Category: News

The Cost of a Serious Injury

Serious injuries bring more than immediate physical and emotional distress, they also lead to financial challenges that can last a lifetime. The initial impact is felt through substantial medical bills for immediate treatment and ongoing healthcare needs, often compounded by the loss of income if the injured individual is unable to return to work for an extended period, if at all. The situation becomes even more challenging when considering long-term implications such as the need for rehabilitation, home modifications, and continuous medical care. Non-economic costs like emotional and psychological support further add to financial burdens. The injured person and their family might require counseling and other mental health services to cope with the trauma and temporary or permanent changes to their life and lifestyle. For families, this scenario creates a pressing need to secure financial stability, not just for the immediate expenses but also for unforeseen costs that will arise over time. 

Caltrans and Municipal Transportation Agency – Injury Liability

California is the largest state in the country by population, and has an equally large and diverse set of transportation infrastructure. Given their vast responsibility, each year there are numerous lawsuits regarding failures of Caltrans or local MTAs to adhere to their own guidelines, local law, or state law regarding the maintenance and operation of shared infrastructure. While data on total Caltrans settlements and verdicts is not readily publicly available, the California State Controller maintains a list of MTA budgets including their total yearly expenses for “Casualty and Liability Expenses” (lawsuits and injuries). Across two fiscal years, 2021 and 2022, the state MTAs collectively had total casualty and liability expenses of $436,275,000.

False Claim Act Settlement News – Department of Justice – September 2023

The Department of Justice issued a number of press releases over the last month, summarizing multiple False Claim Act and Qui Tam settlements. The False Claim Act was the nation’s first whistleblower law, intended to combat fraud against the government.  

The False Claims Act was updated to add additional penalties and protections including the addition of whistleblower rewards.  Rewards of up to 30% of the eventual fine or fee paid by bad actors could be awarded to the whistleblower who reported the fraud. 

California Labor Department – Wage Theft Claims and Judgments – 2nd Quarter 2023

The California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a database of wage theft claims presented to the office by employees, and Wage Claim Judgments against individuals and corporations. We have reviewed this database for judgments from April 1st to June 30th, the second quarter of 2023. When a wage claim judgment occurs, the information about the defendant, the amount, and their industry is made public. When a wage claim is filed, the Labor Commissioner’s Office investigates the claim and publicly shares information about the name of the organization, the date of the claim, and again information categorizing the company or work by industry and location. 

$3.8m Whistleblower Settlement for California and Department of Justice with Skilled Nursing Company

The United States Department of Justice and the California Attorney General each sent print releases on June 21st, 2023, noting a large $3.8m settlement with a skilled nursing facility in Riverside, California. The facility and their management company have agreed to the settlement to end litigation where they are alleged to have submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) by paying physicians for referrals. These referral payments are alleged by the US and CA governments to be illegal kickbacks. The companies admitted no liability in the settlement. The U.S. Department of Justice press release noted that the settlement amount was in part based on the defendant’s ability to pay. 

California Supreme Court Rules Third Party Screening and Hiring Companies are Liable for Employment Discrimination  

On August 21st, 2023, the Supreme Court of California issued a ruling that held that third party companies used in the hiring process, or who provide services to employees, can potentially be liable for employment discrimination under California’s civil right laws. The decision was unanimous. Plaintiffs had alleged health screening questions that covered multiple protected categories of information including pregnancy and medical physical and mental health. 

WARN Act Notices – Second Quarter of 2023

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers in the United States with 100 or more full time employees to provide 60-day notice in advance of mass layoffs or plant closings.  The WARN Act applies to full-time workers and provides workers with time to prepare for the transition between the jobs they currently hold and new jobs.  States such as California, New York and others maintain their own state level WARN Acts.

Here are WARN acts notices from a search of pubic databases, for the second quarter of 2023.

$30 Million Verizon 401(k) Settlement Preliminarily Approved

On July 26, 2023, the Honorable Paul G. Gardephe granted preliminary approval of a settlement between Plaintiffs and Defendants in the case of Jacobs v Verizon Communications Inc. et al (Case Number: 1:16-cv-01082).  The settlement includes a gross settlement amount of thirty million dollars ($30,000,000). 

California, New York and Washington Warehouse Quota Laws – Explained

Growing concern about warehouse employers use of work quotas, including quotas for how quickly warehouse workers must complete tasks, or what percentage of workers shift must be “time on task”, has driven three states to pass laws limiting warehouse centers quotas. The laws also require written disclosure of quota data to employees, prohibit using non-disclosed quotas against employees and protect against retaliation. 

Quotas affecting warehouse workers in California, New York, and Washington (when the WA law goes into effect in 2024) must be disclosed to workers. Quotas must not prevent workers from taking rest breaks, meal breaks, bathrooms breaks, or prevent compliance with health and safety standards. 

California Supreme Court: Section 1102.5(b) of the California Labor Code Prohibits Whistleblower Retaliation

The Supreme Court of California issue an opinion on May 22nd, 2023, stating plainly at the start of the opinion that: “The Labor Code prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for disclosing information concerning suspected violations of the law either internally or to government or law enforcement agencies. (Lab. Code, § 1102.5, subd. (b) (section 1102.5(b)); all undesignated statutory references are to the Labor Code.) Violators are subject to various sanctions, including civil penalties remitted to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) of the Department of Industrial Relations.”