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Indiana OSHA Gets Dismal Report Card

Indiana is not the safest place to work. That’s according to a federal investigation which found that Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) mishandled complaints, inhibited investigations and discouraged whistle-blowers. And workplace safety experts say the litany of problems documented in the federal investigators’ 19-page report could put the health and safety of Indiana workers at risk. Part of the negative safety record is due to decisions made by IOSHA, including decisions to: Implement inspection quotas that deterred complex investigations. Forgo inspection of the Sensient Flavors plant after an employee was shocked and hospitalized. Forgo investigation of an explosion at Indianapolis...

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Are Pension Advance Companies Too Slick?

Advance funding companies, or “factoring” companies, are now arm-twisting military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and other retirees to sell their future pension benefits. Retirees receive cash in exchange for selling their structured settlement payments at deep discounts. Abuses by advance funding companies in their treatment of accident victims led to the eventual passage of structured settlement protection acts in 47 states. Undeterred, the factoring companies have moved on to people with sizable retirement savings. By targeting retirees, factoring companies have potentially placed themselves into an even more unpopular position. Pensions are traditionally viewed as sacrosanct – the financial bedrock of the...

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Congress Considering Bills to Ban Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

A bill that would prohibit the enforcement of mandatory arbitration clauses against employees and consumers has been introduced in the US Congress. Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., reintroduced the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013 (S. 878). It provides that “no pre-dispute arbitration agreement shall be valid or enforceable if it requires arbitration of an employment dispute, consumer dispute, antitrust dispute or civil rights dispute.” The act would amend the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and undo a string of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court which culminated in its ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.  This business-friendly ruling holds that the FAA preempted a...

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Starr Austen Miller Investigating Falling Debris Truck Accident

Attorneys at Starr Austen Miller are investigating the recent accident in Plymouth, Ind., in which a piece of metal came loose from a trailer and crashed into a truck’s windshield, claiming the life of the driver. According to the Marshall County coroner’s office, 57-year-old Manis Stacy Jr. of Knox was driving on Ind. 17 a few miles from Plymouth when the metal flew from a trailer going the opposite direction. The piece of metal smashed through the windshield of Stacy’s truck, which veered off the road and struck a tree. Stacy was pronounced dead at the scene....

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FINRA Slaps LPL with Largest Fine Ever for E-mail Issues

According to a report in a recent edition of Investment News, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined LPL Financial LLC $7.5 million for 35 significant e-mail system failures. representing the inadequate oversight of 28 million e-mails over a four-year period. FINRA also ordered LPL to set up a $1.5 million fund to compensate brokerage customers who might have been affected by its inadequate e-mail oversight. Spokeswoman for the agency, Michelle Ong, said this is the largest fine FINRA has imposed for an e-mail case. The problems with LPL’s e-mails occurred from 2007 to 2013, and its systems failed more than at 35...

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Five Independent Broker Dealers Reach $7M Settlement with Massachusetts

The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Gavin, recently announced settlements with five leading independent broker-dealers regarding sales of non-traded real estate investment trusts (REIT). A recent edition of Investment News reports that the five firms were ordered to make $6.1 million in restitution to investors and pay fines totaling $975,000. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. faces $2.6 million in restitution and a fine of $400,000; Commonwealth Financial Network will pay $2.1 million in restitution and a $300,000 fine; Royal Alliance Associates Inc. is charged with $59,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine; Securities America Inc. will pay $778,000 in restitution and...

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Schwab clients may now file class-action suits

A recent article in Investment News reports that effective May 15, Charles Schwab Corp. will temporarily modify account agreements to eliminate language that prevents customers from filing class-action lawsuits. The company said that while it believes dispute resolution is best handled via arbitration, it has chosen to remove the waiver until the issue is resolved by the appropriate regulatory and/or court decisions. Schwab decided to be proactive because the arbitration decision will likely take considerable time to resolve and may leave clients with a degree of uncertainty until the legal and regulatory process is completed. Last year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc....

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End Mandatory Arbitration Clauses, Says SEC Commissioner

A recent article in Investment News reports that state securities regulators are trying to build support among lawmakers on Capitol Hill to restrict or end the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in client contracts with brokers. In meetings with more than 40 lawmakers, about 17 members of the North American Securities Administrators Association Inc. (NASAA) made the case that investors should be allowed to go to court to settle grievances against their brokers. SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar favors such regulation. In a statement, Mr. Aguilar expressed the belief that allowing investors to take their legal claims to court would enhance investor protection...

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Attention: Wagoner Medical Center Patients

On March 18, 2013 the Attorney General's office filed documents to suspend the licenses of William G. Terpstra, M.D., Robert A. Brewer, M.D., Donald Wagoner, M.D. and Marilyn Wagoner, M.D. allegedly due to inappropriate and dangerous prescribing habits that did not meet established standards of medical practice and posed substantial risk to the safety of their patients, allegedly resulting in the deaths of 26 people. IF YOU ARE A PATIENT OF THE WAGONER MEDICAL CENTER AND HAVE SUFFERED INJURY OR SICKNESS AS A RESULT OF DRUG TOXICITY, OR A LOVED ONE HAS DIED OF AN OVERDOSE, PLEASE CONTACT US....

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Imprelis Settlement Notifications Nearing

Notification on Settlement in Herbicide Lawsuit Coming Next Week Beginning next week, DuPont will begin notifying all plaintiffs who lost their trees to the herbicide Imprelis that a settlement has been reached in the federal class action lawsuit against the major chemical manufacturer. Starr Austen & Miller LLP filed a class action lawsuit against DuPont in the summer of 2011. A corporation that owns a number of golf courses in central Indiana informed the law firm that several hundred trees had died as a result of Imprelis being applied to the golf courses. Plaintiffs across the U.S. also filed lawsuits against DuPont claiming that...

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