Sunday, January 26th, 2014
Marlise Munoz, a pregnant Texas woman who was at the center of a heated court battle over the meanings of “alive” and “dead,” especially when there is a fetus involved, has been removed from the ventilator that had sustained her since she was pronounced brain-dead in late November. The hospital had refused to abide by her family’s wishes that she be removed from the life-support equipment, citing Texas law that prohibits removing a pregnant woman from the machines. Last week, a judge ordered the hospital to comply with the family’s wishes. More from CNN.com:
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The devices that had kept Marlise Munoz’s heart and lungs working for two months were switched off about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, her family’s attorneys announced.
“May Marlise Munoz finally rest in peace, and her family find the strength to complete what has been an unbearably long and arduous journey,” the lawyers, Heather King and Jessica Janicek, said in a written statement.
Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child when her husband found her unconscious on their kitchen floor November 26. Though doctors had pronounced her brain dead and her family had said she did not want to have machines keep her body alive, officials at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth had said state law required them to maintain life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant patient.
Sunday’s announcement came two days after a judge in Fort Worth ordered the hospital to remove any artificial means of life support from Munoz by 5 p.m. Monday. Earlier Sunday, the hospital said it intended to comply with that order.
“The past eight weeks have been difficult for the Munoz family, the caregivers and the entire Tarrant County community, which found itself involved in a sad situation,” a hospital statement said. “JPS Health Network has followed what we believed were the demands of a state statute.”
The hospital acknowledged Friday that Munoz, 33, had been brain dead since November 28 and that the fetus she carried was not viable. Her husband, Erick Munoz, had argued that sustaining her body artificially amounted to “the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body” against her wishes and those of her family.
Monday, January 13th, 2014
A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a Pennsylvania mother hopes to achieve enforcement of a provision of Obamacare that is supposed to entitle breastfeeding women to have private space and time to pump at work. Thirty-one year-old Bobbi Bockoras, who operates a palletizer at a glass factory, claims she was not only denied clean, comfortable space to pump, but also says she was harassed by male colleagues and reassigned to a less convenient work schedule. More from NBC News:
It’s the first lawsuit brought by the ACLU under the ACA’s breastfeeding provision, which is the first federal law to require employers to accommodate nursing mothers on the job.
Bockoras’ case is one of a growing number of lactation discrimination lawsuits highlighting the need for more accommodation and acceptance for nursing mothers in the workplace, advocates say.
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding, “women who choose to continue breastfeeding when they return to the paid workforce face insurmountable obstacles that can make them choose between their jobs and what is in the best interest of their babies,” said New York-based ACLU senior staff attorney Galen Sherwin, who is representing Bockoras.
Bockoras’ lawyers argue that not only was she discriminated against and not accommodated under the law, but she was retaliated against when her shifts were switched. Verallia North America, which is headquartered in Muncie, Indiana, filed a motion to dismiss the case. The company is “committed to providing a respectful workplace” and “takes its obligations under the law very seriously and is committed to abiding by all federal and state employment laws,” it said in a statement.
Bockoras says her previous dayshift schedule has since been reinstated and that the locker room where she still pumps has been cleaned.
Under the ACA provision, which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth” and “are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion.” The provision also prohibits retaliation by companies when employees file complaints.
Prior to the ACA, nursing mothers who wanted to pump at work had few rights. An employer could refuse to allow a woman to express milk at work or fire her for doing so.
As more women become aware of their rights under the law, advocates expect lactation discrimination cases to proliferate. “Partly because the ACA offers a new avenue of relief that wasn’t available previously, we’re going to see more claims using that tool to vindicate the rights of women violated on the job,” Sherwin said.
Image: Breast pump, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Yesterday, a New York federal judge tossed out three lawsuits against former Sesame Street employee Kevin Clash. Three
men alleged that Clash had sexually abused them when they were underage. The plaintiffs said that they had not realized they were victimized until last year, when they initially found out about one another. More from NBC News:
In their claims against Clash, who resigned from “Sesame Street” in November after 28 years, the plaintiffs said they had not realized they were victimized until they learned about each other last year, “and realized they were manipulated and it was an ongoing practice.”
But the judge ruled that the “plaintiffs were aware of sufficient facts immediately following their victimization by the defendant to state claims” sooner. ”They were aware of the facts that, while minors, the defendant had engaged in sexual activities with them in violation of one or more federal statutes,” Koeltl wrote. “The dates on which the plaintiffs connected their psychological injuries to their victimizations are irrelevant to the dates on which their claims accrued. … While the plaintiffs may not have recognized the extent of their injuries, they were aware of the defendant’s conduct towards them and could have brought claims.”
The three plaintiffs whose lawsuits have been dismissed are a 34-year-old Florida man who alleged Clash befriended him on a trip to Miami in the mid-1990s, and later arranged for the teenage boy to visit him in New York, where they engaged in sex for four days in Clash’s home; Kevin Kiadii, 26, of New York who said Clash initiated contact with him on a gay chat line when he was 16 and invited him to his apartment, where they engaged in sex; and 25-year-old Cecil Singleton of New York, who was the first man to come forward and alleged in November that he and Clash engaged in an on-and-off sexual relationship that began nine years ago.
Clash recently won a Daytime Emmy for outstanding performer in a children’s series and two others he shared with the show, totaling 26 total Emmys in his career. His work is still being shown on “Sesame Street” because it had been filmed in advance. Sesame Workshop declined to comment Monday.
Image: Cast and Crew of Sesame Street, via Shutterstock
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Friday, January 4th, 2013
William Marotta, a Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple who now has a 3-year-old daughter, is fighting the state’s efforts to get him to pay child support after the couple broke up and the child’s care is being partially provided by state programs. More from The Huffington Post:
The case hinges on the fact that no doctors were used for the artificial insemination. The state argues that because William Marotta didn’t work through a clinic or doctor, as required by state law, he can be held responsible for about $6,000 that the child’s biological mother received through public assistance – as well as future child support.
Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said that when a single mother seeks benefits for a child, it’s routine for the department to try to determine the child’s paternity and require the father to make support payments to lessen the potential cost to taxpayers.
Marotta, a 46-year-old Topeka resident, answered an online ad in 2009 from a local couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, who said they were seeking a sperm donor. After exchanging emails and meeting, the three signed an agreement relieving Marotta of any financial or paternal responsibility.
But instead of working with a doctor, Marotta agreed to drop off a container with his sperm at the couple’s home and the women successfully handled the artificial insemination themselves. Schreiner become pregnant with a girl.
Late last year, after she and Bauer broke up, Schreiner received public assistance from the state to help care for the girl.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed a court petition against Marotta in October, asking that he be required to reimburse the state for the benefits and make future child support payments. Marotta is asking that the case be dismissed, arguing that he’s not legally the child’s father, only a sperm donor.
Image: Legal paperwork, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 15th, 2012
A new regulation in New York City that would limit the size of soft drinks to 16 ounces or fewer is the subject of a lawsuit filed late last week by a restaurant group and members of the soda industry. The New York Times reports:
“Legal action was widely anticipated from the soft-drink industry, which led an aggressive campaign this summer portraying [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s plan as an affront to consumer freedom and has frequently opposed local regulations of its products.
The 61-page filing offers a detailed rebuttal to Mr. Bloomberg, arguing the soda restrictions are a form of de facto legislation, enacted by “executive fiat,” which should have been considered by the City Council. The plaintiffs say the rules represent “a dramatic departure” from the traditional role of the health department, and they are asking a judge to reject the size limits before they are put into effect.
The mayor’s chief spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, rejected those arguments on Friday, calling the lawsuit “baseless.” City health officials have argued that the plan can help curb runaway obesity rates in the city, where more than half of adults are overweight or obese.
“The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year — and impacting the lives of thousands more — unquestionably falls under its purview,” Mr. La Vorgna wrote in a statement.”
Image: Soda bottles, via Shutterstock
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