Georgia Injury Lawyer Blog

Georgia Employment, Education, Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Williams Oinonen LLC helps protect the rights of our clients who have been injured or harmed due to a wrong or injustice. We specialize in employment law, education, business disputes, injury & wrongful death. We fight to protect our clients' best interests and help them obtain the justice they deserve. Williams Oinonen LLC cares about each of our clients. The respect and aggressive advocacy we provide reflects the commitment we bring to winning their case.

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Richard Belcher, chief investigative reporter for WSBTV featured our client Ms. Millini Matheny and her courageous whistleblower activity. After Ms. Matheny reporting illegal activity within DeKalb County Schools she was subsequently terminated in retaliation.

See below for a copy of her legal pleadings filed:

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International musicians and entertainers Elton John and Michael Stipe have released a joint statement in support of our client Zahara Green (featured in the above photograph), in addition to all transgender prisoners in the state of Georgia, following harrowing reports about the way inmates have been treated there. “Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, yet they continue to face horrific injustices,” the duo wrote.

In it, they reference Ms. Zahara Green, our client whose story gained national spotlight when Buzzfeed reported that she – an inmate at a Georgia prison for men – had requested protection after being allegedly sexually assaulted but was then moved to a cell with the man she claimed had raped her.

An article in Rolling Stone magazine featured their statement which continues:

“The experiences of Ashley Diamond and Zahara Green cast a harsh light on the brutality, torture and horrible conditions inside Georgia prisons today,” John and Stipe wrote. “They are emblematic of the continued discrimination experienced by transgender inmates – who are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated.” They go on to say that most sexual assaults are not reported, because, they claim, members of the prison staff are often the perpetrators.

“This is outrageous, and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned,” the musicians wrote. “We applaud the U.S. Department of Justice for supporting Ashley Diamond and the trans community in arguing that Georgia’s policy of denying transgender inmates their medically necessary hormone treatment is unconstitutional.

“But we must do more to end the culture of violence and discrimination surrounding gender identity and expression,” they continued. “We urge the state of Georgia to embrace desperately needed changes to their correctional system.”

Michael Stipe and Elton John’s advocacy for Ms. Green is also featured in this New York Daily News Article and in Breitbart.

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A Federal District Court has ordered a trial in a wrongful death civil rights case brought by our client, Lena Williams, individual and as administrator of the Estate of her son, the Decedent, Mr. Melvin Williams. On May 14, 2010, an officer of the East Dublin Police Department fatally shot Mr. Melvin Williams.

Plaintiff argued before the District Court that the officer’s conduct was unreasonable and thus violated the constitutional and state law rights of the Decedent. The officer attacked the Decedent, who is heard on the video repeatedly screaming, “what is wrong with you?” Then seconds later, the officer fatally shot the Decedent while standing numerous feet away, and while knowing the Decedent was unarmed. The alleged criminal violation at issue was a “rolled” stop sign about 10 minutes prior to the attack on the Decedent. We dispute that a traffic violation ever occurred because all the independent evidence demonstrates that no traffic violation occurred.

One interesting aspect of the case is that, at the time the officer attacked the Decedent, the officer did not have his general police powers or specific powers of arrest under Georgia law, according to the District Court’s factual findings.

Plaintiff argued that because the police officer did not have his general police powers or specific powers of arrest, he should not have been attempting to arrest or stop anyone in his capacity as a police officer on that day.

The District Court agreed that a jury should decide this case and thus ordered a trial. The Defendant has appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Below is a viewable copy of the District Court’s order.

Order- MSJ-3

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evidence.jpg Evidence is what you need to win your case. Evidence provides proof to support the claims you have made against a defendant. Obtaining relevant evidence, however, is not as simple as merely asking your opponent to give you everything he/she has after filing a lawsuit. To the contrary, pre-litigation strategy is mandatory.

A good lawyer knows that, before filing a lawsuit, action must be taken in order to help ensure that evidence is available during a lawsuit. One way to accomplish that objective is to send “spoliation letters” to persons/companies who may possess evidence that could help your case.

Spoliation letters instruct a person/company to preserve certain evidence that relates to your case. Spoliation letters are significant because if a person or company destroys evidence after being placed on notice not to do so, then that person/company may be held legally responsible, in a manner that greatly benefits your case. The issue is complicated, however, so you need a good lawyer who knows about this area of law, such as the lawyers of Williams Oinonen LLC.

The content of spoliation letters, and who to send those letters to, depends on the type of claim(s) you have. But, three targets of spoliation letters are easily identifiable.

First, a good lawyer will send a spoliation letter to the actual person who is believed to be responsible for your injury. The spoliation letter will advise that person to take all reasonable measures to preserve evidence such as emails, reports, text messages, journals, phone records and so forth.

Second, if the person who is believed to be responsible for your injury is employed by a company, then that company may have key evidence regarding your case. Consequently, a spoliation letter should be sent to that company as well.

Third, most often an insurance company is involved in civil litigation. And many times, the insurance company performs an investigation into the circumstances that you claim caused your injury. Consequently, a spoliation letter should be sent to that insurance company too.

As I stated earlier, the content of each spoliation letter will differ. For example, a spoliation letter sent to a police officer and his/her police department will differ from the content of a spoliation letter sent to a truck driver and his/her company. Regardless, spoliation letters are vital to effective litigation.

Williams Oinonen LLC can be reached at 404-654-0288.

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18 wheeler crash.jpgWe have all experienced the same fear as we drive on the highway: A huge eighteen wheeler (“Mack Truck”; “Tractor Trailer”) either in front of us or trying to pass us. The very thought of being next to one of these huge vehicles, as they speed down the highway, immediately invokes caution in drivers.

Unfortunately, about 500,000 trucking accidents happen every year in the United States. And of those, about 5,000 result in fatalities, death. Of the approximate 5,000 deaths caused by trucks (e.g., Mack Trucks, Eighteen Wheelers; Tractor Trailers; Freight liners), 98% of those fatalities occur to the people in the cars that were hit by the trucks.

Because these trucks are so massive and deadly, our U.S. Congress has passed an enormous amount of laws to regulate the trucking industry. These laws are complex and numerous, so you must obtain a good Georgia lawyer who understands how to litigate crashes that involve trucks.

Again, and we cannot emphasize the following point enough: crashes that involve trucks (e.g., Mack Trucks, Eighteen Wheelers; Tractor Trailers; Freight liners) are very different from accidents between two standard cars. Because of that, a good Georgia lawyer will always advise anyone–the first thing he/she should do after being hit by a truck is: call an attorney.

Equally as important as calling an attorney immediately is: do not talk to anyone who represents the trucking company, because, for example, that person will most likely record your statement and try to use it against you later.

We, at Williams Oinonen LLC, will fight smart and hard against all people and companies responsible for a truck that causes serious injury to you, or your loved one. The trucking industry is a billion dollar industry, so you need a Georgia trucking lawyer who knows how to hold these companies accountable. Williams Oinonen LLC can be reached at 404-654-0288.

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Courageous APS Whistleblower Dr. Jackson Reynolds successfully had her case dismissed before the Professional Standards Commission.

Dr. Jackson Reynolds was retaliated against after she reported the abuse of her special needs students that had been captured on video.

Dr. Jackson was forced to report the abuse to Child Protective Services and the Atlanta Police Department all by herself. APS never questioned her about the matter until she was compelled to go on the six o clock news, Nancy Grace on CNN, and other news media. Soon after she was called in for questioning and was summarily terminated from her position.

APS filed a PSC action against her teaching certificate, risking her ability to ever teach again. Williams Oinonen LLC represented her in this matter successfully.

The Attorney General recommended the PSC administratively dismissed her case. Before Dr. Jackson Reynolds can pursue any type of whistleblower action, she must appeal her unemployment benefits denial before the Superior Court of which this law firm is representing her pro bono.

Dr. Jackson Reynolds had a stellar career in special education before it was destroyed by her whistleblower bravery that saved these children from abuse. Now, she is actively seeking work. If you are interested in obtaining her resume, contact our law firm at 404-654-0288.

PSC Dismissal Letter

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Good Georgia Education Lawyer represents Dr. Jackson Reynolds, an APS whistleblower and former special education teacher who rescued her severely autistic special needs students from child abuse after she uncovered that certain paraprofessional staff had been physically assaulting them. She uncovered the abuse after setting up video cameras in her classroom and immediately reported the abuse within the 24 hour requisite period.

Dr. Jackson Reynolds had been complaining about the paraprofessionals negligent behavior to her Principal all year long to no avail. She repeatedly complained (well documented in writing) that they refused to do their job and watched movies all day long on their laptops. She was threatened by her supervisor after she made an attempt to report it to central office downtown. Subsequently, in an effort to prove what was happening, she set up the video cameras. It was then that she discovered the horrific reality of what actually was occurring to the children behind her back: staff abused the children when she stepped outside of the classroom, behind the partition wall to attend to diaper changes, or they were outside her line of vision.

After reporting the abuse to APS, APS failed to properly investigate, not even formally questioning her as to what she had seen. Shortly after reporting the abuse, Dr. Jackson was horrified to learn that APS concluded the investigation without questioning her or reporting it to Child Protective Services, claiming they had found no evidence even though the only people they had interviewed were the two abusers and a non-verbal autistic victim.

Dr. Jackson Reynolds was forced to report the abuse to the Atlanta Police Department and Child Protective Services herself. The APD detective testified under oath that Dr. Jackson’s principal told him that she was only trying “to start some mess.” Dr. Jackson Reynolds was compelled to go to the media and it was only after she went on Nancy Grace, CNN, and the six’ o clock news did APS finally call Dr. Jackson Reynolds in for questioning two months after she had first reported it. APS then notified Dr. Jackson Reynolds that they were terminating her and put together ‘talking points’ in which they blamed the whistleblower.

Before Dr. Jackson Reynolds can consider filing a Georgia Whistleblower Action, she has been dealing with multiple traumatic crisis’s as a result of APS’ continued retaliation against her. APS continues to oppose Dr. Jackson Reynolds unemployment benefits, threatening her ability to keep a roof over her head. Our law firm is representing Dr. Jackson Reynolds pro bono in her unemployment matter. Additionally, APS retaliated by filing an ethics charge against Dr. Jackson Reynolds with the Professional Standards Commission, which regulates teaching certificates.

This placed Dr. Jackson Reynolds ability to obtain future gainful employment in jeopardy, and risked losing her license to teach while destroying her professional reputation—something Dr. Jackson Reynolds worked her entire life to achieve, including by obtaining her Doctorate in Special Education.

Fortunately however, Williams Oinonen LLC successfully represented Dr. Jackson Reynolds in her PSC matter. The Attorney General recommended PSC dismissed the charge against her.

Dr. Jackson transferred to APS last school year. She came from Gwinnett County School District where she had successfully worked as a special education teacher for many years and had a stellar career history, holding outstanding performance evaluations and job references. She is actively seeking work in the education, public service, non-profit field.

Unfortunately the culture which retaliated against whistleblowers who exposed corruption existed over a decade as outlined the Governor’s Special Investigation report. The current APS trial also exposed a decade long history of retaliation against those who blew the whistle.

Unfortunately Dr. Jackson Reynolds is not the only APS whistleblower that this law firm represents. Sadly however, what APS is doing to Dr. Jackson Reynolds and others continues to perpetuate the problem of retaliation against those who uncover corruption. It may be legally expedient in terms of setting up a defense against the parents of the abused children who will file a lawsuit. But it is not ethically expedient. By blaming and retaliating against the whistleblower, it continues to send the perverse message to other APS educators that the message they have received loud and clear for over a decade, exists to date.

The Assistant District Attorney and parents of the children praised Dr. Jackson Reynolds for her actions. In this article, the parent “thanks the good Samaritan teacher who made the footage.” While APS is quoted in this article, it does not state that it terminated this good Samaritan teacher as a result.

Williams Oinonen LLC urges the new Superintendent and Board of Education to address these issues and work to address this longstanding culture that took root for over a decade. Below is the Petition that Dr. Jackson Reynolds was forced to file as a result of APS denial of her unemployment benefits after wrongfully terminating her. The Georgia Department of Labor granted her unemployment benefits, but APS opposed this decision, forcing Dr. Jackson Reynolds now to appeal to the Superior Court.

See yesterday’s Feb. 18th post for the letter that was sent to the Board of Education and Superintendent back in July.

Petition for Judicial Review Filed by julie9094

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From Williams Oinonen LLC Concerning Dr. Tori Reynolds Jackson

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Georgia Whistleblower Miss MaeDell Clark sues Floyd County School District for retaliation. The news story that explains how the District terminated Miss Maedell after she complained of being cheated out of her wages is here.

Here is a press release from the Georgia Association of Educators:
maedell clark.pdf