March 2018

Sex, Lies and Videotape

The case began simply enough. A bar in Scranton served beer to a minor. The minor took the beer out to the parking lot and used the glass to gash out our client’s eye. Under Dram Shop law and cases, a bar is liable if it serves a minor or a drunk and that person hurts someone.

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Groundbreaking Win for Privacy Advocates in New Jersey

This morning, the Appellate Division in New Jersey affirmed the right to proceed to trial for 30 women who alleged that they had been surreptitiously videotaped in their work bathrooms: Friedman, et al. v. Martinez, et al., A-4896-15T1 (New Jersey Appellate Division, Mar. 23, 2018). The women were represented by attorneys from Locks Law Firm, Hill Wallack LLP, and the Law Offices of Franklin Solomon.
The women claimed that their privacy was invaded when Defendant Teodoro Martinez, a janitor employed by Defendant CRS Facility Services, LLC, placed and maintained hidden surveillance equipment for approximately six months to a year in a women's restroom in a five-story Somerset office building owned by Defendant I&G Garden State, LLC, and managed by Defendants Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. and LaSalle Investment Management, Inc. Defendant Planned Security Services, Inc. provided security for a tenant on that particular floor of the building.
The police were able to recover about 7 hours of footage from Mr. Martinez, although the evidence suggested that there had been much more. The Appellate court, for the first time, ruled that each plaintiff did not need to assert her image appeared in the existing footage to prove that a recording device was present when they used the women's restroom. Importantly, the law in New Jersey states that the invasion of privacy cause of action is maintainable even if the victim cannot demonstrate she was ever recorded. Like other state appellate courts, the Court held that a victim of such an intrusion need not provide evidence of her captured image to prove an intrusion occurred.
Most significantly for victims of invasions of privacy in the future, it is enough that the victim provide evidence supportive of a finding that a recording device was present when was in a secluded area, such as a restroom, where a reasonable expectation of privacy may be assumed. And this fact may ben shown inferentially. Any plaintiff who could assert she used the same restroom around the same time as the devices were present should not have been dismissed by way of summary judgment. Moreover, such a plaintiff need not specifically delineate the dates on which she used the infringed facility. It would suffice if a plaintiff could demonstrate she worked in the building in an area close enough to allow a factfinder to assume her occasional use of the surveilled restroom.
Essentially, today's ruling means that victims of invasions of privacy do not have to produce a smoking gun to receive justice. They can present facts that would allow a judge or jury to infer that they were victims of the defendant's bad acts, same as other plaintiffs with other causes of action. For the thirty women that we represent, it means that they can finally seek accountability for the entities that they allege allowed the heinous videotaping in their work bathrooms. And we will work alongside them in their quest.

Read more Announces Data Breach

The popular travel website has announced that it discovered evidence of a data breach in which an unauthorized third party accessed personal information for consumers who booked travel between:

  • January 1, 2016 and June 22, 2016 (for Orbitz platform customers)
  • January 1, 2016 and December 22, 2017 (for certain partners customers)
Reports indicate that approximately  880,000 payment cards were affected by the breach, and that along with the payment card information hackers may have accessed customers names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, physical and/or billing addresses, and genders.
If you booked travel with Orbitz during the above time periods and have received notification that your card was involved in the breach and would like to discuss your rights please contact us at the Locks Law Firm.  We regularly represent consumers in cases against businesses which fail to adequately secure private information.

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Environmental Impact of the Olympics

As the Olympics have just ended, we have celebrated the wonder of sports and their power to spread joy. The Olympics are an awesome event that brings together people and countries in unparalleled ways.

But one thing that shouldn't get lost in this process is that preparing for the Olympics often involves large construction jobs and cut corners that can lead to environmental harm suffered by individuals and properties. New facilities are built, sometimes without regard to previous customs and law, and so we often see a violent reshaping of landscapes.

As an example, for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, in constructing the Olympic downhill tract in Jeongseon, tens of thousands of trees had to cut down. These trees included Wangasre birches that had been there for 500+ years and served as a refuge for protected animal species. Organizers ended up destroying a portion of Mount Gariwang, the location of the 500-year-old forest. It had been designated a national protected forest in 2008, but that designation was lifted in 2013 for the Olympics construction.

The International Olympics Committee has nominally announced a strong concern for the environment. Ever since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the IOC has held that sport can play a positive role in promoting sustainability. That is what forms the foundation for the incorporation of environmental responsibility into the Olympics. However, that hasn't always addressed the ultimate issues, with recent Olympics plagued by excessive smog (Beijing 2008), rubble accumulation (Sochi 2014), and pathogenic water (Rio 2016).

Large construction projects similar to the ones described above are often allowed without enough attention given to the negative environmental consequences of the projects and the harms that result therefore. But fortunately, there are still laws that affected individuals can take advantage of to hold companies responsible. If you or someone you know has been harmed by negligent or reckless act toward the environment, you should contact a lawyer to determine if there are any remedies.

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Little Known Locks Law Firm Trivia

So many of my blog entries have to do with very serious issues, such as riding mower rollover deaths, asbestos disease, complex regional pain syndrome, and other life-threatening matters.  This month, I thought it might be fun to lighten up the subject matter.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis After a Motor Vehicle Accident

Technological innovation has improved the safety of motor vehicles over the last thirty years.  The mandatory use of seat belts has been accompanied by the development of harness belts and sensor technology.  Airbags have become sophisticated to the extent that their deployment depends upon the location of vehicle impact during a crash.  But for all of the advancements in vehicle safety, individuals still suffer serious injuries when cars collide.  Among those injuries, brain trauma can be among the most complex to address.

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Trump Administration Continues to Gut EPA’s Ability to Protect Americans

I have written before on this page about the Trump Administration's vendetta against the agencies that are tasked to protect our environment and Americans from toxic substances by gutting their budgets and closing departments responsible for the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

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Post at Your Peril: Facebook Privacy Settings Don’t Protect Against Discoverability in New York

On February 13, 2018, the Court of Appeals weighed in on an important issue relating to the discoverability of private social media content. In a unanimous decision, New York’s highest court reversed the First Department’s application of a heightened threshold for the production of social media records where the account holder has chosen to share posts on a private setting only.

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United States Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in CareFirst, Inc. v. Attias.

Last week the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in CareFirst, Inc. v. Attias, No: 17-241. The denial of certiorari leaves in place the D.C. Circuit’s August 1, 2017 decision which found that victims of the 2014 CareFirst Data Breach had standing to sue the company for the increased risk of harm associated with the disclosure of their private information.  

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