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Asbestos negligence claims after Third Circuit Decision to reject “Bare-Metal Defense”

Last week, in a precedential opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected a bright-line application of what has come to be known as the “bare-metal defense” in asbestos litigation. The holding is limited to claims of negligence under maritime law. Issues regarding strict liability claims and the government contractor defense were not before the Court.

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Data Breaches: A primer on data breaches and what it means for consumers.

What is a “Data Breach”?
Data breach refers to the release of data from a system without the knowledge or consent of its owner. Common examples of data breaches include hackers accessing a business’ systems to steal information;  an employee or ex-employee stealing customer information;  or the theft of computer devices (like laptops or USB drives) with consumer information on them.  Generally, hackers or thieves are looking for personally identifiable information (PII), financial information, and/or customer data.
1. Personally Identifiable Information:   Any data that could potentially identify a specific individual, or that could be used for de-anonymizing data.
Examples:  Name, Address, Social Security Number, biometric information, medical information, passport numbers, driver’s license numbers.  
2. Financial Information
Examples:  Credit card numbers, bank account numbers, paypal credentials.
3. Customer data:  
Examples:  Login information (username/passwords); tracking data; usage data.  
Examples of businesses which have failed to secure consumer data and therefore been held responsible for data breach incidents include:  insurance companies; medical providers; retail stores; credit bureaus, social networking sites, and employers.
Notification of a Breach
Forty-Eight states*, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have a law which requires some form of notification to consumers when a business has a data breach which affects consumers.  Only  
A business which fails to notify customers as required by law may be subject to liability to those customers.
The Risks for Consumers
Both Private Health Information and Personal Identify information is highly coveted and a frequent target of hackers.  This information is targeted not only for identity theft purposes, but also for committing health care fraud, obtaining medical services under another’s insurance. As
the FTC recognizes once identity thieves have personal information, “they can drain your bank account, run up your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance.” Further, as of 2013 a Javelin Strategy Study found “In 2013, data breaches became more damaging, with one in three people who received a data breach notification letter becoming an identity fraud victim.”
In order to avoid or limit such problems it is necessary for consumers to regularly monitor their accounts for suspicious activity and credit reports for fraudulently opened accounts as well as regularly review any explanations of benefits (EOBs) received from insurers.  Further, customers may need to cancel credit cards, close bank accounts, and pay out of pocket for fraudulently charged items or medical services.  Some consumers may also enroll in identity theft protection services at a monthly fee.  
If Your Data has been Compromised in a Data Breach
If your personal information has been compromised in a data breach, and you’d like to discuss your rights a lawyer who specializes in data breaches and privacy issues may
be able to help.  Our attorneys have represented individuals in data breaches against some of the largest corporations in the country.

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AMERICAN INNS OF COURT

One of the several professional organizations that I am a member of is the J. Willard O’Brien American Inn of Court (AIC). This organization is a chartered member of the American Inns of Court which is the oldest and largest legal mentoring organization in the country. AlC’s mission is to promote professionalism, civility, ethics, and legal skills among members of the bench and bar. It has adopted the English Inns of Court tradition of legal apprenticeship by encouraging less experienced attorneys to learn from more seasoned attorneys and judges in a collegial atmosphere.

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Hurricane Season 2017 to Climate Change Deniers: Hold My Beer!

I’ve written before in this space about climate change deniers President Trump and EPA Chief Pruitt, and how the denial of science in the face of overwhelming evidence discredits our nation and places all of us in environmental danger.  From bad policy decisions to the failure of the EPA to protect our water and air, to the crippling of scientific research due to the stripping of funds for such programs, science deniers are forcing the US back into the 19th century.

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LOCKS LAW FIRM ATTORNEY JAMES BARRY NAMED TO THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS “TOP 40 UNDER 40” LIST

Congratulations to associate James Barry who was selected as a “Top 40 under 40” attorney by the National Trial Lawyers. Mr. Barry focuses his practice on complex litigation including class actions and mass torts, and has appeared regularly in State and Federal Courts on behalf of consumers and workers. Mr. Barry has also been before the New Jersey Supreme Court and Appellate Division regularly in the last few years, arguing on behalf of consumers regarding the enforceability of forced arbitration provisions and substantive consumer rights under New Jersey law.

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I remember the day I became a New Yorker.

I remember the day I became a New Yorker. It was not the day in 1991 when I landed at JFK Airport setting foot on American soil for the first time, a 21 year old Irish law graduate seeking adventure. It was not the day in 1994 when I moved, lock, stock and barrel, from Ireland to a studio apartment in the Flatiron District of Manhattan to live with my new husband. It was not the day I started my first job in a law firm on Fulton Street blocks from the World Trade Center. And it was not the day in 2000 when I was sworn in as a proud citizen of the United States at Federal Plaza. Yes, I lived in New York, I worked in New York, and I loved New York. But I still referred to Ireland as home.

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Commuter Train Collision

On August 22, 2017, shortly after midnight, a train pulling into the 69th Street Terminal Center in Upper Darby, PA collided with an unoccupied train car, resulting in approximately 42 injuries.  All injuries have been reported to be non life threatening and the incident is currently still under investigation. This incident, the tragic Amtrak accident in Philadelphia in May of 2015 as well as the Hoboken train crash in September of 2016 are stark reminders of the importance of safety,  awareness and how we must work together as a community to make sure we are all safe. Locks Law has the affected persons as well as their families in our thoughts today, as no one should be worried about the safety of a family member going to work.

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City Select Auto Sales v. BMW Bank of North America, Inc., No. 15-3931 (3d Cir. August 16, 2017): An Important Consumer Win on Ascertainability.

Yesterday, in a precedential opinion the Third Circuit continued its limitation of the ascertainability requirement as applied to consumer class actions.  The Circuit’s opinion in City Select is important as it not only limits the broad application of ascertainability as applied by some Courts, it also reflects that Defendants arguing that a class is not ascertainable should be required to turn over information in its possession about potential class members prior to the certification of a putative class.  Importantly the Circuit also noted that ascertainability did not constitute a per se ban on the use of class members’ affidavits to determine class membership.

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Marc Weingarten Elected to 2 Leadership Positions with the AAJ

Congratulations to Senior Partner Marc Weingarten who was elected to two (2) leadership positions at the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Annual Convention in Boston in July. 

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Summertime Means Vacation-Time: But Remember to Be Safe!

Ah Summertime!!  It’s time for family trips to beaches, resorts and amusement parks!  It’s the most (well, second most!) wonderful time of the year for the family.  But don’t let the summertime lazies strike when you and your loved ones are away on vacation.  Here are some commonsense suggestions for making your summer adventures safe AND fun!

  1. Before you make reservations or head out into the great unknown, RESEARCH! Make sure your destination is family friendly. Check out location websites, family and parenting sites to see what others have to say before you commit.
  2. Practice safety before you go. Make a plan for some of the more common safety scenarios and explain them to your children in age appropriate language.  Some instances you may want to go over are what to do if a child gets lost, if a parent becomes ill or if the family gets separated.
  3. Reinforce that children should not go anywhere with strangers and that it is OK for them to shout NO! loudly if they feel threatened.
  4. Prepare for Medical Emergencies: always have at least a small first aid kit with you when you travel to take care of small cuts and abrasions from falls or playtime mishaps. Be sure to have any prescription medications needed in sufficient quantities plus extra for the time you’ll be away.  Be sure to have sufficient quantities of any over the counter medications as well.  Be sure each family member knows how to get medical help in an emergency, and if in a foreign=n country, what the equivalent of 911 is at that location.
  5. Know and explain TSA regulations and rules. Be sure your kids know that they will have to be scanned before getting on a plane, and that their toys and belongings will also have to be scanned, but will be returned to them.  And teach them the words never to say in an airport.  Nothing could be worse than to have your vacation delayed (or ended) in an airport because your child said “bomb” at the security checkpoint.
  6. Put ID tags on young children, and adults and older children should always carry ID. Shoe tags, Road ID or temporary tattoos with your contact information can be utilized in case you get separated from your young child. You can also write your information on a small card or the hotel/resort’s business card and place it in your child’s pocket before you go out for the day.  Experts do not recommend putting your child’s name on clothing or bags where it can be easily seen as strangers may use your child’s name in an attempt to gain their trust.
  7. Don’t use public WiFi for sensitive information or transactions such a s banking. They are easy to hack, putting your sensitive information at risk.  Be sure to use secures sites, or use your smartphone or tablet to create a secure hotspot.
  8. Limit the use of social media to describe your travel plans. It is tempting to post travel pictures while you’re away, but if your privacy settings are not strictly set, you will be broadcasting that your house will be unattended when you’re gone making it an easy target for thieves.  Resist the urge to post while you’re away, and save the jealousy inducing pictures until after you’ve come home.  Be sure your children understand this as well.
  9. Experts agree that the safest hotel rooms are on the 3rd through 6th floors. These floors are high enough to be difficult to break into, but low enough that most fire department ladder trucks will reach them.  And keep your hotel room secure by using all the locks, even when you are in the rooms. Children should also know never to open the door for anyone---only and adult should. If your room faces a pool or walkway or if you have a terrace, be sure the sliding doors locks securely.  Do not leave valuables lying about in plain sight when you leave.  If your room has a safe, use it (but test it empty first so you know it will lock and unlock when you need it to).  If not, check with the front desk about leaving valuables with hotel management.
  10. Dress your kids in bright clothes---they will be easier to see and locate in crowds. Take photos of your children each day BEFORE you go out.  In case a child gets lost or separated, you won’t have to rely on memory to give the authorities a clear description of your child.
  11. Don’t bend the normal behavior and privilege rules to the breaking point. If they are not old enough to go places alone at home, they’re not old enough to do so on vacation---in a strange an new environment as well.  The same should apply for leaving young children alone, unsupervised in a hotel room.  Don’t do it.

These suggestions are simple way to insure that the summer is what it should be: fun and time for making family memories.  Now get out there and enjoy the summer!!  And don’t forget the sunblock!

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