(844) 815-9632

federal lawsuit

Teen Dies After Gym Teacher Refuses Asthma Inhaler Request

'When a child is in the school district, from the time they get there, the school is responsible for their safety.' So said attorney Jay Dorsey, who is representing the family of a 14-year-old girl who collapsed and died after a gym teacher refused repeated requests to retrieve her inhaler from her locker. The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the county board of education, the high school where it happened, and the unnamed gym teacher, charging them with civil rights violations, wrongful death, gross negligence, and negligence in hiring and supervising employees. Asthma Attack The incident happened in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington's NBC4 first reported on the lawsuit. According to the suit, Taylor Walton began having an asthma attack during gym class in November 2015, and asked the teacher twice to leave class and get her inhaler: A third time, Taylor again approached the John Doe Gym Teacher and stated that she was still having severe problems breathing and that she (was) leaving class to get her inhaler ... Thereafter, Taylor left the gym class. As Taylor was observed leaving the gymnasium, there were no efforts by Defendant Gym Teacher or other members of the gym staff to accompany her to her locker to help her get her inhaler or to secure her safety. Taylor was found by another school employee, collapsed on the steps outside the gym. Efforts to revive her by school staff and emergency responders were unsuccessful. School Board Breach According to the lawsuit, Taylor had suffered a prior asthma attack in the same gym teacher's class before, school officials we aware she suffered from asthma, and were required to distribute an "emergency treatment plan" to her teachers. Taylor's family is seeking $10 million from the Montgomery County Public School district. "The actions or omissions of the Defendant Board and its staff ... breached the duty owed Taylor," the lawsuit alleges. "Each individual breach by the Board and staff, or in concert with each other, was a substantial factor in proximately causing injury and then death of Taylor." Related Resources: Find Wrongful Death Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) When Are Schools Liable for Student Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) How Do You Sue a School District? (FindLaw's Injured) Max Gilpin School Football Death Suit Settles (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

What If I Can’t Pay My Student Loans?

The accumulated student loan debt for all Americans is nearly $1.3 trillion, and rising by the second. And these aren't just people seeking advanced degrees like law and medicine -- some 40 million Americans have some student debt. For many of those who owe money for their education, making payments on those loans is difficult, if not impossible. So what can you do if you can't pay your student loans? Repayment and Settlement Options If you're able to pay some, but not all of your monthly payment amount, you can try restructuring your payments. There are two mains options to help ease your monthly payments:Income-Based Repayment: Some lenders will permit income-based repayments or graduated repayment plans. Income-based repayment (IBR) has been offered since 2009 for federal student loans. The plan is designed to keep loan payments affordable, even if you don't make a substantial income. Monthly loan payments are based upon your income and family size. In general, you should expect to pay 15 percent of your income. The good news is that, under IBR, your loans will be forgiven after 20 or 25 years if you consistently make your payments on time.Settling Your Debts: If your debts are truly out of control, you can try settling with the lender. However, settling student loan debt is notoriously difficult. If you legitimately cannot afford to make payments on your student loans, your options become much more limited. What About Deferment or Forbearance? A deferment on your student loan payments allows you to stop making payments for a specific amount of time, provided you can qualify. A lender may grant a deferment if you can show: Economic hardship. You will need to prove that your income is not sufficient to make payments. Unemployment. You will need to prove your unemployment and/or your search for a job. Re-enrollment in School. You will need to prove your acceptance and continued enrollment in a qualifying educational program. One benefit to a deferment, depending on the type of loan you have, is that it will stop interest from accruing on the unpaid balance during the time you can't make payments. (Although not every loan or lender offers this option.) A forbearance is similar to a deferment, only interest will normally continue to accrue during a forbearance, so your loan balance will be higher when you come out of the forbearance. Forbearances are limited to certain amounts of time and require proof of an inability to meet your loan payments. But a forbearance may be easier to obtain than deferments because they are not always dependant on the type of student loans you have or covered by the rules that apply to deferments. Both deferments and forbearances require you to file applications with your lender, and your eligibility and benefits under deferments and forbearances will vary depending on your loan. Bankruptcy Isn't Much of a Bailout Here's the biggest problem with federal student loans: most student loans can't be discharged through bankruptcy. This means that, in most cases, even if you file for bankruptcy, you'll still owe your student loan debt. In fact, the only way to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy is to prove that making the loan payments is an undue hardship, a legal standard that is almost impossible to meet. To Default, or Not to Default? The latest information regarding defaulting on your student loans has been confusing at best. It was generally understood that defaulting on federal student loans would produce disastrous consequences: hijacked tax returns, garnished wages, federal lawsuits, and even revoked professional licenses. Conventional wisdom said that all these horrors awaited those with the temerity to stop paying their loans back. But there are stories out there, like urban myths or legends, of people defaulting and turning out fine. These tales include people who ignored the robocalls and potential lawsuits and credit score demolition long enough to have the debt wiped away and their credit restored. One of these fables was recently printed in the New York Times. And of course the obvious backlash followed, noting the extraordinary collection powers of the federal government and the permanence of federal debt. With all of the certainty in this case falling on the side of creditors, those with student loan debt probably shouldn't consider defaulting on that debt as a viable option. Before taking any action on your student loans, you may want to consult with an experienced student loan relief and bankruptcy attorney in your area. Related Resources: Browse Bankruptcy Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory) The FindLaw Guide to Student Loan Debt (PDF from FindLaw) Legal How-To: Getting Student Loans Forgiven (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Will Obama's Executive Order on Student Loans Pay Off for You? ...
continue reading

Calif. ‘Yes Means Yes’ Sexual Assault Bill Awaits Gov.’s Signature

California lawmakers approved a groundbreaking "Yes Means Yes" bill on Thursday, in an attempt to fight the growing problem of sexual assault on college campuses. The bill must be signed by Governor Jerry Brown before it becomes law, but if/when it becomes effective, all California colleges and universities will have to change their standards. The Los Angeles Times reports that the bill would require "affirmative consent" between college students hoping to have sex -- removing silence or lack of resistance as signs of consent. SB 967 Requires a Sober 'Yes' for Sex The "Yes Means Yes" bill, officially known as California SB 967, seeks to create more institutional protections for college students who may be sexually assaulted by their peers. Authored by state senators Kevin de Leon and Hannah-Beth Jackson, SB 967 sets the standard for consent to sex a bit higher than some colleges have in the past. And that standard is "affirmative consent." The consent of affirmative consent is best understood by the bill's slogan: "yes means yes." The old "no means no" doesn't create a very high burden on would be sexual assaulters to ascertain whether their partners' silence, intoxicated state, or lack of resistance is really tantamount to a "yes." And with the very serious charge of rape being a possibility for sex without consent, this is not a situation to trifle with. With only a "yes" (or each partner affirmatively consenting), can many of their sexual assault fears be silenced. The "affirmative consent" standard also would not allow accused rapists to claim that an intoxicated victim consented or that the accused was too intoxicated to confirm consent. For college students, this may mean a sobering new reality about drunken sex. Critics Worry About Consequences Not everyone is a fan of "Yes Means Yes." Writing for TIME, Cathy Young notes that this law will create "a disturbing precedent for government regulation of consensual sex" and place many young students at the mercy of "vague and capricious rules." While the California criminal law regarding sexual assault will not be altered by SB 967, disciplinary action from a rape accusation may lead to suspension or even expulsion. Students can still appeal these disciplinary actions, but the burden in school rape cases would certainly be shifted to the accused. According to USA Today, Gov. Brown has until the end of September to sign or veto the "Yes Means Yes" bill. Related Resources: California bill defines what it means to say 'yes' to sex (The Washington Post) 55 Colleges Facing Title IX Sexual Violence Investigations (FindLaw's Blotter) 5 Legal Tips for Sexual Assault Victims (FindLaw's Blotter) Calif. Egg Law Challenged in Federal Lawsuit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
continue reading

Man Arrested, Strip Searched for Photographing Cops Gets $125K

A man who was arrested and strip searched after taking photographs of New York City Police Department officers has reached a $125,000 settlement with the city. Dick George filed a federal lawsuit against the city for police misconduct after being arrested for disorderly conduct in 2012, reports the New York Daily News. According to the lawsuit, George was arrested for documenting the officers' "stop-and-frisk" search of three youths. Why was George's arrest likely a violation of his civil rights? Injured? Exercise your legal rights. Get in touch with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area today. Right to Videotape, Photograph Police on Duty Courts have generally found that citizens have a First Amendment right to videotape or photograph police activity occurring in a public place. Furthermore, police generally cannot confiscate or demand to see your footage or photographs without a warrant. In this case, George claims that he was in his car when he saw three young people being searched by NYPD officers. He began taking pictures with his cell phone from inside his car. After the officers had finished searching the youths, George claims he instructed the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time they were searched. Overhearing this, the officers allegedly pulled George from his car and arrested him for disorderly conduct. The officers also allegedly deleted the pictures on George's phone. False Arrest, Police Misconduct Lawsuits Lawsuits against police for false arrest and other incidents of police misconduct are generally filed under the Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Under Section 1983, a victim of malicious or unlawful police action can bring a lawsuit in federal court for deprivation of a constitutional right. Although these lawsuits can be brought against individual police officers, they often name the city as a party as well, since the police department itself cannot be sued directly. However, before a lawsuit is filed, victims typically must first file a tort claim to give the government entity a chance to respond. If you believe you have been the victim of police misconduct or false arrest, an experienced civil rights attorney can help explain your legal options. Related Resources: New York man wins $125,000 settlement after being arrested for photographing police (The Verge) Videotaping Police is Your First Amendment Right (FindLaw's Blotter) Journalist Arrested for Recording Police Gets $200K Settlement (FindLaw's Injured) For the Record, SCOTUS Won't Stop Citizens from Recording Police (FindLaw's U.S. Seventh Circuit Blog)
continue reading

Iraq Vet to Get $4.5M for Occupy Oakland Shooting

An Iraq vet whose skull was fractured by a projectile shot by police during an Occupy Oakland protest has agreed to receive $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit with the city of Oakland. During the protest, 26-year-old Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a beanbag round fired by a police officer standing less than 30 feet away from him, The Associated Press reports. The large settlement amount stems from a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of Olsen's injuries and the negligent training of the officers. Why Not Go to Trial? Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said that a jury might have awarded Olsen more money if the case had gone to trial. So why didn't Olsen and his attorney go to trial? People opt to settle cases before trial for a variety of reasons. In this case, it seems a settlement was more preferable because the litigation was taking a toll on Olsen. As he said, "It's been very a very difficult two and a half years for me, everything from being in the hospital, to relearning how to talk to dealing with a lawsuit, that's been a lot of stress." Trials are tough on people. The litigation process can be long and exhausting. Even though going to trial might have secured Olsen a larger damages award, he and his attorney were likely keen on reaching a quicker resolution so that he could move on and focus on his health. Why $4.5M Settlement? Because of the beanbag shooting, Olsen suffered permanent brain injuries and has not been able to return to his career as a computer systems administrator. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, the AP reports. The damages stemming from Olsen's injuries played a central role in the large settlement award. They included economic damages -- such as lost wages and past, present, and future medical costs -- as well as noneconomic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering. Another major factor in the settlement was the police officers' use of excessive force. An independent study in June 2012 reported that police were ill-equipped to handle the Occupy Oakland protest because of inadequate staffing as well as poor planning and training, according to The AP. The tragic injury will affect Olsen for the rest of his life, but the $4.5 million award is designed to help ease the financial burden of his arduous road to recovery. Related Resources: Oakland to pay Iraq War vet $4.5 million for Occupy shooting (Oakland Tribune) Can Occupy Oakland Vet Sue Police for Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) 2 Occupy Protestors File Excessive Force Suit (FindLaw's Injured) UC Davis Pepper Spray Suit Settled for $1M (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

1st GM Ignition-Switch Defect Lawsuit Filed

GM is facing a potential class action lawsuit over an ignition switch defect linked to the recall of more than 1.6 million compact cars. The lawsuit was filed in Texas federal court on Friday, alleging that General Motors knew about the dangerous defect in 2004 but failed to fix it -- putting drivers' lives at risk and reducing the resale value of their vehicles, reports Reuters. What does this suit mean for GM? Federal Suit May Become Class Action Daryl and Maria Brandt filed the lawsuit because of safety risks posed by their 2007 Chevy Cobalt, one of the many models recalled by GM over the ignition switch defect. According to Reuters, the couple claims they "have driven their car less than otherwise" fearing an accident caused by the ignition switch issue. The Brandts do not claim that they were injured in an ignition switch-related accident, but they do want compensation for diminished resale value and the loss of use of their vehicle. Their suit is seeking class action certification, so that the Brandts can represent similarly situated individuals across the country who may have been injured by GM's alleged wrongdoing. In order to be certified as a class action, a federal court must find that: It is impractical for each plaintiff to sue on his or her own, There is a common complaint shared between class members, Class representatives (in this case, the Brandts) have the same claims and defenses as others in the class, and The lawyers and representatives will fairly represent the class. Payouts in class action lawsuits can be substantial. You'll recall a class action suit related to Toyota's sudden acceleration issue settled for more than $1 billion. Legal Troubles Mounting for GM This potential class action suit is yet another legal action on GM's plate over this ignition switch defect. Both Congress and the Justice Department are looking into criminal and civil charges against the car manufacturer for allegedly misleading government regulators by not giving notice of the defect. GM car owners will want to check to see if their vehicle is included in the ignition switch recall, and will also want to consider contacting an experienced motor vehicle defect lawyer if they feel they've been injured by their defective vehicles. Related Resources: Lawsuit Filed Against General Motors Over Ignition-Switch Recall Losses (Insurance Journal) GM Recalls 780K Cars After 6 Deaths (FindLaw's Injured) GM Recall Expands to 1.6M Vehicles; 13 Deaths Reported (FindLaw's Common Law) GM Recalling 1.5M Vehicles Over Fire Risk (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

Flushable Wipes Lawsuit Seeks Class-Action Status

The makers of Cottonelle and Costco-brand "flushable" wipes are facing a federal lawsuit that seeks class-action status. Dr. Joseph Kurtz, a New York dentist, is spearheading the flushable wipes lawsuit effort, claiming the wipes caused major plumbing and clogging issues in his home, ABC News reports. But what's the whole class action stink about? Flushable Wipes Lawsuit Kurtz claims the makers of Cottonelle and Costco-brand wipes should have known that the wipes' "flushable" claims were false and misleading, ABC News reports. In the suit, Kurtz claims consumers across the country have suffered clogged pipes, flooding, jammed sewers and issues with septic tanks due to the use of flushable wipes. The suit claims to represent 100 people who've faced those problems. But before Kurtz's lawsuit becomes a class action, there must be a hearing on class certification. Class Action Status A class action lawsuit is one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sue the defendant as a group. The flushable wipes lawsuit asserts that people across the country have faced the same or similar plumbing problems after flushing the wipes. If a court agrees, then it will issue an order that defines the class and appoints a class counsel to lead litigation efforts. However, the defendants -- in this case, the flushable wipe manufacturers -- can try to argue that the alleged class should not be certified. People often seek justice in class action lawsuits when their injuries have been caused by defective products. This case involves a marketing defect claim that the wipes don't degrade as advertised. It's possible many of the individuals' economic injuries (namely, plumbing and repair costs) were relatively minor. For them, pursuing a solo lawsuit would not have been worth the time and money of litigation. But as a class action, their claims can be thrown into the same pot, adding up to an alleged $5 million in damages. Suing as a class also cuts down on each class member's time and expense because the class consolidates the attorneys and court costs and the group files with a representative plaintiff, called a "named plaintiff" or "lead plaintiff." In this case, Dr. Kurtz hopes to be the named plaintiff. In response to the flushable wipes lawsuit, a spokesman for Kimberly Clark, the maker of Cottonelle, told ABC News that "extensive testing" has proven its product is flushable. A reprsentative for Costco declined to comment. Related Resources: Man sues moistened-wipes makers over plumbing bills; defendant stands by product's 'flushability' (ABA Journal) How Much Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth? (FindLaw's Injured) Class Action Suits: To Join or Opt Out? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Browse Class Actions Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
continue reading

Coaches Sued Over Teen’s Hazing, Brain Injury

A high school football player's parents are suing over their teenager's brain injuries, blaming his coaches for allegedly sanctioning a dangerous hazing ritual. Head football coach Britton Devier and assistant coach Todd Bringman of Woodmore High School in Elmore, Ohio, are named in a suit brought by the parents of a 16-year-old student, The Associated Press reports. As a result of the alleged hazing, the teenager now suffers learning and memory problems, the lawsuit states. Can some football practice horseplay be the source of a federal lawsuit? Hazing Allegedly Led to Concussion The teen's parents filed their lawsuit in federal court in Toledo on Monday, asserting the coaches and the Woodmore school district subjected the boy to a dangerous hazing ritual. According to the complaint, the teen -- referred to as "D.E." in the suit, as names of minors are typically not revealed -- was required to allow other boys to hit him "as hard as they could" without attempting to defend himself. During this incident, D.E. allegedly struck the back of his head on the ground, began vomiting, and later collapsed. After his collapse, D.E. was helped to the locker room but no ambulance was called. It wasn't until D.E. returned home that his parents took him to a local hospital, the lawsuit states. Just like a suit for police misconduct, D.E.'s parents are suing the school and the coaches for excessive force, claiming that this practice ritual required their son to take deliberate injury in violation of his rights. The suit essentially claims that the coaches were acting under the government's authority (because Woodmore is a public school) when ordering the intentional striking of D.E., and that D.E. is entitled to recover for his injuries. Potential Liability for Hazing D.E.'s case is similar to a 2009 case involving a coach who required a player to be a live tackling dummy for his team. In these cases, the typical arguments about assuming the risk of injury from football go out the window. Those assumed risks include the normal bruises and injuries that come from standard play and practice -- not bizarre hazing rituals. Participating or recklessly allowing hazing in Ohio is a crime, but according to the AP, the two coaches were not indicted for their actions in criminal court. Despite the lack of criminal convictions, a judge or jury may still find that the coaches were liable for D.E.'s hazing injuries. Neither the coaches nor the school district's superintendent could be reached for comment by the AP. Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer). Related Resources: Woodmore Schools, football coaches sued after alleged hazing that led to player's brain injury (Toledo's WNWO-TV) NY Boy, 15, Dies at HS Football Practice (FindLaw's Injured) Max Gilpin School Football Death Suit Settles (FindLaw's Injured) Browse Brain Injury Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
continue reading