A pathetic ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts and the U.S. Supreme Court hurts consumers and will have a serious impact on people seeking redress over injuries caused by defective products, drugs and services. Few people are even aware of it but the court quietly ruled that businesses can require consumers to agree to arbitration or mediation instead of lawsuits in order to purchase products they sell or services they offer. The forced arbitration clauses are usually included in the fine print of contracts without consumers realizing what is contained in them. If you have a cell phone, purchased a car or obtained a credit card, you probably have already entered into such an agreement. But the court’s ruling now allows businesses to require consumers to agree to such terms as a condition of a purchase of products or services. Even in cases where serious injury or death occurs, consumers will not be allowed to take legal-court action. Hospitals, for example, can require patients to sign such agreements in order to be treated. What a foul ruling.
Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe has announced that he is dropping his reelection bid and resigning before his current term ends. McAuliffe fell out of favor with supporters and was criticized for his style of management. Former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, announced he would run for the position. No date has been set but when McAuliffe steps down Gov. Rick Scott will appoint someone to finish out his term.
Jackson Pierrelouis, 20, has been charged with drug possession, assault and numerous other counts after being pulled over in Boynton Beach. He is accused of throwing a handgun and smashing the windshield of the squad car and then fleeing and leading police on a car chase into Delray Beach. Police deployed “stop sticks” devices in the roadway to puncture the tires of his car.
Lake Park Town Manager Maria Davis is under investigation for selecting her roommate to update and revise the town’s employee handbook in 2007 at a cost of $4,000, even though she was not the lowest bidder. More than four years later, the handbook is yet to be completed and the roommate has billed the city for more than $110,000. Davis and the attorney, Patricia Bass, live together in a Highland Beach condo they own. The investigation is being conducted by the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics.
Kenneth Steffen, 63, a terminally ill inmate, was arrested in 2003 for selling prescription pain killers to an undercover Broward Sheriff’s detective on two occasions. Videotape of the deals shows the detective asked Steffen to get more pills. Instead of being charged with two separate counts, Steffen was charged with one count and, due to the combined total number of pills, he was charged with trafficking. He was released on bond. In 2005, his first attorney, whose area of practice was aviation and who had no criminal law experience, negotiated a plea agreement that was believed to require 18 months of incarceration but in reality could have led to his serving the maximum 30 years. Through a series of events, Broward Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato sentenced Steffen to 15 years in 2008. Steffen, who has appealed the sentence, is near death as he awaits the judge’s ruling.
Ala Ghazi Alrashed purchased the Club 303 nightclub in Pompano Beach from Marvin Durand last November for $40,000. Alrashed alleged to police that Durand and two accomplices, Lazare Antoine, 27, and Kevin Tiena, 29, went to the nightclub and harassed patrons. When confronted, he alleged, they struck him on the head with a gun, threatened to kill him and robbed him of $2,000 in cash. Two other men also allege they were robbed at gunpoint. BSO detectives found their vehicle in the parking lot and recovered a handgun. Surveillance video confirmed what occurred and the trio was arrested on multiple charges.
Duetsche Bank has begun foreclosure proceedings on the $3.6 million mortgage of former University of Miami Hurricane and Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss’ Lighthouse Point home. Moss signed a three-year $15 million contract with the Redskins in July that also included a $5 million signing bonus. The IRS filed a $258,017 lien against Moss recently.
HONOR FOR BOOK
Lauren Book of Aventura has been named the 2012 recipient of the Lewis Hine award. The recognition is sponsored by the National Child Labor Committee (in honor of Hines, who was a photographer who documented exploited children around the turn of the 20th century. Book is founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, an organization that advocates for sexually abused and exploited children. The award ceremony is scheduled to take place Jan. 30 in New York. Book is an abuse victim herself and the author of It’s OK to Tell in which she encourages abuse victims to report being assaulted. In 2010, she organized “Walk in My Shoes,” a 500-mile walk to raise awareness about sexually abused children.
Ashley McCloud, 19, was arrested after, police said, she entered the grounds of Orchard Villa Elementary School and snatched a gold chain from the neck of a 5-year-old first-grader. Police said McCloud claimed to be the child’s aunt to get school officials to let her into the school. Security cameras captured the incident and McLoud returned the necklace to the child’s parents. She is charged with robbery by snatching, trespassing and battery.
Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell has signed on as spokesperson for Miami-based Progressive Care, a pharmaceutical and medical equipment company. The company’s stock rose 23 percent after announcing the signing of the rapper. Campbell is also a columnist, reality show star, high school coach, and radio talk show host.
Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones has introduced a proposed ordinance that would add a surcharge to tickets at events held at city-owned facilities. The money would be used to fund certain city-sanctioned parades. A similar 1999 Miami ordinance was found to be unconstitutional but the current proposal passed on first reading 3-1 with one commissioner absent.