Perfect Privacy? In Internet Communication, that Doesn’t Exist

NBC News; August 27, 2013

Your communications are private — mostly. Your next-door neighbor can't hear you send an angry email or a saucy text, and even talking on a cellphone is more secure than using the century-old tech in a landline telephone. But when it comes to keeping a lid on the details of your communication — who you communicate with, and when and how you do it — perfect privacy just isn't attainable.

In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, and the subsequent closure of two notable "secure" email services, even privacy experts seem to have given up.

"Our computing and communications infrastructure is fragile," Seth Schoen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's senior staff technologist, told NBC News. "And people who want to spy on us have made it their business to understand the vulnerabilities and to figure out how to exploit them."

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Hundreds of Lawsuits Filed over GranuFlo

News Inferno; August 26, 2013

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed over risks associated with inadequate warnings for GranuFlo and NaturaLyte.

According to court documents, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed nationwide and more are expected, WickedLocalWaltham reported. Allegations include that Fresenius Medical Care neglected to adequately warn patients and medical centers about cardiac arrest risks tied to GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, dialysates that are used remove impurities from blood during dialysis treatment.

“These plaintiffs seek damages for wrongful death and personal injuries,” according to the plaintiffs’ memorandum from court records. “Fresenius designed, developed, manufactured, labeled, supplied, sold, marketed and distributed the subject products throughout the United States for treatment of dialysis patients,” the memorandum continued, according to WickedLocalWaltham.

Fresenius spokesman, Kent Jarrell said that GranuFlo and NaturaLyte are “safe and effective when used in accordance with their labels and instructions,” and are an essential dialysis component and life-extending treatment for patients diagnosed with advanced and permanent kidney failure, WickedLocalWaltham reported.

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Mark O’Mara: Zimmerman to Ask Fla. to Cover Some Legal Costs

USA Today; August 27, 2013

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer found not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, will ask the state of Florida to cover some of his legal fees, a lawyer's spokesman says.

Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's lawyer, plans to file a motion to recoup between $200,000 and $300,000 in legal fees from the state of Florida, Shawn Vincent, a spokesman for Zimmerman's legal team, said Monday evening.

"That is a ballpark estimate," Vincent said. "It will be a few weeks before everything is all together and we're in a position to file that motion."

A Florida statute allows defendants who win their cases to file such motions, Vincent said. More than a month after Zimmerman was acquitted, his attorneys have now had the time to begin preparing their motion.

"It's a pretty standard motion for a case that the defense won," Vincent said.

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Spend the day with John Romano, Dan Ramsdell, Jason Lazarus, Diane Weaver and internationally recognized traumatic brain injury expert Stephen M. Smith.

This conference features recognized leaders in the trucking litigation field. They will be sharing their in-depth knowledge on courtroom tactics, working with doctors, understanding the depth of injuries and much more to help you win the big cases.

Spaces are limited and going fast.

WHO: John Romano | Dan Ramsdell | Jason Lazarus | Diane Weaver | Robert Crandall | Michael Schreyer | Alan Michaelis | Bob Shepherd | Stephen M. Smith 

WHAT: Trucking Litigation 101 

WHEN: Saturday | October 5th, 2013 – at the Law School of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

FOR: Plaintiff Attorneys ONLY



CLE Credits applied for.



TO REGISTER, there is a link at the top of the webpage for the registration form. You can scan the registration form and email it to or fax to Lori Tepper at 417-887-3507. You can also mail a check to: APITLAmerica, 1304 West Battlefield Road, Suite B, Springfield, MO 65807.

For additional questions, please contact Harry Hindmarsh at 757.535.8484

Trump Defends His School, Prosecutor Calls it ‘a Scam’

CNNMoney; August 26, 2013

Donald Trump's real estate school is under attack by New York's top prosecutor, and both sides took to the airwaves Monday to elaborate on the upcoming legal battle.

During separate interviews on CNN's "New Day," New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the school a "bait-and-switch scheme," and Trump accused the prosecutor of actions akin to extortion.

Still, Trump dismissed the importance of the matter.

Trump said Schneiderman "is a total lightweight. He's an incompetent attorney general who figured he could get some publicity on [my] back."

Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Trump and Trump University on Saturday, accusing the billionaire of defrauding students who attended his for-profit school. Trump University has been renamed The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

The lawsuit claims Trump used his celebrity status to lure students into a school that over-promised and under-delivered. A free seminar urged prospective students to pay $1,495 for a three-day workshop. That, in turn, was used to sell a $34,995 "Trump Elite" course.

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Forced-Place Insurance Lawsuit Seeks Class-Action Status; August 26, 2013

Encino, CA: A force-placed insurance lawsuit filed against Bank of America seeks class-action status. The lawsuit, filed in California in 2012 by Christopher Gustafson, alleges Bank of America provided force-placed insurance from its own affiliates at a high cost to the borrower while receiving fees, payments or commissions from force-placed insurance providers. Force-placed insurance lawsuits have been filed against a variety of banks alleging the banks engaged in abusive and unfair practices.

According to court documents (case number SACV-11-00915-JST-AN, United States District Court, Central District of California), Christopher Gustafson filed his lawsuit against Bank of America alleging “unlawful, abusive and unfair practices with respect to force-placed insurance…” The lawsuit notes that when borrowers do not maintain their hazard insurance policies, mortgage loan servicers replace those insurance policies with force-place policies, which are typically more expensive than the original policies but have less coverage. Finally, the mortgage loan servicer allegedly receives financial gain in the form of fees, payments or commissions for using the force-placed insurance.

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Consumer Advocacy Group Calls for ‘Black Box’ Warning on Plavix

News Inferno; August 22, 2013

The advocacy group Public Citizen filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  on Wednesday calling on the agency to add a boxed warning to the blood thinner Plavix that would alert people to the risks of major bleeding when the drug is used by patients who have received artery-opening stents.

Public Citizen says the FDA should warn doctors and patients that taking Plavix (clopidogrel) for more than a year after receiving a drug-coated stent can lead to fatal bleeding, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Plavix is often prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack in patients who have received stents to prop open their arteries. But Public Citizen cites clinical trials that show the drug offers no protective effect on the heart after one year and, instead, increases the risk of major – sometimes fatal – bleeding, the AP reports. According to Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, “The research shows that using this drug for more than 12 months puts people at risk of potentially life-threatening bleeding, without any evidence that it’s doing any good at that point.”

The label and package insert for clopidogrel already mention the bleeding risk, but Public Citizen says this warning should be highlighted in a black box at the top of the label and on the package insert. A black box warning is the FDA’s strongest warning: it indicates that the drug carries a significant risk of serious, even life-threatening, adverse effects.

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Fracking Waste from the Marcellus Shale Trips Radioactivity Alarms

News Inferno; August 23, 2013

In 2012, some 1,000 trucks that were transporting tons of fracking waste from the Marcellus Shale tipped radioactivity alarms.

About 15,769 tons of Marcellus Shale waste were stopped at a landfill in Pennsylvania after the waste material tripped radioactivity alarms at the gate, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The trucks were not permitted to enter the landfill; hand-held wand detectors revealed radioactivity in the contents. About 622 tons were sent to three out-of-state landfills that were equipped to dispose of materials that are deemed hazardous and/or radioactive. The remainder was deemed safe for burial with other waste as long as the waste remains below the annual limit set by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The increase in radioactivity of fracking waste is being seen at the same time that increased fracking is occurring at the Marcellus Shale. The radioactivity increases at the Shale have prompted DEP’s launch of a year-long study of radioactive Marcellus waste to gain some understanding of any risks tied to waste disposal, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. In response, the DEP’s bureau of waste management created a working group to develop protocols for tracking rejected loads, advise gas operators how to identify waste, develop landfill waste acceptance criteria, and describe the ways in which well sites and waste treatment plants handle residual waste.

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Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Dates for MTMP and Trial Lawyers Summit

Just a reminder: two major events for trial lawyers that you’ll want to mark on your calendar.  Mass Torts Made Perfect is scheduled for October 9-11, 2013 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  To register or find out more about the event, go to or call 800-320-2227.  NTL members receive a
registration $300 discount for the MTMP seminar. Call 866-665-2852 for
discount code.

The annual Trial Lawyers Summit will be held January 19-22, 2014 at the Loews Miami Beach hotel in South Beach, Florida.  To register or for more information, go to or call 866-665-2852. There is a $200 early bird discount for the Trial Lawyers Summit in addition to the member discounts already given.

We hope to see you in Las Vegas in October and South Beach in January!

Fracturing Dust Inhaled by Workers Tied to Fatal Lung Disease

News Inferno; August 12, 2013

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study has found that workers at some hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites are being exposed to high levels of dangerous silica, which can lead to a serious lung disease.

The worker are from 11 fracking sites in five states have been exposed to high levels of dust that includes silica, according to the Center for Effective Government, the International Business Times (IBT) reported.

We’ve written that NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expressed concerns over the effects of silica on workers in the fracking industry. There are also significant concerns that this hazard extends to area residents.

Fracking uses a cocktail of fresh water, sand, and more than 500 chemicals that, with the use of a high-powered drill, are injected into the ground through a long, horizontal well. The purpose is to reach a shale formation that is typically about two miles below the earth’s surface. During fracking, the one major additive to fracking water is sand—silica—which is used to open small fissures in the previously tight shale formations. Sand accounts for nearly 10 percent of the mixture and fracking sand contains about 99 percent silica. In any given drilling site, upwards of three-four million pounds of silica are used.

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Study: Increased Cancer Risks Seen With Cell Phone Use

News Inferno; August 12, 2013

An emerging study reveals a clear association between the use of cell phones and increased cancer risks.

While many have long believed that cell phone use has been linked to cancer, research has been somewhat inconclusive until now, according to The Times of Israel. The study was published in the scientific journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling. The study results do not establish a direct link between cellphone use and the development of cancer among cell phone users; however, the research does open new areas of research and establishes a clear association between long-term cell phone use and possibly dangerous side effects that can, in turn, lead to molecular changes that can lead to cancer, The Times of India reported.

For the study, researchers from TAU, Rabin Medical Center, and the Technion studied the salivary glands of 20 long-term cell phone users whose cell phone use was deemed heavy. Heavy cell phone use was defined as a mean of 12 years of 30 hours weekly use. The comparison group involved 20 subjects who are deaf and who either did not use the devices or only used them for text messaging, according to The Times of India.

The researchers hypothesized that potential cell phone cancer effects could be determined by analyzing users’ saliva since the devices are typically placed close to the salivary glands when cell phones are used to make telephone calls. The team discovered that, when compared to the non-user group, the cell phone users’ saliva revealed very increased indications of oxidative stress. The oxidative stress process is considered a significant cancer risk factor, The Times of India reported.

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Experts: Paula Deen is Done Despite Legal Win

USA Today; August 13, 2013

The damage has been done.

Southern celebrity chef Paula Deen's legal woes — arguably the most inflammatory of the claims against her — diminished on Monday, but is it too late to resurrect her once-flourishing career and empire?

Deen herself issued an upbeat statement after a federal judge in Savannah, Ga., threw out claims of racial discrimination made against her in a lawsuit filed by a former employee, Lisa Jackson, who is white.

"We are pleased with the court's ruling today that Lisa Jackson's claims of race discrimination have been dismissed," Elana Weiss said in a statement e-mailed to the Associated Press. "As Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone."

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Both Political Sides Praise Drug Changes

Baltimore Sun; August 12, 2013

In a sign of growing disenchantment with the war on drugs, conservatives joined Democrats and reform advocates Monday in praising Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s declaration that it was time to rethink get-tough policies that have tied the hands of judges and swollen the populations of federal prisons.

The nation's top law enforcement officer, decrying the "moral and human costs" of mass incarceration, said he would instruct federal prosecutors to change the way they charge some drug offenders to avoid triggering "mandatory minimum" sentencing laws that have significantly boosted sentences.

The federal prison population has exploded, even as populations in state prisons have declined steadily.

"The course we are on is far from sustainable," Holder said, speaking to the American Bar Association in San Francisco. "As the so-called 'war on drugs' enters its fifth decade, we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective."

Holder also said the department would increase efforts to find alternatives to incarceration and to smooth the compassionate release of severely ill prisoners who are no longer a threat to the public.
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When Lawyers Cut Their Clients Out of the Deal

New York Times; August 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — “We always knew this settlement would get a tremendous amount of attention,” Scott A. Kamber told the federal appeals court in San Francisco a couple of years ago.

He was defending a novel bargain he had struck with Facebook on behalf of millions of users whose privacy he said the company had violated. The settlement’s central innovation was to cut Mr. Kamber’s clients out of the deal.

The class members would get nothing. The plaintiffs’ lawyers would get about $2.3 million. Facebook would make a roughly $6.5 million payment — to a new foundation it would partly control.

The appeals court upheld the settlement last year by a 2-to-1 vote, with the majority saying it was “fair, adequate and free from collusion.” Last month, critics of the settlement asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Facebook settlement certainly explores new frontiers in class-action creativity. For starters, consider the plaintiffs.

“They do not get one cent,” Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote in dissent. “They do not even get an injunction against Facebook doing exactly the same thing to them again.”

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New York Judge Orders Police Stop-and-Frisk Monitor

Bloomberg; August 12, 2013

New York City police stop-and-frisk practices unlawfully targeted people on the basis of their race, a federal judge ruled, ordering an independent monitor to oversee reforms of the practice.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan in her decision today said changes to the procedure are necessary, while stopping short of ordering a wholesale end to the practice. The ruling followed a nine-week non-jury trial before her that ended May 20.

Endorsement of stop-and-frisk by the city and its police department “is fundamentally inconsistent with the law of equal protection and represents a particularly disconcerting manifestation of indifference,” she wrote, describing each stop as a “demeaning and humiliating experience.”

Four black men sued the city alleging they had been stopped and questioned or frisked by police without reasonable suspicion in violation of their constitutional rights. Police have made more than 4 million such stops in the past nine years, the men alleged. At least 80 percent of those people stopped were black or Latino, according to court papers.

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