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Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit Against Elon Musk over “Pedo Guy” tweets

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles denied Elon Musk’s request to throw out the case of a British rescue diver who claims Musk called him a “pedo guy.”

Musk and Vernon Unsworth first came to odds when the diver questioned the need for a small submarine the inventor-businessman sent to help in the rescue of a teen soccer team that had become trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.

Unsworth sued Musk after a heated back-and-forth following the successful rescue of the soccer team. It was during that period that Musk called the diver a “pedo guy.”

At first, Musk apologized for accusing Unsworth of pedophilia but then renewed his accusations through emails to BuzzFeed News. Musk added more specific claims, calling Unsworth a “child rapist” who moved to Thailand to find a child bride.

Thailand is known for its sex trafficking and legal child marriage. The country has no minimum age for marriage. Thai children’s rights activist Anchana Heemmina told the Guardian that legal loopholes have made “cross-border marriages” a “big business.”

Musk said in a court deposition released last September he was worried that Unsworth might be “another Jeffrey Epstein.” Court documents show that Musk’s representatives contracted private investigators to “dig up details” in Unsworth.

Unsworth has denied such accusations, but his attorneys have yet to respond. Musk attorney Alex Spiro said, “We look forward to the trial.”

This has been a trying summer for Musk marked by altercations with reporters, the failed attempt to take his Tesla car company private and missed production goals.

The Unsworth case is one of a number of legal actions that Tesla and his companies face. Most notably Tesla is fighting a lawsuit filed by shareholders over the 2016 acquisition of SolarCity and Walmart over Tesla solar panels that caught fire on several of its stores.

Musk told The New York Times that 2018 had been “the most difficult and painful year of my career. It was excruciating.” As 2020 fast approaches, Musk appears set to take the offensive against accusers like Unsworth.

California McDonald’s Workers Awarded $26 Million Settlement Over Lost Wages and Working Conditions

After a seven-year battle 38,000, McDonald’s workers have been awarded $26 million by a Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court ruled against McDonald’s Restaurants of California Inc. over an array of claims, including failure to pay minimum and overtime wages and inadequate rest and meal breaks.

The lawsuit focused on corporate-owned McDonald’s that used a timekeeping system designed to bar workers from rest breaks, cheat them out of earned overtime, and have to pay out-of-pocket for cleaning and ironing their uniforms.

Once approved by the judge, this will mark the largest wage settlement ever against the Chicago-based fast-food giant. McDonald’s has been a target of labor organizers for years.

But that isn’t the only problem the home of the Big Mac faces.

On November 12, the American Civil Liberties Union sued McDonald’s on behalf of Michigan workers who claim sexual harassment has gone unchecked in its restaurants.

Adding to its legal woes, a group of Chicago-area workers sued McDonald’s on November 21 over a redesign in their stores that made them vulnerable to attacks by angry customers.

Of the California lawsuit, a McDonald’s spokesperson said the restaurant chain takes its employees seriously and strives to treat its employees fairly. McDonald’s Corp offered a written statement saying:

While we continue to believe our employment practices comply with the California Labor Code, we have decided to resolve this lawsuit filed back in early 2013. With this settlement, the parties have reached a mutually acceptable resolution and have submitted the settlement to the Court for its review and approval.

The company also issued new options and rules that cover rest breaks and meal periods. Employees’ uniforms will also be provided at no cost when they become damaged or worn.

McDonald’s agreed, as a part of the settlement, to compensate employees with a one-hour wage premium on days they aren’t provided a timely rest or meal break. The company said it will allow workers to leave their store during meal breaks “without restrictions.” The company said it will also no longer require workers to take breaks at the beginning or end of shifts

Ohio Counties Benefiting From $20.4M Opioid Settlement

The recent cleanup and attention on healthier communities are much more progressive with involvement from a drug manufacturer. The progress in addressing a community issue is part of the efforts to improve a sporadic health challenge nationally. While avoiding a federal civil trial, Johnson and Johnson will pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties $20.4M to help fight the opioid epidemic. Before the settlement, this was seen as a non-issue by many Americans. With this agreement, the drug manufacturer will pay the counties $10 million in cash, cover $5 million for the localities legal expenses and donate $5.4 million to the area’s local nonprofit groups fighting the opioid epidemic.

Avoiding an expensive federal civil trial is one of the reasons the pharmaceutical giant has reached this settlement. Both Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals can avoid liability with this settlement. This allows the company to avoid some of the demands for resources and uncertainty of a trial. Helping to address the nation’s opioid crisis is making progress as the company is now working in a collaborative way to help people in need. The efforts are focusing on having the healthiest communities and the cooperation is nice for the two Ohio counties. The collaboration between counties might also provide innovative community solutions to benefit many others. The avoidance of Opioid issues is also helpful for states around Ohio and throughout the nation. Serving the constituents of the areas with these types of solutions are also hopeful as nation-wide remedies at some point.

There are more than 2,500 counties, cities and others involved with the numerous lawsuits. The complaint blamed nearly two dozen drug manufacturers, pharmacies, and distributors for being a part of triggering the opioid epidemic with prescriptions for pain medication that were considered highly addictive. The efforts on a state basis are also including Oklahoma with a court order for the company to pay $572 million for being a part of the opioid epidemic in that state. Although the company is appealing this ruling, the current focus on state repairs for the epidemic are supporting healthy communities with nonprofit involvement. Supporters see that the spending allocations and commitments to work towards solutions are helpful on a nation-wide basis.

Will Juul Lab Join Big Tobacco in Big Dollar Lawsuits?

Lisa Marie Vail is going to make history as she is supposedly the first person to file a lawsuit against a vapor manufacturer for the wrongful death of her 18-year-old son, Daniel David Wakefield. Vail claims that the e-cigarette manufacturer is responsible for her son’s addiction to vaping nicotine and his subsequent demise. The suit exists amid much criticism and a rising number of afflicted users.

Vail filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Tuesday, October 15 and is specifically claiming that the e-cigarette manufacturer is directly responsible for her son’s:

  • injuries due to addiction to the product that he was exposed to through advertising at age 15.
  • intense addiction that affected his emotional well-being and interest and performance in school.
  • hospitalization for breathing and lung complications after a year of using Juul, and that the nicotine addiction was severe enough to require nicotine patches on his skin throughout his three-day stay.

Wakefield was found unresponsive by his father after a day that included strenuous physical activity. The medical examiner determined that Wakefield died of natural causes and that he suffered from asthma in his youth.

Lawsuit and Criticism Begs the Questions

Vail’s many accusations appear to fall under the umbrella complaint of the responsibility of her son’s addiction. The following points address her allegations:

  • If Wakefield started vaping in 2016, the same year that the FDA began to regulate the advertising, distribution of ENDS (components like atomizers, batteries, cartridges, cartomizers, flavorings, etc.), importing, labeling, manufacturing, packaging, promoting, and selling of e-cigarettes, then how is Juul guilty of targeting her son or other teenagers?
  • If the warnings about the dangers of Juul ingredients and the conditions under which they are available for sale to appropriate-aged consumers are clearly stated on the packaging, then how was Wakefield able to obtain the product?
  • As a known asthmatic, no matter how long he was asymptomatic, why would he inhale anything detrimental to his ability to breathe?
  • If Wakefield was so intensely addicted, where was he able to consume the product so profusely and regularly?
  • If the severity of his addiction was so blatantly obvious during his hospital stay, what was done to help him and why not file a suit then?

Consider the fact that vaping is appealing to most smokers, of THC and nicotine, because it eliminates the public’s problem with exposing others to its effects, allows smokers to stay indoors, and enables a buzz with impunity.

Different Types of Personal Injury Cases

The legal industry is an extremely important one as it can help to ensure that someone’s legal rights are properly represented. One type of legal expertise that provides very necessary representation is the area of personal injury, which helps to ensure that someone is properly reimbursed for losses incurred due to the negligence of another party. While the personal injury segment of the legal industry is relatively broad, there are a variety of types of cases that fit into this area.

 

Car Accidents

The most common cause of personal injury cases in the United States today are those that resulted from car accidents. Since millions of people drive a car on a daily basis, auto accidents are somewhat common. Unfortunately, these accidents can cause a variety of damages, including personal injuries. Normally, a careless driver, or one that is determined to be at fault in the accident, will be responsible for any damages caused.

 

Medical Malpractice

People that go to the doctor for medical care trust that their physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers will use sound judgment and expert care. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, which could make a condition worse or cause additional damages. A situation is normally considered medical malpractice if care and treatment fall below an appropriate or acceptable standard of care. A situation is not necessarily considered malpractice if treatment is not successful.

 

Dog Bites

Anyone that owns a dog is responsible for that animal at all times. While most dogs are friendly, they are still impulsive animals that could react violently in random situations. If someone is bitten and injured by a dog, the responsibility to cover damages will vary from state to state. In some states, an owner will be responsible for all situations. In other states, an owner will be liable only if they knew their animal had a violent temper.

 

Assault and Battery

The majority of personal injury cases are due to an accident and possible negligence of another party. However, assault, battery, and other intentional torts can also be considered personal injury cases. If someone has been attacked and assaulted by another person, they may have a personal injury claim. Additional criminal charges often apply in these situations as well.

When the Word Senseless Describes the Worst in Us

Christopher Watts was married to his wife, Shannan, and they had two daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Shannan was expecting another child. The Watts were going through a financial crisis, having filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Christopher Watts was working at a petroleum company, Anadarko Petroleum.

On August 13, 2018, Christopher Watts informed his wife that he was having an affair and wanted a divorce. Shannan is said to have threatened that he would not see his children, and the couple’s argument became very heated. Christopher Watts, in his rage, strangled Shannan, who was fifteen weeks pregnant. As the murder of Shannan was taking place, his daughter Bella in her confusion, witnessed the death of her mother and, eventually, the suffocation of her sister Celeste. Watts, following his depraved plan, put his live daughters in his truck without their car seats, and Shannan’s now wrapped the body was placed in the truck. At the petroleum company, Watt’s suffocated his daughters despite Bella’s’ attempt to save herself, questioning her father’s behavior. The girls were stuffed in oil drums while Shannon was buried in a shallow grave.

On August 12th Shannan was with one of her friends at a social event and was brought to her home in the early morning of August 13th. Shannan did not show up for work, and her friend tried to contact Shannon on August 13th and went to Shannan’s house. Chris could not explain his missing family’s whereabouts, and Shannan’s friend contacted the police. Christopher Watts made public comments seeking the return of his family. While being interviewed by police, Watts told the police that he witnessed his wife suffocate his children, and in his rage, he strangled her. He told the police where the bodies were buried and eventually confessed to the murders of his family including the death of his unborn child, being spared the death sentence.

The Shannon’s parents Frank and Sandy Rzucek wanted the killing to end and did not want Watts put to death. The Rzueck’s have lost their reason to live with the destruction of the lives of their daughter and grandchildren. Their lives have also destroyed. They sued Watts, and he agreed to a six million dollar settlement, an amount they will never see, but it would stop Watts from enriching himself by selling the story,

Can an ordinary person commit an evil act?

Death of Emantic Bradford Leads to Lawsuit Against Unnamed Hoover, AL Police Officer

It has been a year since the army soldier Emantic “EJ” Bradford was killed while walking around a mall on Thanksgiving. Sadly, his death came at the hands of an unnamed Hoover, AL police officer. As loved ones continue to grieve, which is particularly challenging during the holiday season, Bradford’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the city of Hoover and the unnamed police officer. The lawsuit was filed by Emantic Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins.

Allegations in the Wrongful Death Suit

Ms. Pipkins is alleging that the officer ignored his training and violated the policy of the police department when he decided not to turn on his body camera. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the officer did not issue any verbal commands to Mr. Bradford prior to drawing his weapon and opening fire. Finally, the officer did not attempt to ascertain whether Mr. Bradford posed any threat to the officer before he shot him to death.

A Life of Service

Mr. Bradford was a member of the military as a combat engineer in the United States Army. He always sought to help others, which he was doing the night he was killed. On Thanksgiving of last year, he was with his family at a local shopping mall. That evening, an unrelated individual began firing on shoppers. Mr. Bradford, who had a permit for his firearm, drew his weapon and started to escort people to safety. That was when the unnamed police officer drew his weapon and killed Mr. Bradford.

City Denies Wrongdoing

The Attorney General for the state of Alabama stated back in February that no case would be brought against the officer. Furthermore, the Justice Department will not be initiating any civil rights case against the officer. The city has also stood by its officer and has stated it will continue to continue to do so in the wake of this lawsuit.

Questions Surround the Case

One of the key citations in the lawsuit is that the authorities have delivered shifting narratives of the encounter. The reports provide shifting accounts of what Mr. Bradford was doing prior to and during the shooting. The family is seeking answers to these questions and justice in the loss of their loved one.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Bradford Family

Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over his death. Bradford, a young black man, was killed by a police officer in Hoover a year ago. Attorneys for the family say the officer didn’t follow proper procedures during the incident.

On Thanksgiving night 2018, shots were fired at the Riverchase Galleria mall. Within seconds, a responding police officer then shot and killed the 21-year-old. The police first said that Bradford was the shooter and then admitted the next day that they were wrong. There were marches and protests in the community for weeks following the incident.

The city of Hoover, as well as the officer who shot Bradford, are named in the lawsuit. Officials have not publicly identified the officer involved. The attorneys for Bradford’s family say that the officer didn’t issue a verbal warning before the shooting, which violates recommended policing procedures. The officer is also accused of not turning on his body camera, as well as not verifying if Bradford actually posed a threat before shooting and killing him. The family lawyer, Ben Crump, said that Bradford was never given a chance. The police shot first and then asked questions later.

A year after the shooting at a press conference, another attorney, Devon Jacob, said that the policing policies of the Hoover Police Department are “below standard.” He said this isn’t about the shooting in the Galleria but instead about the right to possess a handgun. At the time of his death, Bradford did have a handgun and was trying to help other people when the first shooting happened. Bradford does have a permit to carry a weapon. At the press conference, individuals called on the police department to release the name of the officer, as well as video related to the case. A separate lawsuit has been filed seeking that information. Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, said the lawsuit is to bring changes so that no one else has to live through this.

Phillip Corley, the Hoover City Attorney, said that officials defend the officer against the lawsuit and points to a review by the U.S. Justice Department and Alabama Attorney General that says there wasn’t any criminal wrongdoing by the officer. The city has stood by the officer the whole time and will continue doing so.

Corporations Are Legal Persons, Elephants Are Not

Elephants are not people. It may seem obvious, but the recent Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc. (Conn. App. Ct. 2019) argued that three elephants were denied a writ of habeas corpus when they were imprisoned (presumably) against their will in a Connecticut zoo. The court refused to rule on the case on jurisdictional grounds, maintaining that elephants are not people and thus not entitled to habeas corpus protection. A lower Connecticut court had already ruled that habeas corpus did not apply to elephants. The lower court judge refused to elaborate on the issues in the case, stating simply and non-ambiguously, “THE PETITION IS WHOLLY FRIVOLOUS ON ITS FACE.”

However, the issue of whether an elephant is a person is not as simple as it may seem. In the notes of the “Nonhuman Rights Project” case, the court panel explains that “Black’s Law Dictionary” defines “person” as “[a] human being,” “[t]he living body of a human being,” or as “[a]n entity (such as a corporation) that is recognized by law as having most of the rights and duties of a human being.” and that “the words ‘person’ and ‘another’ may extend and be applied to communities, companies, corporations, public or private, limited liability companies, societies, and associations.” So, corporations can be “persons”, but elephants cannot.

The court went on to explain in the court notes that although animals are not people (and are thus not afforded rights like habeas corpus), others (people and organizations) can advocate for their human treatment, whether they live in the wild or captivity. However, they defined those advocates narrowly, such as caregiver, guardian or someone else with a relationship with the animals. Steven Wise and his Nonhuman Rights Project have no such relationship with the Connecticut elephants, the mini elephant bio on the website notwithstanding.

This discussion is not likely to go away anytime soon. The Nonhuman Rights Project has deep pockets and a stylish website devoted to promoting awareness of their campaign and raising funds for court cases like the recent one in the Connecticut Appellate Court.

Common Cause v. Lewis

The “New Oxford Dictionary” defines gerrymandering as “the act of manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.” Those who follow North Carolina politics have been discussing this practice for a while. The realignment of the state’s congressional districts in 2017 was ruled by the US Supreme Court as unconstitutional in their “Rucho v. Common Cause” ruling earlier this year. However, the high court maintained that they had little authority to police this type of redistricting, that they would rely on the state courts to do that.

In September, the North Carolina ruled in “Common Cause v. Lewis” that the 2017 redistricting in the state was contrary to the state’s Constitution and, the “Russo” ruling notwithstanding, the state courts did have the authority to enforce the redistricting provisions of the state Constitution. In particular, the state court…

1. Pointed out the ways that the North Carolina State Constitution goes beyond the outline set out by the federal Constitution on this issue.

2. Offered a different interpretation of similar language in the North Carolina Constitution to that of the Federal Constitution. For example, they said, “North Carolina’s Equal Protection Clause provides greater protection for voting rights than federal equal protection provisions. . . . North Carolina courts can and do interpret even ‘identical terms’ in the State’s Constitution more broadly than their federal counterparts.”

3. Maintained that the redistricting issue was a legal one, not a political one. Unlike the “Rucho” ruling, which maintained that the North Carolina redistricting was a political issue, the North Carolina state court maintained that the 2017 structure violated state law.

It’s important to note that this may not be the final word on this issue. The North Carolina Supreme Court could overrule the “Lewis” ruling. (Since the “Lewis” ruling is based on an “adequate and independent” state-law ground, there is no possibility of a federal court overturning the ruling. ) However, the North Carolina Attorney General has no plans to appeal the “Lewis” ruling in the North Carolina Supreme Court at this time.