Category Archives: Civil Litigation

Fight against distracted driving gains international momentum

by Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

Last week, the fight against distracted driving went global. Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, announced that she is co-sponsoring a “comprehensive resolution on road safety” in the United Nations General Assembly. “More than one million people die every year in motor accidents, most of them caused by driver behavior, like texting,” Power said, in a statement. “Too many drivers simply don’t understand the danger of taking their eyes, even briefly, from the road. And while drinking is episodic, the use of hand-held devices is chronic. No one should die — or kill — because of a text message.”

In 2012, a total of 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in the U.S; and 421,000 were injured, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research has shown that distracted drivers are about four times more likely to be involved in a crash, and drivers who are texting are especially dangerous — more than 20 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers.

Yet, at any given moment in the U.S., approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Internationally, six out of seven people throughout the world have access to cell phone and more than a billion cars are on the road, according to Power.

Her U.N. resolution would encourage member states to consider legislation to restrict the use of mobile devices while driving, and tighten enforcement in places where legislation is already in place.

This effort to combat distracted driving aligns with the goals of the U.N. Decade of Action for Road Safety, for the years 2011-2020. The aim is to reduce global traffic fatalities by 2020. Currently, they are expected to rise to 1.9 million per year by 2020, in part because of the anticipated rise in distracted driving crashes.

In the U.S., 43 states (including Connecticut) and the District of Columbia have enacted bans on texting while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas do not have such legislation.

As reported in an earlier blog, a new Connecticut state law just went into effect imposing harsher fines on those who use their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. The fines now range from $150 for a first offense to $300 for a second infraction, and $500 for a third. Prior to this bill, distracted driving penalties ranged from $125 to $400.

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.

Who are the Supreme Court’s Justices and how do they typically vote?

 By Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

 The Conservative Wing

Chief Justice John Roberts was born on January 27, 1955. He was named to the Court by President George W. Bush and took his seat in 2005. Roberts is known for his conservative judicial philosophy.

He was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1955, and grew up in Long Beach, Indiana. Roberts attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School. (see more detailed information about Roberts in preceding blog)

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was born on March 11, 1936. He was appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan and took his seat in 1986. He is known as an arch-conservative, and he is the Supreme Court’s first Italian-American Justice.

Scalia is from Trenton, New Jersey, and attended Georgetown  University and Harvard Law School. He served in both the Nixon and Ford administrations, in a variety of positions, including assistant attorney general. Scalia has also been a professor of law at the University of Virginia, Stanford, Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948. He was appointed to the Court by President George H.W. Bush and took his seat in 1991. He is generally viewed as the most consistently conservative member of the Court. He is the second African American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, following Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Thomas is from the Pin Point community of Georgia near Savannah, and graduated from Holy Cross College, then Yale Law School. He was served as Assistant Attorney General of Missouri and as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, and as Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Associate Justice Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. was born on April 1, 1950. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush and took his seat in 2006. He is considered one of the most conservative justices on the Court.

Alito is from Hamilton Township, New Jersey, and attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. He is the Court’s second Italian-American Justice, after Scalia.

Alito served as Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey; Assistant to the Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice; and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice.

 The Liberal Wing

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933. She was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and took her seat in 1993. She is seen as a staunch member of the Court’s liberal wing. Ginsburg is the Court’s second female Justice, after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the first Jewish Justice.
She is from Brooklyn, New York, and attended Cornell University, Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School. Ginsburg has served as a law professor at Rutgers and Columbia Law School, and helped launch the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was also a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer was born on August 15, 1938. He was named to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and took his seat in 1994. He is generally affiliated with the more liberal bloc of the Court.

He is from San Francisco and attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He served as a professor at Harvard Law School and wrote several textbooks that are still widely used. Breyer was also a special assistant to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, and Assistant Special Prosecutor during the Watergate investigation in 1973. Like Ginsburg, he was also a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was born on June 25, 1954. She was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama and took her seat in 2009. She is the first Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is seen as a member of the Court’s liberal bloc.

She is from Bronx, New York, and attended Princeton University and Yale Law School.  She served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, and as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, and as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Sotomayor was also known for her pro bono work at agencies such as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Associate Justice, Elena Kagan was born on April 28, 1960. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and took her seat in 2010. She is viewed as a part of the Court’s liberal voting bloc.

Kagan is from New York City, and attended Princeton University and Harvard law School. She served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and also as Associate White House Counsel, and later as policy adviser, under President Bill Clinton. She was also a professor at Harvard Law School and its first female dean.

Kagan also served as Solicitor General under President Obama.

The Swing Voter

 Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was born on July 23, 1936. He was named to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan and took his seat in 1988. Although his political leanings fall on the conservative side of the spectrum, he frequently serves as the tie breaker and swing voter in many of the Court’s 5-4 cases, taking up the legacy of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.


He is from Sacramento, California, and attended Stanford University, the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School. Kennedy has served as Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law, and as a member of the board of the Federal Judicial Center, and on two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the Advisory Panel on Financial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities, and the Committee on Pacific Territories, which he chaired from 1982–1990.

Kennedy was also a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975.

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.

Behind the regal red curtain: A look at the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts

by Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

They have the power to directly impact our lives and even change the course of history, but what do we know about the Supreme Court justices, especially in comparison to other public officials? The Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices have typically kept a low profile behind their famous red curtain, despite the immense role they play in our democracy, affecting everything from health care to presidential elections.

Some examples of landmark decisions are: in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark ruling which declared that state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, marking the beginning of a new era; in the 1964 libel case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruled that public figures must prove “actual malice on the part of a writer,” expanding protections for the press; and in the 1966 case of Miranda v Arizona, the Supreme Court gave us Miranda warnings as standard features of arrest procedures, based on the 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Let’s take a look behind the curtain at the Justices who make these important decisions, starting with the Chief Justice, John Roberts.

The 59-year old Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1955, and grew up in Long Beach, Indiana, with his father, a steel company executive; his mother, a homemaker; and his three sisters. Roberts attended La Lumiere High School in LaPorte, Indiana, then an all-boys parochial boarding school. Here Roberts was both valedictorian and captain of the football team. He went on to Harvard, where he majored in history, and graduated summa cum laude after only three years. Roberts attended Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law review, and graduated magna cum laude.

During his early legal career, he served as a clerk for Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist, a conservative Justice appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. Roberts also worked as both an associate and a partner at the international D.C. law firm, Hogan and Hartson, now Hogan Lovells. In 1996, at 41, Roberts married fellow lawyer Jane Sullivan, and the couple has adopted two children.

Roberts assisted George W. Bush’s legal team in the contested 2000 presidential election, (later decided by a Supreme Court decision) traveling to

Florida for the endeavor. The following year, President George W. Bush nominated Roberts as a D.C. Circuit court judge

Two years later, Roberts became the youngest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court since John Marshall in 1801.

Perhaps his most well-known decisions came in recent years, starting in 2010, when Roberts concurred with the majority of the justices in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruling that the government may not restrict or ban corporate spending for political candidates because corporations have the same rights as average citizens engaging in political speech.

In 2012, Roberts made headlines again, when he sided with the four liberal-leaning justices to uphold a mandate in President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which allowed important pieces of the law to stay intact.

In a recent interview with the Atlantic Monthly, Roberts has said his goals for the Supreme Court are greater consensus and political neutrality. Will he achieve these goals?

Famous quote: On his admiration for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist: Hush Puppies and Buddy Holly Glasses: “He was friendly and unpretentious. He wore scuffed Hush Puppy shoes. That was my first lesson. Clothes do not make the man. The Justice sported long sideburns and Buddy Holly glasses long after they were fashionable. And he wore loud ties that I am confident were never fashionable.”

Next: who are the Court’s Associate Justices?

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.

 

 

Toward a Civil Divorce: Peaceable ways to untie the knot

 

By Attorney Elyssa Williams and Joan Lownds

The statistics are stark: the divorce rate for first marriages is around 50%; for second marriages, 60%; and for third marriages, 73%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For couples over 65, the divorce rate has more than doubled since 1980.

The break-up of a marriage is always difficult, but there are ways to avoid an acrimonious and bitter divorce that leaves a family emotionally and financially drained. These are mediation and collaborative law, both of which avoid the lengthy and costly Connecticut court system. Also, couples maintain their privacy, which is not possible during a litigated divorce. These civil approaches have been gaining popularity recently, because of their many  advantages, both economic and psychological.

In mediation, a trained mediator acts as a neutral third party between the divorcing couple and helps them find the most equitable solutions for ending their marriage. The emphasis is on maintaining civil communication and crafting an agreement that is fair to everyone, including any children involved. The mediation process is not a battle or a fight, but a much more dignified process in which both sides work together as a team to create a tailored divorce agreement—which they would not be able to obtain in the traditional court setting.

Divorce mediation usually takes between two and ten meetings, and the mediator will write the negotiated Separation Agreement, including the financial agreements and child support guidelines based on Connecticut state law. The couple then brings this document to the Court and their Separation Agreement is officially made an enforceable Court Order.

Another non-combative approach to divorce is collaborative law, a new form of dispute resolution that has become increasingly appealing to divorcing couples in Connecticut. During this process, both parties hire attorneys, and the first step is to pledge is not to go to court. Like mediation, there is also a commitment to cultivate cooperative and respectful four-way meetings, toward the goal of achieving a just divorce. In another similarity to mediation, the emphasis is on a team and — not adversarial  — style.

Both mediation and collaborative law are also based on agreements to provide full and honest disclosure of financial assets. According to the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, one of the key responsibilities of a collaborative divorce lawyer is to “give full, honest and open disclosure of all relevant information to resolve the issues whether requested or not.” The emphasis is on cooperation, and this entails providing all necessary discovery and disclosure—unlike a typical divorce, when parties may attempt to hide their money or play around with their finances.

In collaborative law, both parties must sign a binding agreement to disclose all financial documents and information.  In fact, both parties in collaborative law use joint accountants and appraisers—as opposed to bringing in adversarial experts.

This can be very beneficial when one of the parties holds a high level position at a large corporation, or when there is a party who has an interest in a closely held corporation. Oftentimes in a divorce there may be numerous depositions or subpoenas of third parties at the companies, but a collaborative divorce can avoid that.  Therefore, collaborative divorce is an especially attractive option for high net worth couples.

Both mediation and collaborative law can help lessen the financial and emotional tolls of divorce because the couple does not view each other as enemies, but more like business associates. Counselors report spikes in anxiety and depression during divorces with messy, extended court battles. The process of divorce is inevitably challenging, but far less traumatic with more civilized, honest and dignified approaches.

 

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such. 

What do the new state laws mean for residents—from tougher gun restrictions, a hike in the minimum wage, stiffer penalties for distracted driving and the “flying ice ban?”

by Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

Several new state laws are now in effect, ranging from a hike in the minimum wage to harsher penalties for those who text or talk on their cell phones while driving. Another new state ordinance is known as the “flying ice ban,” targeting drivers who don’t remove snow and ice from the hoods and roofs of their cars and drive around like igloos on wheels. The legislature also enacted a sweeping new gun law. What exactly do these new laws mean for state residents, and what are the penalties for not abiding by them?

A significant new statute which took effect in January is one hiking the state’s minimum wage with a two-year plan. The bill brought Connecticut’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $8.70 this year, and will further increase it to $9 in January, 2015.

State lawmakers also passed a bill imposing harsher fines on those who use their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. The fines now range from $150 for a first offense to $300 for a second infraction, and $500 for a third. Prior to this bill, distracted driving penalties ranged from $125 to $400.

Also now in effect is a new state law which is designed to protect motorists from missiles of ice and snow that fly off the hoods of cars and trucks when drivers fail to remove it. The law requires drivers to clear off their vehicles so that the ice and snow “does not pose a threat” to fellow drivers or their property.  Failure to comply with this law will result in a fines starting at $75, and if the snow or ice careening from vehicles results in injury or property damage, drivers of non-commercial vehicles can be fined $200 to $1,000. The penalties for commercial drivers are $500 to $1,250.

Finally, the main parts of a tough new gun law went into effect on Jan. 1. The bill was passed after the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and was signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy on April 4, 2013.

One of the most important features is the expansion of the assault weapons ban already in effect, with the banning more than 100 additional types of guns. This list includes the Bushmaster AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle that was used by the Sandy Hook gunman. If you already have one of these weapons, you may keep it, but must now comply with stricter registration procedures.

Another key point of the bill is the banning of high-capacity magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds. Once again, those who already own the large scale clips may keep them, but they must now be registered. Also, the big clips may only be used in a private home or shooting range.

Additionally, every sale of a gun or bullets in the state now requires the buyer to pass a national criminal background check. This includes the private sale or transfer of long guns, or rifles and shotguns, which was previously not regulated.

Failure to register the guns and high capacity magazines will result in harsh penalties. Owning one of the banned guns without registering it could result in charges ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D penalty. Possessing a magazine with more than 10 clips without the proper registration will bring penalties in the range of a $90 fine to a Class D felony.

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.

 

New England’s first Immigrant Investor Program Center finds a home in Connecticut, with bold plans to boost jobs and the local economy

by Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

New England’s first EB-5 visa center, which works with federal authorities to offer green cards in exchange for capital investments by immigrants, recently opened its doors in Connecticut. Two real estate investors, Zhifeng “Jack” Yang, and his business partner, Scott Garrett, launched the office in Shelton in September. They aim to help fund a range of job-creating and economic development enterprises throughout Connecticut, along with the New York and Boston area.

The new Shelton center is part of a federal program designed to reinvigorate the American economy while allowing immigrant investors to obtain U.S. residency.

The two goals are perfectly aligned because the program taps into the strong work ethic of immigrants, and their determination to create their own economic successes, and not rely on public benefits when they arrive in the U.S.

In fact, research validates the resourcefulness and innovativeness of immigrants, who are twice as likely to start a business as other Americans, according to The Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that provides grants in the fields of entrepreneurship and education.

The Immigrant Investor Program, or EB-5, was created by Congress in 1990 “to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors,” according to the program’s Web site. It is operated under the auspices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Basically, the program allows foreign investors to obtain a green card and a path to citizenship when they invest in a U.S. enterprise that creates at least 10 new jobs.  If an investor chooses to invest $1 million or more, the investment can be deployed anywhere, according to the USCIS. But if the investor’s sum is the minimum of $500,000, this must be conveyed to a rural area or a region that has an unemployment rate 150 percent above the national average. In Connecticut, Hartford, East Hartford, Bridgeport, New Britain, New London, Plainfield, Waterbury and Windham all fit this stipulation.

So far, the program has injected a total of $6.8 billion into the U.S. economy.  Investors come from across the globe–including South Korea, Great Britain, Canada– but the majority is from China, according to Association to Invest in USA (IIUSA). In fact, demand for the program has been surging lately because of the increase in Chinese investors, who accounted for 70% of the approximately 3,500 visas issued last year.

Based on these numbers, State Department officials expect the program’s quota of 10,000 visas per year to be filled for the first time within the next year or two.

The EB-5 program has already begun to provide a much-needed boost to the American economy, and the impact is expected to increase exponentially.  When the program meets its quota of 10,000 visas, it will add more than $4.4 billion to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and create or preserve approximately 75,000 jobs annually, according to a 2010 report by the consulting firm ICF International.

The new center in Connecticut is one of 400 nationwide, and the investment projects have included acquiring land; renovating, buying and managing industrial properties; harvesting export crops; urban development enterprises including hotel investments; providing bridge loans to organizations for renovations; building a ski resort in Vermont; high tech startups; and several others.

Imagine what would happen if this program evolves into a one-two punch with immigration reform, which will increase economic growth by 4.8 percent, lower the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion, bolster the demand for housing, expand the size of the labor force, offset the aging of the native-born workforce, and raise wages over the long-tem, according to a November 1 post from the Bipartisan Policy Center and Macroeconomic Advisers.

The economic imperative for enacting an immigration overhaul is clear. In this same vein, the EB-5 program illustrates the value in maintaining our welcome to immigrants who are among the brightest and most innovative individuals in the world, and will help us compete in the global arena. Like the immigrants who came before them and built our nation, they inspire with their bold dreams and enterprising spirits—the bright new tiles that fit perfectly within the other pieces of the American mosaic.

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.

Time for our humanity to catch up with high tech bullying: State laws, old solutions are not enough

by Attorney Glenn Formica and Joan Lownds

The relentless bullying of a learning disabled student at a Fairfield Middle School culminated with her tormentors slamming her head against a locker, punching her in the nose, and leaving her lying on the floor, trembling in a pool of her own blood. Her parents were meeting with teachers that day, and this is how they found their child.

The victim, who continues to suffer extreme physical and extreme psychological trauma, is now in a specialized therapeutic educational facility for PTSD acute stress disorder. For this girl, life had become a war zone, and she had no armor with which to protect herself.

Sadly, she is not alone. One in four kids is bullied in school, and one in two kids outside of school, through cyberbullying, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.  This adds up to an estimated 13 million American children who are teased, taunted and physically assaulted by their peers each year. About 160,000 American children miss school every day because of fear of bullying.

Along with the staggering numbers, the nature of today’s bullying has become so virulent that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled it a “major public health problem.” Victims suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, isolation, academic problems, immune system illnesses, post-traumatic stress, and in extreme circumstances, suicide. In fact, suicide has become so prevalent with the new brand of bullying that a term has been coined to encompass the meaning: bullycide. Some high profile bullycides were Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who jumped off the George Washington bridge; or Phoebe Prince, the teen who hung herself in South Hadley, Mass.

Another bullycide was the case of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12-year-old Florida girl who was repeatedly urged to kill herself by her classmates, according to her mother. “Drink bleach and die,” and “Go jump off a building,” were some of the taunts she received.

These horrific bullycides are not isolated incidents. In fact, every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.

Bullying may include making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, or more insidious behavior like pointedly ostracizing a classmate. But today’s bullying doesn’t stop in school, as it once did, when home was a sanctuary from the schoolyard bully. With the rise of social media and the Internet, bullying can now happen anywhere, anytime – through texts, chat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites.  Online bullying has become rampant, where bullies can hide behind a screen of anonymity, spreading rumors with fake names, posting covertly on social media sites, or sending embarrassing pictures and hurtful messages from unidentified e-mail addresses.

The cryptic nature of cyberbullying allows messages and photos to be distributed quickly to a wide audience, and these can be very difficult to delete once they are online.

Cyberbullying has become so severe that the FBI issued a report warning law enforcement agencies across the U.S. that “the growth of cell phones and Internet usage among teens has altered youth social and conduct norms…Cyberbullying is one of the most significant new issues law enforcement has to address. Anecdotal and research-based accounts from police across the nation depicted a lack of clear guidance, training, and support. This is unfortunate because bullying is an age-old problem with recent forms often relying on technological devices and mediums.”

In other words, the age-old scourge of bullying is now equipped with powerful, new technological weapons. Today’s bullying is relentless and all-pervasive in a way that was unimaginable to previous generations. We can no long view bullying as a rite of passage, or “kids being kids.” This is folklore from the past. The old “sticks and stones” advice about just ignoring bullying is about as effective as a pea shooter in a tomahawk cruise missile air strike.

Not just law enforcement, but schools, parents and community groups need more training and support to address the problem.

State laws are not enough. Every state except Montana has enacted bully-prevention legislation. They are not working. The brutal numbers are climbing every year, with more and more children reporting bullying. A tough anti-bullying Connecticut state law was on the books when the Fairfield middle schooler was mercilessly bullied until she collapsed into a pool of her own blood.

When asked how to stop bullying, 73% of students say the best way is to step in when it is happening.  Obviously, this is still theoretical, but it is the only way to fight back.

It is time to enact this strategy and break the code of silence that surrounds and enables bullying—time for everyone involved, including bystanders, to report it and speak out about the cruelty until we start to drown it out. Children are our most vulnerable population and they are our collective responsibility. After Tyler Clementi’s bullycide, his family established the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which is dedicated to the prevention of bullying in his name.  One of the foundation’s main themes is to turn bystanders into “upstanders,” who take a pledge to treat other people “with respect and kindness, refrain from using derogatory language, and get involved and speak out when we see people harming others,” said James Clementi, Tyler’s brother, at the Foundation’s Website.

We must tip the balance of peer pressure against bullying, and not giving it tacit, unspoken support. Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” It is time for our humanity to catch up with our technology, and begin to reverse the toll this noxious wave is taking on our children.

Let’s start with more grassroots miracles like one that recently took place in Bridgewater, Mass. The fifth graders on the Bridgewater Badgers football team discovered that their six-year-old water boy, Danny Keefe, was being bullied for a speech impediment caused by a severe brain hemorrhage shortly after his birth. The dapper kindergartener wears a jacket, tie and fedora to school every day, and he was also being teased about his clothes.

His mother, Jennifer Keefe, said the bullies would taunt Danny by saying, “Just talk. Just talk.  Why don’t you talk?” or by taking his hat off and throwing mulch in his hair.

The Bridgewater Badgers refused to stand by while the kindergartener was being treated so heartlessly. They declared “Danny Appreciation Day” on Nov. 20, and all 45 football players dressed in suits and ties to show their support of Danny.

“We heard that Danny was getting picked on, so we thought that we would all have a day to dress up like Danny,” Tommy Cooney, the Badgers’ quarterback, told WCVB News, while choking back tears. “We thought we would all come to school like Danny and sponsor Danny to show Danny that we love him – that we love him very much.”

 The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.