Written by: Brian Mallow, Esq. In a major victory for employers/insurers, the Georgia Supreme Court today reversed a Court of Appeals decision that significantly limited the application of the “willful misconduct” defense in Georgia workers’ compensation cases. The case involved a cell tower technician, Adrian Burdette, who was seriously injured while attempting a controlled descent (similar to repelling) from a cell tower. Prior to beginning his shift, Burdette’s supervisor instructed the entire work crew to climb down the tower and not to use the controlled descent method. Then at the end of the shift, the crew’s team leader explicitly instructed Burdette multiple times to climb down the tower, but Burdette refused and insisted that he would use the controlled descent method instead. Shortly after Burdette began his controlled descent, he fell and sustained serious injuries. Burdette filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A hearing was held before an ALJ,…       Read More

By: Michael Memberg, Esq. The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act provides that no compensation shall be allowed for an injury caused by an employee’s willful misconduct, including the willful failure or refusal to use a safety appliance or perform a duty required by statute. On paper, the law reads like an employee has to diligently follow every safety policy, regulation, or law on the books or face a denied claim. However, Georgia law does not hold an employee’s negligence against him, no matter how gross. Furthermore, as the saying goes, “stupidity is no defense.” As a result, courts have time and again found that mere violations of safety policies, or even statutory violations like speeding, do not qualify as “willful misconduct” that would bar a claim. By that same token, there is a question whether texting while driving is “willful misconduct” contemplated by the statute, although we would certainly argue that…       Read More

Written by: Sam Crochet, Esq. In-house counsels are facing growing pressure to perform risk assessments and address internal policies to avoid data breaches for a new reason (as if they needed one). Data breach plaintiffs, depending on the state, may now find their cases welcome in state courts despite struggling to prove a clear “injury” in federal court. The Supreme Court’s 2016 Spokeo v. Robins decision established a plaintiff’s federal court “standing” necessitated actual injury as opposed to mere statutory violation. The Spokeo decision led many in-house counsels to believe lack of an “injury in fact” could prevent Plaintiffs from pursuing data breach lawsuits. However, recently, the 9th Circuit Court backed an Ikea shopper’s argument her zip-code-collection claim against the retail giant should simply remain in state court as opposed to disappear altogether despite failing to show a real injury. The three judge panel decided concrete harm had not been…       Read More

Written by: Richard Sheinis, Esq. A mistake is nothing more than an opportunity to learn. Of course, you have to take advantage of that opportunity. Children’s Medical Center of Dallas failure to take that opportunity has led to a HIPAA civil monetary penalty of $3.2 million. In 2010, Children’s filed a report with OCR indicating the loss of an unencrypted, non-password protected BlackBerry at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on November 19, 2009. The BlackBerry had the ePHI of 3,800 individuals. In 2013, Children’s filed another breach report with OCR in which they reported the theft of an unencrypted laptop. The laptop contained the ePHI of 2,462 individuals. An OCR investigation revealed Children’s failed to implement a risk management plan, despite a recommendation to do so, and they failed to implement encryption on all laptops, work stations, mobile devices and removable media until after the laptop was stolen. Children’s failure to…       Read More

By: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. If you’ve read any materials on estate planning, you’ve likely heard of these trusts. For example, you see a lot on-line, in AARP magazine, and in The Wall Street Journal. There exists a significant amount of commentary and recommendations on using these trusts along with a very simple Will known as a “pour over” Will. While they are very common in many parts of the country, Revocable Living Trusts are not used as frequently in Georgia or Alabama. Most of the commentary on Revocable Living Trusts comes from articles and books written by financial planners or attorneys outside of the Southeast. The primary purpose of a Revocable Living Trust in most states is “to avoid probate”. However, probate is a relatively simple and inexpensive process in both Georgia and Alabama, and several other southeastern states, when you have a proper Will which names an executor, waives…       Read More

Written by: Richard Sheinis, Esq. Vizio, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of internet connected televisions has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer TVs without the consumers’ knowledge. Vizio TVs have a “Smart Interactivity” feature which enabled the collection of consumers’ second by second viewing data, including video from consumer cable, broadband, DVD, over the air broadcasts and streaming devices.  Even worse, Vizio facilitated appending  demographic information to the viewing data, including age, sex, income marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, and then sold this information to third parties, according to FTC allegations. Here is my question, how much money did Vizio make by selling this information to third parties?  Isn’t a $2.2 million fine a…       Read More

Compiled by: Richard Sheinis, Esq. MLB Fines Cardinals $2 Million for Computer Hack St. Louis Business Journal Major League Baseball on Monday afternoon ordered the St. Louis Cardinals to pay $2 million and turn over two 2017 draft selections to the Houston … Hackers Steal 2.5 Million PlayStation and Xbox Players’ Details in Major Breach Telegraph.co.uk PlayStation and Xbox gamers are at risk of having had their private information stolen following a data breach involving 2.5 million accounts. Hackers … Hackers Take Over a Hotel’s Computer System, Lock Guests in Rooms and Hold Hotel to Ransom Tech2 We’ve all seen those movies where hackers need just a laptop and an internet connection to take over the world and disrupt our lives. It’s likely that … Master Hacker Infiltrated the Israel Defence Forces’ Drones System so Hamas Could Spy on its Troops The Sun The court was told how the computer…       Read More