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U.S. Dept. of Justice Monitor Criticizes Juvenile Courts in Tennessee

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 10.58.35 AMAccording to a recent AP article published in U.S. News & World Report, “Despite the end to federal oversight of a Tennessee county’s juvenile justice system, a U.S. Department of Justice monitor says ‘blatantly unfair” practices persist.'”

Monitor Sandra Simkins outlined in her report two main areas where the county still doesn’t comply with the agreement reached in 2012: 1) the court exerts “inappropriate influence” over defense appointments; and 2) that children are transferred to adult criminal court without due process.

California official sues maker of Humira, alleging kickbacks

Photo credit: www.abbvie.com

Photo credit: www.abbvie.com

The state of California is suing AbbVie Inc. over its flagship drug, Humira, alleging the pharmaceutical company gave kickbacks to healthcare providers.

Reuters reported in mid-September on the complaint, brought by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

“The regulator alleged that AbbVie engaged in a far-reaching scheme including cash, meals, drinks, gifts, trips, and patient referrals, as well as free and valuable professional goods and services to physicians to induce and reward Humira prescriptions,” Reuters reported.

“The case, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleged that private insurers have paid out $1.2 billion in Humira-related pharmacy claims.”

AbbVie defended its actions, saying it complies with state and federal law and that “it provides a number of support services for patients, once they are prescribed Humira, that both educate and assist patients with their therapy, including nursing support.”

Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts for trademark infringement

Photo credit: From North Charleston, SC, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: From North Charleston, SC, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Scouts are on the outs.

National Public Radio reports that the Girl Scouts of the USA filed a federal lawsuit “accusing the Boy Scouts of trademark infringement.”

The dispute started last October, “when the Boy Scouts said it would start allowing girls to join its programs,” NPR reports.

The Boy Scouts of America explained its policy in a summary sheet.

“Cub Scouting is organized in packs and dens. In 2018, an existing pack may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, meanwhile, can include any combination of all-boy or all-girl dens,” the Boy Scouts explained.

NPR noted that Girl Scouts National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan accused the Boy Scouts’ national president at the time, Randall Stephenson, “of carrying out a ‘covert campaign’ to recruit girls.”

“We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” Hannan wrote.

Due to customer agreements, scooter companies could steer around lawsuits

Photo Credit: Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune as reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune on 11/5/18.

Photo Credit: Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune as reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune on 11/5/18.

Scooter makers face legal action filed on behalf of injured riders, but contracts with customers could shield the companies, according to reporting out of California.

Attorney Catherine Lerer with McGee, Lerer & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against scooter companies Lime and Bird last month “alleging, among other things, ‘products liability and gross negligence, as well as aiding and abetting assault,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Nov. 5.

“The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks damages on behalf of nine plaintiffs, including pedestrians hit by scooter riders,” the article noted.

Legal action could face difficult odds, the Union-Tribune reported. “So far scooter companies such as Lime and Bird — now valued in the billions — have avoided having to take legal responsibility for such accidents,” the article noted. “That’s largely because scooter companies require riders to agree to a lengthy legal contract through their smart-phone apps before renting a device.”

DACA program, upheld by 9th Circuit, faces its day in Supreme Court

Photo Credit: Darin Moriki/Bay Area News Group as reported by The Mercury News, 11/8/18.

Photo Credit: Darin Moriki/Bay Area News Group as reported by The Mercury News, 11/8/18.

The subject of continued court battles, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could see its fate decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“An Obama-era program granting hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers protection from deportation will live on, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, dealing the Trump administration a significant blow and setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court next year,” The Mercury News reported on Nov. 8.

“The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction blocking the White House from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected about 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, including 200,000 in California,” The Mercury News reported.

The Atlantic speculated about how the legal battle could play out at the nation’s highest court.

“The Court could do a number of things. It could grant a stay, which would temporarily stop further legal proceedings or the enforcement of orders. If a stay isn’t granted, confusion could reign, with DACA continued in some states and not in others. In any case, at least five justices would have to agree on next steps, and with a split Court a consensus would be difficult to achieve,” The Atlantic noted.

Georgia-Pacific affiliate files for bankruptcy amid asbestos claims

Georgia-Pacific Tower in Atlanta. Photo Credit: Connor.carey  from Wikimedia Commons

Georgia-Pacific Tower in Atlanta. Photo Credit: Connor.carey from Wikimedia Commons

An affiliate of Georgia-Pacific LLC, Bestwall LLC, has announced that it filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the Western District of North Carolina.

In a summary, Reuters reported, “Bestwall LLC’s parent company is firing back at allegations that the joint compound maker’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a bad-faith sham aimed at avoiding asbestos claims, instead arguing the case is ‘entirely consistent with both the spirit and the letter of the bankruptcy process.’”

Last year the company announced, “Bestwall intends to seek court authority to establish a trust under Section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to ensure that all individuals with current and future asbestos claims are treated fairly.”

Georgia-Pacific states it will continue to operate as usual.

“Today’s filing by Bestwall has no impact on Georgia-Pacific’s business operations, nor does it affect our 35,000 employees and 25,000 vendors who serve more than 15,000 customers globally,” said Tyler Woolson, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Georgia-Pacific.

Georgia-Pacific produces tissue, pulp, paper, packaging and building products.

California shields public sector unions from Supreme Court ruling

California has found itself in a legal standoff against the federal government and Trump administration over a variety of issues, but one could affect union workers who want to decline union membership.

“California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law that aims to give public employee unions legal cover from potentially expensive lawsuits demanding that they repay certain fees to workers that the Supreme Court in June determined were unconstitutional,” reports The Fresno Bee.

“The law, which takes effect immediately, says unions and public agencies cannot be held liable for fees that unions collected before the Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME on June 27 of this year.”

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision ended a 41-year precedent that allowed public sector unions to collect “fair share” fees from workers who declined to join a labor organization but were still represented, according to the newspaper.

Commerce secretary ordered to testify about Census citizenship question

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images as reported by NPR on 9/21/18.

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images as reported by NPR on 9/21/18.

A Trump administration official will testify out of court about a controversial Census citizenship question, due to a judge’s order.

“A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to make its main official behind the 2020 census citizenship question — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — available to testify out of court for the lawsuits over the hotly contested question,” National Public Radio reports.

Ross will sit for a deposition, per the order of U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan federal court.

“Furman has limited questioning of Ross by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to four hours, noting that the commerce secretary has already testified in Congress and the administration has released a record of internal documents about his decision to add the citizenship question,” according to NPR.

Homelessness lawsuit challenges California’s authority to impound vehicles

Sean Kayode is shown outside the Next Door homeless shelter in San Francisco on July 26, 2018. Photo Credit: David Gorn/CALmatters as reported on 9/13/18.

Sean Kayode is shown outside the Next Door homeless shelter in San Francisco on July 26, 2018. Photo Credit: David Gorn/CALmatters as reported on 9/13/18.

A lawsuit would halt California from impounding vehicles and leaving residents homeless.

“Sean Kayode said he watched his whole world roll away from him at 3 in the morning,” reports KPBS TV. “Kayode had been living in his car in San Francisco about two years. During the early morning March 5, traffic police towed and impounded his black 2005 Mercedes Benz — for having too many overdue parking tickets.”

Jude Pond of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco helped file a lawsuit on Kayode’s behalf “to challenge the California law that allows cities to tow a car away if that car has five or more overdue parking tickets,” the news station reports.

Kayode now lives at Next Door homeless shelter. He said his car wasn’t just a place to sleep, “it was how he earned a living, he said, delivering food through Uber Eats.”

Companies react to Calif. law requiring female board members

Companies will begin complying with a California law requiring female board members while waging a flurry of expected lawsuits, The Union-Bulletin in Walla Walla, Wash., reports.

“California’s new law requiring companies to include women on their boards of directors may not survive widely expected legal challenges but it has already spotlighted the entrenched practices and barriers that have helped keep women out of boardrooms,” the article notes.

By the end of next year, the law requires at least one female director on the board of public corporations headquartered in California.

“Companies with more than six board members would need three female directors by the end of 2021. Those with fewer than six members would need two women. …” the article explains.

“The law imposes a $100,000 fine for a first violation and a $300,000 penalty for subsequent violations, not huge sums for major corporations. Nevertheless, companies will likely begin efforts to comply with the law even as they keep track of — or participate in — legal efforts to block it, said Wendy Patrick, a professor of business ethics at San Diego State University,” the Union-Bulletin reports.