The issue of emissions fraud involving German car manufacturer Volkswagen which started in the US has now spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, and even in Germany itself. The use of diesel, which is acknowledged as a gas that is more pollutant and damaging to health than gasoline, can be a legitimate issue for discussion and basis of billions of dollars in fines and compensation; however, rather than the use of diesel, the actual legal concern is centered on the fraudulent means used by Volkswagen to pass tests conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be able to penetrate the US car industry.
A Volkswagen emissions lawyer would tell you that the sad fate now faced by Volkswagen cars, originally advertised as clean and environmentally-friendly substitutes to vehicles with gasoline engines, is car recalls that number in the millions. In the US, cars equipped with the “defeat device,” which enabled Volkswagen to cheat emissions tests, number close to half a million; in the whole of Europe, about 11 million cars are said to be equipped with the said computer software.
According to the EPA, the “defeat device” allows a Volkswagen diesel car to recognize test scenarios and automatically put the vehicle into safe mode if it does so. This means that once in safe mode, the device makes the vehicle run below its normal power and performance and, more importantly, reduces its emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx), a major factor in the formation of ground level ozone or smog. Once back on the road, though, the engine switches out of test mode and runs under normal power, under which it emits pollutants that are up to 40% higher than the level allowed by the EPA.
While it may be true that Volkswagen’s claimed “clean diesel” cars have lower carbon emissions and ensure up to 30% fuel efficiency or gas mileage, it is also a fact these emit nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter which are more damaging to health.
Clearly, this is not the type of a “clean diesel” car that customers thought they would get to own. Those who have been duped by Volkswagen can maybe file a lawsuit against this German car maker for the justice that may be due them.
Discrimination is one ill human behavior that has affected the working environment for so long. It has caused deep emotional injuries in so many victims, as well as ruined their lives, simply because they have been perceived as, or believed to be, different, weaker, (sometimes) dangerous, or just not preferable or likeable due to their race, color, language, accent, style of dressing, ideology, physical appearance, religion, behavior, and so forth.
In the US, discrimination in the workplace is a major persistent issue faced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an agency formed by the US Congress in 1964 for the enforcement of the stipulations of Title VII the Civil Rights Act. This Act or ordinance is aimed at creating a more equal society by prohibiting any form of discriminatory practice and behavior in the workplace based on nationality, race, religion, color and sex; it encompasses all employment-related decisions from employment screening, to hiring and retention, and covers all firms, whether educational institutions, state and local governments, or private companies, that have 15 or more employees.
An additional employment screening and hiring concern that the EEOC has witnessed develop for the past two decades is the questioning of a job applicant on the possibility of having been convicted in the past or a background check for a possible criminal record and then using the information gathered to reject the applicant. Though this may be a clear form of discrimination, the EEOC cannot hold an employer liable for violating the law unless the use of the applicant’s past criminal record can be proven as only a front to cover the real basis of the rejection, such as race, religion, and so forth. One actual example on this involves a case wherein an employer rejected the application of an African American due to his criminal record, but hired a White applicant who has a comparable criminal record.
Background checks are made by companies to make sure that they get to hire the right people for the job – which means people with the right qualifications, skills, attitude and behavior. Although much greater weight is given to qualifications and skills, considering an applicant’s behavior is equally important, especially if the job requires meeting and dealing with people directly, like a customer service job, watering, delivery service, etc. This is because liability for any wrongdoing an employee commits while doing his/her job can be passed on to the employer, who can be accused of negligent hiring, that is, for hiring individuals who they should have known were prone to displaying violent or dangerous behavior.
To avoid discrimination, as well as to avoid ending up hiring someone who poses an unacceptable risk, the EEOC formulated a three-part test that employers can use whenever considering an applicant with a past criminal record:
- The gravity and nature of the conduct or criminal offense
- How long ago was the crime or the conviction
What is the actual nature of the work the applicant is applying into, where is the work to be performed, the amount of supervision the applicant, once accepted, will receive, how much interact with others is required by the job, and so forth.
In its website, Cary Kane LLP explains that inquiring about arrests or conviction during a job application and interview can only be done by employers in government agencies, the Port Authority or enforcement agencies. Those in private companies definitely are prohibited by the law from making inquiries regarding criminal records, much more from using these as ground to deny one’s application. In the event of an infraction of the Civil Rights Act by an employer then Cary Kane LLP, is one law firm that can guarantee competent representation in a discrimination case.
Many prescription drugs are manufactured for specific conditions, but may also be efficacious in others that may not have been intended or studied. Viagra (sildenafil), for instance, was originally formulated as a treatment for hypertension, but is currently more closely associated with erectile dysfunction. Many birth control formulations are also frequently used as a treatment for acne. These are considered “off label” uses and are generally acceptable provided it is done with caution and after some studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of this type of use. In many cases, off label uses have provided unexpected benefits for patients.
But it does not always work out for the best.
One example is Depakote, the anti-seizure medication manufactured by Abbott Labs. It is accepted that prescription medications are likely to have serious side effects, which is why they are not available over-the-counter and patients take it under the supervision of a doctor. But when a drug company in the US encourages the use of a product without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and personal injury results, it renders the company vulnerable to criminal and civil action.
Depakote is primarily intended to provide relief for epileptic patients; even when used for this, allegations of the drug causing birth defects have sparked legal trouble for the manufacturer for failing to provide adequate and timely warning to physicians and patients. Add to that marketing strategies that encourage off label uses of Depakote for treatment of bipolar disorder and migraines, and there is a recipe for disaster. Many civil lawsuits focus on the fact that women who suffer from bipolar disorder or migraine are prescribed with Depakote when they should not be, and the resulting birth defects of their children are due to this off label use.
If you or someone you know has been described with Depakote for epilepsy or other uses and a child is born with a birth defect such as spina bifida, there may be a personal injury case in the making. Consult with a products liability lawyerfamiliar with Depakote litigation in your area to get advice on how to proceed with a claim.
There has been a significant reduction of medical malpractice lawsuits in Connecticut after new laws enacted in 2005 significantly increased the burden of proof of plaintiffs. Before the changes, plaintiffs could file a medical malpractice suit without substantial proof of merit. As stated in the website of the Law Offices of Paul Levin, it was relatively easy to get compensation when medical professionals allowed patients to suffer unnecessary injury. After 2005, however, a medical malpractice lawsuit could only proceed if a certificate of merit signed by a medical profession in a similar capacity as the defendant can be produced.
The improvement in the number of medical malpractice cases could be said to be true for Massachusetts as well, although its method of thinning out the herd was through establishing a tribunal system. A plaintiff would be required to present the case in the early stages of the lawsuit before a superior judge, a lawyer, and a medical professional who is in the same field as the defendant to determine if the case had merit and should be allowed to proceed. In the website of Massachusetts law firm Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, it is stated that in wrong diagnosis cases, it is important that the lawyer handling the case have some medico-legal training to accurately assess the merits of a case being brought in as early as the initial consultation.
Both Connecticut and Massachusetts had dramatic rises in the number of medical malpractice suits prior to legislative reform, resulting in skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums, defensive medicine and fewer doctors willing to practice. With frivolous lawsuits failing to make the cut and costing both sides unnecessary litigation expenses, medical practitioners in both states are breathing a collective sigh of relief.
This is not to say that all medical malpractice suits are frivolous, or that medical professionals are immune from civil litigation. The reforms for both Connecticut and Massachusetts merely ensure that the time and money of litigants and the courts are well spent. If you have a legitimate medical malpractice claim in Connecticut or Massachusetts, you should have no problem proving its merit as long as you have competent legal representation to handle the case for you.
For more information, contact a New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Attorney today to learn more about what they can do to help you in your case.