NLRB Files Complaints Against McDonald’s

The National Labor Relations Board has named McDonald’s USA and McDonald’s franchisees as joint employers for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The holding is a win for unions in that it will make McDonald’s liable for labor violations by franchise owners. Complaints were filed against McDonald’s in more than 100 cases. The complaints allege that workers were fired or intimidated for participating in union organizing activities. Labor lawyer David Scher discusses the NLRB's action.

David Scher

David Scher

Scher says that this will likely be an interesting and long legal battle. Scher points out that the right to protest is protected by the First Amendment, and freedom of speech and the right to organize are cherished and protected rights in America. “It is illegal to fire or discriminate against employees for protesting as long as they do so peacefully and without any physical harm to people.”

Not surprisingly, a McDonald’s spokesman said the company will fight the claims. "These allegations are driven in large part by a two-year, union-financed campaign that has targeted the McDonald’s brand and impacted McDonald’s restaurants," said Lisa McComb, a company spokeswoman. The claims will be considered by administrative law judges beginning in March 2015.

David L. Scher is a principal in The Employment Law Group. Mr. Scher focuses his practice on qui tam, whistleblower retaliation, and discrimination cases in D.C., Maryland, California, and nationally. He represents federal and corporate whistleblowers who have reported their employer’s wrongdoing. Mr. Scher is a frequent news commentator and has appeared on local news WUSA9 (Montgomery county, Maryland), KSBW8 (Salinas, Monterey, Santa Cruz), as well as ABC World News and on Hearst Television, Inc. stations across the country. Additionally, Mr. Scher has been interviewed by Forbes.com, Politico, and the Washington Post on topics such as employment discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, free speech issues and related employment matters. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Wisconsin Girls to Stand Trial in Slender Man Stabbing

Two Wisconsin girls, Anissa Weier, now thirteen, and Morgan Geyser, will stand trial as adults in the stabbing attack on Payton Leutner on May 30, 2014. The girls, both twelve at the time of the attack, are from Waukesha. The victim, a friend of the two girls was stabbed nineteen times and nearly killed in the attack.

Slender Man

Slender Man

Investigators have said that the two girls wanted to be with Slender Man, a fictional horror character they read about online. According to the stories, Slender Man likes to kidnap and kill children. The girls allegedly plotted for months on how to kill their victim by luring her to a park after a sleep-over. The stabbing occurred in the park. After the girls left, the victim crawled to a sidewalk, where a bicyclist found her and called 911 for help.

Under Wisconsin law, children ten years of age or older are proceeded against initially in adult court, and only then can defense counsel seek to have the case moved to juvenile court. In proceedings in the Waukesha County Circuit Court on December 18, Judge Michael Bohren ruled that each girl is able to assist in her own defenses and competent to stand trial. Both girls have been charged with first degree intentional homicide and face up to sixty years in prison if they are convicted as adults. If their cases are in fact tried in juvenile court and they are convicted, they could be held in prison until age twenty-five.

The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

In Structured Settlements, Plaintiffs Need Their Own Brokers: Mark Wahlstrom, Structured Settlements Expert

The demise of Executive Life Insurance Company of New York (ELNY) and subsequent related litigation provide several lessons, perhaps most importantly that plaintiffs in structured settlement transactions need to have their own brokers. That takeaway and others are discussed in this report by attorney Mark Wahlstrom of Scottsdale, AZ.

Mark Wahlstrom

Mark Wahlstrom

ELNY, a subsidiary of First Executive Corporation, was taken into receivership in the early 1990s and managed by the New York Liquidation Board. It was liquidated rather suddenly two years ago (discussed extensively by Wahlstrom in this earlier report). Most people who had ELNY contracts received 100% of their funding, but a small group (estimates range from 895 to 1,500) found their benefits reduced from 10% to as much as 50%.

The frustrations associated with all of this led to a class action lawsuit, Westrope v. Ringler Associates Inc. (discussed extensively in this previous report). What makes this case important, Wahlstrom points out, is the position taken by the defendants that they were brokers for the settling defendants and owed no fiduciary duty to any plaintiffs. This is significant because, for perhaps the past ten years, brokers have tried to maintain that they can represent both parties to a structured settlement agreement. “What [this case] shows is that, when push comes to shove, the defense brokers rightly work for the defense interests.” Plaintiffs who don’t retain their own experts are at risk.

The other big issue here is Andrew Cuomo’s decision of how and when to liquidate ELNY and what was going on in the New York Liquidation Bureau. An online publication, Inside Sources, carried an unflattering article about the liquidation. Wahlstrom thinks the article is a little “over the top,” but the point is that there is now some outside interest in what went on and what liability there should be for the losses caused to structured settlement shortfalls. Wahlstrom points out that, even after the economic losses in 2008, most structured settlements were unaffected, and beneficiaries have been getting paid.

The problem, Wahlstrom opines, is the secrecy that has so often shrouded the whole structured settlement industry and obscured how the process works. The secrecy and confidentiality here will not be pretty to see. The structured settlement industry needs to get ahead of this and hold honest and open discussions about what happened and how things work. Everyone involved needs to be protected.

Mark Wahlstrom, President of Wahlstrom & Associates, founded of one of the nation's first plaintiff only structured settlement firms in 1983 and is a renowned specialist in settlement planning, structured settlement annuities, structured legal fees, and the administration of large, complex multi-claimant settlements using qualified settlement funds and trusts. He has also become widely known over the last decade for his innovative development of an online broadcast platform, Sequence Media Group, upon which he has produced hundreds of hours of shows for The Legal Broadcast Network, and The Settlement Channel, with the content being of interest to attorneys, paralegals, judges and settlement professionals all over the United States. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.