Analyses: High Court Continues “Pro-Business Tilt” with Three New Rulings

 

Though SCOTUS’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act is grabbing a good deal of the headlines from this term’s session, there have been a number of rulings handed down by the court that are very much pro-business, and anti-consumer.

 

USA Today reports that “a sharply divided Supreme Court sided with corporations against individuals in three cases Monday,” which, taken together, “amplified the pro-business tilt of the court’s conservative majority.” All three cases, including two involving workplace discrimination that “prompted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to call on Congress to intervene” and one that reversed a $21 million state court award to a woman horribly disfigured by the effects of a generic drug, “were decided 5-4, with the five justices nominated by Republican presidents in the majority and the four nominated by Democratic presidents in the minority.” Liberal advocacy groups pointed to an “already-documented corporate tilt” under Chief Justice John Roberts that has “rewarded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with a 13-3 record during the term ending this week.”

 

The Washington Post says that “a familiar scenario at the Supreme Court on Monday resulted in a familiar result,” with Ginsburg “calling for Congress to reverse two employment rulings just issued by the court’s conservative majority,” which “make it harder for employees to challenge what they considered workplace harassment and retaliation for complaints of discrimination.” The Post notes that Ginsburg made a similar call to action six years ago “in response to the court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Lilly Ledbetter, a tire plant supervisor who the court said waited too long to file her complaint about being paid less then male co-workers,” after which “a bill changing the rules about such suits was the first major legislation signed by President Obama.”

 

Supreme Court toughens standards for proving discrimination, retaliation.

 

Providing specifics of the Court’s rulings in the cases of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar and Vance v. Ball State University, both decided in 5-4 rulings, the AP says that the Court “ruled that a person must be able to hire and fire someone to be considered a supervisor in discrimination lawsuits, making it harder to blame a business for a co-worker’s racism or sexism.” The court also “decided to limit how juries can decide retaliation lawsuits, saying victims must prove employers would not have taken action against them but for their intention to retaliate.”

 

In the Ball State case, USA Today says that the ruling “is a victory for Ball State University in Indiana, which had been sued by an African-American kitchen worker who claimed she was harassed by co-workers.” According to USA Today, “the issue before court was important, with the potential to set a broad precedent: What constitutes a ‘supervisor’ when it comes to allegations of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?”

 

In the Nassar case, the Christian Science Monitor explains, the issue was “whether the lower courts applied the correct standard for proving a case of illegal retaliation,” when the lower court sided with Naiel Nassar who alleged his previous employer retaliated against him by contacting his new employer, who withdrew their job offer, after he claimed he was resigning due to harassment. The Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the Medical Center’s argument of a tougher standard requiring Nassar “to show that he lost his job at the Medical Center because of his supervisor’s illegal retaliation,” whereas the lower courts applied a broader standard only requiring Nassar to “prove that retaliation was a motivating factor [among other factors] for the adverse employment action.”

 

In response to the Court’s rulings, the Wall Street Journal reports, David Lopez, general counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said that the agency is “disappointed by the Supreme Court’s failure to defer to long-standing EEOC interpretations of the law.” He added that the rulings “will have serious consequences for workers to be free from workplace harassment and to complain about discrimination without fear of retaliation.”

 

Federal law preempts state law over generic drug makers, Supreme Court rules.

 

In another 5-4 ruling on Monday, the Reuters reports, the Supreme Court agreed with Mutual Pharmaceutical that generic drug manufacturers cannot be sued under state law for adverse reactions to their products. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion that state laws could not run against Federal laws regarding prescription medicines that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen cautioned that the ruling threatens patient safety at a time when nearly 80 percent of prescriptions in the US are filled with generic medicines.

 

In his opinion, USA Today reports, Alito acknowledged that plaintiff Karen Barlett’s injury “is tragic and evokes deep sympathy, but a straightforward application of pre-emption law requires that the judgment below be reversed.” Because the FDA “approved the brand-name drug for sale – and because the generic is identical, right down to the warning label – the company challenging the jury award” of $21 million “argued that it had no liability for Bartlett’s injuries.” USA Today notes that “all four liberal justices on the court dissented from the ruling.”

 

Paul Myers
Chief Credit Officer

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Tim Bailey Interview – Part 4 – Insurance Company Realities

 

Click on the video to watch part four of Mr. Swanson’s recent interview with Tim Bailey of Bucci, Bailey & Javins in West Virginia.

 

 

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Special QuickBooks® Pricing Available to Advocate Capital, Inc. Clients

 

At Advocate Capital, Inc., our sole focus is on helping our clients, successful plaintiff lawyers across the U.S., achieve the best possible results for their clients and for their practices.

 

We recently added free QuickBooks Support to the list of services we provide existing clients. Today we are happy to announce that we can now provide existing clients with a 30% cost savings on the purchase of QuickBooks products (including upgrades).

 

QuickBooks recently discontinued support services for all 2010 and prior products so you may be thinking about an upgrade.  If you are not sure which QuickBooks version you are currently using, simply press the F2 key on your keyboard with QuickBooks open.

 

If you are an attorney thinking about purchasing QuickBooks for the first time, please note there is an industry specific version designed to meet the specific needs of lawyers called QuickBooks for Law Firms.

 

If you would like to take advantage of the special QuickBooks cost savings as a benefit of being an Advocate Capital, Inc. client, click here to send me a message or contact your Advocate Capital, Inc. Account Representative.

 

We’re here to provide you with resources to get the best possible results for your clients and your practice!

 

Lisa Wagner

Senior Vice President, Client Services

QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor

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Pay It Forward

 

Michael J. Swanson and Claire Wood

We just started a new program of employee recognition here at Advocate Capital, Inc.  We call it “Pay it Forward”.  We got the idea from Cory Cormier and the team at Legal Monkeys.  The concept is pretty simple… Get a picture frame with a glass front and a few dry-erase markers.  Then when someone goes above and beyond in their work, recognize them for it!  The fun part is that whoever gets recognized keeps the frame in their office and then gets to recognize someone of their choosing next.

 

Our first honoree was Claire Wood, our Operations Coordinator.  Claire goes above and beyond on a very regular basis and keeps all of our critical operational systems running smoothly, so I wanted to call attention to her excellent work and amazing positive attitude.  Great job, Claire!   Click here to see a few more pictures on our Facebook Page.

 

Who will be next?  Stay tuned!

 

PS. Thanks to Donna Jones for suggesting that we adopt this program.

 

Michael J. Swanson

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MSN Video Highlights Karl Truman

 

Attorney Karl N. Truman was recently featured on Louisville’s “Great Day Live” WHAS11.com  explaining the many difficulties encountered by injured citizens pursuing Social Security disability claims.  Click on the video below as Karl describes the numerous requirements and processes involved with disability claims.

Mr. Truman not only serves the citizens of Kentucky and surrounding communities as an expert trial lawyer but also served in the United States Army.  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2009 after 28 years of service.  In addition to handling all types of personal injury claims, Karl offers a unique perspective and dedicates a great deal of his time handling claims on behalf of veterans.  It is more than just a slogan “Count on the Colonel” that distinguishes Mr. Truman’s firm.  To read more about the Colonel and the important work done by his firm, click here.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support the important work done by trial lawyers like Mr. Truman.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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Use Your Law Firm Website to Build Trust with Prospects

 

Photo Credit: TerryJohnston via FlickrRecent research shows that most people use online searches to look for an attorney, so therefore your website is usually the first way to gain trust with a prospective client. On The Rainmaker Blog, Stephen Fairley shares several really great tips on how to use your law firm website to build trust.  Here are a few:

 

 

  • Third-party support. Use testimonials, articles and links to publications and news sites that mention your firm to build credibility.
  • Show your office. Add photos of your office or building and be sure to include your physical address on your home page.
  • Highlight personnel. Include photos and bios of your attorneys and support personnel to show prospects who they’ll be dealing with.

 

Click here for the full list.

 

Tina Burns
Vice President

 

Photo Credit: TerryJohnston via Flickr
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Claude Wyle – Part Three – Importance of Law Suits

Click on the video to watch part three of Mr. Swanson’s recent interview with Claude Wyle of Choulos, Choulos & Wyle, LLP of San Francisco, California.

 

 

 

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Congratulations to Trey Apffel, Newly Elected President of the State Bar of Texas

 

Congratulations to Advocate Capital, Inc. friend and colleague, Trey Apffel, on his recent election as president-elect for 2013 and Texas State Bar President for 2014.  This hard-fought election actually resulted in a run-off with Mr. Apffel’s election confirmed by the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) just over two weeks ago.

 

Mr. Apffel has tirelessly served the citizens of Texas for over 30 years in a variety of practice areas including personal injury, workers’ compensation, wrongful death and insurance claims.  He has served on the board of directors for the SBOT, a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Legislative Policy Committee.  He is a former member of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, the College of the State Bar of Texas, a Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow, and served on the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees.  Trey is also a member of the Galveston County Bar Association and served as the organization’s president in 1996–1997. He is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

 

CONGRATULATIONS to Trey, the members of the Texas State Bar Association and the citizens of Texas on the election of an outstanding leader.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

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Simon & O’Leary Team Up For $7.9 Million Verdict

 

Congratulations to attorneys Robert Simon and Daniel O’Leary as well as their client on this tremendous settlement and verdict.  Their client, Mario Olguin, purchased a set of used tires, including a 13-year old Michelin, from A-Car Wrecking Salvage Lot.  Mr. Olguin then took the tires to Twin’s Tires and Wheels who installed them on his vehicle.  Eleven days later while Mr. Olguin was a passenger in the vehicle traveling in Mexico, the tread on the Michelin tire separated causing the driver to lose control and the vehicle to roll over.

 

The plaintiff suffered numerous injuries including a C2 spinal fracture, mild traumatic brain injury as well as significant wounds to his head and arms.  He was hospitalized, placed in a halo brace and underwent skin grafting for the wounds.  He received epidural and nerve-block injections but continues to suffer chronic pain in his neck and back.  Mr. Olguin also suffers from depression, mood disorder and cognitive problems.   His past medical expenses totaled approximately $307,000.  His future medicals and life-care costs are estimated at $1.5MM.  At the time of the accident, plaintiff owned and operated a landscaping business.  He returned to work in a different capacity and there was no claim for lost wages.

 

Litigation was filed against A-Car and Twin’s Tire and Wheels alleging the companies were negligent in selling and installing a tire that was 13 years and showed signs of weather cracking.  Plaintiff also sued Michelin North America, Inc. who designed the tire.  Michelin argued that it recommends that its tires be removed from service after seven years and that the tire had in fact been removed from service when it was sold by the salvage lot.  Plaintiff settled with Michelin prior to trial for a confidential amount and with A-Car Wrecking Salvage Lot for $800,000.

 

The case proceeded to trial against Twin’s Tire.  The verdict included a finding that Twin’s Tire was 100% at fault and awarded $7.9MM to Mr. Olguin.

 

Mr. Simon and his twin brother Brad are principals in The Simon Law Group and handle all types of personal injury cases.  To review more of their outstanding case results, click here.  The Law Office of Daniel M. O’Leary represents injured citizens throughout California with an emphasis on automotive product liability.

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud to support trial lawyers like Bob Simon and Dan O’Leary and the important work they do on behalf of injured citizens everywhere.

 

Donna A. Jones

Senior Vice President

 

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com
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Drive More Blog Traffic Using LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn is THE professional web. As a business owner you should consider using LinkedIn as a tool to help gain more exposure within your network. With the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” feature you can even track how many people have viewed your page within a certain time frame. The Social Media Examiner suggests tracking your views weekly and following their 7 helpful tips to get more traffic to your page. Things like, utilizing your LinkedIn share button on your blog and building more connections can help generate more traffic to your page, and in turn more traffic to your blog. Click here to read all 7 tips about driving more traffic to your blog.

 

Tina Burns
Vice President

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