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California Personal Injury - What you should know

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Between earthquakes, sinkholes and wildfires, California residents are well acquainted with the potential for injury in day-to-day life. And afterwards there is often no avenue for redress beyond an insurance claim. However, when injuries and damages suffered within the state are due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of a person or entity, California's personal injury law is a means of restoration. In filing a personal injury lawsuit, a victim may recover lost wages, medical care, burial costs, and pain and suffering, among other associated amounts.

With that consideration, a victim's actions post-injury may be crucial to the success of their lawsuit. And so that the legal right to sue may be preserved, victims should keep a few key facts in mind when deciding how best to move towards physical, mental and financial recovery.

Statutes of Limitation: Setting a Time Limit to Your Claim

All states limit the time during which a victim of harm may file a lawsuit. This type of law, a statute of limitations, varies with the nature of the claim being filed. However, the limitation's clock generally begins ticking at the time that the claim arises, otherwise called the "accrual" of the "cause of action" by a court. Typically an injured person in California has two years from the date of the injury to file their lawsuit, although in certain circumstances the deadline may be lengthened ("tolled"). Timely action and awareness of the statute of limitations that may affect your claim is critical; and if a claim is filed after the applicable statute of limitations has passed, then the result will often be dismissal of the lawsuit by the court. Don't procrastinate in reaching out to an attorney or law firm early, so that they may advise your regarding any factors that may toll the claim, and so that there is ample time for research and analysis of the case, as necessary.

Collect Relevant Documentation

A personal injury lawsuit will not survive without effective documentation to evidence the underlying claim. Delaying health treatment not only endangers the victim, but also may complicate an attorney's ability to demonstrate the damages sustained. Take notes regarding your injury, treatment and treatment providers, and the cause of the injury. Take photographs as soon as possible, and to document your injuries over time. Keep all paperwork, especially copies of diagnostic tests, medical records, prescriptions, bills and associated receipts. Further, if earnings also suffered due to the injury, keep documents such as payslips or tax records that would demonstrate the lost wages as well.

Don't Go It Alone

A skilled attorney will only increase your likelihood of attaining a desirable legal outcome. Spencer Law has a broad litigation practice and extensive practice experience in business law, consumer law, class actions, employment law, personal injury, and product liability. The firm's record of dedicated, aggressive representation has netted an aggregate settlement value of over $120 million for their clients. Consultations are free, so please do not hesitate to contact us.



$51 Million Awarded in Age Discrimination Case

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Never fear that you are not big enough to stand up to a large corporation. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. A recent jury verdict of $51.5 million in favor of an employee and against one of New Jersey's largest employers demonstrates this principle in action.

Robert Braden was 66 years old when Lockheed Martin laid him off from his position as a project engineer in 2012. He was a mid-level manager who'd been employed at the company for 29 years when a reduction in force resulted in the lay offs of 308 workers company-wide.

Braden was the only person in his six-member team to be let go, and he was also the oldest. When they let him go, Lockheed provided no reasons to Braden for choosing him over two younger employees with the same title as Braden. The two younger employees retained their positions. To add insult to injury, the company hired a new, younger employee for Braden's position a year later.

In fact, Braden claimed Lockheed Martin regularly hired young employees to fill positions for which he was qualified even while the company continued laying off other workers.

The discrimination lawsuit Braden filed claimed age was a motivating factor in his termination. He also claimed he'd been paid less than younger workers with similar jobs and said he'd heard remarks by company executives that it was okay to give older workers lower reviews and lower pay because older workers have nowhere else to go.

But Braden did have somewhere else to go. He went to court.

Age discrimination is the act of a person treating someone less fairly because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination Act in Employment Act was enacted in 1967 to protect people who are over 40 years old from becoming disadvantaged at work because of their age. Older employees must be treated fairly by employers when it comes to hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoffs and all other employment conditions.

Our laws are designed to protect people like Braden. For all of Lockheed's great size, impressive wealth and smart lawyers, it couldn't change the facts of the case, which the jury said showed he'd been a victim of age discrimination.

Lockheed Martin denied the allegations, of course. Its lawyers said Braden was let go for legitimate reasons. They cited poor reviews and lack of skills as reasons. But, when Lockheed employees were asked in court to explain why Braden was let go, their stories varied, making their argument a hard sell. Lockheed Martin also tried to point out differences in the responsibilities and job duties between Braden's position and those of his younger co-workers.

The 8-person jury was unconvinced. The jury voted to grant Braden:

  • $520,000 in economic losses
  • $520,000 in liquidated damages (per the Age Discrimination Act)
  • $50,000,000 in punitive damages

This case clearly shows employers can't get away with discriminating against older employees. Employers must be able to demonstrate objective reasons for terminating an older employee. If you are concerned about age discrimination in the workplace, contact us for consultation.



Consumer Rights and Identity Theft

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Identity theft occurs when someone illegally obtains another individual's personal identification information, and it is a very prevalent type of crime in today's world. Unfortunately, identity thieves have a variety of ways to access your personal information. Your emails, your wallet, even information stolen from government or financial companies. Even crumpled receipts in a trash can be used to obtain sensitive information.

Signs that identity theft has occurred

There is no surefire way to protect yourself from identity theft. Having your identity stolen happens even if you take the utmost precautions because websites are able to be hacked. However, it might not be obvious right away that your were the victim of identity theft. The clearest sign that your information has been stolen is if you start receiving calls from debt collectors concerning charges you've never made, or you discover uses of your debit or credit card that seem out of the ordinary. Another indicator of identity theft is not receiving expected bills or other mail from your various financial accounts. If you've recently been denied credit or the terms under which you receive credit have drastically changed, it's possible someone procured sensitive personal information.

Being vigilant about your personal information

It makes sense to keep watch over certain types of information in order to ensure you stop identity theft in its tracks. You should monitor your credit card and other financial statements. Checking your credit report can reveal suspicious activity as well. Monitoring your credit report should be a core defense strategy, because a sudden dip in score can alert you to suspicious activity before you've had a chance to receive bills detailing outlandish charges and confusing calls from debt collectors.

If you think you've been the victim of identity theft, please contact us.



Knowing You Rights as a Tenant

Thursday, February 23, 2017

As the housing shortage continues and more people are becoming renters, it’s a growing concern for the consumer rights of tenants. Knowing your rights as a tenant is an important matter for you. Many renters are unsure of their rights, many don’t realize they rights at all.

The reality is that you, as a renter, have many rights that you may not know. What’s more, many landlords bank on the fact that you do not know that you have certain rights that you are entitled to and they often take advantage of this fact in their dealings with tenants.

Almost everyone is aware that the landlord can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, or age, as well as other reasons. Many states have laws against discrimination on marital status and sexual orientation as well. Did you know that the landlord can’t end your lease of any of these reasons?

Tenants have the right to a certain amount of privacy. A landlord can’t come into your apartment without either giving you ample notice or unless there is an emergency such as fire or flood that is an immediate threat.

Knowing the rights that you have is an important part of being a tenant and there several things that you can do to assure that you are afforded your rights.

Take pictures or video of your apartment when you move in. in many cases that go to court, the judge will be to award in your favor when they have seen actual conditions that you have recorded. This weighs heavier than testimony.

Document all interactions with the landlord including what was said and what was done. Include as much information as possible in this because after a certain amount of time has passed, memory fades and facts are forgotten. Properly documenting the facts is a way to protect yourself against disputes.

If you are ever denied an apartment, be sure that you find the reasons why. Many times a landlord will use sources other than credit reports and previous landlords to determine your eligibility to rent from them. If this is the case and they deny your application, you have the right to know the specifics of this denial. This is covered under the fair credit reporting act.

There are many rights that are afforded to the tenant in the landlord /tenant laws. Many of these are not as widely known and you might not be aware of them. They are there for your protection and you should feel safe in relying on them.

The most common mistake that renters make is taking the law into their own hands because of misinformation from friends who are not familiar with how the law works. The laws are there to protect you but you need to know how to use them. The help of an experienced and competent tenant’s right attorney will assure that you are using these to the best advantage.

If you feel that your rights have been violated, please start by contacting us for a free consultation



Discriminated in the Workplace? – Some Forms you Might Not be Aware of

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When the term discrimination comes up in employment law, most of us immediately think of racial biased practices. However, the federal government has been clear in the scope that workplace discrimination is covered.

There are several areas of discrimination such as race, sex, color, creed and religion that most people are familiar with. There are also a few lesser known areas that aren’t in the news every day. These are the areas that you might be affected by and not realize it.

Age discrimination – designed to protect workers over the age of 40. These laws are intended for the group of workers who are slightly older than their peers in the workplace. The standards for equal pay and assignment of duties must be met by that employer who has older workers on the staff. This includes the language used in the workplace. While the law doesn’t pertain to teasing or even slightly disparaging remarks, it does go to that extent when the workplace becomes a hostile environment because of it.

Disability – the laws regarding disabilities are such that the employer should make certain, but limited, accommodations for the employee to fulfill his work duties. When this isn’t done, the employer has failed in their obligation to disabled employees. Disability discrimination also goes a step further in that it covers people who are discriminated against because of their association with a disabled person.

Disabled employees have the same rights as everyone else in the workplace. They are sometimes subject to lower pay or the relegation to less desirable positions and are even the subject of disparaging language

Sexual harassment – can be taken in many forms, some of which are subtle and some that are overt. From unwanted touching and advances to inappropriate language and pictures, all can be found to be a form of sexual discrimination that is unlawful in the workplace. Harassment covers the actions of males and females alike.

Retaliation – the EEO laws prohibit punishment of an employee for exercising their rights under the law regarding the filing of a discrimination lawsuit. Retaliation covers any changes in the employee’s job duties, any confrontational language used against the employee, and spreading false rumors or intense scrutiny of the employee.

Every worker has the invaluable right to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and harassments of any type.

If you think that you have been discriminated on in any of these areas, contact us for a free discrete consultation. Trust your case to the most-trusted discrimination advocates.



Employment Law: Unlawful Termination Based on Filing a Worker's Compensation Claim

Thursday, February 09, 2017

California employment law sets forth the rules, regulations, statutes, and case law relevant to the relationship between employers and employees. Generally, employment relationships in California are "at-will", meaning that an employee may be terminated at any time, for any reason. However, there are notable exceptions to this general rule. One exception is that an employer may not terminate an employee for filing a worker's compensation claim. A worker who suffers an on-the-job injury is entitled by statute to file a claim for compensation.

An employee whose employment is terminated after filing or otherwise initiating a worker's compensation claim may have a claim against the employer for wrongful termination. Damages that a successful claimant might recover from a former employer include compensation for lost wages and the value of lost benefits. In some cases, successful claimants may recover damages for emotional distress and for attorney fees.

Generally, to prove unlawful termination based on filing a worker's compensation claim, the claimant must show that he or she was an employee entitled to receive worker's compensation benefits; that he or she filed a claim for worker's compensation; that he or she suffered an adverse consequence, such as termination of employment; and that the employer imposed the adverse consequence because of the filing of the worker's compensation claim.

It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney if you believe your employer wrongfully discharged you. Please contact us to discuss the facts of your case and your legal rights and remedies.



Class Action Case Against Coconut Water Company

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Because of a recent class action case, Harmless Harvest Inc. will be paying almost $1 million and changing the labels on their coconut water. This includes $575,000 in attorney fees and $350,000 in claims, administration, and notice costs. The company will also have to undergo an independent reviewing of their product labels for accuracy for a two-year period.

The main issue with the coconut water's label comes from the use of the terms “100 percent Organic” as well as “Raw.” Both statements are said to be false and misleading. According to the plaintiffs, at least a portion of the coconut water was not organic despite the company labeling it as such.

Converting a conventional coconut plantation into an organic plantation takes time. To be organically certified, the crops cannot receive any synthetic chemicals, including fertilizers or pesticides for at least three years. The plaintiffs in the case claim the company made consumers think they had complied with these regulations.

Instead, the plaintiffs say that the company obtained at least some of their coconuts from non-organic sources. This includes getting them from coconut plantations that do not have organic certification, purchasing them directly from street vendors whose supply source is unknown, and getting them from individuals who claimed the coconuts were organic even when they were not. They also claim that the company obtained false organic certification of some of their products.

The plaintiffs claim Harmless Harvest knew consumers wanted healthier products and that consumers would pay more for products with “organic” and “raw” labels. According to the plaintiffs, the company cheated consumers out of money by falsely labeling their products as "100 percent Organic" and "Raw."

Class action cases take the efforts of many people to be effective. If you would like to know more about being involved in a class action case, contact us.



Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against Whole Foods

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When unjust actions are taken against employees by employers, the workers may feel understandably distressed by their situations. If individuals faced retaliation in the form of wrongful termination or other negative actions for speaking out against unfair business practices, they may wish to consider their class action legal options.

It was recently reported that nine former managers of various Whole Foods locations have filed a class action lawsuit against the company due to what they believe was retaliation. The managers had spoken out against an alleged company practice that involved not paying employees bonuses that they had earned through Whole Foods' "Gainsharing" program. As a result of calling out the company on this practice, the nine individuals were investigated and subsequently dismissed from their positions.

The former employees believe that the internal investigation conducted was a "sham," and they are pursuing legal action as a result of their wrongful terminations. Whole Foods also stands accused of defamation as the company reported that the managers themselves were stealing bonuses from other employees. Each plaintiff is hoping to obtain $25 million in compensation for damages.

Staying quiet when it comes to questionable practices carried out by companies may seem like the easy way out. However, allowing these practices to continue may cause workers to face considerable hardships. If California residents have spoken out against issues within their work environments and were retaliated against, they may wish to explore their options for seeking legal action of their own. Information on class action lawsuits and other relevant information may prove useful, and interested parties may wish to contact the Spencer Law Firm for assistance.



McDonald's Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Meal Pricing

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Chicago McDonald’s is facing a class-action lawsuit over its pricing of their “Extra Value Meal.” A Des Plaines man is alleging that the items bundled together in the Extra Value Meal package actually cost $0.41 less when sold separately.

James Gertie filed his lawsuit in the Cook County Circuit Court against McDonald’s and Karis Management Company, which owns and operates more than 10 McDonald’s restaurants in the Chicago area, according to the Cook County Record.

According to the lawsuit, the Extra Value Meal package, which includes two cheeseburgers, a medium order of French fries, and a medium drink, costs $5.90. However, when sold separately, two cheeseburgers sell for $2.50, the fries sell for $1.99, and the drink sells for $1 -- a total of $5.49. Gertie purchased the Extra Value Meal at more than five of Karis Management’s restaurants before filing suit.

The lawsuit alleges consumer fraud and deceptive practices. Gertie’s lawyers, Paul F. Markoff and Karl G. Leinberger, of Markoff Leinberger LLC, have asked the court to expand the suit into a class action lawsuit to benefit all the other customers who were overcharged on their purchases. This potentially includes hundreds of people who have made purchases in the McDonald’s of Des Plaines, Niles, Wheeling, Antioch, Grayslake, Volo, and others. The plaintiff is seeking reimbursement to all customers who were overcharged, as well as punitive damages and lawyer fees.

James Gertie, a bus driver, says that the suit is not about the 41 cents, but about honesty.

For more information on class action lawsuits, just contact us.



Former Disney Employees File Class Action Claiming Racial Discrimination in H-1B Case

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that 30 laid-off Disney workers are filing a class-action suit against their former employer, alleging racial discrimination surrounding their termination of employment. The premise is that the primarily white male employees were replaced by H-1B work visa holders from India who were willing to work the same jobs for lower wages and benefits. The theory behind the lawsuit is unique, to say the least.

The incident took place a couple of years ago, when 250 employees of Disney’s IT department were informed that they would be laid off and replaced by the H-1B visa holders. To add insult to injury, the laid-off workers were told to train their replacements and that their severance packages would depend on their maintaining a “positive attitude.” Disney claimed that a number of other job opportunities were opened for the laid-off employees, something that is under dispute, even though some have been rehired.

A similar class action, alleging a RICO violation to violate immigration laws, was thrown out by the courts earlier. While the H-1B program is meant to find foreign workers to fill jobs for whom domestic workers are unavailable and not replace domestic workers, Disney and the outsourcing firm it used seems to have found a loophole allowing them to do what they did.

Disney is denying that racial discrimination took place but rather their decision to terminate the 250 employees was solely based on cost-cutting concerns. The question may revolve around whether the plaintiffs can prove intent or, failing that, the effect is sufficient to prove racial discrimination. The employees are demanding back pay and benefits with interest and reinstatement at a similar job.

For more information contact us.





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