Suit Filed Against Environmental Company Over Sewage-Filled Flood
On September 8, 2020, a Vermont restaurant filed suit in Massachusetts federal court against Wind River Environmental, after the company flooded the unnamed restaurant with countless gallons of human feces, urine and sewage.
The legal profession poses a multitude of challenges to female attorneys and the women profiled in this series lead the way by example, in effecting change and working to shatter the glass ceiling. In doing so, they’ve experienced a great deal of change in the industry throughout their careers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served to impose a new set of challenges to the legal environment, and especially to recent graduates from law school. The American Bar Association (“ABA”) stressed, in a recent webinar, the obstacles facing new law school graduates and rising 3Ls due to the newly depressed legal job market and unanticipated issues surrounding licensing and the bar exam. To add to the mounting pressures, law students graduate with around $148,000, on average, in student debt. To put that into perspective, according to a 2019 Zillow report, the average price of a home in America is $226,800. Comparatively, most law students in the U.S. are starting their careers under substantial financial stress.
On September 8, 2020, class claims were filed in New Jersey Superior Court against two long-term healthcare providers, Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center I and Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center II (“Facilities”), alleging that the Facilities deliberately misled the families of residents, and the residents themselves, as to the quality of care provided and the safety standards in place.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Brian Roberts brings claims on behalf of his uncle, Albert Roberts’ estate. The plaintiff argues that he and his deceased uncle chose to employ the services of the Facilities based on representations made by the defendants that they comply with stringent local, state and federal standards and hold an excellent reputation with regulatory agencies. The plaintiff alleges that in actuality, the defendants possessed an extensive history of regulatory violations and poor assessment ratings. In fact, for several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), repeatedly cautioned that the facilities posed immediate jeopardy to resident health and safety. Specifically, CMS directed the facilities on several occasions to implement adequate infection prevention and control programs. The plaintiff argues that had he been aware of the true state of the facilities he and his now deceased uncle would never have chosen it and certainly would never have agreed to pay the premium price they cost.
On September 1, 2020, international consulting firm Deloitte was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the company’s parental leave program is highly misleading.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Saxon Knight describes how Deloitte advertises to both the public and its employees, that it offers a progressive parental leave program. The plaintiff argues that the defendant company makes it a point to self-promote its parental leave policies and has been generously lauded by the media for its commitment to allowing employees to take up to 16 weeks of paid leave.
On August 31, 2020, class claims were filed in federal court in Minnesota against DAP Products Inc. (“DAP”), the makers of DAP 3.0 “Crystal Clear” Kitchen, Bathroom and Plumbing Sealant, alleging that the product yellows within several weeks of being applied.
On August 26, 2020, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc. (“Wyndham”) was served with class claims in federal court in the District of Delaware, alleging that its timeshare ownership program employed misleading sales and marketing tactics to fraudulently induce plaintiffs to enter into sales agreements for pricy timeshares.
On August 24, 2020, class claims for violations of the federal securities laws were filed in federal court in the Northern District of California against biotech company Vaxart Inc. (“Vaxart”). A group of securities holders alleged that Vaxart engaged in artificially inflating the company’s stock price by announcing false and misleading information concerning the company’s COVID-19 oral recombinant vaccine candidate.
New Attorney Licensing and the Bar Exam During COVID-19
Taking the bar exam is a pivotal point in the transition from law student to lawyer. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, those preparing for bar exams across the country have faced a number of setbacks. State bar examiners have oscillated between postponing in-person exams to instituting online exam platforms. Law students and professors alike have called for the enactment of an emergency diploma privilege which would allow all graduates to practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney—totally bypassing a bar examination.
On August 12, 2020, popular food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (“Chipotle”) was served with proposed class claims in federal court in the District of Arizona, alleging that the company discriminates against female employees who are breast feeding.
Tensions continue to mount in the class action lawsuit between upmarket grocery chain Whole Foods Inc. (“Whole Foods”) and a class of employees who allege that the store violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by refusing to allow employees to wear “Black Lives Matter” face masks while on duty. Plaintiffs filed a reply brief in support of their emergency motion for preliminary injunction on August 11, 2020, in swift response to the defendant’s August 5, 2020, memorandum in opposition of preliminary injunction.
On August 7, 2020, plaintiffs in the class action suit against Walmart, which centered on claims of price gouging for meat products, submitted a settlement worth up to $9.5 million to Southern District of Florida Judge Jose E. Martinez for preliminary approval. The class alleged that the defendant engaged in systematic overcharging for beef, pork, poultry, fish and other types of packaged foods.
On July 29, 2020, a 69-year-old great-grandmother filed suit in Circuit Court in Orange County Florida against the Walt Disney Company, in addition to other Disney entities and employees, alleging that the defendants attempted to rob her of her physical liberty, her personal dignity and good name after she was arrested for possession of a hemp-based CBD oil while on a family trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 2019.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States, consumers are relying heavily on cleaning supplies and accompanying advertising of the products’ germ-killing capabilities. On July 31, 2020, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against Edgewell Personal Care Company, manufacturer of the popular Wet Ones hand wipes, alleging that the defendant misled consumers in representing that the product kills 99.9% of germs.
On July 7, 2020, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against hand sanitizer manufacturer, Vi-Jon Inc., alleging that the defendant actively misled consumers by advertising its products as capable of killing 99.9% of germs.
Post COVID-19 Courtrooms: Breaking Down NJ’s Proposed Court Reopening
As the nation continues to grapple with rising coronavirus infection rates, there have been recent developments in the reopening of the U.S. court system. On July 22, 2020, the New Jersey judiciary announced its plan to resume jury trials in September 2020. Many courts across the nation will look to New Jersey and its efforts to resume in-person courthouse appearances for guidance in reopening.