July 27, 2011
Kinder Morgan and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners have agreed to pay about $830,000 in back wages to 4,659 current and former employees after federal regulators said the workers were shorted on overtime and regular wages.
The back wages will resolve a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit that alleged the pipeline transportation and energy storage business violated federal wage and hour laws. The lawsuit, filed in February in a Houston federal court, also requested that employees who were shorted receive an equal amount in damages, but the agreement makes no reference to damages.
“We have reached a settlement with the DOL that we believe is in the best interest of the company and our employees,” Kinder Morgan spokesman Larry Pierce said in a statement Tuesday.
“We believe that the company followed the law and that overtime pay was properly calculated, and we take extreme pride in making sure that our employees are treated fairly,” he added.
The Labor Department brought the lawsuit after its investigation uncovered what it called “systemic violations” of federal overtime laws at 11 Kinder Morgan locations in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota and Texas. Pierce disputed the notion that the alleged violations were “systemic.”
According to the Labor Department, Kinder Morgan improperly rounded work hours in the company’s favor and failed to pay employees at several locations who attended meetings before their shifts began.
The company also did not include bonuses paid to employees when it calculated overtime compensation as required under federal law, according to the Labor Department.
Article: Houston Chronicle
Rolladen, the trusted Hallandale Beach-based hurricane shutter company whose owner has been accused of fraud, accepted nearly $700,000 in deposits for work that its staff has made no effort to complete, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by Florida’s attorney general in Broward County.
The lawsuit alleges Rolladen and its president, Robert Hoffman, engaged in “unfair, deceptive and unconscionable trade practices,” and seeks relief and restitution for the 157 contracts that remained outstanding as of June 1.
“As Floridians safeguard their homes against hurricanes, they deserve the assurance of knowing that they are doing business with fair and honest companies,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said. “My office will continue to investigate deceptive business practices and protect all of Florida’s consumers.”
The suit stems from an investigation that began in March, when it was revealed some two dozen disgruntled customers filed complaints with state regulators against the 42-year-old business, and came about two weeks after Broward sheriff’s deputies charged Hoffman with running an organized scheme to defraud and unlicensed contracting.
BSO’s inquiry into the dealings uncovered Rolladen, which markets and sells hurricane shutters and impact windows, took more than $9,000 in deposits from two customers whose orders were never completed. Bondi’s office alleges those incidents were endemic of a far-reaching scheme that stretches back at least two years.
At the time of Hoffman’s arrest, attorney Gregory S. Denaro told reporters there was no criminal intent, and that Hoffman was cooperating with regulators.
Article: Miami Herald
Novo Nordisk Hit with Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Wage & Hour Overtime Class Action Lawsuit Filed by the California Employment Attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik
On May 18, 2011 the employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik filed a class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk on behalf drug sales reps for alleged overtime wage and hour violations. The overtime complaint against the pharmaceutical giant was filed in Sacramento Superior Court and is entitled Brown v. Novo Nordisk, Case No. 34-2011-00103639.
According to the wage and hour class action complaint filed against the drug company, Novo Nordisk violated California overtime laws by failing to pay pharmaceutical sales representatives for overtime hours worked. Under California law, companies are required to pay all non-exempt employees overtime compensation whenever the employees work more than eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week. The primary requirement to satisfy the outside salesperson exemption and not get paid overtime under California law and the Fair Labor Standards Act is that the sales reps are actually making sales. In the Novo Nordisk overtime class action lawsuit, the pharmaceutical sales reps allege that they were not actually making sales but rather promoting prescription drugs to physicians. At most, the physician can agree to prescribe the medicine to patients as needed, but cannot actually buy the prescription medicine from the pharmaceutical sales reps directly.
Article: San Francisco Chronicle
A New Orleans judge has given preliminary approval to a $25 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Tenet Healthcare, the pre-Katrina owner of Memorial Medical Center, on behalf of patients and others trapped at the hospital after the storm.
The lawsuit accused Tenet of failing to properly prepare for the storm, including the failure to develop and follow proper evacuation plans and take other necessary emergency-preparedness steps.
Memorial, located on Napoleon Avenue near South Claiborne Avenue, was swamped by floodwaters after levees broke following Hurricane Katrina. The hospital lost power, including backup generators, and temperatures inside the facilities soared, a factor that contributed to the deaths of some patients.
After Katrina, 45 bodies were recovered from Memorial, and a number of the deaths became a focus of an investigation by then-Attorney General Charles Foti, who accused a doctor and two nurses of euthanizing some of the sickest patients; the three were arrested in the summer of 2006. That case was rejected by a state grand jury in 2007.
Article: New Orleans Times – Picayune
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca isn’t shielded from liability for racial gang violence in the jails he supervises, a federal appeals court ruled Monday in sending a stabbing victim’s lawsuit to trial.
Dion Starr, who says he was stabbed 23 times by Latino gang members while in custody at Men’s Central Jail five years ago, alleges in his lawsuit that Baca showed “deliberate indifference” to the dangerous conditions in the jails.
Baca knew or should have known about the hazards posed to guards and inmates as they were brought to his attention by a special investigator’s report that the county lockups were “outdated, understaffed and riddled with security flaws,” Starr’s suit contends.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in February that Baca could be sued by the inmate, who alleged that the sheriff’s failure to correct the security deficiencies made him ultimately responsible.
Article: LA Times
July 22, 2011
A diabetic woman who says she almost died after being denied insulin when she was arrested for smoking a joint settled a lawsuit with the city Monday.
Then she found out the cop who busted her was subsequently arrested for drunk driving.
“He just thought he was above the law,” said Jaime Rutkowski, a paralegal from Philadelphia. “He thought he could do whatever he wanted to me and that he could do whatever he wanted in his personal life.”
Rutkowski, 30, was arrested outside a bachelorette party on the Lower East Side on Oct. 16, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court.
She was denied her insulin and held for 19 hours before a judge finally dismissed the case by adjourning it in contemplation of dismissal, said her lawyer, Joel Berger.
Meanwhile, her blood sugar level had skyrocketed.
“She nearly died because the arresting cop treated her like a dangerous felon and denied her the most basic medical attention,” Berger said.
The city settled the lawsuit for $125,000 and admitted no blame. The arresting officer, Luid Moncayo, was himself arrested on Dec. 9 on charges of drunk driving in Queens, according to court records. His case is pending.
“We believe the settlement is in the best interest of all the parties,” said a spokeswoman for the city, Elizabeth Thomas, who declined comment about the officer’s case.
Rutkowski said she wants to use the money to go back to school.
“I’d also like to get the city to change its procedures,” she said. “Something has to change.”
Barron Hilton, the younger brother of Paris Hilton, has been ordered to pay $4.9 million to a former gas station attendant he struck with his Mercedes-Benz, an attorney said Friday.
The July 7 judgment in the civil lawsuit against Hilton includes $4.6 million for pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of earnings.
Hilton also must pay $225,000 in punitive damages and nearly $71,000 in interest.
The case grew out of a 2008 incident in which witnesses said Hilton was involved in at least one collision, drove the wrong way for miles down Pacific Coast Highway and finally pulled into a gas station in Malibu, where the hotel heir struck employee Fernando Tellez.
Attorney Joseph M. Kar, who represented Tellez, said Hilton denied he had driven the car and claimed amnesia, remembering only that he was on a bench at the station after the incident. He also denied driving the car at any time despite witnesses who placed him in the vehicle.
Article: Los Angeles Times
Edison restaurant can be sued after unknowingly serving meat to devout Hindu customers, appellate court rules
EDISON — A group of Hindu residents can sue an Edison restaurant for money to travel to India, where they say they must purify their souls after eating meat, a state appellate court panel ruled Monday.
The decision by the three-judge panel reinstates a lawsuit filed against Moghul Express, the restaurant that admitted it accidentally served meat-filled pastries to 16 Hindus whose religion forbids them from eating nonvegetarian food.
The diners said the mix-up has harmed them spiritually and monetarily, and that to cleanse themselves of their sin — even though it was committed unknowingly — they must participate in a purification ritual in India’s Ganges River.
“If you follow the scriptures, it’s definitely a huge cost,” said Mehul Thakkar, a spokesman for the Yogi Divine Society in Lake Hiawatha, a nonprofit socio-religious organization that adheres to the principles of the Swaminarayan faith of Hinduism. “If they are very strict about it, there definitely is a fee involved.”
Thakkar, whose organization is not involved in the suit, declined to comment on the decision issued by Judges Dorothea Wefing, Edith Payne and Margaret Hayden.
He said the purification ceremony can last from three to 30 days, and that the cost of the trip, which can add up to thousands of dollars, is based on how much a participant can afford.
Hinduism, the third largest religion in the world and which is dominant in the Indian subcontinent, holds that meat consumption affects the purity of the soul and that those who eat meat cannot be with God after death.
The family of a man killed last month when a taxicab struck him as he walked on a Streeterville sidewalk filed a lawsuit today against the driver and the cab company.
The cab veered across several lanes of traffic on Illinois Street and struck Hector Placencia Sanchez, 57, of Rogers Park as he walked along the sidewalk near a parking garage at about 9 a.m.
Placencia Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene. The cabdriver, Yao Ofori, 71, and a female passenger, 51, were taken toNorthwestern Memorial Hospital.
The suit was filed on behalf of Placencia Sanchez’s mother, three sisters and two brothers by attorney Lawrence T. Ruder of Goldberg Weisman Cairo.
The wrongful death lawsuit names the Wolley Cab Association, Checker Taxi and Ofori.
The family claims that Ofori and the taxi companies were negligent and failed to exercise care and caution that “a reasonable person under similar circumstances would have exercised.”
Placencia Sanchez lived alone in an apartment in the 6700 block of North Sheridan Road, according to people at the building. He had been a dishwasher at Riva Cafe on Navy Pier since May. Co-workers said that, on the day of the accident, he was scheduled to start his Monday shift at 3 p.m.
Ofori, of the 4700 block of South Lake Park Avenue in Chicago, was ticketed for driving too fast for road conditions and striking a pedestrian, police said.
According to records, he has been issued nearly 30 traffic tickets in 22 years.
Article: Chicago Tribune
A federal jury has ordered Taser International Inc. to pay $10 million to the family of a 17-year-old Charlotte teenager who died after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer struck him with a Taser.
The incident happened in March 2008 at a Food Lion in northeast Charlotte.
Police at the time said the officer violated policy when he shocked Darryl Turner for about 37 seconds, contributing to the teen’s death. Turner fell to the floor during the confrontation and died.
The jury returned its verdict Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.
Lawyers for Turner’s family persuaded jurors that the manufacturer knew the product could cause heart problems if it struck near the heart but failed to warn customers, the newspaper reported.
Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/07/20/2468659/teens-family-wins-10-million-taser.html#ixzz1Sn0HttOY
Article: Charlotte ObserverNewer Posts »