Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

Parental Pre-Injury Releases: A Victory for the Children of Florida!

April 29, 2010

Two years ago, when I was practicing law in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court decided the case of Kirton v. Fields.  As a consumer justice attorney, I was proud to be able to stand behind such a law and give it my support.  In Kirton, the Court held that public policy concerns negated the enforcement of pre-injury releases executed by parents on behalf of their minor children regarding participation in commercial activities.  Last week, the Florida House unanimously passed a Bill that supports the Florida High Court’s decision and limits the type of activities that may be included in such a release.  Senate Bill 2440 is the Bill that will help protect Florida’s children in this regard.

The Bill language relates to releasing parties of liability as it relates to “inherent risks” ONLY.  This risk is defined as:
[T]he dangers or conditions that are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of the activity; the failure of the activity provider to warn of the inherent risks; and the risk that the minor child or another participant may act negligently or intentionally and contribute to the injury of the minor child.
Yesterday, the governor of Florida, Governor Crist, signed this pro-consumer piece of legislation into law.  KUDOS to the Florida Justice Association for their hard work and effort in helping to make sure this Bill got to the governor’s desk.
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A Baltimore City Ordinance Fuels The Abortion Debate – Archdiocese Goes to Court To Have It Declared Unconstitutional

April 21, 2010

According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore City ordinance requires local crisis pregnancy centers to post signs in their clinics disclosing that they do not offer abortion or birth control services. Apparently, this ordinance has angered the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which has decided to file a lawsuit in the Federal District Court, seeking to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional.  Its argument is that the government should be prohibited from compelling speech by requiring the clinics to post signs.  Why would the Archdiocese want to get rid of an ordinance, which, in essence, tells the public “you cannot get an abortion here?”

It appears that the Archdiocese’s remonstration has more to do with what the clinics do separate and apart from what the ordinance requires. Because the clinics must disclose that they do not offer abortion services, some of the clinics choose to post another notice, which informs the public about clinics that do offer abortion services. The ordinance does not require such a notice.

The Archdiocese seems to assume that the clinics would not have the incentive to post information on abortion clinics in the absence of the ordinance. This assumption appears attenuated at best.  Were these notices voluntarily posted by the clinics before the ordinance was enacted? Even if the ordinance were to be repealed, would the clinics still choose to post these notices? After all, they are not compelled to post the notices under the ordinance at the present time.  Whether or not a clinic chooses to post information on abortion clinics, can a patient simply walk in and inquire about abortion clinics?  The bottom line is that these clinics disclose information on abortion services because they want to and not because they have to.

I am curious if the Archdiocese would still want to pursue a lawsuit to repeal the ordinance if the clinics did not post notices with information on abortion clinics. Would it still have a problem with an ordinance telling the public “no abortions here.” Your thoughts?

Contributing author: Jon Stefanuca

CHIP Grants: North Carolina’s Perdue announces $9.3M grant for NC’s children’s health care

February 28, 2010

A positive initiative indeed – North Carolina’s Governor, Bev Perdue, recently announced North Carolina’s receipt of a $9.3 million grant to improve the quality of health care delivered to children.   In an article in Citizen-Times.com, it is reported that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services “was the lead applicant for this competitive grant and worked closely with a coalition of children’s health leaders in the state.”  According to the post, funding will be used to develop technology that tracks and measures quality of care for children.”

“This competitive grant is vital to ensuring that children in our state are healthy and ready to learn,” said Gov. Perdue. “This will help pediatric offices throughout the state make better use of technology so we can be sure that children, those with special needs in particular, are receiving the care they need.”

North Carolina is one of only ten lead states announced as part of the $100 million grant program under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA).

Talk about someone using federal tax dollars wisely!  It will be most interesting to see how this grant money is, in fact, utilized by states such as North Carolina.  We will try to keep you posted on the success of this project.

If we are reading this legislation correctly, it appears that applications for grant money remains open until (the currently posted ending date of) March 25, 2010.  Further information on the grant program and applications, eligibility and other key aspects of the program are available online at Grants.gov.

Consumer Product Safety Commission vows to crack down on defective cribs – washingtonpost.com

February 22, 2010

An announcement last week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hopefully prevent future catastrophic injuries and deaths of infants from crib defects, through tougher federal legislation regarding cribs.  The chairman of the organization, Inez Tenenbaum, made a powerful statement in a recent Washington Post Article in this regard:

While we are on the subject of cribs, I have a message for manufacturers, a message that actually applies to makers of any consumer product,” Tenenbaum said. “I say no more to the tired tactic of blaming parents in the press when CPSC announces a recall that involves a death. Take responsibility and show respect to the grieving family, yes, even if they are pursuing litigation. Those who tread into this arena when CPSC has found your product to be defective will be called out.

The article also details the number and type of crib recalls to date by the CPSC:  

The CPSC has recalled more than 6 million cribs since September 2007, many due to failures related to drop sides, hardware and wooden slats. Consumer advocates and health professionals have long complained that federal safety requirements governing cribs do not address the durability of drop-sides on cribs and related hardware, as well as wood strength and quality and other issues.

Let’s hope that these actions send a powerful message to crib manufacturers and retailers alike, to put safety first, especially when it comes to our little ones.  What could be more important?  We will monitor developments within this and other related recalls.

Contributor: Rodd Santomauro

Credit-Card Fees: the New Traps – WSJ.com

February 21, 2010

CONSUMER ALERT:  read this report from The Wall Street Journal – Credit-Card Fees: the New Traps – WSJ.com.

It goes into effect tomorrow – Monday, February 22, 2010.  Here it is in essence:

The law made some important changes. Card companies must now tell customers how long it would take to pay off the balance if they only make the minimum monthly payment. Customers can only exceed their credit limit if they agree ahead of time to pay a penalty fee. And unless a cardholder misses payments for more than 60 days, interest-rate increases will affect only new purchases, not existing balances.

Now for the reality of what’s ahead:      

Banning these and other profitable tactics is expected to cost the card industry at least $12 billion a year in lost revenue, according to law firm Morrison & Foerster. This has sent the industry scrambling to find new sources of revenue. So get ready for higher annual fees, higher balance-transfer charges, and growing charges for overseas transactions.

Just be aware of what’s new and what’s probably coming when you get that new credit card statement.