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In a victory for Dreamers, court blocks implementation of Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA until a final decision is reached in the litigation

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – joined by the Attorneys General for Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as the University of California, individual Dreamers and other plaintiffs – obtained a preliminary injunction against the Trump

Administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The ruling in the District Court for the Northern District of California blocks the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA while the underlying case continues. The Court determined that the merits of California’s case are strong, that there would be immediate harm if the Administration’s plan to terminate DACA were to proceed, and that the public interest is served by prohibiting the Administration from ending DACA before the legal issues are ruled on.

“Dreamers’ lives were thrown into chaos when the Trump Administration tried to terminate the DACA program without obeying the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Tonight’s ruling is a huge step in the right direction. America is and has been home to Dreamers who courageously came forward, applied for DACA and did everything the federal government asked of them. They followed DACA’s rules, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America. We will fight at every turn for their rights and opportunities so they may continue to contribute to America.”

In November 2017, Attorney General Becerra filed a motion seeking this preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration over its decision to end DACA. In that motion, Attorney General Becerra set forth the federal government’s violations of the United States Constitution and federal laws designed to ensure that our government treats everyone fairly and transparently.  California and the other plaintiffs in this action have continued to emphasize that terminating the program is causing irreparable harm to DACA recipients as well as to the States and communities in which they live. Continue Reading »

California self-storage clerk, fired for being pregnant, walks away with $1.3 million.

Oakland, CAWhen Eva O’Brien told her boss she was pregnant, he went nuts. He yelled, threw papers, made rude comments about her big belly and breast feeding. Then got in really close to ask if she wanted to quit. She didn’t and things got worse. Lower-paid hourly employees are among the most vulnerable and the least likely to file lawsuits, even in response to outrageous conduct. California wrongful termination law can protect workers like Eva under the “wrongful termination in violation of public policy” provision. But these lawsuits take endurance.

Bad to worse

The events suggest that Dennis Baca, Eva’s boss, wanted her to quit so that he would not have to pay unemployment. He collected her facility keys and prohibited her from using the computer, answering the phone, or collecting rental checks, which was her usual job. Her new task was to clean the office, including windows and toilets. She was often sent home early.

Feeling that her schedule and earnings were completely uncertain, she filed a claim with the California Employment Development Department for reduction in hours. She was fired, and her time records were forged to indicate that she resigned.

Eva filed suit under the provisions of the California Labor Code claiming sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, failure to pay wages and overtime, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The last is a rapidly developing aspect of California wrongful termination law that may give greater protection to California workers. Continue Reading »

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has settled a civil lawsuit against former Maywood Councilman Sergio Calderon that alleged he held two public offices at the same time which violated state law.

Trial was set for Jan. 25 but Calderon agreed to resign from the Maywood City Council in exchange for a dismissal of the lawsuit against him. Calderon also agreed that he would not be a Maywood councilmember, or hold public office in any capacity in Maywood, while concurrently sitting on the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) board.

Calderon resigned from the Maywood City Council on Dec. 13 and the lawsuit was dismissed at the request of the District Attorney’s Office on Dec. 26.

In November 2016, the District Attorney’s Office filed the lawsuit, alleging that holding both offices at the same time is a conflict of interest and violates state law.

The two positions are incompatible under state law because “the WRD and the City of Maywood have overlapping territory, duties and responsibilities, and a clash of duties is likely to arise in the exercise of both offices simultaneously,” according to the lawsuit. Continue Reading »

CVS Pharmacy, Inc., has agreed to designate two executives who will be accountable for pricing issues in Southern and Northern California under a judgment modifying a 2015 settlement for allegedly overcharging customers at checkout, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The Rhode Island-based company also agreed to pay an additional $551,687 as part of the judgment approved Dec. 20 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White.

The pharmacy chain reached a $2.4 million settlement in May 2015 for allegedly engaging in misleading advertising by charging more than the advertised price for products and failing to give cash back on gift cards less than $10 as required by state law.

The modification to that settlement resulted from new violations discovered by county weights and measures agencies and continuing problems with price accuracy. The judgment added a $485,000 civil penalty that will be equally distributed among the prosecuting agencies in the new matter – the Los Angeles, Riverside and Santa Cruz county district attorney’s offices.

The remaining money will go toward investigative costs and a trust fund used to enforce consumer protection laws. Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $125 million settlement with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), an international financial conglomerate, over misrepresentations about residential mortgage-backed securities sold to California’s public employee and teacher pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, respectively. Mortgage-backed securities are complex investments which include thousands of mortgage loans of potentially varying quality, where the buyer typically relies on assurances that the loans have been carefully screened and are not too risky.

An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office found that the descriptions of these mortgage-backed securities to investors failed to accurately disclose the true characteristics of many of the underlying mortgages, and that due diligence to remove poor quality loans from the investments was not adequately performed. RBS was aware of the misrepresentations but failed to correct them. This resulted in millions in losses to CalPERS and CalSTRS.

“RBS decided to mislead California’s pension funds in order to line its own pockets – plain and simple,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today’s settlement returns to our pension funds, which hardworking Californians rely on upon retirement, money that RBS wrongfully took from them.”

The settlement with RBS is the latest action by the California Department of Justice to recover losses suffered during the financial crisis and to hold accountable the institutions that contributed to it. Continue Reading »

Kmart Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation (SHC), has agreed to pay $32.3 million to the United States to settle allegations that in-store pharmacies in Kmart stores failed to report discounted prescription drug prices to Medicare Part D, Medicaid, and TRICARE, the health program for uniformed service members and their families, the Justice Department announced today.

The agreement resolves allegations arising from a lawsuit brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring an action on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.  The 2008 lawsuit, which was filed by James Garbe in the federal district in Los Angeles and later transferred to the Southern District of Illinois, alleged that Kmart pharmacies offered discounted generic drug prices to cash-paying customers through various club programs but knowingly failed to disclose those prices when reporting to federal health programs its usual and customary prices, which are typically used by those programs to establish reimbursement rates.

“Pharmacies that are not fully transparent about drug pricing can cause federal health programs to overpay for prescription drugs.” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement should put pharmacies on notice that there will be consequences if they attempt to improperly increase payments from taxpayer-funded health programs by masking the true prices that they charge the general public for the same drugs.”

“Pharmacies and other providers who receive funds from taxpayers have a duty to follow the law,” said U.S. Attorney Donald S. Boyce for the Southern District of Illinois.  “If healthcare providers do not provide fair and transparent pricing as required under the law, the False Claims Act allows the government and whistleblowers to ensure that the Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE programs are made whole.” Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $13.5 million multistate settlement with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI) for its deceptive and misleading representation and off-label marketing of its prescription drugs. California will receive $857,000. The settlement resolves allegations that BIPI misled the public about the uses and efficacy of prescription drugs, including Micardis, Aggrenox, Atrovent, and Combivent.

The settlement comes after a multistate investigation found that BIPI engaged in deceptive practices. BIPI represented that its prescription drugs had sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses and benefits that they did not have. For example, BIPI engaged in off-label marketing and promoted its drugs to treat life-threatening conditions, such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and strokes, without evidence to substantiate their claims.

“It is unacceptable for any drug company to put profits over patient health,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Everyone deserves to have accurate and medically-sound information about the medicines they are prescribed. This settlement serves as a reminder that using deceptive and unlawful tactics to promote drugs is not acceptable.” Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration over its decision to suspend the Waste Prevention Rule. The Rule went into effect on January 17, 2017 but was illegally suspended by the Trump Administration on December 8, 2017. The Rule requires oil and natural gas producers to cut wasteful leakage of methane on federal lands. In the lawsuit, Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas underscored that suspending key provisions of the Rule would be arbitrary and capricious as well as contrary to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) statutory mandate to prevent waste and ensure the safe and responsible development of oil and gas resources on public lands.

“By suspending the Waste Prevention Rule, the Trump Administration is effectively threatening the health of our families and our environment,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice won’t stand by and subscribe to this blatant violation of our laws. We are committed to defending the Waste Prevention Rule.”

Since December 2016, California and New Mexico have been defending the Waste Prevention Rule from legal challenges brought in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming by industry groups and the States of Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and Texas. On July 5, 2017, Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for illegally delaying the implementation of the Rule. On October 4, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the two state Attorneys General, forcing the Administration to immediately implement the Rule. The next day, BLM published a notice of proposed rulemaking in hopes of suspending this critical environmental measure.

A copy of the complaint filed by Attorneys General Becerra and Balderas is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.

Attachment Size
Waste Rule Suspension Complaint FILED.pdf 669.83 KB

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra / Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Washington, DCA supreme court ruling in an ERISA lawsuit concerning the statute of limitations pertaining to plaintiffs claims, namely, Tibble, et al vs. Edison International, et al, has found the VP of human resources liable of a fiduciary breach.

The lawsuit was filed in 2007 by former employees of Midwest Generation LLC, a subsidiary of Southern California Edison Company (SCE), against the plaintiffs, SCE, parent company Edison International, Edison International Trust Investment Committee, SCE Benefits Committee, SCE’s vice president of human resources and others involved in overseeing the funds, alleging violations of their fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The ERISA class action lawsuit asserted the management of the employees 401(k) plans were mishandled, which cost them in excess of $7 million. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged plan administrators bought retail shares in March 1999 instead of institutional shares, which would have incurred lower fees. They also alleged SCE used monies from the retail shares to offset plan management costs charged by its record-keeper, Hewitt Associates, LLC.

While a lower court ruled three of the funds invested after 2001 should have been purchased as institutional shares, it also ruled that the statute of limitations applied to some of the claims. Continue Reading »

Oakland, CAAs Monsanto Roundup lawsuits continue to percolate at the behest of plaintiffs alleging the popular herbicide and its primary ingredient causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, details have emerged with regard to an intense campaign by the manufacturer to discredit scientists.

Monsanto Roundup is a widely-used weed killer deployed by farmers, gardeners, landscapers and private citizens. Its reach is global, and there is little debate as to its effectiveness at ridding crops, greenspace and varieties of gardens of unwanted growth.

Its safety, however has been the subject of much debate, especially after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an affiliation of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued an opinion in March of 2015 about the possibility that Monsanto Roundup causes cancer, and its’ probability as a human carcinogen.

Monsanto, it has been reported, quickly mounted a rebuttal attempting to debunk the findings of the international scientists involved. Detailing the issue was a series of investigative articles published in Le Monde (06/02/17) in France this past June that were recently translated into English and reprinted by Environmental Health News (11/20/17) last month.

While American scientists were spared, according to Le Monde, letters were sent to international scientists who participated in the forums that led to the IARC finding, politely ordering the experts to submit their files – or, at the very least preserve their documents for pending Monsanto lawsuits. Continue Reading »

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