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In the first part of 2017, more than 4,460 cases of sex trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. That’s just the number willing to come forward. Experts estimate that thousands of other victims are silenced, either out of fear of their perpetrator(s) or because of guilt. While many of us may feel far removed from the sex trafficking industry, states that are home to major cities such as Chicago are considered hubs for these activities, due in large part to a person’s ability to be anonymous, as well as our proximity to O’Hare International Airport, the 6th busiest in the world and the 3rd busiest in the country. Last year, Illinois ranked 10th on a list of states with the most reported human trafficking cases and had 100 reports within just the first half of the year.


Federal Law Now Makes Social Media Sites Pay Victim

Social media has given both traffickers and those seeking illegal sex an easy way of finding and targeting victims. With new legislation passed that allows victims to sue businesses that had any part in a case of a sex trafficking, the country is hopeful that the number of those brought into the human trafficking trade will dwindle.

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airplane engine

Steven Levin Talks with MONEY Magazine on Southwest Airline’s Payouts to Recovering Flight 1380 Passengers

Southwest is one of the nation’s busiest airlines and recently landed headline news when one of its Boeing 737-700s was forced to make an emergency stop after a left engine failed and exploded mid-air. The incident occurred while Flight 1380 was en route from New York City to Dallas. The pilot was forced to land the plane in Pennsylvania just 20 minutes after takeoff. The engine blowout created instant chaos amongst all 144 passengers and several injuries were caused by flying debris. Tragically, one passenger died after she was partially sucked out of the aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation of the incident to determine the probable cause. There is the possibility the busy airline knew of mechanical issues or missed repairs that could have been made to ensure a safe flight.

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Said to be due to a reorganizing of the executive branch of government, the 5 advisory panels who counsel OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the Department of Labor on workplace safety and whistleblower protection have been shut down or put on hold. Even OSHA itself is significantly understaffed, said to only have enough inspectors to visit each job site once every 159 years.

The 5 committees, listed below, have not met in at least 9 months. Experts worry that the excuse of reorganizing the executive branch to increase efficiency is a cover for allowing businesses to avoid regulation that might hinder financial success. Further adding to their concerns is the number of committee members who have resigned or whose terms have expired without any attempt by the Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, to seek nominees or fill vacant positions. All of the committees’ membership positions will expire by the end of this year (if they haven’t already).

The 5 panels are:

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A 3-year-old boy and his parents were awarded $1.6 million after suing the apartment complex’s owner and  management company for failing to take care of a bedbug infestation that left their son with lifelong facial scars.

After moving into a California apartment, the boy’s mother noticed red spots all over his body and took him to the emergency room. The ER diagnosed the spots as bedbug bites. Soon after, the boy’s mother, Liliana Martinez, noticed both bedbugs and cockroaches in the family’s apartment, as well as bedbug bites all over her newborn daughter’s back.

Right after the diagnosis and discovery of bedbugs, Mrs. Martinez and her husband contacted the apartment’s management company, who sent a pest control company. They also advised the family to throw away all of their furniture. The family followed the company’s directive and were then forced to sleep on a spot of floor while chemicals covered their home. Ridding the home of their furniture and spraying for bugs did little to deter the notoriously stubborn pests, and the family continued to experience bites. The family repeatedly complained and after 4 months, the management company took out old carpeting and replaced it with new carpet. After ridding the home of the carpeting, the bedbug bites finally stopped.

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Popular stroller maker Britax was sued on February 16th by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for failure to issue a recall of models of their B.O.B. jogging strollers that have been reported to cause injuries to both adults and children. According to claims by owners, the front wheel of the 3 wheel strollers is unable to be properly secured to the frame, causing the wheel to become lodged in the ground and the stroller to tip over. The CPSC complaint cites 200 consumer complaints involving a B.O.B. stroller’s front wheel since January 2012, resulting in injuries to at least 50 children and 47 adults.

According to the consumer complaints, B.O.B. jogging strollers have caused the injuries described below.

Infant/Child Injuries

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A study by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that Illinois is indeed a very good place to conduct business. Summarizing the findings in a recent fact sheet, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) reports that since a 2011 push to cut workers’ compensation payouts in Illinois, our state has done just that while padding the pockets of the insurance companies who should be paying these claims. The efforts to reform workers’ comp came as businesses put pressure on lawmakers to make our state more hospitable to businesses. Businesses and insurance companies are winning, while injured workers and the doctors who treat them are paying the price.

In a state-by-state analysis, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that Illinois

  1. Had the largest decrease in medical benefits paid out of any state
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This month, the New York Times online and print editions both ran a piece on the surprisingly unregulated medical device industry. Although now under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, devices only became their responsibility in 1976. Bogged down with prescription drug approvals, the government organization made the decision to allow all previously marketed medical devices to continue to be sold under something called a 510(k) provision. A secondary provision called a PMA Supplement (Premarket Approval) gives companies the ability to pay a fee for an ‘FDA review’ of a new product that promises to be similar to a company’s previously marketed device. By calling it a supplement and not a new product, they are able to bypass already lax rules for medical devices. Again, no studies or testing required. It seems unbelievable that devices implanted in hips, hearts, knees, eyes, uteri, and just about every other part of the body are able to exist with such minimal supervision and regulation. Unfortunately it’s the truth.

Perhaps it is worth noting that there are devices that have indeed saved lives. Many heart attack patients are enjoying healthy lives thanks to stent placements. Millions of those who struggled to walk and move around are now freely mobile due to hip, knee, and other joint replacements. But what about those devices that haven’t lived up to their intended purpose?

Doctors and Patients Left in the Dark About Known Complications

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The American Association of Justice (AAJ) has compiled a list of the 9 largest corporate scandals and coverups of the past year. Their report, titled “Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017,” outlines bad behavior on the part of United Airlines, Monsanto, Wall Street’s big banks, Wells Fargo, Fox News, Equifax, Johnson and Johnson, Takata, and McKesson.

AAJ is a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on preserving American’s right to a jury trial and ensuring the ability of those injured by others to pursue legal action in a court of law.

Below is their list of the unethical and illegal measures each of the 9 corporations or groups took to protect both their reputations and their profits, all at the expense of us, the consumer.

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In late October, Senate Republicans voted to overturn a rule that would prevent banks and big financial institutions from blocking class action lawsuits. The rule, set to go into effect in 2019, would’ve forced banks and credit card companies to do away with arbitration clauses embedded in lengthy agreements between a financial institution and the consumer.

Wells Fargo Scandal: Why Class Actions Are Necessary

With last year’s Wells Fargo scandal still fresh in Americans’ minds, overturning the block on class action lawsuits is unwelcome news. Wells Fargo employees were discovered to have opened over 3.5 million fake accounts and to have enrolled consumers in their auto bill-pay program without their consent. Close to 200,000 customers also paid fines on these fake accounts.  As part of a class action settlement, Wells Fargo must pay $142,000,000 back to consumers whose names were used to open fake bank and credit card accounts.

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Last month, an ABC News-Washington Post poll found 54% of women have been sexually harassed.

68% of those harassed said the harassment occurred at work, and a quarter of these women said their sexual harasser was a man who had influence over their career. 95% of those subjected to sexual harassment said they did not report the incident. In response to the poll, Forbes magazine called workplace sexual harassment a “full blown epidemic.”

Despite many companies touting human resources-developed policies about no tolerance workplaces and so-called encouragement to bring these situations forward, many women are fearful. Fearful of losing their job, becoming an outcast among peers, or being retaliated against by superiors. The list of worries could go on and on.  Maybe this explains why a sexual predator such as Harvey Weinstein was able to intimidate and terrorize even the most in-demand, bankable actresses in Hollywood since at least the 1980s. After all, even as children we’re taught that ‘no one likes a tattletale.’ Now that women are beginning to blow the lid off the frighteningly common occurrences of workplace sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape, we’re beginning to see that just maybe we women have created a big enough firestorm to finally convince corporate America that it’s time to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment and to bring harassers to justice.