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Columbia Riverkeeper and Weyerhaeuser Timber Firm to Settle Over Pollution Claims at Longview Timber Mill

The Washington State Department of Ecology has announced that Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. will pay $600,000 in fines to fund environmental cleanup, remediation of pollution, and upgrade at its Longview timber mill in Longview, WA.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement signed on Friday, Weyerhaeuser will:

  • Aerate ponds at its Longview site;
  • Reroute its storm water pipe;
  • Install monitoring devices and filters;
  • Find better onsite procedures for effective bark debris and wood management; and
  • Pay $5,000 in penalties and fines for any future violations occurring between 2023 and 2025

The proposal is subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Justice and must be signed by the federal judge before it unconditionally takes effect.

This settlement ends a legal battle between the Seattle-based timber giant, operating since the 1930s, and Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK), a local non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Columbia River watershed.

CRK first sued Weyerhaeuser Timber Firm on March 7 for allegedly discharging harmful levels of wastewater into the Columbia River without proper treatment. The wastes include sawdust, sludge, elm, bark dust, and other wood products that contain potential toxins like arsenic and chromium. CRK alleges that these wastes can hurt the Columbia River’s aqua life by reducing oxygen levels and enhancing the growth of harmful bacteria.

According to Ecology officials, Weyerhaeuser’s Longview mill has an extensive history of discharging harmful run-offs into local waterways without proper treatment. Between 2019 and 2020, Weyerhaeuser’s Longview mill and two of its immediate neighbors, Nipon Dynawave and North Pacific Paper Corporation, were cited for dozens of violations of the Clean Water Act.

Nippon and North Pacific were once part of the larger Weyerhaeuser Timber Firm, which spanned 700 acres before their fallouts in 2016. The trio still shares infrastructure.

In a statement released by the Department of Ecology, Water Resources Director Laura Watson said: “This settlement will ensure that Weyerhaeuser protects human health and the environment through better stormwater management.” Further, Simone Anter, the CRK’s staff attorney, asserted that an agreement of that magnitude clearly shows that no corporation should flout the Clean Water Act, no matter how big it is. He revealed that CRK will continue the fight, keeping an eye on more complex cases in the future.

School Abuse Case in Seattle. Do You Know What Your Kids are Doing at School?

When we send our children to school, we do so thinking they are in a safe environment, conducive to learning. These days, there are many issues that parents need to be concerned about.

According to EducationWeek.com, there were 34 school shootings in 2021, of which 24 occurred after August 1st. Sexual abuse cases are also on the rise. Our trusted teachers, coaches, teachers’ aides, and mentors now need to be scrutinized to be sure they are safe for our children to be around.

 

Ballad High School Abuse Case:

One high-profile case occurred at Ballard High School, part of the Seattle school district. This case is especially difficult to comprehend because the soccer and basketball coach accused of sexual abuse crimes was already known as a danger to her students.

In 2018, Meghan Miller, a former University of Kansas goalkeeper, was hired for a position at Ballard High School, though it was aware of previous molestation accusations. Miller started at Ballard High as a teacher’s aide, then soccer coach.

Miller’s victim was 14 years old at the time the molestation began in 2016. She is now 17.

 

Looking for Easy Prey:

According to reports, Miller began a relationship with the student, who had been struggling with social and emotional issues. What started as a friendship, morphed over the next couple of years into a sexual relationship.

The coach became a central part of the student’s life. She acted as a confidant, walked her to classes, visited with her before and after school, and had steady communication throughout the day by text messaging. Many of these messages were sexual. Encounters would take place in city parks, in Miller’s office, and locker rooms.

Miller was charged with third-degree molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor. She was asked to surrender but declined through her lawyer. A $100,000 bond was issued for her arrest, and she was later booked into the King County Jail.

 

Due-Diligence:

Parents have a tough job these days. From homeschooling during COVID-19 to making sure children are protected when they are outside the home. It is a never-ending battle to know who children are spending time with and whether they are safe from harm and predators.

In the Miller case, the abuse came to light after the student expressed her desire for someone else her age, after which Miller broke down and cried.

The student told a friend about the clandestine relationship, who then alerted a staff member, who shared the information with administrators.

Redmond, Washington Reaches Settlement in Fatal Police Shooting

The city of Redmond, Washington recently announced that it had settled with the family of a woman who was shot by police officers in her own apartment after calling 911 for help. In September of 2020, Andrea Thomas Churna called 911 to ask for police to come to her apartment for assistance. She told the 911 operators that she thought someone was trying to kill her. There was an audio recording of the 911 call. She had recently had a bad experience with her ex-boyfriend, and she was concerned.

When police arrived at the scene, they saw Churna climbing up a balcony. She told police that she had a mental health history and that she was concerned it might be playing a role. The police then asked Churna if she had a firearm. She did, and she retrieved it. While the handgun was jammed and inoperable, Churna was later shot and killed by the police. Officer Daniel Mendoza fired the fatal shot.

The Chief of the Redmond Police Department, Darrell Lowe, stated that Churna was unarmed when she was shot. Lowe admitted to the mistake, apologized to Churna’s family, and stated that the news release also contained an error. The initial report stated that Churna had confronted the officers with a handgun. That turned out to be false. The original press release also stated that multiple shots had been fired, which was also false. While there is an inquest going on, more details cannot be provided until it is concluded.

Fortunately for Ms. Churna’s family, a settlement has been reached which should provide some closure. The attorney representing Churna’s family, Kim Zak, announced that the city had reached a settlement of $7.5 million with the city of Redmond. The family and their attorney were prepared to show the multitude of errors that the city had made in handling the call of their loved one. While the settlement may provide some closure, it also has to lead to meaningful change that can prevent an issue like this from happening again. It will be interesting to see if the police department makes changes in how it receives and responds to 911 calls, particularly involving people with a history of mental health concerns.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against the State of Washington’s Long Term Cares Act

A lawsuit was recently filed challenging the Long Term Cares Act in the state of Washington. That lawsuit was recently dismissed by a federal judge. The lawsuit sought to have the Long Term Cares Act governed by the same rules and regulations as ERISA, but the judge disagreed. In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge ruled that the Long Term Cares Act is not maintained by the employer and it is not an employee benefit plan. Therefore, the judge reasoned, the Long Term Cares Act is not subject to the same rules and regulations set up by ERISA. In addition, the court system indicated that the premiums collected by the Long Term Cares Act fall under the category of a state tax. As a result, they fall under the jurisdictions of the state courts, and not the federal courts.

The Long Term Cares Act in Washington, which was passed in 2019, was due to start collecting taxes in the form of payroll collections from employees in Washington to help cover the long-term care expenses of those who live in the state. In 2021, the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced that the state would pause the collection of such taxes until the program had been reviewed by lawmakers to make sure the act was clear about how it would collect the money and how it would use it.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the Long Term Cares Act, and it was reviewed by Judge Zilly of the US District Court. Ultimately, the case was dismissed because the judge felt the court system did not have jurisdiction. The Long Term Cares Act is not governed by ERISA, and the premiums are a tax, which means that the case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal court.

The plaintiffs held that the state acted as an employer when passing the Long Term Cares Act. If that were true, then the plan should be governed by ERISA. The plaintiffs also reasoned that, because the Long Term Cares Act assesses premiums on everyone and not just state employees, the state is acting as an employer in this situation. The judge dismissed this notion, but the case could be refiled with the state court system.

The Top Signs You Need To Hire a Workplace Injury Attorney

When you go to work in the morning, you probably do not expect to suffer a serious injury. On the other hand, an accident can happen at any time, and you need to see a doctor as quickly as possible following the injury. The sooner it is diagnosed, the faster it can be properly treated. Then, you need to reach out to a workplace injury attorney who can review your case. There are a few signs that indicate that you need to work with a personal injury lawyer.

First, if your injuries are severe, you should always have your case reviewed by a workplace injury attorney. While you might have medical insurance through your work that will cover some of your expenses, you will probably still be responsible for a lot of out-of-pocket bills. This could include coinsurance, copays, and deductibles. If the injury was not your fault, you should not be responsible for these bills. A workplace injury attorney can review your case and see if someone else should be held responsible.

Next, if you are having a hard time getting your worker’s compensation benefits, a workplace injury attorney can assist you. Even though you suffered the injury at work, and you were acting in the scope of your employment, workers’ comp might do everything in their power to deny you your benefits. Sometimes, it takes a workplace injury lawyer to help you navigate the waters and get the compensation you deserve.

Finally, if your employer is not cooperating with you, this is a sign that you should be working with a workplace injury attorney. Your employer might not be cooperating with you because they know they are at fault or because they do not want to give you the compensation you deserve. You need to have your rights protected, and a workplace injury lawyer will always be in your corner. He or she can advocate for your best interests.

These are just a few of the many signs that you need to work with a workplace injury attorney. It can be devastating to suffer a serious injury at work, but remember that a personal injury lawyer can help you defend your rights.

The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases

If you have suffered a serious injury either in a motor vehicle accident or at work, it is important to reach out to a doctor as quickly as possible. Then, do not forget to get a case consultation from a personal injury attorney. The statute of limitations might be ticking on your case, and you need to have your case reviewed and filed before the statute of limitations expires.

The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file your case. Sometimes, the statute of limitations starts ticking from the original incident. In other cases, the statute of limitations starts from the time of discovery. The statute of limitations of personal injury cases can vary from state to state. It usually ranges between two and six years, but you need to hire a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal waters and get your case filed on time.

If you do not file your case before the statute of limitations is up, then you should expect it to be dismissed. No matter how strong your case might be, and no matter how overwhelming the evidence, you probably will not have your case heard if you file it after the statute of limitations has expired.

On the other hand, there are a few exceptions. For example, if the case involves a minor, then the statute of limitations might start ticking from the time the minor child turns 18. This could open the door to another case. Or, the statute of limitations could involve discovery. For example, if you suffered a serious injury or illness due to asbestos exposure, but the asbestos was not discovered until years down the road, then the statute of limitations might start from when the asbestos was found, not from when you first fell ill.

Because there are a lot of nuances involving personal injury law, it is important to work with a lawyer who can help you put your case in the best position possible to be successful. While it can be frustrating to suffer a serious injury or illness, remember that you do not have to go through this alone. A personal injury attorney can fight for your rights.

The Top Reasons Why Personal Injury Cases Usually Result In Favorable Verdicts

An accident can happen at any time, and it is important for everyone to make sure they hire a personal injury attorney who can fight for their rights and represent their best interests. There are a few reasons why personal injury cases tend to win in court, and a personal injury lawyer can help someone put their case in the best position possible to be successful.

One common reason why personal injury cases tend to result in favorable verdicts is that the injury was not the fault of the plaintiff. For example, someone may have slipped and fallen on a wet floor that was not properly marked. Or, they were hit by a car while crossing the street even though they were in the crosswalk and had looked both ways. If the injury is not the fault of the plaintiff, and they can show that it was not their fault, their case might succeed.

The next reason why personal injury cases tend to succeed is that the plaintiff is able to show who is responsible for their injuries. Even if the plaintiff is not at fault, they need to properly identify the defendant. For example, they might be able to identify who was driving the car that struck them. Or, they might be able to show who was supposed to clean up that wet floor and prevent someone from slipping.

Finally, the plaintiff might have a successful personal injury case if he or she can show that the defendant knew about the danger. If the plaintiff is hit by a falling object, they might be able to show that the defendant knew about the dangers of the falling object and did not do anything to repair the issue. Or, they might be able to show that the defendant knew about the wet floor and did not act in a timely manner or mark the area with a hazard sign.

Ultimately, every personal injury case is different, which is why it is important for people who have suffered a serious injury to work with a personal injury lawyer. Always seek the care of a doctor first. Then, reach out to an attorney who can review the case.

Preventing DUI’s

CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Perhaps everyone is a little concerned about drinking too much before getting behind the wheel and being pulled over by the police. So many people arrested for drunk driving are shocked to find that their blood level concentration (BAC) has risen above the legal limit – having felt absolutely unphased when they’d begun driving. If you find yourself caught off guard with a high BAC, contact a multi-vehicle lawyer for answers and assistance.

MAKING SURE YOUR BELOW .08
Alcohol debilitation has more to do with reaction time, which is delayed by a mere 120 milliseconds; and since in that amount of time, a car could travel an additional 12 feet before the driver would recognize the need to maneuver. In some states, ignition interlock devices are mandatory for all drunk drivers and even for their first offense. An ignition interlock device, or breath alcohol ignition interlock device, blocks the signal between the ignition and the starter of a vehicle if the breath surpasses the programmed amount. These devices can also be purchased commercially as a preventative measure. The BANVIE Keyless Entry System, for example, is a popular ignition interlock device that will stop the car entirely when triggered by a drunk driver. Other legal consequences of drunk driving include accident expenses, driver’s license suspension, expensive lawsuits, fines, and jail time.

CAUGHT BY A DRUNK DRIVER
After filing a car accident or personal injury claim, victims may be wondering how to proceed. If the blood alcohol evaluation reveals that the drunk driver was indeed over the legal limit,  in most cases it will automatically be considered a no-doubt liability. However, despite this precedent, it is important to collect as much supporting evidence as possible including photographs, recorded on-scene details, police report, and personal medical records. Next, you should contact a car accident lawyer who can properly accomplish this critical task and build the case for you.

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
One guarantee of all drunk driving accidents is that there will be stressful consequences on both sides. If such an event occurs contact a law office right away to consult with an attorney.

Lawsuit Filed Against Billionaire Elon Musk for Twitter Stock Purchases

A lawsuit has been filed against billionaire Elon Musk in a New York federal court accusing Musk of violating a regulatory deadline in which he would reveal he had accumulated a stake of at least five percent in the social media company Twitter.

The complaint, filed by an investor in Twitter named Marc Bain Rasella, alleges that Musk did not expose his position in Twitter until he increased his stake to nine percent in the company. By doing this, it is alleged that Musk negatively affected investors who do not have as much money as he does and sold shares that they had in Twitter about two weeks before Musk acknowledged that he was holding a major stake in the San Francisco-based company. Musk’s regulatory filings reveal that he purchased a little over 620,000 shares at a price of $36.83 each on January 31st and bought more shares every single day after that through April 1. At the time of the filing of the complaint, Musk was holding 73.1 million shares in Twitter, which represents a 9.1 percent stake in the company.

The complaint also states that as of March 14, Musk’s number of shares in Twitter had reached the five percent threshold that then required him to disclose his number of holdings publicly. This requirement falls under the United States security law and Musk should have made his purchase of the shares public by March 24 but did not make the required disclosure on time by waiting until April 4. When it was revealed that Musk had bought a large amount of stock in Twitter, the value of Twitter’s stock rose by 27 percent, valuing the stock at $50 per share, but by concealing the number of stocks he was purchasing, Musk was able to purchase his shares at $37.69 to $40.96.

Rasella seeks to have his lawsuit certified as a class-action lawsuit which will include Twitter shareholders who sold their shares in Twitter between March 24 and April 4.

It is estimated that Musk has a total wealth of about $265 billion. He spent $2.6 billion on Twitter stocks.

Juul to pay $22.5 million to settle Washington vaping suit

Juul Labs, the largest e-cigarette manufacturer in Washington, will pay $22.5 million to Washington State. The settlement was announced Wednesday by Bob Ferguson, state attorney general.

Ferguson stated that the company bombarded social media with colorful advertisements shortly after the product was launched in 2015. This led to teens becoming addicted and a rise in vaping. Ferguson’s office reports that the percentage of high school seniors vaping in Washington increased from 13% in 2016 to close to 21% in 2018.

Juul Labs, who filed the consent decree in King County Superior Court said that they had committed no wrongdoing and that it was “another step” in their ongoing efforts to reset the company and address issues from the past.

Juul reached a $14.5 million settlement with Arizona state prosecutors, only months after it had agreed to pay $40 million in North Carolina. The company also promised not to market its products to minors in these states, just as it did in Washington. This was to increase enforcement for retailers who sell Juul’s products.

The company stated that it will continue to work with state and federal stakeholders to create a science-based, fully regulated marketplace for vapor products.

Juul must cease all advertising targeting youth under the Washington state settlement. It is also prohibited from marketing its products via social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Juul must monitor and report any social media content regarding JUUL products that are posted by underage users.

Juul’s website states that Juul had stopped advertising prior to Ferguson being sued in 2020. It also ended all sales of flavored products, except tobacco and menthol.

Ferguson claims that the secret shopper program is stronger than those offered in previous settlements. Juul must send secret shoppers to Washington-based Juul retailers at least 25 compliance inspections per month. This agreement will be in effect for at least two years. These checks must be done in all 39 counties of the state.

Ferguson’s office stated that secret shoppers must verify that the retailers comply with the requirements to verify an individual’s age and to ensure that the Juul purchase limit of one Juul device or 16 Juul pods per transaction is met.