December 2010 Archives

Tucson Motorcycle War: Pima County Board of Supervisors versus the Hell's Angels

The FBI calls the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club a criminal organization and one of the "Big Four" motorcycle gangs. Now it appears the Pima Count Board of Supervisors is ready to go head to head with the motorcycle club. Pima County, which includes the second largest city in Arizona- Tucson- wants to buy property in South Tucson and turn it into a community market. South Tucson is actually a separate municipality from Tucson proper, but locals consider the two cities the same. The local chapter of the Tucson Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, has another idea and wants to buy the property as well. 

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Apparently, the motorcycle club is not interested in a community store, but rather a local chapter of the world famous motorcycle club. According to the FBI, that very same world famous motorcycle club engages in wide spread drug trafficking, prostitution, murder, extortion, sex crimes, and trafficking in stolen goods. According the motorcycle club itself, it has 230 chapters in 27 countries and 6 continents. The motorcycle club claims they are just a like minded community of motorcycle enthusiasts, and they are not a organized crime syndicate or criminal gang.

There may be more than a little truth to the Motorcycle Club's defense that the FBI is grandstanding.  In an interesting turn of events, the Federal racketeering charges that the FBI brought against the Tucson Chapter of the Hell's Angels were dismissed in March.  It seems that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Craig "Fang" Kelly and his friend Henry Watkins.

Arizona Construction Accidents

Just how dangerous are construction accidents in Arizona and across the United States? They are very dangerous. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), across the United States, Construction accounted for 1,178 fatal work injuries, the most of any industry sector in 2007. Construction workers experienced 135,350 injuries and illnesses in 2007 and had an incident rate of 190 per 100,000 workers. Between 1992 and 2005 falls, electric current, highway incidents, and being struck by an object were in the leading causes of death in construction. One third of the fall related deaths were falls from a roof, 18% were falls from scaffolding and 16% were falls from ladders. Electrocutions accounted for 9% of the deaths in construction in 2005.

It goes without saying that if you work in the construction sector, you face quite a bit a danger. Particularly in a construction heavy state like in Arizona, the risk of construction related accidents and injuries is high. For most workplace accidents, worker's compensation laws apply. That means if you suffer an injury that is the result of workplace injury, then your recovery is limited to the Arizona's worker's compensation fund. Usually, that means you cannot sue your employer for an injury you suffered at work.

If, however, you suffered an injury at work that was the result of the negligence of a third party, then you can potentially sue that third party. In these circumstances, your recovery is not limited to the Arizona worker's compensation fund. In that circumstance, your potential personal injury claim would be similar to any other Arizona personal injury lawsuit. To prevail in your case, you would have to prove the liability of a third party and damages, just like a car accident case. If you did recover against a third party, then the Arizona worker's compensation fund could have lien (reimbursement) rights for any money they paid for your injury.

Some of the typical third parties who cause Arizona construction accidents and injuries include subcontractors from different employers, vendors, products, and companies at the job site. Needless to say, sometimes it gets very complicated figuring out exactly who someone works for and who is responsible for the accident. Even more complicated is figuring out exactly what insurance policies apply and who ultimately should pay for a construction accident. Of course, the various insurance defense lawyers will do their best to say their client did not do anything wrong, and if necessary, point their finger at someone else. They might even point their finger at a non party at fault.

Hell's Angels in Arizona

Some things are more than they appear. Riding motorcycles is more than just riding motorcycles. Sometimes it involves gangs, guns, and mechanical horses. And the World Famous Motorcycle Club Hell's Angels has been making quite a bit of news in Arizona lately.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety raided what they called "an illegal chop shop" on November 16, 2010. The alleged chop shop was located at a Hell's Angels club office near 27th Avenue and Van Buren. It seems the Department of Public Safety does think too highly of Hell's Angels calling them a "criminal organization" that is up to no good.

There has also been quite a bit of activity on the part of its main rival, Vagos, in Arizona. Just recently, a Yavapai County Judge remanded a Hell's Angels defendants' shooting case back to a grand jury for a new determination of probable cause. The case involved in connection with the shooting between the Vagos and Hells Angels motorcycle gangs in an unincorporated area northwest of Chino Valley on August 21. According to Yavapai County detectives "The Hells Angels are the dominant motorcycle gang in the world, and they also have a strong presence here in Arizona." In a story right out of the old, wild West, gunglingers riding iron horses traded shots. According to Yavapai County Sherriff's Deputies, rival club members fired about 50 shots. No one was hurt.
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Vagos, or Green Nation, is considered an outlaw motorcycle club, and the main rivals to the more famous Hells Angels. The Hells Angels club has the motto "When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets". They might be most famous for providing security, or lack of security more accurately, for the Rolling Stones during Altamont. Hells Angel member Alan Passaro was charged with murder for stabbing Meredith Hunter while the Rolling Stones were playing Under My Thumb.

Last, Phoenix Police are looking for fugitive Merle Eischeid. He worked as a stock broker for Charles Scwab before becoming a member of the Hells Angles Motorcycle Club.  Authorities have linked Eischeid to the grisly 2001 murder of Cynthia Garcia, who had been invited to a party at the Hell's Angels' Mesa clubhouse.