Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against pharmacy giant CVS Caremark, alleging that a severance agreement it provided to three employees unlawfully restricted their rights to file discrimination charges or cooperate with the EEOC. What is most troubling about the suit for employers is that the EEOC complaint takes issue with garden-variety severance terms that most employers likely use in their stock severance and settlement agreements. The suit could mean trouble on the horizon: if the EEOC prevails, employers could be stripped of much of the liability protection severance agreements are designed to offer.
There are venues in certain corners of the United States that exert a magnetic pull on plaintiffs’ attorneys everywhere. In Madison County, Illinois more than 800 asbestos cases are filed annually, 90% by out-of-state plaintiffs. In the Eastern District of Texas, shell “patent troll” companies rent empty offices to create “headquarters” from which to file over 1,000 patent infringement cases per year. Driven by statistics showing plaintiff-friendly judges or astronomical jury awards, plaintiffs’ lawyers travel to these venues to haul in the next big catch. But a new decision from the nation’s highest court might signal the death knell for “forum shopping.”
In recent weeks, a 77-year-old law prohibiting Maine businesses from displaying the alcohol content of beers earned Maine national attention. The law, enacted in the wake of Prohibition, prohibits signs or labels referring “in any manner to the alcoholic strength of the malt liquor” or using “such words as ‘extra strength,’ or ‘pre-war strength.’” The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations recently began interpreting this law to prevent the display of alcohol-by-volume (ABV) numbers on signs or menus, and issued warnings to restaurants and bars throughout the state. Thankfully, on Tuesday the Bureau announced a new enforcement policy. But is the problem really solved?
In the civil litigation and workers’ compensation fields, medical experts are often called on to give opinions about whether a particular medical condition was caused or contributed to by a specific injurious event or by the conditions of the claimant’s employment. Often these questions are directed at doctors whose daily practice involves primarily diagnosis and treatment, and not determining a medical causal relationship between medical conditions and events. As a result, when faced with these issues, some doctors resort to assessing causation on a purely subjective basis: i.e. the patient’s self report. Fortunately, the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Disease and Injury Causation provide evaluators with a protocol for making scientifically credible findings on causation.
The Protocol provided by the Guides is a six-step process. Failure to complete any of the steps in a manner that supports a causal relationship eliminates credibility for claims of injury-relatedness or work-relatedness. The six steps are: