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Californians to Vote on Raising Medical Malpractice Award Cap

Ballot initiative seeks to improve fairness of medical malpractice awards. Ten years ago, Steven Olsen fell on a stick while hiking with his family in the woods. The two-year-old was taken to the hospital for treatment, but doctors refused to give Steven a CAT scan to check for head injuries as his parents requested. The next day, a growing brain abscess had Steven back at the hospital, this time in a coma. Had the hospital provided the $800 CAT scan, Steven would not be blind and brain damaged today. A jury awarded $7.1 million to Steven and his family in a medical malpractice case, but due to a California cap on non-economic damages, the judge was forced to restrict the judgment to just $250,000, which seems far from fair compensation for a lifetime of suffering. Activists have been trying for years to get the medical malpractice cap adjusted to better provide for fair and equitable compensation to victims of medical malpractice like Steven. Now, their efforts seem poised to bear fruit. A ballot initiative will place the question of whether to raise the medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages to $1.1 million before California voters this November. The current $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases dates back to 1975. Besides being an arbitrary and unfair number, this cap has not been adjusted for inflation. The result is a cap that is woefully out of touch with the needs of victims and their families. Lifting the cap will also help more victims to pursue claims against irresponsible medical professionals by providing a means for them to be...

Job Title More Important than Assignment in Proving Disability

Employees may be considered disabled if they cannot perform all duties listed for their job title or classification. Under both state and federal law, employers are required to make accommodations for employees with injuries or conditions that qualify as a disability and prevent them from carrying out the job duties required for their position or job title. As one recent case shows, this can hold true even if the employee is fully capable of performing all the duties required in their daily work routine. The case involved a California Highway Patrol Officer who was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and a degenerative back condition in 2004. Both of these conditions were found to be work-related and aggravated by filing reports and getting out of a patrol car respectively. The officer was transferred to a light-duty desk position so that he would not have to stress his back further. In 2006, the officer was examined again pursuant to a worker’s compensation claim. The examination found that he could not perform the “14 critical tasks” expected of all highway patrol officers, which included tasks such as dragging a 200-pound person 50 feet or handcuffing a person who was resisting arrest. The officer no longer had to do any of these tasks in his light-duty desk assignment, but nonetheless as a result of this finding the officer was found unfit for duty and sent home. He later chose to retire, but was denied industrial disability retirement. Upon appeal, the court found that the officer did in fact deserve disability because, although he may have been physically qualified to perform the duties that were...

Reverse Disability Discrimination Retaliation Lawsuit DOA

Court shuts down case alleging retaliation for complaining about coworker’s disability benefits Recently, a woman filed a lawsuit alleging retaliation for bringing up claims of reverse discrimination at her workplace. The plaintiff, Shajuana Ingram, was apparently upset at the preferential treatment that a coworker with a special needs child was receiving. Ingram claims that when she complained about the situation, she was fired as retaliation. She then brought a suit against her employer alleging violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as illegal termination by retaliation. There are several things wrong with this case. First of all, the Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities, but does not contain any provision that could form a basis for an employee to claim discrimination due to lack of disability. Therefore Ingram’s lawsuit lacked a cause of action for any reverse disability claim. Secondly, complaining about another employee’s legal entitlements or protections is not the sort of protected activity that can serve as the basis of a retaliation claim. Employers are only prohibited from taking undeserved negative job action against an employee as punishment for protected activities such as whistleblowing, making good faith harassment or discrimination complaints, or exercising rights to workers comp or disability. With no legal basis for her claims, the court quickly shut down Ingram’s case, granting a summary judgment due to no cause for action on either the reverse discrimination or retaliation questions. One has to wonder where Ingram found her lawyer and what they were thinking. Of course, we do not have access to all the facts of the case, but it...

How Pregnancy Discrimination Hurts Companies, Women

Many things have been modernized when it comes to employment laws. Regardless of the changes, mothers are still facing difficulties when it comes to pregnancy and disability leave issues. Some experts have been focusing on these and other issues pertaining to the working woman’ world. But one has been catching our eye as of late: pregnancy discrimination. There are many employers who are concerned about this issue. To avoid problems, they should contact an attorney who’s specialized in employment law once worries kick in. The subject may seem fleeting at first, but the laws are clear about what should and should not happen so that your workplace is healthy to mothers. Between 1992 and 2011, the rates of pregnancy discrimination charges increased by 71 percent. Working women who are pregnant or who are coming back to work after pregnancy are often exposed to discriminatory practices. Each year, thousands of these women file charges against employers over pregnancy discrimination. This trend seems to show employers are not treating women who are pregnant in a fair way. What Is Pregnancy Discrimination Anyway? Discrimination occurs when employers choose to use dissimilar treatment toward qualified job applicants over their pregnancy. But that’s not the only time that happens. Medical conditions, pregnancy, childbirth are all conditions employers may discriminate applicants over. This type of behavior may involve a series of other scenarios as well. Refusing to bring a new job applicant on board over their medical condition or pregnancy is considered discrimination but employees who must put a hold on their work to give birth also suffer. Too often, women are forced to leave...

49ers Hit with Age Discrimination Lawsuit

According to several reports, at least two former 49ers employees have filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the team. The suit claims 49ers’ owner laid off the employees who were in their late 50s to “rebrand” the company. Just before the 49ers moved to a new stadium in Silicon Valley, reports claim several older employees suffered discrimination. Two of these employees assert they were laid off because the owner wanted to rebrand the team as a new “startup.” The suit claims the team’s owner did not offer valid reasons to have younger workers take the place of older employees. The company has been struggling with its reputation since hiring a former Facebook executive. Former employees claim the tech company executive referred to them as “legacy employees.” Insiders use this term in a derogatory fashion to refer to older workers. Former 49ers employees have added complaints linked to this treatment to their suit. Employer May Have Defended Discriminatory Practices In light of reports concerning the job applicants and their qualifications, many believe that former employees are right to pursue this case. The suit claims both job applicants were qualified for the position. Still, younger candidates were the ones who were chosen to take over. During meetings—one of the former employees claims—the company’s vice-president mocked him for his grey hair. This type of complaint is usually associated with age discrimination behaviors that should not be encouraged in the workplace. Co-workers claim former employees were exemplary professionals. Still, none of the consistently positive performance reviews were enough to help them to keep their jobs. When both men were asked to finally leave,...
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