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Google and FitBit Collaboration Could Affect Personal Injury Litigation

 

Conceivably, the deal between Google and Fitbit could provide defense attorneys with access to information about a patient’s movement and sleep patterns that could show that the injury claims are, at the very least, overstated.

 

Google and Fitbit Inc. announced on April 30 that they are teaming up to leverage the widespread use of wearable technology to improve the quality of health care. According to the official press release, the deal provides Fitbit with access to Google’s Cloud Healthcare API, which will connect user data with a patient’s electronic medical records in real time.

Information regarding the patient’s movement, heart rate, sleep patterns, etc., will be stored in the Google Cloud Platform and integrated with a patient’s EMR. The hope is that arming clinicians with this objective information will lead to more personalized care and, ultimately, better health outcomes.

The details on how this information will be stored, accessed and used are scant at this point. It also is unclear which EMR software systems will have access to this information and how soon it will become available to clinicians. However, once fully implemented, the agreement between Google and Fitbit could open doors in litigation that previously did not exist.

The most obvious implication is on a personal injury plaintiff’s claimed damages. Often, the plaintiff in a bodily injury case (especially automobile, slip and fall, and trucking cases) claims that the injuries sustained have impaired the plaintiff’s ability to walk, stand and/or sleep. Disproving or undermining these claims is often difficult and very expensive. Typically, one would have to hire a private investigator to surveil the plaintiff clandestinely to show that the plaintiff can walk and/or stand without perceived difficulty. As any defense attorney can attest, surveillance efforts are often hit or miss and frequently return nothing valuable to the case. Further, surveillance has no way of showing how well a plaintiff is able to sleep.

While each plaintiffs attorney wants to believe that a potential client is being completely honest about his or her pain and limitations, the decision to take on a case often comes with a significant economic investment. Assurances beyond simply the plaintiff’s word that the injury has been truly life-altering makes the decision to take a case much easier. Those assurances for plaintiff’s attorneys are often just as difficult to obtain.

Conceivably, the deal between Google and Fitbit could provide defense attorneys with access to information about a patient’s movement and sleep patterns that could show that the injury claims are, at the very least, overstated. This information could prove just as valuable (and cheaper) than surveillance. On the other hand, the information could corroborate a patient’s complaints and bolster the plaintiff’s claim for damages. Consequently, both sides of the personal injury bar may want access to this information.

The introduction of wearable technology has already changed how people view and monitor their activity levels and habits. The deal between Google and Fitbit has the potential to alter how plaintiff and defense attorneys evaluate and litigate personal injury cases. While no one expects Google to simply hand over this information without a fight, the right judge in the right case could find that a request for a patient’s Fitbit information is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” and order that the information be produced. Since we now know that the information is being stored, obtaining access is only a subpoena or court order away.

As Bob Dylan would say, the “times they are a-changin,’”

Samuel E. Britt III is an associate at Weathington McGrew, where he defends physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2014 and worked at a civil defense firm in Augusta before joining Weathington McGrew.

SOURCE

 

National Consumer Bankruptcy Law Firm Sanctioned for Harming Financially Distressed Consumers and Auto Lenders

After a four-day trial, a national consumer bankruptcy law firm and its local partner attorneys were sanctioned and enjoined by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia for causing “unconscionable” harm to their clients. The court found that the law firm and its attorneys, among other things, systematically engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, provided inadequate representation to consumer debtor clients, and promoted and participated in a scheme to convert auto lenders’ collateral and then misrepresented the nature of that scheme, Director Cliff White of the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees announced today.

On Feb. 12, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia entered orders in two actions brought by the U.S. Trustee. The court sanctioned Law Solutions Chicago, doing business as “UpRight Law” (UpRight), and its principals $250,000; imposed additional sanctions of $50,000 against UpRight’s managing partner Kevin Chern, and $5,000 each against UpRight’s affiliated partner attorneys Darren Delafield and John C. Morgan Jr.; and ordered UpRight to disgorge all fees collected from the consumer debtors in both bankruptcy cases. The court also revoked UpRight’s bankruptcy filing privileges in the Western District of Virginia for not less than five years, and those of its local partners for 12 and 18 months, respectively. The bankruptcy court also sanctioned Sperro LLC (Sperro), an Indiana towing company that did not respond to the U.S. Trustee Program’s complaints, and ordered the turnover of all funds it received in connection with bankruptcy cases in the district.

“Lawyers who inadequately represent consumer debtors harm not only their clients, but also creditors and the integrity of the bankruptcy system,” said Director White. “The damage caused increases exponentially when they operate nationally, like UpRight. This case is demonstrative of the vigorous enforcement actions that the U.S. Trustee Program can and will take to protect all stakeholders in the bankruptcy process.”

According to trial testimony and evidence presented in court, UpRight operates a website offering legal services to consumers in financial distress. Prospective clients contact UpRight via the Internet and are routed to UpRight’s sales agents. These non-attorney “client consultants” were trained to “close” prospective clients by using high-pressure sales tactics and improperly provided legal advice to encourage them to file for bankruptcy relief. In many instances, UpRight arranged payment plans for its prospective clients to pay bankruptcy-related attorney’s fees and costs over time, and refused to refund fees it collected from its clients for whom UpRight did not file a bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy court found that UpRight had “serious oversight issues” in failing to adequately supervise its salespeople to prevent their unauthorized practice of law, and that UpRight demonstrated a “focus on cash flow over professional responsibility.”

Additionally, UpRight worked in concert with Sperro to implement a program through which UpRight’s clients could have their bankruptcy legal fees paid through a “New Car Custody Program.” The bankruptcy court described the New Car Custody Program as “a scam from the start.” UpRight’s salespeople and attorneys counseled bankruptcy clients to “surrender” vehicles fully encumbered by auto lenders’ liens to Sperro without the lienholders’ consent, and enter into an agreement obligating the clients to pay Sperro the costs of towing the vehicle, transporting it across state lines – often over a long distance – and storing it. UpRight assured its debtor clients that they would not have to pay any fees to Sperro, and in some instances advised its clients to hide their vehicles from lenders looking to repossess them until Sperro could pick up the vehicles.

After Sperro took a vehicle, it asserted a statutory “warehouseman’s lien,” claiming the right to keep the vehicle until the sham towing, transportation, and storage fees were paid. Then it offered the vehicle for sale at auction, despite the auto lender’s continuing security interest. Out of the sale proceeds, Sperro paid the debtor client’s bankruptcy fees directly to UpRight. Sperro kept the rest of the sale proceeds. In some cases, UpRight prepared bankruptcy court filings omitting the debtor clients’ transactions with Sperro.

The “New Car Custody Program” harmed auto lenders by converting collateral in which they had valid security interests. And the bankruptcy court found that UpRight “preyed upon some of the most vulnerable in our society” – its debtor clients – “while they were under great stress” by providing “unconscionable” advice to participate in the Sperro scheme, exposing them to undue risk by causing them to possibly violate the terms of their contracts with their auto lenders as well as state laws.

The cases discussed above are captioned Robbins v. Delafield et al., Adv. No. 16-07024 (Bankr. W.D. Va. Feb. 12, 2018), and Robbins v. Morgan et al., Adv. No. 16-05014 (Bankr. W.D. Va. Feb. 12, 2018).

Director White commended the trial team of Assistant U.S. Trustee Margaret Garber and Trial Attorneys Joel Charboneau, Nick Foster and Joan Swyers for their handling of these matters.

The U.S. Trustee Program is the component of the Justice Department that protects the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws. The Program has 21 regions and 92 field office locations. Learn more information on the Program at: https://www.justice.gov/ust.

 

[SOURCE]

Bankruptcy Filings Continue to Decline

 

Bankruptcy filings fell by 1.8 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2018, compared with the year ending March 31, 2017. The data continues a national trend of declining bankruptcy filings since 2011.

The March 2018 annual bankruptcy filings totaled 779,828, compared with 794,492 cases in the previous year, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

A national wave of bankruptcies that began in 2008 reached a peak in the year ending September 2010, when nearly 1.6 million bankruptcies were filed.

Additional statistics released today include:

  • Business and non-business bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2018 (Table F-2, 12-month);
  • A comparison of 12-month data from March 2017 and March 2018 (Table F);
  • First quarter filings, (Table F-2, 3-month); and filings by month (Table F-2, January, February, March)
  • Bankruptcy filings by county (Report F-5A).
Business and Non-Business Filings,
Years Ending
March 31, 2014-2018
Year Business Non-Business Total
2018 23,106 756,722 779,828
2017 23,591 770,901 794,492
2016 24,797 808,718 833,515
2015 26,130 884,956 911,086
2014 31,671 1,006,609 1,038,280
TOTAL BANKRUPTCY FILINGS BY CHAPTER,
YEARS ENDING
MARCH 31, 2014-2018
Year Chapter
7 11 12 13
2018 480,933 7,735 499 290,566
2017 488,417 7,105 457 298,348
2016 523,394 7,380 440 302,193
2015 596,867 7,053 354 306,729
2014 699,982 8,564 388 329,256

For more on bankruptcy and bankruptcy court rules, or search historical data on bankruptcy filings.

Related Topics: Bankruptcy Filings

 

[SOURCE]

Just the Facts: Consumer Bankruptcy Filings, 2006-2017

Just the Facts is a feature that highlights issues and trends in the Judiciary based on data collected by the Judiciary Data and Analysis Office (JDAO) of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Bankruptcy can provide a fresh financial start for consumers who cannot pay their debts, either because of insolvency or insufficient income to meet creditor demands. Bankruptcy generally works in one of two ways: liquidating assets to pay one’s debts under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, or establishing a repayment plan under Chapter 13 of the code.

Under a Chapter 7 liquidation, a debtor generally can achieve a fresh financial start more quickly than under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, which can last up to five years. However, under Chapter 13, a debtor may be able to save a home from foreclosure, reschedule secured debts and extend them over the life of a Chapter 13 plan (possibly lowering the payments), or consolidate debt payments to a trustee who then handles distribution to creditors.

  • In the 12-year span from October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2017, about 12.8 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in the federal courts. Of those, 8.7 million–68 percent–were filed under Chapter 7, and 4.1 million– 32 percent–were filed under Chapter 13 (see Table 1). Nonbusiness filings (i.e., filings involving mainly consumer debt) constituted 97 percent of all Chapter 7 bankruptcies and 99 percent of all Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
  • In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), which among other things, instituted a means test for filers to move some away from filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and towards filing under Chapter 13. The goal of the BAPCPA is to have petitioners in Chapter 13 devote disposable income over three to five years to pay unsecured creditors. A person may file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 only if her or his monthly income over six months prior to filing for bankruptcy is below the state median for a similar household, or if the debtor’s monthly disposable income falls below a threshold established by a statutory means test.
  • Following the last recession (December 2007 to June 2009), overall bankruptcy filings peaked in 2010. Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy filings have declined since 2010, (see Chart 1) and Chapter 13 filings have leveled off in the last few years (see Chart 2).
  • The percentage of total filings that Chapter 7 filings accounted for has declined since 2010, whereas the percentage of total filings under Chapter 13 filings has increased (see Chart 3). We cannot say with certainty, however, that BAPCPA caused this phenomenon.
  • Table 2 shows the 25 federal judicial districts in which Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy filings constituted the highest percentage of total consumer bankruptcy filings from 2006 to 2017. Of these districts, 23 (92%) are in southern states. Map 1 also shows that the districts with the highest numbers of Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcies per 1,000 inhabitants were concentrated in the South.
  • In 2016, the five states with the highest rates of Chapter 13 bankruptcy were Alabama (1 in 112 households), Tennessee (1 in 119), Georgia (1 in 135), Louisiana (1 in 179), and Mississippi (1 in 190). The state with the lowest rate was Alaska (1 in 4,359 households). Nationally, there was one Chapter 13 filing for every 405 households in 2016.  (see Table 3).
Table 1
Nonbusiness Bankruptcy Filings by Year
Fiscal Year Total  Nonbusiness Bankruptcies Chapter 7 Nonbusiness Bankruptcies Nonbusiness Chapter 7 Filings as a Percentage of Total Nonbusiness Filings Chapter 13 Nonbusiness Bankruptcies Chapter 13 Nonbusiness Filings as a Percentage of Total Nonbusiness Filings
2006 1,085,209 814,850 75.09% 269,699 24.85%
2007 775,344 467,248 60.26% 307,521 39.66%
2008 1,004,171 653,319 65.06% 350,015 34.86%
2009 1,344,095 949,002 70.61% 393,786 29.30%
2010 1,538,033 1,105,534 71.88% 430,583 28.00%
2011 1,417,326 1,001,813 70.68% 413,699 29.19%
2012 1,219,132 845,470 69.35% 372,132 30.52%
2013 1,072,807 730,592 68.10% 340,807 31.77%
2014 935,420 623,349 66.64% 310,914 33.24%
2015 835,197 533,572 63.89% 300,528 35.98%
2016 781,123 483,176 61.86% 296,824 38.00%
2017 767,721 472,135 61.50% 294,500 38.36%
TOTAL 12,775,578 8,680,060 67.94% 4,081,008 31.94%
Source: Table F-2 for the 12-month periods ending September 30, 2006 Through 2017.
Table 2. Nonbusiness Bankruptcy  Filings in 25 Federal Judicial Districts Where Chapter 13 Filings Constituted the Highest Percentage of Total Nonbusiness Filings, FY 2006-2017
District Total Nonbusiness
Filings
Total Nonbusiness Chapter 13 Filings Percentage
1 Georgia, Southern 104,160 81,285 78.0%
2 Alabama, Middle 88,951 66,417 74.7%
3 Louisiana, Western 121,720 89,541 73.6%
4 Tennessee, Western 207,042 151,992 73.4%
5 Alabama, Southern 57,701 39,659 68.7%
6 Puerto Rico 117,500 76,763 65.3%
7 Georgia, Middle 120,307 77,022 64.0%
8 North Carolina, Eastern 101,163 64,543 63.8%
9 South Carolina 91,931 53,863 58.6%
10 Texas, Southern 142,263 81,862 57.5%
11 Texas, Northern 182,979 101,877 55.7%
12 North Carolina, Middle 65,532 34,846 53.2%
13 Mississippi, Northern 64,654 34,052 52.7%
14 Alabama, Northern 187,511 98,408 52.5%
15 Arkansas, Eastern 95,974 50,163 52.3%
16 Texas, Eastern 69,983 34,389 49.1%
17 Texas, Western 119,132 57,107 47.9%
18 Louisiana, Eastern 43,624 20,161 46.2%
19 Mississippi, Southern 81,680 37,550 46.0%
20 Tennessee, Middle 132,518 59,440 44.9%
21 Georgia, Northern 467,406 208,131 44.5%
22 Louisiana, Middle 21,701 9,633 44.4%
23 Tennessee, Eastern 164,994 69,596 42.2%
24 Arkansas, Western 56,817 23,378 41.1%
25 Illinois, Southern 60,165 23,404 38.9%
Source: Table F-2 for the 12-month periods ending September 30, 2006 Through 2017.

Source:

http://www.uscourts.gov/news/2018/03/07/just-facts-consumer-bankruptcy-filings-2006-2017

 

7 Myths About Personal Injury Claims Debunked

 

Corpus Christi Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

There are a lot of myths about personal injury claims with many of them coming from television, movies, and misinformed family members. Unfortunately, listening to untrustworthy information can lead to making a bad decision. Trust your car accident lawyer, Timothy D. Raub, with over 25 years of experience getting clients what they deserve, on their personal injury claims, in Corpus Christi, Texas since 1998.

At Raub Law Firm, P.C. , our Corpus Christi personal injury lawyers know the law is complex and difficult to navigate, especially if you or a loved one just suffered an injury. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it is important to be well informed so that you have a higher likelihood of obtaining the recovery your situation deserves.

When you’re looking for legal guidance and meaningful support, Timothy Raub, one of the top personal injury lawyers in Corpus Christi, is here for you. Consider the following information before filing a claim.

7 Myths About Personal Injury Claims Debunked

Car Accident Lawyer, Corpus Christi Car Accident Lawyers, Personal Injury Claims

1. If there are no Broken Bones or Major Injury You Don’t Need a Car Accident Lawyer

Many people want to try to handle their injury claim themselves. “I’m a smart guy! Besides, why do I want to give a big chunk of my money to a lawyer?” Well, would you take out your own appendix? Of course not! We lawyers make money by MAKING people money. We can almost always get you more money than you get on your own, even AFTER paying the lawyer. The most important thing you need to do and that the lawyer helps you with is to make sure you go to the doctor.

Just because a few bumps and bruises may not seem like a big deal, you may have sustained many other types of internal injuries during a car accident. While internal organ damage may be a factor, we are speaking more of the non-physical damage that may have occurred. These types of injuries can include:

  • Pain and Suffering – aches, limitations of activity that may be temporary or permanent, scarring, depression, or potential shortening of life
  • Property Damage – damage done to your vehicle, land, or property
  • Loss of Consortium – damages suffered by the spouse of the person that was injured or killed in a car crash
  • Mental Anguish – distress, fright, depression, grief, anxiety, other types of trauma

If you escaped a car accident with minor injuries but are suffering from non-physical injuries, you need an experienced Corpus Christi car accident lawyer that can represent with perseverance and 37 years of combined experience at the Raub Law Firm, P.C.

 

2. Most Cases Require a Lawsuit

It is a common assumption that if a lawyer is involved in your personal claim, then you will have to go to court. In fact, most claims are resolved in the “Claims Phase” before a lawsuit is filed. At least 75%-80% of claims never got to the lawsuit phase.

Even if a lawsuit is filed,  in many cases, lawyers are able to settle outside of court. This is especially true in scenarios where the defendant was clearly responsible for the car accident. The negligent party is much more likely to face harsher penalties and costs in court, thus they sometimes prefer to handle these claims more quickly and quietly outside of it.

3. Filing a Personal Injury Claim is Filing a Frivolous Lawsuit

An insurance adjuster’s job is to save the company money. They do this by not paying a fair amount on most claims.  One of the biggest social stigmas about personal injury claims is that the claimant is often portrayed as filing a claim because of greed. The truth of the matter is that the majority of personal injury claims filed are for legitimate reasons. Most car accident claims are filed in an effort to receive compensation for medical expenses and property damage from an insurer that may be acting in bad faith.

4. All Personal Injuries Filed Result in Tons of Money Paid

Many people think that every claim results in a huge windfall of money for the injured party. Unfortunately, not all cases are guaranteed compensation. In order to receive compensation, many different factors are taken into account. Some of them are:

  • Type of injury
  • Medications used
  • Daily life disruptions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages

It may not be all that easy to get compensation as insurance adjusters often work for the interests of their company and not the insured. Rest assured, however, that with Raub Law Firm, P.C. , we won’t stop until you get the money you deserve! We are not in the business of lying or fabricating evidence to just get money, however, we work to make sure you do the right things to maximize the amount of money in your pocket for every claim.

5.   In the State of Texas You Can File a Claim at Any Time or Only Have a Year

In the state of Texas, once you have been involved in a car accident, you will have two years to settle your claim without a lawsuit. Any date after that and you are essentially forfeiting your right to bring suit to the responsible party. However, as long as the lawsuit if filed within Two Years you preserve your claim and your rights.

6. Your Corpus Christi Personal Injury Lawyers Must be Paid in Order for Them to Take Your Case

We understand that for months after a car accident, money may be a little tight. That’s why we won’t accept a penny until you have won your case, leaving you to recover free of stress or financial burdens that many other Corpus Christi car accident lawyers may place on you.  No Recovery, No Fee.

7. Insurance Adjusters Will Make Sure That You are Fairly Compensated

Yeah, Right! Car accidents are high-stress situations that can cause a lot of anxiety. It isn’t pleasant having to deal with one. Unfortunately, your insurance company and their adjusters rarely act in your best interests.

Just like any business, the name of the game is profits, and your well being comes in at second. This means insurance companies will probably attempt to minimize the coverage you receive or outright deny your claim for illegitimate reasons. Our Corpus Christi car wreck attorneys at the Raub Law Firm, P.C. we understand the dishonest strategies insurers will attempt to use to avoid paying you what is rightfully due. With our knowledge, find comfort in our team of highly experienced and understandable lawyers who are ready to help you obtain what is due to you.

 

In order to receive an equitable settlement, your Corpus Christi car accident attorneys here at Raub Law Firm, P.C. will review and analyze every detail of your case to develop the best strategy to get you the money you deserve.

If you have been involved in a car accident in the Corpus Christi area, let the remarkable team at the Raub Law Firm, P.C. , represent you in your personal injury claim. Meet your lawyer today.

The financial burden that comes with a car crash can be exhausting but having the qualified car accident attorneys from the Raub Law Firm, P.C. as your guide and mentor through this very tough process can make all the difference. Together, we can ease the stress of dealing with the fallout from a car crash or any time of personal injury you or a loved one has suffered. Contact us at (361) 880-8181 or click here to submit a message directly to us. We will respond within 24 hours.

Mueller indicts 13 Russians for interfering in US election

Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections.

The explosive new charges allege that the Russians created false U.S. personas and stole the identities of real U.S. people in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, an assessment previously reached by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet,” Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said at a press briefing announcing the indictments.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”

President Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on whether Russia interfered with the election, has been briefed on the indictments, the White House said.

The indictment can be read in full here (PDF warning)

[READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE HERE]

 

Submissions that may interest you

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This UV Lamp Could Prevent the Flu Virus From Spreading in Public Places

Researchers have developed an ultraviolet (UV) lamp that kills the influenza virus but isn’t harmful to human skin or eyes, according to a new study in Scientific Reports. They hope the technology can be commercialized and marketed to prevent the spread of seasonal flu in public places, such as schools, hospitals, and airports.

“We’ve known for a century that UV light is extremely efficient at killing microbes, bacteria, and viruses,” says study leader David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. For that reason, UV devices are often used for sterilization — for medical equipment in hospitals, for example, or drinking water for backcountry campers.

But conventional germicidal lamps aren’t safe for humans to be around. With prolonged exposure, they can cause skin cancer and cataracts in the eyes. “So up until now, they’re only really practical when people aren’t around,” say Brenner. “You can sterilize a hospital room, but not when anyone’s inside.”

About five years ago, Brenner says, the Columbia team came up with a potential solution. Light on the far end of the UV-C spectrum, known as far-UVC, has very short wavelengths. The researchers suspected that it can penetrate and destroy microscopic bacteria and viruses, but can’t travel through the protective outer layers of human skin or eyes.

“We wanted to get all the benefits of UV light in terms of killing microbes, but none of the health hazards,” says Brenner. Earlier studies, on animals and humans, have shown that exposure to far-UVC light does indeed appear to be safe. “We haven’t seen any biological damage to skin cells or eye cells, whereas with conventional UV light we’ve always seen lots of biological damage,” he says. Previous research has also shown that far-UVC light can kill MRSA bacteria, a common cause of infections after surgery.

Now, Brenner and his colleagues have show that UVC light can effectively kill airborne influenza. In their new study, aerosolized particles of the H1N1 seasonal flu virus were released into a test chamber and exposed to very low doses of far-UVC light. The light inactivated the viruses with about the same efficiency as conventional germicidal UV light, while a control group of bacteria not exposed to light remained active.

“We think that this type of overhead light could be efficacious for basically any public setting,” says Brenner. “Think about doctor’s waiting rooms, schools, airports and airplanes—any place where there’s a likelihood for airborne viruses.” And unlike the flu vaccine, he says, far-UVC light is likely to be effective against all airborne microbes, including newly emerging virus strains.

Brenner says his team is working with a company to develop a commercially available version of the lamp, which could become a cost-effective way to battle flu epidemics on a population level. “The lamp we’re using at the moment costs less than $1,000, and you can imagine that if it were put into general circulation, the price would drop dramatically,” he says. “We don’t see cost as being a limiting factor here.”

UVC lamps could also have potential implications in clinical settings, as well — in the operating room during surgeries, for example. “No matter how well you sterilize a room beforehand, the medical staff can still bring in dangerous bacteria like MRSA,” says Brenner. “If you have a lamp over the surgical site that can sterilize the air, you can prevent the bacteria from floating down and contaminating the wound.”

Brenner can’t predict how long it might take for these lamps to be commercially available, but he says he’s “extremely optimistic” about the technology. “There has been no way of killing viruses in the air in public spaces, and this is an approach that may solve that problem.”

By AMANDA MACMILLAN

February 9, 2018
Weinstein Company Sale Delayed by N.Y. Attorney General Lawsuit

The fire sale of the Weinstein Company hit a last-minute snag on Sunday, when Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against the studio and its fraternal founders alleging that they repeatedly violated state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and coercion.

The lawsuit, filed electronically in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, appeared timed to at least delay a sale, which had been expected to be finalized on Sunday. If financiers get spooked, Mr. Schneiderman’s move could ultimately kill the proposed deal, putting the Weinstein Company on an almost certain path to bankruptcy.

“Any sale of the Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a news release.

The Weinstein Company has been trying to avoid bankruptcy since October, when reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed decades of sexual harassment allegations against one of its founders, Harvey Weinstein. The company was nearing a deal to sell itself to an investor group for roughly $275 million, plus the assumption of $225 million in debt, according to two people briefed on the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private.

The investor group, led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who is best known for running the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, has also publicly said it would create a multimillion-dollar settlement fund (in addition to insurance that is already in place) for women who have accused Mr. Weinstein of abuse.

Under the deal, the two people said, Mr. Weinstein’syounger brother, Bob Weinstein, who has run the studio’s commercially oriented Dimension Films label, would leave the studio. Bob Weinstein had frantically tried to keep control of the company following his brother’s firing in October.

The brothers, who jointly own about 42 percent of the Weinstein Company, would receive no cash from the proposed sale, according to the two people briefed on the deal. Other equity holders, including the advertising giant WPP Group, may also be wiped out.

But the final-stage talks came to a screeching halt on Sunday afternoon, according to the two people briefed on the process, as the investor group received word that Mr. Schneiderman was about to file a lawsuit based on an ongoing four-month investigation into the Weinstein Company’s internal dealings.

The lawsuit, which refers to Harvey Weinstein by his initials, says that the company’s management and board of directors “were repeatedly presented with credible evidence of HW’s sexual harassment” of company employees and interns “and his use of corporate employees and resources to facilitate sexual activity with third parties.”

In one instance, a woman who complained to human resources later discovered that it was forwarded by email to Mr. Weinstein, the legal papers say. The lawsuit added that, by guaranteeing the silence of victims and other employees through nondisclosure agreements, the company enabled Mr. Weinstein’s “unlawful conduct to continue far beyond the date when, through reasonable diligence, it should have been stopped.”

The lawsuit detailed, in the words of one employee, a “toxic environment for women. The suit says Mr. Weinstein had used female employees to aid him in his pursuit of sexual targets. It says that two employees described having to procure injectable erectile dysfunction medication for Mr. Weinstein and says that one of them received a bonus for obtaining the medication “and was at times directed by HW to administer the injections.”

The court filing mentions the possible sale of the company, saying that it could leave victims “without adequate redress” and could provide financial benefits to Mr. Weinstein or his enablers. Eric Soufer, director of communications and senior counsel to Mr. Schneiderman, said the attorney general’s office considered asking a judge for a temporary restraining order that could block the sale but opted not to and filed the civil rights lawsuit instead. He added that the office reviewed the proposed terms of the sale and that they did not include a victims compensation fund.

The lawsuit could result in fines against the company and the Weinstein brothers, and it calls for the defendants to pay restitution and damages to the victims.

The Weinstein Company has been in exclusive sale negotiations since Jan. 23 with an investor group led by Ms. Contreras-Sweet . Although she has no Hollywood experience, Ms. Contreras-Sweet pulled ahead of bidders like Lions Gate Entertainment by promising to keep the studio intact and retaining its employees, including senior managers like David Glasser, the Weinsteins’ longtime top lieutenant. (In the past, the Weinsteins called him their “third brother.”)

Mr. Schneiderman’s lawsuit does not name Mr. Glasser, who is the chief operating officer, but it refers to him by his title and says that the sale of the company could result in employees reporting to some of the same managers “who failed to investigate” Mr. Weinstein’s conduct or protect female employees from him.

A spokesman for Ms. Contreras-Sweet declined to comment. The Weinstein Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein, said in a statement, “While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader.” Mr. Weinstein has denied all allegations of “non-consensual sex.”

Amy Spitalnick, the press secretary for Mr. Schneiderman, said that his office had recently reached out to representatives for Ms. Contreras-Sweet to emphasize the importance of adequately compensating victims, protecting employees and not rewarding those who enabled or perpetuated Mr. Weinstein’s misconduct. “We were surprised to learn they were not serious about discussing any of those issues or even sharing the most basic information about how they planned to address them,” Ms. Spitalnick said.

Ms. Contreras-Sweet was stunned by Mr. Schneiderman’s public call for assurance that any sale ensure that victims are compensated, according to one person briefed on the matter, in part because that was already part of her proposal. The person added that Ms. Contreras-Sweet had not spoken to Mr. Schneiderman’s office before Sunday because Weinstein Company lawyers had blocked conversations by citing nondisclosure agreements signed as part of the sale process.

One of the investors backing Ms. Contreras-Sweet is the billionaire Ron Burkle, a longtime associate of the Weinsteins whose involvement in the sales process has raised some eyebrows in Hollywood. In 2010, he teamed with the Weinsteins in a failed effort to buy back Miramax, the independent studio they founded in 1979. (They sold it to Disney in 1993; the brothers left to found the Weinstein Company in 2005. Disney sold Miramax to an investor group in 2010.)

Mr. Burkle also helped Harvey Weinstein finance movies, including “Our Idiot Brother,” a 2011 comedy starring Paul Rudd.

Rose McGowan, the actress-turned-activist, told The Hollywood Reporter in January that she found Mr. Burkle’s involvement in the bid “profoundly disturbing.” (He would become a minority owner.) Ms. McGowan reached a settlement with Harvey Weinstein after a 1997 festival encounter that she has since described, on Twitter, as rape.

Ms. Contreras-Sweet outlined her plans for the company in a letter to its board in November, when she first made her offer.

“I will be Chairwoman of a majority-female board of directors,” she wrote in the letter. “Women will be significant investors in the new company and control its voting stock.” The studio is expected to be renamed if the deal goes through.

Other bidders were only interested in pieces of the Weinstein Company, namely its 277-film library, which includes titles like “The Imitation Game” and “Django Unchained.” The Weinstein Company also has a television division that makes “Project Runway” and is working on a pair of dramas for the Paramount Network, which is owned by Viacom.

To stay afloat while it has pursued a sale — the studio employs about 150 people — the Weinstein Company at first sought loans from Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm, and Colony Capital, the private equity firm run by Thomas J. Barrack Jr. Those efforts failed, making a sale all the more important to avoid bankruptcy.

[SOURCE]

Here are the bankruptcy sale details on Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi

You want to buy a water park? An NYC law firm has put Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi on the market after Upper Padre Partners, LP, filed for bankruptcy with bankruptcy lawyers last May.

Water park, hotel, 9-hole golf course and 109 more acres of developed land on Padre Island.

How much would you pay?

Keen-Summit Capital Partners, a broker designated by a San Antonio bankruptcy court to handle the sale of Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi, has set the details for the bankruptcy sale.

The resort area is described as a four-story, 92-room hotel with a restaurant and multiple bars. There is space for 705 vehicles in the parking lot.

It can be sold as a whole or in parts. No asking price is listed.

The park itself comes with six tube rides, two kids areas, two river rides, a surfing ride, a water coaster, a heated pool, a tube slide and a raft ride.

The water park, hotel and golf course will open for the spring and summer seasons, according to Harold Bordwin, principal and managing director for Keen-Summit.

Stalking horse offers, which are first bids chosen by the bankrupt company to avoid low bids on its assets, are being considered. All sales are subject to the approval of the San Antonio bankruptcy court.

“This opportunity arises from the May 1, 2017, Chapter 11 filing of Upper Padre Partners, L.P., which was precipitated by inter-partner disputes, the doubling of the business’ construction budget, and the delayed opening of the project,” a separate advertisement for the sale reads.

The winning purchaser will take the title of the property with no “liens, claims, encumbrances” consistent with Section 363 of the bankruptcy lawyer code.

Julie Garcia/Caller-Times

[SOURCE]

U.S. gunmaker Remington seeks financing to file for bankruptcy

Remington Outdoor Company Inc, one of the largest U.S. makers of firearms, has reached out to banks and credit investment funds in search of financing that will allow it to file for bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The move comes as Remington reached a forbearance agreement with its creditors this week following a missed coupon payment on its debt, the sources said. The company has been working with investment bank Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N) on options to restructure its $950 million debt pile, Reuters reported last month.

Remington is seeking debtor-in-possession financing that will allow it to fund is operations once it files for bankruptcy, the sources said. The size of the financing and timing of Remington’s bankruptcy plans could not be learned.

Some potential financing sources, including credit funds and banks, have balked at coming to Remington’s aid because of the reputation risk associated with such a move, according to the sources.

Remington, which is controlled by buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, was abandoned by some of Cerberus’ private equity fund investors after one of its Bushmaster rifles was used in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut in 2012 that killed 20 children and six adults.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Remington did not respond to several requests for comment. Cerberus declined to comment.

Credit rating agencies have warned that Remington’s capital structure is unsustainable given its weak operating performance and significant volatility in the demand for firearms and ammunition.

Remington’s sales have declined in part because of receding fears that guns will become more heavily regulated by the U.S. government, according to credit ratings agencies. President Donald Trump has said he will “never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

The Madison, North Carolina-based gun manufacturer faces a maturity of an approximately $550 million term loan in 2019. Remington also has $250 million of bonds that come due in 2020 and are trading at a significant discount to their face value at around 16 cents on the dollar, according to Thomson Reuters data, indicating investor concerns about repayment.

The term loan maturing next year is also trading at a significant discount to full value, at around 50 cents on the dollar, the sources said.

Remington’s sales plunged 27 percent in the first nine months of 2017, resulting in a $28 million operating loss.

Reporting by Andrew Berlin in New York and Jessica DiNapoli in Las Vegas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman [SOURCE]

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