Columbia Missouri Personal Injury Attorney
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Posts Tagged ‘Current Events’
Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Shepherd’s Co., a Missouri area construction company, has filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Transportation Cole County. The lawsuit, alleging that MoDOT is in breach of contract with the company, is one of several that it has recently filed in a struggle to protect its name and reputation from the Labor Department, which has been investigating Shepherd’s Co.
The Power Of Letters
The trouble seems to have started when the Labor Department contacted several groups planning on doing business with Shepherd’s Co. to inform them of the potential investigation and the alleged charges against the company. As a result, Shepherd’s Co. lost contracts with MoDOT and the Columbia Public Schools system. It was also blacklisted by the University of Missouri so as to render it ineligible for the bidding process on their jobs.
The Labor Department letter states that the investigation grew out of concerns that Shepherd’s Co. was not in compliance with current wage laws. The company insists that it was and that at the time that the letter was sent, the Labor Department had not begun its investigation. As far as Shepherd’s Co. is concerned, this has resulted in a Labor Department witch-hunt, one that has cost them serious business contracts and may continue to do so if not stopped.
As a result, Shepherd’s Co. has gone on the offensive. The lawsuits that it has filed, now including the Labor Department as well as Columbia Public Schools Systems, the University of Missouri, and MoDOT, are an attempt to hold these groups responsible for their business behaviors. In addition, Shepherd’s Co. accuses MoDOT of using public funds illegally when they chose to award their contract to the second lowest bidder, rather than Shepherd’s Co. This will cost the public at least $6,472 more than Shepherd’s Co.’s project would have.
Saturday, June 26th, 2010
Shepherd’s Co. is striking back against the government’s attempts to investigate and halt its business. One recent step in this battle has been to file a lawsuit for breach of contract against the Columbia Public School System. The company hopes to recover the potential lost profit from their aborted bid for the school system’s building project.
Shepherd’s Co. In Hot Water
Shepherd’s Co.’s problems began with the Labor Department, which is looking into the business’s recent practices. The company has been accused of illegally underbidding competitors. The concern is that the company may not be in compliance with the current and applicable wage laws. Representatives for the company have argued that they are indeed in compliance, but they remain under investigation for illegal actions.
Before the issue with the Labor Department came to light, Shepherd’s Co. placed a bid on an upcoming project for the Columbia Public School system. The submitted bid, for $656, 700, was chosen and the company was informed that it would be awarded a contract to build a greenhouse at the Columbia Area Career Center. Then, just before the contract went before the Columbia Board of Education for final approval, they were contacted by the Labor Department. The issue of compliance and Shepherd’s Co.’s potentially illegal actions were disclosed and the contract was never approved.
Shepherd’s Co., knowing that it was to have been awarded the contract, has concluded that the school system is in breach of contract by virtue of having made an agreement and then refusing to deliver upon it. As a result, they have been proactive in defending their company. A lawsuit has been filed against the Columbia Public School system. Shepherd’s Co. is asking for $275, 814, an amount that they claim will cover their estimated loss of profit as well as reasonable compensation.
Friday, June 25th, 2010
These days, many people regard their workplace as a legitimate dating pool. The dangers that this presents, for themselves, the target of their advances, and even for the people who have to work with them, are more of an incentive than anything else. The chances of a workplace romance ending in a lost job or a lawsuit are relatively small after all. Spectacular though those endings are, the majority of office romances are like any other romance. Either they end in marriage or some other committed relationship or they fizzle out and die a natural death.
New Policies At The Office
Interoffice dating is still a very real concern for most workers however. It’s a part of office politics that affects the environment for everyone. In the past the solution has been to try and squash any attempts at legitimate office romances, lest a spurned secretary cry harassment and run out to file a lawsuit. Now, however, policies are being put into place in companies all around the country to allow for intimate interoffice relationships as long as a proper disclosure occurs to allow HR to protect the office from any conflicts that might arise. This type of due processing of relationships is by no means popular with employees who believe that it is none of the company’s business who they might be dating, but it does give the company an opportunity to foresee and then avoid potential problems.
Protecting The Employees
Due process, while often helpful, still sometimes fails. This can cause the workplace to become hostile to coworkers who see a supervisor’s partner unfairly rewarded and promoted or to someone who is punished with termination after a relationship has ended badly. These kinds of situations should be reported, but victims should also consider hiring an experienced lawyer who can advocate for them.
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
When asked about the consequences of workplace romances, seven in ten of the respondents in a recent survey agreed that; “Dating a co-worker is like playing with fire.” Office relationships are a common part of corporate culture and both men’s and women’s magazines are stuffed with advice about how best to conduct them. One thing that remains common to all of these articles, whether they view the practice positively or negatively, is the sense that the consequences of dating coworkers can be disastrous if matters are handled incorrectly.
Office relationships frequently involve some sort of power differential. When surveyed, one in four supervisors admitted that they had had sexual relationships with workers who reported directly to them. The power that a supervisor has over his or her workforce is immense and if he or she chooses to use this power in a way that is influenced by inappropriate relationships it can cause a serious problem. In the past, relationships between employees have been the cause of lost opportunities or even jobs. A supervisor might promote or otherwise reward someone they are in a relationship unfairly or they might just as easily demote or fire someone they have been intimate with. Often workers whose relationship has ended cannot work as effectively together, forcing the company to deal with the problem by transferring or terminating the less valuable employee. This is frequently a woman.
All Roads Lead To A Lawsuit
If an office relationship, past or present, is making your life miserable then you should know that you have options. ANY unwanted sexual behavior at work is considered to be harassment and you can report it. There are ways to solve these issues without filing a lawsuit, but there are also times when it is the best choice that you can make to protect yourself at home and at work.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
The state of the economy is a very real part of our lives these days and as a result, it has a measurable effect on many of the actions that we take, especially those with the potential to impact our finances. This is no less true of the world of law than it is of our daily shopping decisions.
The Last Straw
In this climate of stress and uncertainty, people find themselves much closer to the edge than they have previously. When it comes to lawsuits, this means that a fired employee who might otherwise have moved on quickly to a new position, now finds him or herself unable to do that. Rather than going forward to focus on the new job as their source of income, this terminated employee is in the position of having little or no source of income and plenty of time to consider the whys and wherefores of such a thing. The small-scale result is that this employee is much more likely to initiate a lawsuit regarding their termination.
Finding the Responsible Party
The large-scale result is a predicted rise in lawsuits in the next year. We can already see the effects of this in the jump in discriminatory lawsuits from 2008 to 2009. In particular, lawsuits regarding age discrimination are on the rise as older employees are fired or laid off for little reason other than their comparably advanced age. These employees, who are often skilled and experienced are not willing to be shifted to the side and edged out of the market this way. They want to fight and they want to hold their employers responsible for their age discrimination. Indeed, employees are finding themselves much more likely to challenge their terminations legally in this climate, especially if insufficiently clear reasons are given for such terminations.
Saturday, June 19th, 2010
Jay Purcell is suing the Cape Girardeau County Commission, of which he is a member, for holding an improperly closed meeting and breaking Missouri’s Sunshine Law.
An Infamous Meeting
On April, 17 2008, the Cape Girardeau County Commission met for over four hours in a closed meeting. Jay Purcell himself made the motion for the meeting, which was to discuss the problems the commission was having with a road easement and the County Auditor’s repeated use of office machines to view and print pictures of Pamela Anderson. Present were Purcell, County Auditor David Ludwig, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones, District 1 Commissioner Larry Block, and Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle. Purcell recorded the meeting and contacted Block and Jones with concerns that the meeting had not been legal. Morley responded by instigating an investigation of Purcell’s actions in recording the meeting and Purcell filed suit against the commission for violating the Sunshine Law.
The Sunshine Law
The Sunshine Law requires public governmental groups to provide appropriate notice before going into a closed session like the one in April 2008. Included in this notice must be the exemption to the open meeting rules that allows each specific meeting. Purcell’s lawsuit is concerned with whether the notice was complete and correct since the bulk of the meeting in question dealt with pressuring Ludwig to resign over his behavior. It is appropriate under the law to discuss personnel issues in a closed meeting, but the exemption does not cover the behavior of elected officials. Another appropriate exemption in this case might be the discussion of legal issues. Discussion of lawsuits and potential lawsuits with attorneys are allowed in closed sessions. Despite this, Purcell’s lawsuit evinces concern that the commission may have abused its power. Purcell’s own actions are in question here at a number of levels as well. If the meeting was deemed to have been legal, his recording of a closed session was a criminal act.
Friday, June 18th, 2010
The key to Jay Purcell’s lawsuit against the Cape Girardeau County Commission, which is before the Missouri Supreme Court on an appeal, is the county commission’s legal status. The question of whether or not the county commission exists as a legal entity in its own right and can be sued or whether the Sunshine Law applies specifically to a group of named individuals who make up the county commission and must be named in said lawsuit lies at the heart of this case.
Purcell is suing the Cape Girardeau County Commission for violating the Sunshine Law and holding an improperly closed meeting. He is not asking for damages or fees, but feels that the commission must be reprimanded for their behavior. If his case is successful, the violation will go on the record and can be considered in future cases regarding the commission’s relationship with The Sunshine Law. There’s just one problem. Purcell himself was a part of the commission he is accusing. He was at that meeting. In order to avoid suing himself and thus rendering his case laughable as well as invalid, Purcell has chosen to direct his suit at the Cape Girardeau County Commission as if it were a separate entity.
No Such Being
Tom Ludwig, the county commission’s lawyer, argues that this is impossible and that there is no such entity to address the suit to and, therefore, no such lawsuit. Since the county commission cannot own property or other assets in its own right, nor in any other way act as a legal entity outside of being a simple extension for the three people who make up the commission, he states that it cannot sue or be sued either. He hopes that the court will support his argument that, unless the individual members of the county commission are mentioned in the lawsuit, it is invalid.
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
The main argument for the Missouri tort reform laws that were passed in 2005 is that frivolous lawsuits against the medical community were endangering the healthcare of the state’s residents. Proponents argued that patients engaging in petty lawsuits for the purpose of lining their own pockets and those of their ambulance chasing attorneys were making it impossible for malpractice insurance companies to turn a profit in Missouri. This in turn forced the insurance companies to raise their premiums to stay profitable, which then caused doctors to bear the cost of the exercise. The doctors compensated, they argued, by leaving the state or practicing defensive medicine and offering their patients substandard care in the interests of protecting themselves from further frivolous lawsuits.
The reality of the situation is quite different however. Rather than protecting anyone, the caps on medical malpractice awards that were enacted by the tort reform laws have actually made it more likely that those with relatively minor (and therefore more frivolous) issues will receive their full awards. Patients who suffer more debilitating issues and are more in need of a considerable amount of financial assistance to recover are restricted from getting that by the caps. The tort reform laws end up disproportionately affecting those people who are least likely to recover from the impact that medical malpractice may have on their lives: the elderly, the disabled, the young, and the poor.
The Real Source of Frivolity
None of these groups earn enough, on average, to be awarded the full amount necessary for their care under the cap system. Instead they are punished for even attempting to hold someone responsible and recoup their lost time and earning potential. The act of denouncing frivolous lawsuits as the cause for medical malpractice insurance woes is a blind designed to turn attention from the fact that insurance companies are engaged in a major PR campaign to protect their profits at the expense of those who are actually suffering from malpractice.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
This small dispute centered on the question of jurisdiction for the injury and the parties involved. David Demay filed his lawsuit for compensation after being injured on the job in order to hold his employer responsible. He filed in Missouri state court under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act or FELA. His employer, Norfolk Southern Railway Company then removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. They claimed that Demay’s injury fell under the jurisdiction of the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.
Does Demay Qualify As A Longshoreman?
Demay sustained his injury while temporarily assigned to Barney Yard at Lambert’s Point. He was working with a crew spotting rail cars and had climbed onto a car to direct the movement of a string of cars. When they stopped he attempted to climb down, but instead he fell onto the tracks and broke several ribs. Both Demay and Norfolk Southern agree that he was working at a maritime situs when he was injured. But the requirements for the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act require that he be both working at a maritime situs AND in a maritime status. Though Norfolk Southern argued that Demay’s claims were covered exclusively by the Longshore Act, the district court decided that he was not working in a maritime status.
The Long and Winding Road Back
With that decision made, the district court remanded the case to state court. If Demay’s claim was not covered by the Longshore Act, then it was covered by FELA and the district court lacked the jurisdiction to review his claim. Norfolk Southern has responded to this decision by appealing, but the district court’s judgment has been affirmed and the case is once again in the hands of the state of Missouri.
Monday, June 14th, 2010
The suit in question has been filed by two Missouri women and is one of four suits that have been brought against Walmart as well as Johnson and Johnson regarding their use of toxic chemicals in baby bath products. The fact that the suit was originally filed in Missouri and under Missouri law saved the claim from the dismissal that it faced when the companies in question wanted to argue a failure of claim under New Jersey law.
It All Started With A Report
In March of 2009, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that tests had found evidence of methyl chloride, formaldehyde, and 1,4 dioxane in Walmart’s Tearless Baby Wash and Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. The companies themselves reported none of these three allegedly harmful chemicals. One of these chemicals, methyl chloride, has been banned by the FDA for use in cosmetics due to its potentially harmful effects. Its unreported presence in a baby care product spurred the Missouri women to file their lawsuit arguing that the companies had committed deceptive trade practices and breached an implied warranty. In return they are seeking economic damages.
Corporate Strikes Back
Representatives of the two corporations moved to have the claim dismissed under New Jersey law, stating that two of the three chemicals had not been banned by the FDA. In addition, the products in question have been in widespread use all over the country for at least fifty years without any reported problems. The allegations themselves do not state that anyone has been harmed by the product. As a result, the two companies argued that the plaintiffs had failed to make a claim. The judge agreed with them in the case of the two chemicals allowed by the FDA, but the case regarding methyl chloride stood, as did the claim of deceptive trade practices as described by Missouri law.