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Paul Zimmerman
pzimmerman@mrllp.com
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Showing 11 posts from December 2015.

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Infrared Video Shows Natural Gas Plume in Porter Ranch

A new infrared video released on YouTube by the Environmental Defense Fund shows a steady plume of natural gas emanating from a damaged injection well in Porter Ranch.  The damaged well taps into a large natural gas storage facility that is over 8,000 feet deep and has a capacity of 86 million cubic feet.  The YouTube video gives an ominous visual to the gas leak that was first discovered on October 23, 2015 and is estimated to be pumping about 2,400,000 pounds of methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere each day.  Environmentalists estimate this volume of emission is equivalent to that coming from eight or nine coal plants, or some seven million cars.  Speculation is already beginning on alleged impacts the methane emissions may have on the atmosphere and climate.  (Read more)

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National Restaurant Association Challenges Minimum Wage Law

Earlier in 2015, the New York Legislature rejected a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 in the Big Apple, and to $10.50 in the rest of the state.  Governor Andrew Cuomo utilized his ability to direct the labor commissioner to convene a panel to consider whether fast-food workers' minimum wage should be raised in an effort to raise all restaurant workers' pay.  The panel ultimately concluded that the minimum wage will gradually increase to $15/hour by 2018. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) appealed this decision to the New York Industrial Board of Appeals. (Read more)

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Flint, Michigan Mayor Declares State of Emergency over Lead Poisoning

Yesterday evening, Karen Weaver, the newly elected mayor in Flint, Michigan, declared a state of emergency due to the number of children and infants who have allegedly suffered lead poisoning from the city’s tap water. According to numerous reports, the lead exposure in Flint began in the spring of 2014, when Flint switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River, as a cost cutting measure.  (Read more)

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Overtime Changes are Coming: Will You be Ready?

On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (“FLSA”) white-collar exemption rule, which would raise the salary threshold for exempt employees from $23,660 or $455 per week, to $50,440 annually or $970 per week. The proposed change also includes automatic period increases to the salary threshold. Statistics show that, if adopted, these changes will affect approximately 4.6 million employees that are currently classified as salary-exempt, including a large number of employees in the hospitality industry. (Read more)

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Trader Joe’s Targeted in Class Action Suit

On Tuesday, December 2, a California federal court struck down a consumer group’s 2013 claim that Trader Joe’s had misled shoppers into thinking “soy milk” was “cow’s milk.”  Judge Vince Chhabria held that Trader Joe’s had not violated the FDA’s food advertising/misbranding rules, because no reasonable person would confuse soy milk with cow’s milk. Judge Chhabria, however, allowed the group to proceed with potential class allegations that the grocery store deceptively used the term “evaporated cane juice” in place of sugar on the ingredient list of its store branded yogurt, and failed to disclose use of certain additives in its products. (Read more)

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Google Cracking Down on Advertising Fraud

Google is cracking down on domains that falsely represent advertising inventory with its Ad Traffic Quality Team, currently showcasing a filtering tool—DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM)—that detects when publishers are trying to trick advertisers. (Read more)

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Will You Be Covered Should El Niño Arrive?

After years of drought, California is now receiving warnings that this may be an El Niño winter. The threat of El Niño brings with it the concerns of significant rain fall and resultant flood losses. Unfortunately, most homeowner insurance policies exclude losses caused by flooding. (Read more)

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Chris Boswell © 123RF.com

SoCalGas Sued in Class Action over Porter Ranch Gas Leak

The lawsuits relating to a leaking injection well at the Alison Canyon natural gas storage reservoir near the community of Porter Ranch have begun.  On December 2, 2015, the R. Rex Parris Law Firm filed a purported class action complaint in the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, against Southern California Gas Company, its parent company Sempra Energy, and the State Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources alleging, among other things, causes of action for negligence, trespass, private nuisance, public nuisance and inverse condemnation. (Read more)

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P.F. Chang’s Sued over Gluten-Free Upcharge

On November 24th, a Northern District of California judge refused to dismiss an Unruh Civil Rights Act class action lawsuit against the popular restaurant chain, P.F. Chang’s. The plaintiff alleged that the $1 upcharge the restaurant implemented for gluten-free menu items unfairly discriminated against people who have celiac disease (celiac is an autoimmune disorder whereby the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. The disease affects approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide). (Read more)

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Digital Information – Now Protected More Than Ever

In the event that you missed it, on October 8th, 2015, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law the California “Electronic Communications Privacy Act” (CalECPA) which requires any California state law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant before demanding inspection of any digital information from a business including, but not limited to, digital communications (e-mails and text messages), and other documents stored in the cloud. The law also requires a warrant before law enforcement can track the location of electronic devices (smart phones and other mobile devices).  (Read more)