Mercury Insurance Up To Its Old Tricks

Billionaire George Joseph and his company Mercury Insurance are behind a new California ballot measure designed to increase insurance premiums. This is not the first time. Two years ago, Mercury Insurance spent $16 million on a similar California proposition that was rejected by voters in June 2010. It came in the wake of a decision by the California Department of Insurance that Mercury had overcharged and discriminated against California customers for 15 years. Proposition 33 is designed to allow insurance companies to increase premiums on those customers who have had their insurance lapse for 90 days or more. It is designed to eliminate a right that customers currently have because of Proposition 103 which outlawed an insurance company practice of determining auto insurance rates based on a person’s insurance history.

Mercury Insurance Up To Its Old Tricks2019-04-01T03:05:58+00:00

Long-Standing Danger to Settlements is Removed by Supreme Court

Up until recently, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit in California ran a risk if he or she settled with only one of the people or companies that caused his or her injuries and but not others at the same time. An old rule derived from the Common Law created the danger that if a plaintiff settled with and released one defendant, that release would prevent her from recovering for economic damages (like medical expenses, lost wages, future medical care costs) from the other defendants. The rule was known as the “release rule.” That old “release rule” has just been overturned by the California Supreme Court. In Ming-Ho Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hospital, the Supreme Court decided that the release rule is unjust and inequitable, and for that reason, it will no longer be followed in California. In Ming-Ho Leung, the injured person was a baby who suffered a serious brain injury. The Supreme Court determined that the child’s settlement with one of the defendants did not preclude him from recovering from the other defendant.

Long-Standing Danger to Settlements is Removed by Supreme Court2019-04-01T03:06:18+00:00

Big Business Spin on Downfall of Gas Can Manufacturer

Recently, some journalists have condemned trial lawyers for the downfall of Blitz USA, the maker of plastic gasoline containers. Blitz recently went into bankruptcy. Criticism has been lodged by an editorial in the Wall Street Journal and by John Stossel on Fox News. These critics charge that trial lawyers are injuring the economy and causing the loss of jobs at Blitz, finding no fault on the part of Blitz in causing serious burn injuries to those who have used their gas containers. Here’s what is interesting. To cut costs, Blitz decided not to put flame arrestors in their gas cans. A flame arrestor is a piece of wire mesh which costs less than 1 dollar. It is a safety device which prevents flashback of flames into a fuel container which can result in a sudden explosion and shooting flames from burning gas. Dan Rather has reported that the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) investigated the containers after a 6 year old girl was killed when one of the gas containers exploded. The ATF's testing revealed that the gas cans exploded during 13 of the 17 tests, and flames shot out over four feet.

Big Business Spin on Downfall of Gas Can Manufacturer2019-04-01T03:06:34+00:00

The FELA and Injured Railroad Workers

Workers in most industries who sustain injuries on the job are entitled to a recovery for their injuries under Workers Compensation. However, railroad workers who sustain on-the-job injuries recover under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). This is a Federal law, enacted in 1906, that sets forth a path to compensation similar to workers compensation, but through the court system. Before it was enacted, injured railroad workers had no way to recover for their work-related injuries.

The FELA and Injured Railroad Workers2019-04-01T03:06:43+00:00

Letting the Fox Guard the Hen House

As arbitration becomes more popular and industry-sponsored arbitration systems are developed, the potential for abuse poses a greater risk to plaintiffs who seek redress of important claims. Wall Street, the center of much financial scandal these days, provides a recent example. Holders of brokerage accounts must agree that, in the event of a dispute with the broker, the claims will be resolved not in the courts but in an arbitration process overseen by Finra (Financial Industry Regulatory Agency), a private organization that derives the bulk of its $1 billion in revenue from the Wall Street companies that are its members. So when a Merrill Lynch account holder sued the brokerage house for failing to properly monitor his accounts, the matter was submitted to a three-judge FINRA arbitration panel. The panel - made up of securities attorneys and/or financial executives - awarded the plaintiff $520,000.

Letting the Fox Guard the Hen House2019-04-01T03:06:59+00:00

Injured Railroad Worker May Recover Under FELA

A recent California Court of Appeal decision held that a railroad worker who was technically employed by a contractor was also considered a "special employee" of a railroad and therefore he could sue the railroad under the Federal Employer's Liability Act ("FELA"). In Collins v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, two Union Pacific Railroad trains collided and derailed. Union Pacific called Hulcher, which is a contractor hired by railroads to clear tracs and rerail train cars following derailments. A Hulcher crew responded to the derailment, and during this response, a member of the crew was injured when a block from a Hulcher crane fell on his head. The injured crew member suffered a fractured jaw, facial lacerations, cerebral bleeding, facial fractures, a puncture lung, and a brain injury. A jury awarded the railroad worker approximately $4 Million.

Injured Railroad Worker May Recover Under FELA2019-04-01T03:07:11+00:00
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