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Personal Injury Trial – Court Orders Defendant to Show Why Records Should Remain Sealed

September 15, 2014

secret

Secret

They say Democracy dies in secrecy and transparency helps promote it. Unless we are talking about protection of trade secrets (an am trying to be as lenient as possible) I see no reason why the Public should not have access to the documents that have been filed in Court and should presumably be open for the public’s scrutiny.

In United States ex rel. Harman v. Trinity, a federal whistleblower case involving dangerously defective highway guardrails, the court has ordered Trinity Industries, Inc. to show why records in the case should remain sealed from public view after the trial. Over the course of the case, dozens of key briefs and pleadings were filed under seal without any showing that secrecy was warranted, in violation of the public’s presumptive right of access to court records. The secret documents may contain important information on the safety of Trinity’s guardrails, which have been linked to numerous deaths and serious injuries.

The court’s order was issued in response to a motion to intervene and unseal filed by Public Justice on behalf of two non-profit safety groups, the Center for Auto Safety and The Safety Institute. The nonprofits are seeking to open the records because of the serious safety risks posed by hundreds of thousands of guardrails that have been installed in all fifty states – with federal financial assistance – to protect people in highway crashes. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap denied the motion to intervene on Sept. 4, but at the same time he affirmed the groups’ contention that Trinity must justify why these important records are shielded from public view.

Judge Gilstrap wrote: “the Court takes seriously the public’s right of access regarding trials and evidence presented in judicial proceedings, as well as the Court’s role in enforcing such access. Accordingly, following the trial and return of a verdict in this case, the Court will enter an Order requiring the parties to show good cause why previously sealed testimony, evidence or other material should remain under seal.”

via Court Orders Defendant in Guardrail Whistleblower Case to Show Why Records Should Remain Sealed | Public Justice.

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Personal Injury – CTA Train Crash Investigation Only Starting – Train Accident

March 28, 2014

I apologize for the advertisement… Use of the AdBlock extension may enhance your viewing experience.

Timothy DePaere, Railroad Accident Investigator, says that they are in the preliminary stages of their investigation. They are currently waiting for the front end outward looking video on the train to be analyzed by their specialist in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the operator of the train is in the hospital and will be interviewed soon…

Video: Blue Line investigation: ‘We’re at the preliminary stages’ — chicagotribune.com.

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Law School Litigation – Saying ‘Labels Matter,’ Judge Permits Law School Alumni Suit Over Job Stats

December 10, 2012

I had blogged about this before and the many pending cases against various law school for having mislead potential students in providing flawed statistics of the employment potential of their graduates. This is another damning finding by a judge that pushes these law schools deeper in the hole they appear to have dug for themselves… I will be curious to know how it all ends. Read on:

A judge has denied Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s motion for summary judgment against the lead plaintiff in a class action suit by four graduates who say they were tricked into attending the school by misleading post-graduate job statistics.

The judge, in a final order PDF Thursday, also overruled the law school’s demurrer to the plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint, the California equivalent of a motion to dismiss.

In its motion for summary judgment, the school had argued that all of lead plaintiff Anna Alaburda’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. It also argued that Alaburda had not established that she was injured because she was offered a full-time job as a lawyer making $60,000 a year within nine months of graduation.

But San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel M. Pressman rejected both of those arguments. He said there was insufficient evidence that Alaburda knew about the school’s alleged misleading job statistics until she read a New York Times article about law schools manipulating employment data that mentioned Thomas Jefferson in the New York Times in 2011.

In response to the school’s second argument, Pressman said that Alaburda wasn’t bargaining for a job, but for a legal education, and that representations regarding that legal education are material to the decision to enroll.

He cited a case involving the purchasers of a lock set who claimed they had been deceived by the lock-maker’s misrepresentations that they had been manufactured in the U.S.

“Simply stated, labels matter,” Pressman wrote. “Labels on locksets and ‘labels’ on higher education. Consumers’ rights to make informed, educated decisions when determining an education investment depends upon transparency and accurate information. To the extent that misrepresentations are made, consumers are injured by enrolling in an institution that is not what it purported to be.”

via Saying ‘Labels Matter,’ Judge Permits Law School Alumni Suit Over Job Stats – News – ABA Journal.

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Insurance Law – Medical Payment – Class Action – Farmers Insurance Resolves Class Action Lawsuit

December 2, 2011

farmers insuranceFarmers Insurance has reached a settlement to resolve a nationwide class action lawsuit. Although Farmers denies any wrongdoing, the insurer agreed to the terms of the settlement in order to “avoid ongoing litigation” and the significant time and monetary resources associated with that path.

In Re Farmers Med-Pay Litigation (CJ-2004-559), plaintiffs charged that Farmers failed to pay—either in whole or in part—“reasonable” expenses for necessary medical services under the medical payments (Med-pay) and/or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage outlined in their automobile policies. This alleged inadequate distribution of benefits was based on Farmers’ use of certain systems and procedures for adjusting claims for paying medical expenses incurred as a result of an auto accident.

The District Court of Canadian County, Oklahoma entered a final order approving the settlement on Nov. 29.

“We are pleased to have been able to resolve this matter with the plaintiffs,” a spokesman for Farmers stated.

According to Farmers website, comprising the Settlement Class are those who submitted claims for payment of medical bills related to an automobile accident under Med-pay or PIP coverage if (a) the claim was adjusted from January 1, 2001 to February 9, 2009 based upon a recommended reduction from Zurich Services Corporation; (b) the claim was paid at less than the amount billed; and (c) total Med-pay or PIP payments were less than the respective limits of coverage. The Class also includes medical providers who were assigned the right to assert these claims.

Under the terms of the settlement, Class Members who submit a valid claim form postmarked no later than December 29 may be eligible to receive 60 percent of the difference between the amount of the bills submitted to Farmers for Med-pay and/or PIP claims and the improperly reduced amount paid by Farmers.

via Farmers Insurance Resolves Class Action Lawsuit | PropertyCasualty360.

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