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2014: Year of the Recall

Everyone wants to know their personal vehicles are as safe as they can be, but the record number of auto recalls through the first half of 2014 is a troubling sign for drivers everywhere.

More than 37 million vehicles have been recalled so far this year, already surpassing the record 30.8 million vehicle mark set in 2004. About every 2 in 3 recalls have been General Motors (GM) vehicles. The company recalled over 6.7 million vehicles in early July for a faulty ignition switch and has recalled a total of nearly 30 million vehicles in 2014 alone.

Several reasons have been offered for the record number of recalls. After the “unintended acceleration” Toyota recall of four years ago, car companies have become overly cautious to avoid another major fiasco. Additionally, advancements in vehicle software have led to many failures not previously seen, and as more cars rely on computers, we can expect to see an increase in software-related recalls.
To find out whether your vehicle has been recalled, visit www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues.

Filed under: Personal Insurance,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 7:58 pm August 26, 2015


Hidden Risks of Zero-tolerance Policies

As the use of medical marijuana has grown more widespread, understanding employee rights and employer responsibilities regarding medical marijuana use has become more complicated. Rather than attempt to navigate the complicated laws regarding marijuana use, some employers might want to avoid the confusion and opt for a zero-tolerance approach. However, some recent court cases show why screening potential employees for or questioning current employees about medical marijuana use might not be as simple as it seems.

In June, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in which an employer fired a quadriplegic employee for off-duty marijuana use, even though the employee had a prescription for medical marijuana to treat muscle spasms. Colorado has a “lawful activities” law that prohibits employers from firing employees who engage in lawful activities while away from work. The court ruled that, since marijuana use is always illegal under federal law, it cannot be considered a lawful activity, and the company was therefore within its rights to terminate the employee for violating the company’s zero-tolerance drug policy.

On the other hand, other states, such as Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota and Nevada, protect employees who use medical marijuana. These states explicitly prohibit employers from firing employees for their off-duty use of medical marijuana, as long as employees otherwise comply with state law. Still, while these states demand that employers make “reasonable accommodations” for their employees’ medical needs, employers don’t have to extend accommodations that pose a threat to people or property, or prevent employees from completing their essential job tasks.

In short, employers that inquire about marijuana use when screening employees and prospective candidates may expose themselves to discrimination claims. Given the overlapping, varied and often contradictory laws regulating the use of marijuana, employers ought to consult with legal counsel before adopting or implementing zero-tolerance drug policies.

Filed under: HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 7:48 pm


“Best Practices” Exclusion Case Dismissed by Los Angeles Judge

A federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed a potentially landmark case in cyber insurance, though his decision offers no legal ruling on the “best practices” exclusion.

In 2013, Cottage Health System suffered a data breach in which 32,000 confidential records were compromised. The breach resulted in a class action lawsuit, which Cottage settled for $4.1 million. Columbia Casualty Co., the company that had insured Cottage Health System’s cyber policy and paid the settlement, filed a lawsuit seeking recovery of the paid claim, citing the policy’s “best practices” exclusion. (more…)

Filed under: Blog,Cyber Liability,Recent Headlines — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 5:58 pm