$11,750,000 Verdict Involving Wrongful Release

posted on:
January 15, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Personal Injury and Product Liability | Landmark Verdict

1983 – In this case, our client's son was killed by Defendant who had recently been let out of a mental institution. Immediately prior to him being let out of the institution, he had written a letter to his girlfriend, which the mental institution had a copy of, stating that he was going to kill someone. Within a day or two of being released, he killed our client's son. The jury was outraged by this conduct and awarded a substantial verdict to try to stop this from ever happening again.

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Anthem data breach litigation settles for record-breaking $115M

posted on:
June 23, 2017

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

On Friday, June 23, Anthem Inc. announced it had agreed to a settlement over its 2015 data breach, which is estimated to have affected nearly 80 million of its customers. The deal is valued at $115 million, and is billed as the largest-ever data breach settlement, according to Law360. Settlement funds will compensate Anthem customers for out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the breach, and will provide credit-monitoring services for victims, or reimburse them for services they already purchased.

Anthem is the second-largest health insurance company in the U.S. The cyberattack compromised customer names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and employment records. Employee records also were compromised.

Anthem brands affected by the data breach included Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink, and DeCare.

In addition to providing compensation for data breach victims, the settlement will designate funds to analyze and update its data security systems to ensure a similar breach is unlikely to happen again.

More information about the data breach and the settlement agreement are available on the Anthem website at anthemfacts.com.

The case is In re Anthem Inc. Data Breach Litigation, case number 5:15-md-02617, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Sources:
Law360
Anthem

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act offers industry employees protection

posted on:
June 23, 2017

author:
Andrew Brashier

category:
Fraud

andew brashier1 Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act offers industry employees protectionIn the wake of recent safety recalls of vehicles and auto parts, Congress recognized the need to expand oversight of the industry and took a similar approach as it has with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – incentivizing industry insiders to be the additional eyes and ears for the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In December 2015, as the Jere Beasley Report previously explained, federal lawmakers passed 49 U.S.C. § 30172 or the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (MVSWA), establishing a new program they hope will encourage auto industry insiders to speak up, and more quickly.

Auto industry scandals, such as the General Motors (GM) ignition switch defect, Takata exploding airbags, and VW emissions cheat fraud, and attempts to cover up such wrongdoings, led to record penalties and recalls. For example, GM’s deadly ignition switch scandal, which Beasley Allen helped expose after The Cooper Firm revealed the cover-up, resulted in 51 deaths and at least 128 injuries and could have been prevented if the whistleblower in the case had been protected by the stronger MVSWA program.

For years, one of the company’s Quality Control Managers, Courtland Kelley, tried to warn company executives about the ignition switch defect, but those warnings were ignored. Righting Injustice describes how the fiercely loyal employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 2003 that was dismissed after a GM lawyer successfully argued Courtland did not have legal grounds to file the suit. More than a decade later, the truth he tried to expose would finally surface publicly. But only after Courtland was retaliated against by GM and the company’s cover-up imposed unnecessary suffering on many families.

The new program provides even more whistleblower protections than were offered in its precursor, the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21 Act. It specifically applies to auto industry insiders – those involved directly in the manufacturing or selling of vehicles and auto parts and contractors – not third parties.

The whistleblower may receive an award, 10 to 30 percent of collected monetary sanctions, if original information provided to NHTSA leads to a successful resolution of a covered action. The information is limited to claims about efforts to cover up a defect or a violation of safety regulations when such a cover up “is likely to cause unreasonable risk of death or physical injury.” Whistleblowers can report violations that occurred before the creation of the new program and regardless of where it occurred worldwide.

Despite congressional pressure to better protect auto industry whistleblowers, NHTSA has yet to publish regulations outlining how the program will operate, and the 18-month deadline for completing these regulations is set to expire this month. Whistleblowers should not be dismayed, though, but should immediately report any wrongdoing before the opportunity to do so is prevented by legal time limits.

* * *

Are you an auto industry insider aware of a corporate cover up in the industry? If so, the MVSWA may protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the cover up. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Sources:
Jere Beasley Report (July 2016)
Righting Injustice
The Hill

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Invokana clinical trial shows drug doubles risk of amputation

posted on:
June 22, 2017

author:
Danielle Ward Mason

danielle ward mason Invokana clinical trial shows drug doubles risk of amputationJohnson & Johnson’s Jansen Pharmaceuticals just wrapped up a seven-year clinical trial for Invokana, which helps patients with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar. As previously reported by Beasley Allen, the clinical trial called Canagliflozin Cardiovascular Assessment Study (CANVAS/CANVAS-R) was conducted to monitor the drug’s cardiovascular risks.

According to Bloomberg, Jansen reported Invokana reduced the risk of cardiovascular complications in diabetic patients, but it also doubled the number of amputations for patients taking Invokana compared to the placebo.

The latest findings prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require a new black box warning for Invokana explaining that the drug increases a patient’s risk of leg and foot amputations, Forbes reports. Righting Injustice confirms that some patients have endured multiple amputations, with amputations of toes and the middle part of the foot the most commonly reported.

Jansen’s conclusion that Invokana reduced the risk of cardiovascular complications was surprising, since such complications were a cause for concern for the FDA Advisory committee earlier in the approval process. During the first month of Invokana’s initial tests, 13 participants receiving the drug had a heart attack or stroke, compared to only one in the placebo group.

The drug was FDA approved in 2013 as the first in a new class of type 2 diabetes drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors. The following year the agency approved Invokamet, a combination of Invokana and metformin.

By 2015, more than 100 reports of acute kidney injury in patients taking the drug led the FDA to order a stronger kidney warning accompany several SGLT2 inhibitors, including Invokana and Invokamet. Current warnings reflect the drugs increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or severe kidney damage, caused when too much acid builds up in the blood.

Invokana has come under fire recently because of its adverse side effects, especially for DKA. The drug is at the center of nearly 300 lawsuits, which are a part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey with Judge Brian R. Martinotti presiding. The MDL’s first bellwether trial is expected to begin in September 2018.

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are investigating claims on behalf of individuals and families who allege they were injured by Invokana and Invokamet, specifically cases involving DKA, acute kidney injury, heart attack and stroke. If you would like more information, contact Danielle Ward Mason, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section. She can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Danielle.Mason@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Beasley Allen
Bloomberg
Forbes
Righting Injustice

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Cab guards: The deception

posted on:
June 21, 2017

author:
Staff

log truck cab guard Cab guards: The deceptionBecause cab guards are marketed as effective at preventing drivers from being crushed by shifting cargo, thousands of log trucks use cab guards. Few people realize aluminum guards are too weak to save a driver’s life.

“There are thousands of log trucks in use today with worthless cab guards on them,” Beasley Allen founder Jere Beasley said. “The advertisements tell potential users that cab guards will protect drivers from shifting loads, although it’s totally false. We continue to see the devastating effects of their deception.”

Why are cab guards worthless? They simply do not do what consumers have been told they should do.

Merritt Equipment Co., which we first introduced in our previous article, is far from the only manufacturer to cut corners to reduce costs. Beasley Allen has handled eight defective cab guard cases against three different cab guard manufacturers; a majority were settled before going to trial. Each case has involved a life tragically lost due to corporate greed. Through litigation, Beasley Allen has been able to shed light on the history of deception within cab guard manufacturing.

As we previously noted, no design or performance standards actually apply to cab guard manufacturers as they did in the past, though looking at a cab guard’s warning label does nothing to clarify that. For example, the warnings on Merritt Equipment Co.’s cab guards continue to mislead consumers.

Prior to 2005, Merritt’s product warning read: “This cab guard has been designed and tested in conjunction with a Merritt mounting kit to meet the requirements of D.O.T 393.108, resulting in allowable cargo loads of 55,586 pounds.”

Merritt tried – and succeeded – in obscuring the truth from consumers. The warning makes it seem like their cab guard will protect drivers according to a regulation that required it to prevent the movement of at least one-half the weight of a truck’s cargo. An average load of timber weighs around 110,000 pounds, half of which would be 55,000, so those reading would think it complies because it lists 55,000 as the apparent compliance weight. In reality, the warning said it protects against half of 55,000 pounds, not even close to the weight of a full load of timber.

“I think more people know about the deception than used to know, but it’s still not enough,” Beasley Allen lawyer LaBarron Boone, who handles cab guard litigation for the firm, said. “You hope manufacturers would check before claiming their products will protect you in a wreck, like you hope they crashed a car and tested the seatbelts before they claimed all seatbelts will protect you. These manufacturers just didn’t do that with cab guards.”

To make matters worse, the estimated weight for safety was determined through a static load resistance test. In technical terms, the cab guard’s ability to protect a driver was tested while the truck was not moving. No wreck is static, so not only did that warning lie to consumers about meeting a regulation, the company never tested a product meant to protect truck drivers in a crash during an actual crash scenario.

In Albritton v. Merritt, tried this year, LaBarron cross examined the defendants design expert, who admitted the cab guard would not protect a log truck operator from one log let alone protect them against a full load of logs or approximately 55,000 pounds. Their hired witness ran the company’s first computer-simulated test on how a cab guard would hold up against a real-world crash through a computer simulation, meaning the company’s first real world crash test was the result of a lawsuit.

“If they had just done that test at the beginning, they would have known it wouldn’t work and so many people’s lives would have been spared,” LaBarron said.

LaBarron cross examined an expert witness for manufacturer Road Gear who admitted that cab guards were not safe on log trailers, leading to a label change on the product, and after 2005, due to litigation, Merritt included warnings not to use cab guards on log or pole trailers. However, it remains unclear if that warning is properly passed along to the trucking companies when they are sold cab new guards, or to the drivers so they are aware of the safety concern.

Even with the warning, consumers are still being misled. The new label claims, “When the regulation and allowable load formulas do not apply, then the static load resistance test is the test to be used by the owner or operator when determining whether a Merritt limited security rack is appropriate for the owner or operator’s intended use.”

Again, no regulations on cab guard design or performance exist, and no outside entity is forcing manufacturers to run a useless test that proves nothing of how the cab guard would hold up in a real-world crash. Merritt’s expert witness admitted the cab guard would not withstand .7 Gs of force if it was struck by a 1,100 pound (or typical-sized) log – that is the force of a hard braking scenario, not even a crash.

The new warning label also states, “Over the years, the Merritt (Limited Security Rack) has been used as a storage rack for chains and other items as well as being used to resist loads, absorb and deflect energy and provide resistance to shifting cargo loads up to the static load resistance.” The company continues to market and sell a product it knows does not work. A static crash does not exist. A static resistance test is useless in determining driver safety.

* * *

For more information about cab guards and trucking injuries, contact LaBarron Boone in our Montgomery office at Labarron.Boone@beasleyallen.com, Chris Glover in our Atlanta office at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com, or call us at 800-898-2034.

Visit BeasleyAllen.com next Wednesday, June 28, for the final installment in our Cab Guard Series.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen appointed to Plaintiffs Steering Committee in Fiat Chrysler MDL

posted on:
June 19, 2017

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

dee miles Beasley Allen appointed to Plaintiffs Steering Committee in Fiat Chrysler MDLU.S. District Judge Edward Chen has appointed Beasley Allen attorney W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) in consolidated litigation regarding Fiat Chrysler emissions fraud. Elizabeth Cabraser was tapped as lead counsel for the multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Only 10 firms were selected to work on the MDL.

In January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began looking into emissions-control software in more than 100,000 diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram pickup trucks, which manufacturer Fiat Chrysler (FCA) failed to disclose to regulators as required by law. The revelation prompted an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department to determine if the software violated the Clean Air Act and defrauded consumers by representing that the automobiles met clean-air standards when they in fact exceed acceptable levels.

Under the Clean Air Act, automakers are required to demonstrate through a certification process that vehicles meet federal emissions standards intended to reduce air pollution. This process involves disclosing and explaining the presence of any “auxiliary emissions control devices” (AECDs), which Fiat Chrysler did not do, according to the EPA.

While the EPA stopped short of calling the software a “cheat device,” the issue is very similar to that faced last year by Volkswagen, in which the auto manufacturer was found to have programmed about 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide to recognize laboratory emissions testing and turn emissions controls on. In normal driving, the emissions control was turned off, allowing the vehicles to release up to 40 times the legally allowable limit of carbon monoxide. It is expected to cost Volkswagen more than $14 billion to settle claims with automakers affected by the emissions cheat.

“It has become apparent that many automobile manufacturers are now utilizing software to cheat their way around the Clean Air Act by simply misrepresenting the emissions of nitrogen oxide from their vehicles,” said Miles, who also is one of 22 attorneys appointed by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to the PSC for the VW emissions cheat, and now one of only 10 appointed by Judge Chen to the Fiat Chrysler emissions MDL. “These vehicles that produce excessive emissions of nitrogen oxide are not legal, they don’t belong on our roads and the use of computer software to produce phony emissions readings is fraudulent,” he said.

The questionable software was found in model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines sold in the U.S.

The case is In re Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep EcoDiesel Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability, case number 3:17-md-02777, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen lawyers leading state associations

posted on:
June 19, 2017

author:
Staff

Two Beasley Allen lawyers are leading state legal associations. Frank Woodson, who practices in the firm’s Mass Torts Section, was inducted as the President of the Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) at the organization’s annual meeting on June 16. J. Cole Portis, who is head of the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability Section, is completing his term as President of the Alabama State Bar (ASB). He will pass the gavel to Augusta S. Dowd of White Arnold & Dowd, PC, in Birmingham, at the ASB annual meeting, set for July 12-15.

It is the mission of ALAJ to make sure any person injured through another’s misconduct or negligence can get justice in the courtroom. ALAJ works to eliminate civil justice restrictions and to strengthen the civil justice system so that everyone can have their day in court and equal access to justice.

Frank says, “As a 33-year member and now in my sixth year as an officer of the Alabama Association for Justice, I know firsthand the importance of the work we do, not only for members, but for the citizens of the State of Alabama. As President, I will work closely with our staff, lobby team, officers and board of directors to keep the doors of the Courthouse open for our clients, educate and assist our members and fight to uphold the 7th amendment rights of the Citizens of our State.”

Among Cole’s major platforms as President of the ASB was a commitment to enhancing the Bar’s engagement with lawyers to ensure that they have resources available to help them in their practice. He developed Lawyer University, which provided educational information, seminars and hands-on training to help lawyers better understand how to use technology to enhance their practice, to develop foundational business principles for running their practice as a successful business, and to be on the forefront to identify emerging areas of law.

Cole also worked to bring the Bar into closer collaboration with the courts to ensure that the rule of law is enforced, and that the Bar is dedicated to serving the public through pro bono work, charitable stewardship and involvement in everyday affairs that impact the communities where we practice law.

Cole says, “I have been honored to represent all Alabama lawyers this year. We have emphasized the importance of lawyers to love their neighbors well by serving others. Lawyers in Alabama are gifted to serve. They serve their families, their clients and the public through the legal work they perform, and through their involvement in local communities.”

Many of Beasley Allen’s lawyers are in leadership roles in legal and community organizations locally, statewide, and at the national level. We are proud to be able to serve in this capacity, and hope that our efforts will continue to ensure a strong network of resources for our colleagues in the legal profession, as well as for the community.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

First retrievable IVC filters trial set for October

posted on:
June 15, 2017

author:
Melissa Prickett

melissa prickett1 First retrievable IVC filters trial set for OctoberThe first IVC filter multidistrict litigation (MDL) bellwether trial is slated to begin October 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District for Indiana, the Indianapolis Business Journal recently reported. Judge Richard L. Young will preside over the nearly 2,000 combined claims against IVC filter maker Cook Medical, according to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

The blood-clot filter is implanted in the inferior vena cava – the body’s largest vein, as Beasley Allen has described previously. The filter is intended to catch blood clots that form in the legs before they reach vital organs such as the heart and lungs. It is used as an alternative to the anticoagulant Heparin in trauma patients to prevent venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, Righting Injustice explains.

Unlike permanent IVC filters, those of the retrievable variety have a high rate of failure. They are more fragile in design, often leading them to fracture, migrate or tilt within the body and potentially cause life-threatening injuries.

The first case, involving a Florida woman, demonstrates the device’s potential danger. She was implanted with a Cook Medical Celect Cava in 2010 and returned to her doctor to have it removed four months later. When the doctor’s attempts to remove the filter failed, an endoscopy procedure revealed that it had pierced a large blood vessel and the woman’s small intestine. She was transferred to another hospital where it was finally removed.

There are 10 other IVC filter manufacturers including C.R. Bard, Inc. and Cordis – both are also facing mounting lawsuits in their own MDLs. The Jere Beasley Report notes that the Bard MDL is pending in U.S. District Court in Arizona, and cases involving Cordis IVC filters are consolidated in California state court.

Recent scientific research also challenges the necessity and reliability of the filters. A study published in May by the scientific journal JAMA Surgery shows that using fewer vena cava filters did not result in an increase of pulmonary embolism among trauma patients. And, as Beasley Allen has previously discussed, a 2016 study revealed IVC filter use did not indicate any significant difference in the patient’s survival, but low removal rates could be even riskier to the patient’s health.

If you would like more information about IVC filters, contact Melissa Prickett, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Indianapolis Business Journal
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
Beasley Allen
Righting Injustice
Jere Beasley Report (March 2017)
The JAMA Network Surgery

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Cab guards: A history

posted on:
June 14, 2017

author:
Staff

log truck cab guard Cab guards: A historyA hundred thousand pounds of timber hurtles down the interstate alongside workers on their way to the office, families on their way to vacations and other commercial freight carriers delivering their loads. Log truck drivers charged with ensuring their timber’s safe delivery also have a huge responsibly to protect those with whom they share the road; however, few realize drivers themselves are often not properly protected from their cargo.

What is supposed to be protecting them? Cab guards. The shiny, metal pieces positioned behind the cab of almost every log truck in the United States are purchased with the belief they will protect from cargo shifting forward and crushing a driver’s cab during a crash. The earliest concept of a cab guard for heavy trucks, called a “truck driver protection shield,” dates back to at least 1960. The patent for the 1960 guard cites earlier designs for streetcar fenders and rail car guards as inspiration.

However, it wasn’t until the federal government and other interested parties began sponsoring and conducting research to evaluate the causes of heavy truck crashes in the ‘70s and ‘80s that cab guards truly made their way onto the manufacturing scene.

The studies found the primary contributing factors for truck fatalities were ejection and rollover, and determined the best way to help prevent deaths was to strengthen the structural integrity of the cabs. Manufacturing companies saw a niche they could fill, and cab guards’ popularity increased. Merritt Equipment Co. created the term cab guard and began manufacturing the product in 1972.

Ultimately, the tests from the ‘70s and ‘80s culminated in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developing a regulation requiring cab guards on the back of large trucks and guiding minimum manufacturing standards, though implementation and compliance was largely left to the discretion of trucking companies. Unfortunately, those minimum standards did not work as intended.

“Instead of prompting manufacturers to exceed the minimum – as the auto industry did – cab guard manufacturers continued to only meet the bare minimum,” Beasley Allen lawyer LaBarron Boone, who handles cab guard litigation for the firm, said. “Once it was clear the minimum standards and cab guard requirements were not being used as intended, they were scrapped in 2004.”

The 2004 rewrite of FMCSA standards was prompted by U.S. House hearings called after nine cargo securement accidents occurred in New York between 1990 and 1993 with three fatalities. The North American Load Security Research Project was launched “to revise the regulations concerning protection against shifting and falling cargo for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) engaged in interstate commerce,” according to the Federal Register on Dec. 18, 2000.

From the research project, new regulations were developed and took effect on Jan. 1, 2004. These new regulations switched the focus from vehicle crashworthiness to load securement, and do not include design or performance standards for cab guards – only for front-end structures, which are attached to trailers, not cabs, and have direct contact with the cargo.

Cab guards’ woefully inadequate design – using weak aluminum instead of a stronger metal like steel – remains as it was prior to 2004, further illustrating the minimum design standards of the past were not used as intended and cab guard manufacturers continue to risk lives with their products. In the coming weeks, we will highlight the devastating effects of defective cab guards and what can be done to protect people on America’s roadways.

* * *

For more information about cab guards and trucking injuries, contact LaBarron Boone in our Montgomery office at Labarron.Boone@beasleyallen.com, Chris Glover in our Atlanta office at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com, or call us at 800-898-2034.

Visit BeasleyAllen.com next Wednesday, June 21, for another installment in our Cab Guard Series.

Sources:
U.S. Patent
Federal Register
FMCSA – Cargo Securement Rules
Congressional Hearing – 1993

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

DOJ: Wells Fargo whistleblower case should be reassessed

posted on:
June 13, 2017

author:
Larry Golston

category:
Fraud

larry golston1 DOJ: Wells Fargo whistleblower case should be reassessedTwo whistleblowers who filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against Wells Fargo accusing the bank of engaging in improper mortgage practices may get another chance to argue their case in court.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a friend-of-the-court brief on June 6 encouraging the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to revise the legal analysis it made last year when it dismissed the case.

According to Reuters, plaintiffs Paul Bishop and Robert Kraus filed the False Claims Act lawsuit in 2011, accusing the bank of obtaining Federal Reserve loans on multiple occasions while it was in violation of federal regulations.

The San Francisco Business Times elaborates, reporting that Wachovia Bank, which Wells Fargo acquired amid the financial crisis of 2008, misled federal regulators by hiding billions of dollars in losses when applying for Federal Reserve loans, according to the whistleblower complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that Wachovia’s Federal Reserve loans were obtained while moving records to an off-balance-sheet entity designed to make Wachovia’s books look better by hiding billions in losses, the San Francisco Business Times reported. This offshore entity was called the “Black Box” by Wachovia executives.

The False Claims Act lawsuit does not relate to complaints accusing Wells Fargo of opening millions of fake accounts for its customers without their authorization.

Mr. Bishop and Mr. Kraus allege that they were fired in retaliation for speaking out against Wells Fargo’s unlawful activity to their superiors.

The Justice Department’s filing trails a Supreme Court ruling in February that also asked the appeals court to review and modify its decision in the case.

* * *

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Sources:
Reuters
San Francisco Business Times

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

BNSF Railroad whistleblower awarded $147K in retaliation case

posted on:
June 8, 2017

author:
Lance Gould

category:
Fraud

lance gould2 BNSF Railroad whistleblower awarded $147K in retaliation caseA whistleblower who allegedly was fired in retaliation for reporting railroad track defects to management at BNSF Railway Company will receive more than $147,000 in back pay and damages.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said BNSF’s actions in firing the track inspector for reporting track defects violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act’s whistleblower protections. The agency ordered the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad company to take a number of corrective measures in addition to compensating the whistleblower.

“BNSF employees have the right to protect their safety and that of other employees and the public without fear of retaliation by their employer,” said Gregory Baxter, regional OSHA administrator in Denver. “Our investigation and our actions on this worker’s behalf underscore the agency’s commitment to take vigorous action to protect workers’ rights.”

Denver’s CBS4 News reported that the whistleblower, identified as Brandon Fresque, had to ride the rails every day looking for track defects. Last year, after finding safety defects on the tracks and reporting them to his supervisor, Mr. Fresque was told to falsify his report.

Mr. Fresque told CBS4 that a confrontation ensued shortly after he was told to falsify the report, and that he was “removed from service and later fired.”

“Freight trains filled with flammable cargo can also turn into rolling bombs in a derailment,” CBS4 reported. Track defects are the second leading cause of rail accidents after human error.

Mr. Fresque and his lawyer told CBS 4 BNSF pushes to keep trains moving despite rail problems.

“They are not in the business of taking tracks out of service, so the longer they can delay that, the more trains they can run and the more money they can make,” Mr. Fresque’s attorney said.

From October 2007 through June 2015, OSHA regulators received more than 2,000 complaints of retaliation filed by railroad industry employees. In fact, about 70 percent of whistleblower complaints in the period of time were made against U.S. railroads, with BNSF and Union Pacific receiving the lion’s share of those complaints.

* * *

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Sources:
OSHA
CBS Denver 4

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.
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