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.

March 3, 2015

Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Representing Estate of Young Man Fatally Shot: District Court Orders Trial And Defendant Appeals To Eleventh Circuit

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

February 28, 2015

Spoliation Letters Help You Win Your Case

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.

February 26, 2015

A Truck Crashed Into Me, What Do I Do?

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.

February 22, 2015

Good Georgia Education Lawyer Wins PSC (Professional Standards Commission) Case For APS Whistleblower

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

February 19, 2015

APS Whistleblower Who Saved Special Needs Students From Child Abuse Wrongfully Terminated, Retaliated Against and Denied Unemployment Benefits By APS

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 [video] 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

February 18, 2015

Letter to APS Board and Superintendent Reporting Whistleblower Retaliation Against Courageous Educator Who Reported Abuse of Special Needs Students on Video

From Williams Oinonen LLC Concerning Dr. Tori Reynolds Jackson

February 3, 2015

Georgia Whistleblower Bus Monitor Miss MaeDell Clark Sues Floyd County School District For Retaliation

Thumbnail image for Miss MaeDell Clark (headshot).jpg

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

January 15, 2015

Press Release On Behalf Of Superintendent Of Bartow County, Dr. John Harper

Statement on Behalf of Superintendent John Harper-5

January 14, 2015

Good Georgia Civil Rights and Government Lawyer Flashbang Case Featured In the Atlantic Magazine

Good Georgia Civil Rights and Government Lawyer Mario Williams' flash bang case on behalf of our client Treneshia Dukes was featured in the Atlantic magazine this week that you can read here.

Treneshia Dukes was pregnant when a flash bang grenade was thrown on her by the Clayton County Police Department while she was sleeping in bed causing her terrible burns and injuries. Flash bang grenades burn "Hotter than Lava" hence the name of this excellent article by Julia Angwin and Abbie Nehring. (Above photo as featured in the article by Bryan Meltz for ProPublica.)

These flash bang grenades which were originally created for military forces to use in hostage situations, now are common amongst the growing militarization of police. The Clayton County Police, deployed flashbangs on around 80 percent of their raids in the year before her injury, according to records.

Our frequent client and friend, Senator Vincent Fort is also quoted in the article.

December 20, 2014

Good Georgia Education and Employment Lawyer Wins Due Process Student Disciplinary Tribunal Hearing in DeKalb County School District


Student disciplinary tribunals are notoriously difficult to win, a recent study showing that 89 to 91 percent of students are found guilty and lose their tribunal hearing.

Good Georgia Education Lawyer has been very fortunate to have a solid track record of success, including this past week where she won a student disciplinary tribunal for her client who was facing expulsion or alternative school.

Ms. Oinonen and her clients were very gratified and the fairness and objectivity of the hearing officer who found her client to not be in violation of the code of conduct charges and determined that "no further action" was needed against him in terms of discipline. The student was permitted to return to school and make up his school work.

Said her clients (the parents): "I can't say enough about the job that Julie, and her firm, did for my family. Her fees were fair, she worked tirelessly on our behalf, but most of all, Julie was 100% committed to our case, and it showed. Our outcome could not have been better."

Good Georgia Education and Employment lawyer represents teachers, administrators, and students in cases against school districts. If you have a tribunal or a pending hearing against the District, don't go it alone. If you are able, it is very important to seek legal representation to maximize your chance of a successful outcome.

December 16, 2014

Buzzfeed Article Details Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer's Transgendered Client Who Was Violently Raped In Prison

Good Georgia Civil Rights Attorney Mario Williams's lawsuit was featured again in today's recent issue of Buzzfeed.

The article features what happened to transgendered woman, Zahara Green. The article describes how between Ms. Green's first day in prison and becoming repeatedly raped---she had met with the warden in person, then wrote to the warden and deputy warden of security for help, then finally asked to be put in protective custody. The result was only to find herself assigned to share her protective custody cell with her rapist.

Buzzfeed writes a full feature on Ms. Green that you can view here:

by clicking on this link.


December 6, 2014

Gilda Day's Response Brief v. Floyd County Board of Education

Here is Gilda Day's Response Brief in her case before the Georgia Court of Appeals. Many Floyd County Association of Educator members have wished to see it. For easier viewing, click on the brief and you can view it on the Scribd webpage:

a15a0402 - Brief of Appellee -Ee Gilda Day

November 6, 2014

Gilda Day Appeals Brief v. Floyd County Local Board of Education

Attached below is Gilda Day's Appeals Brief before the Georgia Court of Appeals. You can click on it to get to the Scribd webpage for easy viewing:

a15a0401 - Brief of Appellant Gilda Day

October 7, 2014

Good Georgia Education Lawyer Sues DeKalb County Schools For Breach of Contract: The Attack on Teachers And Public Education Part Two

Georgia Education Lawyer Julie Oinonen is representing DeKalb County teachers and Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) members in a suit against DeKalb County School District. The lawsuit alleges strong-arm bully tactics by the school district. See the Courthouse News article on it here.

Good Georgia Lawyer contends that this issue is part of the ongoing war on teachers and public education that is driving educators out of the profession and further destroying teacher morale. Each year, educators move to different parts of Georgia transferring to other school districts for any number of reasons such as professional career opportunities, financial, health, or family reasons. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had to move due to very important family needs. They notified their principals and gave the earliest possible notice. Then they helped find new hires to replace their position, thus causing absolutely no financial loss to the School District.

The District bullied the teachers by threatening their teaching certification which all teachers need to keep in good standing in order to teach and maintain gainful employment to provide for their families. The District claimed that it was a sanctionable action by the PSC (the Professional Standards Commission, the regulatory body for teacher certification.) The trouble is that wasn't true and the District knew it. Paul Shaw, Director of the PSC had already advised them that for teachers to resign prior to June 1st would not be considered a sanctionable violation of the code of ethics.

DeKalb County School District is one of the few districts in Georgia that has also started to include something called a "liquidated damages provision" that penalizes teachers if they resign their contract. This is a bad thing that is about to spread like wildfire if Courts don't put a stop to it. It makes sense that Districts wish to prevent teachers from resigning during the school year. But what doesn't make sense is to create an unlawful penalty provision that stops the ethical, conscientious teachers who need to move for financial, health, family, or professional reasons to other school districts. It creates an unlawful restraint of trade and hinders free market capitalism. One of our basic Constitutional rights and privileges as Americans is the freedom to be able to move about our state with our families and work where we want to. The government tying hard working teachers hands to prevent them to be able to do so is simply un-American.

A contract for teachers ends at the close of a school year. For Georgia teachers to resign without putting their families at significant financial risk, they first have to be offered a new contract with another district. Otherwise they risk having zero job period and not even being able to qualify for unemployment benefits. So, for a teacher to resign, they need to know they've got another offer on the table somewhere else. The trouble with DeKalb is they have started strong-arming teachers into not resigning at all, by making them sign a contract very early in the school year (before other Districts have made job offers) and then threatening them with a $750.00 penalty provision if they do tender early notice of resignation. Good teachers who simply wanted to make a move to Fulton, Gwinnett, or another part of Georgia were threatened with the penalty if they resigned after signing their contract on April 4th, way too soon for most of them to have been offered a contract somewhere else.

Now $750.00 may not seem a lot of money to some, but to the average Joe or Jane school teacher, this has financially devastating consequences for most educators who rely on every penny of their paychecks to pay the mortgage and other bills each month. Teachers don't make a lot of money period. Consequently, this new penalty provision has been more salt in the wounds for teachers in Georgia who continue to be mercilessly under attack at every turn.

October 6, 2014

Letter To Superintendent Mike Thurmond, Senator Ron Ramsey, and Human Resources Sent On Behalf Of DeKalb County School Teachers

From Williams Oinonen LLC to Superintendent Mike Thurmond and Human Resources Division