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Arias Ozzello & Gignac Class Action Attorneys
6701 Center Drive West, Los Angeles, CA 90045-7504, United States
(310) 670-1600
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FDA Raises Concerns of Cyber Attacks Involving Medical Devices

The Food and Drug Administration has for a while now been concerned about the prospect of cyber attacks and other digital security issues involving medical devices, especially with the growing sophistication of medical devices that are now connected to computers and the Web.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration once again recommended that manufacturers of medical devices as well as medical facilities take appropriate steps to have safeguards in place to reduce the risk of device failure due to a cyber attack.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are possibilities that malware may be introduced to these devices or medical equipment, thereby resulting in severe damage to the device, and probably malfunctioning.  This kind of malfunctioning can have possibly devastating consequences, and could even result in death.

With the growing sophistication of medical devices have come growing concerns about the risk of cyber attacks.  Many medical devices are vulnerable to the kind of malware attacks that can occur when cyber security is breached either through infected flash drives or virus attacks from Internet.

The Food and Drug Administration says that patient data, as well as monitoring systems can be compromised by malware.  The risk is especially high in the case of older medical devices, especially in those cases in which a medical device manufacturer has not bothered to provide appropriate security safety updates.

California defective medical device lawyers believe that these threats are very real, as was evident recently in an incident at a VA catheterization facility in New Jersey.  The facility had to be temporarily closed down, after malware attacks compromised the computer devices at the lab.
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Cop Files Discrimination Lawsuit after Being Fired for DUI

A police officer, who lost his job after being arrested on charges of driving under the influence, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer.  In his lawsuit, he alleges, that the employer discriminated against him based on his alcoholism.

Ironically enough, the officer had been well known for his strong persecution of DUI cases, and had been involved in the solving of a hit-and-run case involving a fatality.  He was arrested in January 2001, after being involved in an accident.  At the time of the accident, he was off duty.  He had gone out for dinner and drinks with other colleagues, and ended up driving his car into a ditch.  At the time, he was employed as a detective and head firearms instructor in his department.

He was arrested for DUI, and during his hearing in front of the Oregon Department of Public Safety, the deputy who arrested him testified that at the time of the arrest, the police officer had been extremely intoxicated.  In fact, according to the deputy, he had been among the top 10 most intoxicated people that he had arrested for DUI over the past 18 years.

The police officer pleaded guilty to DUI charges, and underwent a diversion program.  He also entered a rehab center, at which point he was diagnosed as an alcoholic.  He has now been sober for more than 800 days.

In his lawsuit, he alleges discrimination based on the fact that alcoholism is a medical condition, and says that his former employer wrongfully terminated him from the job.  California employment lawyers believe that he might have a case.  The Americans with Disabilities Act does recognize alcoholism as a disease, and prevents employers from taking any kind of employment-related decisions based on the fact that the employee has an alcohol problem.
 
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Hyundai Sued over Failure to Pay Overtime

Hyundai Motor Company is the subject of a lawsuit that has been filed by a worker who alleges that the company failed to pay hourly wages and overtime.  The company is being accused of failure to pay overtime, as well as cheating workers out of their hourly lunch breaks.

The lawsuit has been filed against Hyundai Rotem which is a unit of the Korean auto manufacturer.  According to the lawsuit, the company automatically and unfairly deducted approximately 30 minutes of paid time from the paycheck of each employee for each shift, including those shifts in which the worker did not take a lunch break.   The company's actions are in violation of federal as well as state wage laws.

According to the worker who filed the complaint in federal court, she regularly did not take 30-minute lunch breaks during those weeks in which she worked more than 40 hours.

The company is also accused of failure to pay employees for those additional hours that they worked apart from their regular shift hours.  The lawsuit is seeking to represent other Hyundai employees who worked at the facility over the past 3 years.

All California employees are represented and protected by federal as well as California laws that protect their compensation, and regulate work hours, wages, and work conditions.  If an employer is found to be violation of these laws, then the worker can hold the employer accountable in a court of law.

These violations are said to occur when employees are forced to work longer hours than regular shift hours, and when their basic rights to lunch and rest breaks are violated.  California employment lawyers often find that employers infringe on worker rights to boost productivity and to save money.  For instance, an employer may try to save on payroll costs by categorizing some workers as being exempt from overtime when they are not.
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Lawsuit Alleges Gov. Nikki Haley was Negligent in Massive Security Breach
 
John Hawkins, a former Senator from Spartanburg, South Carolina has filed a class action lawsuit, accusing Governor Nikki Haley of negligence stemming from a massive security breach. In the suit, Hawkins accuses John Etter, the head of the state’s Department of Revenue, of failing to encrypt sensitive data. Hawkins believes Haley and Etter were negligent in their response because they failed to inform citizens of the breach in a timely manner.

Breached Data from State Tax Returns

The first breach of sensitive data occurred on August 27th, but was not discovered until October 10th. News of the breach was not announced until more than a week after the Department of Revenue learned that sensitive data had been hacked. Haley and Etter assert that they delayed the announcement because they feared it would interfere with the ongoing investigation into the hacking.

The security breach involved hackers gaining access to millions of tax returns that dated back to 1998, affecting millions of South Carolinians. Approximately 3.6 million social security numbers were accessed. Haley stated that 657,000 business records were likely accessed during the breach. Haley has insisted that the breach could not have been avoided. 

Mandiant, a security agency, is currently analyzing the hacked files to determine which information was actually accessed by the hackers. Because assessing the breached data takes a great deal of time, the full extent of the damage is uncertain.

Hawkins Seeking Class Action Status

Hawkins, who dubbed the security breach a “cyber hurricane,” is seeking class action status for the lawsuit. He alleges that the Department of Revenue failed to encrypt data stored from individuals and businesses filing state tax returns. 

Hawkins is able to file suit under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, which allows the public to sue the government for causing harm. The success of the suit depends on showing that actual harm was suffered by the class. Because the state has taken steps to protect citizens and monitor their credit, the actual harm suffered by the affected citizens may be minimal. A further complication to the lawsuit involves an exception to the Tort Claims Act, which allows the state to exercise discretion in certain situations. Because there is no clear industry standard that currently applies to cyber protection, the Department of Revenue may be able to assert that the delayed public notification was necessary while the initial investigation was in progress.

Affected Citizens Offered Free Protections

Although Haley stated that much of the compromised data was already public information, she urged citizens to take precautions. State officials worked out a deal with Experian, a credit monitoring agency, to provide credit protection for affected citizens. The state will pay up to $12 million for Experian’s credit monitoring services. As of October 31st, 418,000 citizens had signed up for credit monitoring. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. has set up a website that allows businesses to sign up for ongoing credit protection for free. Banks have agreed to change any affected debit and credit card numbers at no cost. Senator Lindsey Graham is currently assisting businesses in changing their employer identification numbers.

Because the South Carolina government has put these protective measures into place, it is unclear how the class action lawsuit will fare. In order for a class to be certified, they must show proof of harm.
 
As a firm specializing in class action lawsuits and telecommunications law, among other areas, Arias Ozzello & Gignac LLP understands the importance of meticulously and aggressively filing class action lawsuits in order to ensure success. Arias Ozzello & Gignac LLP is a firm of experienced attorneys with offices in California and Texas who have successfully dealt with similar class action lawsuits.
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Appeals Court Revives Discrimination Lawsuit against EEOC

California employment lawyers will soon find the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the other side of the fence, as the agency defends itself against a lawsuit that claims that it discriminated against a former employee because of her disability.

A federal appeals court has ruled to revive a discrimination lawsuit filed by Mary Bullock, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus.  Between 1999 and 2007, Bullock worked as an administrative law judge at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  In 2006, she filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the agency violated provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

According to the lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission frequently passed Bullock over when it came to promotions, and did not allow her to work from home.  Further, she had stricter deadlines compared to other workers who were not physically disabled.

The lawsuit also alleges that she was ostracized in the workplace and, was ultimately discharged.  She made several requests to the agency to accommodate her medical condition.  However, the agency did not respond and discharged her, the complaint claims.  Her lawsuit accused the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of retaliation.

In April 2010, a district federal judge in California noted that Bullock had not completed all formalities before the lawsuit was brought before court.  In fact, the judge ruled that her lawsuit had been filed too early.  Now, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Bullock didn’t need to wait to file her discrimination lawsuit.  The lawsuit has been revived, and may proceed.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in federal programs.  The Act uses the same criteria to determine employment discrimination as those used by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Programs that are conducted by federal agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and programs, which receive financial assistance from the federal administration, are included under the Rehabilitation Act.
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New GHSA Report to Help Engage Parents of Teen Drivers

No California car accident lawyer would deny that parents have a major role to play in helping reduce the risk of accidents involving teenage drivers.  The Governors Highway Safety Association believes strongly in the role of parents in helping reduce teenage driver accident risks, as they go through their novice driving years.  The agency has released a report which is aimed at helping states engage parents of teenage drivers to reduce teen driver accidents.

The report is titled Promoting Parental Involvement in Teen Driving: An In-Depth Look at the Importance of the Initiatives.  The report focuses on what parents must know about the accident risks involving teenage drivers.  There are several recommendations for how parents can help support their child, and help establish graduated driver licensing laws at home.

The novice driving years are a critical phase of a driver’s life because they help establish important driving skills, and lay the foundation for safe and responsible driving ahead.  The report gives recommendations about how parents can be involved in shaping their children's driving behavior.  For instance, there are specific recommendations involving parents who may be too busy to spend a lot of time helping their children to become safe drivers.  There are also other bits of advice for parents who already believe that their teenagers are safe and responsible drivers.

Many parents assume that having a conversation with their child about driving responsibly and safely when he first gets his provisional license, is sufficient.  However, helping your child as he begins to drive independently is an ongoing process, and only ends when the teen finally gets his full driver’s license.  Parents must be more fully involved in their teenager’s driving habits, to ensure their child’s safety.
 
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Woman Awarded $262,000 in Racial Discrimination Case

A Sheriff's Department officer in Florida was recently awarded $250,000 in a discrimination lawsuit.  However, California workplace discrimination lawyers find this to be a bias lawsuit with a difference.  The officer had alleged that the department discriminated against her because she was white.

The lawsuit had been filed against the Palm Beach County Sheriff's jail, and in the lawsuit, Corrections Sergeant, Beverly Ellis alleged that she had been suspended or passed up for promotion because of her race.  The lawsuit was filed against Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in 2008.

The lawsuit alleged that in 2001, she reported the discrimination to her supervisor.  However, the supervisor reprimanded the plaintiff, and the Sheriff's office also did not take any action against the supervisor. 
Then, Ellis says that she reported the discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  In her complaint to the agency, she alleged that the supervisor was extremely abusive, and frequently screamed and used racial slurs towards her.  She also alleged that black officers were not treated in this manner.  In 2002, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided to side with her.

In 2004, she was again at the receiving end of discriminatory behavior when she was passed up for a promotion.  According to the allegations, two other men who had similar qualifications as her were hired.  At the time she was working under a supervisor who was black.
The following year, she was suspended without pay for conduct that was very similar to other peers, who were black.  However, she was the only one who was punished.

Now, a jury has found that both supervisors engaged in discriminatory practices, and created a hostile work environment for her.  They have awarded her $262,000 in lost wages, as well as damages for her emotional pain and suffering.
 
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AAA Study Shows Older Drivers Concerned about Distracted Driving

Older drivers over the age of 65 seem to be much more concerned about the number of distracted motorists on a road and the consequences for highway safety, compared to younger drivers.  That information comes from new research by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Approximately 37% of the respondents in the study claimed that gas prices were their number one motoring concern, while 30% named distractions on the road as their biggest worry.  Among the people who named distractions on the road as their biggest concern, most were people above the age of 65.   Close to half of drivers below the age of 29 listed gas prices as the biggest concern.  In this group, only 26% were concerned about distracted motorists.

In an interesting aside, the study found that Republicans were more likely to be concerned about gas prices than distracted motorists.  On the other hand, voters who identified themselves as Democrats or independents were much more likely to be equally concerned about gas prices and distracted motorists.

More than half of the motorists in the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers study listed safety features as the top feature that they look for while buying a new vehicle.  However, the overwhelming majority of motorists in the survey, or 89%, listed reliability as their biggest factor when purchasing a new car.

The fact that more than 50% of the motorists listed safety as one of their top criteria while buying a vehicle, is definitely very encouraging to California personal injury lawyers, because it suggests that a majority of motorists are now very educated about the importance of buying a vehicle that packs life-saving and injury prevention features, and not just tons of distracting communication and entertainment technology.
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Safe Driving Practices Can Help Prevent Truck Accidents

Motorists, who drive too close behind a tractor trailer, or in front of a commercial truck, often find themselves located in the trucker's blind spots, and may be at a much higher risk of a devastating truck accident.  Many truck accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver of the tractor-trailer, but motorists can also reduce their risks of being involved in accidents, by making sure that they are driving safely and smartly when they're around an 18-wheeler.

An 18-wheeler because of its very size and bulk, poses a number of challenges for its driver that may increase your accident risks when you're around the vehicle.  For instance, the large size of the 18 wheeler may create a number of blind spots in the driver's field of vision.  These are areas around the truck that are completely invisible to the truck driver, and motorists in these areas are not visible to the trucker.

That means that the truck driver is not able to avoid the smaller vehicle.  Avoid the areas that are directly behind, in front of and at the sides of the truck.  When you are in these areas, try getting out of them as quickly as possible, in order to be visible to the truck driver.  Los Angeles truck accident lawyers find that staying visible is key to preventing truck accidents.

Avoid tailgating a truck.  Keep a distance of at least 20 to 25 lengths behind a truck, and when you're in front of the truck, keep a distance of at least 10 lengths before you change into a lane in front of the truck.  Remember that a truck takes a much longer time to come to a complete stop after the brakes are applied.

Never cut in front of a tractor-trailer, and don't linger to the side of a tractor-trailer.  If you pass a truck, do so as quickly as possible.
 
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Class action attorneys, Arias Ozzello & Gignac post a new blog about discrimination in the work place.
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