December 15, 2008
The heavy rainfall Hurricane Ike brought has receded, but now a surge of lawsuits related to the storm filed by prisoners in Beaumont is washing up on the federal court’s docket.
In the past month more than 130 lawsuits have been filed by prisoners residing in the LeBlanc Unit at the state prison in Beaumont claiming that the living conditions after the storm violated their civil rights.
The cases had originally been joined as a single lawsuit, but Judge Keith Giblin ruled that the cases should be handled individually, in part because of the security quandary that would be presented if each plaintiff participating in the lawsuit was in court at the same time.
Giblin also expressed concern that the inmates plan on representing themselves in court.
“This situation raises concerns regarding the management of the case,” he wrote.
In a 26-page handwritten complaint, the inmates state that the prison evacuated prisoners prior to Hurricane Gustav’s arrival and should have evacuated prior to Hurricane Ike as well, since meteorologists were forecasting a much more severe storm.
Read Article: Beaumont Enterprise
A jury on Thursday awarded $48 million to a rural Porter County man who became paralyzed from the waist down when he suffered a 17-foot fall from a ladder while working at an region steel mill.
Anthony Arciniega, 42, was rendered a paraplegic as a result of a Nov. 20, 2004, fall at ISG Burns Harbor steel mill, which is now known as ArcelorMittal. Arciniega, who still works for the mill, fell from a ladder that was covered with refractory concrete due to the negligence of Minteq International, a contractor at the mill, according to court documents.
Arciniega’s attorney, Kenneth J. Allen, said an injured worker cannot directly sue his employer — in this case the steel mill — but Arciniega was able to sue Minteq because it’s a third party. Allen said Arciniega will only be able to collect $24 million of the $48 million if the 50 percent fault attributed to the mill is upheld, but Allen will seek post-trial to have 100 percent of the fault attributed to Minteq so that his client can receive $48 million.
Read Article: Munster Times
Circuit City has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a Los Angeles lawsuit that claimed more than 200 workers were laid off because of age discrimination. A Los Angeles judge on Friday approved an agreement that allows the workers to become creditors of the electronics chain, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
The workers’ attorney, Gloria Allred, says she intends to go after every dollar possible.
A call to Virginia-based Circuit City seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The store chain laid off 3,400 employees last year who were making more than market-rate pay. Those who lost their jobs generally had more seniority and thus tended to be older.
The company has said the layoffs were based on salaries and had nothing to do with age.
Read Article: Sacramento Bee
Two dozen lawsuits filed on behalf of 89 named plaintiffs challenging the safety of Teflon-coated cookware have been dealt a serious blow by a federal judge in Des Moines.
U.S. District Senior Judge Ronald Longstaff has declined to certify the cases as class actions, a form of legal proceeding intended to streamline the pursuit of claims for a large group of people with a common interest. Instead, Longstaff ruled that the cases, which would cover cookware buyers in 23 states, were too unwieldy to figure out even who should be members of the proposed classes.
Longstaff’s 31-page decision notes that “the only common factor binding together all of the present plaintiffs is use of nonstick-coated cookware,” and that vast differences exist among the plaintiffs, including how and when they bought the cookware, how they used it and what kinds of advertising they saw before deciding to buy the items.
Read Article: Des Moines Register
Tom Colicchio, the celebrity restaurateur and judge on Bravo’s popular “Top Chef” television show, was sued in federal court on Thursday by a former waitress who accused the company of misappropriating employee tips, withholding some overtime pay and sometimes failing to pay minimum wage. Mr. Colicchio’s restaurants — including Craft, Craftbar and Craftsteak — were also named in the lawsuit, shown below.
In the lawsuit, the waitress, Nessa Rapone, who used to work at the bustling, moderately priced Craftbar restaurant at 900 Broadway between 19th and 20th Streets, asserted that the company improperly shared employee tips with supervisors, did not keep proper time records and illegally retaliated by firing her when she protested.
The lawyers for Ms. Rapone, a Brooklyn resident who worked at Craftbar from March to May 2007, hope that the lawsuit will be certified as a nationwide class action.
Read Article: New York Times
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