Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which governs appeals for cases arising out of many western states, including California, affirmed a California law that banned “gay conversion therapy,” which prevents counselors and psychologists from trying to change the sexuality of a minor child.
Liberty Counsel, which represents the conservative groups seeking to overturn the law, has stated it will ask the Supreme Court to review the case. Liberty Counsel has filed two similar cases on change therapy in New Jersey after New Jersey passed a similar law banning state-licensed counselors from trying to help children under 18 reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.
Similar bills have been proposed in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Virginia and Washington.
The new law prohibits online merchants from storing personal information typically collected as part of the account-creation process. The gathering of personal information during sales transactions by retail and bricks-and-mortar establishments has long been outlawed in California, but the same prohibitions have not been extended to online purchases, leading to a loophole that has posed threats of fraud and security breaches for online shoppers. Continue reading
Whose insurance company protects victims of ride-sharing accidents? For the first time in a long time, novel questions of auto liability insurance coverage are being raised through the growth of ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, or other similar mobile services that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and offer ridesharing services.
For those of us over the age of 25 or anyone (perhaps willfully) ignorant of the latest crowdsourced venture du jour, a brief introduction to ridesharing services is necessary. The original ridesharing service, Uber, started as a venture-funded start-up and transportation network company founded in San Francisco, California that produces a mobile app connecting passengers to drivers for hire. After Uber received nearly $50 million in funding through groups of angel investors and expanded in major cities across the U.S., several competitors sprung up, including Lyft, Sidecar, and others.
In the past few months, a problem of insurance coverage has come up due to the occurrence of accidents involving ride-sharing drivers. On New Year’s Eve, January, 2014, a 6-year old girl was killed when an Uber-contracted driver collided with her. Uber completely denied liability, stating that they would not provide coverage because a passenger was not in the driver’s car at the time the accident happened – meaning, it was not an “official” Uber ride. The accident could have happened on the driver’s way to make a pick-up, between pick-ups, or on a personal trip. The details are yet unknown.
When accidents happen, the insurance company for the at-fault driver usually picks up and pays for the BI (bodily injury) and PD (property damage) claims. But for ride-sharing services, who is really responsible? The answer may come as a surprise.
In 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission gave Uber and similar transportation network companies a break by allowing them to forego requiring drivers to have commercial liability insurance. However, many personal auto policies do not cover claims for accidents when the driver is transporting passengers. Most policies have exclusions for operation of a vehicle if it is being used “as a public or livery conveyance” – meaning, transporting passengers for pay. So if Uber disclaims coverage, does not require drivers to have commercial auto coverage, and the coverage falls into an exclusion in the driver’s own personal auto liability policies, who is actually providing the coverage for injured victims? Hearing crickets? Perhaps this article should better be entitled, “More Reasons to Max-Out UIM/UM coverage.”
Unfortunately, drivers who sign up to offer ride-sharing services are often not with the financial means to afford commercial general liability coverage, which can be exponentially higher than personal auto coverage. Although ride-sharing services are supposed to maintain $1 million of liability insurance, per the requirements of the California Public Utilities Commission, this often does not cover damages to drivers’ cars. This particular risk affects drivers participating in ride-sharing services, because there is basically no source of insurance funds to pay for repairs to their cars or property damage, if they are hit by an at-fault driver with low or no insurance.
Moreover, the usual insurance company suspects that frequently provide auto liability coverage to Americans are also coming up short (anyone surprised?). In a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission in 2012, the Personal Insurance Federation of California, an industry group made up of State Farm, Farmers, Progressive, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Mercury and Nationwide, said it asked its members to determine how they would treat liability claims in ride-service accidents. In a press release after the CPUC ruling, the Association of California Insurance Companies, a trade association and lobbying group, said, “Both drivers and riders must understand that an accident in a ride-sharing vehicle will not be covered under a personal auto insurance policy.”
All of the foregoing, of course, raises other questions. Are the drivers of ridesharing services independent contractors or employees? Should drivers who are distracted by the sounds, noises, pings, and notifications on their mobile devices while trying to pick up a ride-sharing passenger be deemed negligent, or should the ride-sharing app bear some responsibility for designing a potentially dangerous product/device? Generally, when victims of an accident are injured by commercial drivers, they sue both the driver as well as the driver’s company. Can victims of auto accidents involving Uber drivers tack responsibility onto Uber, if it turns out their driver has no valid insurance coverage?
For the time being, there are no clear or easy answers. Drivers and passengers of ride-sharing apps should all exert caution. As with all matters in the insurance coverage world, with new changes in technology and social developments come new risks, and the great fanfare of offering new insurance policies to sell to unsuspecting citizens is surpassed only by the great labor and energy expended to carefully concoct exclusions with which to deny them.
PepsiCo is saying goodbye to “natural” Gatorade. Apparently, the “core audience” of Gatorade was not interested in ingredients like sea salt.
PepsiCo has also faced legal challenges over its use of the word “natural.” Last year, it agreed to settle a lawsuit by removing “all natural” from its Naked juice drinks. A lawsuit had challenged the description, saying the drinks contained a synthetic fiber made by Archer Midland Daniels.
Separately, however, PepsiCo has also faced legal challenges over its use of the word “natural.” Last year, it agreed to settle a lawsuit by removing “all natural” from its Naked juice drinks. A lawsuit had challenged the description, saying the drinks contained a synthetic fiber made by Archer Midland Daniels.
A lawsuit filed in California in 2012 also questioned the use of the word “natural” to describe some of Frito-Lay’s chips. This past October, PepsiCo revamped its “Simply Natural” line to be called “Simply,” without “Natural.” A spokesman said the change was part of its updated marketing.
Miscarriage of justice? Yesterday, an Orange County jury found two former police officers not guilty of involuntary manslaughter of a homeless man that occurred in 2011.
From the Orange County Register:
SANTA ANA – A former police officer sat with his head bowed Monday as an Orange County jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a homeless man during a 2011 encounter captured on videotape.
Manuel Anthony Ramos, who was a Fullerton police officer for 10 years, then clasped his hands, wiped tears from his eyes and hugged his attorney as the jury also found him not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kelly Thomas.
Some of the more than 100 spectators cried when the verdicts were announced after seven hours of deliberations. But some – relatives, friends and supporters of Thomas – gasped. One spectator yelled, “No!”
And Ron Thomas, the homeless man’s father, sighed several times as the verdicts of not guilty rolled in, and then stood up and said: “What’s wrong with these people?”
Read More: Verdict: Not guilty in Kelly Thomas case – The Orange County Register.
How long should police have waited before pulling the trigger fatally shooting Andy Lopez, the 13-year old northern California teen who was killed while carrying the toy rifle back to his friend? Victims who brought a lawsuit are arguing that the police irresponsibly shot Lopez without giving him a chance to respond to the commands asking him to drop what police at that time perceived to be a real firearm.
“The subject turned toward the deputies, and as he was doing that the barrel of the weapon was rising toward the deputies,” Santa Rosa Police Department Lt. Paul Henry told Reuters shortly after the shooting. The deputy then fired the rounds.
California law and federal law prohibits excessive force by law enforcement officers. Often termed “police brutality,” excessive force victims have legal rights against police officers who use an unreasonably excessive level of force when responding to a situation, whether it involves the seizure or arrest of individuals, or searches. Police officers are legally permitted to use force, but there are guidelines as to how much force is appropriate in a given situation. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that police officers must act in the same way that a reasonable officer would act, in a similar tense and rapidly-evolving situation. Typically, law enforcement officers use verbal commands, soft controls hard controls, intermediate levels of force (such as batons, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds, and mace spray), and lethal force.
Victims of police brutality can bring claims under state law (for assault, battery, and if appropriate, wrongful death), as well as under federal law, 42 U.S.C. 1983, which protects individuals from unconstitutional violations of their civil rights.
SLC represents victims of civil rights abuses, including police brutality matters. For a confidential consultation, please call (213) 403-0130 or email email@example.com.
Read More: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/08/california-deputy-waited-3-seconds-before-shooting-teen-with-toy-gun-lawsuit/
USA Today is reporting that on Wednesday, the USDA “suspended processing at a poultry plant in California found to have been infested with cockroaches four times over the past five months.” The piece notes that “the Foster Farm plant is one of three in central California being investigated for an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella,” which the CDC says “has sickened 416 people in 23 states.”
Adam Tarr, a spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said, “Our inspectors wrote several noncompliance reports for insanitary conditions at the plant and then took the action to suspend today.” Meanwhile, Foster Farms said that the “shutdown would enable the company to mitigate the infestation.”
In October, Foster said “that the salmonella outbreak caused sales to drop about 25%,” and “Foster and other company leaders vowed to make Foster Farms a leader in food safety, with measures that include increased plant sanitation, vaccination of breeder hens against salmonella, and education of consumers about proper handling and cooking.”
by Rabeh Soofi
CVS Pharmarcies have been ordered to pay a $658,000 fine for failing to provide consultations to customers for new prescriptions, or new dosages of existing prescriptions.
Regulations enforced by the California Board of Pharmacy’s require that a pharmacist must provide personal consultation to a patient receiving a prescription drug not previously dispensed to that patient, or a prescription drug in a different dosage, form, or strength, or on the patient’s request.
Apparently, CVS’ failure to provide consumers with pharmaceutical consultations was long-stemming, and documented as far back as 2008. In 2011, the California Board of Pharmacy brought the omissions to the attention of the District Attorney Offices in Riverside, San Diego, and Alameda counties, and an undercover investigation began.
The Environmental Protection Agency has filed a formal notice against Chevron Corp. alleging that Chevron violated 62 different federal environmental laws, in connection with the investigation of the August 6, 2012 fire at its Richmond, California oil refinery plant.
The fire was caused by the failure of a corroded, 1970s era pipe that released a massive toxic plume of black smoke in the area that sent thousands of individuals fleeing for emergency medical treatment at area hospitals.
According to the Associated Press, Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator, said investigators determined Chevron’s culture does not place high enough emphasis on safety. He said the company failed to verify that its own risk management plan was being used by refinery staff.
Chevron has thus far paid $10 million in claims to injured citizens incurring expenses for medical treatment and care.