Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Original Story: patch.com

Three women who claim they were sexually assaulted while students at the University of California at Berkeley filed a complaint in Alameda County Superior Court today alleging the university’s response was inadequate and discriminatory. A Georgia education lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The three women, Sofie Karasek, Aryle Butler and Nicoletta Commins, all claim to have been assaulted in separate incidents while students in 2012 and separately reported the assaults. Two of the assaults involved fellow students and one involved a lecturer.

But university officials, they claim, were indifferent to their allegations, failed to protect them and other students from potential future assaults, and did not adequately warn students about the dangers of sexual assault on campus. A Columbia education attorney assists education clients in developing policies for student safety and risk management.

Among other allegations, the women contend that the university’s inadequate response is gender discrimination under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the complaint, Karasek was assaulted while on a school-sponsored trip to the California Democratic Party Convention in San Diego as part of her work with the Cal Berkeley Democrats Club. She stayed in a hotel room sleeping in the same bed with three other students the night of Feb. 10, 2012, and awoke at about 3 a.m. to another student massaging her legs, back and buttocks, according to the complaint. She froze during the assault and it continued for the next 30 minutes. In April or May of that year, Karasek met with university officials along with three other students who said they were also assaulted by the same student. She filed a formal written complaint with Center for Student Conduct representative Hallie Hunt on May 15, according to the complaint. But communication from the university over the matter stalled for months while the student remained a member of the club. Karasek learned through club leadership that they were advised not to remove him but could pressure him into leaving of his own accord, according to the complaint. She then learned in November that the student was scheduled to graduate a semester early after meetings between him, the Cal Berkeley Democrats Club leadership and the administration. The administration advised her in an email in December that the issue had been resolved through an “early resolution process” but she was not informed of any disciplinary action taken. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer has extensive experience representing victims of sexual assault.

Butler was allegedly assaulted while working for a UC Berkeley Ph.D candidate at the Wrangell Mountains Center in Glennallen, Alaska, during the summer of 2012 as part of a university program. While in the dining hall there, a center board member and guest lecturer for the program approached her from behind, pushed her against a table and put his hands in her underwear, according to the complaint. She reported the assault to the graduate student, who specifically asked if the particular board member had assaulted her. The assaults continued. Butler was approached by the board member in the library and he whispered in her ear, “It’s so good to have such a beautiful woman around.” Later, he approached her from behind in the kitchen, reached under her shirt but was startled by a loud noise. He whispered, “You have such a beautiful voice” and left the room. Butler again reported the incident to the graduate student employer, who advised Butler to leave while she was out of town for a few days. When Butler’s employer returned, they discussed it but the employer said she hadn’t reported the assaults, according to the complaint. As Butler finished her employment, the graduate student told her she had spoken to the board member, and thought he “really gets it this time.” When Butler got back to UC Berkeley, she reported the assaults to the school’s Title IX coordinator Denise Oldham. According to the complaint, Oldham implied the reports were false and the school conducted no investigation.

Commins alleged she was assaulted by a fellow student she met through the university’s Tae Kwon Do team. Commins invited the student to her apartment in January 2012, but while there he forced himself on her, performing oral sex without her consent and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him. She reported the assault at a student health center, where they conducted a cursory exam but did not perform a rape kit, according to the complaint. Commins then went to the city of Berkeley Police Department. Staff at Highland Hospital in Oakland performed a rape kit exam and found evidence of trauma. The university was alerted to the police investigation and contacted Commins but said their investigation would not get underway until the police investigation was completed, despite her pleas for the investigation to begin immediately. In March of the following year, she was advised the student was suspended until the Fall of 2015, the semester after she was scheduled to graduate. She wishes to continue her study at the university as a gradate student, but does not want to attend school while he is on campus, according to the complaint. An Atlanta education lawyer is following this story closely.

All three women allege their academic performance has suffered because of the assaults and they have dealt with psychological issues stemming from the trauma. “The utter lack of immediate and adequate response by university officials to these and other complaints of sexual violence experienced by its students is reprehensible,” their attorney, Alex Zalkin, said in a statement. “Rather than stepping up and doing the right thing morally and under the law, UC Berkeley has deliberately shirked its responsibilities which has served to injure and re-victimized its students,” Zalkin said.

It is not the first time the university has been accused of inadequately addressing the issue of sexual assault on campus. Last year, 31 women filed a federal complaint alleging that the university’s failure to adequately respond to sexual assault allegations dates back to at least 1979. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has an open investigation into the allegations. A state audit released in June of last year found that university staff were not properly trained in responding to allegations of sexual assaults, even university employees who would be the first point of conduct for such allegations. University officials said the school has implemented new and better training since the report was issued and taken other measures to address sexual assault and harassment on campus. However, the auditor also found in a review of individual case outcomes that they were reasonable given the severity of the incidents, according to the university.

UC Berkeley officials said they had not yet seen the complaint and declined to comment.

“At UC Berkeley we are committed to creating a campus community where sexual assault is not tolerated,” university officials said in a written statement. “Working with students, faculty and staff, we have made great strides on this front and we are dedicated to building on those efforts.”

Friday, June 26, 2015


Original Story: latimes.com

A Los Angeles school district investigation into allegations of misconduct against celebrated teacher Rafe Esquith has broadened to include an accusation that he abused a child 40 years ago, district officials said. A Detroit criminal defense lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Esquith's attorney, Mark Geragos, said the allegations were an attempt to smear the teacher.

"It's a total set-up," Geragos said. "We've reached the heights of unbelievable smear tactics.... It's despicable conduct and we will hold them accountable."

Esquith did not respond to an email requesting comment. His attorneys said he was on a trip to China.

A longtime educator at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School, Esquith has gained national attention for his teaching methods. In April, district officials removed him from the classroom as part of an investigation into alleged misconduct.

District officials said the inquiry began after a teacher complained about a joke that Esquith made to his students involving nudity. It expanded to include an examination of the finances and management of Esquith's nonprofit foundation, the Hobart Shakespeareans, which puts on an annual play and takes students on field trips. A Boston education lawyer is following this story closely.

This week, L.A. Unified investigators interviewed a man who alleged that Esquith physically and sexually abused him in the 1970s.

David Holmquist, the district's general counsel, said the allegations by the man, Marc Bennett, are "part of the overall investigation."

In an interview with The Times on Thursday, Bennett, 49, said that when he was 8 or 9, he attended an after-school program at the Westside Jewish Community Center, where Esquith was employed. Esquith's attorneys confirmed that he worked at the center.

Bennett, who lives in New York City, described three alleged incidents involving Esquith.

"At that point in my life my parents had been divorced. Rafe was charismatic and I looked up to him a bit as kind of a father figure," Bennett said. "I had a fair amount of adoration for him, but it was this really weird thing where it was full of humiliation and a lot of fear. It was very chaotic."

Bennett said he didn't report the alleged abuse at the time. About a decade ago, he said he learned of Esquith's nonprofit work with young children and contacted law enforcement authorities. He also sent a letter describing what he'd been through to an L.A. Unified board member. He couldn't remember the board member's name, but he said that district investigators who called him this week said they had found the letter and asked him to recount his story. A San Francisco litigation attorney is knowledgeable in understanding the details, facts, complications, and circumstances that arise in litigation.

"My hope is that this would inspire other people to come forward if there are others who have had my experience," Bennett said.

Holmquist said the district first learned of the allegations in 2006 and reported them to the Los Angeles Police Department. No charges were filed at the time, and it's unclear whether the district took further action.

As part of the current inquiry, L.A. Unified officials reached out to the LAPD about Bennett's claims, Holmquist said.

Esquith's attorneys filed a claim with the district this week alleging that the teacher's rights have been violated and his reputation sullied. According to the claim, investigators asked Esquith during an interview in May about his time at the JCC. According to the document, one question was: "Were you ever counseled for pushing someone when you were a camp counselor at the JCC Jewish Center Summer Camp you worked at when you were a teenager 40 years ago?" A Detroit criminal defense attorney represents clients charged with a crime.

Esquith's answer was no, according to one of his attorneys. It is unclear whether the question refers to Bennett's allegations or a separate incident.

In an interview with The Times earlier this week, Esquith described the investigation as an overreaction to a quip in which he cited a passage from Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Esquith said he joked with students that if he could not raise enough money for the annual Shakespeare play, everyone would have to perform their parts naked like the king in the book.

Geragos has accused school officials of dragging out the investigation after failing to find any wrongdoing.

Supt. Ramon Cortines declined to provide details about the probe but said that it included "serious issues that go beyond the initial investigation."

District sources, who spoke on the condition that they would not be identified, said that until recently, the probe has focused mostly on the teacher's field trips and his foundation, which is not affiliated with L.A. Unified. District investigators have tried to examine how the foundation collects and uses its funding, the sources said.

The Hobart Shakespeareans raised nearly $435,000 in 2013, according to the nonprofit's most recent federal financial disclosure forms. Neither Esquith nor his board are paid, according to the filing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Original Story: chicagotribune.com

Sitting in his surgical gown inside a large medical suite, a Vienna, Virginia, man prepared for his colonoscopy by pressing record on his smartphone, to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure.

But as soon as he pressed play on his way home, he was shocked out of his anesthesia-induced stupor: He found that he had recorded the entire examination, and that the surgical team had mocked and insulted him as soon as he drifted off to sleep. An Atlanta slander lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

And in addition to their vicious commentary, the doctors discussed avoiding the man after the colonoscopy, instructing an assistant to lie to him, and then placed a false diagnosis on his chart.

"After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op," the anesthesiologist told the sedated patient, "I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit," she was recorded saying.

When a medical assistant noted the man had a rash, the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it, saying she might get "some syphilis on your arm or something," then added, "It's probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you'll be all right." Michigan medical malpractice attorneys provide aggressive and high quality representation to victims of medical malpractice, severe injuries and catastrophic injuries because they understand both injury law and medicine.

When the assistant noted that the man reported getting queasy when watching a needle placed in his arm, the anesthesiologist remarked on the recording, "Well, why are you looking then, retard?"

There was much more. So the man sued the two doctors and their practices for defamation and medical malpractice and, last week, after a three-day trial, a Fairfax County, Virginia, jury ordered the anesthesiologist and her practice to pay him $500,000.

The plaintiff, identified in court papers only as "D.B.," wanted to maintain his anonymity and did not want to comment about the case, said his attorneys, Mikhael Charnoff and Scott Perry.

The anesthesiologist, Tiffany Ingham, 42, could not be reached for comment, and her attorney, D. Lee Rutland, did not return messages seeking comment. Ingham worked out of the Aisthesis anesthesia practice in Bethesda, Maryland, which the jury ruled should pay $50,000 of the $200,000 in punitive damages it awarded. Officials there did not return a call seeking comment. Ingham no longer works there, an Aisthesis employee said, and state licensing records indicate she has moved to Florida. An anesthesiology practice in Tavares, Florida, said she no longer worked there. Calls to a number believed to be Ingham's were not returned, and there was not an answering machine or voicemail at that number. An Indianapolis libel, slander and defamation lawyer is following this story closely.

On the opening day of the trial last week, the gastroenterologist who performed the colonoscopy, Soloman Shah, 48, was dismissed from the case. Court documents state Shah also made some insulting remarks — "As long as it's not Ebola, you're okay," Shah was recorded saying during the rash discussion — and did not discourage Ingham from her comments or actions, which included writing on the man's chart that he had hemorrhoids, when he did not.

Neither Shah, who did not return a message left at his office, nor the lawyers on either side would comment.

The lawyers also would not discuss whether Ingham or Shah faced disciplinary action from the Virginia Board of Medicine. No actions are listed against either on the board's website. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney represents victims injured in medical malpractice cases.

The jury awarded the man $100,000 for defamation — $50,000 each for the comments about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis — and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages. Though the remarks by Ingham and Shah perhaps did not leave the operating room in Reston, experts in libel and slander said defamation does not have to be widely published, merely said by one party to another and understood by the second party to be fact, when it is not.

"I've never heard of a case like this," said Lee Berlik, a Reston lawyer who specializes in defamation law. He said comments between doctors typically would be privileged, but the Vienna man claimed his recording showed there was at least one and as many as three other people in the room during the procedure, and that they were discussing matters beyond the scope of the colonoscopy.

"Usually, all [legal] publication requires is publication to someone other than the plaintiff," Berlik said. "If one of the doctors said to someone else in the room that this guy had syphilis and tuberculosis, and that person believed it, that could be a claim. Then it's up to the jury to decide, were the statements literal assertions of fact? The jury apparently was just so offended at this unprofessional behavior that they're going to give the plaintiff a win. That's what happens in the real world."

One of the jurors, Farid Khairzada, said that "there was not much defense, because everything was on tape." He said that the man's attorneys asked for $1.75 million and that the $500,000 award was a compromise between one juror who felt the man deserved nothing and at least one who felt he deserved more.

"We finally came to a conclusion," Khairzada said, "that we have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

The colonoscopy took place in Shah's surgical suite on April 18, 2013, according to the man's lawsuit. While being prepped for the procedure, the man apparently told Ingham that he had passed out previously while having blood drawn and that he was taking medication for a mild rash on his genitals. A Salt Lake City medical malpractice lawyer is following this story closely.

Because he was going to be fully anesthetized, the man decided to turn on his cellphone's audio recorder before the procedure so it would be on to capture the doctor's post-operation instructions, the suit states. But the man's phone, in his pants, was placed beneath him under the operating table and inadvertently recorded the audio of the entire procedure, court records show. The doctors' attorneys argued that the recording was illegal, but the man's attorneys noted that Virginia is a "one-party consent" state, meaning only one person involved in a conversation need agree to the recording.

The recording captured Ingham mocking the amount of anesthetic needed to sedate the man, the lawsuit states, and Shah then commented that another doctor they both knew "would eat him for lunch."

The discussion soon turned to the rash on the man's penis, followed by the comments implying the man had syphilis or tuberculosis. The doctors then discussed "misleading and avoiding" the man after he awoke, and Shah reportedly told an assistant to convince the man that he had spoken with Shah and "you just don't remember it." Ingham suggested Shah receive an urgent "fake page" and said, "I've done the fake page before," the complaint states. "Round and round we go. Wheel of annoying patients we go. Where it'll land, nobody knows," Ingham reportedly said.

Ingham then mocked the man for attending Mary Washington College, once an all-women's school, and wondered aloud whether her patient was gay, the suit states. Then the anesthesiologist said, "I'm going to mark 'hemorrhoids' even though we don't see them and probably won't," and did write a diagnosis of hemorrhoids on the man's chart, which the lawsuit said was a falsification of medical records.

After declaring the patient a "big wimp," Ingham reportedly said: "People are into their medical problems. They need to have medical problems."

Shah replied, "I call it the Northern Virginia syndrome," according to the suit.

The doctors argued that the Vienna man did not suffer any physical injury or miss any days of work. The man's complaint said that he was "verbally brutalized" and suffered anxiety, embarrassment and loss of sleep for several months.

"These types of conversations," testified Kathryn McGoldrick, former president of the Academy of Anesthesiology, "are not only offensive but frankly stupid because we can never be certain that our patients are asleep and wouldn't have recall."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Original Story: cnbc.com

A Montefiore Medical Center employee and seven others were indicted on Friday on charges of stealing the personal information of as many as 12,000 hospital patients and using it to make purchases at luxury stores, the Manhattan district attorney said. A Newark criminal lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Officials said Monique Walker, 32, an assistant clerk at the hospital, allegedly stole personal information, including names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, from thousands of patients. She printed patients’ records on a near daily basis between 2012 and 2013, the authorities said, and then sold them to one of her co-defendants for as little as $3 each.

“In case after case, we’ve seen how theft by a single company insider, who is often working with identity thieves on the outside, can rapidly victimize a business and thousands of its customers,” the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said in a statement. A Greenville criminal lawyer represents clients in criminal cases involving fraud, theft, and burglary.

“Motivated by greed, profit and a complete disregard for their victims, identity thieves often feed stolen information to larger criminal operations, which then go on to defraud additional businesses and victims.”

The authorities said that Ms. Walker's co-defendants used stolen information she provided to go on shopping sprees in Manhattan, making purchases at stores that included Barneys New York, Macy's, Victoria's Secret, Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor. The purchases were worth at least $50,000, prosecutors said, and were made with store credit and gift cards.

Ms. Walker and the others were indicted on charges that included grand larceny, identity theft and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

According to the indictment, Fernando Salazar, 28, was the ring leader of the identity theft operation, buying the information from Ms. Walker and supplying it to the others.

Susan Green-Lorenzen, a senior vice president at Montefiore, said the hospital was cooperating fully with law enforcement and that it would "not tolerate any violation of our patients' privacy."

"At Montefiore all employees are thoroughly screened for criminal backgrounds, provided extensive training to protect patient privacy, and must adhere to a strict code of conduct," Ms. Green-Lorenzen added. "The employee who was arrested in connection to this violation egregiously and criminally chose to violate established hospital policies, the trust of our patients and the law." A Salt Lake City criminal lawyer is following this story closely.

Lisa McKenzie, a spokeswoman for Montefiore, said the hospital had identified all 12,000 patients whose personal information had been compromised and was notifying them of the breach by mail on Friday.

No Montefiore employees were affected by the breach, she said.

The hospital will also provide affected patients with various identity protection measures, Ms. McKenzie said, including one year of credit monitoring, a $1 million insurance policy and identity recovery services if their identity was compromised.

Personal information from 12,000 people was used in shopping sprees, officials say.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Original Story: detroitnews.com

A West Bloomfield neurologist who reaped millions by allegedly cheating Medicare spent more than $9.3 million on baseball cards, ancient coins, collectable currency and stamps — a rare collection he could soon lose to the government. A medical malpractice lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Dr. Gavin Awerbuch amassed the collection — including coins from ancient Rome — using cash generated by an alleged five-year crime wave, according to federal court records that offer rare insight into the secretive world of coin collecting. At the upper end, the world is filled with hobbyists who, due to security concerns, protect the scope and value of their prized possessions.

Awerbuch's case shows a unique twist on a growing trend of health care professionals nationwide accused of spending money from fraudulent activities on valuable possessions, including homes and automobiles.

"This flabbergasts me. I never knew that his firepower extended that far," said Metro Detroit currency dealer Frederick Bart, who sold the doctor $360,225 worth of collectable currency printed before 1928. "He didn't have a target on his back where you thought 'here comes moneybags.' "

Federal prosecutors want the collection — experts say it could be among the richest in Michigan — forfeited to the government, along with $2.9 million in cash and a million-dollar Arizona vacation home.

Awerbuch, 57, is free on $10,000 unsecured bond. If convicted, he faces 10 years or more in federal prison. A preliminary exam has been set for June 29.

Though court records do not specify exactly which collectible items Awerbuch purchased, the extent of his coin collection is emerging more than one year after he was charged with health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances. A Medicaid and Medicare lawyer is following this story closely.

He was accused of defrauding Medicare of $7 million and prescribing so much of the cancer painkiller Subsys that he was the top dispenser in the country, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Awerbuch's defense lawyer, Mark Kriger, declined comment.

Newly filed court records show how Awerbuch spent money generated by allegedly fraudulent activity.

"(Sizable) purchases were made with dealers of rare and collectible coins, as well as dealers of other types of collectible items," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Grey wrote in a court filing. "These assets were purchased, at least in part, with criminally derived proceeds commingled in Awerbuch's various accounts." A Detroit insurance defense lawyer represents insurers in insurance fraud cases.

From 2008 through 2013, Awerbuch spent $9,343,527 at more than a dozen coin and collectible dealers in Michigan and across the country, according to court records.

The bulk, $7 million, was spent at Kagin's Inc. The California firm deals in rare coins, such as a pioneer gold coin for $999,999 and the first coin struck in North America, a shilling priced at $299,500.

"He was a good client," company President Donald Kagin told The News this week. "Over the years, we've had good transactions with him with different types of coins."

Kagin would not reveal what Awerbuch bought from his store, citing client confidentiality.

The collectibles Awerbuch purchased were spread across several locations. Federal agents struck gold — literally — during searches at several locations.

Investigators found gold and silver coins at his medical office in Saginaw, along with Roman coins honoring Emperors Titus and Claudius.

"If they are in nice condition, those can go for many thousands of dollars, and do," said Thomas Klunzinger, who serves on the board of the Michigan State Numismatic Society, which encourages and promotes the study and collection of currency. "Every dye was different. If you have a Roman coin, maybe it was highlighting some battle or commemorating a victory. Those (coins) were the media of the day."

Investigators also found a coin from ancient Judea, according to a search warrant inventory.

At his $1.1 million West Bloomfield home overlooking Upper Straits Lake, investigators found boxes of coins, stamps and Costa Rican currency, prosecutors allege.

Awerbuch stashed more coins, collectible currency, baseball cards, jewelry and stamps in at least 16 safe deposit boxes at PNC and Fifth Third banks, according to court records.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors asked a judge to have the coins and collectibles forfeited to the government, alleging the items were purchased with proceeds of a crime.

Federal prosecutors have not itemized the individual pieces of Awerbuch's collection.

Just a few coins could be worth millions, said Julianna Wostyn, president of the Michigan State Numismatic Society.

"You can spend a horrendous amount of money, and it doesn't have to be gold," she said. "When you're talking paper money, in the last 10 years, paper money has skyrocketed."

She has never heard of Awerbuch or met him at area conventions.

"People don't want to make themselves known," she said. "Number one: They don't want to be knocked over. I won't say they look homeless, but coin collectors are not flashy people and do not go about bragging about themselves."

Besides the coins, prosecutors want to keep almost $3 million seized from Awerbuch's bank accounts.

The money includes $622,800 seized after Awerbuch sold his home in July 2014.

Prosecutors also want the doctor to forfeit his home in the Arizona desert, saying it was purchased with money generated by health care fraud and unlawfully distributing prescription drugs. An insurance defense lawyer represents insurance companies in disputes and fraud cases.

His ex-wife is fighting the request, saying she is the innocent owner of the 4,700-square-foot home, which has a putting green, wine room, outdoor pool and waterfall.

Awerbuch bought the home two years ago for $940,000, according to court records.

He paid cash.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Original Story: cbsnews.com

DETROIT - More than 500 patients were given unnecessary treatments by a Detroit-area cancer doctor who pleaded guilty to fraud, prosecutors said, putting out the number of victims for the first time. A Detroit medical malpractice lawyer is following this story closely.

The government is seeking a 175-year sentence for Dr. Farid Fata, 50, of Oakland County. Prosecutors filed a 100-page sentencing memo ahead of a multiday hearing that starts July 6 in federal court.

Fata suddenly pleaded guilty to fraud last September, admitting he billed insurers for millions of dollars while treating patients with chemotherapy and other methods when they didn't need it. Some didn't even have cancer. A Royal Oak insurance defense lawyer represents insurance companies in insurance fraud cases.

"Fata ... is not comparable to any other crime in this district in the scope and enormity of the fraud and degree of betrayal. In many ways, he is worse than Madoff, in that he wreaked damage on not only his victims' bank accounts but their bodies," the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday, referring to Bernard Madoff of New York, who committed a massive financial scam..

Fata's lawyer will file a separate sentencing memo.

Fata, who had seven clinics in southeastern Michigan, agrees that the government can prove that he was paid at least $17 million by two insurers, Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. But prosecutors said that amount doesn't capture the total value of his fraud, including co-payments by patients and other insurers.

The government said 553 patients have been identified as victims, along with four insurance companies. There were more than 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections.

"At times, Fata bullied, berated and browbeat patients who dared to question his treatment, telling them they risked death without him or in the case of a patient who could not afford co-pays, 'It's your life or your money,'" prosecutors said. A Grand Rapids medical malpractice attorney represents clients injured as the result of professional negligence or the careless actions by a doctor or hospital staff.

The government also filed statements from Fata's patients. Maggie Dorsey said she has tics, tremors and pain after undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy.

"I didn't deserve to end up like this even though I am still alive with love & many thanks," she wrote. "Some days when the pain is too great I close my eyes longing for the relief of heaven."


Original Story: wiscnews.com

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Family members of two farm workers who died from suspected heat-related illnesses and a labor union have settled their lawsuits against California on the condition that the state do more to ensure laborers are safe when temperatures rise. A Los Angeles labor and employment lawyer is following this story closely.

The lawsuits, filed in 2009 and 2012, accused the state of repeatedly failing to protect farm workers being denied basic access to water and shade while working in extreme heat in California fields.

The state estimates that 14 workers died from heat-related illnesses in the state between 2005 and 2013, though the United Farm Workers labor union says the figure is closer to 30. One worker who died was 17 years old. A Memphis employee rights lawyer represents clients in employee rights disputes.

Under terms of the settlement, reached last month and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health is agreeing to improve enforcement of newly enhanced safety regulations.

"Overall the settlement will make farm workers safer — that is our hope and the state's hope," said Brad Phillips, an attorney who represents those who filed the two lawsuits against the state and the safety agency.

The agency has agreed to step up inspections of outdoor work sites during heat waves, take more meaningful action against repeat violators and allow United Farm Workers to play a watchdog role in the process, according to the settlement. A San Francisco labor and employment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The settlement also requires the agency to conduct two internal audits evaluating its effectiveness and investigate ways to create a publicly available database listing violators and their penalties.

Amy Martin, chief counsel for the agency, said she disagrees with the labor union's criticism of its past enforcement efforts and that the settlement improves upon work that already was being done.

Regardless, all the terms of the settlement "are going to benefit enforcement and ultimately benefit workers," she said.

Martin pointed out one aspect of the settlement as particularly interesting — a pilot program to obtain more formal written statements from workers in the field, rather than asking them to show up in person for complaints — an often onerous request for farm workers who are migratory or can't afford to miss work. A San Francisco wrongful death lawyer represents clients in wrongful death cases and negligent accidents in California.

"The upshot of it is, if we're successful, and if workers are agreeable to signing declarations, it's worth a shot to see whether or not it improves the weight given to these declarations" and leads to better prosecutions, Martin said.

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers, said he's confident the settlement will improve worker safety.

"We believe there will be more inspections and that action will take place more quickly, especially against repeat and willful violators," he said.

In 2005, California adopted the nation's first rules requiring shade and water for the state's farm workers in the wake of 10 heat-related deaths — four of them farm workers — in a two-month period. Two months ago, the state beefed up those regulations, requiring employers to provide shade when temperatures rise above 80 degrees. Workers also must get 10-minute breaks every two hours when temperatures hit 95 degrees.


Original Story: detroit.cbslocal.com

HOWELL (AP) — A Michigan man was sentenced Friday to 25 to 50 years in prison for the fatal shooting of another motorist during a road rage incident. A Grand Rapids wrongful death lawyer is following this story closely.

Livingston County Judge Miriam Cavanaugh told Martin Zale that his encounter with Derek Flemming was a “shooting waiting to happen” and that Zale went about “almost looking for conflict.”

“If it hadn’t been Mr. Flemming, it would have been someone else,” Cavanaugh said.

Flemming was shot when he confronted Zale about aggressive driving near Howell, northwest of Detroit. A Detroit wrongful death lawyer represents clients in wrongful death and negligent accident cases.

Zale, of Marion Township, told jurors he felt threatened as he sat in his pickup truck at a traffic light in Livingston County’s Genoa Township. He insisted he shot in self-defense.

The prosecutor said Zale should have kept the window up or driven away.

A jury in May rejected first-degree murder but convicted Zale of second-degree murder. A Cleveland wrongful death attorney is reviewing the details of this case.

“I called you a monster the day after it happened and my mind hasn’t changed,” Derek Flemming’s mother, Elaine, told Zale Friday before he was sentenced.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Original Story: freep.com

The judge who handed down Theodore Wafer’s sentence today told him she’s certain he is remorseful and regrets his actions.

And if he wasn’t going to prison, Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway said she’s confident the 55-year-old Dearborn Heights man would never commit another crime during his life. A Grand Rapids wrongful death attorney is following this story closely.

But none of that excuses what happened in the case, she said.

Then Hathaway sentenced Wafer to at least 17 years in prison for the death of Renisha McBride, who he fatally shot on the porch of his home about 4:30 a.m. Nov. 2.

“This is one of the saddest cases I have ever had,” Hathaway said. “A young woman’s life is gone and an otherwise law-abiding citizen’s life is ruined.”

A jury convicted Wafer of second-degree murder, manslaughter and using a firearm in a felony last month, rejecting the claim that Wafer shot in self-defense. A Detroit wrongful death attorney represents clients involved in wrongful death and negligent accident cases.

Before he was sentenced today, Wafer apologized to McBride’s family and friends.

“I only wish that I could take this horrible tragedy back,” he said, speaking slowly.

Wafer, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder according to a court document, said he’ll carry guilt and sorrow forever.

“I am truly sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can only hope and pray that somehow you can forgive me.”

McBride’s sister, Jasmine McBride, 23, asked for the maximum sentence when she spoke during the sentencing and said Wafer’s actions have impacted a lot of people.

“Somewhere down the line in life, I have to forgive you in order to be accepted into heaven myself,” she said. “But I will never forget the pain, the hurt, the heartache or the devastation you caused.”

Wafer’s lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, said the case will be appealed. She asked Hathaway to sentence Wafer within the manslaughter guidelines and said her client took responsibility and deserves a chance to get out of prison one day.

“This wasn’t planned,” she said. “He didn’t go out looking for this. It came to him.”

But Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas argued that Wafer’s testimony has been about trying to protect himself and not accepting responsibility. A Charlotte wrongful death lawyer offers a wide range of experience and knowledge that extends to nearly every area of wrongful death law.

“The jury has spoken, and they have said that his actions amount to murder in the second degree,” she said. “Murder, not manslaughter. And we ask the court to sentence him accordingly.”

Hathaway did not depart from the guidelines and sentenced Wafer to 15-30 years for second-degree murder, 7-15 years for manslaughter, which will be served at the same time as the murder conviction, and 2 years for felony firearm.

“I fully recognize that you did not bring these circumstances to your doorstep. They arrived there,” Hathaway said to Wafer. “But once they did, you made choices that brought us here today.”

She said she doesn’t believe Wafer, who did building maintenance at Detroit Metro Airport, is a cold-blooded murderer or that the case had anything to do with race.

“Although the evidence clearly showed in this case that Ms. McBride made some terrible choices that night, none of them justified taking her life,” she said.

McBride had been smoking marijuana and drinking vodka with a friend, according to testimony during the trial. She hit a parked car not far from Wafer's home just before 1 a.m. Nov. 2. Her whereabouts between the accident and when she ended up on Wafer's porch are unknown.

Wafer, who said he couldn’t find his cell phone and had no land line, testified that he heard banging on his doors, grabbed a baseball bat, then his shotgun, opened the front door because he thought someone was going to come inside and fired in self-defense.

But when police arrived, Wafer said he didn't know the gun was loaded.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Wafer was angry, wanted a confrontation, went to the door to scare away neighborhood kids with his gun, shot through a locked screen door and killed the unarmed teen.

Hathaway said she believes that he “acted out of some fear but mainly anger and panic.”

As McBride’s father, Walter Simmons, walked out of the courtroom, he told the Free Press that Wafer “got what he deserved” and said he does not accept Wafer’s apology.

Wafer’s lawyer thought the sentence was too harsh.

“Seventeen years for a man who’s 55 and about to go to prison is a death sentence,” Carpenter said after the hearing.


Original Story: freep.com

A civil settlement was reached Friday in the shooting death of Renisha McBride in Dearborn Heights, a case that generated national attention as a racially-charged killing. A Grand Rapids wrongful death attorney is following this story closely.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Daniel Hathaway approved the settlement, which arose from a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of McBride, a 19-year-old African-American woman shot by Theodore Wafer, a 55-year-old white man, on his porch on Nov. 2, 2013. Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder in her shooting and is currently serving a sentence of least 17 years.

The amount of the settlement between the attorneys for McBride and Wafer was kept confidential, said the McBride family's attorney, Gerald Thurswell. Thurswell represented McBride's mother, Monica McBride, and her father, Walter Ray Simmons, who appeared in court Friday. A San Francisco wrongful death lawyer represents clients in wrongful death cases and negligent accident claims.

Because of the confidentiality agreement, Thurswell wouldn't say how much Wafer has to pay the parents of McBride.

"The bottom line is that...no amount of money can ever compensate the family for the loss that they suffered each and every day, each and every minute," Thurswell said. "They lost their daughter. The sister lost a sister." A Detroit wrongful death attorney is reviewing the details of this case.

Under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, McBride got into a car accident a few hours before she was killed at about 4:30 a.m. She knocked on the door of Wafer's home, apparently seeking help. Wafer thought she was a potential intruder, and said he fired to protect himself.

Her death generated widespread attention, with some comparing it to the case of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen shot dead in Florida in 2012. Activists said McBride was a victim of racial profiling that stereotypes African Americans and held protests calling for charges to be brought against the shooter. An Indiana wrongful death lawyer represents families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Original Story: morningstar.com

Mergers and acquisitions have accelerated sharply since the financial crisis faded, but the government's pace for reviewing proposed deals is slowing.

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are taking more time to investigate their most intensely scrutinized mergers, according to data compiled by antitrust lawyer Paul Denis of Dechert LLP. A Kansas City antitrust lawyer is following this story closely.

In such deal reviews concluded this year, more than 10 months elapsed, on average, between the transaction's announcement and a yes-or-no decision by the government. That's an increase from an average of seven months in recent years.

As time passes, merging firms can become increasingly worried about completing a deal. They have to ensure financing remains in place, and that can cost money. They can begin to lose employees nervous about the future, as well as customers. A Richmond mergers and acquisitions lawyer is knowledgeable in all areas of M&A and general acquisitions law, including but not limited to leveraged buyouts and company reorganizations.

"When you go from seven months of that to 10 months, it's different," Mr. Denis said. "No one wants their deals to hang out there very long. You're taking market risk. All kinds of things can happen."

Companies in a number of recent mergers have been waiting upward of a year -- or longer -- for a final verdict, and some deals have fallen apart because of government concerns.

Comcast Corp.'s bid for Time Warner Cable Inc. was pending for 14 months before it was dropped in April in the face of opposition from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

Days later, Applied Materials Inc. walked away from its deal to acquire Tokyo Electron Ltd. 19 months after it was announced, citing Justice Department objections. The FTC spent more than a year examining Sysco Corp.'s planned acquisition of rival food distributor US Foods Inc. before bringing a lawsuit in February challenging the deal.

Other reviews still pending after more than a year include the merger of medical-device makers Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Biomet Inc., and AT&T Inc.'s deal to acquire DirecTV.

Government officials say companies play a significant role in determining the duration of antitrust reviews. A Boston M&A lawyer represents clients in business divestitures, leveraged buyouts, and company reorganizations.

"There are ways the parties can help themselves in the process," said Deborah Feinstein, head of the FTC's Bureau of Competition. It matters how long companies take to provide data and documents, to offer divestitures when appropriate, and to find buyers for assets that need to be sold off to get approval.

Ms. Feinstein also said companies can choose to come to the agency early after a deal is announced to walk through the transaction and highlight areas of business overlap between the merger partners. "Sometimes that can significantly speed things up," she said.

Bill Baer, the Justice Department's antitrust chief, said the average review is taking longer this year due to a couple of particularly lengthy ones. "In those cases, the parties weren't pushing for a decision, either because they wanted more time to convince us or because they wanted to align the process with a sister agency," he said.

Mr. Denis's statistics focus on merger deals that resulted in a government lawsuit, a settlement, abandonment by the firms, or a closing statement from antitrust officials explaining why the transaction should be allowed.

Not all significant recent merger reviews have taken so long. The FTC cleared the merger of medical-supply companies Medtronic Inc. and Covidien PLC, with conditions, about five months after the deal was announced in June 2014.

External factors explain the length of some antitrust probes. Telecom mergers, such as the Comcast and AT&T deals, require an added layer of FCC review. And deals with a strong international component can take longer as firms coordinate with antitrust agencies overseas.

But antitrust lawyers say the U.S. agencies have gotten more demanding in asking firms for long periods to conduct exams.

By law, merging parties can put the agencies on a 30-day decision clock once they have complied with requests for detailed data about a merger, a process that can take months. In reality, firms almost always agree to give more time, with officials sometimes asking for 90 days or more, antitrust lawyers say.

The antitrust agencies are operating from a position of strength. Companies need the government's cooperation, particularly on narrowing the scope of agency information requests, because producing large volumes of documents is costly.

More important, firms prefer not to get sued, so they are usually willing to give the government more time if it might make a difference between a suit and a settlement. "If parties are unwilling to litigate, the agencies will sense it, and it can give the agencies greater leverage to lengthen investigations," said lawyer Joshua Soven of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who has worked at Justice and the FTC.

The Justice Department's Mr. Baer said it is mutually beneficial to have an endgame to talk through potential antitrust concerns. "If there's a way to get to a meeting of the minds before we have to litigate, most companies want to do that," he said.

Even when the risk of a lawsuit fades, the process of completing divestitures and other settlement conditions can push back a closing date. Some lawyers say the time it takes the government to sign on the dotted line has increased, particularly at the FTC.

"The agencies want to make sure they get it right. The last thing they want to do is a lengthy investigation and then not fully replicate the competition being lost," said Matt Reilly, a former FTC lawyer now at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. "It's going to take a long time. And it is going to be a little bit of a roller coaster."


Original Story: wsj.com

Banks have hired armies of security experts to combat shadowy hackers from breaking into customer accounts.

Now, a top law-enforcement official says banks should also focus closer to home.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging big banks, such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., to rein in their tellers’ access to some customer data and take other steps to detect potential misbehavior, according to a letter he sent to the banks Friday. A Washington DC criminal lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office continues to investigate numerous instances of tellers accused of stealing customer data and money, a person familiar with the matter said. While teller-fraud cases often get overlooked because of the small dollar amounts involved, Mr. Schneiderman and his investigators believe there are hundreds of examples going on across the country, the person familiar with the investigations said.

“Bank customers are still at risk,” Mr. Schneiderman wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Schneiderman also wrote that banks should be more alert to unusual activity by employees and report suspicious conduct to authorities. A Des Moines criminal lawyer is following this story closely.

In addition to Bank of America, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo, the letter was sent to Citigroup Inc., Banco Santander SA, Capital One Financial Corp., HSBC Holdings PLC, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and TD Bank. Most of the banks declined to comment. HSBC and TD Bank both said they are serious about protecting customer information. HSBC said it has “strict security safeguards” to protect customer privacy and is “committed to continually enhancing those safeguards as needed.” TD Bank said it offers “multiple layers of security protection against fraud and has tools in place to monitor for unusual or suspicious activity.”

While other agencies have carved out niches investigating money laundering or interest-rate rigging, Mr. Schneiderman in recent years has focused among other things on tellers and other low-level employees allegedly stealing customer data.

The initiative, internally named “Operation Pen & Teller,” a play on the magician duo Penn and Teller, underscores that banks’ regulatory risks extend beyond the billion-dollar penalties for mortgage abuse and consumers’ risks go further than sophisticated cyberattacks.

In Mr. Schneiderman’s investigations, tellers often first search a customer database for people with common names and high balances. Then, they use the customers’ Social Security numbers and other personal information to withdraw cash from other branches. They also at times use the stolen information to create fake identification documents. A Birmingham criminal defense attorney provides counsel and strategic advice to individuals, corporations, and other entities facing criminal investigations or charges.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office last year announced the arrest of five people that it accused of running an identity-theft ring focused in Westchester County, N.Y. Three were tellers that had worked at banks including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, TD Bank and Wells Fargo.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office said the tellers passed customer information to two accomplices. One used the information to create fake identification documents; the other arranged for people to impersonate customers across the New York City area, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The five stole a total of $850,000 by using the personal data of hundreds of customers, said Mr. Schneiderman. All five pleaded guilty; the ringleader faces up to nine years in prison.

The four banks reimbursed affected customers. J.P. Morgan, TD Bank and Wells Fargo notified the affected customers and offered free credit monitoring or similar services. Bank of America declined to comment on the details of its response.

A report last year by Mr. Schneiderman’s office found that “insider wrongdoing” such as the tellers’ crimes was the No. 3 cause of data breaches in New York, behind hacking and lost or stolen equipment. The report analyzed the data-breach notices that the attorney general’s office received from 2006 to 2013.

In the letter, Mr. Schneiderman laid out what he saw as weaknesses in the banks’ protocol for protecting customer data from ill-intentioned employees and his suggestions for improvements.

For example, Mr. Schneiderman said his office had found that in many cases, tellers had “unfettered” access to customers’ account information. He suggested limits, such as allowing a teller access only to customer accounts in the local area, unless a supervisor gives permission.

Mr. Schneiderman said much of the wrongdoing could have been caught if the banks had noticed and shared red flags, for example an employee accessing an unusually large number of accounts or looking up accounts without dealing with those customers.

He added that the tellers or co-conspirators who accessed stolen data would sometimes call the banks to ask about an account. A potential red flag: They would sometimes call about multiple, unrelated accounts from the same phone number.

The state official also complained that, when the banks did question tellers, many of them would resign. The bank would then close its investigation, Mr. Schneiderman said, and the teller would find employment at another bank.

Mr. Schneiderman’s letter asks the banks to implement his suggestions and to contact his Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau for further discussion.


Original Story: wsj.com

Republican presidential hopefuls always clobber one another over immigration policy. This cycle has been no exception, with Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and others carving out their own territory. The winner is the Democratic nominee, who can use immigration as a powerful weapon against the eventual Republican candidate. Hillary Clinton no doubt sees the potential. While she has commented on little else, she has already promised that if elected she would go beyond President Obama’s questionable executive order.

The GOP needs to end the family drama and resolve the policy dispute, not least because it is the right thing to do in every sense—economically, politically and morally. With a world on fire and economic growth strangled by government regulation, it would be unacceptable for Republicans to lose a critical election over immigration. A Washington DC immigration attorney is following this story closely.

This isn’t a matter of finding the “right” candidate. The question is whether Republicans can unite around a set of rational principles. Here are a few that any serious contender should be able to support.

  • Sovereignty. The U.S. has the right to determine the conditions under which noncitizens can cross its borders. The next president must work with Congress to make that determination, in accordance with the Constitution, which isn’t the path the current administration has chosen.

  • Border security. One of government’s primary duties is to protect citizens. Given terrorism and organized crime—drug cartels, weapons and human trafficking—the federal government must secure the borders as a first step to reform. Even candidates perceived as more open on immigration agree.

Gov. Bush said in New Hampshire last month that “we need to control our border first of all.” Sen. Marco Rubio similarly acknowledged that Americans are not going to support immigration reform “until you show them—not tell them, you better show them—that illegal immigration is under control.” A Washington DC immigration lawyer represents clients on a wide range of immigration issues, whether localized or on a global scale.

  • Enforcing our laws: The U.S. is a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws. The federal government must enforce our laws internally, penalizing those who overstay their visas, and implementing a universal verification system so employers can be sure they are hiring employees legally.
  • Legal immigration policies should support economic growth. If current quotas are bringing in enough talent, let’s keep them. If more immigration or less red tape will boost the economy, let’s try that. Guest-worker visas should ebb and flow with the economy. Legal immigration should focus more on what workers can contribute to the economy, as is the case in most other nations, and less on distant familial relationships.

The best way to protect American workers is to generate economic growth. This is not synonymous with aggressively restricting immigration. Most studies conclude that immigration contributes to economic growth as well as innovation, and research and development. The American Enterprise Institute found in 2011 that “temporary foreign workers—both skilled and less skilled—boost U.S. employment” and that immigrants with advanced degrees working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields “boost employment for U.S. citizens.” Every Republican who aspires to the presidency should acknowledge that immigrants of all skill sets can benefit the economy.

  • Addressing the illegal population. The next president will need to work with Congress to establish consequences for violating our laws that are harsh enough to be meaningful but also reasonable. But with some 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, every candidate should support a path to legal status—short of citizenship—for illegal immigrants willing to accept responsibility for their actions and take the consequences. 

Such consequences could include passing a background check, paying a fine, demonstrating the ability to be independent of welfare, engaging in community or military service, learning English and taking an American civics course. Every option should be on the table, except amnesty, which forgives illegal conduct. It isn’t amnesty if immigrants admit wrongdoing and accept punishment.

  • Citizenship. American citizenship is a privilege, not a right. Whether candidates support requiring people who are here illegally to return to their home countries to become citizens, or whether they propose allowing immigrants to remain in the U.S. and go through an arduous naturalization process, the privilege of citizenship is something worth protecting. A Washington DC immigration attorney provides comprehensive guidance to business clients with respect to their foreign national workforce, including short and long-term strategy and planning. 

Candidates will disagree on the best way to implement these points. This is simply an attempt to set forth unifying principles that are easily articulated and essential if Republicans have a chance at winning the next presidential election. Absent rational immigration principles, the odds of winning aren’t very good.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Original Story: bigstory.ap.org

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court strengthened civil rights protections Monday for employees and job applicants who need special treatment in the workplace because of their religious beliefs.

The justices sided with a Muslim woman who did not get hired after she showed up to a job interview with clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wearing a black headscarf.

The headscarf, or hijab, violated the company's strict dress code, since changed, for employees who work in its retail stores. A New Hampshire employment attorney has experience litigating employment related lawsuits in defense of business clients.

Employers generally have to accommodate job applicants and employees with religious needs if the employer at least has an idea that such accommodation is necessary, Justice Antonin Scalia said in his opinion for the court.

Job applicant Samantha Elauf did not tell her interviewer she was Muslim. But Scalia said that Abercrombie "at least suspected" that Elauf wore a headscarf for religious reasons. "That is enough," Scalia said in an opinion for seven justices.

Federal civil rights law gives religious practices "favored treatment" that forbids employers from firing or not hiring people based on their observance of religion, Scalia said. The federal civil rights law known as Title VII requires employers to make accommodations for employees' religious beliefs in most instances. Elauf's case turned on how employers are supposed to know when someone has a religious need to be accommodated. A Maine labor lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The decision does not, by itself, resolve her case. Instead, it will return to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which earlier ruled against her.

"While the Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit decision, it did not determine that A&F discriminated against Ms. Elauf. We will determine our next steps in the litigation," company spokeswoman Carlene Benz said in an email.

Some business groups said Monday's ruling will force employers to make assumptions about applicants' religious beliefs.

"Shifting this burden to employers sets an unclear and confusing standard making business owners extremely vulnerable to inevitable discrimination lawsuits," said Karen Harned, a top lawyer at the National Federation of Independent Business. "Whether employers ask an applicant about religious needs or not, there is a good chance they will be sued." A Memphis employment lawyer is following this story closely.

Jenny Yang, chairwoman of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, praised the court for "affirming that employers may not make an applicant's religious practice a factor in employment decisions." The EEOC had sued on Elauf's behalf.

Elauf was 17 when she interviewed for a "model" position, as the company calls its sales staff, at an Abercrombie Kids store in a shopping mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2008. She impressed the assistant store manager with whom she met. But her application faltered over her headscarf because it conflicted with the company's Look Policy, a code derived from Abercrombie's focus on what it calls East Coast collegiate or preppy style.

Abercrombie has since changed its policy on headscarves and has settled similar lawsuits elsewhere.

After the EEOC filed suit, a jury eventually awarded Elauf $20,000.

But the appeals court threw out the award and concluded that Abercrombie & Fitch could not be held liable because Elauf never asked the company to relax its policy against headscarves. A Maine labor and employment lawyer represents business clients in discrimination claims.

At the Supreme Court's argument session in February, several justices suggested that employers tell job applicants what the rules are and give them the chance to raise any objections. Awkward conversations at that point would be better than a lawsuit later on, the justices said.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote separately to agree with the outcome, but not with Scalia's reasoning. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying he would not find that Abercrombie intentionally discriminated against Elauf when it declined to hire her.


Original Story: detroitnews.com

Lansing — Mayor Mike Duggan is at odds with his former employer at the Detroit Medical Center in his legislative battle to let Detroiters buy lower-cost auto insurance coverage with limited medical benefits. A Detroit car accident attorney is following this story closely.

Duggan's "D-Insurance" bill gained approval from the Senate Insurance Committee Wednesday with changes that would let other cities with 35 percent uninsured drivers allow insurers to sell plans capped at $250,000 in car injuries. Claims above that cap would be directed to a driver's health insurance.

But the DMC, where Duggan was CEO from 2004-12, opposes the Detroit mayor's bill because it eliminates unlimited catastrophic coverage for drivers who suffer brain and spinal cord injuries, said Conrad Mallett Jr., chief administration officer of the hospital system. A Detroit car accident lawyer represents clients injured in automobile accidents.

"D-Insurance is not going to be the panacea for the people that live in Detroit … that the mayor believes," said Mallett, a Detroiter who worked under Duggan for eight years.

The DMC treats drivers with severe brain, spinal and neurological injuries from car accidents at its Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.

"We believe that access back to the catastrophic insurance fund is critical," Mallett told The Detroit News. "We are with the mayor on everything but this."

Duggan, who has met with Detroit hospital leaders in the past week, downplayed the impact to the DMC's bottom line and care to patients.

"It has only a marginal impact on the hospitals," Duggan said Wednesday. "The hospitals will still be able to charge their triple Blue Cross rate."

The years-long battle over reforming Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system rests with the level of long-term care insurers should have to cover for treatments and therapies after hospitalization. A Detroit insurance defense lawyer helps insurance carriers analyze and understand all of the legal and business issues involved in processing insurance claims.

Duggan's insurance plan has been introduced as an alternative to making statewide changes to the insurance system, which passed the Senate last month but has stalled in the House after intense lobbying against the bill by hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

"It's a pilot project ... that maybe someday other areas of the state could follow," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Duggan, a Democrat, is trying to keep the Republican-controlled Legislature focused on his narrowly tailored legislation, which does not include caps on the amounts hospitals can charge for individual procedures like the bill stalled in the House would do.

"This doesn't have nearly as dramatic of an effect on the hospitals as the earlier bill," Duggan said.

Duggan's bill focuses on lowering Detroit's 60 percent rate of motorists illegally driving on city streets and freeways without insurance.

The Detroit mayor argues his plan, which would be voluntary for drivers, could cut insurance premiums by one-third or $1,000 for the typical car owner in the city.

"We think the great majority of the financial abuses are coming post-hospital," Duggan said. "I don't believe the hospital is where the problem is."

Mallett said he remains convinced that Duggan's plan will really drive down the cost of Detroit's highest-in-the-nation auto insurance rates.

"We'd be glad to be part of the conversation, but for the life of me as someone who lives and works in the city of Detroit I have to say I'm unconvinced," he said.

The committee amended the legislation Wednesday to allow any city with an uninsured rate of at least 35 percent to petition the state insurance commissioner to allow insurers to sell lower-cost plans with less benefits. The original version of Duggan's proposal set the threshold at 50 percent. A Grand Rapids insurance defense lawyer is following this story closely.

The committee voted 5-3 to advance the bill to the Senate floor.

Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, said the new threshold should allow his hometown, Hamtramck, Ecorse, River Rouge, Inkster, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Saginaw and, possibly, Flint to participate.

Sen. Margaret O'Brien, R-Portage, voted for the bill but expressed disappointment that it would be limited to drivers in urban cities with high concentrations of poverty.

"Poverty knows no municipal lines," O'Brien said.

Under the bill, drivers who opt to buy a lower-cost, cut-rate auto insurance plan would surrender any right to make a claim to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, a fund all drivers pay into for coverage of life-altering vehicle injuries.

"There's going to be some huge heartburn on the part of medical providers," said Johnson, who supported the bill.

But Johnson argues the DMC and other hospitals will ultimately benefit from having more Detroit drivers with insurance they can afford.