800px-Peanut_Butter_TextureThe family of a 13-year-old girl who suddenly and tragically died after an allergic reaction brought on by consuming a snack containing peanut butter have settled their suit against the City of Sacramento and Camp Sacramento for several million dollars. According to the suit, the girl went into anaphylactic shock after consuming a Rice Krispies treat that contained peanut butter. According to the suit, the peanut butter had been mixed in with the other ingredients so that it would not have been noticeable by sight or by taste. There was also no warning label placed near the treats that would have alerted someone that peanut butter was present in the snack.

Settling Wrongful Death Cases is a Heart-Wrenching Experience

News reports do not disclose the reason the family decided to settle their case against the city. Nonetheless, the decision to settle any personal injury case – especially one involving the sudden death of a loved one – is not a decision many plaintiffs enter into lightly. By settling, plaintiffs may feel as if they are somehow letting the responsible party “off the hook” or allowing them to escape full accountability for their actions. However, settling a case may make sense when:

Uber_screenshotPassengers using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft know (or at least should know, as these terms and conditions are posted on each ridesharing company’s website) that the ridesharing companies consider their drivers to be independent contractors. When a passenger is involved in a crash while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, the process of obtaining compensation can be complicated enough. However, passengers who are deliberately injured by an act of violence committed by their Uber or Lyft driver are left in a vulnerable legal position. Neither Uber nor Lyft allow themselves to be sued for such acts, meaning that the passengers will likely have difficulty holding the responsible party accountable for his or her actions.

While a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown does not solve this dilemma completely, it does aim to make passengers who use rideshare platforms a little bit safer.

Criminal Background Checks Now Required

Aspirin_(2247084833)Accused of purchasing viscosupplements (medications used in the treatment of osteoarthritis) overseas and then billing Medicare and Medicaid at an inflated cost, three California orthopedic clinics have agreed to settle claims against them for a combined settlement of $2.39 million. Orthopedic Associates of Northern California has agreed to pay $815,794, San Bernardino Medical Orthopaedic Group will pay $971,903, and Reno Orthopaedic Clinic has agreed to pay $602,335 for their participation in a fraud scheme designed to overbill federal and state healthcare programs.

How the Scheme Worked and Was Discovered

The medications at issue in this case were manufactured in the United States and then exported to suppliers and others overseas. According to the allegations made against each of the defendants, the clinics would purchase osteoarthritis medications from these overseas suppliers and prescribe these medications to patients who had Medicare or Medicaid. The clinics were able to obtain the medications at a much lower cost than they would have had to pay if they had obtained the medications from suppliers in the United States. Because these state and federal programs reimburse clinics for viscosupplements at a set rate, each clinic was able to pocket the difference between the amount they were reimbursed by Medicare and the cost they had to pay to obtain the medications from international suppliers.

Colorful_Black_Raspberry_Ice_Cream_Cone_(2420648653)Nestlé “Drumsticks” are synonymous with warm, sunny days. The sweet ice cream treats are distinguishable by their chocolate-and-nut candy “shell” that encapsulates ice cream atop a waffle cone and have been a sought-after treat by children for generations. However, one of the production facilities used to create the Drumstick ice cream cone has tested positive for listeria. As a result, Nestlé has issued a voluntary recall for all Drumsticks that were part of the company’s Drumstick Club 16-Count variety pack and 24-count Vanilla Pack boxes manufactured between August 31, 2016 and September 17, 2016.

Listeria Bacteria and Complications

The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes can lead to listeriosis (or listeria) if a person eats food contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria can cause food poisoning in individuals, particularly the elderly, pregnant women, newborn children, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems. Symptoms of infection can include:

Socialmedia-pmThis week celebrity Kim Kardashian was allegedly the victim of an armed robbery while she was attending Paris Fashion Week in France. Although the investigation into the alleged robbery is ongoing, some journalists and others speculate that Kim Kardashian’s prolific social media use, especially her practice of publicizing her whereabouts and posting pictures of her extravagant jewelry, helped contribute in some way to the robbery.

Lessons Learned from Kim Kardashian’s Social Media Use

Personal injury victims claiming they suffered an injury or other harm at the hands of another and who file a lawsuit seeking compensation are in a vulnerable position. While their case is pending and even (in some cases) after their case has concluded, their statements and behaviors can be the subject of great scrutiny by attorneys for the allegedly-negligent defendant who is seeking to minimize liability to the victim.

Zika_EM_CDC_20541The Zika virus is an unusual, harmful disease that first broke out in South America and has now spread into the United States. There have been reports of the Zika virus in every state (except for Alaska). Some of these states that have seen more than 100 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, including Florida, New York, Texas, and (yes) California. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 800 pregnant women in the United States are believed to have the Zika virus. Most people who have heard of the Zika virus know that it can be transmitted through mosquitos and has been linked to microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome in children.

Who is Responsible if I am Infected with Zika?

When we become ill, such as when we catch a cold or are stricken by the flu, we do not usually consider who is legally responsible for making us ill. In many cases, we conclude that we caught whatever illness we have because of being in proximity to an ill child or a sick coworker. Under California’s worker’s compensation law, though, becoming ill while “on the job” entitles you to worker’s compensation benefits. Supposing you were an arborist or groundskeeper and, while working, you were bitten by a mosquito and thereafter contracted the Zika virus, your medical expenses and lost wages would likely be covered under the state’s worker’s compensation laws.

800px-Cyber_Security_at_the_Ministry_of_Defence_MOD_45153617Your San Francisco qui tam lawsuit and whistleblowers’ lawsuit attorney understands and appreciates the important role whistleblowers play in American society. Whistleblowers are instrumental in exposing fraud, waste, dangerous or hazardous conditions, and other instances of “bad behavior” that put people’s health and wellbeing in jeopardy or unreasonably threatens property or taxpayer money. Whistleblower actions and lawsuits have, for example:

  • Uncovered unsafe working conditions on job sites;
  • Exposed contaminants and dangerous chemicals present in the food and/or water supply;

800px-Texas_County,_Oklahoma_courthouse_from_E_1A woman who was allegedly struck by a player on the University of Oklahoma’s football team recently resisted a motion by the defendant’s legal team to change the venue of the proceeding from federal court in California to Oklahoma. In arguing against the transfer, the plaintiff claimed that she could not be assured of a fair trial in Oklahoma since Oklahomans are (at least according to the plaintiff) fiercely loyal to the Sooner football program. The defendant and his attorneys countered with several reasons why the case should be moved to Oklahoma City federal court, including:

  • There is no evidence to support the plaintiff’s claims of juror bias;
  • Oklahoma law would apply and a court sitting in Oklahoma would be more familiar with this body of law;

800px-Jeep_Grand_Cherokee_3.0_CRD_Overland_(WK)_–_Frontansicht,_10._September_2011,_DüsseldorfThere have been a plethora of car-related recalls and warnings issued in recent years, with many of them uncovering serious and/or fatal defects and resulting in hundreds of thousands – even millions – of vehicles being taken off of the roads for repairs. After a 15-month investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system in 2014 and 2015 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokees do not show any signs of defects. The investigation was launched in June 2015 after several drivers reported the AEB system engaged without a reason for doing so. However, NHTSA concluded this week that no defect existed in the AEB system in the vehicles examined.

An automatic emergency braking system is one in which sensors mounted on the car detect if a forward collision is imminent and automatically engages the brakes of the car if the driver fails to do so. Even where a collision is not avoided, AEBs can reduce the severity of a crash.

Allegations of a Defective AEB System Trigger Investigation

Wells_Fargo_Building_LubbockIn our society, it can often seem as if the “little guy” or “little gal” has no power or ability to resist a strong and powerful individual or corporation. This can discourage some people who may witness a large or influential person or company commit a criminal or unethical act from reporting such behavior or pursuing a qui tam lawsuit. However, actions taken by the California State Treasurer against banking giant Wells Fargo illustrate just how powerful whistleblowers can, in fact, be.

A Recap of the Wells Fargo Scandal

In recent weeks the extent of the Wells Fargo account scandal has come to light. Although investigations into Wells Fargo’s opening of unauthorized accounts goes back to 2013, only recently has it come to light that the scandal involved thousands of employees and went on for nearly five years. As detailed before Congress recently, Wells Fargo employees – under pressure to meet quotas for new accounts and getting customers to sign on for additional products or services – would open new accounts and products for existing customers without getting the permission of the customer first. Some customers would be tagged with overdraft penalties (for instance) when their checking account suddenly did not have enough money to cover all outstanding checks written against the account because a Wells Fargo employee had taken money from the checking account and used it to open a new savings account in the customer’s name.