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An update to the Fair Labor Standards Act and What It Means for You

Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 at 9:47 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Mark Ashley Hatfield, a Juris Doctor student at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

An update to the Fair Labor Standards Act and What It Means for You

The American workforce has not always been protected in the same manner as it is today. Perhaps some of you remember, or have heard stories passed down from relatives about days where pre-teen children worked long hours to help their families, or times when people endured horrible working conditions while being paid very minimal wages. Those types of situations slowly began to change in 1932, when former Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, then a Senator from Alabama, drafted the first version of worker protection laws. Black’s proposal was initially met with indifference, but a slightly modified version of Black’s laws was later set into effect in 1940. Those regulations have since been known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The FLSA established the 40-hour work week; mandated time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a given week; created a federal minimum wage; and eliminated the employment of most minors. Additionally, the FLSA sets a salary threshold and uses a duties test (both of which will be discussed in further detail below) to determine who is entitled to its protections and for 12 years that salary threshold has gone unchanged. However, in 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations. Under that directive, the Department of Labor produced some modifications, including an update of the salary threshold, to the FLSA regulations that will have a strong impact on middle class workers. The “Final Rule” for the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law on May 18, 2016 and becomes effective on December 1, 2016.

cubiclesIn addressing these recent changes, this article will attempt to better clarify the overtime portion of the FLSA; particularly the fact that, in general, employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in any given work week unless they meet one of the various statutory exemptions. In addition, this article will touch on how these new updates may affect bankruptcy filings and Workers’ Compensation claims.

Most of you are probably familiar with the terms exempt, and non-exempt, employee. If an employee is non-exempt she is covered by the FLSA regulations and must be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 in any given work week. However, if certain criteria are met, an employee can be deemed exempt; meaning she is not covered by the FLSA regulations and is not entitled to overtime pay regardless of the number of hours she works.

The most common exemptions employees fall under, are what the FLSA considers “white-collar” exemptions, and affect mostly middle class workers. Generally, an employee must meet three requirements to be considered exempt under these exemptions:

  1. The employee must meet the salary threshold. Beginning in 2004 that salary threshold was set at $455/week (i.e., $23,660 annually). However, with the most recent modifications, that threshold will increase to $913/week (i.e., $47,476) annually;
  2. The pay an employee receives must be received on a “salary basis.” This term, defined in the FLSA, basically limits the types of deductions that can be made from an employee’s salary which is required to be a predetermined amount; and
  3. The employee’s “primary” (i.e., main or most important) duty must be recognized as exempt under the applicable exemption(s).

It is important to note that the salary threshold does not apply to all exemptions, including the exemption for teachers and outside sales employees. Still, the threshold is increasing nearly two-fold so it is important for employees to take note, especially anyone earning between $23,661 and $47,275. These employees will go from being exempt employees to non-exempt employees; meaning they will be entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a given work week.

This additional overtime will likely give rise to a change in bankruptcy filings as well. If your status does change from exempt to non-exempt, and you continue to work the same number of hours, more overtime pay will make it more likely that you will have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy rather than a Chapter 7. This is because you must be below median income for your household size to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the increase in income will likely push you over the median income threshold. This is significant because where Chapter 7 bankruptcy results in a ‘clean slate’ for the debtor, Chapter 13 filings require a debtor to propose a repayment plan to his creditors wherein he offers to pay off all or part of his debts from the future income he expects to receive.

Another important issue to be aware of is the impact the additional overtime pay may have on Workers’ Compensation claims. For example, modifications are unlikely to have an effect on Workers’ Compensation claims in Kentucky because Kentucky rules do not allow overtime to be calculated into the average weekly wage. This means that Temporary Total Disability and Partial Permanent Disability awards will not be affected. Most states mirror one another in terms of Workers’ Compensation claims, but it is always important to be aware of your own state’s laws in these types of situations.

Additionally, the FLSA goes so far as to define particular duties tests for certain professions. For example, the learned professions of chefs, nurses, and dental hygienists have their primary duties defined in the FLSA regulations. It is important to note that even if your salary is increased to meet the new threshold, you are not automatically deemed exempt. As was the case before the most recent updates, you must also pass the duties test; meaning your primary work duty must be one that is classified as exempt under the FLSA regulations. An example of this can be found in the ‘Administrative Exemption’ described in the FLSA. If you are a Human Resources manager making $48,000, you are technically under the administrative label and you have satisfied the new salary threshold. However, if your primary work duty is not the “performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers” as the administrative exemption requires, you will not qualify as an exempt employee; instead you will be non-exempt, entitled to overtime pay.

The modifications to the FLSA will have an impact on many of America’s employees. If you are one of those workers, it is vital that you be proactive about your situation. Ask your employer about your exempt or non-exempt status; ask about timekeeping duties; ask about possible new or diminishing responsibilities; and if the answers are not clear to you, consult with an attorney. With the modified rules going into effect at the beginning of December 2016, the sooner you become educated on your employment situation, the better.


What are the effects on my spouse if I file bankruptcy?

Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2016 at 7:30 pm    

In this video, Justin Lawrence talks about the effect on a non-filing husband or wife when their spouse needs to file bankruptcy. What happens to their assets? Which debts get discharged? And what happens to the non-filing spouse’s credit score? Watch this video to find those answers and more!


How Long Do I Have to Wait Between Bankruptcies?

Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2016 at 1:18 pm    

In this video, Justin Lawrence discusses the complicated rules governing how long you must wait between bankruptcy filings, depending on what kind of bankruptcy was filed previously (Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13), what kind of bankruptcy is being filed now, whether a discharge occurred in the prior bankruptcy, and whether a discharge can occur in the current bankruptcy.

Although the rules are complicated, Lawrence & Associates’ experienced attorneys can cut through the clutter to ensure you file your bankruptcy at the time that is best for you.  Have questions?  Call today!


Understanding Workers’ Compensation Law

Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2016 at 8:07 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Mark Ashley Hatfield, a Juris Doctor student at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

“Arising out of” & “In the Course of” Employment – Workers’ Compensation Law

Occupational_Safety_EquipmentUnderstanding workers’ compensation can be a tricky task. The general concept of workers’ compensation can be broken down into a few simple questions: who was injured; what was the injury; and how did the injury occur? As you can imagine, depending on the nature of the job, these factors will always produce different results. This article will seek to explain a sometimes confusing topic that arises out of the how factor of the questions above.

Although the how factor changes with different injuries, the process by which the injury is analyzed does not. When analyzing the how factor, as with any of the above factors, it is extremely important to understand how the term “Injury” is defined. Each state has its own workers’ compensation law so it is always important to note any jurisdictional differences; still, definitions of “Injury” are generally the same. To demonstrate, below is a look at the relevant statutes of Kentucky and Ohio. Kentucky Revised Statute § 342.0011(1) defines “Injury” as follows:

“Injury” means any work-related traumatic event or series of traumatic events, including cumulative trauma, arising out of and in the course of employment which is the proximate cause producing a harmful change in the human organism evidenced by objective medical findings.

Similarly, the Ohio Revised Code Annotated § 4123.01 defines “Injury” to include: “any injury, whether caused by external accidental means or accidental in character and result, received in the course of, and arising out of, the injured employee’s employment.” The Ohio statutory law includes a similar proximate cause requirement as well.

These definitions seem simple enough but, when broken down, they become a bit more complex. The beginnings of the sentences do not pose much of a problem as they each include, in their respective definitions, “any” injury that is a result of the employees work or employment. The logical connection would lead a person to believe that (minus the exclusions laid out by the statutes themselves) the use of “any” would cover any injury that could occur. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and understanding workers’ compensation law is not always that simple.

Both statutes follow their all-encompassing definition with similar qualifiers. In both statutory provisions, immediately after saying Injury means “any” injury the employee suffers while at work, the statutes say that the injury must be one “arising out of” and “in the course of employment.” Meeting these two requirements is not as easy as it may appear. At first glance, it is actually pretty difficult to tell the difference between the two. For example, a couple of reasonable question to these definitions might be, would an injury not “arise out of” employment if it happened “in the course of” employment? Similarly, would something not happen “in the course of” employment if it “arose out of” employment? Although these phrases are made to be interpreted liberally by the courts, there is a significant difference between the two. When beginning to analyze a workers’ compensation claim it is important to note those differences, and this article will seek to help in that analysis.

First, we will take a look at the “arising out of” element. As described in Fisher v. Mayfield, an Ohio Supreme Court case, there must a “causal connection” between the employment and the injury itself. In Fisher, a teacher was injured at another school in her school district when she stopped to collect donations for a voluntary fund not sponsored by the school district. The causal connection is an element that can be evidenced through the actions, the evidence, or the environment of the employment. In describing how to analyze this connection, the Fisher court cites an older Ohio case, Lord v. Daugherty, which provides factors to use when analyzing the “arising out of” element; the Lord factors include: proximity, control, and benefit to the employer.

When analyzing the first factor, the court in Fisher said that the claimant met the requirement because she was already on a campus controlled by the employer. An employee does not have to physically be at her employment site when the injury occurs but, as you can imagine, the court’s analysis of this factor becomes much more complicated when the employee is injured away from her job site. Next, the control element looks to whether the employer has control of the area where the employee was injured. The court in Fisher expressly disagreed with the argument that the control element related to the employer’s control over the employee’s actions. Conversely, the court leaned towards a different argument. The argument being that, so long as the employer can be shown to have control over the site of the injury itself, the control element will be met. Finally, the injury must be shown to have occurred during an act that served the benefit of the employer. The court in Fisher found, as many other courts have, that even social events that serve to boost company morale can be viewed as a benefit to an employer, so this element was met as well.

Next, the “in the course of” employment element of workplace injuries can be viewed as a time and place type of element. Another Ohio Supreme Court opinion describes this element very well. Ruckman v. Cubby Drilling says that this term was set in place to limit “compensable injuries to those sustained by an employee while performing a required duty in the employer’s service.” The case goes further into explanation to say that in order to be entitled to a workers’ compensation claim, a claimant:

need not necessarily be injured in the actual performance of work for his employer. An injury is compensable if it is sustained by an employee while that employee engages in activity that is consistent with the contract for hire and logically related to the employer’s business.

Thus, any event that occurs in furtherance of the employment contract is arguably within the meaning of “in the course of” employment. In Ruckman, the injured employees were well-drillers who were injured in a traffic accident on the way to the job site. As a general rule, travel to and from work is not a covered event. However, given that there was no set place for employment and part of the job duties included daily travel to different work sites, the employee’s travel was covered by workers’ compensation.

This article is by no means a complete summarization of workers’ compensation law. It is not even a complete summarization of how an injury is defined for the purposes of workers’ compensation claims. This article is merely a starting point to see where an injury may be viewed from a workers’ compensation perspective. In addition to analyzing the types of injuries that “arise out of” and “in the course of” employment, as we did in this article, every jurisdiction has specific exclusions that we were unable to touch on. Hopefully no reader ever has to endure a workplace injury, but if you do, it is vitally important that you understand where to begin analyzing your situation.


How does filing bankruptcy affect my credit score?

Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2016 at 11:28 am    

In this video, Justin Lawrence addresses a problem many people worry about before filing bankruptcy:  the effect that filing bankruptcy will have on their credit score.  Several rules of thumb are given that address when the opportunity to take out a loan will become available, how long interest rates will be affected, and how long the bankruptcy will show up on a credit report.


Fitting the Punishment to the Crime

Posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 at 3:57 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by James Haney, a Juris Doctor student at NKU Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University.

Fitting the Punishment to the Crime:

Punitive Damages Awarded to Estate of Man Killed by Negligence of the Hospital

emergency-roomLooking for a little more drama in your court cases? Is SVU getting stale? Are you interested in gross negligence committed by hospitals in direct transgression of the Hippocratic Oath? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need look no farther than a recent opinion (which can be read in full, here) published by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. In a case which involves quite possibly the most egregious example of criminal negligence that I, personally, have ever read, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld an award of $1.45 million in punitive damages against Saint Joseph Healthcare, Inc. This case deserves some historical context in order to be more fully understood.

The Washington Post published an article on May 3, 2016, two (2) days before the Kentucky Supreme Court handed down its opinion, stating that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. For comparison, that falls above respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Only heart disease and cancer kill more, respectively. 251,000 people, each entrusting their lives to the medical professionals, die, each year, due to medical errors. While the severity of each case varies, one fact remains true: errors are preventable.

First of all, the events detailed in the case occurred in 1999. This legal battle has been going on for over 17 years. The facts of the case in hand were established at the original trial. In appellate decision, the evidence is looked at in a light “most favorable to the verdict.” This is a legal standard in the United States, rather than a single standard used by this court in particular. With that in mind, the court recounted the following facts.

James Milford Gray, the deceased whose estate brought the action against the hospital, arrived at the emergency room on the evening of April 8, 1999. Gray was an uninsured, indigent paraplegic, and was examined by Dr. Barry Parsley and PA Julia Adkins after complaining of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and severe constipation. A witness testified to the distress Gary was in, stating that Gray could be heard crying and calling for help. After being treated with pain medication, an enema, and manual dis-impaction, Gray was discharged, not five hours after his arrival. The ambulance service, without a specific destination given by Gray, ushered him around to various family members. He was declined by each, as none of them had any medical expertise, and they noted his ill-looking pallor and condition. Gray was returned to the hospital by the ambulance service.

Rather than admit Gray to the emergency room, the hospital wheeled him to a motel across the street, paid for him to have a room for the night, and left him. Without a wheelchair. It bears repeating that Gray was a paraplegic, as in, he had no function in his legs. Upon seeing him vomit dried blood, the motel staff called 911, and Gray was taken back to the emergency room. The same doctor and physician’s assistant saw him, in addition to Dr. Jack Geren. Gray was discharged by Geren, with instructions that he would be arrested if he returned to the emergency room. Chestity Roberts, Gray’s niece, finally agreed to take him in. He was urged by family members to return to the hospital, but refused, citing his fear of being arrested. Gray died a few hours later. He succumbed to the rupture of a duodenal ulcer.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) denotes two (2) duties to a hospital in the care of a patient: 1) the hospital must screen the patient for treatment at its emergency room, and 2) the hospital must stabilize the patient before he is transferred or discharged. Gray’s estate brought action against the hospital, Dr. Richardson, and Dr. Geren. Settlements were reached with both Richardson and Geren. The jury assessed compensatory damages, the type designed to only replace what was lost, and nothing more, to be $25,000. After distributing fault based on percentage, the hospital was saddled with a whopping $3,750 in compensatory damages. Please note that “whopping” is riddled with sarcasm, in the previous sentence. Due to the perceived level of atrocity of the inaction of the hospital, the court also issued Gray’s estate a $1.5 million punitive award. The Court of Appeals affirmed the compensatory amount, but considered the punitive damages excessive, and remanded the case to the lower court for a new trial on the punitives. The reasoning was that the disparity between the punitive and compensatory damages constituted a potential violation of the 14th Amendment due process clause. The Supreme Court of Kentucky then granted review, and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals, based on a decision in Martin v. Ohio County Hospital Corporation in 2009, involving the EMTALA. The Court of Appeals reaffirmed its original decision, and the case for the punitive amount was heard. This time, the jury returned a verdict for $1.45 million, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals.

Kentucky does not have a cap on the amount that may be awarded to a plaintiff in the case of punitive damages. I think this is a positive stance. In the course of a trial, outcomes often favor those with the deepest pockets. The equalizer is what facts the jury hears. As was shown so starkly in the case of the elderly woman who was burned by McDonald’s coffee, the general public is often swayed by the media (which only makes sense, given the fact that the media determines what information is made readily available at the greatest of ease), and virtually never receives all the facts of a case. I, myself, was guilty of passing judgment on the woman, without hearing all the facts. After being exposed to them, my opinion changed. The point is that the jury is the best able to determine the appropriate amount with which to levy punishment against a bad actor. In the case of a major hospital, $1.5 million is not nearly as damaging as the public relations nightmare that may well come of the case.

Often, punitive damages are based on Gore v. BMW of North America, Inc. The case set out a standard for how to determine an award of punitive damages: 1) the degree of reprehensibility, 2) the disparity between the actual or potential harm suffered and the punitive damages, and 3) the difference between the compensatory and punitive damages awarded. The court notes that “Additional consideration is required where a particularly egregious act has resulted in only a small amount of economic damages.”

I think it’s safe to say that $3,750 is substantially insignificant when compared to the conduct of the hospital and its employees. There are most certainly people that take advantage of the system. That is impossible to argue against. The case, here, though, involves a man who was mere hours away from death, upon first entering the emergency room. The hospital effectively placed a band-aid over a gunshot wound, and then proceeded to tear it off, without so much as a courtesy 3-2-1 countdown. As insane and inexcusable as the actions were, I can almost understand the position of the hospital in trying to be economically efficient. However, paying for a motel room, then leaving a paraplegic without a wheelchair seems asinine. You paid for the room, but can’t spare a wheelchair? C’mon. As to the constitutionality of the award, the ratio is 386 to 1, punitive to compensatory. Typically, the ratio is capped at 9 to 1. This case, though, as described by the Kentucky Supreme Court, is a perfect marriage of situations which would create cause for going outside the single-digit ratio guideline. The single-digit ratio is, after all, a precedent guideline, rather than a hard and fast rule.

The actions of the hospital and its staff surely warrants an imposing punitive award. No business would be allowed to get away with comparable actions, and no establishment in which people entrust their lives should be allowed to, either. The direct and reprehensible way in which the physicians disregarded their duties deserves some form of punishment. It is, in my opinion, perfectly acceptable to have awarded the estate of Mr. Gray such a high value. The value of human life may be debated; what cannot be debated, though, is the fact that the hospital broke the law, and must not be allowed to escape with a slap on the wrist for doing so.


The Dangers of Taking Out Debt Before Filing Bankruptcy

Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2016 at 2:40 pm    

Justin Lawrence from Lawrence & Associates talks about the dangers of taking out debt before filing bankruptcy, including the 90 day presumption of abuse used by bankruptcy courts to discourage the use of credit cards and loans within 90 days before filing a bankruptcy. This video applies to both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, and examples including credit card debt and buying a new car are given.


Client Appreciation for Renee Chase

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2016 at 2:35 pm    

Renee Chase, one of our valued Workers’ Compensation paralegals, recently received a surprise bouquet of flowers from a grateful client.  Lawrence & Associates values customer service and encourages employees to go the extra mile to help our clients through trying times.  Renee does a wonderful job, and our clients clearly appreciate her.

Thank you Renee!

thank-you-flowers


Products Liability Against Johnson and Johnson

Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 at 12:29 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by James Haney, a Juris Doctor student at NKU Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University.

Products Liability Against Johnson and Johnson:

So Much for “No Tears”

At some point or another, virtually everyone has used a Johnson and Johnson product, be it on themselves, their children, or, in the case of one of my family members, their pets. With their famously advertised “No Tears” promise, Johnson and Johnson is one of the mainstays of the personal hygiene world. In fact, from December 28, 2014, to December 31, 2015, Johnson and Johnson (JNJ from here on, as is their stock moniker) saw a net profit of $48,538,000,000. That’s enough to make me double check the figures a few times over. The past five (5) years have been generally the same, within a couple percentage points of each other. This is an important figure to keep in mind throughout the rest of this post.

talcum-powderUnfortunately, massive profits do not necessarily a moral company make. It has recently been discovered that, since the 1970s (please keep in mind, this is now nearly 50 years), JNJ has known that the talcum powder it uses in some of its products posed a cancer threat to its users. I would not describe such a practice as “customer-centered.” Parallels have been drawn between JNJ and the major tobacco companies. To give a sort of comparison, that would be like if Churchill had switched sides during the war: once thought of as great and trustworthy, now killing people and hiding the evidence.

That last bit may come across as a bit dramatic, but it’s unfortunately accurate. The facts were actually exposed only as recently as Monday, May 2, 2016, as I write this on May 11th. That same day, a jury awarded a plaintiff against JNJ $55 million in damages. The plaintiff, Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. It was discovered, through the course of the trial, that Ristesund had used JNJ’s talc-based products for around 40 years. The repeated exposure to the product caused her to have to have a full hysterectomy, and talc was discovered on her ovaries. The talc was, of course, traced back to the JNJ product with which she had become so well acquainted.
This was the second eight-figure award given by juries to plaintiffs who accused JNJ of knowing about the risks posed by the talc powder in its products. Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, Alabama, was issued an award of $72 million, and in the same courthouse, no less. Fox had used the JNJ’s baby powder for 35 years, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. She died last year.

Currently, JNJ is facing approximately 1,200 lawsuits in relation to its talc-based products. The allegations include fraud, negligence, conspiracy, and failure to warn. Conspiracy? Absolutely. Information has been released which shows that JNJ not only knew about the risks posed by its products, but actively sought to hide and manipulate the information, which included distorting scientific papers in order to prevent talc from being classified as a carcinogen. This was in concordance with its own lobby, the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF), which seems entirely too specific.

According to a recent study published in Epidemiology, women who used talc on their genitals were a full one-third more likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The study was conducted (in a very simplistic overview of it) by asking two separate groups of women about their use of talc-based products. 2,041 women with ovarian cancer, and 2,100 women without ovarian cancer were interviewed. A woman was found to be thirty-three percent more likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer just by using talc on their genitals. While a product giving people cancer is clearly a bad thing, that is not what managed to get JNJ hit with such massive punitive damages. No, it was the cover-up that brought those massive numbers falling on the head of the company.

As a brief lesson, damages come in two flavors: compensatory, and punitive. Compensatory damages are designed to make a person “whole.” It boils down to replacing loss with money. This can take the form of covering medical costs, paying for loss of enjoyment of life, covering potential earnings lost, or even covering emotional damage or loss of a loved one. Obviously, no amount of money can bring a person back, or truly replace anything lost, but it is the best the courts are able to do. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are designed to punish. They go well and beyond the compensatory damages awarded, and are intended to leave a mark. A company like JNJ would have no problem covering the medical expenses of a cancer patient, especially in Fox’s case, where she only lived for four (4) years after being diagnosed. $72 million, though, may be felt; certainly in the realm of PR, if not in the wallet.

Juries tend to look down on the practice of covering up potentially life-threatening problems with products. A juror in the case of Gloria Ristesund gave his reasoning for awarding the amount of damages given: “They tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics. They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.”

It bears repeating that JNJ has known about the risk posed by talc since the 70s. That is mind-bogglingly irresponsible. Various studies in 1971, 1982, and 1993, specifically, along with roughly twenty-two (22) other studies, have shown a causal link between talc and ovarian cancer. Again, this shows nothing less than an alarming level of negligence on the part of JNJ. Negligence, in a legal sense, has five (5) factors: 1) duty, 2) breach of duty, 3) causality, 4) scope of liability, and 5) damages. Every company has a duty to its customers to ensure, as best as possible, a safe product. JNJ clearly breached this duty by not only knowing about the dangers of its products, and continuing to put them on the market, but actively hiding the dangers. That breach has caused at least two women, according to the courts (and thousands more, allegedly, as these cases are still pending), to suffer from complications arising from continued use of the products. This direct causation is well within the scope of JNJ’s breach, and has caused massive damage to those affected.

TIPTF has been the primary actor in the conspiracy and covering of facts. As stated by the group, their primary objective was to defend companies who use talc in their products, and prevent regulation of the products in the industry. JNJ was the primary contributor to the TIPTF. According to various lawsuits, the TIPTF rigged scientific studies regarding talc, and went so far as to alter reports prior to submission to government agencies. In 2005, TIPTF even threatened to sue, in order to prevent talc from being labeled as a carcinogen. The Canadian government actually acted back in 2006, classifying talc as a D2A substance. For the sake of comparison, asbestos is also listed as a D2A.
A dangerous product is not necessarily the fault of a company. Early on, tobacco companies were unaware of the dangerous effects of smoking. Not disseminating knowledge that doesn’t exist is not worth reproach. However, hiding known dangers, while marketing a product as perfectly safe for anyone, is reprehensible. As of now, there are no known cancerous side-effects of talc when used by men. JNJ has lost in the court of law twice, now, and will likely continue to do so. However, its loss in the court of public opinion will almost certainly prove to be its most costly. This should act as a lesson to other companies: hidden dangerous will always be found, and covering them up can do nothing but exacerbate the problem.


Liability for Employers Furnishing Alcohol to Employees

Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2016 at 3:50 pm    

Attorney Justin Lawrence writes here about the liability for drunk drivers who cause automobile accidents when the drunk driver gets behind the wheel immediately after a work event.  Kentucky law has a surprising loophole for employers that allow their employees to get drunk at company functions and drive home.

If you’ve been in a car accident with a drunk driver, get the facts to know your rights.  Call the experienced attorneys at Lawrence & Associates for a free consultation to determine whether you should sue.

Click here to read his article, Liability for Employers Furnishing Alcohol to Employees.

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