August 25, 2011
A Seattle-based law firm specializing in food-bourne illness litigation has filed a class-action lawsuit against Olive Garden after one of its Fayetteville employees tested positive for hepatitis A.
The suit alleges that the restaurant failed in its responsibility to deliver safe food. The worker has been the only known case of illness, but at least 2,730 people have gotten immunizations over the past week at the urging of county health officials.
The lawsuit, prepared by the firm Marler Clark on behalf of Claudia Prescott of Fayetteville, alleges that customers were exposed to potentially contaminated food or people. As a result, patrons sustained damages including lost wages, medical expenses, “fear of harm and humiliation” and physical pain and injury, the complaint says.
The allegations include that Olive Garden was negligent by failing to require its employees to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and by failing to prevent an infected employee from working.
State health regulations require employers to bar sick employees from working in restaurants, said Tony Ferguson, food and lodging supervisor with the Cumberland County Health Department. That means if managers see someone coughing and sneezing, they should send the employee home, he said.
“If you’re sick, you’re not allowed to work in the restaurant, but you’re not required to have the hepatitis A vaccine to work in the restaurant,” Ferguson said.
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $10,000 from Olive Garden and its parent company, Florida-based GMRI Inc. The suit leaves open the potential for others to join as co-plaintiffs.
Prescott ate at the North McPherson Church Road restaurant on Aug. 1, the suit says. She declined to be interviewed.
Article: Fayetteville Observer
August 24, 2011
A federal appeals court reinstated a wrongful-death suit Monday by the family of a man who was mortally wounded in a patrol car by a policewoman who reached for what she thought was a Taser, but pulled out her handgun instead.
A federal judge ruled in 2009 that Madera police Officer Marcy Noriega – who had undergone daily Taser training since a similar, nonlethal blunder nine months earlier – made a reasonable mistake in a fast-moving situation and could not be held legally responsible.
But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said a jury might conclude from the evidence that Noriega’s “poor judgment and lack of preparedness caused her to act with undue haste” and with excessive force against the handcuffed man, Everardo Torres.
The case dates from 2002, when electronic stun guns were a relatively new police weapon with few safeguards against confusion – Tasers looked much like firearms and were often worn on the same side of the body as an officer’s pistol.
Investigators concluded that the fatal shooting was an accident, and Noriega was not charged with a crime. By contrast, BART Officer Johannes Mehserle was charged with murder for shooting unarmed passenger Oscar Grant in January 2009 with a gun that was much different in size and color from his Taser, and was worn on the opposite hip. A jury found that the killing was accidental and convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter.
Torres, 24, was arrested with a friend in October 2002 by police responding to a complaint of loud noise at a party. Torres fell asleep in the patrol car, then awoke and started shouting and kicking at a door. He was complaining that his handcuffs were too tight, one of his lawyers said.
Noriega, who was standing nearby, said Torres kicked the door into her as she opened it. She pulled out her black Glock semiautomatic pistol from a holster on her right hip – just above her holstered black Taser – and aimed and fired the gun without looking at it, the court said. The bullet hit Torres in the chest.
Article: San Francisco Chronicle
The plaintiff, who was assaulted after a date with a convicted sexual predator, sought no monetary compensation. But the company’s promise to screen all members is expected to spark a new industry norm.
Match.com settled a lawsuit brought by a sexual assault victim by agreeing Tuesday to conduct background checks on all members to screen out known sex offenders.
Screenwriter Carole Markin proclaimed victory for the millions of singles who make use of online dating services, saying Match.com’s commitment to security screening could prevent attacks such as the one she suffered last year on a second date with Alan Paul Wurtzel of Pacific Palisades, who had at least six previous sex offense convictions.
Wurtzel, 67, pleaded no contest to sexual battery last week. He faces a year in jail and five years’ probation when he is sentenced Sept. 19.
Markin’s suit, originally filed under the name Jane Doe, trained a spotlight on the perils of computer-generated hookups in an age when, as Match.com advertises, 1 in 5 relationships begins online.
Internet matchmaking services have long had disclaimers on their websites, warning clients that they bear no liability for physical, financial or other harm that occurs during use of their services. But legal experts said it was only a matter of time before courts recognized some responsibility of the billion-dollar operations to take affordable and readily available precautions to protect their members.
Article: Los Angeles Times
August 12, 2011
ROCKFORD — A federal judge ruled that $4.2 million awarded to a Cherry Valley man in a discrimination case against Chrysler in September 2010 was excessive and lowered the total damages awarded to $300,000.
Otto May Jr. of Cherry Valley was awarded $709,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages after a federal jury found that the company did not do enough to stop years of religious and ethnic harassment.
Chrysler appealed the verdict, and Kapala dismissed the $3.5 million in punitive damages “as a matter of law” and lowered the compensatory damages to $300,000.
The ruling came down July 7, and May had 21 days to ask for a new trial on compensatory damages only. May did not respond, and the court entered a final judgment Tuesday.
May, who continues to work for Chrysler at its Belvidere assembly plant and has been there for 23 years, filed suit in 2002. A Cuban-born Jew, May said in the suit that he took abuse for years from co-workers, including having his tires shredded by homemade spikes, being called an “import from Cuba” and having messages such as “Kill Jew. Heil Hitler” scribbled on his locker.
The case survived several twists before reaching the verdict. One of his claims was dismissed in 2007. That same year, his first attorney died, and he had to find new representation. In 2009, the case was continued while Chrysler reorganized in bankruptcy, and May turned down offers to settle before the weeklong trial.
Michael Palese of Chrysler’s legal communications department released a brief statement from the company.
“Chrysler Group has a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment or discrimination of any kind. We investigate all allegations fully and infractions are punishable up to and including termination. Chrysler Group works hard to maintain a safe and supportive work environment that values and respects all employees.”
Chrysler Group LLC now is majority-owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA. Chrysler employs about 2,400 at its Belvidere plant where workers make the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.
Article: Rockford Register Star
A King of Prussia woman who was critically injured when a Megabus in which she was a passenger rammed into a low railroad bridge near Syracuse, N.Y. in September 2010 says in a lawsuit in federal district court here that the crash could have been prevented had the bus been equipped with a GPS device.
Investigators said the bus driver, John Tomazewski, missed the exit from Interstate 81 for a regional transportation center and ended up on a nearby parkway. Megabus officials have said company policy prohibits the use of GPS devices while driving.
Lo Wah Chu, 56, suffered “catastrophic, permanent and disabling” injuries in the accident, the lawsuit said, including traumatic brain injury, severe injury to the cervical spine, massive trauma to the head, trunk, extremities and other body parts and dementia.
At the time of the accident, which killed four, the double-decker bus was enroute to Toronto from Philadelphia. Chu was seated on the upper level of the bus, which struck the bridge first before rolling onto its side, the lawsuit states.
The suit seeks at least $75,000 in damages and names Megabus LLC Northest, Coach USA and Tomazewski as defendants.
Article: Philadelphia Inquirer
Authorities in China’s southwestern city of Kunming have identified another 22 unauthorized Apple retailers weeks after a fake of the company’s store in the city sparked an international storm.
China’s Administration for Industry and Commerce in the Yunnan provincial capital said the stores have been ordered to stop using Apple’s logo after Apple China accused them of unfair competition and violating its registered trademark, state media said on Thursday.
The market watchdog agency said it would set up a complaint hotline and boost monitoring, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
It did not say if the shops were selling knock-off Apple products or genuine but smuggled models.
Countless unauthorized resellers of Apple and other brands’ electronic products throughout China sell the real thing but buy their goods overseas and smuggle them into the country to escape taxes.
In July, inspections of around 300 shops in Kunming were carried out after a blog post by an American living in the city exposed a near-flawless fake Apple Store where even the staff were convinced they were working for the California-based iPhone and iPad maker.
Chinese law protects trademarks and prohibits companies from copying the “look and feel” of other companies’ stores.
But enforcement is spotty, and the United States and other Western countries have often complained China is woefully behind in its effort to stamp out intellectual property (IP) theft.
In May, China was listed for the seventh year by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office as a country with one of the worst records for preventing copyright theft.
Monroe County and its former jail health care provider have agreed to pay $275,000 to the family of a man who died of a heart attack in the jail in 2007.
Attorneys for the family of Orlando Samuels had argued in a lawsuit that medical officials at the jail ignored Samuels’ heart condition, causing his death in May 2007.
In court papers, attorney Mark Valerio contends that Samuels — who was jailed on a parole violation — “was a known cardiac patient and was on four medications to control his heart condition.”
Samuels “was not provided with any of his heart medications for the nine days that he was at the jail before he suffered a fatal heart attack,” Valerio writes.
Jail health care provider Correctional Medical Services Inc. had experts who argued that Samuels’ “history of cocaine and alcohol abuse” was central to the death, and not any neglect by jail officials, records show. The company admits no fault in the settlement.
Insurance for Correctional Medical Services, or CMS, will cover the settlement, papers state. Attorney fees will be deducted from the settlement, which was approved last month by a federal judge.
Article: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
August 11, 2011
New York Law School was sued by former students who accused the school of inflating statistics on graduates’ jobs and pay.
The lawsuit, filed today in New York, and a second suit filed in Michigan against Thomas M. Cooley Law School, claim the schools knowingly inflated employment and salary statistics to recruit and retain students. The complaints were filed by three New York law graduates and four Cooley graduates seeking to represent all current and former students at both schools.
“We believe the practice of inflating employment statistics and salary information is endemic among law schools,” David Anziska, an attorney for the students with New York-based Kurzon Strauss LLP, said today in a statement. “We hope these suits bring systematic change in the way legal education is marketed by making transparency and accuracy the rule, not the exception.”
Cooley sued Kurzon Strauss and four anonymous bloggers in separate complaints last month claiming they defamed the school through Web postings. Cooley, based in Lansing, Michigan, accused the law firm of false statements on websites to “incite” the readers and to “troll” for plaintiffs for a purported class-action lawsuit.
Cooley said in a July 14 statement that its job placement rates are reported annually to the American Bar Association and the National Association for Law Placement nine months after graduations based on the results of surveys and are consistent with all 201 ABA accredited law schools.
Today’s complaints, which seek unspecified damages, claim that law schools, including New York Law and Cooley, misrepresent their graduates’ employment prospects by misclassifying graduates who have only secured part-time or temporary jobs as “fully” employed, according to Kurzon’s statement.
“It is time for the legal academy to own up to this problem,” Jesse Strauss, an attorney for the students, said in a statement.
James Thelen, Cooley’s associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel, wasn’t immediately available for comment on the complaint. A spokesperson at New York Law School wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Founded in 1972, Cooley has four campuses in Michigan, according to its website. New York Law School, founded in 1891, is one of the oldest independent law schools in the U.S. with roughly 1,500 students, according to its website.
The cases are Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York; MacDonald Jr. v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 11-00831, U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan.
DAYTONA BEACH — A 33-year-old Kansas woman run over by a Volusia County Beach Patrol pickup has been released from the hospital, her lawyer said Monday night.
Erin Joynt suffered hearing loss, facial fractures, broken ribs and other injuries July 31 after her head was struck by a front wheel of the county-owned pickup, attorney John M. Phillips of Jacksonville said by telephone.
Joynt was riding with family Monday night on a 20-hour drive back to Wichita, Kan., Phillips said.
Also Monday, in a beach accident involving residents that resulted in the death of a 4-year-old boy in July 2010, Volusia County was served notice that a lawsuit had been filed seeking damages and claiming negligent traffic management, according to court records.
In the accident that sent Joynt to the hospital for about a week, the mother of two was lying on her stomach in the sand when a 21-year-old part-time lifeguard made a right-hand U-turn and hit her.
The county’s beach safety protocol is being revamped in reaction to the accident, with large Beach Patrol pickups no longer expected to patrol the 17 miles of driving beach the way they once did. Joynt was the third beachgoer hit by a county vehicle since June 2010.
Joynt had only been on the beach for two hours when she was hit in front of her 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, her lawyer said.
“The 8-year-old and 5-year-old were coming out of the water when it happened,” Phillips said. “The 8-year-old saw it and turned the smaller one around. She was mature enough to know she didn’t want him to see this.”
Unlike the summer vacation drive the family made to get here, the Joynts have to stop frequently on the way back home because of the pain Joynt is experiencing, he added.
Article: Daytona Beach News Journal
Indiana joined the U.S. Justice Department on Monday in a whistleblower lawsuit against Education Management Corp., the parent company of Brown Mackie College and the Art Institute, claiming the schools received more than $12 million in state financial aid based on false claims.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined the attorneys general from California, Illinois, Florida and the federal government in a 122-page complaint that claims $11 billion in government aid has been improperly received by the company since 2003.
Two former employees of Pittsburgh-based Education Management and its for-profit college networks started the suit in 2007 in Pennsylvania, but it became public when the government joined.
In the past two months, instructors at Indiana sites of Education Management have told similar stories of incentive plans to recruit students, even unqualified students, state officials allege.
The states and federal government allege Education Management and its schools violated a federal law that bans incentive compensation for college admissions employees based on the numbers of students they enroll.
Article: Indianapolis Star