rumors of a controversial 250GB per month cap on downloads, set to go into effect on October 1, 2008. [20] As such, Comcast has changed their Network Management page to reflect the new policy. On September 4, 2008 Comcast sued the FCC over the findings. [21]

The cap combines both upload and download for the total limit. If a user exceeds the cap, on a first offense, a warning email and/or phone call will be issued with information on how to track bandwidth usage by suggesting software monitoring programs. On the second offense, the user will have their services terminated for one year. The monitoring window is from the first day of the month to the last day of the month. [22]

[edit] Board members

Five of its eleven board members serve on boards of other companies and institutions. Kenneth J. Bacon sits on the board of Stanford University. J. Michael Cook is also a director at Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical. Michael Armstrong sits on the board of directors for Citigroup Bank. Dr. Judith Rodin serves the interests of the University of Pennsylvania, Electronic Data Systems, Aetna and The Brookings Institute.[citation needed]

Controversies

Sports

After the Montreal Expos baseball team relocated to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals in 2004, Comcast alienated many fans in the area by refusing to add the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), which airs the team's games, to its channel lineup. In July 2006, as a condition of its approval of Comcast's takeover of a portion of Adelphia's assets, the FCC ordered Comcast to enter into binding arbitration with MASN to settle their dispute. As a result, on August 4, 2006, it was announced that Comcast would carry MASN programming starting in September 2006.[23]

In the Philadelphia region, Comcast uses the FCC's "terrestrial loophole" to avoid negotiations with satellite television services for delivery of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, which is transmitted via a microwave broadcasting system instead of satellite (as its predecessor, PRISM, was a local-only service). This essentially denies competition in the Philadelphia market for games of the Philadelphia Phillies (baseball), Philadelphia 76ers (basketball), and Philadelphia Flyers (hockey). Comcast does, however, supply Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia programming to Verizon for their competing FiOS video service, even though FiOS is not available to residents of the city of Philadelphia.[citation needed]

A smaller controversy arose when Comcast and Cox Communications announced that their systems in Connecticut (outside of Comcast's systems in New Haven, Danbury, and the Northwest Corner — all areas considered to have a sizable number of Mets fans) would not be adding SNY in 2006, if ever, for varying reasons not fully explained. This came to the anger of Mets fans who would need to switch to satellite to watch games due to all of the state being in the Mets' designated territory (thus, games would not be available through MLB Extra Innings, and most ESPN telecasts would be blacked-out). Comcast's purchase of Adelphia's systems in the state and Cox's skeptical eye towards RSN carriage in regards to fan loyalties (also done with YES and NESN in the past) also could be factors. In March 2008, Comcast systems in Plainville and Hartford added SNY to the expanded basic lineup.

Comcast does not offer SportSouth as part of its programming package in the Middle Tennessee area which has affected thousands of Atlanta Braves and college sports fans. Braves fans in the Nashville area are basically left in the dark due to Comcast's refusal to add the popular sports channel. However, the channel is offered as part of its programming package in the Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga area.

Comcast does not carry WGN-TV (which broadcasts Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox games nationally) in Miami-Dade County.

NFL Network

On November 10, 2006 Comcast announced it would add NFL Network on digital tiers in time for the eight-game Thursday- and Saturday-night package.[24] On August 6, 2007 Comcast moved NFL Network from the digital tiers to the Sports Entertainment Package. This led to a court battle between NFL Network and Comcast, with the ruling in favor of Comcast but the NFL Network plans to appeal the ruling[25]. Comcast has sent NFL Network a cease-and-desist letter to stop encouraging subscribers to leave Comcast.[26] Comcast's agreement with the NFL Network ends in mid-2009.[27] In February 26, 2008 an appellate court in New York has reversed field on a judgment made in May 2007 that allowed Comcast to move the network from its second most distributed tier to the company's sports tier. At the time a court date has not been set. Four judges at New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, ruled the language "concerning additional programming package was ambiguous and that neither party has established that its interpretation of the relevant contracts is a matter of law."[28]

NFL Network later filed a discrimination case against Comcast with the FCC, claiming that since Comcast doesn't charge extra for its owned and operated sports channels Versus and The Golf Channel, its unfair to charge extra for NFL Network. On October 10, 2008, the FCC ruled as follows:

"In the Second Report and Order, the Commission emphasized that the statute “does not explicitly prohibit multichannel distributors from acquiring a financial interest or exclusive rights that are otherwise permissible,” and thus, that “multichannel distributors [may] negotiate for, but not insist upon such benefits in exchange for carriage on their systems.” The Commission stated, however, that “ultimatums, intimidation, conduct that amounts to exertion of pressure beyond good faith negotiations, or behavior that is tantamount to an unreasonable refusal to deal with a vendor who refuses to grant financial interests or exclusivity rights for carriage, should be considered examples of behavior that violates the prohibitions set forth in Section 616.”We find that the NFL has presented sufficient evidence to make a prima facie showing that Comcast indirectly and improperly demanded a financial interest in the NFL’s programming in exchange for carriage. We further find that the pleadings and documentation present several factual disputes as to whether Comcast’s retiring of the NFL Network is the result of Comcast’s failure to obtain a financial interest in the NFL’s programming. Accordingly, we direct an Administrative Law Judge to hold a hearing, issue a recommended decision on the facts underlying the financial interest claim and a recommended remedy, if necessary, and then return the matter to the Commission within 60 days."[29][30]

FCC Program Access Complaint

Comcast's trial about the NFL Network's Program Access Complaint with the FCC, filed in May 2008, before an administrative law judge began on April 14, 2009. At issue is whether Comcast's placement of the NFL Network on a digital sports tier ("Sports Entertainment Package") represents discrimination prevented by the 1992 Cable Act.[31]

On April 17, 2009, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts testified that Comcast is willing to move the channel from the Sports Entertainment Package to a lower priced base package if the subscriber fee was reduced to 25 cents per month. NFL Network currently charges a 75 cents per month fee. He claimed that overall, Comcast saves $50 million a year in license fees by leaving the channel on its Sports Package, which in turn leads to savings for its customers.[32] On May 19, 2009 it was announced that a deal had been reached to move the channel to it's "Digital Classic" tier.[33]

ESPNU

Comcast is one of the nation's only television providers that does not carry ESPN's college sports channel ESPNU. However, carriage deal negotiations are ongoing. Finalization of the deal could mean it would be available in 7 million to 14 million of its customers' homes. ESPN is using its recent long term contract extension agreement with the Southeastern Conference as an incentive.[34]

On May 19, 2009 Comcast announced the addition of ESPNU to the "Digital Classic" tier as well as access to ESPN360.[35]

TechTV acquisition

On March 25, 2004, Comcast's G4 gaming channel announced a merger with TechTV. This move became hugely controversial among loyal fans of TechTV and Leo Laporte, who, because of a contract dispute with Vulcan, left the channel. Around May 6, G4 announced the termination of 250 employees from the San Francisco office by July 10, 2004, allowing approximately 80 to 100 employees to transition to G4's main office in Los Angeles, California if they agreed to relocate there.[4]

On May 10, 2004, G4 Media completed the acquisition of TechTV from Vulcan. G4techTV was launched in the U.S. and Canada on May 28, 2004. This led to the cancellation of many of the TechTV channels throughout carriers across the world. On January 3, 2005, TechTV International began airing select programs from G4techTV.

On February 15, 2005, the TechTV brand was dropped from the United States G4techTV feed, leaving the network name as G4 - Video Game Television; since then, G4 has gone through a rebranding into a male oriented network. For the time being, the Canadian feed has retained the G4techTV name due to a majority ownership and Canadian content regulations.

Reputation for poor customer satisfaction

There have been many reported incidents with individual customers describing less than satisfying interactions with Comcast's customer services. These include situations with a technician falling asleep on the job,[36] customers having to spend hours on the phone to fix simple problems, and sending a bill addressed to "Bitch Dog" to a customer who had recently complained about her service.[37] On October 15, 2007, a 75-year old Comcast customer named Mona Shaw entered her local Comcast offices with a hammer and destroyed some office equipment before being arrested and fined for damages. Mrs. Shaw was angry and frustrated due to a previous encounter with Comcast customer service in which she and her husband wanted to speak with the manager and were forced to wait outside the offices for two hours before being informed that the manager had already gone home.[38][39] Comcast's customer service quality has prompted several individuals to create blogs and websites dedicated to informing the public of Comcast's service, including one run by media columnist Bob Garfield.[40]

In 2004 and 2007, the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey found that Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service.[41] Comcast's Customer Service Rating by the ACSI surveys indicate that the company's customer service has not improved since the surveys began in 2001. Analysis of the surveys states that "Comcast is one of the lowest scoring companies in ACSI. As its customer satisfaction eroded by 7% over the past year, revenue increased by 12%." The ACSI analysis also addresses this contradiction, stating that "Such pricing power usually comes with some level of monopoly protection and most cable companies have little competition at the local level. This also means that a cable company can do well financially even though its customers are not particularly satisfied."[42][43]

Within the Cable Television needs assessment report for the city of Fort Collins, CO February 10, 2004[44] which was required for Comcast's franchise renewal the city's independent consultant found: "Approximately 62% of the respondents, though, were very dissatisfied (along with another 25% who were dissatisfied) with the cost of cable television service." "A majority of the respondents were satisfied with the friendliness and courtesy of customer service personnel. Overall, approximately 43% of the respondents rated the cable company's performance as fair, 30% regarded it as poor and another 30% rated the cable company's performance as good."

While Comcast does operate some of its own Customer Service Call centers it also outsources Customer Service and some technical support to Convergys Inc a third party call center company.

On October 1, 2008, J.D. Power and Associates published its annual customer satisfaction survey for the nation's top 10 largest cable and satellite television providers. Comcast scored in the bottom 5 for each region of the United States, including 10th in the East Region. [45]

HD Channel delays

In the summer of 2008, Comcast announced it would launch HD versions of the three channels it owns: E! Entertainment Television, The Style Network and G4 [46]. However, the HD versions were not launched on the date promised. These channels are currently now available in some Comcast markets such as Boston, MA.

Customer service after Hurricane Ike

Shortly after Hurricane Ike hit the Houston, Texas area customers received bills and later collection notices for unreturned equipment that was destroyed during the storm. One customer reported a $931 bill which included a $66 credit for interrupted phone service, but also included $1000 charge for not returning her rented DVR, Cable Modem, and other equipment. Comcast responses differed after the storm, some Customer Care agents told customers to file with their insurance, some agents told them to return their equipment even if it is ruined or moldy. While the majority of insurance companies will not reimburse for rented equipment, many customers are frustrated with large bills that they can not afford, or even care about after losing everything. [47]

Network neutrality

As early as late 2006, Comcast has implemented measures using Sandvine hardware which sends forged TCP RST (reset) packets, disrupting multiple protocols used by peer-to-peer file sharing networks.[48] This has prevented most Comcast users from uploading files.[49]

On August 17, 2007, TorrentFreak reported that Comcast has been preventing BitTorrent users from seeding files.[49] In October 2007, the Associated Press confirmed the story that indicates that Comcast "actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally."[50] In November 2007, Comcast's severe limiting of torrent applications was again confirmed by a study conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in which public domain literature is distributed over peer-to-peer networks. Analysis of the EFF study finds "strong evidence that Comcast is using packet-forging to disrupt peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on their network".[51] The studies show that Comcast effectively prevents distribution of files over peer-to-peer networks by sending a RST packet under the guise of the end user, and denying the connection, which effectively blocks the user from seeding over BitTorrent. Legal controversy arises because instead of simple filtering, Comcast is sending RST packets to Comcast customers, pretending to be the host user at the other end of the BitTorrent connection.[52] Comcast's BitTorrent throttling was revealed to be through a partnership with Sandvine, although Comcast's internal memos instruct employees to respond to the contrary.[53][54]

There is also evidence of Comcast using RST packets on groupware applications that have nothing to do with file sharing. Kevin Kanarski, who works as a Lotus Notes messaging engineer, noticed some strange behavior with Lotus Notes dropping emails when hooked up to a Comcast connection and has managed to verify that Comcast's reset packets are the culprit.[55] A lawsuit, Hart v. Comcast, has been filed accusing Comcast of false advertising and other unfair trade practices for allegedly advertising unlimited high-speed Internet access while in reality working to restrict their customers' usage of the Internet.[56]

In 2007, Comcast customers reported a sporadic inability to use Google, because forged RST packets are interfering with HTTP access to google.com,[57] which has further angered users.[58]

In January 2008, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated that the FCC is going to investigate complaints that Comcast "actively interferes with Internet traffic as its subscribers try to share files online".[59] During a February 2008 FCC hearing in Boston, Comcast admitted they paid people to hold seats. The company claimed it was so staffers could attend later, but opponents claimed it was to keep Comcast opponents from attending.[60] The FCC has stated it expects to rule on the issue by June 30, 2008.[61]

Comcast and BitTorrent Inc. agreed in late March 2008 to work together in a collaborative effort that will leave the network provider to reconfigure its network to manage traffic in a more protocol-agnostic way.[62] Implementation was projected for late 2008.

Prior to implementation of Comcast's apparent agreements with BitTorrent, Inc., Comcast is reported to be continuing to limit bandwidth available to peer to peer applications. In April 2008, Comcast proposed a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" to address potential copyright infringement by users of peer to peer applications,[63] but some scholars argue that this is a veiled attempt by Comcast to strengthen its traffic management capability rather than fight copyright infringement.[64]

On August 21, 2008 the FCC issued an order which stated that Comcast's network management was unreasonable and that Comcast must terminate the use of its discriminatory network management by the end of the year. (File no: EB-08-IH-1518). On January 18, 2009, after reconfiguring their traffic management regime, Comcast was asked by the FCC to address their alleged throttling of VoIP customers.[65]

Lobbying efforts

Analysis indicates that Comcast spends millions of dollars annually on government relationships.[66][67] Regularly Comcast employs the spouses, sons and daughters of influential mayors, councilmen, commissioners, and other officials to assure its continued preferred market allocations.[68][69][70][71]

Comcast occasionally lobbies against "À la carte" bills that would give consumers the option to purchase individual channels rather than a broad tier of programming. Although they claim the reason for this is to keep customer costs lower,[72] these issues continue to garner attention from state governments, the United States Congress and former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Martin.[73]

HDTV claim and quality

Comcast has started transmitting three HD channels per Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) carrier, rather than two per QAM like some other video service providers. Though more cost effective and many consumers don't notice the difference, this additional compression has been noticed and measured by videophiles as a reduction in the quality of broadcasts.[74] Comcast claims to have more HD choices than DIRECTV by including Comcast's On Demand and Pay-per-view assets. Each HD On Demand program is counted as an HD "choice" by Comcast. [75]


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