Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Retaliation complaint filed against Marine officials

Employees often refuse to file complaints against their employers for fear of retaliation. When the employer is a long standing institution such as the Marine Corps, the pressure is higher and the fear is greater.

Whistleblower Farnz Gayl alleged that military officials tried to force him to quit after accusing the Marine Corps of gross mismanagement for its failure to deliver lifesaving equipment to troops in Iraq.

Before his whistle blowing, Gayl had a sterling performance. But when the incident happened, he was poorly evaluated, hit with reprimands, had his job description rewritten and pressured to resign.

During his campaign, President Barack Obama pledged to treat federal whistle blowers as patriots instead of pariahs. But in an institution like the Marine Corps where whistle blowers have been viewed with contempt, such culture would be hard to change.

Gayl claimed that after exposing the anomaly he has been the subject of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry for mishandling secret information.

Under the law, an employee is shielded from retaliation for asserting protected rights. Hence, an employee may file a retaliation complaint should his employer gets back at him for doing something that is protected by law. Consequently, an employment attorney may be hired to pursue claims.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Former Candidate tried for Fraudulent acts

Issuing a bounced check in exchange for goods or services is penalized by law. It is a fraudulent act punishable in most states.

For Delecia Holt, a three-time congressional candidate, issuing a check became a habit despite the knowledge that she had no sufficient money in the bank.

Holt wrote bad checks to buy a Mercedes, pay for a month-long hotel stay and pay for telephone bills and other utilities. Consequently, she was arrested in October 2008 and jailed since then for failing to post a bail bond of $56,000.

Holt pleaded not guilty. Her court appointed defense attorney Fred McBride waived his right to make an opening statement.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche said Holt could still be charged with filing a false campaign finance statements.

False or fraudulent acts are not only detrimental to a business endeavor but invites judicial intervention. When prosecuted for acts like these, a business lawyer can intervene to minimize or resist its effects.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Protecting One’s business

Businessmen should apply for a copyright of their products or services to prevent other people from copying or using them illegally. Unfortunately for Tila Nguyen (also known as Tila Tequila), she was sued for copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit for posting pictures of San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. She used his lights out trademark on her online site without his consent.

Tila allegedly used the pictures so attract traffic to her web site to purchase the products sold there. Apparently, this has delayed Merriman’s dealings with Walmart. It also affected his relationship with the San Diego Chargers.

Merriman is worried that the lights out trademark might confuse his consumers and think it was Nguyen’s.

This is the reason why a copyright or trademark is important; they can sue someone who tries to copy or make use of their products or services as they have a legal claim over things.

A good copyright or trademark infringement lawyer will be able to help his client win a case. The client has to provide him the necessary information that will support the case as evidences.

It is not a great feeling if someone stole an idea, products or services that were developed for so many years and a lot of money has been invested to put it out on the market.

Friday, December 11, 2009

1 Killed, 2 Injured in Highway 180 Collision

A 23-year-old driver was killed and two more people were injured in a fatal car accident in Highway 180 west of Fresno.

According to CHP, the 23-year-old man, whose identity is withheld pending notification of his family, was heading eastbound in a 1998 Chrysler Sebring when he crossed into the westbound lane and collided with a 2001 Chevrolet pickup.

The driver of the Chevrolet, Jose Gutierrez, 26, and his passenger, Jorge Vasquez, 21, each sustained major injuries and were taken to Community Regional Medical Center
CHP suspects that alcohol was involved in the accident.

Gutierrez and Vasquez should file a personal injury claim against the unidentified Chrysler driver despite his death.

Unlike criminal charges, civil liability lawsuits do not die with the victim.

The insurance company of the unidentified driver can pay for the damages caused by their client up to the limit of his car accident insurance policy.

Gutierrez and Vasquez should make sure that they consult with a car accident lawyer as the insurance company they will surely employ their own lawyers and insurance adjusters to find ways to deny their claim.

It is better to have your own attorney watching your back to increase the chance of success.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Woman Sues Makers of Facebook Apps

A 41-year-old Santa Cruz woman identified as Rebecca Swift has filed a class-action lawsuit against one of the popular application makers in the social networking site Facebook.

In her lawsuit, Swift claimed that Zynga charged around $200 as the makers of the application “YoVille” lured her into signing up in an alleged false advertisement.

She believes that many others were lured in the same trap presented by Zynga.

A judge is yet to determine whether Swift’s claims of Zynga defrauding its users have credit. But those who have encountered the same alleged fraudulent act must seek the help of an expert lawyer who can determine whether they have grounds to file a complaint.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beauty Queen Dies from Faulty Operation

The 38-year-old former Miss Argentina Solange Magnano died from pulmonary embolism when the liquid injected to her buttocks reportedly went to her lungs and brain putting her in critical condition three days before her death.

Magnano’s twin children will now have to live without their mother because of a possible medical malpractice committed by doctors who were paid to make her look better.

If proven guilty, the doctors, and probably the hospital, where she got her butt injected will face liability for the tragic death of the beauty queen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Former Firefighter’s Union Chief Fighting City over IRS Reversed Benefit

The former head of San Diego firefighter’s union is fighting the city for not paying retirement benefits that was canceled after the IRS concluded that it violated federal tax laws.

The civil lawsuit was filed against the city by Ron Saathoff last September to repeal an ordinance that cancelled the benefit.

The conflict stemmed from the “presidential leave” benefit that would let Saathoff combine his salary as president of the International Union of Firefighters Local 145 with his salary as a city worker in determining his pension.

However, the benefit was cancelled and is actually a part of 2 pending criminal charges involving Saathoff and other city pension board.

The criminal charges allege that Saathoff and other board members engaged with self-dealing and fraud by approving a city proposal that put less money in the pension system than required while the city is agreeing to pay out more benefits in labor contracts.

According to Saathoff and his lawyer, the city lawfully entered in those benefits and it is obligated to perform on both of them.

A spokesman from the City Attorney’s office argued though that the benefits were approved with no ordinance and no vote; just as the city cannot take away retirement benefits without an ordinance and a vote of the membership, individuals cannot get special benefits without them.

The best bet of Saathoff to win this case is to prove that the benefits were legally approved by the city and that the IRS reversal was not justifiable.

The prosecutors would in turn try to show Saathoff and the other board members as self serving people who want to get more than what they contribute.

In my opinion, the IRS have already declared that the benefit is illegal and against federal tax laws.

The government has every right to take away a benefit that was passed by the people who are also the ones who stand to benefit from it.

Trade Unions are there to serve the interest of the workers who they represent, not to use their bargaining powers as leverage to get advantages over others.

Friday, November 27, 2009

School Officials Investigated for Lavish Spending

The financial turmoil has caused many institutions to cut budgets. Educational institutions were not sparred of these budget cut offs.

The San Jose/Evergreen Community College was forced to cut classes and eliminate several school programs to minimize spending.

However, San Jose school officials had been lavishly spending. In fact, Rosa Perez, a school official, had a salary of $293,000 a year with a $147,000 bonus.

Moreover, such officials had been charging the district with airfares, expensive hotel accommodations and club memberships.

Consequently, the bountiful spending and benefits these school officials were under investigation.

It was frustrating to know that while several classes were cancelled and funds for disabled students were cut off, school officials had been splurging on benefits.

Certainly, the school board has to look into this matter. Any negligence on the part of the school administrators may be considered a tortuous conduct. This tortuous conduct may give rise to a damage suit.

For more information about employment law, you may contact an employment lawyer in your area.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fisher-Price cribs recalled

Mothers who want their babies to be safe would certainly stay away from Stork Craft cribs carrying the brand Fisher-Price.

Over 2 million drop-side cribs have been recalled in the United States and Canada after the deaths of four infants. The recall was initiated by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Canadian government agency in cooperation with British Columbia-based Stork Craft.

Following the recall, parents were asked to stop using said cribs. They were also told not to make any attempt to fix them until they obtained a free Stork Craft repair kit.

A total of 110 accidents in US and Canada have been received where the crib’s drop side detached. In fact, fifteen children were trapped while 20 children fell from it.

Infants are susceptible to injuries due to their tender age. They need someone or something to protect them. Cribs may certainly give them care, protection and comfort. However, a defective crib would certainly cause them harm.

If your child has been injured due to this defective crib, a product liability case may be filed against the crib manufacturer. A personal injury lawyer may be hired to ask for compensation claims.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jobless Workers Scammed Online

Workers who are looking for jobs in a website were defrauded to reveal personal information thinking that they were applying for a job position at JetBlue Airways.

Authorities first suspected that a scam has been made after some jobless workers started to look for JetBlue Airways in the John Wayne Airport.

They found out later that JetBlue Airways was never associated with the said airport.

Fraudulent acts committed by scammers against those looking for work further aggravate the suffering that jobless workers face.

Websites posting jobs, on the other hand, must do their part and confirm business details of their clients who are looking for workers so as to avoid being included in the liable parties in case litigation would ensue.

Victims also should hire expert lawyers who can represent them and get them compensated for whatever trouble that the fraud has caused them

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proposed Action Suit against Apple, AT&T

An iPhone user wants to file a class-action suit against the makers of the phone and AT&T as the latter misled buyers by insinuating that they can use multimedia messaging service or MMS in their iPhones 3G when in fact, MMS can only be available to consumers when and if AT&T will upgrade its network.

The complainant alleged that they were “misled” by the claims of AT&T and wants them to be punished.

Every company should be cautious of their ads that are designed to attract consumers. They must be wary of their wordings and be sure to deliver the features and services that they offer their clients.

For consumers who feel that their rights are violated, they must locate an experienced business lawyer and have them assess possible charges they can file against the other party.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pilot Pulled from Flight on suspicion of Being Drunk

As federal authorities investigate the pilots who overshot an airport in Minneapolis in suspicion of fatigue, another pilot gets the spotlight as he was pulled from the plane he was supposed to fly to Chicago for having too much alcohol in his system.

Erwin Vermont Washington, 51, was arrested by British police before the plane was able to leave London’s Heathrow Airport.

The United Airlines Flight 949 was already full of passengers when the incident happened.

A spokesperson from United Airlines announced that the pilot has been removed from service pending an investigation.

She reiterated that the Airline has a strict policy about this kind of behavior and it will not be tolerated.

The flight was cancelled and the passengers were transferred to other flights.

That was a tragedy averted as it could have easily been another plane accident waiting to happen.

A plane weighs about 20 tons with thousands of moving parts and will be flying about 30,000 feet in the air.

The concept of flying is scary enough for some people, the idea that the pilot is drunk while flying is just downright terrifying.

If proven that the pilot was indeed under the influence of alcohol, he could be charged by federal authorities for endangering his passengers.

The pilot’s license can also be revoked and he can be barred from flying commercial planes ever again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Senate Bill that Extends Unemployment Benefits Go to the Floor for Action

The senate bill that would extend unemployment benefits has been approved to go to the floor for action. However, the date and time for a full senate vote for bill HB 3548 is not yet known.

Under the bill, states with high unemployment rates would be able to give 20 additional weeks of benefits, while those whose unemployment rate are below 8.5% will receive up to 14 weeks.

The bill faced some setbacks as Republicans expressed concerns about the brunt of the additional costs being given to businesses.

The bill also became a magnet for amendments like the Democrats’ proposal to extend the $8,000 first time homebuyers tax credit.

Once approved, an agreement must be worked out with the House of Representatives, which passed their own version.

This is welcome news to the many jobless workers in California.

According to the California Development Department, about 134,000 citizens have already exhausted the up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits available.

Just this September, the employment rate reached a high of 12.2 %.

Although the bill is somewhat a short term solution and does not really solve the unemployment problem, it goes a long way in helping those who are struggling to find a job while the government looks for ways to solve the problem.

Hopefully once the unemployment benefits are extended, the employment rate should also pick-up and by the end of the extension, we can see a reduction in unemployment.

For more information about employment rights and benefits, contact the employment attorneys near you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FBI Apprehends Scientist for Attempted Sale of National Security Secrets

Reports about the scientist who tried to sell some of our most guarded secrets to Israel have shocked a lot of people that such a thing could really happen.

It’s the stuff that makes great spy movies, except that this time, it’s for real.

Thankfully, the scientist identified as David Nozette was arrested by the FBI in a very elaborate sting operation.

By the looks of it, the prosecutors are doing the best they can to keep Nozette in jail for the rest of his life.

The risk of him fleeing and successfully sharing confidential information to other nations are just too big.

According to his former colleague, Scott Hubbard, Nozette was a defense technologist who had access to the Department of Defense national security work, which are highly classified.

The suspicion about Nozette’s espionage work started when an inspection by NASA’s inspector general in 2006 found some anomalous claims for expenses that were not actually incurred.

Further investigations showed that Nozette might have been working for a foreign government. This led to a national security investigation that led to the sting and the eventual arrest.

This issue goes beyond intellectual property rights violations.

Selling trade secrets of companies to rival organizations could already get you to jail for up to 15 years and a fine of about half a million dollars for committing acts of industrial espionage.

And that is just about rival corporate companies.

Nozerette’s alleged act went beyond industrial espionage, it is treason.

Not only was he selling confidential information to another nation, he might have been selling secrets that compromises the nation’s national security.

Hopefully, this is an isolated incident and would not happen again in the near future.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stadium Staff fell before Game Starts

Workplace accidents could happen if an area was not properly maintained by the employer. Injured employees caused by these accidents may be compensated if they can prove that the injuries they sustained may be avoided if only the employer was not negligent in keeping their work area safe.

This may be the case in a slip and fall accident involving a member of the Chargers game-day staff. Walt Daniels was injured after he reportedly fell around 20-25 feet from the visiting coaches’ booth on the press level on Qualcomm Stadium.

The accident happened hours before the game started. According to emergency personnel, the man had a pulse after around five minutes of CPR.

He was putting together program packages that will be distributed to the media when he somehow fell out of the Booth 35C. He landed on the seats underneath and settled on the concrete between the Club Level’s second and third rows.

Two members of the Bronco’s radio broadcast team said the man tripped down the stairs, pitched forward, and rolled out of the booth. They said the worker, who was walking with a cane, desperately tried to regain control after the first stumble but failed to stop his fall.

CPR was performed on him and he was brought to Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Daniels’ employer should have made necessary adjustments to accommodate his physical condition. In addition, the employer should have been aware that Daniels may have trouble in going up or down the stairs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Local Unions Charged With Discriminatory and Unfair Labor Practices

Unions such as the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council, and the AFL-CIO have been charged with unfair labor practices by a national anti-union organization, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The unfair labor claim, which was filed on behalf of Wesley Fuller, an employee of San Diego's Brady Co who is not a member of the union, alleged that the “Project Stabilization Agreement” is discriminatory.

The charges claimed that the policy dictating hiring terms for the work under the San Diego school district's $2.1 billion Proposition S bond measure would only enrich union officials and deprive non-union workers and employers.

Fuller, despite having completed all state apprenticeship requirements, was denied Proposition S work because his apprenticeship program was not established through a union.

The disputed labor agreement will take effect on all Proposition S projects that will exceed $1 million.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

[Blog Action Day] Climate Change Related Car Accidents through the Act of God Clause

Climate change is inevitable. We’ve come to a point that we cannot really reverse the effects and we will have to adapt to the new environment it will create.

According to the United Nations, every year sees an increase in the occurrence of storms, floods, and even earthquakes.

If climate change continues to have adverse effects, we may see more car accidents that can be considered “acts of god.”

What are car accidents that are considered acts of God? For one thing, they are accidents that you never thought would happen to you.

Act of God in US law refers to accidents that are caused by natural disasters or uncontrollable weather conditions.

This includes earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and tsunamis.

In these cases, there is really no liable party to be blamed thus the term “Act of God.”

And with the current trend in climate change, these could happen a lot more often than we think.

However, identifying car accidents that are caused by an “act of God” from accidents that are caused by negligence can sometimes be tricky and not all insurance policies cover acts of god calamities, so be sure to check yours.

The car accident claim becomes complicated if the accident was caused by both a natural disaster and negligence.

Generally, the courts decide based on whether the car accident would have happened regardless if the negligence was present or not.

For example, a truck took a shortcut on roads that it is not allowed to pass through and then gets damaged in a flood on that area.

The courts may decide that if the driver did not pass through those roads illegally then the truck should not have been damaged .

Therefore the negligent and liable party is the driver.

Another example would be if a tree falls on a parked car because of an earthquake; the courts may decide that the driver could not have reasonably known that the tree would fall on the car and could have not predicted the earthquake as well.

Therefore the car accident may be considered an act of God.

This car accident clause can be very complicated and insurance companies like to use this as an escape to not cover personal injuries and property damages claims.

The best thing you can do is review your insurance policy about accidents caused by “acts of god” and consult with an expert car accident attorney for advice.

$200,000 Settlement for Sexual Harassment Suit in Fire Station

Julie LaBlanc found a porn magazine in the possession of her child which led to a sexual harassment lawsuit against the San Jose Fire Department.

LaBlanc reportedly filed a complaint to the department after finding stacks of pornographic magazines in the firehouse where she was working.

After filing the charges, she stated that she became the subject of sexual harassment which greatly affected her work.

The city now offers her $200,000 after arbitration took place.

The recent incident only proves that government officials also face unfair treatment from their colleagues but shouldn’t back down even if they were harassed and treated unfairly.

Monday, October 12, 2009

School Girl Hit While Avoiding Sprinkler

Five percent of total car fatalities are children. In fact, children between two to fourteen years old often die in vehicular accidents.

In Fullerton, a 12-year-old school girl had been very lucky to only have sustained splint ankle when hit by a car. The accident happened when she stepped onto a street to avoid a sprinkler. The girl was on her way to school when the accident happened.

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) revealed that about 250,000 children die in car accidents in a year. This only showed that nearly 700 children are harmed on a daily basis.

Traumatic brain injury
and spinal cord injury are some of the injuries that a child’s tender body has to endure. These injuries are serious that apart from pain and suffering, financial hardship may also be experienced.

In most road accidents, negligence is the main cause. Certainly, when a negligent party caused injury to another, he must be penalized for it. Fine and/or imprisonment are the common penalties for negligent driving.

A pedestrian who may have incurred injury can sue a negligent driver for compensation claims through the help of a personal injury attorney.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Six Southern California Hospitals Fined For Serious Injuries, Death, Etc.

For patients, being the victim of medical malpractice is doubly more painful because it is also a violation of their trust.

Patients put their lives in the hands of their doctors and hospitals but would unfortunately, end up spending more money for additional treatment or even dying because of medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice is committed by any health care provider who acts in a negligent manner when treating a medical condition. This can be committed either through a negligent action taken by the medical practitioner or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action.

Most recently, the California Department of Public Health fined six Southern California hospitals for serious violations some of which resulted to serious injury and death. These errant hospitals were fined $25,000 each for administrative penalties.

Orange County Children's Hospital’s nursing staff failed to ensure appropriate drainage after a child's neurological procedure in November which led to severe brain injury.

A patient died in Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach for its technician’s failure to continuously monitor a patient who was disconnected from a cardiac monitor for 34 minutes. The technician did not notice that the patient had flat-lined or hear the machine’s alarm because the volume was not set on the highest level.

Southwest Healthcare Systems in Murrieta was also issued its third administrative penalty since 2007.

The overcrowded hospital continued to convert general surgery beds into intensive care beds without adequate staffing in June 2008.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles and South Coast Medical Center in Laguna Beach were all fined for not following proper surgical procedures.

Patients had to undergo a second surgery to remove surgical sponges or towels after they were detected in follow-up exams or when the patients complained of complications.

Medical malpractice cases are highly technical and because of its very nature (where hospitals and doctors would defend against charges with all their might because of the damage to their reputation), it is expensive and complicated.

But victims of medical malpractice should not be afraid to seek damages or compensation because if the doctor or the hospital’s negligence isn’t addressed, more patients will suffer the same fate.

Other medical malpractice claims can be made in case of misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a patient’s disease or medical condition, the doctor or hospital’s failure to provide appropriate treatment and unreasonable delay in treating a patient.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sale of a portion of SCIF opposed

The State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) is considered an insurer of last resort and serves as an example for private companies. It is a workers’ compensation insurer which operates like a mutual insurance carrier.

This is why efforts to sell portion of SCIF by the state of California had been vehemently opposed by the insurance regulator.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner planned to sue Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration to stop the sale. Poizner claimed that selling a part of the business or taking money from its assets violates the state's constitution. He added that even if the scheme was legal, it was a terrible public policy.

On the other hand, Rachel Cameron, spokeswoman for the governor, responded that the administration believed it can sell a part of the insurance business without affecting the costs.

Moreover, the office of the governor had reached a tentative two-year deal with the highway patrol officers to forgo pay raises. If approved by its 8,500 active members, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen would give up 0.5 percent pay raises for the next two years.

The depletion of SCIF would mean burden on injured workers. Before any move on its sale, the government should think and exhaust other option. It entails much burden if the proposed reason for sale does not transpire. In the end, it would be the injured workers who would suffer the most.

If you want to know more, consult an insurance attorney to give you an idea about SCIF and the effects of sale on you, if any.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Effects of Lane Splitting to Motorcyclists

As motorcycles could be easily maneuvered, motorcyclists often practice line splitting or sharing especially in times of traffic.

Line splitting is driving between established lanes of traffic. This practice could be very dangerous because motorcycles are often overlooked by larger vehicles.
In fact, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles motorcyclist's handbook, the practice is not safe and that vehicles and motorcycles need a full lane to operate safely.

California is the only state that does not prohibit line splitting. But with the fatal accident of a Garden Grove man while riding his motorcycle, the city may consider adopting the same rule.

Jason Richard Doerr was riding his motorcycle to work when his motorcycle collided with silver Toyota Matrix. Doerr tumbled off his motorcycle and trapped beneath the car. Witnesses said that prior to the incident, Doerr was splitting lanes.

The California Highway Patrol stated that motorcycle collisions happen due to unsafe speed, improper turning, improper passing and unsafe lane changes.

In Orange County, deaths among motorcyclist jumped to 44 percent. Although there were no statistics, line splitting was a contributing factor to the increase in the percentage.

Motorcycle riding is dangerous. An impact no matter how little could expose the rider to injuries. If the injury is caused by negligence, a personal injury case may be pursued against the driver. The victim can seek advice from a motorcycle accident attorney.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Medicare: Issues of Insolvency and Looming Budget Deficit

With the looming budget deficit which is expected to reach $1 trillion this fiscal year, major federal programs such as the Social Security and Medicare are facing insolvency for the next few years according to analysts.

Meanwhile, the threat of insolvency in Medicare and Medicaid programs is more alarming compared to Social Security’s case, some experts said.

According to a government data, spending by the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs federal healthcare programs, increased by $475.3 billion in 2008 compared to the previous year—an alarming rate considering that the funds are running out.

If the health department will not be reformed or well-funded, analysts fear that the funds of federal healthcare programs will be completely depleted by 2017—something which can potentially create social problems as millions of Americans, especially those with limited income, will be stripped with their basic right to receive healthcare.

The threat of insolvency and budget deficit may undermine MMSEA Act which was enacted during the Bush Administration to reform the basic healthcare programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

In Will Shapiro’s article, “The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act, Medicare Set Asides and what they mean to your practice”, he explained MMSEA Act and how it can overhaul the healthcare system in the country.

Shapiro said Medicare has become stricter in giving payments, making sure the funds will go to the rightful beneficiaries. While this method may reduce spending (and wasted funds), some analysts said the federal government should pass a law—that will complement MMSEA Act—to save this healthcare program and its beneficiaries.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Jackson’s Dermatologist not the Source of Diprivan

Now that Michael Jackson had been laid to rest, question on the cause of his death continues to puzzle millions of his fans.

The death certificate left Jackson’s cause of death blank pending the completion of the toxicology report. In fact, a part of his brain was still in the custody of the investigators until neuropathology tests were completed.

Jackson’s dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, came up and said the he was not the source of Diprivan. He claimed that he may have sedated Jackson for past painful medical procedures but he had never given him Diprivan.

Klein also confirmed that Jackson had always ways with things. He had this whatever-he-likes-he-gets attitude. He left an intriguing statement that Jackson was with a team of surgeons who did not know where to stop.

Inferring from Klein’s last statement and judging from Jackson’s what he likes-he-gets attitude, Jackson may have acquired drugs from this team of professionals who had access to the drugs.

Authorities recovered several drugs from Jackson’s home including Diprivan. Diprivan is a powerful drug administered by anesthesiologists in hospitals. A dangerous drug like this should never be injected in private homes or left in the hands of an inexperienced person.

Klein had also discounted the rumor that Jackson’s health was poor. In fact, when he saw him three days before his death, Klein said he had not notice anything that would make him worry. As a 50 year old man, Jackson may have slowed but he was strong, Klein said.

The course of investigation may have led authorities to prescription drugs. But everything seemed to boil down to one thing: the source of these prescription drugs.

Whoever was the source of it was negligent in giving them to Jackson. The source knew better than Jackson that the drugs were very dangerous and may cause death if given indiscriminately. Consequently, a medical malpractice case could be filed against such person.

Monday, July 6, 2009

LAPD Officers Suspended for Showing Excessive Force

Police authorities are defenders of civilian rights. They enforce the law and ensure that it is strictly adhered to. However, when they exceed the exercise of their authority, punishment is imposed.

In May 2007, eleven Los Angeles Police Officers were accused of using excessive force on demonstrators and journalists at the May Day gathering at MacArthur Park. The incident produced public opinion regarding police brutality.

Due to the tumultuous incident, Police Chief William J. Bratton punished 11 officers and recommended the termination of four others. The officers were sent to the Board of Rights for disciplinary actions. The melee caused the city $13 million in legal settlements.

After investigation, the officers involved were given a maximum penalty of suspension. As no officers were dismissed, Batton said he could no longer do something as the ultimate decision lies with the board.

The counsels for the demonstrators were distraught with the Board’s decision. Despite submitting videos showing unauthorized force, officers were only reprimanded while others suspended.

On their part, the accused officers cited lack of training, poor leadership and overly aggressive tactics as causes of their illegal conduct.

Police officers are required to observe maximum tolerance when dealing with demonstrators or the general public. The use of excessive force is never encouraged and is in fact prohibited. Otherwise, officers may not only face administrative actions but criminal actions as well.

For people who have been a victim of an excessive display of force by a police, a case may be filed against them. If injury resulted in the process, a personal injury case may prosper.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MTA violates ADA requirement on wheelchair safety restraints

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disability from any discriminatory acts.

In transportation, public buses for instance are required to have safety restraint devices for wheelchair occupants. These devices should neither be broken nor non operational.

The ADA specifically calls for the observance of the following regulations:

1. Handrails must be provided
2. Vehicle’s floor area must at least be 30 x 48 inches
3. Safety restraint must be capable of handling up to 2,500 pounds
4. In addition to the safety devices, wheelchair occupant must have a seatbelt and shoulder harness

Sadly, most Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses in Los Angeles County ignore ADA’s requirement. In an undercover investigation, MTA not only failed to provide their buses such safety restraints but also hire drivers who were not properly trained to assist in attaching these devices.

In their defense, an MTA official claimed that their buses were designed for an older type of wheelchair and not for motorized wheelchairs being used today. He further claimed that their employees undergo two days sensitivity training. But the undercover video showed otherwise.

At this point, proper implementation of the law must have been the problem. As the law properly laid out the wheelchair restraint requirements, authorities must see to it that it is effectively implemented and carried out.

People with disabilities, on their part, must also see to it that their rights are secured and protected by reporting those who violate the same.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Weak Economy Affects Common Workers

With the ongoing recession, over 663,000 Americans lost their jobs in April, pushing the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent which can even reach to 10 percent if the economy will not rebound for the next few months.

The looming unemployment rate in the labor market just shows how much workers are affected by economic slowdown.

Because workers are the most affected sector when the economy is weak, some of them ask why the business giants are receiving billions of bailout money while ordinary employees face unemployment threats.

To pacify other workers who think that the government is unfair, President Barack Obama recently announced executive pay limit for bailout companies. This means that businesses that received stimulus package will not give pays more than $500,000, bonuses, and extra pays to its executives and top officials.
This decision is considered by many as pragmatic and “common sense”.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Massive Layoff Threatens 1,000 Workers in Sacramento

With the ongoing recession, Sacramento County officials are considering to reduce its workforce which can affect nearly 1,000 employees in effort to close the looming budget deficit. If this massive layoff will be implemented, California’s unemployment rate is expected to surge, further weakening the labor market.

Meanwhile, workers already expressed their concern over the proposed cuts. With disposable incomes and freeze hiring, unemployment threats are too much for ordinary Americans.

Despite objection from several labor groups, the massive workforce reduction will likely take place to keep the finances of local government afloat amid economic recession.

According to officials, the layoffs will save millions of dollars from the government budget. While this may be beneficial in some aspects, there are ramifications when high unemployment rate is unabated.

Meanwhile, local institutions that will be affected by massive layoff are District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Department, Office of County Counsel, Juvenile Medical Services, Public Defender’s Office, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Apart from cutting jobs, local government officials also require departments and agencies to have contingency plans and cost-cutting measures to save money amid the financial crisis.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stopping the Effects of Salmonella Outbreak

A warning has been issued by the California Department of Public Health after forty people, which includes 33 residents of California, were taken ill due to salmonella food poisoning after they have consumed black and white pepper purchased from City of Industry-based Union International Food Company.

Union International declared its voluntary recall of 16 products including cayenne pepper, wasabi, an onion powder, among others, which came under the Lian How and Uncle Chens Brands. Different local restaurants in the state may have purchased these contaminated products.

This scare rooted on the nationwide issue concerning pistachio-linked salmonella that caused many people to dump foods that may contain the nuts. These nuts were processed at Setton Pistachio, which is located in Tulare County.

According to the company’s representatives; contamination may have taken place when contaminated nuts and roasted nuts were mixed together because of an error in the process of separation.

These incidents may teach the food processing industry to be more responsible in making sure that all processed products are safe for consumption. Rules concerning the process of testing contaminants regularly should also be followed so that companies will be sure that they products they are selling are safe.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fraud in Social Security Claims

Fraud in Social Security happens when a person who is illegible for benefits receives financial assistance from the agency. Unfortunately, there are many cases of such illegal activity that legal claimants have their benefits delayed.

One of the most common targets of fraudster is the In House Support Services (IHSS) of Social Security program. This service is for elderly and disabled people that will allow them to stay in their homes instead in medical facilities and hospice since their caretakers would also be their family relatives.
While this service has a noble purpose—and that is to help disabled and elderly people—there are some cases when this goes to individuals who are not legitimate claimants.

With the growing number of illegitimate claimants, some people suggest that there should be Social Security investigators to probe a person’s case and determine if he is really eligible for the financial aid he is receiving.

Meanwhile, SSA urges people to report any case of fraudulent act since it diminishes the agency’s budget and delays financial benefits of legitimate claimants.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Defective Evenflo Products Recalled after Accidents

Manufacturing companies have the responsibility of keeping their products safe for their patron’s use. However, there are some product defects that are only discovered after an accident has occurred and have injured others.

A recent event wherein the Evenflo Co. Inc., known for its baby products, have recalled around 643,000 units of Envision high chairs after some accidents have been reported.

The company has received around 320 reports wherein the seat has suddenly reclined backwards which caused head injuries. Another 13 reports indicate the small parts (i.e. screws and fasteners) are also defective and have almost caused choking accidents.

Companies, especially those which caters to children, should have better ways of making sure that their products would not malfunction or are not defective so as not to cause any accident that could jeopardize the life of those who use them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Employees with lupus could be discriminated

Employees and workers are a necessary fuel to run a company.

Same with other necessary machineries, humans are susceptible to sickness and diseases. When succumb to one, work is affected and productivity suffers. Consequently, the law protects employees in dealing with their medical conditions in the work place.

Lupus could be a medical condition that could deter a person from performing at his peak. It triggers the immune system. The immune system makes auto antibodies that attack the normal body cells.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act require employers to make reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental disabilities of an employee. This means allowing employees to make doctor’s appointments or giving them time off to attend to their medical needs.

A California worker could not be discriminated against simply because he/she he has a recognized medical disability such as lupus. Accordingly, the law gives them the right to file a suit against their employers in case of violation.

Health Options for Laid Off Employees

Having to deal with extra expenses when you are laid off from work is suicide. As costs for sickness are extra expense, does it mean the end for the unemployed worker?

Acknowledging the increasing number of laid-off employees, the stimulus package included a provision concerning medical costs for unemployed workers.
The economic stimulus otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have the following helpful provisions:

• Employees who were laid from September 1, 2008 and who would be laid off until December 31, 2009 may qualify for a 65% subsidy to pay COBRA.

Those who were involuntary terminated between September 1 and February 16 who did not elect COBRA or are no longer enrolled with it may still avail.

Those who are eligible for the extended COBRA shall be notified by April 18 to inform them of the opportunity. They are given 60 days to elect COBRA.

• Previously, a laid off employee continues health insurance coverage from their former employee for 18 months which is a bit expensive.

Now, only 35% of the COBRA premiums shall be paid for 9 months of said 18 months. With the change, the cost of maintaining an average policy would be $377 per month for a family and $140 for an individual. This would dramatically rise to $1,078 per month for family coverage and $400 per month for individual coverage once the subsidy expires. Consequently, a 300% increase in COBRA enrollees is expected.

Aside from COBRA, laid off employees are given other options. These options include:

1. joining your spouse whose job offers health insurance in her/his plan;

2. checking if your children qualify for any government programs;

3. asking if you are qualified for Medicaid;

4. getting individual plan on private market that covers prescription drugs, out-of-network care or treatment for chronic conditions;

5. considering your out-of-pocket costs and co-payments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A life for the cost of a fire

Homes are intended to give us security and protection and normally, when we are at our own homes, we feel at ease and often let are guard down. However, we should still practice safety measures, as accidents can happen almost anywhere, even in places that we least expect.

This is the case that happened last Wednesday on a home in the area of San Carlos. One man was killed when his bungalow was caught on fire sparked by a cigarette. Initial investigation showed that the blaze might have started while the man was smoking in bed.

Cases such as this tells us that virtually anywhere we go, danger might also be present and the cost can be devastating. Carefulness should be practiced at all times, as we may never know what may possibly happen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama’s New Law: More Protection from Employment Discrimination

Like every individual, employees have their own rights. And these rights are protected by various employment and labor laws.

Just recently, President Obama signed a new law, the Ledbetter bill. Even though a discrimination case occurred decades earlier, this new law allows employees to file a claim 180 days after they have received their final paycheck, overturning the ruling of the Supreme Court before that an employee has to file a lawsuit within a period of six months after experiencing discrimination.

This bill may probably result in more litigation cases against employers, but this will definitely provide more protection to employees, as discrimination has always been an issue in the workplace, despite the laws that exist.

Let’s just hope that through this bill, the problems regarding employment discrimination will be resolved and that all employees can be treated fairly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cell phone law update

July 1, 2008 was California’s first day of battling cell phone use while driving.

On that day, two major laws became effective. First, drivers have been required to use hands-free devices while behind the wheel and second, drivers under the age of 18 have been prohibited to use any device, hands-free or not.

As far as text messaging is concerned, effective January 1, 2009, all drivers have been prohibited to send messages while behind the wheel. Otherwise, violators would be fined.

With the implementation of such laws, drivers who have been using cell phones have dramatically decreased. According to a survey, sixty four percent of motorists no longer use their cell phone while driving.

This only meant that California’s battle against cell phone use while driving has been successful. In fact, California has the greater reduction compared to other states such as Washington D.C. and New York.

California is serious in its goal of decreasing vehicle accidents caused by cell phone use. By December 2008, California Highway Patrol handed more than 50,000 citations for cell phone law violations.

However, the main goal has yet to be achieved. Cell phone law had been implemented to reduce cases of accidents primarily due to cell phone use. Decrease in numbers of drivers using cell phone does not equate to decrease in numbers of road related accident.

We have yet to see the outcome. At least for cell phone related accident, we can say that the implementation of cell phone law has been successful. Let us just cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Keeping Children Safe from Train Accidents

Children are naturally curious of their surroundings. They often want to experiment with the things around them. Parents should be there to warn them of the possible accidents that could happen if they would not be careful.

Also, they must be made aware of the dangers involved in walking along railroads whether they are by themselves or with the company of other kids.

Train companies are shouldered with heavier responsibility in caring for the safety of their passengers, pedestrians and motorists as well. This is because they are considered as common couriers along with airlines and bus companies. Railroads should be properly labeled so that everyone would be aware of its existence.

A recent train accident happened to a 13-year-old boy named Stacy Frierson who was running along with his friends in a railroad. Three of his friends got off the track on time as the train came on their direction. The boy died as he was struck by the passing train.

The accident happened near Fruit and Ashlan avenues in Fresno and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train was moving south. The tragedy could leave trauma to the victim’s friends who witnessed the accident and to his family as well who are receiving counseling.

According to statistics, there is an average of 4,000 listed train accidents in our nation yearly. This huge number should alert parents and train companies who should exert more effort in imposing preventive measures against these accidents.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Glaucoma as a Medical Disability

Employees’ contribution to the society is well recognized that various laws are implemented. These laws are aimed at protecting their rights especially when they are disabled hence unable to work.

One disability that employees may encounter is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease in the optic nerve, which can cause permanent blindness if untreated. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

If glaucoma is recognized as a medical disability, an employee must be given necessary accommodations by the employer. An employee must be afforded the time for medical appointments, provided with Braille materials or adaptive computer software or given reasonable time off.

Most people at high risks for glaucoma are those over 60 years old or those who have family history of it.

As glaucoma is a disability, you have the right to be given necessary considerations. If you feel like being discriminated against, then the law gives you the right to sue your employer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Epilepsy as Disability

Employees and workers are the most valuable members of the workforce. Without them, the economy would cripple even further. Hence, the lawmakers made it a point to protect their rights especially in times when they are rendered disabled.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment Housing Act are just some of the laws that protect Californian employees and workers from disability discrimination. The employer should not take adverse actions based only of his employee’s medical condition.

As disability can oftentimes get in the way of work, the tendencies are work is delayed or not fully accomplished. Inevitably, workers are discriminated against. It should be understood though that disability includes not only physical but also neurological imbalances like epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by recurrent epileptic seizures caused by a synchronous or abnormal excessive neuronal activity in the brain. Epilepsy can never be cured though it can be controlled.

If the seizures limit one’s ability to work, it would cause him not to function properly then eventually be considered a disabled. Consequently, the employer should afford such employee reasonable accommodations such as permitting to attend medical check ups or schedule doctor’s appointments.

Employees are advised to know their rights under the law. On the other hand, employers should learn to respect such rights.