Washington State Law

Were you affected by the Anthem data breach?

We are actively investigating a class action lawsuit against Anthem for Washington State consumers. We have spoken with a few individuals who have already received a notice of the data breach. If you know of someone in Washington who was insured with Anthem and who has received notice of the breach, please contact me at Catherine@stritmatter.com or Counsel@stritmatter.com.

Watchful Shareholders Sue Nordstrom for Family’s Frequent Flying

Watchful shareholder leads charge for Nordstrom family's excessive use of company planes

Watchful shareholder sue Nordstrom for family’s excessive use of company planes

Today’s Seattle Times front page article reports on the case against Nordstrom that I blogged about a couple weeks ago. Big corporations have perpetuated the myth that shareholder lawsuits are simply to line the pockets of attorneys. Let me address that head on: Shareholders like Judith Burbrink (the Nordstrom shareholder-plaintiff in this case) are smart to look out for their own interests rather than cast a blind eye to the company’s financial reports. Because of cases like this, corporations that have a family legacy will hopefully think twice about allowing extravagant travel expenses for executives and their relatives.

There are many individual investors that simply trust that their interests as shareholders are well guarded. After all, only a few like Ms. Burbrink have the patience or time to sift through details about how a company’s fleet of planes is used. Does it make sense to side with the corporations or with the investor? Retail investors should thank her. Aren’t you glad for some checks-and-balances that Washington lawmakers put in place for the rare shareholder who cares enough?

Full disclosure: Consumer protection/class action attorney Brad J. Moore of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan is local counsel on this case.

New law would ban holding cell phone in cars

New WA Law would be much stricter against drivers who want to talk on their cell phones. Photo credit: Intel Free Press Flickr

New WA Law would be much stricter against drivers who want to talk on their cell phones.
Photo credit: Intel Free Press Flickr

Remember several years ago, when the State made talking on a handheld phone while driving illegal? Well, Washington State lawmakers are now proposing a much stricter law that altogether bans holding cell phones in the car.

With the rapidly developing technology in the area of wireless telecommunications, the proposal is aimed at putting an end to one hand on the wheel while the other hand is on a smart phone. The new law also includes outlawing emailing, texting, or other forms of electronic communication for drivers in Washington State.

The new proposed law is so strict that it would even be illegal to pick up and check your phone while you’re waiting for the light to change. (Ok, I admit that I’ve done that. But, this is going to end that habit for me…)  If you are repeatedly fined, then you could face double-fines.

This law would not affect making hands free calls or using GPS systems. After seeing so many car accidents as the result of texting while driving or talking on the cell while driving, this bill can’t be passed soon enough.

 

CNAs attempt to get minimum staffing levels mandated

When reading one of my favorite sites for local updates, the Public News Service, I was reminded about the sad state of affairs for Washington caregivers in the nursing home industry. Washington doesn’t have a state law that spells out minimum staffing levels in nursing homes.  In the 2015 legislative session, nursing home caregivers will continue their battle to implement some basic staffing minimums.

Nursing/healthcare workers union members lobby for minimum staffing standards later this month.

Nursing/healthcare workers union members lobby for minimum staffing standards later this month.

Nursing home workers cite three reasons to mandate minimum staff-to-resident ratios: 1) Better care for nursing home residents, 2) Less turnover for weary staff members, and 3) Greater safety for both groups.

Shelly Hughes has been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Washington facilities for five years. She explained that rarely is there enough time or enough staff in place to give residents the care they need. “One of the most heartbreaking things about my job is that I see great, kindhearted, hard-working people leaving,” she says. “Not only my facility, but the industry entirely because they’re so frustrated with the level of care we’re able to give our residents.”

Ms. Hughes says under current conditions, a CNA could be on duty for 15 or 20 residents.  Can you imagine? That ratio is not at all conducive to quality care for nursing home patients. However, Hughes points out that the facilities know in advance when state surveyors are coming to inspect. This is when managers pitch in and there are plenty of people scheduled.

AARP research indicates an annual turnover rate of 52% among nursing home workers in the state. Hughes says SEIU’s proposal would implement staffing rules over a three-year period, and nursing homes would submit monthly staffing reports with payroll records to the state, to confirm that they’re in compliance. She and other caregivers with SEIU Local 775 have been sharing their stories with Washington lawmakers, and she believes a new state law is a matter of time. “It will take a while, but I haven’t met a legislator yet that disagrees with anything I have to say,” says Hughes. “I think the will is there, we just have to find a way.” She adds, Oregon and California both have direct-care staff requirements for nursing homes. Washington caregivers will make their case at a lobby day in Olympia later this month, January 29.  

Take a peek at the local nurses union and their inspirational message to its members at its website.

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