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Los Angeles Legal Blog



We aim to provide news and commentary on Legal issues that affect Los Angeles residents. Rose, Klein & Marias LLP welcomes you to join the discussion.



Updated: 2017-12-07T00:05:39Z

 



Sexual harassment in the hospitality industry

2017-12-07T00:05:39Z

When we think of sexual harassment, recent news stories about entertainment industry icons and prominent political figures come to mind. But another segment of society has been contending with this issue — often in silence — for years. Media coverage of...

When we think of sexual harassment, recent news stories about entertainment industry icons and prominent political figures come to mind. But another segment of society has been contending with this issue — often in silence — for years. Media coverage of widespread sexual harassment scandals is finally giving them a platform to speak out. This overlooked group is comprised of low-wage employees in the hotel industry, especially those who work as housekeepers.

Too often, housekeepers must deal with suggestive comments, inappropriate touching and other lewd behavior by guests as they go about their jobs.

Fear and powerlessness

Housekeepers often work for little more than minimum wage. In an industry where "the customer is always right," and typically more affluent than the service workers, harassed employees believe they have no recourse but to endure sexual harassment in silence. Hotel management may be inclined to be preferential to guests over the safety and health of their low-income workers. Housekeepers are frequently hesitant to report these incidents for fear of losing their livelihood.

The statistics are alarming

According to one recent survey by a hospitality labor union, more than half of hotel workers and more than three-quarters of servers at casinos (58 percent and 77 percent, respectively) said guests have sexually harassed them. Not surprisingly, 56 percent of those hotel workers reported that they no longer felt safe on the job. Nearly two-thirds of casino workers admitted that a guest had touched them, or tried to touch them, inappropriately.

Cities take astand

Sexual harassment in the hotel industry was brought to light in 2011, when a New York City hotel housekeeper accused French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her. In cities across the country, hospitality workers unions began lobbying for employees to have panic buttons so they could alert hotel security when they felt unsafe.  

Seattle is the first city credited with passing panic button legislation. In 2012, the New York Hotel Trades Council successfully advocated to provide 30,000 housekeepers with panic buttons. In October 2017, Chicago passed a citywide ordinance requiring all hotels to provide the devices to employees who work alone cleaning hotel rooms or bathrooms. Also included in the law are provisions for reporting incidents of sexual harassment to the police.

Amid all the dialogue about sexual harassment, other locales will likely enact similar measures to protect vulnerable hotel workers. Regardless of position or income level, all employees have the right to be treated respectfully in the workplace.

If workers are not protected, and hotel management fails to address the safety of workers, then the hotel may be liable in a civil lawsuit for sexual harassment. Keep in mind that every state has laws that prohibit retaliation of any kind for reporting sexual harassment. This is true regardless of employee classification, job title or immigration status.




Insurer warns about potential for more construction injuries

2017-11-14T22:35:59Z

California, like many states, is experiencing a shortfall in highly skilled construction workers. Spending on construction and development exceeded expectations this fall for residential, commercial and industrial projects. In northern California, particularly after the wildfires, there are numerous high-priority projects...

California, like many states, is experiencing a shortfall in highly skilled construction workers. Spending on construction and development exceeded expectations this fall for residential, commercial and industrial projects. In northern California, particularly after the wildfires, there are numerous high-priority projects to undertake and residential development is expected to spike. Developers, owners and contractors are in need of workers, and often must hire inexperienced or untrained people to fill positions. The labor demand is expected to exceed staffing levels throughout 2018 and beyond. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 800,000 jobs will be added to the construction industry by 2024.

All of the above means safety must be a top priority moving forward. The risk of injury on construction sites is greatest for newer workers. Unsafe jobsites result in devastating injuries. Many expect there to be a larger number of construction workers injured or killed on the job in the coming year.

Insurance companies are promoting safety programs

Workers’ compensation insurance is a large expense for many employers in the construction industry. It can also be a high cost for insurers. That is why some insurers are teaming with employers to promote safety programs and training.

The industry trade journal PropertyCasualty360 recently published an article about the need for insurance providers and employers to work together to minimize workplace injury in construction.

Insurers always seek to lower costs

The drive behind employee safety in construction is based on expense. The fewer injured workers, the fewer payouts the insurer must make. The other way insurers seek to lower costs is to deny that a worker is seriously injured, or claim that the injury is not work-related.

That is why injured workers must protect themselves when filing for workers’ compensation benefits. As more construction workers become injured on the job, it is imperative that they know how to navigate the complex workers’ compensation system to get the benefits they are owed under the law.




Diagnostic tool could help identify CTE

2017-10-05T18:19:52Z

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is often associated with concussions among National League Football players. It is a degenerative and incurable brain disease caused by head trauma. In July, for example, researchers published autopsies of 111 former NFL players —...

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is often associated with concussions among National League Football players. It is a degenerative and incurable brain disease caused by head trauma. In July, for example, researchers published autopsies of 111 former NFL players — revealing that 110 suffered from CTE. It has led to a far-reaching national discussion about the dangers of head trauma.

Currently, CTE is only diagnosable through an autopsy and is generally only looked for upon the request of the family. That means it is still unclear how many NFL players may get or currently have CTE. It is also hard to extrapolate data about NFL players to the public since hardly anyone who has not played professional football is examined for CTE.

Fortunately, the ability for doctors to diagnose CTE may be improving.

New method could allow CTE diagnosis while living

New research published on September 26 indicates strides are being made in diagnosing and understanding the degenerative brain disease. According to Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist who authored the study, a particular type of protein in the blood may be a reliable predictor of the disease. A simple blood test can reveal the presence of the protein, CCL11.

CCL11 is associated with brain inflammation. Researchers believe prolonged inflammation can lead to CTE.

Signs and symptoms of CTE

Outside of clinical tests, people who have suffered head trauma do exhibit symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of CTE include:

  • Confusion and cognitive impairment (trouble thinking)
  • Emotional problems, including depression and impulsive behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Substance abuse

CTE is a serious and potentially life-changing condition

A traumatic brain injury can occur under a variety of conditions, not just contact sports. This includes car accidents and falls. Because the brain is complex and unique, the symptoms of a severe brain injury can differ widely. While some of the symptoms of a brain injury can lessen over time, many symptoms can linger indefinitely.

If you have suffered a blow to the head, it is important not to dismiss any symptoms, including changes in mood or decision-making ability. Talk to your doctor if you or a loved one exhibits any of the symptoms above. Meanwhile, further research may lead to better treatment options for sufferers, as well as improved diagnostic tools. Until then, good doctor-patient communication and an awareness of the symptoms of CTE is the best bet for obtaining an accurate diagnosis of serious brain injury.




Are U.S. workers at risk of losing workplace protections?

2017-09-01T17:04:04Z

Since it is rarely discussed, many people are surprised to learn just how dangerous U.S. workplaces can be. In fact, according to a recent article co-authored by Kathleen Rest, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and David...

(image) Since it is rarely discussed, many people are surprised to learn just how dangerous U.S. workplaces can be. In fact, according to a recent article co-authored by Kathleen Rest, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and David Michaels, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, 13 people die every single day in the U.S. because of hazardous working conditions.

Even worse, ten times as many die after succumbing to work-related illnesses, including cancer, silicosis, mesothelioma and asbestosis, just to name a few. In total, work-related diseases claim an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 lives every year in the U.S.

Given these existing dangers in the workplace, one would think that government officials and local authorities would be doing everything they could to fix these issues. Well, you had better think again. Not only are many workplace protections not getting any better, but many are actually getting worse.

In fact, according to the report mentioned above, there have been several recent delays or outright rollbacks to many workplace protections, including:

  • Congress has eliminated OSHA's ability to fine employers who have a "long-standing pattern of injury and illness record-keeping violations"
  • OSHA has delayed enforcement of its silica rule, which will likely increase the possibility of lung disease
  • OSHA has stopped releasing public information regarding enforcement actions
  • OSHA has delayed the electronic submission of injury and illness data
  • OSHA has proposed weakening protections in regards to workers exposed to beryllium, which can cause cancer
  • A 40 percent cut has been proposed to the budget of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is the agency primarily responsible for conducting research and making recommendation for preventing work-related injuries and diseases

While it remains to be seen whether these changes will significantly impact worker safety in the U.S., most people would agree that things certainly aren't going to get any better. So will U.S. workers be the ones who end up paying the price?




LA Mayor says he will defy Trump administration on immigration

2017-07-31T20:38:30Z

Despite repeated threats that the city may lose federal funding, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he will not bend to the White House on immigration. Just one day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive ordering cities...

(image) Despite repeated threats that the city may lose federal funding, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he will not bend to the White House on immigration.

Just one day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive ordering cities to notify the Department of Homeland Security at least 48 hours before releasing uundocumented immigrant detainees, Garcetti told Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, "We will not change what we are doing and our values are not for sale." Garcetti added, "What they're asking the city to do is in violation of the Constitution."

While Los Angeles has not adopted an official "sanctuary city" policy similar to that of San Francisco, the city does have Special Order 40, which is a policy that prohibits police from stopping/questioning people for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status.

In addition, Garcetti issued an executive order earlier this year that prohibits city employees from helping immigration authorities unless legally required to do so.

Families torn apart

Despite the protections mentioned above, we routinely hear about immigrant residents of Los Angeles who get caught up in the immigration process -- and often face deportation even though they are not violent criminal and have been living here for decades.

Regardless of your views on immigration, there is no denying that actions taken by immigration authorities can often tear families apart.

If you or a family member is facing the possibility of deportation, or you simply need answers to your questions about immigration, contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP today. You don't have to deal with these complex legal issues alone -- we can help.




Do CA's "old" laws protect workers injured in "new" gig economy?

2017-06-29T16:41:15Z

Even though California already has some of the most comprehensive worker protection laws, there is definitely room for improvement -- particularly when it comes to workers' compensation benefits (or lack thereof) for those injured while working in the new "gig"...

(image) Even though California already has some of the most comprehensive worker protection laws, there is definitely room for improvement -- particularly when it comes to workers' compensation benefits (or lack thereof) for those injured while working in the new "gig" economy.

What exactly is the "gig" economy you may ask? While there isn't an exact, universally-accepted definition, many consider a "gig" to be a single job or task for which a worker is hired, often through an app or the digital marketplace. Some of the most common examples of gig workers include drivers for Uber and Lyft.

The disadvantage of being a gig worker: no workers' comp

While working as an Uber or Lyft driver can put some extra money in your pockets, the sad reality is that these gig workers are typically classified as independent contractors instead of actual employees -- meaning drivers cannot seek workers' comp benefits in California if they are injured on the job.

Over the years, this "independent contractor vs. employee" distinction has been the subject of several legal challenges in California. However, despite these challenges, little has changed, and these drivers still aren't able to collect workers' comp.

California is lagging behind

While Uber and Lyft drivers are generally not entitled to many benefits under the law, that may soon change in some parts of the U.S. In fact, not only is U.S. Senator Mark Warner pushing potential legislation that will provide some benefits to gig employees, but lawmakers in several states -- including New York, New Jersey and Washington -- have already explored similar benefits, according to a Bloomberg report.

Sadly, despite these efforts, ride-sharing drivers in California are making little headway in their fight for fairer treatment and better legal protections. Indeed, California's Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) hasn't even offered a workers' comp proposal for Uber and Lyft drivers.

The message this sends to gig workers is clear: If workers are injured in the "new" economy, they aren't protected by the "old" laws -- and this needs to change.




Is your boss 'stealing' your wages?

2017-06-16T17:29:51Z

California has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to protecting workers and making sure they get paid for the work they do. Unfortunately, despite these laws, some employers continue to skirt the rules by trying...

(image) California has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to protecting workers and making sure they get paid for the work they do. Unfortunately, despite these laws, some employers continue to skirt the rules by trying to pay workers less than they deserve - and less than they are entitled to under the law.

This is wage theft, plain and simple; and even though it is illegal, it occurs far more often than many people know. In, fact according to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) last month, wage theft due to minimum wage violations alone likely exceeds $15 billion every year.

Wage theft: the basics

Essentially, wage theft includes any situation in which an employer fails to pay its workers what they are due under the law. Common examples of wage theft include:

  • Failing to pay workers overtime, which, in California, is required any time an individual works more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week
  • Paying less than the legal minimum wage
  • Taking tips from workers or failing to pay tipped employees the difference between their tips and the minimum wage rate
  • Misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to pay a wage lower than otherwise required by law
  • Requiring workers to work "off-the-clock" either before or after their shifts
  • Denying workers their legally-mandated meal breaks
  • Failing to distribute pay stubs or taking illegal deductions from paychecks

Fortunately, you may have legal options available under California law if your boss has been stealing your wages and not paying you what you are entitled to.

Also, it is important to remember that all workers in California are protected by the state's labor and wage laws, regardless of where they were born - meaning even foreign-born workers may be able to file a claim.

However, navigating this process can sometimes be challenging, which is why it is often best to seek the guidance of any experienced attorney. A skilled lawyer can explain your legal options and help make sure your rights are protected.




Are employers retaliating against immigrant workers who report work-related injuries?

2017-05-26T15:23:14Z

According to a recent report by WBUR News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained a 37-year-old injured construction worker when he went to meet with his employer to discuss potential injury benefits - benefits the employer was supposedly offering...

(image) According to a recent report by WBUR News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained a 37-year-old injured construction worker when he went to meet with his employer to discuss potential injury benefits - benefits the employer was supposedly offering to help the worker's family while he was recovering from his injury.

While attorneys for the injured worker still don't know whether the employer arranged for this arrest, they claim that the employer had no workers' comp coverage on the day of the worker's injury.

Also, given that the employer set up the time and location of the meeting -- not to mention immigration officers were waiting when the worker arrived -- it has led to much speculation regarding whether this arrest was arranged in retaliation against the injured worker.

Many immigrant workers fear employer retaliation

Even though the role the employer played in the incident discussed above is still unknown, this arrest merely feeds into the fear that many injured workers share: namely, that their employers will call ICE if they ever report a workplace accident.

After all, in many states, injured workers are entitled to workers' comp benefits regardless of their citizenship status. So many undocumented injured workers fear that employers will simply turn them into immigration authorities, especially if the employer doesn't have workers' comp coverage.

As one immigration attorney said in the recent WBUR report, there is a real fear that employers could "use someone's immigration situation against them."

So what happens if employers start to think, "Why should I pay for an injured worker when I can just have them deported instead?"




Report: Tesla factory workers complain of long hours, stress and serious injuries

2017-05-26T15:19:10Z

Dubbed the "factory of the future", a new report claims many of the workers at the Tesla automobile factory in California are now complaining about grueling hours, unrealistic production goals and often life-threatening injuries. As recently reported by the Guardian,...

Dubbed the "factory of the future", a new report claims many of the workers at the Tesla automobile factory in California are now complaining about grueling hours, unrealistic production goals and often life-threatening injuries.

As recently reported by the Guardian, hundreds of ambulances have been called to the factory for worker-related injuries and other medical issues over the last several years, including more than 100 ambulances for workers experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, abnormal breathing, seizures and chest pains.

According to 15 current and former factory workers who spoke with the Guardian, many of the work-related issues at Tesla stem from the long work hours needed to meet the company's aggressive production goals. Indeed, several workers interviewed have seen co-workers pass out, collapse and taken away in ambulances.

While Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, admitted in a phone interview than many workers are having a difficult time working long hours on hard jobs, he also said that he continues to care about their health and general wellbeing. He added that he believes this is not a situation in which they are skimping on safety in order to increase profits.

However, despite these sentiments, company-released data examined by the Guardian indicates that its record of safety incidents were above the industry average in late 2016 -- although the first few months of 2017 were 32 percent better than average.

Are Tesla workers being discouraged from reporting injuries?

Some workers at Tesla believe the way the company handles injured workers may discourage some from reporting their injuries, according to the recent Guardian report. For instance, if a worker is given "light duty" because of an injury, they are paid a lower wage in addition to supplemental workers' comp benefits.

Even though Tesla says this practice is in line with California law and other employers, one injured production worker said his pay dropped from $22 an hour to only $10 any hour. This worker told the Guardian, "It kind of forces people to go back to work," with another stating, "No one wants to get a pay cut because they're injured, so everyone just forces themselves to work through it."

A Tesla spokesperson told the Guardian that their goal is to make Tesla the safest factory in the auto industry. But the question is, how many more people are going to suffer serious injuries before that happens -- if it happens?




Is workers' comp my only option following an on-the-job injury?

2017-05-03T13:37:38Z

Suffering a work-related injury can be devastating. In one fell swoop, you may be left unable to work and facing extensive medical treatment/rehabilitation. And, without a paycheck coming in, paying your bills is easier said than done. Fortunately, injured workers...

(image) Suffering a work-related injury can be devastating. In one fell swoop, you may be left unable to work and facing extensive medical treatment/rehabilitation. And, without a paycheck coming in, paying your bills is easier said than done.

Fortunately, injured workers in California may have legal options available to help cover their medical bills and lost wages, including workers' compensation benefits. However, one question our clients often have is whether workers' compensation is their only legal option following an on-the-job injury. The answer: it depends.

"Exclusive" doesn't necessarily mean exclusive

In many cases, injured workers are restricted to workers' compensation benefits -- meaning they typically cannot sue their employers or coworkers for damages related to their injury. In fact, California law expressly states that workers' comp is the "exclusive remedy" for employees injured at work. However, there are some very important exceptions to this rule.

For instance, an injured worker may be able to bring a claim against his or her coworker if:

  • The worker's injuries were caused by a coworker's willful and unprovoked attack
  • The worker's injuries were caused by a coworker's intoxication

Similarly, the injured worker may also be able to bring a claim against his or her employer if:

  • The worker's injuries were caused by an employer's willful physical assault
  • The worker's injuries are aggravated by an employer's fraudulent concealment of the existence of the injuries
  • The worker suffers an injury and the employer has neither workers' compensation nor self-insurance coverage

The most important exception: third-party claims

In addition to the exceptions listed above, you may also be able to pursue a legal claim besides workers' comp if your injury was caused by the negligence of someone other than your employer or coworker.

Otherwise known as a third-party claim in California, these types of suits often arise following construction accidents. For instance, you may be able to file a third-party claim against a negligent delivery driver, a different subcontractor or the manufacturer of a defective tool.

However, navigating California's complex workers' comp laws can be difficult, which is why you should always talk to an experienced attorney following an on-the-job injury. A skilled attorney can explain your rights and help ensure you pursue every legal option available.




5 reasons why you should speak with an estate-planning attorney

2017-05-01T14:14:10Z

Many people don't think estate planning is something they need to do, often justifying their decision by claiming they are too young or simply don't own many assets. However, regardless of your age or net worth, the truth is that...

(image) Many people don't think estate planning is something they need to do, often justifying their decision by claiming they are too young or simply don't own many assets. However, regardless of your age or net worth, the truth is that you never truly know what will happen in the future, which is why you should at least consider putting a comprehensive estate plan in place.

In fact, there are several benefits to establishing an estate plan, including:

  • Maintaining control: If you were to pass away without an estate plan, you would have no control over the distribution of your assets. However, there are a variety of estate-planning tools -- including wills and trusts -- that you can use to control what happens to your property.
  • Making sure loved ones are taken care of: Whether you have minor children or anyone else you want to make sure are taken care of after you are gone, a comprehensive estate plan can help ensure your wishes are respected and followed. Your estate plan can also be used to protect money and assets for those who are too young or too irresponsible to manage them on their own.
  • Avoiding estate taxes: Depending on the size of your estate, it may be subject to significant estate taxes. However, with proper estate planning, these taxes can be reduced or even eliminated.
  • Making sure your wishes are carried out: While you can use a will to outline what will happen upon your death, other estate planning tools can be used to ensure your wishes are carried out should you become incapacitated in any way. These tools may include a power of attorney, a living will or an advanced healthcare directive.
  • Avoiding a "mess": Simply put, a comprehensive and well-drafted estate plan can help avoid family fights before they ever have a chance to arise.

It is important to point out, however, that these are merely a few of the many reasons why you should consider estate planning. To learn more, contact an estate-planning attorney today.




Will "sanctuary cities" lose federal funding over immigration?

2017-04-26T05:17:52Z

In recent weeks, the battle over immigration enforcement in so-called "sanctuary cities" has been escalating. In fact, according to a recent report by the New York Post, Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, recently warned that the current administration will...

In recent weeks, the battle over immigration enforcement in so-called "sanctuary cities" has been escalating.

In fact, according to a recent report by the New York Post, Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, recently warned that the current administration will take steps to withhold federal law enforcement grants from cities that do not cooperate with immigration authorities. This threatened move could potentially impact roughly 300 jurisdictions nationwide, including the California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, among others.

Ultimately, this dispute stems from the fact that certain cities and counties believe that immigration enforcement, which is governed by federal law, should be handled solely by the federal authorities, and not saddled on the backs of local police.

The general idea is that local law enforcement will let otherwise law-abiding immigrants live their lives without having to worry about deportation. In many cases, a person's immigration status has no bearing on the enforcement of local/state law, so police in sanctuary cities typically don't even need to ask about it.

At this point, it is unclear whether the threats of withholding funding will ever occur. Not only is much of the money subject to congressional appropriation, but a federal lawsuit has been filed arguing that such a move would be unconstitutional.

There is no denying that immigration is certainly a hot-button issue in the U.S. right now, with passionate arguments on both sides of the aisle. However, it is important to always remember that the actions taken and the laws passed have actual implications on real families -- families that have come to the U.S. in hopes of a new future.

If you or a loved one is facing deportation, or you simply have questions about immigration law in general, you need a knowledgeable immigration attorney in your corner. Attempting to deal with such a complex legal issue alone is never a good idea, so contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP today.




Hurt at work? Denied the care you need? You are not alone.

2017-04-26T05:17:52Z

It's a scenario that all workers dread: suffering a serious on-the-job injury and being denied the care they need. While workers' comp is supposed to help these injured workers, the truth is that many are having their surgeries and other...

(image) It's a scenario that all workers dread: suffering a serious on-the-job injury and being denied the care they need. While workers' comp is supposed to help these injured workers, the truth is that many are having their surgeries and other necessary procedures denied, despite their doctors' recommendations.

According to a recent KCRW investigative story, many of these denied workers are simply victims of legal "reforms" made to the California workers' compensation system in 2012 -- reforms that were supposed to weed out fraud, but now may be having unintended consequences on legitimately injured workers.

So what changed?

One of the reforms made to the workers' comp system was the establishment of a "utilization review process" in which so-called independent medical reviewers now decide if a particular treatment is approved or denied based on a set of guidelines and without examining the injured worker themselves.

However, as mentioned in the recent KCRW report, many doctors and lawyers are troubled by the independent medical review system given its perceived risk of hidden conflicts of interest -- conflicts that could influence patient care and treatment. For instance, some doctors, who spoke to KCRW anonymously due to fear of being blacklisted by insurers, raised concerns about the financial links between insurers, utilization review companies and the third party administrators who manage the claims.

In fact, George Parisotto, the acting Administrative Director of the Division of Workers Compensation, admitted to KCRW that he has heard worries that some utilization reviewers may be motivated to deny treatment and care to injured workers in order to maintain their contracts with the insurers/administrators. While he did note that the parties would be penalized if any such an arrangement was discovered, that doesn't mean it's not occurring.

Ultimately, as with every state, California's workers' compensation system has its share of problems. This is why it is always best to seek experienced legal guidance should you suffer an on-the-job injury. A skilled and knowledgeable lawyer can protect your rights and help you navigate the complex workers' comp system. Your well-being is important -- get the assistance you need today.




Is Aliso Canyon leak still causing medical issues in Porter Ranch?

2017-04-26T05:17:51Z

A little over a year ago, the largest methane leak in U.S. history, which took place at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, was finally capped - marking the end of a four-month struggle in which Porter Ranch residents had to...

(image) A little over a year ago, the largest methane leak in U.S. history, which took place at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, was finally capped - marking the end of a four-month struggle in which Porter Ranch residents had to endure displacement and a wide range of medical issues.

Sadly, even though the leak was taken care of last February, many residents are still experiencing serious health problems today. In fact, according to a report by CBS Los Angeles, dozens of Porter Ranch residents recently outlined many of the symptoms and ailments they are currently suffering from at a neighborhood council meeting.

While some residents are reporting minor conditions, including nausea, headaches and persistent nosebleeds, others are suffering from more serious issues, such as asthma, anemia and various cardio-pulmonary problems. In a handful of cases, residents have even reported developing cancer.

And even though it may be too early to definitively link the various medical conditions with the methane leak, there is no denying that something very troubling is occurring. In fact, in the recent CBS report, Dr. Jeffrey Nordella, who runs a clinic in Porter Ranch, was quoted as saying, "There's an association between all the symptoms and what they're complaining of, and the time frame, and also the chemicals that were released."

Understanding your legal rights

Putting aside the many environmental concerns associated with a methane leak of this magnitude, the health problems reported by many residents are particularly alarming. Fortunately, there may be legal options available for victims of this methane leak, which we previously outlined in one of our blogs several months ago.

If you would like to learn more about your legal options, please feel free to contact us and speak with one of experienced personal injury attorneys. You should not have to pay the price for other people's mistakes.




CDC Report: Deaths linked to mesothelioma are actually rising

2017-04-26T05:17:51Z

According to a report recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths associated with malignant mesothelioma increased nearly 5 percent from 1999 to 2015, jumping from 2,479 to 2,597. In total, there were...

(image) According to a report recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths associated with malignant mesothelioma increased nearly 5 percent from 1999 to 2015, jumping from 2,479 to 2,597. In total, there were 45,221 death certificates issued during this 16-year period in which malignant mesothelioma was listed as either the underlying cause or the contributing cause of death.

What is particularly troubling about these cases of mesothelioma - a form of cancer typically caused by exposure to asbestos - is that they are increasing despite the fact that asbestos use has declined sharply over the last several decades.

Who is most at risk?

While asbestos fibers are equally dangerous to everyone, the truth is that some groups are more likely to be exposed than others - meaning certain groups are more likely to suffer from asbestos-related illnesses. In fact, the recent CDC report shows that from 1999 to 2015:

  • Males accounted for 80 percent (36,093) of the 45,221 mesothelioma-related deaths
  • Individuals aged 65 and older accounted for 80 percent (36,366) of the 45,221 mesothelioma-related deaths

As these numbers indicate, older males are the most likely demographic to develop mesothelioma, which isn't surprising given that several male-dominated professions have historically had to deal with asbestos on a daily basis, including those working in construction or automotive repair. The older age among mesothelioma victims is also expected since many individuals do not develop medical problems until decades of their initial exposure to asbestos.

Sadly, as the CDC report makes quite clear, asbestos is not a problem of the past, but a problem of the present. If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma, you may have legal options available. Contact one of the skilled attorneys at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP to learn more about these options today.