On August 21, 2017, the United States will experience the first coast to coast total solar eclipse in 99 years. It is estimated that 1.85 million to 7.4 million people will travel to locations in “the path of totality.” Although New York is not in “the path of totality,” people in New York will be able to view a partial eclipse. This rare and exciting event, however, comes with the potential danger of eye injuries including temporary or permanent blindness. It is important that you do not view the eclipse with the naked eye and that you use a solar viewer or eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2. The American Astrological Society has compiled a list of eclipse glasses and solar viewers that meet this standard:


While dogs can be wonderful companions, they can also be dangerous animals. Dog bites occur can occur when you least expect it since dogs can only communicate through their actions. When dogs are provoked, feel threatened, scared or stressed they may lash out at a person and bite. Dogs’ jaws are very strong and the force of a bite can result in a serious injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occurred in 2016 with 900,000 of those cases resulting in an infection. It’s important to protect your family and take action should it happen to someone you love.

The first thing you should do after a dog bite is seek medical attention to decrease your chances of infection. Though extremely rare, fatalities resulting from dog bites do occur.

Second, consult an attorney to determine whether you have a legal claim and what damages you may be able to recover. It is important that you collect the name and phone number of the dog’s owner and the name and phone number of any witnesses.

The State of New York does not have a “dog bite statute.” Instead, common law or prior cases, govern liability in dog bite cases. Common law permits recovery of damages on a strict liability basis if it can be shown that the dog has “vicious propensities,” for example, has a history of biting people with the owner’s knowledge. “Vicious propensities” has been defined as the propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of people and other people’s property. The New York Court of Appeals has made it clear that a history of biting people is only one type of evidence to show a dog’s dangerous propensities. See Collier v. Zambito, 1 NY3d 444 (2004). Other evidence includes a dog’s tendency to growl, snap, bare its teeth and a propensity to act in a way that puts others at a risk of harm. Where it cannot be shown that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious propensities, the plaintiff will have to prove that the owner was negligent in some way.

There are cases where dog owners are not liable for the attack. In this instance, the owner would have to take measures to keep the dog away from others as well as warn others that the dog was dangerous. If the person who got bitten was aware of all this, but failed to mitigate their risk, the owner might not be liable.

Since there is no “dog bite statute” and many exceptions to each situation, it is important to consult an experienced attorney to handle such a case. Spiegel, Brown and Fichera has been fighting for dog bite victims in the Hudson Valley for over 40 years.

New York Archdiocese and the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program


unnamedIf you or someone you know has been the victim of child sex abuse by a member of the Catholic clergy, it is important that you know that the New York Archdiocese has implemented a program called the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) to investigate and evaluate claims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests which cannot be brought in the courts because of the lapse of time.  Typically, these claims occurred during the childhood of persons who are now adults who still bear the lifelong shame and psychological harm of this traumatic abuse.

Donald D. Brown, Esq., senior partner in the firm of Spiegel Brown & Fichera, LLP with offices in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Manhattan, has been prosecuting claims on behalf of clergy abuse victims for the past 15 years and has obtained one of the highest reported award under the IRC Program of the Archdiocese of New York.  He has been recognized by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America for his pro bono representation of survivor’s families in the September 11th Victim’s Compensation Fund, as well.

Mr. Brown is a graduate of the St. John’s University School of Law and Marist College, as well as the Catholic school system in the City of New York and Long Island.  He has established a policy of accepting these abuse cases on a reduced contingency fee basis.

Perhaps one of the most critical factors is that Mr. Brown and the firm of Spiegel Brown & Fichera, LLP have a total commitment to ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY and extend complete assurances of same from your first phone call through every stage of the proceeding.  All of your questions will be answered and there is no charge or legal fee, unless or until we obtain an award for you.

The deadline for the submission of claims to the Archdiocese of New York’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program has recently been extended to November 1, 2017.  The process is open to all claims of sexual abuse, past or present, against any priest in the Archdiocese of New York[1] whether previously reported or not.  It is critical, however, that evidence be accumulated and that the claims be documented.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of clergy abuse, please do not hesitate to call Donald D. Brown, Esq., at (845) 452-7400 for a completely confidential consultation in one of our conveniently located offices.

The Archdiocese of New York includes Manhattan, Staten Island, The Bronx and the seven upstate counties of Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Putnam, Ulster and Sullivan.  In addition, the Diocese of Brooklyn, announced just recently that it is establishing a similar compensation program for sex abuse victims of at least 54 priests in the Boroughs of  Brooklyn and Queens who have abused at least 280 different victims, already known, dating back as far as the 1930s.



Social media has become a huge part of many people’s day to day lives. As people become more and more comfortable with sharing their lives online, the laws have had to adapt. There can be legal ramifications for what people post online, like in cases of cyber bullying and harassment. Although trivial, it might be wise to take a break from all your social media sites if you are in the middle of an ongoing personal injury case.

Here’s why:

Attorneys can use Discovery to gain access to your account If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case, defense attorneys look for evidence to suggest your claim is an exaggeration of your injuries or the extent of its effect on your life. In a personal injury case, attorneys are entitled to discovery. “Discoverable” information is that which is “material and necessary” and “reasonably calculated” to lead to relevant information. For example, if you claim your injury has impacted your ability to walk but there are pictures of you walking around enjoying your weekend with friends, this could be used against you. If these pictures are public, the court may decide that it can be inferred that private information may contain material that contradicts or conflicts your claims or injuries and order disclosure of the private information.

Even if your account is “private”, you can still be at risk Due to the fact that defense attorneys may be able to use Discovery to obtain access to material that refutes your claim, your private settings won’t protect you.

Don’t tweet about the defendant Though you may feel upset with the person who you feel caused your injuries, negative posts you write about them can be used in court as well. However justified in your anger you may be, the defense attorneys can portray you as being someone who is exaggerating and simply out to get money.

Posting about your injuries and activities can backfire When you write about your injuries and your daily activities on social media, your description may be different than the official claims made in court. If your claim on Facebook is inconsistent than the doctor’s claim testifying for the case, the defense could find this to be a falsehood. In summary, don’t even tweet about your injuries or daily activities. Posts on your social media can decrease the value of your argument in the court.


The New York legislature has passed legislation that would make Supplemental Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (SUM) coverage automatic in New York motor vehicle insurance policies. If the bill is signed by Governor Cuomo, insurance policies written after that date will provide SUM coverage in an amount equal to the bodily injury limits unless the insured signs a waiver.

SUM coverage protects drivers or passengers (and the spouse of a named insured) who are injured by the negligence of someone else who is either uninsured or underinsured. When the other driver is uninsured, SUM coverage will provide you with up to $25,000 (or more if you purchased additional coverage) for your accident-related injuries. Underinsured coverage comes into play when the value of your injuries exceeds the bodily injury policy limits of the negligent driver’s vehicle. In that case SUM coverage will permit you to recover up to the policy limits of your SUM coverage less the amount of the bodily injury policy limits of the negligent driver.

Time limits apply to making a SUM claim so if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident you should promptly contact a knowledgeable attorney such as the attorneys of Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP to find out if SUM coverage may apply to you.