Getting Rid of Old Medications

Today’s post comes from guest author Hayes Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

       Flushing drugs down the toilet is the old way of getting rid of unwanted, expired or unused drugs, but recent studies have shown that this practice harms our environment. Low levels of drugs, such as birth control and anti-depressants among others, are being found in our lakes, rivers and streams and are negatively impacting fish populations and other aquatic life. Long term exposure in our waters can eventually lead to drug-resistant bacteria that will ultimately render our drugs ineffective.

       The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has recently released recommended ways to dispose of controlled substances including take-back events, where pharmacies, hospitals or clinics allow you to bring them your unused medications for them to dispose of properly, or mail-back programs and also collection receptacle locations, where you can drop off your unused medications. You can ask your pharmacist about whether any of these programs are offered in your area or contact your city or county’s trash and recycling services. If none of the recommended take-back programs are available in your area you should follow these 3 simple steps to dispose of most medicines in your household trash:

  • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds; and
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
  • Then throw the container in your household trash.

(Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable).


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Former workers’ comp insider says agency sacrificing workers to save employers money

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FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota has broken its promise to injured workers who rely on workers’ compensation, according to a lawyer who knows the system as a former insider now on the outside.

The bedrock legal promise of providing injured workers “sure and certain” relief in North Dakota has been sacrificed in the interest of saving employers money, Bismarck lawyer Dean Haas argues in an article in the current North Dakota Law Review.

“Employee safety has taken a backseat to saving employers’ money,” Haas wrote in the law review article. “This is evident in nearly every aspect of workers’ compensation in North Dakota.”

Workforce Safety & Insurance, the workers’ compensation program in North Dakota, did not respond in detail to questions prompted by Haas’ law review article.

“Workforce Safety & Insurance is committed to providing injured workers all the benefits they are entitled to receive,” Bryan Klipfel, WSI’s director, said in a statement. WSI did not make anyone available for an interview.

WSI is under the authority of Gov. Jack Dalrymple. A spokesman said the governor has not had a chance to read the law review article, and so was unable to comment by Friday afternoon.

WSI accepts 92 percent of claims, a rate Klipfel said exceeds the rate of similar states. That figure is for initial acceptance, indicating workers’ comp accepts liability, but ongoing claims involve numerous…

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DHS hit with immigration lawsuit

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Anibal Fuentes came to the United States illegally years ago, faced deportation proceedings in December and was ordered to leave the country. Now, he is among a group of people suing the Department of Homeland Security.

An advocacy group filed a lawsuit against DHS Wednesday, alleging that the agency failed to respond to a rulemaking petition filed in February that asked the agency to suspend deportations of undocumented workers and their families and expand the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. A number of people who came to the country illegally, including Fuentes, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network claims that the agency is in violation of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act. "DHS’s failure to respond constitutes an effective denial that is arbitrary, capricious and void of any legitimate explanation,” the group said in the lawsuit.

"What the law says is, they have to respond in a reasonable amount of time," said Jessica Karp Bansal, a staff attorney at NDLON. "In a case like this where peoples’ lives are at stake, nine months is clearly unreasonable."

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.

The rulemaking petition was filed earlier this year as President Obama was mulling whether he should act alone on the issue. Fuentes and five other people who came to the United States illegally signed on. Now that the…

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Phoenix arson investigators named in civil-rights lawsuit

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Phoenix Fire Department
Phoenix Fire Department

(Photo: The Republic)

A 44-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against Phoenix alleging that Fire Department investigators violated his constitutional and civil rights in 2009 when he was indicted on suspicion of arson.

Carl Vincent Ball Caples, who now lives in Illinois, spent more than 14 months in a Maricopa County jail awaiting trial for allegedly setting fire to a home he shared with two other men near 19th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, according to the lawsuit. An arson expert hired by his then-defense attorney determined the blaze was an unintentional electrical fire.

Prosecutors dismissed the case against Caples the day his trial was set to begin.

His suit, filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges that the city failed to hire properly trained investigators, did not provide them with additional training and allowed them to use discredited investigation techniques. The suit also alleges that fire investigators approached investigations with a "preconceived idea of whether a fire was arson." Caples’ attorneys demanded that damage amounts be determined in a jury trial.

Phoenix spokeswoman Stephanie Romero could not immediately comment on the suit because she didn’t know whether the City Attorney’s Office had had time to review it.

The lawsuit also names former Phoenix Fire Chief Robert Khan, former Fire Marshal Jack Ballentine, and Capts. Sam Richardson, Fred Andes and William Nelson.

The lawsuit is the latest development…

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How a Coalition Pushed for a Hotel Workers’ Minimum Wage

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Most Sunday mornings last summer, Julia Gould set up a table at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Alongside stalls selling shiitake mushrooms, free-range poultry and orange-blossom honey, she was selling an idea: a $15.37-an-hour minimum wage for the city’s hotel workers — more than twice the federal minimum wage and one of the highest minimum wages in the nation.

As shoppers wandered past, Ms. Gould asked them to sign a petition calling on the Los Angeles City Council to approve the proposal. She also urged them to write on a whiteboard their reasons for supporting the higher wage. One shopper wrote that “to live a healthy life, you need a living wage,” while a woman carrying a Starbucks coffee scribbled that she supported the idea “because rent is expensive.”

A second community organizer photographed these shoppers and their hand-scrawled signs and then posted those pictures on Facebook and Twitter, steering them to Mitch O’Farrell, the City Council member who represents Hollywood. Mr. O’Farrell had questioned the wisdom of the $15.37 wage proposal, fearing that it would force hotels to lay off some of the city’s 17,000 hotel workers. “We were trying to show him that his constituents cared about this,” Ms. Gould said.

Her politicking was one small part of a campaign orchestrated by one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for low-wage workers: the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, or Laane. Harold…

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Major Asbestos Violations Result in Fines for Two WA Companies

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited two employers for violations that exposed workers to asbestos during the demolition of a Seattle apartment building. Asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal illnesses.

An L&I investigation into the Seattle project found a total of 19 willful and serious safety and health violations. As a result, together the businesses have been fined a total of $379,100.

Partners Construction Inc., of Federal Way, was cited for a total of 14 willful and serious violations and fined $291,950. Asbestos Construction Management Inc., of Bonney Lake, was fined $87,150 for five willful and serious violations.

The violations were for asbestos exposure to workers, asbestos debris left on site and other violations that occurred during demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood. The three-story, five-unit apartment building was originally constructed with “popcorn” ceilings, a white substance containing asbestos fibers, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can lead to asbestosis, a potentially fatal disease, as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Removal of asbestos-containing building materials must be done by a certified abatement contractor who follows safety and health rules to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. The contractor must also ensure proper removal and disposal of the asbestos materials.

Partners Construction Inc., a certified asbestos abatement contractor at the time, was hired by the building owner to remove the asbestos before the apartment building was demolished.

After several weeks, Partners provided the building owner with a letter of completion indicating that all asbestos had been removed. When L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, the inspectors found that the removal work had not been done and approximately 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling remained throughout, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Partners came back to finish the abatement work; however, due to a prior history of willful violations, L&I was in the process of revoking Partners’ certification to do asbestos abatement work. In May, Partners was decertified and went out of business.

A new company, Asbestos Construction Management Inc. (ACM), owned by a family member of the Partners owner, took over the job using essentially the same workers and certified asbestos supervisor as Partners, and sharing the same equipment.

A subsequent L&I inspection of ACM found many of the same violations as in the Partners’ inspection. L&I has initiated decertification action against ACM.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citations, please contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

 Photo credit: avlxyz / Foter / CC BY-SA

Health specialist: Christie Ebola quarantine ‘inappropriate’

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An Emory University health specialist slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 21-day quarantine policy of health workers returning from West Africa who were exposed to Ebola.

“To infringe on their civil liberties for the sake of fighting a shadow or the bogeyman is absolutely inappropriate,” Sean Kaufman told radio host John Catsimatidis in an interview to air Sunday on “The Cats Roundtable” – AM 970 in New York.

Christie has faced backlash from a nurse in Maine who was quarantined outside a New Jersey airport after recently treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

Kaci Hickox, the first person quarantined under New Jersey’s strict anti-Ebola protocols, called her treatment “inhumane” and has since won court reprieve from the order.

“Any individual who is not showing signs or symptoms — they are not contagious and they are not a risk,” said Kaufman, a bio-security expert who oversaw infection control at Emory University Hospital when it treated the first two U.S. Ebola victims.

Kaufman said he was a “huge fan of Christie’s leadership, but questioned his actions that stoke new fears about Ebola’s possible spread in the United States.

“I wonder what Governor Christie would have said if nobody showed up to New Jersey after Hurricane [Sandy] because if you returned to New Jersey you’d be in quarantine for three weeks … It’s not a leadership decision. It’s a management of fear,…

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Lawsuit accuses Denver attorney of filming sex encounters with clients

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Updated:   10/30/2014 11:58:46 PM MDT

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A lawsuit accuses a Denver attorney of having illicit relationships with law clients, filming sexual liaisons in his office and going so far as marrying some of them in a polygamist union because it was "commanded of God."

Charles L. Fife, who specializes in drunken driving law, was sued by a client who claims Fife surreptitiously filmed himself having sex with women including clients. The plaintiff’s name is listed as Jane Doe because she claims to be the victim of sexual exploitation.

"For at least the last decade, Fife has sexually exploited, victimized and preyed upon women, including female clients, which is a violation of ethical standards," says the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Denver County Court by attorney Jerome Reinan.

Reached by phone Thursday, Fife said he had not been served with any lawsuit. "I have absolutely no comment," Fife said.

In a 2004 lawsuit filed against Fife by Michael McCullough, his former law partner, Fife was accused of abusing illicit drugs, confiscating client funds and having sex with clients, the lawsuit says.

The civil lawsuit claims that Fife, who is married, purports to be a member of a fundamentalist Mormon group that believes in polygamy, and is known to approach and explain his extramarital affairs to his victims through his religious beliefs, the lawsuit says.


The mainstream Mormon church disavowed the…

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