09/11/2015 // Hartford, CT, USA // cttriallawyers // Neil Ferstand // (press release)
The Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association ongoing effort to transmit a variety of news items reflecting the importance and extent to which civil justice and the civil justice system enters our lives. Legislators this week received news of concern regarding safety and security issues of certain web enabled baby monitors and moves by U.S. officials to strengthen discrimination protections in healthcare for women and the transgender. Additional news items contained “damning” DOJ criticism of the Ferguson Police and their response to recent town demonstrations including the “heavy-handed tactical response by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and city and county police of St. Louis.” In other news state and federal officials are investigating the illicit use of an electronic devise being used to defeat vehicle electronic locking systems. U.S. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have introduced legislation to help protect drivers of pending cyber security risks.
Erin Brokovitch joins Navajo nation in possible lawsuit against EPA for Colorado mine disaster. The Hill (9/5, Cirilli, 471K) reported in its “In The Know” blog that the Navajo nation is getting help from Erin Brokovitch, who is joining them in their “political battle against the Environmental Protection Agency.” Following last month’s Colorado wastewater disaster, leaders from the Navajo Nation “are prepping a massive lawsuit against EPA officials for their handling” of the mine accident that resulted in the leaking of “3 million gallons of contaminated water into the Animus.”
Report: Web-enabled baby monitors are insufficiently secure
The Denver Post (9/7, Fowler, 787K) reports that according to a report from cybersecurity firm Rapid7, several popular Internet-connected baby monitors are vulnerable to basic hacking methods. The research, released Wednesday, examined nine baby monitors and found “serious security problems and design flaws in all of the” tested cameras, the Post says. According to the researchers, some monitors had unchangeable passwords that could be used to access the devices, others failed to encrypt their data. “In the Rapid7 study, researchers rated the devices’ security on a 250-point scale. The scores then received a grade of between ‘A’ and ‘F.’ Of those tested, eight received an ‘F,’ while one received a ‘D,’” the Post says.
U.S. Chamber Challenges FCC's Actions over Robocalls
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s new robocall restrictions approved in June,” reports The Hill.
The U.S. Chamber filed a petition for review yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging several aspects of a declaratory ruling and order recently issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that will accelerate abusive class action lawsuits against businesses under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
"Although we support the rights of consumers as it relates to telephone communications, the FCC overstepped its authority by creating new restrictions on legitimate, good faith communications from businesses to their customers who previously gave their permission to be contacted," said ILR Executive Vice President Harold Kim.
"These arbitrary new limits will fuel abusive class action lawsuits against businesses.”
U.S. moves to protect women, transgender people in health care
The government moved Thursday to strengthen protections against discrimination for women, transgender people, the disabled and others who receive care throughout the health-care system, including those who buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act and providers that receive federal funding. The proposal for the first time includes bans on gender identity discrimination as a form of sexual discrimination, language that advocacy groups have pushed for and immediately hailed as groundbreaking.
DOJ report criticizes police response to Ferguson demonstrations
USA Today (9/3, Johnson, 5.23M) reports that a Justice Department review released on Thursday concluded that “law enforcement’s initial response to last year’s explosion of civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., was plagued by a lack of leadership, a pre-existing broken relationship with the local community and myriad tactical errors that only ‘inflamed tensions.’” The review, “which focused on the actions of the Ferguson Police Department, St. Louis County Police Department, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol, offered a deeply critical account of a largely ‘uncoordinated and incomplete’ effort to establish control during the turbulent first 17 days after black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.”
The Washington Times (9/4, Noble, 344K) reports that a “lack of preexisting community relationships, insufficient leadership and communication strategies, and a reliance on militarized police tactics – including the deployment of canines as a form of crowd control – all contributed” the response, according to the report. The report’s findings “were most critical of the Ferguson Police Department, which the report noted had ‘no agency-wide efforts in place to manage the community reaction.’ ‘The fact that long-term relationships with the community were seemingly not developed over time led to devastating effects,’ states the report, issued by the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services.”
The Los Angeles Times (9/4, Pearce, 4.07M) reports that the “damning” report “primarily slammed the police response to the August 2014 protests in Ferguson, confirming what had been documented by news coverage and social media users.” The “heavy-handed tactical response by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County police, St. Louis city police, and the Ferguson Police Department often worsened the unrest and at times was unconstitutional.” The report found that “the snipers perched on top of armored vehicles frightened and angered unarmed crowds,” and that “the use of police dogs went against national recommendations and echoed images from the worst moments of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.”
Center for Justice & Democracy September 03, 2015
DuPont and the Civil Trials They Hoped Would Never Happen
Back in 2008, we wrote about an extraordinary class-action case brought by 80,000 people against DuPont USA, which had knowingly “polluted water supplies of two West Virginia and four Ohio water districts with a chemical used to manufacture Teflon, called C-8,” and tried to cover it up.
It was an important settlement, requiring the company to stop poisoning people and, among other things, “install filtration systems in contaminated water districts.” But it didn’t cover compensatory damages for people who were sick and dying. Area residents and DuPont employees had cancers, diseases and children born with severe birth deformities at unusually high rates but no epidemiological study yet existed tying their diseases to C-8. At least not yet.
Caffeine industry growth has led to rash of overdoses
In the wake of the FDA’s warning to five powdered caffeine distributors on Tuesday, the Washington Post (9/2, Cha, 6.76M) “To Your Health” blog reports on how the growth of the caffeine industry, which encompasses energy drinks, “Stay Awake” pills, Jolt gum, and caffeine powders, has led to “a rash of thousands of overdoses and reports of addiction and withdrawal.” The article notes that so far this year, poison control centers had 1,675 reports involving energy drinks, with almost two-thirds were children 18 years and younger.
Car thieves break into vehicles using mystery device
WPLG-TV Miami (9/2, Vazquez, 149K) reports a mystery device is “being used to break into vehicles by defeating the electronic locking system of later-model cars.” NICB investigator James “Herb” Price said, “Right now, what has happened is the digital key fob has become a way for someone to steal your car.” NICB has collected video evidence of such thefts. “With this device (they) walk by a car, look in it, to see if it is one of the cars you can start with a push button on the dash. The nickname for this device is a digital repeater,” Price said. “In response, Fiat Chrysler announced it would be recalling 1.4 million cars and offering drivers a software update to prevent hackers from infiltrating cars via the internet connection,” the article reports.
Senators Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal in July announced new legislation that would have the NHTSA and the FTC “protect drivers from these sorts of pending cyber security risks,” according to the article.
A Doctor at His Daughter’s Hospital Bed
Natalie recovered from that illness eight years ago, but I didn’t. I stopped operating and taking care of really sick people two years later. I told myself I had become too distracted by my increasing administrative duties to be a safe doctor. I was glad to leave all that behind. Now I just want to sit on the sidelines and marvel as a new generation of doctors performs the miracles. I never again want to step in to rescue someone I love. But I will, if I have to.
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