Author Archive for David Brown

Are Wichita Children Safe at Daycare?

You expect your children to be safe when you drop them off at daycare in the morning. However, that isn’t always the case, as two recent cases in Wichita illustrate. One involves an 18-month-old who inhaled a piece of kernel corn in October 2017 that had to be surgically removed from his lung. Another case involves a nine-month-old who came home bruised and scratched in April 2017 after a daycare worker repeatedly yanked him up off of the floor. Both children had been attending their daycare facility for less than a week. Both sets of parents filed lawsuits, citing negligence.

Keeping children safe

” Every child deserves to be safe at a daycare and parents deserve the peace of mind to know that their children are safe when they drop them off,” said Richard James, a Wichita attorney representing one set of parents in their suit against Kindercare of Wichita. KinderCare’s Emily Snyder responded by saying, ” The safety and well-being of the children in our care is one of our highest priorities.”

The older daycare facility being sued is Snails and Puppy Dog Tails Daycare, a facility that Elizabeth West ran out of her home until she closed down the business in August of this year. However, she denied any wrongdoing, saying, ” Feed corn is offered at a lot of daycare centers. It’s sensory experience for children.”

These two cases aren’t the only ones involving daycare facilities pending in Wichita courts. Another case, this one involving a 10-month-old who fell or was dropped at a daycare center near K-96 and Woodlawn, claims the child was injured due to a staff member’s actions or negligence. Like the other two cases, these parents are seeking a settlement of more than $75,000.

How widespread is daycare neglect

The actual number of children injured in the Wichita area is difficult to ascertain since such injuries are not required to be reported. The official numbers state that 26 children died as a result of injuries at daycare centers in Wichita from 2010 to 2016.

 

Insulin Price Hikes: AG Sues Major Drug Manufacturers

In the US, there are more than 100 million people who have been diagnosed and are living with pre-diabetes or diabetes as stated in the 2017 CDC report. The report also shows that the rate of diabetes cases continues to increase gradually every year. The disease increases the risk of vision loss, premature death, kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, amputation of limbs, among others. Diabetes can be managed through the use of insulin control as well as other blood sugar level control medications.

Major insulin manufacturers such as Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, and Eli Lilly and Co., have made billions of dollars in supplying insulin to the ever growing market for the drug. Additionally, the companies have benefitted from the new healthcare tax reforms. Pharmaceutical manufacturers negotiate rebates and discounts on drugs to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and health insurers who fail to pass the savings to the end user. This is not surprising due to the reinforced third-party payment system under the tax code and regulations.

Insulin is no exception, and more so because it is a life or death drug as stated by the Democrats Attorney General (Minnesota), Lori Swanson. The AG filed a lawsuit against Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, and Eli Lilly and Co. alleging the companies’ hike of insulin prices. He argued that the spike in prices was both unwarranted and unfair to the disadvantaged consumer. The allegations were denied by Eli Lilly and Sanofi while Novo Nordisk promised to look into them.

The AG said that the drug manufacturers are raising the sticker price of the insulin drugs so as to offer PBMs competitively high discount rates. Swanson gave an example with Lantus, an insulin drug manufactured by Sanofi, and which was priced at $99.35 in 2010 and is currently selling at $269.54 (2018). These high rates secure the manufacturers’ product coverage in comparison to their competitors in insurance plans.

Swanson stated that the high prices are hurting the consumers who have no insurance coverage or those with high deductibles that need to be paid prior to insurance compensation.

The office of the AG said that the “The lawsuit alleges that the list prices the drug companies set are so far from their net prices that they are not an accurate approximation of the true cost of insulin and are deceptive and misleading.”

Lawsuit Against Facebook Dismissed: The Godwin Family

Facebook has spent plenty of time in the news recently for various reasons; however, one of their most recent lawsuits was recently dismissed. A short while ago, Robert Godwin was murdered by Steve Stephens. The culprit had a Facebook account and the lawsuit alleged that Facebook could have done more to stop Mr. Godwin’s murder. On his account, Steve Stephens was sharing a lot of posts that could have been flagged as problematic. Some of these thoughts even alluded to murder. The lawsuit alleged that, based on these thoughts, Facebook should have taken more steps to stop the murder, such as contacting the authorities. By failing to do so, the lawsuit alleged that Facebook was, to some extent, complicit in Mr. Godwin’s death.

Unfortunately for the Godwin family, a judge in Cuyahoga County has thrown out this lawsuit. Robert Godwin was shot by Steve Stephens and this video was actually taken and uploaded onto the social media giant’s website. Based on the records filed with the court, the judge Timothy McCormick dismissed the lawsuit because plaintiffs failed to state the grounds upon which they could have granted relief.

The lawsuit, filed back in January, alleged that Facebook was negligent because they did not warn the authorities that a murder was about to take place. The lawsuit originally sought compensatory damages, fees, and anything else that the court might deem appropriate given the untimely death of Mr. Godwin at the hands of Stephens. Steve Stephens actually streamed the fatal shooting before he was found dead himself. His body was located in a motor vehicle in Erie, Pennsylvania. While the lawsuit claimed that, based on these posts, Facebook should have done more to stop it, Stephens had no record of violent activity. Therefore, the social media giant could not have known what was going to take place. After all, Facebook has no power to control the actions of its users while they were unlike. Therefore, the judge decided to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that negligence could not have taken place.

Mark Zuckerburg actually addressed the case and issued a public statement regarding the lawsuit, the murder, and the actions that the company might take to prevent this from occurring in the future.

 

San Francisco’s Sizable Landowner Accused of Forcing Rent-Controlled Residents Out

Rent control is a regulation for the cost of housing. The government controls and regulation is meant to stabilize the cost for renters. For instance, California’s rent control has 15 different municipal laws for 15 different cities that utilize rent control. The basic idea is to alert the renter 30 days in advance when cost changes.

Veritas Investment’s Tactics

Over 100 tenants are accusing Veritas Investments of running off rent-controlled renters out of their units. Veritas owns 300 residential buildings throughout San Francisco. The lawsuit filed for sixty-eight plaintiffs on October 11 is the fourth lawsuit filed against Veritas Investments because of unfair and biased tactics.

  • Veritas Investments continue to purchase property and are known to force out rent-controlled tenants.
  • Renters have reported that unscheduled construction at disruptive times is one way that Veritas creates an unbearable living space.
  • The construction is not to update units. Renters that filed suit complain about the lack of repairs when unneeded construction takes place.
  • Tenants complain in their lawsuit that Veritas Investments shut off utilities with no warning. They shut off gas and water for long periods of time.
  • Veritas uses a workaround called “pass-throughs.” It is a way to increase rent by using high-interest loans and forcing the renters to pay the interest charges.

“This is one of the biggest lawsuits ever filed by tenants in San Francisco,” attorney Ken Greenstein said. “Veritas Investments has made it clear they want to get their rent-controlled tenants out.”

Greenstein advises that those who rent from Veritas Investments should contact their rent board, supervisors, and Department of Building Inspection if they feel harassed or blatantly mistreated.

Veritas Investments’ Response

The COO of Veritas Investments, Justin Sato, said in a statement that their properties are in need of improvements.

“We have not been served, so we cannot respond to allegations we haven’t seen. However, we dispute all claims that we are hostile or negligent toward our valued residents in any way,” Sato said. “We are proud of our record as a landlord in San Francisco, and the data The City keeps about our work is contrary to these allegations. We look forward to refuting them.”

 

Are Addiction Treatment Centers Slowly Becoming Death Traps?

Drug addiction is one of the greatest challenges claiming more lives than road accidents in America. The country has around 23 million addicts, making rehab a lucrative business. Since President George W. Bush signed a law that saw insurance companies start paying for rehab and enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, there has been a significant increase in the number of addiction treatment centers.

Most addicts and their families now view the centers as their only hope in their attempt to overcome alcohol and drug addiction. Some of these facilities have seen as many as over 63 percent of former patients abstain from taking drugs one year after treatment. It’s no secret that the centers have helped the patients to overcome drug addiction and become productive again.

However, the high demand for rehab services has allowed profiteers to make money from the most vulnerable population. There are fears that some incompetent addiction centers would rather host the patients against their wish than take them to a better hospital to get the necessary treatment. Consequently, it is not uncommon for outwardly healthy people to enter into these facilities and die shortly in mysterious ways due to medical incompetence and negligence.

Deaths Caused by Negligence and Incompetence

There are many rehab patient’s deaths which have occurred due to incompetence and medical negligence. The most notable one being that of Madison Cross, a 22-year-old woman who sought addiction treatment at Serenity Care Center. At the center, she showed intensifying signs of distress and begged the doctors to take her to a hospital. All her pleas were ignored despite her trouble breathing, racing pulse, and purple lips. This were signs showing she was lethargic and ill. Even after the technicians reported her condition to medical staff, she was only given some medication instead of being taken to full care hospital. Had it not been to medical negligence, her death would have been avoided. Currently, there have been 3,362 rehab patient deaths which could have been prevented.

Government Effort

Various measures have been put in place to ensure that the interests of the patients are prioritized in rehab facilities. Addiction centers are supposed to screen the patients before admitting them. Each state has an agency that licenses and regulates rehab centers. Besides, there are also requirements on who should assess the patient’s history and medical condition.

Whether the state agencies have been successful in regulating addiction recovery centers is debatable if the increasing cases against the facilities are anything to go by. Several rehab centers have had to pay thousands and even millions of dollars in compensation for their negligence and malpractice. Some have even been forced to close some of their facilities in an attempt to save their face.

What’s Next?

Despite death cases in some addiction centers, there are others that still handle their patients with dignity. Here are some things you need to do to ensure you don’t become the next victim in these addiction treatment centers;

• Get recommendations from former patients, doctors, or other medical providers.

• Sometimes, the internet may not give all the necessary information.

• Don’t be lured into selecting a rehab facility because of the incentives it offers.

• Be wary of addiction treatment centers that spend so much money on advertisements.

Costco To Pay $3.85 Million for Dangerous Trash Cans

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an agency that independently seeks to promote consumer safety. It achieves this by addressing injury from risks through coordination of recalls, evaluation of consumer products that are reported as wanting by industries or consumers, development of uniform standards, and research into injuries and illnesses that are product-related.

The CPSC stated that Costco Wholesale Corporation agreed to pay a fine of $3.85 million after it lost in a civil suit against its EKO Trash Cans. The staff at the company charged that the organization failed to file a report with the CPSC, in compliance with the law with regard to the safety of the EKO Sensible Eco Living Trash Cans.

The staff asserted that the trash cans were a safety hazard to consumers. To be more precise, the plastic protective layer that is at the back of the trash can receptacle can be disconnected easily thus exposing a sharp edge. The sharp edge is a hazard to consumers as it can cause lacerations to the user. The company had received complaints from consumers, 60 to be exact, on injuries they had sustained from the cans. There were also an additional 92 complaints about the company’s Eko trash cans but Costco did not immediately report to CPSC on the risk or defect.

It was not until July 17th, 2015 that Costco took action by recalling 367,000 trash cans from the market. By that time, the company had made sales for close to two years; December 2013 to May 2015.

Other than paying the penalty, Costco has decided to maintain a program that will help it achieve business compliance to the CSPC Act as well as established internal procedures and controls system. These will ensure that Costco gives full disclosure to CSPC of information related to its products and which is in accordance with the law.

Although Costco has agreed to pay the $3.85 million civil penalties, it does not admit to the charges lodged against it by its employees.

Civil lawsuits from dissatisfied customers are not new to Costco. In April this year, the company was faced with a class action lawsuit for withholding a percentage of refund money for store memberships that had been canceled.

 

Montgomery Co. Animal Resource Center under Fire for Animal Deaths

The Montgomery County Animal Resource Center (MCARC) has come under fire for putting to death animals too quickly while there are owners are sometimes still looking for them. While the resource center argues that it offers shelter to these animals until an appropriate time when it is deemed right to put the animal to death, other people say that the resource center has turned into a slaughterhouse. They argue that the resource center is no longer a shelter but a death row. A few days ago, a couple came forward and sued the resource center for its heinous acts.

In the recent days, two euthanasia deaths have been highlighted involving dogs that were put to death at the resource center, angering owners who were still on a search mission to try and find their dogs. One of the victims, Savannah Slorp who resides in Dayton said that she was “completely crashed” and didn’t know what to do when she learned that her Labrador retriever, Brownie, had been put to death by the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.

Endless Searching

Slorp lamented that she had been searching for Brownie everywhere and she had contacted the resource center a countless number of times but every time she contacted them, they kept telling her that her dog wasn’t there although she was there. Brownie was allegedly euthanized in July, but Slorp didn’t find out until September.

Critics of the resource center say that lots of animals are being put to death without enough effort from the center to return them to their owners or find foster homes for them. What is even more interesting is that some of the criticism is coming from people outside the area who learn about the negligent acts through social media.

More than 3,000 Animals Euthanized

The county officials have revealed that at least 3,000 cats and dogs were euthanized last year, but it maintains that a majority of these animals were unhealthy and in severe pain. Michael Colbert, the Montgomery County administrator, says that euthanasia is an unfortunate reality for animals and every decision to go in that direction is usually taken seriously, and such a decision can only be made for animals that are grave ill or injured and who show aggression.

Critics of the resource center have come together and formed a Facebook page named “Injustice at ARC.” The county administrator says that some of the proponents of these groups have gone ahead and subjected the ARC staff and their families to harassment and constant social media attacks. More people have come together, and they are now pushing for immediate change at the ARC to ensure that all animals at the facility get the justice that they deserve.

 

Facebook Denies Claims that It Aids Human Trafficking and Child Sex Exploitation

Facebook has come out and defended itself following claims that it doesn’t employ the right measures to protect its users against human traffickers and sex abuse. While responding to a lawsuit filed against it, Facebook said that it works both internally and externally to thwart the efforts of such predators. Today, Facebook is the largest online social network with over one billion registered users.

A spokeswoman for Facebook reiterated that human trafficking is abhorrent and it isn’t allowed on the social network. She further stated that they use sophisticated technology to prevent such kind of abuse and also encourages its users to use the reporting links found across the site to alert their team of experts so that they can review any malicious content swiftly.

Facebook Sued

Recently, a Texas woman who was identified as Jane Doe filed a court case against the Mark Zuckerberg owned social network in Harris County District Court claiming that she was enticed into child prostitution at a tender age of 15 by an adult man who she met on Facebook. However, she acknowledged that she didn’t do enough to verify his identity and establish his motives before engaging him. She said that she didn’t expect sex traffickers to be lurking on Facebook and that the company would have done something to stop it from happening.

The Facebook Spokeswoman further claimed that the company works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and well-established technology companies who help them to report all instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

In her lawsuit, Jane Doe argues that she was fooled by the child sex traffickers who sent her a message through Facebook in 2012 because the trafficker appeared to know some of her real-life friends. She went ahead to agree on meeting the man who even offered to console her after an altercation with her mother but instead of comforting her, the man raped her and went ahead to post her picture on Backpage.com so that she could be prostituted.

Anti-Trafficking Law

The federal authorities shut the notorious Backpage.com website earlier this year after a thorough investigation by the Justice Department into the allegation that the site was mainly used for prostitution. Backpage.com and several of its employees have been named in Doe’s case as the key defendants.

The lawsuit was filed several months after the United States Congress passed two bipartisan anti-trafficking bills namely; the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. These two bills were signed into law by President Donald Trump in April this year.

 

Repeated violations by Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation

Happy Valley LLC, which operates out of Malvern Arkansas under the provider name Happy Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation, has repeatedly mishandled sexual harassment complaints brought forward by its female employees. Federal officials at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the company in which it alleged that Happy Valley violated federal law by firing victims that came forward with claims of sexual harassment.

Based on the details outlined in the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, employees within the Happy Valley organization were aware of the culture of victim blame and punishment, in which those who were sexually harassed and came forward were terminated, with no action taken against their accused.

These sexual allegations within the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which considers sexual harassment a form of sexual discrimination. Happy Valley further broke anti-discrimination laws which prohibit retaliation against individuals reporting discrimination, or opposing company actions they believe discriminates against individuals.

The Lawsuit further states that the company had knowledge of the harassment of its female employees for a number of years, receiving reports back in May of 2016 and as recent as May of 2018. Authorities within the company, upon receiving reports, would continuously promise the victimized women that the issue would be addressed, but failed to ever do so. This inaction by management created a predatory environment in which other harassment went unchecked, with subsequent victims fearing to come forward.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the laws against discrimination and violations of employee rights, such as those committed at Happy Valley. The agency first took action to address these violations and find a resolution by trying to utilize its conciliation process to reach a pre-litigation settlement. After this proved to be unfruitful, the EEOC went on to file suit against Happy Valley in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Hot Springs Division, Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-06089. The suit comes with an injunction against future discrimination and violations and seeks monetary relief for the victims.

From DC to Hollywood to companies across the country, sexual harassment and discrimination violations are being dragged into the light and are being further highlighted on social media through movements such as the #metoo campaign. Victims are now finding it much easier to come forward with this social support, and the EEOC is doing a good job at combating the violations reported to them.

EEOC v. Safeway, Inc. – Lawsuit for Disability Discrimination During Hiring Process

In a lawsuit filed against Safeway, Inc. today, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims that the grocery chain store acted contrary to federal law. EEOC accuses Safeway of refusing to assist and employ a competent deaf applicant for a number of store jobs in Seattle, Washington.

According to the commission, Joel Silbert made an online application in July 2017. Through the application, he sought food, courtesy, produce and Starbucks clerk jobs at a Safeway store located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Silbert was shortlisted for an interview based on his qualifications and experience working similar jobs. Things took a different turn when Silbert revealed that he would need an interpreter for the interview since he was deaf. The in-store hiring recruiter responded to this, saying that she had no idea about providing interpreters. The recruiter declined Silbert’s offer when he provided names and contact details of some interpreters that Safeway could engage for purposes of the interview, saying that she would respond to him. EEOC says that since Silbert did not hear from them, he decided to place several calls to the store over the following week. He was either placed on hold or told that nobody was available.

The act of turning down a qualified applicant based on disability runs contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Before filing suit in US District Court for the Western District of Washington the EEOC had tried to use their conciliation process to negotiate a pre-litigation settlement. Apart from monetary damages for Silbert, the EEOC also seeks injunctive relief, including but not limited to training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the workplace and compliance reporting.

Nancy Sienko, EEOC Seattle Field Director, said that it is important to ensure that fears and stereotypes do not hamper objectivity while evaluating an individual’s potential at the workplace during the hiring process.

Sienko pointed out that in its 2017 – 2021 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), the Commission had identified six national priorities. Among these priorities was the elimination of barriers in hiring, particularly hiring practices that discriminate against people living with disabilities.

Teri Healy, the Senior Trial Attorney for EEOC, made it clear that this particular applicant not only had the requisite qualifications but was also worthy of being considered for a job at the grocery store. He went on to note that the supervisors he previously worked under were satisfied with his performance and that customers were fond of him. Healy argued that were it not for the disability discrimination that frustrated his efforts to get hired, there was no reason why he would not have done equally well at Safeway.