Month: June 2017

Civil Rights Division Commemorates 100th Agreement Milestone For Project Civic Access


Citizens from across the nation gathered at the Justice Department to celebrate the signing of the 100th agreement reached through “Project Civic Access.” Through Civic Access, municipalities work cooperatively with the federal government to bring local physical spaces, emergency services, employment practices, polling places, and other aspects of public life into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The event commemorated the 14th anniversary of the ADA with twenty-four new Project Civic Access agreements. Attendees included Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights R. Alexander Acosta, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian D. Boyle, city and county government representatives,community advocates, and residents with disabilities from seven communities.


All of the seven communities entered into agreements under Project Civic Access.In his remarks, Assistant Attorney General Acosta announced the signing of twenty-four new Project Civic Access agreements, bringing the total to one hundred settlements.


At the Project Civic Access event, city and county government representatives, community advocates, and individuals with disabilities from seven communities around the country shared their experiences with Project Civic Access and the positive impact it has had in their communities. The ADA is the first civil rights law to require the government to help people and organizations understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. This is no small task: the ADA covers more than six million businesses, 80,000 units of State and local government, and 50 million people with disabilities.

To meet this challenge, the Department maintains a toll-free ADA information line and an ADA website. Through the information line, callers can order a wide range of free technical assistance materials addressing a wide range of ADA topics. Callers can also speak to an ADA specialist who can offer expert advice on how the ADA applies in their specific situation. The website is an on-line resource where users can read or download a large variety of ADA technical assistance publications, settlement agreements,press releases, and other information published by the Department. Over one million people use these services annually.

Class Action Lawsuits and Unethical Settlements




No portion of this article, including this web page, may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, or duplicated in significant portion without the express written permission of Dr. Michael Guth. Users are always welcome to establish links to this web page or to quote from it freely. Modern multiforum litigation creates a conflict of interest environment in which attorneys representing class plaintiffs may be tempted to settle class action lawsuits for the wrong


Attorneys Conduct While Serving as Class CounselDuring the course of the class action, the class counsel must comply with the notice requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(2) or a similar state rule. [Section (C)(1)]. If the class representative asks the lawyer to take some action that either violates the law or harms the interests of the class, then the lawyer should ask the class representative to reconsider the matter. If the class representative persists with his instructions, then the lawyer may ask the court for permission to withdraw as class counsel. Furthermore, the lawyer may make a Anoisy withdrawal,@ as defined in Model Rule 1. 16.

Section (C)(2) follows the process of Model Rule 1. 13, in which an officer of an organization asks the attorney representing the organization to act unlawfully or in a manner inconsistent with the best interests of the organization. In the case of class representation, the class counsel will receive instructions exclusively from the class representative; the class counsel has no higher authority to whom he can appeal adverse instructions. The class counsel=s only recourse is to request permission to withdraw from the court.


Under Model Rule 1. 13, a lawyer representing an organizational client must explain to any constituent of the organization, at any time when the constituent=s interests are adverse to those of the organization, that the lawyer represents the organizational client and not the constituent. Section (C)(3) establishes a corresponding duty for the class counsel with respect to any interest of the class representative that may be adverse to those of the class as a whole. Section (C)(4) prohibits the lawyer from discussing his fee with anyone except the class representative and the court.


This section is a key to the entire new proposed ethical rule, because the crux of the problem with multiform class action representation has been lawyers bargaining away the claims of class members in exchange for an attorney fee award as part of any proposed settlement. In the context of ordinary, single-party litigation, the suggestion that plaintiff=s counsel would discuss with the defendants a Adeal@ that includes his payment for services seems unethical and collusive. Yet this practice has prevailed in class action litigation for years.


This section of the proposed new rule is intended to eliminate the potential for class counsel to enter into award fee negotiations with the defendants, or their counsel, that might influence his recommendation to settle the class action. Similar provisions in Section (C)(9) and (C)(10) prevent the class counsel from submitting to the court a proposed settlement, which offers class members little or no relief, but which includes a significant or disproportionately high payment of attorney fees.

Section (C)(5) imposes an ethical duty for the class counsel to act impartially in actions concerning the class members. Sections (C)(6) and (C)(7) discuss the lawyer=s duty to keep information confidential and is patterned after Model Rule 1. 6. Section (C)(8) requires the lawyer to consult with the class representative on decisions that affect the litigation and advise him on theMichael A. S. Guth, Ph. D. , J. D. , is a constitutional law attorney, legal brief writer, and health care researcher based in Oak Ridge, TN.

A web page describing his law practice and other legal writings is available at biz His current research comprises inefficiencies in health care insurance, pharmaceutical pricing, and best available treatments for Alzheimer? disease, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol. He has developed and/or taug ht more than twenty on-line courses at more than a dozen educational institutions in the areas of economics, finance, business strategy, business law, health care administration, politics, a

Recall System Leaves Problem Products In Homes

You could be housing dangerous, defective or unsafe products because you either ignored a recall, aren’t aware one has been issued or the spotty recall system hasn’t gotten the word out.Household products, one of the largest categories of recalled products, are being recalled at a record pace this year and more than half the toys, clothes, appliances, tools and electronics gear subject to recalls are still in homes, according to “Trouble With Recalls,” recent research by Consumer Reports, a magazine published by Consumers Union, a respected independent consumer goods and services rater and researcher.Consumer Reports offers an online recall center and tells consumers where to go to learn more about recalls and to report defective products. Also, a new online central clearinghouse of recalls,, now makes it easier for consumers to find out what products need to be sent back to their manufacturers for repair, replacements or refunds, but too often recall information simply doesn’t reach consumers who own the problem products.With no central recall authority powered to remove any problem product from market, the complex and decentralized recall system is at the mercy of different recall rules from six separate federal agencies.Recalls initiated last year by the different agencies include:


  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — Food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics; 4,628.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — Vehicles, tires, child-safety seats; 529.
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — Everyday products from clothes to coffee makers; 280.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — Meat, poultry, egg products; 68.
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) — Boats and boating equipment; 36.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Pesticides, car-emission systems 32 (in 2002).

In addition to the hodge podge of recalling agencies and rules, enforcement funding is short, companies are unwilling or unable to track down customers and apathetic consumers add to the morass.In interviews with manufacturers, government agencies, and consumers; phone calls to recall hotlines; and searches of corporate websites, Consumer Reports found:

  • Too often, word simply doesn’t reach the owners of defective products.
  • Of the 19 million cars recalled in 2002, almost one-third weren’t fixed. The fraction is larger for child car seats, appliances, and electronics.
  • Some big companies that sell products that are later recalled do not post recall info online.
  • Federal agencies can initiate recalls, but companies carry them out. If they balk, resolution can take months.

“For every Firestone/Ford Explorer media-fest, there are thousands of choking hazards, breaking straps, and contaminated foods that get little publicity,” Consumer Reports reported.The recall system breaks down when privacy rights and the law get in the way of a businesses trying to reach you about a recall if you’ve never registered the product.But companies don’t always make it easy to register because consumers, discouraged by the litany of marketing related questions, toss the registration forms as a potential invitation to junk mail.Also, says Consumer Reports, some companies’ websites simply lack information. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required by law to post recall information online.Even some government agencies are less helpful than others. The NHTSA, for example, offers information about ongoing investigations. Not so with the CPSC. Likewise, only serious drug recalls are widely publicized under FDA rules.Things are changing. Along with, the CPSC has implemented a “Fast Track” program to remove dangerous products sooner. CPSC is also implementing a program to disseminate recall information to more of the population and the government has gotten tougher on carmakers that try to hide safety defects, and on food inspections, says Consumer Reports.Still, the consumer must play a role in helping keep his or her household safe by registering products and keeping up on the latest recalls.You aren’t required by law to answer the marketing questions just to register a product for safety’s sake and you can easily opt out of unsolicited direct mail marketing