C’mon now—you simply cannot make this stuff up. You can’t help but think of “Green Eggs and Ham”, too as you’re thinking about the plaintiff attorney who may have been approached about the pleasure of taking on this baby…”Would you, could you…take on this case?” So here goes…
If at first you don’t succeed…and Nigel Sykes surely has nothing to lose by trying. He apparently doesn’t have an attorney…he’s just filed his fourth complaint against the officers of the Delaware Police department and Seasons Pizza restaurant alleging his civil rights were violated during his attempted robbery of the pizza place. Yep. HIS rights during HIS attempted robbery.
The 23-year old convicted felon is currently serving out his 15-year sentence for robbery and attempted robbery. It seems that in addition to attempting to rob Seasons, he was also linked to 8 other robberies in the area. But I digress.
The subject of Sykes lawsuit is his treatment at the hands of the restaurant employees and the attending police officers. The story goes that on November 30, 2010 Sykes entered Seasons Pizza located in Wilmington, Delaware, armed with a gun. But he hadn’t banked on the employees swinging into action.
According to his complaint, “The defendant handed me $140.” Then, it all went to hell in a handbasket. Sykes alleges he was grabbed by one of the employees as he tried to leave the store. “After a short struggle, the defendants successfully obtained the handgun from me,” the complaint states. “That is when the assault began.”
Sykes alleges the employees punched and kicked him and poured hot soup over his body. Ouch—that’s really gotta hurt. For $140? I don’t think so.
“I was unarmed and defenseless and had to suffer a brutal beating by all the employees of Seasons Pizza,” Sykes wrote. He also claims he was eventually knocked unconscious during which time he was assaulted by three responding Newport Police officers. Vigilantism or responding to a threat? Would depend on which side of the courtroom you’re on, I’m guessing.
In a complaint filed in February 2011, without an attorney, Sykes that he was knocked unconscious at least twice by Seasons’ employees at the restaurant, then tasered several times by the responding police officers. He also alleged that he was led to a police vehicle where he was punched in the stomach and head then slammed against the trunk.
“They handcuffed me behind my back,” Sykes wrote. “I was aroused from my state of unconsciousness only to realize that I was handcuffed and being tasered. I was tasered a total of three consecutive times while handcuffed.” Racial slurs are also alleged.
That complaint was dismissed in May, 2011, but Sykes filed a second amended version in July 2013, having pled guilty to the attempted robbery. That complaint was also dismissed without prejudice. So, in February 2014, he filed the latest version naming Seasons Pizza, the Newport Police Department and three officers rather than the Delaware State Police as defendants. He also alleges in this version that he was denied medical care at the scene despite the presence of paramedics. Nice.
He was seeking compensatory damages, claiming he continues to suffer the effects of the beating, including bruises, headaches, contusions and burns. Specifically, $100,000 from the Newport Police Dept, $60,000 from the three officers, $100,000 from the pizza joint, and $120,000 from six employees at Seasons.
On April 17, the court dismissed the claims made against the Newport Police Dept and one of the officers… but the court has allowed Sykes to proceed on the assault claims against Seasons and its employees, as well as the claims of excessive force brought against two other Newport officers.
This ought to be interesting…
So, who’s lost count of how many defective auto recalls we’re up to now? Here’s a couple more…this time it’s Kia and Lexus…
Surprise! Kia Motors America Inc. got hit with a defective products class action lawsuit this week, filed in California federal court over allegations the car maker failed to disclose a defective brake switch in certain models. The defect can cause the brake light to fail to illuminate and cruise control to remain on, increasing the risk for accidents. Ok—that could be dangerous.
The Kia lawsuit, filed by lead plaintiff William Precht, claims that Kia was aware of the brake switch defect for years, and went as far as to initiate recalls for a number of different models in 2009. The company also initiated recalls in May 2013 which did not include its 2011 Sportage, 2008-2010 Optima and 2008-2011 Sedona vehicles, despite the fact that those models were also affected. Kia allegedly expanded the recall to include the vehicles in November 2013 but did not notify consumers, the complaint states.
According to the lawsuit, “Defendant does not dispute the safety risk caused by the brake switch defect, yet it has not effectuated any purported recall of the class vehicles and has left class members with an acknowledged safety risk and unreimbursed repair bills.”
The backstory—Precht alleges he purchased a new Sportage vehicle in 2011, but began having difficulty engaging the car’s automatic transmission during the winter of 2013. Precht alleges he was repeatedly unable to put the car in gear even after depressing the brake pedal, causing the anti-lock brake and front-wheel drive slippage icons to illuminate on the dash. He claims he was forced to manually access an override in order to place the vehicle into drive again.
According to the complaint, Precht took the car to an authorized Kia repair facility for assistance, only to be told that such repairs were not covered under the warranty, causing him to pay $140 to have the defect repaired.
The lawsuit alleges Kia knowingly hid from consumers that the vehicles’ brake switch contained a defect that leads to brake light failure, cruise control not cancelling with depression of the brake pedal, the push button start not functioning and the shift interlock remaining stuck in park so the vehicle cannot be moved.
The complaint states that once the defect occurs in the cars, it poses a safety risk to both driver and passengers, with the brake light failure increasing the risk of rear-end collision, and the failure of cruise control failure increasing the risk for a front-end collision. Further, if the push button start doesn’t function, the car cannot be shifted into drive or reverse from park, leaving individuals stranded, the lawsuit states.
The defect typically manifests itself shortly after the vehicles’ warranties expire, the suit claims, resulting in the automaker refusing to cover repair costs of an issue it hid from consumers.
The lawsuit is seeking certification of a nationwide class of owners and lessees of the affected models, as well as a Florida subclass, and includes claims for state law violations, breach of warranty and negligence.
The suit is Precht v. Kia Motors America, Inc., case number 8:14-cv-01148, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Lexus—what’s their tagline—something about the relentless pursuit of perfection? They are also facing a defective products class action lawsuit filed by two independent Lexus owners who allege the luxury vehicle company, and its parent, Toyota Motor Corp, sold defective vehicles with interiors that are unable to withstand the Florida heat. Are you kidding?
Nope. The Lexus lawsuit, contends that the dashboards and other, similar interior components of their Lexus vehicles grew sticky, oily, shiny, cracked and otherwise degraded in appearance when exposed to the natural heat and humidity in Florida. Yuk.
The skinny—Daniela Perez and Jesus del Rio allege that Lexus was aware of the problem with the dashboards but refused to make repairs in the affected vehicles once the warranties expired. While Toyota sent out a service bulletin to its dealerships in 2011, alerting dealers to the defect and instructing them to make repairs on the burned dashboards, the dealerships refused to repair damages in vehicles that are no longer covered by the Lexus comprehensive warranty.
Further, Perez and del Rio allege that the vehicles were marketed as being suitable for the climate in Florida yet the product disintegrated in the heat under normal conditions in the vehicles, “These vehicles are marketed as luxury vehicles and as the product of Lexus’ never-ending ‘pursuit of perfection,’” the plaintiffs alleged in the suit, and they state that the dealerships refused to do anything about it. The complaint names two Lexus dealerships, Lexus of Kendall, which serves Miami, Coral Gables and South Florida, and Scanlon Lexus of Fort Myers. It also names Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
The case is Daniela Perez et al. v. GFB Enterprises LLC d/b/a/ Lexus of Kendall et al., in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit In and For Miami-Dade County.
This is just bad all round. A $190 million settlement has been awarded against Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in settlement of a medical malpractice class action lawsuit that alleges a gynecologist secretly photographed his patients. I don’t know—I’m thinking malpractice doesn’t quite get to the heart of this one.
The Johns Hopkins lawsuit, with more than 9,000 plaintiffs, claims that Dr. Nikita Levy used hidden surveillance cameras on his patients, including one hidden in a camera pen.
Levy, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was employed at Johns Hopkins from 1988 to 2013. The lawsuit claimed that the hospital should have been award of what Levy was doing, and that they failed to supervise him properly or investigate him.
In February 2013 Levy was fired from the hospital and just 10 days later he committed suicide.
Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!
It’s a lawsuit brought by a New Jersey doc—a cardiologist at Robert Wood University Hospital—Zyad Younan, just 41-years old and busted. Well, taken to the cleaners more like. Seems when it comes to matters of the heart, he may be a bit more book-smart than street-smart…
Dr. Younan allegedly got done in by a group of girlies who falsely presented themselves as sisters and cousins—and who showed him a good time, which cost him $130K. Oh yes my friends, that old ploy. While he’s presumably not disputing he was up for the party, he is disputing the price, and claims he can’t even remember any of what happened. The lawsuit alleges the girls drugged him during their frivolities. That’s sucks (pardon the pun), so no good memories at all out of this one.
The backstory, a 26-year old brunette bombshell, Karina Pascucci, who claimed to be a “nursing major” but in reality is a former bartender with a couple of years community college under her skirt, made cozy with the good doctor in Manhattan last fall.
“She claimed to be a nursing student who had recently moved back to New York to pursue her education,” the bachelor cardiologist claims in his recently filed lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Pascucci, “the RN-in-training,” pursued the doctor fervently, joining him for a Van Morrison concert at Madison Square Garden and three dinners in Manhattan for “what [Younan] believed were dates.”
Younan claims he did not get suspicious when Pascucci showed up with her gorgeous “cousin” Samantha, and “sister” Kimberly. Really? Like, he didn’t even think to Google any of them? According to the lawsuit, there were other striking women who joined them on the outings as well. OK, I am having a wee bit of difficulty believing he was so believing—although I get the biology behind it.
“Unbeknownst to Younan, Karina along with Marsi, Samantha, [another woman named] Roselyn and Scores [the jiggle joint where the girls work] agreed to participate in a scheme to defraud and steal money from Younan and others by luring them into supposed romantic relationships, then drugging and taking advantage of them by obtaining their credit cards and charging unauthorized amounts,” the lawsuit says.
It took American Express to wake Dr. Younan up. Hey, membership has its privileges. And thankfully AMEX raised that little, “gee, doc, are you sure those purchases are legit?” red flag as it helped kick off an 8-month investigation into the swindling strippers’ M.O.
According to the New York Post, Younan confronted Pascucci, who allegedly tried to blackmail him with video footage of the doctor at Scores. Hey, a girl’s gotta make a living.
But the doc wasn’t having it, according to the lawsuit, despite the best efforts of Samantha Barbash, another alleged ringleader, who tried to persuade Younan to pay the bill, saying, “I thought you were a god? Why would you not wanna pay your bill?” in a Nov. 26, 2013, text message. (New York Post)
A third member of the girl group, Marsi Rosen, sent a message a day later saying, “This isn’t the Zyad I know and love. It’s the holidays babe these poor girls need there [sic] $, have a heart.”
The doctor shot back, “I don’t need to speak with swindlers.” Well done! That’s telling them.
At the moment, Younan is seeking unspecified damages from Pascucci, her colleagues and Scores. And in a crazy twist, the club is suing Younan for the $135K in unpaid bills, which Younan says are false bills.
So, pick your side and lawyer up…. know which one I’d choose.
Suing Subaru… that’s right folks…if you own or lease certain Forester, Legacy, Outback, Impreza and Crosstek models you can join a Subaru class action lawsuit alleging the company knowingly sold vehicles containing a defect that causes the cars to consume excessive amounts of oil. Also known as consumer fraud…
According to the complaint, filed by Lead plaintiffs Keith Yaeger and Michael Schuler, Subaru concealed from consumers the fact that certain Forester, Legacy, Outback, Impreza and Crosstek models have defective piston rings that prevent the engine from maintaining the proper level of oil and cause an abnormal amount of oil consumption, leading to engine failure and increasing the risk of accident.
“Not only did Subaru actively conceal the material fact that particular components within the class vehicles’ engines are defective, they did not reveal that the existence of the defect would diminish the intrinsic and resale value of the class vehicles and lead to the safety concerns described herein,” the lawsuit states.
Yaeger and Schuler bought new Subarus in 2012 and 2013 respectively, after which they independently noticed their new vehicles were consuming engine oil at an “unacceptable” rate. They were forced to add oil to their cars between Subaru’s recommended engine oil change intervals in order to avoid engine failure, the complaint states.
Further, the lawsuit states that both plaintiffs took their vehicles to their Subaru dealerships for repairs, but despite extensive servicing, the Subarus continued to burn through oil rapidly.
The plaintiffs allege Subaru has known of the oil consumption defect in model years 2011-14 Subaru Forester 2.5L, 2013 Legacy 2.5L, 2013 Outback 2.5L, 2012-13 Impreza 2.0L and 2013 XV Crosstek 2.0L vehicles, for some time, through numerous complaints received from dealers and consumers through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Regardless, the lawsuit states, Subaru actively concealed the defect from consumers. The company has also “routinely refused” to repair the vehicles without charge, according to the complaint.
Subaru updated its online information to acknowledge that certain vehicles run through oil quickly, but has not recalled the vehicles to repair the defect, offered its customers a suitable repair or replacement free of charge or offered to reimburse customers who have paid to repair the cars, the lawsuit states.
The putative class alleges violations of New Jersey and California consumer protection laws, breach of express warranty, common law fraud and more. The complaint asks the judge to certify a nationwide class of current or former owners or lessees of the affected vehicles, in addition to California, Florida and New Jersey state subclasses.
The lawsuit is Yaeger et al. v. Subaru of America Inc. et al., case number 1:14-cv-04490, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Overworked and underpaid… The grocery chain Kroger Co. and several of its units are facing a wages and overtime class action lawsuit filed by its delivery drivers in California. According to the putative class in the Kroger lawsuit, the workers weren’t fully paid for the many overtime hours they worked. Know this story?
Defendants Kroger and its units Ralphs Grocery Co., Foods Co. and two Food 4 Less entities allegedly failed to pay more than 1,000 drivers, dispatchers and delivery-support staff wages and overtime, while requiring them to work extra hours the complaint states.
Lead plaintiff, Jesse Blanco, alleges the stores “routinely required plaintiffs to work more than eight hours per day and, in some instances, more than twelve hours per day, and more than forty hours per workweek and, in some instances, seven days for extended, ongoing time periods.” Further, Blanco claims the companies cut wages by rounding time; “failed and refused to pay overtime”; and cheated the workers of meal and rest breaks required by California law.
FYI—the putative class includes all hourly delivery drivers, dispatchers and support staff employed by the stores in the four years leading up to the complaint. The plaintiffs are asking for a permanent injunction, compensatory damages and a variety of penalties. Yeah Baby!
Sony singing the “I will pay you” blues…to the tune of $15 million—at least according to a preliminary settlement reached in the pending data breach class action lawsuit. If approved, the settlement would see $15 million in games and online currency made available to class members as well as identity theft reimbursement. The lawsuit was brought by PlayStation Network (PSN) users affected by a massive 2011 Sony Corp. data breach.
Eligible class members include all persons residing in the US who had a PlayStation Network account or sub-account, a Qriocity account, or a Sony Online Entertainment account at any time prior to May 15, 2011, when it was revealed that hackers had broken into Sony’s network and obtained data on as many as 31 million account holders.
According to the Sony settlement agreement, Sony will provide affected consumers with “various benefits,” depending on the type of accounts they had and if they can prove that their data was misused, to resolve the dispute over the 2011 breach.
Following the discovery of the data breach, Sony offered its PSN users free identity theft protection, among other benefits. However, under the terms of the settlement agreement any class members who didn’t take that deal can choose two items from a mix of games, online display themes and a three-month subscription to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, with a cap set at $6 million.
For those class members who did take Sony’s initial package, they will receive one of the items, with a cap set at $4 million. Class members who weren’t part of PSN but had accounts for a different Sony gaming service will get $4.50 of in-game currency, with a $4 million cap.
Sony agreed to reimburse up to $2,500 per class member for the identity theft claims, up to $1 million. It also allowed users to transfer any unused online currency into cash and give some class members a one-month subscription to its music streaming service.
Sony customers that fall within the class definition will be automatically bound to the settlement unless they opt out. Class members who wish to opt out from the settlement class have 21 days prior to the date of the final fairness hearing in May to notify the court of their intention to opt-out.
The case is In re: Sony Gaming Networks and Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 3:11-md-02258, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Ok Folks—We’re Done Here—Have a wonderful weekend—we’ll see you at the bar!
A roundup of recent asbestos-related news and information that you should be aware of. An ongoing list of reported asbestos hot spots in the US from the Asbestos News Roundup archive appears on our asbestos map.
Many workplaces in the US are now considered to have put workers at high-risk for asbestos exposure—decades ago. These include: US Navy, oil refineries, shipyards, chemical manufacturing facilities, aerospace manufacturing facilities, mines, smelters, coal fired power plants, construction work sites, auto repair shops, plumbers, welders, electricians, and most manufacturing, or industrial plants that were operating in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.
Sadly, many individuals who served in the US Navy, worked at a power plant, an oil refinery, or a shipyard decades ago are now being diagnosed with asbestos disease—the average age of diagnosis of asbestos mesothelioma is 72 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC).
Although strict regulations about the use of asbestos have been put in place, the potential for asbestos exposure remains. In 2009, the CDC reported:
“Although asbestos has been eliminated in the manufacture of many products, it is still being imported (approximately 1,730 metric tons in 2007) and used in the United States in various construction and transportation products. Ensuring a future decrease in mesothelioma mortality requires meticulous control of exposures to asbestos and other materials that might cause mesothelioma. Recent studies suggest that carbon nanotubes (fiber-shaped nanoparticles), which are increasingly being used in manufacturing, might share the carcinogenic mechanism postulated for asbestos and induce mesothelioma, underscoring the need for documentation of occupational history in future cases.” The full report can be accessed at the CDC’s webpage: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5815a3.htm
St. Clair County, IL: A former railroad engineer has filed an asbestos lawsuit alleging he developed lung cancer as a result of career-related asbestos exposure.
Gary W. Davis filed the lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad Company stating that during his 38-year career as a hostler, fireman and engineer for Union Pacific he was exposed to various toxic substances, including asbestos, diesel exhaust, environmental tobacco smoke, silica and creosote, which led to his diagnosis of lung cancer.
As a result of his cancer, Davis suffered great pain and disability, lost his enjoyment of life and suffered mental anguish, the lawsuit states. Further, Davis claims he has suffered extreme nervousness, incurred great costs and lost income as a result of the illness.
He claims the defendant is responsible for causing his injuries, saying it failed to monitor the system to determine whether employees’ exposure to asbestos was below prescribed limits, failed to provide special clothing, failed to collect work environment samples and failed to implement proper engineering controls, among other negligent actions.
Davis is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs. (madisonrecord.com)
Boston, MA: An Oxford environmental company has been sued for allegedly failing to follow proper procedures and safety precautions while removing asbestos-containing materials from a home in Sturbridge, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The lawsuit against Patriots Environmental Corporation, filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, also alleges that the company failed to pay permit fees to the Commonwealth for at least 24 separate projects, as well as a $50,000 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos and hazardous waste violations at other sites.
According to the complaint, in July 2013, Patriots was hired to remove asbestos shingles from the exterior walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge. During the renovation, Patriots allegedly caused the asbestos shingles to break apart, dropping debris onto on the ground and into unsealed plastic bags exposed to the air. Patriots also allegedly failed to wet, cover, or keep in sealed containers the transite asbestos shingles that it removed during the renovation.
Further, the complaint also alleges that Patriots, for at least 25 asbestos removal or construction and demolition projects between November 2012 and December 2013, failed to pay required permit application fees when notifying the Commonwealth of the intended operations. Additionally, Patriots failed to pay a civil administrative penalty of approximately $50,000 assessed by MassDEP against Patriots for its illegal handling of asbestos and hazardous waste at various sites in the Commonwealth in 2008.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for Massachusetts Clean Air Act violations, as well as payment of the outstanding fees and penalties.(mass.gov)
Boston, MA: A $9.3 million settlement has been awarded by a Massachusetts jury hearing an asbestos trial in which the plaintiffs alleged a former pipefitter union business manager was exposed to Limpet spray insulation made by Turner & Newall Ltd.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts jury reached the verdict on June 20 after a two-week trial. T&N Ltd, was the lone remaining defendant at the time of the verdict. The plaintiff was exposed to the product in the 1960s. (harrismartin.com)
Boise, ID: The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has agreed to settle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for alleged violations of asbestos regulations.
In April 2013, ITD hired inmates at the St. Anthony Idaho Work Camp, a division of the Idaho Department of Correction, to remove approximately 460 feet of flooring tiles at an ITD maintenance station in Rigby using mechanical chippers and buffers. Waste from this project had been contaminated with asbestos, which was placed in a trash dumpster—a violation of asbestos disposal protocols. The material was then removed from the site to a landfill unapproved to handle asbestos waste. The EPA was notified of the incident by a worker and supervisor on the job site.
The workers had not been trained in asbestos handling or disposal, and accepted methods of waste disposal were not used.
The last asbestos test performed on the site took place in July 1989, and a single sample taken during that examination tested negative for the noxious material. However, industry standards indicate that such exams include multiple tests. After learning of the EPA’s allegations seven months after the alleged incident, the ITD hired a consultant to perform an independent test, during which two-thirds of samples taken by the consultant tested positive for asbestos.
In the settlement, released July 9, ITD has agreed to pay a $55,800 penalty. As part of that settlement, ITD neither admits nor denies allegations made by the EPA. (boiseweekly.com)
Denver, CO: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced that Tri State Environmental Group and Aftermath Cleanup & Remediation Services, LLC, will pay fines totaling $1 million for failing to properly dispose of asbestos containing waste material (ACWM). The fine will be split evenly between the two asbestos abatement disposal companies. The owner of the companies, James Joseph Duran (D.O.B. 04/01/66), and the companies themselves were sentenced after all three plead guilty to the crime of Causing and Contributing to a Hazardous Substance Incident which is a felony under Colorado law.
An Arapahoe District Court judge sentenced Duran and his companies for criminal behavior that also violated Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s regulations regarding illegal storage of ACWM. The Environmental Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division and the CDPHE to investigate and prosecute the case.
Beginning in 2009, Duran began abandoning ACWM without following the proper safety procedures which caused a series of hazardous substance incidents. Duran and his companies also knowingly violated emissions regulations of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. Finally, Duran, Aftermath and Tri State knowingly concealed violations from law enforcement and CDPHE officials.
James Duran pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 500 hours of community service and six years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $2,538 in restitution. Both Aftermath Cleanup & Remediation Services and Tri State Environmental Group pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to a $500,000 fine.
The Environmental Crimes Unit of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the CDPHE, all members of the Colorado Environmental Task Force, investigated a series of crimes that brought Duran and his companies to justice. (coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/)