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Fresno, CAThe manufacturer of Monsanto Roundup is not taking any assertion, accurate or otherwise that Roundup causes cancer, lying down. To that end, Monsanto Co. has joined forces with other agricultural industry groups in a lawsuit aimed squarely at the State of California and the identification by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that a key ingredient in Roundup is known to cause cancer.

To that end, there are several plaintiffs who have filed Monsanto Roundup lawsuits alleging that glyphosate is a carcinogen – specifically, a trigger for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. While various studies have straddled the fence with regard to a conclusive determination that glyphosate is cancerous, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an offshoot of the World Health Organization, published findings in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

The Monsanto lawsuit brought against the State of California notes that the OEHHA had previously determined that glyphosate was not a carcinogen, but reversed its stance when the IARC determination was released.

Roundup, perhaps the most prolific weed killer in the world, can be legally sold and deployed in California in spite of the cancer allegation. However a State initiative known as Proposition 65 requires that products containing chemicals that pose a public health hazard carry warning labels. Further, according to Law360 (11/15/17) and the lawsuit itself, some IARC determinations automatically require a hazard listing with the OEHHA.

“A listing…[sic] is automatically required even if IARC is absolutely alone in its views, as is the case here where IARC’s conclusion is opposed by every global regulatory body that has examined the issue, including OEHHA itself,” the Monsanto lawsuit said. Continue Reading »

LOS ANGELES – Four San Diego-area nursing homes owned by Los Angeles-based Brius Management Co. have agreed to pay as much as $6.9 million to resolve civil allegations that their employees paid kickbacks for patient referrals and submitted fraudulent bills to government health care programs.

The settlement with the four nursing homes resolves an investigation into allegations that their employees paid kickbacks to discharge planners at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego to induce patient referrals to the nursing homes in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

The investigation examined additional allegations made in a “whistleblower” lawsuit that the nursing homes submitted false claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for services provided to patients referred from Scripps Mercy Hospital. Bills submitted for patients referred as a result of illegal kickbacks would constitute fraud against the United States and the State of California.

The four nursing homes involved in the settlement are: Point Loma Convalescent Hospital, Brighton Place – San Diego, Brighton Place – Spring Valley, and Amaya Springs Health Care Center in Spring Valley.

These same four nursing homes entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) with the United States Attorney’s Office in San Diego in 2016. In the DPAs, the four entities admitted that nursing home employees conspired to pay kickbacks without the knowledge of Brius Management Co. The nursing homes admitted that their employees used corporate credit cards to pay for gift cards, massages, tickets to sporting events, and a cruise on the Inspiration Hornblower that were given to planners at Scripps Mercy Hospital as kickbacks. Continue Reading »

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has obtained an additional $5.4 million for servicemembers whose vehicles were unlawfully repossessed by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The bank, which does business under the name Wells Fargo Dealer Services, has agreed to pay this money to approximately 450 servicemembers under a 2016 settlement that resolved the department’s SCRA lawsuit against the company. This additional amount brings the total compensation under the settlement to more than $10.1 million and the total number of servicemembers eligible for relief to more than 860.

On Sept. 29, 2016, the department filed a complaint in United States v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., d/b/a Wells Fargo Dealer Services in United States District Court in Los Angeles, alleging that Wells Fargo repossessed 413 vehicles of SCRA-protected servicemembers without court orders between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 1, 2015. On the same day, the department agreed to a settlement that required Wells Fargo to pay $10,000 to each of the affected servicemembers, plus any lost equity in the vehicle with interest. Wells Fargo was also required to pay a $60,000 civil penalty to the United States and repair the credit of all affected servicemembers. At the time of the settlement, the department announced that 413 servicemembers were eligible to receive compensation.

Since entering into the settlement with the department in September 2016, Wells Fargo has identified additional violations affecting approximately 450 servicemembers that occurred during the period covered by the settlement. Wells Fargo has begun to provide over $5.4 million in compensation to these additional servicemembers under the agreement. Together with the compensation previously announced by the department in September 2016, a total of more than 860 servicemembers and their co-borrowers are eligible to receive $10,183,950.

“Just a few days ago, we observed Veterans Day to honor those who have served our country so bravely,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to honor their service throughout the year by vigorously enforcing servicemembers’ rights under federal law. The men and women of our armed forces should be able to devote their full attention to their military duties, without having to worry about their cars being repossessed back home. We are pleased that our settlement agreement has ensured that hundreds of additional servicemembers will be compensated for the damages they suffered as a result of illegal auto repossessions.” Continue Reading »

Los Angeles, CALabor industry watchers in the State of California opine that even as California observes what are described as very protective labor laws, and in some cases more protective of workers than corresponding federal labor laws, there are nonetheless employers who will risk litigation in exchange for saving money by shortchanging their workers, regardless of the resources of the employer. To that end, a California labor lawsuit has been filed against the operators of a high-end resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Los Angeles Times (10/19/17) reports that two employees of the Terranea Resort have launched litigation alleging violations of California labor code on the part of their employer. Named plaintiffs Galen Landsberg and Marvin Ivarenga are reportedly hoping to see their lawsuit certified as a class action, thus representing about 600 other employees who also work at the resort.

The California labor employment law complaint, filed in September, asserts employees are working off the clock and thus, are missing out on wages due. Plaintiffs assert they are made to report to a remote parking lot well away from the resort grounds in order to catch a shuttle bus upon which they are transported to the facility for the day. In so doing, they are made to report to the rendezvous point upwards of 30 minutes prior to the start of their shift, and are not compensated for that time.

The resort offers no other alternative to accessing the resort for employees. “We can’t park on public streets in the neighborhoods surrounding the hotel,” said plaintiff Landsberg, in comments published in the Los Angeles Times, “because Terranea security patrols these areas and the hotel will give you a write-up if they find your car parked there,” he said. Continue Reading »

Oakland, CAThe next twelve months will be critical for Mirena IUS (Intrauterine System) contraceptive plaintiffs currently engaged in a Multi-District Litigation lawsuit against Bayer alleging the hormone coated device leads to an intracranial condition with the potential to cause permanent blindness in some users.

“This is a very serious condition and for the most part we are talking about young women,” says Elise Sanguinetti. Sanguinetti represents a number of women in the MDL and is the managing attorney at Khorrami LLP in Oakland, California.

The Mirena IUS was held out by Bayer to be a safe and effective method of birth control but MDL claims filed by at least 200 against Bayer claim that they suffered pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), also known as intracranial hypertension (IH), after having the birth control device inserted into their uterus.

According to the peer-reviewed scientific evidence put forward, women using the IUS hormone coated device have experienced severe headaches and vision loss as a result of a buildup of spinal fluid. Other signs and symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, neck stiffness, nausea or vomiting and ringing in the ears. Mirena users may also experience weight gain.

The Mirena intrauterine system was first approved by the FDA in 2000 and approved again for women with heavy menstrual periods in 2009. An estimated 2 million women in the US use the device and a further 15 million women around the world use the IUS as a birth control method. Continue Reading »

Crystal Castles songwriter Ethan Kath is suing his former bandmate Alice Glass after she alleged he raped and abused her.

Kath whose real name is Claudio Palmieri, 34, is suing Glass, 29, for defamation after she wrote in a lengthy blog post last week.

‘Over a period of many months, he (Kath) gave me drugs and alcohol and had sex with me in an abandoned room at an apartment he managed. It wasn’t always consensual and he remained sober whenever we were together,’ Glass wrote.

‘He became physically abusive. He held me over a staircase and threatened to throw me down it. He picked me up over his shoulders and threw me onto concrete. He took pictures of my bruises and posted them online,’ she alleged.

Glass claims Kath became more controlling as their success grew, starting with the release of their first EP in 2006. Continue Reading »

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas, in a joint prosecution with Contra Costa District Attorney (CCDA) Diana Becton, has obtained nationwide restitution and a $1.3 million consumer protection settlement against 24 Hour Fitness, Inc., (24 Hour) resolving allegations of misleading and unfair business practices relating to the company’s sale of prepaid membership contracts. The contracts required large up-front fees in exchange for low guaranteed annual renewal rates that 24 Hour began raising in 2015, which was allegedly contrary to what was promised to the prepaid members by 24 Hour sales representatives. The settlement was filed yesterday in Orange County Superior Court and awaits signature by a judge.

Deceptive Practices

24 Hour Fitness is headquartered in San Ramon, California, and has over 400 membership fitness gyms in 18 states, including 140 locations in California. The allegations against 24 Hour Fitness state:

  • Between 2006 and 2009, 24 Hour sold prepaid memberships in a false and misleading manner when 24 Hour sales representatives took large up-front fees for an initial two or three year membership period. They represented that by doing so, the member would be guaranteed a low life-time annual renewal rate for life, so long as the member remained in good standing by paying their annual renewal fee on time. Continue Reading »

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas obtained a $13.9 million settlement in a civil lawsuit againstGeneral Motors LLC (GM) alleging GM endangered motorists and the public by intentionally concealing serious safety defects in GM vehicles to avoid the cost of a recall or replacing defective parts. The settlement was filed in Orange County Superior Court on Oct. 24, 2017, and was signed today by The Honorable Kim Dunning. The 2014 complaint stated that GM endangered the public through deception regarding vehicle safety and reliability and gained advantage over its competitors by engaging in unfair business practices. At least 124 people died, and 275 were injured, as a result of these failures. On behalf of the State of California, the California Attorney General settled a separate multistate lawsuit and received $7 million earlier in October 2017.

“In Orange County and California, our cars we drive must be safe; even if we are not driving a GM car, we rely on the safety of other cars on the road. Second to our homes, our cars must carry precious cargo and hold value for resale,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “We must protect our consumers from businesses that put profits over people by keeping cars on roads safe and avoiding preventable accidents. We must also encourage all businesses to be fair and live up to safety standards, and must not allow those engaging in unfair practices to punish those businesses that don’t cut corners by compromising safety. All businesses should be held to competing fairly.”

Deceptive Practices Continue Reading »

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $220 million multistate settlement with Deutsche Bank for fraudulent conduct involving the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). LIBOR is the rate at which banks lend money to one another. It is a key financial tool that determines interest rates for many financing mechanisms, including government and corporate bonds. Deutsche Bank colluded with other banks to skew borrowing rates in its favor, illegally profiting on contracts with municipalities linked to LIBOR. This unlawful strategy resulted in a sharp increase in profits for Deutsche Bank at the expense of government entities and non-profit organizations in California and throughout the country. Through the settlement announced today, California governmental and non-profit entities that invested with Deutsche Bank will receive approximately $29 million.

“During the financial crisis, Deutsche Bank was consumed with increasing its profits at the expense of Californians,” said Attorney General Becerra. “They manipulated interest rates hoping to turn a quick profit. In the process, they left government entities and non-profits in California hanging out to dry. This conduct is unacceptable and it is illegal. Banks and financial institutions do not get to play fast and loose with the law.”

The investigation was led by the attorneys general of California and New York and conducted by a working group of 43 other attorneys general: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Attorney General Becerra’s investigation into the conduct of several other banks involved in setting LIBOR is ongoing. A copy of the settlement agreement is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news. Continue Reading »

The ruling marks the latest setback facing women and family members who accuse J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products

A California judge on Friday threw out a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using its talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

The ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson marked the latest setback facing women and family members who accuse J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.

The decision followed a jury’s decision in August to hit J&J with the largest verdict to date in the litigation, awarding California resident Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

Nelson on Friday reversed the jury verdict and granted J&J’s request for a new trial. Nelson said the August trial was underpinned by errors and insufficient evidence on both sides, culminating in excessive damages.

Mark Robinson, who represented the woman in her lawsuit, in a statement said he would file an appeal immediately. Continue Reading »

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