The rights of the elderly, particularly those who have suffered abuse, neglect, or assault in a nursing home, may be seriously impacted in the near future. Last year, as President Obama’s final term was winding down, his administration stopped allowing nursing homes that receive federal funding from requiring that their new residents sign a binding arbitration agreement. Binding arbitration agreements prevent plaintiffs — in this case the elderly residents — from ever taking the nursing homes to court. Instead, the residents would be forced into an out-of-court arbitration conducted by an industry-friendly arbitrator.
In the wake of the many allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, victims of such misconduct are coming forward in unprecedented numbers. With the “#MeToo” movement trending on social media, a stunning number have shared their stories, revealing a problem endemic to not just the entertainment industry, but also to the world at large. While perpetrators undoubtedly deserve to face criminal charges for their crimes, victims don’t have to rely solely on a jury to find justice: civil recourse can be used to hold abusers accountable.
In 2010, a nursing student and her friend were drugged and raped by a member of a Saudi prince’s entourage at the Plaza Hotel. The unnamed Jane Doe endured a great deal of suffering after the incident, including a suicide attempt and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She withdrew from nursing school and lost her job, and has been unable to maintain full-time work since the attack.
A new study conducted by researchers at Boston Medical Center has found that one in 12 doctors has received money or other compensation from drug companies that market prescription opioid medications. Researchers discovered that, between 2013 and 2015, these companies made more than $46 million in payments to over 68,000 doctors.
The researchers combed databases from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for details about the payments. This information is available thanks to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which is included in the Affordable Care Act and mandates that medical product makers report payments or offerings of value made to doctors and teaching hospitals.
Former Georgia health commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald was recently named the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the Trump administration. Almost immediately, critics raised concerns about the 71-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist’s history. During Fitzgerald’s tenure as Georgia health commissioner, she had the Herculean task of combatting the state’s child obesity rates. To her credit, Fitzgerald succeeded in bringing the state down from second to seventeenth in child obesity. To do so, however, Fitzgerald formed a less-than-wholesome alliance with Coca-Cola, a company many would argue is, in part, responsible for the United States’ obesity epidemic.
Fitzerald’s actions do make sense, to some degree. After all, not only was combatting the child obesity rate a daunting challenge: there was also the question of sourcing money to do so. Fitzgerald helmed a program called Power Up for 30, which encouraged schools to give children 30 more minutes of exercise every day, and was almost entirely paid for by Coca-Cola.
It is widely believed that state courts are drowning in lawsuits. Many corporate lobbyists would have you believe that tort lawsuits are on the rise, when in fact the opposite is true: tort lawsuits have declined sharply in recent years.
In 2015, less than two people out of 1,000 filed tort lawsuits, and tort cases accounted for just four percent of civil filings in state courts. Compare this to 1993, when roughly 10 people per 1,000 filed tort lawsuits and tort cases made up 16 percent of those filed. This downward trend has raised some concern among judges. If victims are no longer filing tort lawsuits, perhaps they no longer see the courts as a legitimate avenue for finding justice in civil cases.
Since 1919, the International Labor Organization has brought together governments, employers, and workers from 187 UN Member States to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs promoting decent work environments for all women and men. During a convention to address migrant workers’ rights, the ILO pronounced that employers should provide migrant workers “treatment no less favorable than that which is applied to its own nationals,” and that it is necessary “to respect the basic human rights of all migrant workers.” Here in the United States, that is simply not the case.
It may be illegal, but hiring undocumented workers is a long-standing practice in the agriculture and food production industries. While the oft-given justification is that these workers “do jobs Americans won’t,” this is not necessarily the reason many employers hire them. A more accurate statement might be that undocumented immigrant workers tend to do jobs Americans would do, but they do it for lower pay and under unsafe conditions. And that, at its core, is the problem: employers who hire undocumented workers often treat them poorly because they can. Meanwhile, undocumented workers are risking life and limb for their income, and if they complain, they risk losing their jobs or being deported.
New bills spearheaded by the GOP could make it harder for victims of medical negligence and medical malpractice to secure fair compensation for their injuries. As part of the House Republicans’ efforts to replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, these bills would place new limits on lawsuits that involve doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes, and would likely be most harmful to low-income and elderly victims.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer claims the bills will lessen “frivolous lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up health care costs.” This idea–that health care would be affordable if only the government could curb all of the “frivolous” lawsuits attacking good doctors hospitals–is not only false, it is also dangerous. GOP Republicans have made countless attempts to limit the rights of medical negligence victims, but have failed consistently because the rights of victims to seek justice in the court system is guaranteed in the US Constitution.
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Construction work is one of the most dangerous professions in New York City. As we detailed in our last blog, in New York City alone, 31 construction workers were killed on the job in the last two years. 29 of those deaths occurred on non-union work sites. This statistic bears out what we commonly see in our law practice: non-union workers risk their life and limb every time they step on a work site.
Though insurance carriers and contractors would like to refer to these injuries as “accidents,” most construction-related injuries are the direct result of a manager’s or company’s negligence. Safety violations were found at 90 percent of fatality sites inspected by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2015.
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2015 and 2016 were two of the most devastating years in history for the New York City construction industry. 31 men and women died on the job, meaning that on average, one worker did not come home from a construction site about every three weeks.
The last death of 2016 occurred on December 23rd, when a worker, whose safety belt was not attached to any cable, fell down an elevator shaft. Just weeks prior, another worker, also not wearing a connected safety belt, fell to his death in Brooklyn at the Old Domino Sugar Factory. These two fatalities, heartbreaking in themselves, portray a larger problem: 29 of the 31 deaths happened at non-union sites. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), almost all of the deaths were preventable.
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