A few weeks ago, the global economy rolled forward under its own immense inertia. While concerns of an economic downturn were growing, few suspected the preceding years of expansion would end overnight . . . yet here we are. It wasn’t the business cycle; it wasn’t an overheated housing market; it wasn’t irresponsible financial products. The behemoth was struck down where it stood because workers stopped working. Over the last five weeks, over 26 million people in the United States filed for unemployment assistance. In addition to those who lost their jobs, many employees were sent home to work or are temporarily laid off. What sort of protection do these employees have when restrictions are lifted and companies call them back to the workplace?
Lawmakers are debating when and how to reopen the larger economy—some arguing for a rapid reopening designed to minimize the length of time commerce remains stagnant, while others plea for a cautious reopening focused on minimizing infection rates. Although much depends on the way government loosens the current restrictions, tension between employee safety and the desire to resume normal operations is certain to grow.
Employees may feel powerless when their employers ask them to return to work. Can an employer fire employees who are reluctant to perform certain tasks? Should an employee that suffers from a medical condition that increases the danger of the virus be forced to return upon the employer’s demand? What if a worker has been exposed to the virus during the shutdown? Can employees be required to test in order to return to work?
Neumann Law Group is accepting new clients who were sexually assaulted by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, university physician at the University of Michigan. Our firm successfully sued Michigan State University on behalf of survivors of the shockingly similar predator, Dr. Larry Nassar. Our firm is committed to advancing the rights of individuals who suffered because the two of the most vaunted educational institutions in America failed to protect the students charged to their care.
Dr. Robert E. Anderson (deceased, 2008), who worked as a physician for the University of Michigan from 1968 through 2003, is at the center of numerous allegations of sexual assault. The university is now the subject of a federal lawsuit, brought by a survivor of his abuse, alleging the school had knowledge of the doctor’s predilections, and rather than protecting the vulnerable students, U-M protected him. The university allowed him to continue his pattern of assaults for several decades.
Survivors describe Anderson’s behavior began during the draft era of the Vietnam War. The first step in being drafted was receiving a physical. Anderson offered to write students a letter stating that the potential draftee was homosexual, a declaration that at the time disqualified an otherwise suitable candidate for compelled military service. However, he demanded sexual favors in return—something that was well known in the Ann Arbor gay community at the time.
In the 1990s, the use of a neurovascular stent for a procedure call “stent-assisted coiling” was considered a breakthrough treatment for treating brain aneurysms. The medical device offered a non-surgical method to address weak spots in blood vessels in the brain. An aneurysm occurs when a weak point in a vessel allows blood to bulge out the vessel wall. If the aneurysm bursts, it can cause traumatic consequences, particularly when the aneurysm is located in the brain.
A non-stent assisted coiling treatment for an aneurysm involved running a stint from a patient’s leg up into the location of the aneurysm in the brain. The catheter would then inject a string of soft platinum into the aneurysm, which coils upon itself within the “bubble” of the aneurysm. After the platinum was fully deployed, the blood in the aneurysm clots along the coil and eventually fills the either aneurysm, such that is no longer poses the threat of rupture.
The procedure described above worked well, unless the aneurism had a “wide neck.” Where a normal aneurysm looks like a bubble stuck on the side of the vessel, a wide neck aneurysm looks more like a semi-circle. Instead of having a small weak spot in the vessel bulge out into a bubble, the wide neck variety involves a larger weak spot that expands the vessel in a distorted manner. Introducing the platinum coil into the aneurysm is not feasible, as the coil is too exposed to the blood flow and will not remain in place.
For decades, cruise lines have been the subject of lawsuits arising out of bacteriological and viral diseases that caused by the negligent implementation of anti-infectious disease measures. Noroviruses, Legionella organisms, salmonella, shigella, and Escherichia coli have all turned a boat packed with festive vacationers into floating public health disasters. Now, some of the world’s largest cruise lines have been infected with COVID-19, which has not only created devastating epidemiological consequences for the ship’s guests, but due to a failure in planning, have turned vessels with over 5,000 passengers into international refugee camps.
By failing to disclose the dangers of boarding a cruise ship during a burgeoning pandemic and failing to make suitable contingency plans in the event of a ship wide contamination, cruise ships have been forced to dock outside of nations that are unwilling to admit hundreds of infected passengers within their borders. The passengers are left afloat without proper medical care, adequate medication, or the support of their families.
Most charts tallying COVID-19 infections by country also include a line for “International Conveyance.” This is legal parlance for the cruise ships that served as incubators for the novel coronavirus. The Diamond Princess alone had 700 infections—at one point exceeding every other country outside of China. Sadly, seven of those infections have resulted in death.
The FDA announced February 11, 2020, that Medtronic recalled all 322,005 of its MiniMed insulin pumps in the United States. The agency issued a Class I Recall, which is the most serious type of recall reserved for situations where use of a medical device may cause serious injury or death. The recall comes on the heels of the first reported death caused by the device.
Insulin pumps regulate blood sugar in people with Type 1 diabetes. The device delivers small doses of short acting insulin continuously throughout the day, which replaces the traditional method of the patient periodically injecting him or herself with longer acting insulin. In operation, an insulin pump better recreates the function of a healthy pancreas.
The pump holds an insulin reservoir, from which insulin is slowly introduced into the body through a thin plastic tube that is permanently placed into the patient’s abdomen. The rate of flow is adjusted to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Insulin cartridges must be replaced periodically when the reservoir is depleted.
Every parent wants to provide the very best they can for their children, directly or indirectly dedicating most of their waking hours towards building a safe and happy home life, and part of the beautiful innocence of little children is their complete ignorance of their parents’ hard work and sacrifice dedicated to providing a home. The child feels safe because of the mother’s and father’s mere presence.
Sadly, we live in a world of not only childish innocence, but one of tragedy and loss. Although a parent would gladly trade places with his or her child in the event of disease or physical trauma, we are never given that choice. Yet sometimes, children do have their parents torn from them at a young age. Losing a parent at a young age is one of the most devastating life events a human can experience. Not only is there a terrible sense of loss, the child’s future is suddenly uncertain. Who will raise the child? How will they pay for the child’s needs? Will there be a family fight to determine both?
Under Michigan law, a minor that loses his or her parents will either be placed with friends or family, or in the absence of a willing caregiver, be placed into the foster care system. As parents, we do not want our bereaved children to go through any unnecessary distress or uncertainty. Consequently, it’s a parent’s responsibility to have an estate plan that nominates the children’s caretakers in the event of their death. To learn more about estate planning, you will find an article discussing the basics here.
As I explored in a previous blog, the Protection of Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7901 (2005), et seq., (“PLCAA”) has shielded gun manufacturers from suit since its enactment in 2005. The law bars any civil liability action against a firearms dealer or manufacturer, except for certain limited exceptions. My previous blog revolved around the parents of the victims killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, who survived summary judgment on a motion conceived under PLCAA filed by the defendant, Remington Arms Company. Now, the city of Kansas City is bringing a claim against a manufacturer and several firearms dealers, which may further chip away at the Act’s once impenetrable protection.
PLCAA’s protection is broad. 1515 U.S.C. § 7902 provides that “[a] qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court” against a firearms manufacturer or dealer. The definition of a qualified civil liability action is explored in § 7902, which defines the term broadly, encompassing ostensibly all civil claims against licensed gun dealers and manufacturers. However, § 7903(A) identifies certain claims that will not be considered a qualified action.
Contractual disputes or claims for breach of warranty are not qualified actions. § 7903(5)(A)(iv). Neither are claims related to defective design or manufacture of a firearm. § 7903(5)(A)(v). Claims arising out of negligent entrustment, where a manufacturer or a dealer puts a firearm into the hands of someone likely to injure themselves or others, are permitted. § 7903(5)(A)(ii; § 7903(5)(B). Similarly, if a manufacturer or dealer knowingly provides a gun to a person intending to commit a crime of violence or engage in drug trafficking, immunity from suit is not available. § 7903(5)(A)(i).
Immigration is a political buzzword that can be divisive in certain conversations. The debate regarding immigration policy, and the underlying statutory framework upon which the policy is executed, are innately contentious. Many people have deep, emotionally held views regarding the subject, and its mere mention can elicit a visceral response. Our beliefs regarding immigration are held in a close, even intimate, manner, as questions about immigration are questions about self-identity.
While the solution to our immigration problems—both real and imagined—may be elusive, and well beyond the scope of this blog, understanding the system in place is necessary to have a competent discussion about change. Just like any other large governmentally administered program, our migration policy arises out of laws written by the United States Congress. Prior to 1965, our immigration system was based upon quotas and was designed to favor northern and western European immigrants. That system was replaced with the passage of the Hart-Cellar Act, which created a number of categories that favor migration from individuals with existing familial or economic ties to America.
Although there are a multitude of classifications under which an immigrant can seek entrance to the United States, as a practical matter, our immigration system is based upon a handful of channels by which an immigrant can obtain a “green card”, which is an informal term referring to the card an immigrant receives when granted lawful permanent resident status. For the vast majority of cases, an immigrant will obtain lawful permanent resident status through family, as a result of employment, for humanitarian considerations, or through the diversity lottery. These categories make up more than 95% of the total number of successful immigrants.