Kunkel Law Firm December 2018

DECEMBER 2018 KunkelCase Files 800-467-5272 • www.KunkelLawFirm.com • GKunkel@KunkelLawFirm.com


Gregory Kunkel, Esq.


Just in time for Halloween, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 111 into law on Oct. 24, 2018, reinstating the “Independent Rating Examination” (IRE) provision to the Workers’ Compensation Act. The IRE process is a popular procedural method that employers relied upon to reduce an injured workers’ wage-loss benefits by changing their status under the law from total to partial disability. In the Protz decision handed down last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the IRE provision was unconstitutional. The new law was supported by business groups, and it immediately reinstates the IRE process. However, it requires examining physicians to rely exclusively on the 6th Edition of the American Medical Association’s “Guides to the Evaluation of Partial Impairment” to rate impairment. On a positive note, the new law lowers the threshold to retain total disability status from 50 percent whole body impairment to 35 percent.

WELCOMEHOME! Navigating Winter Break With Your College Kid

Thanksgiving break was just a test; now you have a whole month with your college kid! It’s exciting when your child returns home for winter break, but you have to be prepared. This isn’t the same teen you dropped off this summer. They’ve had new experiences, been thrown into awkward situations, and fended for themselves for months. One thing will never change, though: They will always be your kid. They’re the same person who grew up causing a ruckus in your home, teasing their younger siblings, and laughing their way through plenty of family memories. If you’re worried about your college-aged kiddo returning home, remember these tips for a stress-free winter break. Thanksgiving break wasn’t enough time for you to experience the intricacies of a relationship with your newly independent kid. When they come home this winter, they may push against any rules you have in place. In contrast, they’re also going to soak up all the wonders of home that they missed, like meals, cable TV, and a familiar bed. When your kid first comes home for the month, celebrate the successful semester! Then set some guidelines. Will there be a curfew? Will they be expected to feed and clothe themselves? Is their room still theirs or is it now your home gym? Can they drink or smoke at home? Whatever works for your family is fine, but if you don’t establish some ground rules ‘MOM, I’M AN ADULT NOW…WHAT’S FOR DINNER?’

If you or a family member has

questions or concerns about your benefits, we encourage you to call our office for a free review of your claim.


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right away, you’re in for a few tumultuous weeks.

forced them to spend time with you — but your maturing child may surprise you. They might actually want to be with you after being away for so long. By scheduling time with them, you can let them go off with their friends guilt-free! Having all your kids under one roof, even for a short period of time, is exciting for your family. Make it fun, be honest, and most of all, enjoy it while it lasts. They’ll be back at school before you know it.

You might feel like you’re being pushed to the bottom of your kid’s priority list this winter break as they catch up with friends, extended family, and their hometown jobs. Don’t take this too personally. Instead, create some family time. Spend a weekend at a cabin or designate Sundays as family days. It might feel like high school all over again — when you

Remember, college can be a breeding ground for mistakes and independence. Even if they’re not of age, your student may have experimented with alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors. If this is not something you’re comfortable with in your home, you don’t have to let it happen. As with all your house rules, you must be open and honest about what your boundaries are. Is your kiddo rocking a new ‘do, professing different political beliefs, or into some really weird food? Roll with it. The new experiences of college come with new perspectives. Your child may still be figuring out who they are. Or this “new” person may be becoming who they were always meant to be. But every change in your child is not worth a freakout! Just because they lost touch with their religion or are wearing their hair differently doesn’t mean they’re not the child you raised and love. ‘IT’S NOT A PHASE, DAD!’

Fake Discounts and Angry Shoppers A Massive Black Friday Lawsuit

Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday — the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items —but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history. In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called“false reference pricing,”a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item to make a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing

machine at a“sale price”of $999.99, compared to a“regular price”of $1,179.99. The problem was the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale. Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal?Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product was sold at within three months prior to the ad.“Families today… are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,”said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer.“They deserve tomake an informed decision.”After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again.

Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had on Black Friday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise.

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Ugly Sweater Parties

A Fun Trend You Can Easily Follow!


It’s speculated that the first ugly sweater party took place inVancouver, Canada, back in 2001. Since then, the trend has become one of the most popular holiday party themes. Come Thanksgiving, you’ll start to see racks in all types of clothing stores lined with hideous sweaters. If you’re ready to jump on the ugly-sweater-party bandwagon this Christmas season, here a few things to keep inmind.

It’s rather simple — slip on your favorite Christmas sweater, gather all your friends and family members, make sure there are plenty of refreshments and games, and you’re guaranteed to have a top-tier party. A few ugly- sweater-themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white elephant exchange, except with the gaudiest gifts you can find; an ugly photo booth, complete with terrible, tacky props; and, of course, an ugly sweater contest. This is the only time of year when slipping into a lurid red sweater with a stuffed Santa sewn on the front is considered trendy. So adorn yourself in the frumpiest, tackiest sweater you can find, and have some fun this December!


Ugly sweaters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can head to H&M or a local thrift store to pick one up. However, if you have a sweater that’s been cozied up for years in the back of your closet or a drawer, now’s your chance to give it new life. Arm yourself with a hot glue gun, thread, and needle, and patch Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty on it. And let it be known that an ugly sweater isn’t complete without sparkles, beads, and sequins galore.

Take a Break!




1 small head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and sliced

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 leek, chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter into warm

and cream. Simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.

oil. Add onion and leek, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 10–12 minutes.

3. Using a blender, purée in batches until smooth.

4. Top servings with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of pepper.

2. Stir in garlic and cook for 1

minute. Add cauliflower, broth,

Recipe courtesy of The New York Times

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One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street, Suite 4300 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Gregory Kunkel, Esq. PAGE 1 The Kids Are Finally Coming Home PAGE 1 The Biggest Black Friday Lawsuit in History PAGE 2 Everything You’ll Need for an Ugly Sweater Christmas PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 30-Minute Cauliflower Soup PAGE 3 Holiday Decoration Tours PAGE 4

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CHRISTMAS TOURS Get Away and Be Festive This Holiday Season There’s nothing quite like the magical lights of the holiday season, and some destinations in the U.S. have perfected the craft of holiday decoration. If you’re looking to get away this December and still engage in seasonal festivities, add one of these places to your must-visit list.

NEWYORK CITY’S ROCKEFELLER CENTER New York City is an iconic location for

arches, but around the holidays, they are lit up with white string lights and flanked by snow. The Christmas decorations and lights surrounding the archway make for a Western- themed holiday pulled right out of a John Wayne classic. For holiday admirers looking for a unique spin, Jackson has you covered. This one’s for the Christmas lover. If you can’t make it out to Santa Claus, Indiana, this holiday season, you can still celebrate Christmas in this tiny Midwestern town in January, June, or even October. Embracing its unique name, the town boasts a museum, holiday shopping center, and a Christmas theme park. In a moving tribute, the town’s YEARLY YULETIDE IN SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA

Christmastime. The scene is like a Hallmark card: Ice-skating lovers whiz past miles of twinkling lights underneath an exceptionally tall and amply-decorated tree. The tree is specially selected by Rockefeller Center’s landscaping crews, who scout out trees years in advance. It remains lit from November to early January, so you have plenty of time to check it out.

residents also write responses to children’s letters to Kris Kringle himself. It’s impossible to avoid holiday cheer in this town.


What better place to celebrate the most magical time of the year than in the most magical place on Earth? Walt Disney World’s halls are decked to the max with a parade, gingerbread homes, strings of lights, and festive parties. Plus, costs to visit Disney World can be cheaper during the Christmas season, so keep an eye out for a vacation steal.


Jackson, Wyoming, takes its frontier culture to the next level during the Christmas season. All year, the city proudly displays four elk antler

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