In an unexpected decision surprising many, including football fans, Chicago-area NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr has determined that Northwestern University football players who receive grant-in-aid are in fact employees of the University with the right to organize and form a union.
College sports programs across the country have for years adamantly asserted that student athletes are students, not employees, and that grant, scholarship, or other financial support is student aid, rather than compensation for athletic services. However, in evaluating the case, Ohr concluded that the Northwestern football program eclipsed the athlete’s other obligations, and that the University exercised enough control over football players to render them employees. Specifically, Ohr pointed to the following:
- The fact that football players are not considered for admission unless and until they are recruited by the head coach;
- The control exercised by coaches “over nearly every aspect of the players’ private lives” under threat of losing scholarships if they violate rules;
- The large number of hours devoted to football related activities, which were approximately 40-50 hours per week during the season and 50-60 hours per week during training camp;
- The fact that players under scholarship may not miss practice or games to attend class.
The Regional Director found that the players are under the University’s “strict and exacting control” throughout the entire year. He noted that football players are expected to adhere to detailed daily itineraries prepared by the coaches that specify “the location, duration, and manner” in which the players carry out their various football duties. Ohr further concluded that, unlike other students, football players are also subject to special rules, restrictions, and policies, including housing restrictions and mandatory study hall if they fail to maintain a certain GPA.
Northwestern has acknowledged the ruling and says it plans to appeal to the NLRB; their deadline to do so is April 9, 2014. Absent success in this challenge, Northwestern University grant-in-aid scholarship recipients in its football program will be entitled to conduct an NLRB election to determine whether they wish to elect a labor organization to represent them in their relationship with the University.
The California Attorney General’s office has sued JP Morgan Chase Bank for abusive debt collection practices.
Apparently, over the last few years, Chase flooded California courts with unpaid credit-card lawsuits by using illegal robo-signing and other unlawful debt collection practices. Chase is accused of failing to provide borrowers with debt collection notices as required by law, before initiating lawsuits. Chase also apparently failed to investigate whether certain borrowers were active military personnel or service-members, even though “swearing” under penalties of perjury that they were not, which is required for default judgments to be entered against individuals who have not responded to a lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, “At nearly every stage of the collection process, Defendants cut corners in the name of speed, cost savings, and their own convenience, providing only the thinnest veneer of legitimacy to their lawsuits.”
“Robo-signing” refers to the practice of signing declarations, affidavits, and other documents in voluminous quantities, without having any knowledge of the facts in the document and without regard to the truth or accuracy as to those facts. In Chase’s case, Chase would often file affidavits, “under penalty of perjury” that the declarant was an “assistant treasurer and officer Chase USA” when in reality, it was a “low-level employee” of Chase “who has never even seen the Complaint.”
Copy of the Complaint - http://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press_releases/Complaint_0.pdf?
The lawsuit was decided in favor of a Pensacola, Florida woman Jackie McMahon, who had severe injuries to her limbs as a result
Jackie McMahon, of Pensacola, Fla., was driving the four-wheeler on a family farm in Alabama when she tried to make a right turn and the vehicle overturned on top of her, causing serious injuries to her limbs.
Yamaha has been sued numerous times since the Rhino came onto the market in 2003. In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said 70 deaths were reported in Rhino crashes.
McMahon’s $3.3 million verdict also included $2 million in punitive damages for Yamaha’s reckless conduct in keeping the vehicle on the market, despite all of the complaints that came in.
UC-Berkeley Asks Court to Dismiss Multi-Million Dollar First Amendment / Excessive Force Lawsuit Brought by Student Protestors Beaten by UC-Police
The UC-Berkeley police, officials, and other administrators who were sued in a multi-million dollar First Amendment and excessive force lawsuit by student protestors during the Occupy protests of 2011 are now asking the Court presiding over the case to throw out the lawsuit.
The suit was filed on behalf of 24 protesters against 17 defendants, including four UCPD officers and detectives, three Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, Chief of Oakland Police Department Howard Jordan, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and five other campus administrators.
The lawsuit arose out of the Occupy protests in Berkeley in November, 2011. In videos of the altercations between students and police, police used batons to beat with batons some protesters who refused to leave tent/encampment areas. UC-Berkeley had forbidden students, some of whom were protesting the rising cost of tuition at UC schools, from protesting in the area.
The UC-Campus’s motion to dismiss will be heard by the Court next week, on Nov. 13.
Google has been sued again for trademark infringement resulting from its AdWords program, this time by Cybersitter. Cybersitter sells software that blocks adult content on computers so they are not accessible by children.
This problem has been going on for years. Here is what happens (and actually what seems to be partially encouraged by “SEO Maximization” companies): predatory companies who use AdWords register not only the keywords pertinent to their business, but the trade name, mark, or brand of their competitors. When consumers do searches for one company, its competitor’s ads show up. Continue reading
John Travolta and his attorney Martin Singer have been sued for libel by Robert Randolph, author of the book “You’ll Never Spa in this Town Again.” Randolph’s book was allegedly about his gay encounters with Travolta.
Randolph accuses Travolta and Singer of spreading false statements about his mental health to discredit the book. Apparently, Singer, on behalf of Travolta, had written a letter to a gossip blog about the book, presumably to prevent the blog from publishing content about it. Randolph accuses the letter of being libelous.
With the lawsuit against Steven Baldwin freshly decided in his favor, Kevin Costner is embroiled again in another legal battle: this time, with his neighbor.
Costner’s Carpinteria, California neighbor Rick Grimm, an investment banker, has filed a lawsuit over the trees and shrubs planted by Costner to protect his privacy, which now block Grimm’s ocean view. Apparently, covenants on the properties established in 1957 prevent hedges from being grown over six (6) feet.
The neighbor is seeking $150,000 damages for loss of enjoyment and $500,000 for damages to his property value if the trees are not removed. Grimm also wants an order compelling Costner to chop down the trees.
If Costner did violate the convenants restricting use of the land, then it will be very difficult for him to win this lawsuit. Generally, it is hard to challenge covenants and succeed, because they are usually established by the devleopers of their property long before warring neighbors take title and ownership to their houses.
David Cassidy’s lawsuit against Sony over royalties from the Partridge Family shows no signs of slowing down.
Right now, Sony & Cassidy are arguing about whether the case should be tried to a jury, or decided by an arbitrator.
The biggest drawback to arbitration is that an arbitrator, who is not a judge, has total control in deciding the outcome of the cases. Unlike a court or jury trial, arbitrations cannot be appealed. Further, in arbitrations, under certain circumstances, the party who wins can ask for their attorneys’ fees — which is the opposite of the American justice system, which does not adopt the “loser pays” rule.
Apparently, because Cassidy once signed an agreement with Sony that included an arbitration provision, Sony is asking the court to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. Continue reading
Facebook is in the news again – this time for allegedly “hiding” the voting tools in connection with its much-hyped “public vote” on privacy changes. Apparently, .00038 percent of total Facebook users voted, of the total 270 million accounts. A privacy activist group, Europe v. Facebook, accused Facebook of hiding the polling station and making it difficult for users to vote.
“Zuckerberg seems to have taken democracy lessons in China,” the group’s speaker Max Schrem said.
Facebook users have been commenting on the Facebook Site Governance page claiming that they had no idea that the vote was going on. Perhaps the problem is not that Facebook does not care about user privacy, but rather, that it may have bigger legal woes brewing, given the recent governmental investigations into the Facebook IPO.
This story is so sad, we don’t even know where to begin with it. Apparently, the Southern Poverty Law Center has sued an Oregon psychiatrist for practicing “conversion therapy,” intended to “change” the sexual oirentation of troubled teenage boys and girls, on a young patient, without the patient’s consent.
The patient was Max Hirsh, an openly gay young man. Hirsh reported that when he would visit his psychiatrist, the topics would often veer into the topic of his sexuality, with the psychiatrist insisting that Hirsh was not gay, that Hirsh had failed at sports and with teenage women, and that he had a deficient relationship with older men.
The psychiatrist in question was not named, which is not unusual in ethics complaints, as these are made to rectify the inappropriate conduct by the professional, without creating a public spectacle of the situation.