The RGLZ Report

The RGLZ Street Team And Motorcycle Mike ESQ Wrap Up The Summer Season


In addition to fighting for people’s rights, RGLZ Personal Injury Law supports our local communities in many other ways. In the last few weeks, we have sponsored two local events that proved to be a great way to reconnect with the public, reaffirm our services, and give back to the communities that turn to RGLZ when they need help or just legal advice.

On September 18th, Accompsett Middle School held it’s second annual Color Run. RGLZ was a proud sponsor of the event, which supported a variety of cultural arts programs in the community. The Color Run was a 4k paint race that has no winners, but excited runners are showered with colored powder at stations along the run. Over 225 people participated and it proved to be successful in raising funds to help the children rediscover art.


The next week, Motorcycle Mike Esq was out in support of the Nassau County Cruise to The Show, and also sponsored this 7th annual parade and car show, which was a great send-off for an awesome summer. It was a fun-filled 2-day event at Eisenhower Park, with over 1200 show cars, vendors, and even a free concert featuring Eddie Money! Motorcycle Mike gained a lot of exposure at the show, along with connecting with the community.

It was a busy and productive September for the “RGLZ Street Team”, and we can’t wait to come up with even more new ways to conduct positive outreach. Stay tuned, as we transition into the colder months of the year, and if you see us out and about, come over and say hi!

Click to check out our photo album from both events!

Winning the Battle Over Medical Record Copying Costs: The Federal HI-Tech Act

The federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HI-TECH Act) was passed in 2009 to promote the adoption of electronic medical records.  The Act encompasses many subjects, but some of its provisions can be used to substantially reduce the cost of obtaining electronic copies of medical records.  The Act applies to any medical provider who maintains electronic medical records, and requires a digital copy of the records be supplied at cost upon request.[i]  In practice, this results in a significant reduction in the cost of purchasing medical records.

Under the HI-TECH Act, an individual patient may request the digital record.  In addition, any other person who has authority to act for the patient “under applicable law” can make the request.[ii]  Although this language suggests the patient’s attorney should be able to send the request for electronic records as the patient’s “authorized representative,” that would be wrong.  The agency which enforces the HI-TECH Act, the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR), has consistently taken the position that the Act will only apply if the request for medical records is in a writing signed by the individual and is authored by the individual; i.e. – the patient (or authorized estate representative).  The OCR takes the position that third-party requests for medical records (i.e. – attorney requests) are governed by state laws, which vary from state to state.[iii]  In New York, the state law is Public Health Law Section 18, which provides that the fees shall be cost-based but in no event in excess of $0.75 a page.

To invoke the Act, therefore, the medical record request must be in a writing signed by the patient.  The attorney can prepare the medical record request for the client’s signature.  The letter from the patient requesting the medical records can be forwarded to the health care provider from the attorney’s office, again, as long as the request is in a writing signed by the patient.  The regulations provide that the client (the individual) can require that the medical records be mailed to a third party designated by the patient (i.e. – the attorney’s office).[iv]  It is also important to note that a HIPAA authorization is not required as part of a HI-TECH Act request for electronic records.[v]

Upon receipt of a request for electronic records under the HI-TECH Act, the health care provider must act on the patient’s request no later than 30 days from receipt.[vi]  Recall, that under the New York’s Public Health Law Section 18, the time limit to produce the records is a “reasonable” time.  If the provider cannot comply within 30 days, it/he/she can extend the time by a one- time extension of an additional 30 days, but must provide a written explanation for the delay.[vii]  Although a medical provider may insist on payment of a copying fee, the records must be sent within the allotted time frame, regardless of whether payment has been made in full.[viii]

While there is no private right of action under the HI-TECH Act, the OCR can investigate complaints and levy fines for violations.   Generally speaking, no penalties will be imposed if the failure to comply is corrected within 30 days after the medical provider knew that the failure to comply occurred.  The Office of Civil Rights may provide “technical assistance” to the provider during this 30-day period to resolve the dispute without penalty.[ix]  Translated roughly, that means that the OCR can contact the provider and work out a resolution. If your client’s request for medical records is made consistent with the parameters discussed above, and you nonetheless receive a bill from the hospital or the copying company for $0.75 a page, your recourse is to make a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights.  The process is relatively painless and can be done online in a few minutes time at the OCR website.[x]  OCR normally will only accept complaints that are filed within 180 days of when you knew, or should have known, that the alleged violation of the statute occurred.

The HI-TECH Act, when invoked correctly, should significantly reduce the cost of obtaining your client’s medical records.  Remember, however, the key to triggering the statute is to have your client demand an electronic copy of the record in a writing signed by the client.

1 42 U.S.C. 17935(e)(1),(2); 45 C.F.R. 164.524
2 45 C.F.R. 164.502(g)(1),(2)&(4)
3 OCR Decision Letters, obtainable only through FOIL request
4 See http:\\\hipaa\for-professionals/privacy/guidance/access/index.html ;
45 CFR Sec. 164.524
5 CFR Section 164.524
6 45 C.F.R. 164.524(a)(2)(i-iv); 45 C.F.R. 165.524 (b)(2)(i)(A).
7 45 C.F.R. 164.524(b)(2)(ii)(A)&(B)
8 See OCR Decision, Reference Number 16-225898, dated February 4, 2016, obtainable only through FOIL request.
9 See OCR decision letters, obtainable only through FOIL request.

RGLZ’s Newest Attorney: Mary Ann Risavich-Birgeles

IMG_3935RGLZ Personal Injury Law is happy to welcome our newest associate Mary Ann Risavich-Birgeles on board as of May 2016. She is the first new attorney on staff since Christopher Glass joined the team in 2012. Mary Ann studied American History and Political Science at University of Pennsylvania, before moving on to the William and Mary School of Law where she received her law degree with an additional recognition for public service.

Mary Ann has previously done work for the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the area of consumer fraud, as well as the Suffolk County Attorney’s Office. She is a member of the Womens’ Bar Association of New York, the American Association of Justice, the New York State Trial Lawyers’ Association, as well as both the Suffolk County and New York State Bar Associations.

Ms. Risavich-Birgeles will predominantly work on cases in the personal injury, nursing home abuse, and medical malpractice fields; adding even more strength to RGLZ’s already considerable talents in those practice areas.

The entire firm is excited to have her on board, and we can’t wait to see her take on the sort of serious cases that RGLZ is known for. We’re confident that she will flourish in her new role, and only reinforce RGLZ’s sterling reputation for excellence both inside and outside of the courtroom.

Are You Paying Too Much for Subpoenaed Medical Records?

Any lawyer who routinely purchases medical records as part of their practice is familiar with the ubiquitous $0.75 charge per page.  However, does Public Health Law Section 17 and 18’s provision, requiring medical records be furnished to patients at a maximum of $0.75 per page, apply in the context of subpoenaed medical records?  A reading of CPLR §8001 suggests the answer is no. Continue reading

6 Years of the Motorcycle Mike Poker Run


On June 4th, “Motorcycle Mike” Levine was happy to host his sixth annual motorcycle poker run for charity, in support of United Cerebral Palsy of Suffolk. This run brings out bikers from all over New York to ride for a cause, and has become a staple early in the riding season for many of these bikers. Every year, thousands of dollars are raised, and all money taken in from the run and subsequent party goes directly to the charitable cause.

United Cerebral Palsy works to support the betterment of the lives of countless people with a range of disabilities, and we were extremely happy to have been able to raise over $5,000 for them, which will go directly into these programs which help their participants develop skills and interact in ways which dramatically improve their standard of living.

With the help of 102.3 WBAB, we put on a great party with live music, vendors, food, and the first ever Ultimate Road Trip contest, where 10 entrants had a chance to win a bike and trip. Everyone ended up going home with a prize of concert tickets thanks to the generosity of our partners, and we would like to thank Full Throttle Magazine, CYA Action Funwear, The Us Vets Motorcycle Club, and the Enders Motorcycle Club for their support this year.

The most rewarding part of the event was seeing the joy on the faces of UCP program participants who could make it down to see things in action. Being able to provide an experience like this for them is what makes it all worthwhile, and it’s what we’ll remember best about this year’s event.

For more photos from the event click here!



RGLZ Law Continues to Deliver for Workers


When Mike Levine of RGLZ Law decided he wanted to give a holiday gift of sweatshirts for construction workers on Long Island this past December, we thought that we were doing something great. When we saw and heard the kind words from the recipients, nothing could have made us happier. And we never anticipated the kind of response that we got.


Suddenly, we were out of the entire initial batch. Hundreds of these sweatshirts found their way to hard working men and women. And then, unexpectedly, we started hearing from people on sites all over the island, asking us if we could come pay them a visit. So we did. We ordered hundreds more, and yet again, they quickly found their way to people who deserved them.


And so now, what originally started as a way to “play Santa” for some local workers, has turned into a day-in day-out program of meeting Long Island’s workers and union members, and asking what we can do to help them. We truly believe that these outreach efforts have a positive effect for everyone involved, and we don’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon.


If you know of, or work on, a site where the workers could use some of our gear, please contact us here and let us know, we’ll be happy to pay a visit. And if you ever need a team you can trust with a construction accident case, look no further than RGLZ. We get the job done.

RGLZ Delivers: Supporting Workers is Not Just a Slogan to Us


RGLZ Personal Injury Law has a long history of winning cases for injured workers. It’s one of our hallmarks. But we also pride ourselves on the connection we have to our clients, and our ability to empathize with the everyday hardships these people confront in a tough line of work. And so this past December, Mike Levine commissioned over 1000 Safety Orange sweatshirts with the express purpose of distributing them to every construction site possible in our area before winter really kicked in, as a holiday gift to local workers.


Back at the office, we took a lot of pride and happiness from the photos that come back to us from these gift runs, and our Facebook page lit up with responses from tradespeople who not only liked the idea, but wanted in! And so without a second thought we immediately made the decision to continue the program. We mailed sweatshirts to happy workers, ordered a whole new batch, and began a whole second round of giveaways.


At RGLZ, we’ve absolutely loved having this chance to engage with the people we work for, and we don’t see ourselves stopping any time soon. As a matter of fact, we followed up this program with a $25,000 donation to the TWU Local 100 in NYC, to sponsor their scholarship program for TWU Local 100 members and their kids.


We’ve been supporting the rights of injured workers since 1968, but we also support the lives of everyday workers. It’s a commitment to our craft, and our clients, that makes RGLZ Personal Injury Law what it is: A Different Kind of Law Firm.

If you know of any sites where the workers could use some of our gear, please contact us here and let us know! And if you ever need a team you can trust with a construction accident case, look no further than RGLZ. We get the job done.

VW “DieselGate” Emissions Scandal Update


The Volkswagen emissions scandal is heading into its third month at this point, and things seem to keep getting worse as time goes on. Today we’re going to look at some new developments that have come about in recent weeks, as well as look forward at VW’s rumored plans to “fix” the issues with its diesel powered cars. If you missed our original article about the scandal and what it entails, Click Here to read up on that.

The Scandal now Includes All Diesels Since 2009

That’s right. If you own a VW group diesel produced in the years since 2009, your car is affected. Initially VW denied that some models were affected by the emissions cheating software, but in recent weeks they’ve caved under mounting pressure from regulators worldwide, and have come to admit that this cheating extends to every diesel sold in the last 6 years. They’ve also stopped production on all diesel models in the aftermath of this revelation.

Implications of Emissions Cheating are Beginning to Spread to Gasoline Powered Cars Too

In early November, Volkswagen disclosed that it may have “understated” the amount of CO2 emissions on up to 800,000 cars, now including gasoline powered cars for the first time. While this side of the story hasn’t come out completely, there’s reason to believe that this scandal could be far from over, and new inclusions to the list of vehicles affected by the emissions cheating could continue to grow by the day.

VW has Rolled out a Somewhat Disingenuous “Goodwill” Program for TDI Owners

If you’re a Volkswagen TDI owner, VW will be offering you a bit of bribe money to make you feel better. The offer includes a $500 pre-paid gift card, $500 service voucher, and 3 years of free roadside assistance. What it doesn’t include, thankfully, is any fine print that forces you to give up your right to sue. So you can feel free to take the gift offering, and still pursue legal compensation in regards to the scandal. And you may want to think of doing so, because…

Volkswagen has Seemingly Chosen the “Software Update” as Their Plan to “Fix” the Cars

As of today (November 24), VW has come out saying that their plan for the majority of the affected cars is to reprogram the ECU. If you read our previous article, this means that the cars in question are facing down major negative changes in performance and fuel economy. It’s a lose-lose situation for customers that will do the least damage to VW’s bottom line, and the most damage to the cars’ resale value. Now is the best time to explore your legal options as an owner of a VW diesel vehicle.

The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal and You: What Action Can You Take?

VW Pic

By now, Volkswagen’s emissions scandal has become common knowledge amongst the average American. What most people know is that VW cheated on their emissions testing for diesel vehicles, and that they are facing down fines from the US government to the tune of billions of dollars. In short, owners of these vehicles have been the victims of a major fraud, and are entitled to compensation. Compensation that RGLZ Law can help you win from VW. But what exactly did VW do to cheat these tests, and how exactly does that affect you as the owner of one of the affected vehicles? Read on to find out more.

What is the ECU? And Why does it Matter?

First we’ll need a little background in how modern automobiles function, as well as the regulations that must be met for them to be sold. Modern cars are significantly different from cars of 20-30 years ago in many drastic ways, but perhaps most drastically in how they function. Whereas cars of old used linkages, carburetors, and other mechanical means to translate your inputs into action and run the motor properly, today’s cars are primarily controlled by an ECU, or Engine Control Unit. This is a computer that manages almost every part of a car’s operation, and is essentially the “brain” of the car. It receives information from every part of the motor, and every input from the driver, to properly optimize engine performance under any sort of conditions. Most of a car’s operation is now digital instead of mechanical, and the ECU is what takes all of this data and translates it into action.

The ECU must be programmed extensively from the factory to balance a number of factors. This programming is what is known as a “tune” or “engine map”. The car’s factory tune aims to achieve the best possible combination of power, fuel economy, and emissions. But in the case of Diesel powered cars, increased power and fuel economy come at the expense of far higher emissions. Much more so than gasoline powered cars. The United States EPA has a set of very stringent guidelines for just how high the emissions of a car can be, and so theoretically, compromises would have to be made in terms of power and fuel economy to ensure compliance with emissions standards.

What did VW do to the ECU to Cheat Emissions?

The crux of the scandal comes from the fact that Volkswagen had a separate and secret ECU tunebuilt into their diesel powered cars, with the express purpose of beating emissions tests. To many car buyers, power and fuel economy are major drivers of their decision making, and sacrificing these things to meet emissions standards was apparently something that Volkswagen engineers thought would make their cars uncompetitive in the marketplace. Unable to strike a good balance of power, fuel economy, and emissions, they chose to engineer a workaround for emissions testing instead of making that sacrifice.

The car’s ECU was engineered to know when emissions testing devices were plugged into the car, at which point it would replace the factory ECU tune with one that would meet the testing standards. As soon as the testing devices were removed, the ECU would immediately go back to the factory map which was nowhere near being in compliance.

How Does This Affect VW Diesel Owners?

So where does this leave the owner of one of these Diesel powered VW cars? Unfortunately there is no “fix” to this problem that does not severely affect the value of their automobile. As the cars are now, their emissions levels are far beyond the allowable amount. Though no action will be taken against drivers of these cars, this is still something that would affect perception of the cars, and therefore their resale value. To bring the cars into compliance with emissions standards, VW would have to recall the cars, and permanently program their ECUs with the secret “testing” map. The problem with this is that it would have drastic negative effects on the drivability, power, and fuel economy of the vehicles in question. This might hurt the value of the cars more than doing nothing, and there would doubtlessly be people who would choose not to participate in a recall for these reasons.

As it stands, there is no situation where this scandal does not constitute undue damage to the value of these affected automobiles, and as such, product liability claims are likely an option for owners of said vehicles. Legal recourse may be the only way for Volkswagen customers to be made whole in the aftermath, even in the case of a manufacturer buyback of the affected vehicles. If you currently own one of the affected Volkswagen vehicles, we highly recommend speaking with a product liability attorney at this time to explore your legal options. With class actions on the way, there may a limited amount of time to take action in this regard.

A Guide to Pressure Sore Cases: Part Three


Typical interventions to prevent the development of a pressure sore for an at risk resident include routine turning and positioning to off load pressure points, maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration, employing pressure relief devices such as a pressure relief mattress or pads or heel protectors, and providing appropriate skin cleaning and skin care. Many of these interventions are provided by the certified nurse assistants, who work under the supervision of the facility nurses. The facility should maintain some form of a CNA accountability record which documents on each shift whether the interventions required by the Plan of Care are actually being performed. Pressure sore litigation is often waged in and around the CNA accountability record. Large gaps in documenting daily care, such as the turning and positioning of the immobile resident, provide plaintiffs’ experts with a ready explanation as to why the pressure sore developed or failed to heal. Conversely, a well -documented chart of daily interventions support the facility’s argument of “clinical unavoidability.”

Sometimes the nursing home chart has missing parts, or worse, material alterations between the chart obtained before the litigation and the chart produced during the litigation. On an alarming number of occasions we have discovered fabrications in the notes, including the addition of turning and positioning entries which were not recorded in the earlier version of the chart, and even the administration of medications to a resident a day after his death.

The most damning pieces of evidence in the pressure ulcer case are the photographs of the ulcers themselves. Graphic photographs of the deep sores exposing, for example, the vertebrae in the sacrum are a compelling adjunct to the resident’s family’s testimony concerning pain and suffering. In every pressure sore case the family should be instructed to take multiple photographs of the ulcer, or a professional photographer should be dispatched to the hospital or facility for that purpose. If the resident has died, funeral directors will often permit a photographer to document the sores while the body is being prepared. Unfortunately, autopsies are rarely performed on elderly residents who expire in the hospital or nursing home from presumed natural causes. The nursing home and hospital charts should be scoured for any evidence that the facility took photographs to document wound care progression, and careful note should be made of any differences in the description of the pressure sore between the nursing home and the subsequent treating hospital. Once a pressure ulcer is identified, it should be measured by location, size and depth. It is not unusual to discover that a pressure sore is described by the nursing home staff as a Stage III on the day the resident is transferred to the hospital for definitive care, and a few hours later described as a Stage IV by the hospital emergency room personnel.

As the preamble to the New York regulations reminds us, the infirmed elderly are among the most vulnerable in the population. A large percentage of that population is at risk for developing pressure sores. Unless clinically unavoidable, pressure sores should not occur in a skilled nursing facility. Litigation of bed sore cases is one method of promoting enforcement of existing standards of care and improving quality of care throughout the industry. The practitioner would be well advised to seriously consider obtaining the nursing home chart when the family complains that a loved one has developed serious bed sores in the nursing home.