Bill Making Unauthorized Disclosure of “Revenge Porn” a Misdemeanor Passes California Senate

Bill Making Unauthorized Disclosure of Revenge Porn a Misdemeanor Passes California SenateThe California Senate has approved a bill, authorized by Sen. Anthony Cannella, which will make it a misdemeanor for individuals to disclose pornography or obscene photographs of their ex-partners or spouses out of revenge.

Termed “revenge porn,” the practice usually involves the online disclosure of intimate videos or photographs spread without authorization.  According to some sources, individuals who have their privacy violated in this manner have legal recourse, but they are often too embarrassed to pursue their rights.

California law protects victims of breaches of privacy and provides them with an avenue for recovery against perpetrators.  In California, it is unlawful to publicly disclose private facts which would be offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person, which are not of legitimate public concern.  It is also unlawful in California to intrude upon the personal affairs of others. 

 With two offices in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California, SOOFI | Legal Counsel regularly represents clients in numerous types of privacy violations and privacy litigation, including the public disclosure of private facts, invasions of privacy, intrusion upon personal affairs, violations of name, likeness, and image, right of publicity claims, HIPAA/medical privacy violations, online / internet privacy violations, and numerous others.

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 For information on retaining SOOFI | Legal Counsel to represent you with respect to a privacy violation, contact or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.

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Summer Safety: Tips on “Injury-Proofing” Your Summer

Summer Safety: Tips on Injury Proofing Your Summer


School is out and summer is finally upon Los Angeles!  Although usually thought of as the best time of the year for families and children, summertime activities can results in an increase in scrapes, cuts, sprains, tears, and from time to time, more serious injuries.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, approximately forty percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury deaths happen between May and August.  The best way to play it safe? Injury-proofing your summer.

Here are some tips to make it through the summer as safely as possible:


  • Pools and Aquatics. Water activities are notorious for resulting in injuries to children of all ages and sizes. Pool maintenance workers may not be monitoring all steps, pathways, corridors, and locker rooms to prevent injury from running, skipping, or walking too quickly on slick surfaces. Injuries resulting from slips and falls can be serious.  Remember that pools and aquatic facilities can be slippery and remind children to use caution while playing.
  • Beaches.   Although beautiful and a great deal of fun for the family, beaches can be dangerous areas as well. All family members should wear shoes of some sort to avoid damage to tender feet caused by broken glass, rocks, sharp objects, or other potentially dangerous items.  Caution should also be exerted when driving to and from the beach – lanes can be busy, filled with traffic, and short tempers.
  • Boating, Parasailing, Bungees.  Be extra cautious when participating in activities involving sea and air.  Almost all boating, parasailing, bungee, and similar leisure activity providers make participants sign broad releases that will release the operators from any and all liability, specifically stating that the individual is participating in the activity “at their own risk.” However, every year, numerous individuals are seriously injured or killed because equipment is poorly maintained or not maintained by the operator. Vet your leisurely activity provider carefully, look for signs showing the provider is licensed, bonded, and insured, if applicable, and that the staff is sufficiently trained on operating the equipment.  Equipment and ropes should be clean, well-maintained, and not rickety, rusty, frayed, or corroded.
  • Grilling.  If you are grilling outdoors, make sure you follow the instructions for using your grill properly, including instructions for the propane tank. Although grilling and propane manufacturers are obligated to avoid manufacturing equipment that is dangerous or deadly, many companies will include poorly-written “instructions” in an instruction booklet that “warns” consumers against using the equipment in a particular manner.  If an injury results, these companies can take the position that the victim misused the product, and therefore, is at fault. Always follow the equipment’s instructions when operating anything involving an open flame or gas.
  • Parks and Playground Equipment.  While it is true that landowners of parks and playground equipment have an obligation to keep the premises safe for guests, it does not always happen.  Pieces of broken sidewalk, holes, slippery stairs, poorly maintained facilities,  rusty playground equipment, and numerous other risks can result in injury, especially at night or when there is poor lighting. Always exert the most caution when traveling alone or with children through parks and playgrounds. Even a simple trip-and-fall can result in a bad fracture that can take years to heal.

SOOFI | Legal Counsel represents victims of accidents in numerous cases, controversies, and disputes.  If you or a family member has been injured, please contact us for a confidential consultation at (213) 403-0130 or

Truth Disclosed About Funding of $11 Opposition to Props. 30 and 32 by “Americans for Responsible Leadership”

Truth Disclosed About Funding of $11 Opposition to Props. 30 and 32 by Americans for Responsible Leadership

Extreme conservative interests behind $11 Arizona opposition to California’s Prop. 30 and 32

Yesterday, the truth about the identities of the political contributors to the Arizona-based   “Americans for Responsible Leadership” group were revealed, after the California Supreme Court ordered them to disclose that information.  The legal battle between Americans for Responsible Leadership and California’s watchdog political interest groups began after Americans for Responsible Leadership spent $11 million opposing two California Ballot measures under the cover of “dark money,” a term used to describe political contributions made anonymously by corporate interests. Americans for Responsible Leadership spent the $11 million fighting  Prop. 32, a temporary tax increase, as well as Prop. 30, which would dramatically alter California’s campaign-finance scheme by banning labor unions from obtaining political contribution money through payroll deductions. Continue reading

Going to Court Alone – The Plight of the Average American

Going to Court Alone   The Plight of the Average American I was in Court today, waiting for my turn and listening to all of the cases that were scheduled ahead of us to go forward.  The first one was one in which the plaintiff was pro se (without an attorney), or in California, pro per

Every time I see it, it is remarkably upsetting. Opposing counsel seem to relish pouncing on individuals who are confused by the legal process or are not familiar enough with the dialogue to understand what is happening.  They almost always flail and flounder, which only results in further impatience and annoyance from the Court. Continue reading

Who Should be Responsible for Bar Fights that Hurt Others? Lessons from Chris Brown v. Drake

Who Should be Responsible for Bar Fights that Hurt Others? Lessons from Chris Brown v. Drake

Who Should be Responsible for Bar Fights that Hurt Others?

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against hip-hop artists Chris Brown and Drake for starting the massive bar fight that resulted in injuries to numerous bar patrons, who needed emergency treatment, stitches, and other treatment from glass-related injuries.  Because the members of each entourage got involved, an ordinary bar fight turned into a massive brawl in which 300+ lb. 6’5″ men were  “throwing highball glasses laden with alcohol, shattering the handles of bottles of spirits to use as makeshift knives and even throwing full bottles at each other.” Within seconds, the club was “full of flying glass shrapnel.”

The Brown/Drake fight raises questions that come up often in nightlife-rich cities like New York or LA.  When patrons are injured at a bar fight, who is (or should be) responsible?

Continue reading

120+ Ron Paul Delegates Sue GOP to Avoid Forced-Vote for Romney

120+ Ron Paul Delegates Sue GOP to Avoid Forced Vote for Romney

Ron Paul Delegates Sue GOP

120+ delegates to the Republican National Convention have sued the GOP alleging they are being forced into voting for Mitt Romney. They are asking that the Court unbind them from voting for Ron Paul, even though Paul has already ended his campaign .  The lawsuit was brought in California.

The lawsuit essentially alleges that the GOP has engaged in racketeering to push Romney as the top candidate, and violated the Rules of the Republican Party.  They accuse the GOP of violence, intimidation, and ballot stuffing to secure Romney as the GOP challenger to President Barack Obama.

Although the lawsuit will probably not conclude by the time the GOP National Convention takes place in August, the allegations should be investigated more carefully.



Lawsuit against Mary J. Blige’s Troubled Charity Raises the Issue: The Six Warnings Signs of an Irresponsible Charity

Lawsuit against Mary J. Blige’s Troubled Charity Raises the Issue:  The Six Warnings Signs of an Irresponsible Charity

Charity Problems for Mary J. Blige

The charity founded by R&B singer Mary J. Blige, the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, has been sued for “losing” $250,000 by the lender, TD Bank.  Apparently, the Foundation not only defaulted on the huge loan taken out from TD Bank, but it also has other management problems.  According to a recent NY Post article:

- The Foundation has now been sued by musicians who were stiffed for their performances at a 2011 fundraising gala.

- The Foundation failed to properly file its proper federal tax return with the IRS.

- It cannot account for $60,000 of perfume sales.

- Is presently going a change in “management.”

Some of the big-dollar donors to Blige’s charity have been Wal-Mart, Gucci, and Jay-Z, who sat on the board for a period of time, along with Jada Pinkett Smith.

The news about Mary’s charity raises some interesting issues, including ones I have dealt with in doing legal investigations of charities-gone-awry.  How can you tell if the charity you are giving to is responsible with donations, managed properly, and actually fulfilling the mission it publicizes to the outside word? Here are some warning signs.

Warning Sign #1 – Unusual Tax Records.  This is rarely an issue for large, internationally-known charities, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Red Cross. But with smaller charities, including private foundations, taking a peek at the charity’s tax returns and other IRS documents can be extremely illuminating.  All public charities and private foundations are required by IRS laws to document their donations, distributions, and other activities, and make those records available to the public.  Through the review of IRS documents, donors can gain easy access to the inner-workings of a charity, specifically to identify who actually runs the charity, its members, their contributions, its donations, and its distributions.  These documents are publicly available, and can be accessed from various online sites.   Unusual tax records, such as insufficient documentation, odd donations, or unusual distributions tend to indicate that a charity is not being managed properly, or has lost its focus.  For example, in 2009, Mary J. Blige contributed $25,000 to her charity only, despite having album sale and performances totaling $43.5 million in 2008, according to the NY Post.  The donation of such small amounts to a charity by the principle (and named) donor could indicate that the charity or its mission is not serious.

Warning Sign #2 – High Turnover in Board Members.  The old saying is that charities are always in need of board members who can contribute the “Three T’s” – time, treasure, or talent.  But the relationship is often synergistic – most professionals who serve as board members with prominent, successful charities derive considerable benefits from such affiliations. High turnover among  board members, however, tends to be a bad sign. It could mean that board members who get into the charity find themselves looking for a way out.  It could also be a sign that the charity operates in a way that does not induce directors to stay long-term.  This has bad consequences.  Continuity among board members help give charities long-term stability, direction, and vision.

Warning Sign #3 – Incomplete or Unavailable Accounting Records.  A solid charity should always be able to give its donors, members, or officers a clear and accurate picture of its incoming donations, outgoing distributions, and expenses, including the percentage of its administrative costs vis-à-vis total donations, and what percentage of donations actually directly benefit the charity’s primary beneficiaries.  Bad charities struggle with these basic accounting principles.  Money goes “missing,” donations are not tracked properly, it is unclear where funds are going, and it is entirely uncertain whether the charity is even solvent.  These are signs that the charity is either being negligently overseen by board members who are not paying attention, or that the charity lacks basic financial management.

Warning Sign #4 – Wasted Funds.  Irresponsible charities not only have trouble managing money, they often squander valuable donations.  Some classic  examples involve the charity using significant funds for projects that are not really related to the purpose of the charity, holding extravagant events that seem disproportionate to the goals the charity seeks to accomplish,  or spending funds without the knowledge and approval of board members.  In some cases, charities can be managed so poorly that administrative costs end up eating into the bulk of donations.  Ultimately, charities are expected to serve their intended beneficiaries.  A charity that spends more simply to remain in operation than it does serving its intended beneficiaries could be suffering from irresponsible management.

Warning Sign #5 – Conflicts of Interest.  Another nasty trait of an irresponsible charity is its participation in events, transactions, or dealings that pose an unmistakable conflict of interest. These situations usually involve an individual closely tied to the charity who engages in self-dealing  or undertakes projects that satisfy the individual’s personal interests at the expense of the charity.  For example, a president of a charity that runs his own personal side-business out of the charity’s office, using resources and utilities paid for by the charity’s donations, is engaging in self-dealing.  A charity director who hires a family member that is paid wages from the charity’s donations could be engaging in a conflict of interest transaction.  There are many other examples.  Conflicts of interest among a charity’s leadership can be especially insidious because the individuals involved tend to take steps to conceal their activities, or understate the magnitude of the conflict of interest.  This sort of behavior often manifests itself by the individual taking control  over certain affairs, and then refusing to let anyone else become involved in them, or whitewashing procedures intended to disclose conflicts of interest.

Warning Sign #6 - Widespread Cluelessness.  Finally, an irresponsible charity can usually be identified simply through speaking to its board members, staff, and officers.  The governing body of a charity should not be clueless – they should know basic information about the charity, such as its purpose, mission, major projects, upcoming events, and the identities of all other board members, staff, and officers.  Charities in which there is widespread cluelessness about these facts are often charities that have de-railed off track.  Cluelessness can be a sign that the people involved with the charity are not paying attention or are left in the dark about the activities of the charity.  This can be dangerous not only to the charity’s donors, but to the board members, employees, and officers themselves.  Board members, officers, and employees that are either admittedly or unknowingly “asleep at the switch” expose themselves to liability, should something go wrong.  For some charities, this could mean a lawsuit; for others situations in which significant funds are being funneled, laundered, or misused, criminal charges can  result and jail sentences sought.

Mary J. Blige’s charity may be in some turmoil for the time being, but things could turn around.  For individuals wishing to give funds, goods, or services to charities, there is no reason to be overly suspicious – there are many reputable charities throughout the country that are well-managed and effectively serve their beneficiaries.  But keeping the warning signs above in mind could help identify irresponsible charities that have some growing yet to do.

ACLU Tries to Protect Constitutional Rights of Americans on FBI’s No-Fly List

The ACLU is fighting to get answers for Americans put on the FBI’s “No-Fly” list.  Last Friday, the ACLU’s attorneys argued in the U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit, representing 15 citizens and permanent residents, including four military veterans, who were banned by the FBI from flying to or from the US.  They were never told why or how they ended up on the list, or how to get off the list. 

Some of the victims are as follows: 

ACLU Tries to Protect Constitutional Rights of Americans on FBIs No Fly List  Ibraheim (Abe) Mashal, a U.S. citizen and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, is a traveling dog trainer and father of three. 
 ACLU Tries to Protect Constitutional Rights of Americans on FBIs No Fly List Ayman Latif, a U.S. citizen and disabled Marine veteran.
 ACLU Tries to Protect Constitutional Rights of Americans on FBIs No Fly List Raymond Earl Knaeble, a U.S. citizen and U.S. Army veteran.
 ACLU Tries to Protect Constitutional Rights of Americans on FBIs No Fly List Steven Washburn, a U.S. citizen and U.S. Air Force veteran who was prevented from flying from Europe to the United States or Mexico; he eventually flew to Brazil, and from there to Mexico, where he was detained and finally escorted across the border by U.S. officials.

One victim is Abe Mashal, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer.  “I have no idea why I’m on the list,” said Mashal. “I should have the chance to clear my name and live my life normally. This has been a real hardship for me both personally and financially.”  There is more to Mashal’s story, according to Wikipedia:

Abe Mashal, a 31-year-old Muslim and United States Marine Veteran, found himself on the No Fly List in April 2010 while attempting to board a plane out of Midway Airport. He was questioned by the TSA, FBI and Chicago Police at the airport and was told they had no clue why he was on the No Fly List. Once he arrived at home that day, two other FBI agents came to his home and used a Do Not Fly question-and-answer sheet to question him. They informed him they had no idea why he was on the No Fly List. In June 2010, those same two FBI agents summoned Mashal to a local hotel and invited him to a private room. They told him that he was in no trouble and the reason he ended up on the No Fly List was because of possibly sending emails to an American imam they may have been monitoring. They then informed him that if he would go undercover at various local mosques, they could get him off the No Fly List immediately, and he would be compensated for such actions. Mashal refused to answer any additional questions without a lawyer present and was told to leave the hotel. Mashal then contacted the ACLU and is now being represented in a class-action lawsuit filed against the TSA, FBI and DHS concerning the legality of the No Fly List and how people end up on it. Mashal feels as if he was blackmailed into becoming an informant by being placed on the No Fly List. Mashal has since appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS and Al Jazeera concerning his inclusion on the No Fly List. He has also written a book about his experience titled “No Spy No Fly.”

The stories of how some people have ended up on the No-Fly list are, in certain cases, stunning:  

  • Robert J. Johnson, a surgeon and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, who ran as a Democrat against U.S. Representative John McHugh, a Republican, opposing the Iraq War, was put on the No-Fly list. 
  • U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), widely known for his civil rights advocacy, has been stopped many times.
  • Walter F. Murphy, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that he was on the Terrorist Watch list because, in September 2006, he had given a lecture at Princeton that was “highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution.” 
  • Jesselyn Radack, a former United States Department of Justice ethics adviser who argued that John Walker Lindh was entitled to an attorney, was placed on the No Fly List 
  • Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress were on the list.

The No-Fly list was a creation of the Bush administration, following the 9/11 attacks.  Immediately after 9/11, the N0-Fly list included 16 individuals. In the time that has passed after 9/11, the list has expanded to include over 1,000,000 names.

The ACLU’s argument is that the No-Fly list violates the constitutional rights of Americans by preventing them from traveling, but without giving them any due process or opportunity to challenge the blacklist.

Facebook Users Beware: Court Rules That Employees Fired for Facebook “Likes” Are Not Protected by First Amendment

Facebook Users Beware:  Court Rules That Employees Fired for Facebook “Likes” Are Not Protected by First Amendment A federal court judge presiding over a Virginia lawsuit has ruled that “Liking” a Facebook page is not speech protected by the First Amendment.  The Court rejected claims made by public employees who were fired for apparently “Liking” a political candidate, ruling that they have no valid retaliation/wrongful termination claims on First Amendment grounds and dismissing their claims.     Continue reading

Maryland Court Rules That Pitbulls Are “Inherently Dangerous,” Increasing Chances of Dog-Bite Lawsuits

Maryland Court Rules That Pitbulls Are Inherently Dangerous, Increasing Chances of Dog Bite LawsuitsMaryland courts have now ruled that  pit bulls are “inherently vicious” animals.  This means that if an owner’s pit bull bites, causing injury, the injured person does not have to prove that the animal was dangerous – it will be presumed. 

This will make it much easier for injured individuals to  succeed in lawsuits involving pit bull dog bites.


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