Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 at 9:08 am
Propylene, also known as propene or methylethylene, is an important organic compound used in many industries and products, including medical supplies, construction materials, and plastic manufacturing. It is considered a relatively safe environmental product because it can be re-used and recycled many times. One of its polymers, polypropylene, in particular is widely used in laboratory equipment, textiles, packaging and labeling, automotive parts, and reusable containers. It is typically used in such products as it is a durable polymer that can withstand degradation from a large number of chemical acids, bases and solvents.
Its high rate of use prompted the creation of propylene plants that would ensure the steady supply of the compound at predictable prices. Prior to the existence of propylene plants, the compound was largely a by-product of petroleum refining and ethylene processing. Despite its benefits, however, there are dangers inherent to working with propylene.
Because it is a volatile and flammable compound, it can be dangerous if not handled properly. Propylene is a gas at room temperature. This was the problem when an accidental tear in one of the propylene pipes at the Formosa Plastics plant in Port Comfort, Texas exposed the compound to the air. As the plant does not produce propylene, but rather uses it, it is kept in storage tanks. Normally stored as a liquid, the escaping substance turned into gas at it hit room temperatures, forming a deadly layer of flammable vapor. The resulting propylene explosion was triggered by a stray spark and burned for 5 days. Because of a flaw in the plant safety system, the pipeline could not be shut off. As a result of the explosion, some workers were badly burned.
Most of the time, such accidents can be avoided if due care and caution is used when handling propylene. According to Williams Kherker in Houston, TX, there is only one propylene plant in the US, also in Texas, but more plants are planned to be in production by 2015. These have a higher potential for explosion accidents because these plants have a capacity of 455,000 metric tons of propylene at the minimum. In order to avoid such explosions and serious accidents, plant managers and owners need to take the proper precautions and follow all necessary regulations.
Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2013 at 5:15 pm
Following revelations that the NSA has been secretly tracking the phone and internet records of American citizens, former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman has filed a class action suit against a wide range of different parties, alleging a violation of the three named litigants’ basic constitutional rights. The suit seeks damages of $20 billion, as well as an injunction to end the program.
Named in the suit, in addition to the NSA, the Department of Justice, and Obama administration officials Eric Holder and Barack Obama himself, are nine companies who are alleged to have participated in the NSA’s PRISM program, including AOL, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Skype, as well as the CEOs of each of these companies.
All nine of the companies named in the suit deny knowledge of and involvement with the program.
Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at 8:29 pm
Subaru has announced that they will recall 5,379 vehicles from their 2013 Outback and Legacy lines because of concerns over a defect with the vehicles’ steering. Specifically, the company is concerned that in some vehicles, two components in the steering shaft do not meet, resulting in drivers’ losing the ability to steer their vehicles.
This defect was actually discovered in June of last year in an Indiana assembly plant. The company stopped selling the vehicles while they attempted to identify and address the defect, but earlier this year, they received a complaint from a Subaru owner that he was unable to steer his vehicle. The company is currently informing dealerships about the potential defect and the subsequent recall, and expects that dealerships will begin to notify owners within 30 days.
Subaru is the most recent auto manufacturers to issue a recall of their vehicles in recent weeks. Recently, Chrysler recalled nearly 500,000 Jeep models over concerns of a transmission defect. Sources within Subaru have said that they are not aware of any injuries resulting from this defect, and this voluntary recall is likely intended to help prevent any future injuries from occurring and avoid subsequent legal liability. You can read more about the Subaru recall by clicking here.
Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
MacBook Pro owner Beau Hodges has filed a lawsuit in California federal court against Apple over complaints of ghosting in the computer’s retina display. The case is expected to turn into a class action lawsuit against the company, as there have been numerous complaints about this problem since MacBook Pros with retina displays became available in the summer of 2012.
At the core of this lawsuit is a difference between MacBook Pros sold with panels made by LG, and other panels made by Samsung. The lawsuit claims that Apple was not forthright with consumers by not disclosing which computers came with which panels. As a result, some consumers who received the panels made by LG experienced problems with “ghosting,” or an image being burned into the screen of the laptop and remaining once the image has been changed.
According to the lawsuit, Apple did nothing to help users avoid this problem, save publishing a support document about the issue, nor has it taken the LG-produced panels off the market.
Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013 at 5:25 pm
In the United States, the recent passage of laws legalizing the recreational sale and use of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado has highlighted the natural tension between state and federal legal authority. Marijuana has been illegal under federal law for decades, and most states have similarly criminalized the substance throughout this time. However, with the new laws, it is unclear what actions, if any, will be taken by federal authorities.
Some states have already dabbled with legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and in some instances, particularly in California, the federal government has ignored state prerogatives in these cases in favor of enforcing federal statutes. The new laws, however, represent a far greater challenge to federal authority than that posed by medical marijuana laws, calling into question whether the federal government will even be able to pursue this same strategy, or whether enforcement will necessarily become more enhanced or ignored altogether.
Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s highest-ranking lawyer, has recently acknowledged the difficulty of this problem, and provided assurances that the Administration’s position will be clarified relatively soon in the future.
Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $8.3 million to a 65 year old man who claimed that the DePuy ASR hip implant he received was defective. This case was the first of over 10,000 lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson to be brought to court.
In the jury ruling, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay over $300,000 to cover the plaintiff’s medical expenses, and another $8 million for pain and suffering resulting from the defective hip implant. Johnson & Johnson issued a recall of 93,000 implants back in 2010 after announcing that 12% of the devices failed after just five years.
Experts agree that the cost of resolving the over 10,000 suits against the company could cost Johnson & Johnson billions of dollars.
Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013 at 3:59 pm
The Chicago Tribune, one of the largest newspapers in the United States, has recently agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed by 46 reporters who worked for its Trib Local services over allegations of unpaid overtime wages. The settlement, which is reported to be in the amount of $660,000, will be distributed to employees based on the amount of work for which they were denied overtime payment.
The overtime lawsuit was filed by Carolyn Rusin, and in addition to her share of the settlement, she will also receive $10,000 for bringing the case and $2000 for her individual claim. A court hearing for final approval on the settlement is scheduled for June. Approval is expected. Individuals engaged in an overtime lawsuit may find themselves facing incredible difficulty, especially if they are going against a large company with extensive legal resources. In cases like this, the assistance of an overtime lawyer is almost always necessary to give plaintiffs a shot at securing the verdit they want.
Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 at 8:32 am
Indigent residents of states across the U.S. are facing a loss of the legal assistance they need as a result of funding shortfalls at both the state and federal level. While constitutional guarantees of access to criminal defense representation for criminal defendants remains an important bulwark of protection for criminal suspects accused of committing a crime, those in other situations who may require legal assistance but who cannot afford an attorney on their own are now facing the possibility that they will not be able to obtain representation.
In Texas, for instance, where nearly six million of the state’s residents have incomes which would qualify them for legal aid in normal circumstances, some individuals have been turned away because of shortfalls in the state’s fund for legal aid. According to some estimates, the state only has enough resources to provide legal assistance to 100,000 individuals in the year.
The problem is part of a national trend, with states struggling to balance their budgets being forced to make tough spending decisions and, in many cases, having to reduce funding for legal aid services. On the national level, the Legal Services Corporation, the federal organization which provides much of the funding for legal aid agencies across the country, has seen its own budget reduced by Congress. As a result, the availability of lawyers for indigent citizens has been dramatically reduced in scope.
Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 at 4:15 pm
A case soon to come before the Supreme Court has far-reaching consequences for civil liberties and law enforcement methods in the United States. At issue is whether law enforcement agencies can legally require individuals who have been arrested, but not convicted, for a criminal offense to submit a DNA sample for testing. These samples would not necessarily be used for the case being investigated, but rather to check against databases of other crime scene investigations and determine whether the suspect had been involved in separate offenses.
Proponents of the law point to its effectiveness in the case which has come to the courts. In Maryland, Alonzo King was arrested for attempted assault, and when police checked his DNA profile against their database of crime scene evidence, they found that his DNA matched that found at the scene of a serious sexual assault. King was, therefore, convicted for this crime, as well as the more minor assault charge.
Opponents of the practice, including King’s lawyers, have argued that DNA testing of arrest suspects is a violation of the 4th Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches. Furthermore, some claim that this overzealous DNA collection practice adds to evidence backlogs and impedes the ability of law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate criminal offenses in a timely manner.
The Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching ramifications on defendants and criminal defense lawyers, regardless of how it is decided, as dozens of states have already put in place these types of laws and many more are considering them.
Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 1:51 pm
For the second time, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) has vetoed a bill that would legalize internet gambling in the state. Had the bill been successful, it would have made New Jersey the third state in the country, along with Delaware and Nevada, to legalize internet gambling.
Governor Christie did say, however, that he would be supportive of an internet gambling law that was on a provisional, 10-year basis. Additionally, he would like to see the Casino tax rate on internet gambling winnings raised to 15% from 10%.
Proponents of this bill argue that legalizing internet gambling in the state would have a number of benefits, including boosting the revenue of gambling halls and also benefitting the state in terms of tax revenue. Additionally, it would save criminal lawyers and U.S. prosecutors valuable time, as recent crack downs on internet gambling over the past few years have increased the number of cases brought against online gambling sites and those in charge of running these operations.