And this one’s dirty. Shitty, actually. Literally. A former Merrill Lynch financial adviser who decided to relieve himself in the woods behind a bar has filed a lawsuit against the city of Mount Dora and the police officer who cited him for disorderly conduct in 2010. Elvan Moore is alleging his civil rights were violated through the enforcement of a “careless and reckless policy” and that the charges resulted in him losing his job at ML.
OK—my first question—what was the police officer doing in the woods? Answer—he followed Moore out the bar. Ok that’s just weird. According to the officer, he followed Moore out the bar and into woods where he saw him squatting and next to a broken-down car and noted the strong odor of feces. Really—didn’t the cop have anything better to do? Mount Dora’s finest?
Moore is alleging that the charges are bogus, as he was vomiting not defecating (does the exit point really make a difference?) as a result of some vitamins he had taken. Apparently he was also prepared—as the police officer saw that Moore had paper napkins with him.
Now, disorderly conduct, it turns out, is a vague beast. Florida’s disorderly conduct statute includes acts that “corrupt the public morals or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” You could pretty much write your own ticket based on that description. Interestingly, the charges were eventually dropped… BUT—they are a matter of public record and that is why Moore has his knickers in a knot.
Moore’s lawsuit claims the officer’s allegations caused him to lose his job at ML, and suffer damages to his reputation, as well as embarrassment and humiliation. Hard to avoid, I would think. And he does have legal recourse through a statute commonly used for police brutality.
The city of Mount Dora has not come clean on how it plans to handle the lawsuit. Moore is seeking over $15,000 in damages.
Is the fountain of youth cancer-inducing? Possibly…at least according to a dangerous drugs class action lawsuit filed this week against Allergan Inc’s subsidiary SkinMedica Inc. The lawsuit claims that the cosmeceutical company withheld information from consumers regarding its anti-aging creams specifically, that they contain human foreskin cells, and that these creams pose a risk for cancer.
Filed by plaintiff Josette Ruhnke, the complaint alleges that the sale of SkinMedica Inc.’s line of “Tissue Nutrient Solution” (TNS) products containing the compound “NouriCel” is illegal, because the products haven’t received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case can go forward.
According to the complaint, TNS products are marketed for “skin rejuvenation” purposes. However, they contain a proprietary mix of human growth factors that originate from human foreskin tissue. The products are trademarked as NouriCel. The TNS creams have the ability to initiate cell division, which, according to Ruhnke’s complaint, are thought to contribute to the growth of tumor cells or other abnormalities.
The complaint, filed in 2013, also claims that, in addition to lacking FDA approval, SkinMedica had not performed required controlled safety studies before marketing TNS products. Judge Carter rejected arguments from SkinMedica that TNS products aren’t drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the growth factors they contain are “naturally occurring.”
“SkinMedica promotes TNS Products as ‘cosmeceuticals’ containing a mix of endogenous ‘growth factors’ for skin rejuvenation. The term ‘cosmeceutical’ conveys that a product is both a cosmetic and pharmaceutical,” Judge Carter wrote. “A product which occurs naturally or is derived from natural ingredients is capable of regulation as a drug.”
Additionally, Judge Carter noted that the creator of NouriCel has stated that more double-blind and controlled studies are needed to confirm the preliminary clinical effects of growth factor products. Judge Carter also cited the fact that the complaint stated that the two FDA-approved products on the market containing human growth factors provide prominent safety warnings the TNS products lack.
“The thrust of defendants’ argument is essentially that the evidence does not support plaintiff’s claim,” Judge Carter wrote. “Plaintiff’s allegations, taken as true, suggest that there are serious safety concerns associated with TNS Products.”
The case is Josette Ruhnke v. SkinMedica Inc., et al, case number 8:2014-cv-00420, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
It seems that growing old gracefully may be vastly underrated.
Hotels less than Hospitable? What would TWA be without our weekly update on unpaid wages and overtime class action lawsuits. This week, workers at the Hilton and Marriott properties filed against Intermountain Management LLC alleging the company failed to pay overtime and other wages due to employees. The lawsuit contends that Intermountain Management misclassified its current and former workers so as to make them exempt from payment for overtime and wages and missed rest and meal breaks.
Further, former Intermountain manufacturing engineer Indica Heredia, who filed the lawsuit, alleges the company failed to pay all wages due to employees when they were terminated.
“Intermountain routinely understaffs knowing that scheduled shifts will not permit employees to take their legal meal and rest periods and will require them to work through meal and rest periods as well as off the clock,” the complaint states. Heredia alleges the Louisiana-based hospitality management company had a policy of making its employees work five-hour shifts or longer without a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours or compensation for the missed break and didn’t pay all wages due to ex-employees when they were terminated.
Heredia performed routine system testing on Intermountain products, among other duties, and claims he was misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation in violation of California labor law, the complaint states. The lawsuit proposes the class would include current and former hourly, nonexempt employees who worked in the four years preceding the filing of the complaint at hotels owned, managed or operated by Intermountain in California, including Residence Inn, Courtyard Inn, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites hotels.
The lawsuit alleges Intermountain Management violated California labor law, specifically that the class, consisting of at least several-hundred employees, was not paid all regular and overtime wages, given meal and rest periods, or provided wage statements and personnel records.
Heredia seeks unpaid wages at time-and-a-half or double-time rates for all overtime work, as well as damages and penalties and a declaratory judgment against the company.
The case is Indica Heredia v. Intermountain Management LLC et al., case number 5:14-cv-04006, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
They owe, they owe—so off to court they go…
And while we’re on the subject of unpaid wages …
Hip-Hip-Hooray! A $1.25 million settlement has been reached in the landmark unpaid wages class action pending against the Oakland Raiders football team. The employment lawsuit was filed by the Oakland Raiders’ Cheerleaders alleging wage theft and other unfair employment practices.
If approved, the NFL cheerleader settlement would cover 90 cheerleaders who worked for the Raiders between 2010 and 2013 seasons. The Raiderettes would receive an average of $2,500 to $6,000 per season, depending on which seasons they worked, according to a joint statement by the parties.
Under the deal, Lisa T. and Sarah G., a second named plaintiff, would each receive a class representative payment of $10,000. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for September 26.
Filed by lead plaintiff and Raiderette “Lacy T., the lawsuit alleged ” in January, alleged that the Raiders withheld all pay from the Raiderettes until after the end of the season, didn’t pay for all hours worked, and forced the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses.
According to the class action, pursuant to their contract, the Raiderettes were each paid $1,250 for working a full season, amounting to less than $5 per hour for the time they spent rehearsing, performing and appearing at events. Further, the lawsuit claimed wages were also withheld until after the end of the season.
The case is Lacy T. et al. v. The Oakland Raiders et al., case number RG14710815, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.
Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!
What’s in your closet? Lindsay Lohan and company, by any chance? Better check behind those suit bags….
No stranger to legal issues (see mug shot, 2013), LiLo has been hit with a cease and desist letter, well, her and her brother (what happened to the father? He’s never far behind) for stealing an idea for a fashion e-commerce site—an idea that involves looking through celebrities closets. It seems LiLo has entered the business world with the same panache she demonstrated in the entertainment arena—if the allegations are true.
The whole business concept is just a tad creepy… the back story is that shortly after Lohan finished her 90 days in rehab last year, she and her brother, Michael Jr. got involved in a fashion start-up—an app that allows people to sift through celebrities virtual closets (e.g. Lohan’s—and, um—I think one could guess—what’s in her closet) to see what designers they’ve bought—so the wannabes can make the same purchases. The app, called Spotted Friend, was the brain child of one Fima Potik, a tech entrepreneur, reportedly.
According to the NewYork Post, where all the good news comes from these days, Lohan tweeted about Spotted Friend in July, 2013. At that time, the website apparently read: “A Fima Potik & Lindsay Lohan Production.”
Cut to July 2104, Page Six reported that Lohan’s younger brother was raising money for Vigme, a “social shopping community.” He said, “If Lindsay buys something, it goes into her [virtual] closet. People see what’s in her closet. If someone else buys [the same item], it puts money into Lindsay’s pocket.” I guess every penny helps—rehab’s not cheap these days…
But—Potik’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, is not buying, and LiLo, Michael Jr. and business partner Christopher Roth (not sure where he came from) are facing a cease-and-desist letter from Potik, in which Kasowitz wrote, “Prior to their involvement in Vigme, [the Lohans and Roth] were members of Spotted Friend LLC, a social commerce startup that was founded by Fima Potik in 2013. It is Mr. Potik—not the Lohans—that created and developed the idea for a mobile application that allows users to access celebrities’ and friends’ ‘virtual closets’ and to directly purchase fashion items and accessories from these ‘virtual closets.’ I’m having massive Facebook déjà vu here…
“In 2014, after being members of the company for over a year, without any warning, the Lohans and Mr. Roth launched a competing company and improperly took proprietary information and intellectual property from Spotted Friend to start the new business. We intend to take all action necessary . . . to protect Spotted Friend’s and Mr. Potik’s legal rights and commercial interests.”
Not surprisingly, Lohan’s attorney, Mark J. Heller, fired back with: “Allegations of any impropriety in Lindsay Lohan’s business relationship concerning this Web site are inaccurate and clearly designed to capitalize on her worldwide recognition as a fashion icon.” Worldwide fashion icon? What the best dressed wear in rehab these days? Ok—who’s on drugs here?
Spotted Friend is still up and running as of post time—and from the looks of it, it would seem that piggybacking on the coattails of others is nothing new to the whole lot of these folks–Potik included. How’s that? The opening splashscreen at Spotted Friend is actually a “Google” search screen (below). Any one run that by Google’s legal team? (just asking…)
Conversely, the folks at Vigme are still gearing up for an “Expected Launch – Winter 2014″ according to their LinkedIn page. We’re waiting with bated breath, of course.
I don’t know—the whole thing has me longing for the days when fashion came out of 7th Ave, vs. a dive bar in West Hollywood. But hey, if there’s a lawsuit, it could end up being more profitable than the app could ever be. Especially for those lawyers…
Kinda hard to think about this case—which we all knew would be coming down the pike—without thinking of the likes of RuPaul. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
South Carolina’s DMV is being sued by a boy and his mother over the 16-year old’s right to wear his “everyday” makeup for his driver’s licence photo. In her lawsuit, Teresa Culpepper alleges the SCDMV told her son to remove his mascara for the photo. When he refused, the SCDMV refused to take the photo, citing a policy that a driver’s license applicant cannot “purposely alter his/her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his/her identity.”
OK—so where does that leave all us lipstick-loving, hair-colored, false eyelash-wearing women? And what about wigs—how does that work? And what about women who wear trousers? Wow, what a can of worms…
The back story: earlier this year Chase Culpepper reportedly showed up for his DL photo wearing foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and lip gloss—you might have seen Chase’s pic splattered across the news at the time. Makeup’s everyday stuff for most women—part of the external persona. According to Chase’s mum, the makeup and androgynous gender performance are part of Chase’s identity. Although Chase was born male, he wears gender non-conforming clothes and makeup.
Teresa Culpepper states that her son passed his driving test and satisfied all other requirements for a license. The only obstacle was the interpretation of the SCDMV’s policy by an employee at the Anderson office of the DMV. Apparently, a DMV employee complimented Chase on his makeup, but said he would not be able to wear fake eyelashes in the picture. “C.C. [Chase Culpepper] and his mother informed her that his eye lashes were real,” Culpepper states in her complaint.
“The employee then said she needed to speak with a supervisor and left to do so. She returned and told C. C. that her supervisor had stated that he needed to ‘go home’ and ‘take off the makeup.’ C. C. and his mother informed the employee that C. C. wears makeup daily and that how he looked at the time is how he looks on a regular basis,” according to the complaint.
Tammy King, the manager of the SCDMV’s Anderson office and the named defendant, then allegedly told the Culpeppers that “C. C. could not take his driver’s license photograph while wearing his regular everyday makeup,” because “it was in her ‘discretion’ to not allow C. C. to have his driver’s license photo taken if she felt he was wearing a disguise.”
Wait a minute—hadn’t they just explained all this?
“C. C.’s mother asked defendant King if a female applicant seeking a driver’s license wearing makeup of the kind C. C. was wearing, i.e., foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and lip gloss, was required to remove her makeup prior to taking a photograph for a driver’s license.
“Defendant King did not respond to plaintiff’s question,” Culpepper says. No, probably because there is no answer.
Lots to ponder here, folks…If a woman wears makeup to look more feminine, it’s not gender-bending, right? But if a man wears makeup…? If RuPaul is highly established as a drag queen (ie, a man doing some gender-bending via cosmetics), which of his/her personas gets photographed at the DMV? Is it up to him/her? We’ve got a wealth of fodder right here for when you’re slow on conversation at your next cocktail party.
The complaint goes on: “There is no disputing, and the SCDMV has acknowledged, that C.C. wears makeup on a regular basis.
However, the SCDMV and its employees have interpreted the policy to prohibit a male applicant from wearing regular everyday makeup that they allow female applicants to wear under the same policy.”
Culpepper claims the defendants discriminated against her son because of “their preconceived notion of how males should and can look. This preconceived notion is a sex stereotype and does not constitute a legitimate state interest.” No shit Sherlock.
Predictably, I suppose, the SCDMV’s policy is vague and relies on an interpretation of what “misrepresenting his/her identity” means, leaving the interpretation up to the discretion to SCDMV employees, something that is not allowed in the private sector. So, you ask—what’s the exact policy? Well, there isn’t one. In their suit, the Culpeppers argue that the policy leaves applicants like Chase at the mercy of sex/gender discrimination and sex stereotyping.
As the complaint states: “Defendants impermissibly discriminated against C.C. based on his sex and their sex stereotype…They unconstitutionally restrained C. C.’s freedom of expression and compelled and continue to compel him to convey an ideological message of their design. And they deprived C.C. of his constitutionally protected liberty interest in his personal appearance. Moreover, defendants’ policy is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, enabling SCDMV personnel to make arbitrary and capricious decisions based on their perception of how a particular individual should look as male or female.” Amen to that.
So, Chase Culpepper, better put your best face on because could you could become the poster boy for DMV discrimination.
Gosh—I sure hope this doesn’t translate into a no make-up at all policy… passport photos are bad enough…
You’re in good hands with Allstate? Maybe not so much if you’re a claims adjuster. This week the Insurance giant got a surprise. It’s green lights a go-go for a long-standing unpaid overtime class action against, involving 800 Allstate employees in California who allege Allstate had a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claim adjusters to work unpaid off the-the-clock overtime in violation of California labor law.
The Allstate lawsuit was brought by casualty adjuster Jack Jimenez in 2010, on behalf of any claims adjuster working for the insurer in the state of California since September 29, 2006. The complaint alleges that Allstate’s managers are required to stay within an annual budget that includes overtime compensation, and that the performance evaluations and bonuses paid to managers are dependent on how closely they conform to the budget. This would mean that a manager would have a disincentive to approve and report overtime, the class claims.
The class action alleges that Allstate sees repeated requests for overtime as a performance issue to be addressed with individual workers “including “suggestions” on how a claims adjuster can be better trained on efficiency and alternative methods of getting the work done that do not require overtime. Managers would often see workers performing off-the-clock work outside of their scheduled shifts but not inquire if overtime was requested, the workers say.
The plaintiffs contend Allstate’s allegedly illegal conduct has been widespread and consistent. The class action suit alleges that Allstate had not paid overtime to current and former California-based claims adjusters in violation of California Labor Code and had not paid adjusters for missed meal breaks and that Allstate had not timely paid wages upon termination in violation of the California Labor Code. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Allstate engaged in unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code.
FYI—the case is: Jack Jimenez v. Allstate Insurance Company – CV 10-8486 AHM (FFMx).
How much for that X-Ray? Two Florida women recently filed a class action lawsuit alleges JFK Medical Center and parent company HCA, Inc., are in violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act. Specifically the plaintiffs allege they and others like them were billed exorbitant and unreasonable fees for emergency radiological services covered in part by their Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
Under Florida’s No Fault Car Insurance Law, drivers are required to have $10,000 in PIP insurance, which has a 20 percent out-of-pocket deductible. The complaint, filed in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Hillsborough County, charges JFK Medical Center, of Atlantis, Fla., and other Florida HCA facilities with billing PIP patients’ rates for radiological services that are 20 to 65 times higher than the rates charged for similar services to non-PIP patients.
The lawsuit was brought by Marisela Herrera and Luz Sanchez, both of whom were PIP-covered patients who were treated through JFK Medical Center’s emergency department after their automobile accidents in April 2013 and May 2013, respectively. Herrera and Sanchez each received a CT of the brain for $6,404, a CT scan of the spine for $5,900, and a thoracic spine X-ray for $2,222. Herrera also received a lumbar spine X-ray for $3,359.
According to the South Florida Medicare rate, a standard used for customary and reasonable medical service rates, the brain CT scan provided is $163.96; the cervical spine CT scan, $213.14; and the thoracic spine x-ray, with three views, $38.
The complaint charges that because of the exorbitant rates, both Herrera’s and Sanchez’s $10,000 PIP coverage were prematurely exhausted and both were billed thousands of dollars by JFK Medical Center for radiological services not paid for by their PIP insurers.
The complaint also charges breach of contract since both women entered into a “Condition of Admission” contract that provides that patients must pay their accounts at the rates stated in the hospital’s price list. Neither woman was provided a price list at the time of medical treatment.
Plaintiffs are represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Boldt Law Firm, of Hollywood, FL, and Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., of Lake Worth, FL.
Ah—one ringy dingy—that will be $32 million thank you! That’s right folks—a $32 million settlement has been reached in a Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) class action pending against Bank of America (BofA). The BofA lawsuit claims the bank and FIA Card Services, also a defendant, violated the TCPA when it used automatic telephone dialing systems and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice to contact individuals without obtaining prior express consent from those individuals.
The ruling certifies a class for settlement purposes including all individuals who received allegedly unauthorized automated phone calls from BofA regarding mortgage loan and credit card accounts between 2007 and 2013. The class also includes people who allegedly received unauthorized text messages to their cell phones, between 2009 and 2010. The class is thought to total roughly 7 million members.
The preliminary settlement, if approved, could be an amount the parties claim to be the largest ever obtained in a finalized TCPA settlement, according to an order filed Friday approving the deal.
In addition to the monetary portion of the settlement, Bank of America has improved its servicing systems such that they prevent the calling of a cellphone unless a loan servicing record is systematically coded to reflect the customer’s prior express consent to receive calls via their cell phone.
Ok Folks–time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend—see you at the bar!