Facebook Could Face an Avalanche of Lawsuits

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has not only eroded confidence in the world’s most popular social network; it has also opened a can of worms that could keep Facebook’s legal team busy for years.

In California, four civil lawsuits were filed against Facebook during the last week of March; furthermore, attorneys representing Cook County in Illinois filed a lawsuit on behalf of Chicago residents whose protections under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act were allegedly ignored when the social network gave data access to Cambridge Analytica.

Although the various lawsuits piling up against Facebook present a diversity of civil complaints, a common theme in the filings is that the social network failed t to protect user data in accordance to its Terms of Service.

Meanwhile, agents from the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom executed a search warrant at the corporate offices of Cambridge Analytica in London. Legal analysts believe that the raid could produce documents that United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller will probably find of interest as they may relate to the ongoing investigation into the political campaign that elected President Donald Trump. The work of Cambridge Analytica is believed to have been instrumental in the election of Donald Trump as well as in the Brexit referendum.

The legal issues that Facebook will likely face in the next few months were caused by an app developed by Cambridge Analytica under the guise of academic research. A Russian American developer created a Facebook app that essentially consists of a fun quiz; what users did not know is that their social media data was being harvested along with the data of individuals within their social circles. The data was later cross-referenced with consumer data records to create voter profiles that could be targeted with false news reports.

In the Cook County lawsuit, Facebook could face fines as high as $10,000 per each individual violation of the aforementioned Illinois state law. Similar lawsuits by state attorney generals across the U.S. could be forthcoming.

John Dowd, Trump’s Lead Lawyer, Resigns

The New York Times is reporting that Trump’s lead lawyer resigned today. Just last week, Trump claimed in a tweet that he is very happy with his legal team. The President lashed out at the report that Trump was looking for different legal talent. Regardless, changing lawyers in the middle of any litigation or controversy is 1) a sign of being on the losing end, and 2) a catalyst for even more loss.

Thousands of hours are involved in litigation. Beyond what the public sees in any legal fight, lawyers spend days, weeks and months researching, brainstorming, and writing. The lawyers supporting any potential criminal defendant are numerous. Typically, each attorney is tasked with the procedural and substantive law for a particular subset of the total case. For instance, one lawyer might be responsible for determining whether jurisdiction could be an issue in the case. While this research and information belongs to the client, the knowledge and strategy involved in all of that work remains with the lawyer and his or her team. So, when you no longer have that lawyer’s expertise and strategic framing, as a client…not a good thing.

Furthermore, and even more importantly, the other side of any litigation relishes picking off an opponent’s legal team. If litigation is war, then each and every step in the process is a battle to the end. So, when the other side starts losing lawyers – for whatever reason – one side looks to be winning the legal fight. Lawyers also spend time attempting to dislodge opposing parties from their legal team. Citing conflicts of interest or other ethical missteps, lawyers will typically have teams devoted to the single task of researching the law on conflicts and bar rules.

So, overall, lawyers resigning is not a good thing. It is doubtful that the recent news of Trump’s lead attorney, Dowd, will be a benefit for the President’s legal fight against special counsel Mueller. The only possible good news would be if Trump hired a much better lawyer to replace Dowd. Since learning that Ted Olson, one of the country’s finest litigators, turned Trump down, it seems that Trump is losing his legal entanglement.

Gig Economy Workers are Independent Contractors, Not Employees, According to New California Ruling

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of working in the gig economy. You set your own hours and control how much you earn. Some companies even offer hefty sign-up bonuses. Lately, critics have argued that these jobs are too good to be true. Once you subtract your expenses, you’ll be lucky to earn minimum wage in many of these positions. That’s what led GrubHub driver Raef Lawson to file a lawsuit.

Lawson claimed GrubHub paid him less than minimum wage, failed to reimburse his expenses and did not pay overtime. All of these allegations are a violation of California labor law. Lawson’s case hinged on whether or not he was an employee of GrubHub, in which case he would be entitled to legal protection, or merely an independent contractor.

On February 8, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled against Lawson, stating that he is not an employee of GrubHub. The Judge said California law made it clear Lawson is not an employee. However, she urged the California legislature to consider the changing nature of employment under the gig economy and consider updating the law, according to the Los Angeles Times.

GrubHub and other gig economy companies do not view their workers as employees. Drivers for GrubHub and similar companies like Uber and Lyft are free to choose their own working hours and areas. Often, drivers are often allowed to wear their own clothing and choose their own routes.

Currently, Uber is facing several class-action lawsuits from drivers. These workers are seeking backpay and damages because they claim they should be classified as employees, not contractors. Uber did not comment on the GrubHub case, but the company is likely celebrating the ruling behind closed doors.

Lawsuit Underway for Gymnastics Star

John Manly is a California State attorney specializing in litigation and civil actions. His main cases revolve around sexual harassment, electronic harassment, and childhood abuse. He’s won many cases involving sexual abuse and has acquired millions of dollars for his clients.

His recent case is about McKayla Maroney. She started her love of gymnastics at the young age of nine. She began training in at the local gym and enjoyed watching gymnastics on television. By the age of 12, she was competing in the United States Olympic Gymnastics. She’s won 10 gold medals in the vault division. Her talent made changed her life when she became part of the Fierce Five Gymnastics team for the 2012 Olympic London.

She was part of a well-established organization that she thought would be there for her when she needed them, but that wasn’t the case when the team doctor, Larry Nassar began assaulting her and several other teammates. Sports are generally a safe haven for many athletes. It’s all about them having fun, but when predators mark their territory, many people get hurt and the victims have to live with for the remainder of their lives. Attorneys like John Manly can help if anyone believes their child may be a victim of sexual abuse in a sport in the state of California. He will be there every step of the way to assure that the parents and child have the most professional counselors and guidance available to them.

Many children and athletes as well are scared to speak about what has happened to them. They may feel as though nobody will believe what they’re saying and that nobody understands. There is help out there and the predators need to be prosecuted John Manly is the attorney to make sure these predators are off the streets and behind bars.

Judge Turns Nasty Into Nice

Orders of protection often involve what are known as no contact provisions, but when Daren Young violated a no contact order, his punishment was somewhat extraordinary. The presiding judge ordered Young to write 140 “nice” things about his former girlfriend, without repetition. As per the Associated Press, Judge Rhonda Loo told Young that “for every nasty thing you said about her, you’re going to say a nice thing.”

In Hawaii, orders of protection are enforceable for a year. They can also be extended, and violators can be prosecuted criminally.

Young already knew about how harsh the law can be when somebody threatens, harasses, intimidates or otherwise interferes with the civil liberties of another person. He spent 157 days in jail for calling and texting his victim more than 140 times in about three hours after a “no contact” order was entered against him by his ex-girlfriend. Part of that probation order likely requires Young to remain free from alcohol and drugs. Random testing is usually required.

The 140 “nice” things were just part of Young’s sentence. He was put on two years of probation, and he was fined $2,400. Young is also required to perform 240 hours of community service. He is still not allowed to directly or indirectly contact his former girlfriend, and if he is found to have done so, his probation can be revoked, and he can be sentenced to additional jail or even state prison time on top of the 157 days that he has already served.

The 140 “nice” things part of Young’s sentence falls into a gray are of Hawaii’s laws involving violations of orders of protection. Everything else appears to be within both those laws and Loo’s sentencing discretion. The sentence might be permitted by law, but the handwriting is already on the wall unless a timely appeal is filed.

Lost Paperwork Might Erase Billions in Private Student Loans

Lost Paperwork Might Erase Billions in Private Student Loans

The National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts holds student loans for several thousand people of people. As countless court cases appealing defaults on student loans throughout the nation have shown, the private loan company has failed to produce the proper paperwork. “Judges have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits against former students,” the New York Times DealBook blog reported, saying that judges were “essentially wiping out their debt, because documents proving who owns the loans are missing.”
Many of these cases come from the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the last decade. During the crisis, billions of dollars of loans were erased by courts due to improper paperwork. Given the lax standards of the time, many banks gave equally unstable private student loans. This includes the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts.
Now that many are recognizing these paperwork problems, the National Collegiate may have an insurrection on their hands. When people realize that the company filed improper paperwork, they may default on their loans, rather than continue payments.
As one of their lawyers pointed out: “As news of the servicing issues and the trusts’ inability to produce the documents needed to foreclose on loans spreads,” said the lawyer, “the likelihood of more defaults rises.” The loans total at least five billion dollars, and have come to media attention after a number of creditors pursued legal action against student borrowers after they defaulted on their loans. To their surprise, they were unable to produce proof of loan ownership in court, causing judges to dismiss the claims. The New York Times reviewed a number of cases, stating: “many other collection cases are deeply flawed.” It reported these flaws include: “incomplete ownership records and mass-produced documentation.”
The National Collegiate serves as an umbrella for twelve different trusts who control over 800,000 student loans. According to court findings, student borrowers have defaulted on a total of five billion dollars worth of that debt so far.

Changes To Michigan Law May Be Unconstitutional Says New Lawsuit

A new lawsuit from Oakland County in Michigan has alleged that recent changes to the state law may be unconstitutional. The law was originally voted through in 2013, but it has not yet been implemented. It is set to go into effect in November, but this lawsuit seeks a stay on that implementation.

The name of the law is the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act. They contest that the law takes away the constitutional authority of the Michigan Supreme Court’s authority to set the rules that govern law in the state of Michigan.

Attorneys for Oakland County state that they do not want to take away the ability for the indigent to have access to an attorney. They say that they just want to make sure that any changes to the law are constitutional. A spokesperson for the Attorney General in the state of Michigan has declined to give a comment on this case. She does not want to address something that has to work its way through the courts. It is the tradition of the government to not make statements about litigation that is still pending.

Detroit News says that the lawsuit intends to take aim at the idea that the state government must reimburse local governments when new state regulations come into play. This is written into the law because it is believed that it would not be fair for the local governments to take on too much of the burden of new regulations.

Oakland County has a budget of just $3 million for indigent defense and would like to be reimbursed to a greater extent for the new changes to the law. There is not yet a date set for the court to hear the case. This is something that will be an interesting test case in the courts.