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Federal Signal’s sirens Jon Haber’s “ commentary” about the Rago v. Federal Signal hearing-loss litigation makes unsupported allegations and baseless comparisons, ignores established facts and is surprisingly hypocritical. Haber’s comparison of Federal Signal’s sirens, which are essential public safety products, to cigarettes or a disastrous oil spill is simply absurd. State laws and industry standards require fire vehicles to use loud sirens, and Federal Signal sirens meet all such laws and standards. The plaintiffs themselves have uniformly testified that Federal Signal’s sirens are essential warning devices on emergency vehicles for themselves and public, and that they would not want to ride on a fire truck without a siren. Despite the plaintiffs’ lawyer’s allegations, the Chicago Fire Department and fire departments across the country continue to specify and purchase the same Federal Signal sirens today. Haber declares that Federal Signal is “negligent” and treats as proven that firefighters have suffered hearing loss from sirens, but no judge or jury has made any such finding in these cases. After more than eight years of litigation, the plaintiffs’ counsel has yet to produce an expert to testify that his clients have been injured by Federal Signal’s sirens. The board-certified physician initially named as plaintiffs’ medical causation expert testified exactly to the contrary that he had reached no such conclusion. Moreover, this expert excluded occupational exposure to sirens as a cause for a number of plaintiffs, and admitted that he told plaintiffs’ counsel these facts at the beginning of this litigation. Is bringing a claim that one’s own expert says is baseless an acceptable plaintiffs’ lawyer tactic? Finally, Haber misrepresents the court’s order and the evidence. The court made no finding that Federal Signal “manipulate[d] science,” misrepresented Dr. Clark’s role as a retained expert in this litigation, or “hid” its involvement in the Clark study. Instead, the court imposed discovery sanctions due to the failure by one of the company’s outside counsel to locate and timely produce certain electronic documents in his firm’s computer files. Most important, Haber fails to mention that despite being allowed many months of discovery, plaintiffs’ counsel has been unable to challenge or refute the scientific validity of Dr. Clark’s peer-reviewed analysis. All of which leads to some interesting questions. Who provided Haber with his alleged facts, or perhaps even helped write his commentary? Does he have a bias? He is CEO of the “American Association for Justice,” the new name for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), the largest organization of plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers in the country. Haber does not disclose that the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the hearing-loss litigation is the leader of an ATLA litigation group, and uses ATLA to encourage other lawyers around the country to recruit additional plaintiffs. Perhaps he should have disclosed his own conflict of interest. Jennifer L. Sherman Oak Brook, Ill. Vice president, general counsel and secretary of Federal Signal Corp. Wrongful convictions Re “ Wrongful Convictions: Reform is Critical” by John F. Terzano. The states must indeed be diligent in ensuring that people are protected from wrongful convictions. Even where an overhaul of long-standing procedures is needed, reforms would be worth the effort and resources when the stakes for individuals are so high. Thus it is heartening that guidelines and best practices for eyewitness line-up procedures are working in New Jersey, North Carolina and Wisconsin; that hundreds of departments across the country have independently adopted procedures to eliminate false confessions; and that several states are moving to broaden their discovery laws. Such bills should be key priorities. It is also well worth pressing for lawyers’ ethical codes to be treated seriously, from law school courses all the way through a lawyer’s career. The responsibility of lawyers on both sides to ensure justice cannot be overstated. Lee Hall Devon, Pa. The Second Amendment As I read Joseph Becker’s opinion piece, “ The Second Amendment: Bearing Arms (Again)“, his central thesis as to proper interpretation of the Second Amendment is that the “militia” has become the National Guard, and it is to members of the National Guard that the amendment applies. This assertion, that the militia is now the National Guard, is made without any support or sources. It is also entirely incorrect, based on the current U.S. Code. Title 10, Chapter 13, Section 311 (current U.S. Code) defines the militia in this way: “The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.” This definition has changed little from the original militia act in 1792, other than to expand it, and quite clearly does not limit the militia to the National Guard. Bill McKinnon Columbia, S.C.

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