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Over 100 Victims Allege Sexual Misconduct Against Massage Envy Therapists

The largest massage franchise in the US, with nearly 1,200 locations and 35,000 employees throughout the nation, is facing hundreds of sexual assault accusations, as well as allegations that Massage Envy franchises dismissed or mishandled many of the sexual misconduct claims.

At least 180 people so far filed sexual assault complaints against Massage Envy’s employees to various investigative agencies. These incidents have alleged to have occurred over a span of 15 years.

Some lawyers of the victims have disclosed that many people have settled their claims, making information about the allegations and out-of-court settlements classified or confidential.

According to information discovered in a recent investigation, Massage Envy supposedly does not always require their franchisees to contact the local police when receiving reports of sexual assault, unless filing such a report is required by local laws. In some instances, the company appears to require internal investigations, but allegedly gives franchisees little guidance on how to conduct them.

In one specific instance, a Massage Envy therapist, James Deiter, was recently sentenced to more than five years in prison. Deiter pleaded guilty to assaulting nine women at a Massage Envy in Pennsylvania throughout 2014 and 2015.

Susan Ingram, one of Deiter’s victims, reported that she waited until after she left the spa to call and complain about the assault. Ingram was not satisfied with the response she received from the company and decided to contact the police. After officers questioned Deiter, he confessed to assaulting nine women—some of whom had already filed complaints to the spa, according to investigation.

Massage Envy released a written statement stating it encourages its franchisees to “support and assist clients who choose” to report such alleged assaults. According to the company, a violation of Massage Envy’s Zero Tolerance Policy by a therapist results in termination. But investigations reveal some franchises allegedly allowed therapists to remain employed, despite complaints of misconduct. Others have discreetly terminated a therapist without reporting their offenses, which could allow therapists to seek employment elsewhere with a clean record.

Ingram states that she believes Deiter would still be working as a massage therapist if she had not called the police.

During the past two decades, the attorneys at Ramsey Law Group have investigated and pursued numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape against massage therapists, teachers, coaches, counselors, employers, and many other professionals. If you or someone you know has experienced a similar situation, call the Sexual Assault Injury Attorneys at Ramsey Law Group today for a free consultation. We will investigate your potential case and advise you accordingly based on your situation.

Inadequate Texas Nursing Home Regulations Result in Violent Offenders Caring for Elderly

The elderly, vulnerable residents of Texas nursing homes continue to suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of their caretakers.

Ongoing, recent reports raise heavy concerns throughout the entire state about nursing home standards and regulations. According to research from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, the Texas nursing home patient abuse rate nearly quadruples the national average. These statistics represent individual, heartbreaking stories of the elderly and their family members who have suffered at the hands of these violent offenders.

Recent investigative reporting has revealed that numerous, violent criminals are working as certified nursing aides (CNAs) in Texas nursing homes, which, often times, is completely legal in Texas

Victims Of Assault And Abuse Speak Out

Mary Harris, a previous resident of The Rehabilitation & Wellness Centre of Dallas on Live Oak Street in Dallas, experienced the devastating outcome of lax standards firsthand. “He took advantage of me, no doubt about it,” Harris said. At the time of the attack, Harris said her caregiver said it was time to get her ready for her bath. Instead, he sexually assaulted her.

Soon after the attack, Mary, a 66-year-old woman, was transported to Parkland Hospital, where she tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease (“STD”). Her doctors confirmed that “it is undeniable that Ms. Harris was infected while she was under the care of the facility.”

Mary’s family filed a civil suit against the nursing home. If Mary’s allegations prove to be true, according to the nursing home, “nurse assistant Rodney Jolly Shead is responsible.” Shead was never charged with a crime in connection with the incident. But, the 32-year-old confessed he no longer works for the nursing home.

Chandler McCaughan also knows the potential devastation of entrusting your loved one to a Texas nursing home. At the Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval near Austin, CNA Carlos Santacruz was supposedly caring for McCaughan’s mother. Santacruz allegedly posted pictures online of him tickling the 83-year-old’s face while she slept, which prompted her to smear feces on herself. Santacruz was charged with injury to the elderly and fired.

“I was horrified, absolutely furious. This is my mother,” McCaughan said. “She’s someone’s sister, someone’s aunt.”

Both incidents have a common element – in both instances, both nurse aides had a previous criminal record. Santacruz was arrested in the past for fraud and drug possession, and Shead purportedly has two prior counts of assault with bodily injury. Despite these records, both were nevertheless hired by the nursing homes.

Many wonder “how can this happen?” Well, it’s because in Texas, it’s not illegal to hire criminals to care for the elderly.

Time To Change Texas Law To Close This Dangerous Loophole

Amazingly, Texas permits nursing homes to hire aides with criminal histories. Loopholes in Texas regulations allow criminal defendants to plead guilty to serious or violent crimes and still become certified as a Nurse Aid and work in a nursing home or assisted living center.

Recent investigations identified nearly 200 Nurse Aides in North Texas alone with serious or violent criminal pasts including sexual assault of a child, injury to the elderly, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and even robbery. Despite these alarming histories, under Texas law, all of them remain certified and eligible to work as a CNA in the State of Texas.

If you or loved one has suffered from neglect or abuse at a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center, call our Elder Abuse Attorneys for a free consultation today. The Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys at Ramsey Law Group pursue cases against Nursing Homes, Group Homes, and Assisted Living Centers throughout the State of Texas. We will investigate your potential case and advise you accordingly based on your situation.

Senate Vote Gives Lawsuit Immunity to Banks and Others

Recently, an evenly-divided Senate voted to give broad lawsuit protection to credit card companies, auto lenders, and credit reporting companies like Equifax. The decision will make it virtually impossible for consumers to file a lawsuit against financial firms. Vice President Mike Pence broke the 50-50 tie in the Senate and the House approved the lawsuit immunity act. President Trump is expected to sign the bill soon.

Preceding the decision, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) initiated a new rule that prevented many financial firms from engaging in abusive practices. The rule specifically stopped much of the financial industry from using “forced arbitration” agreements— a common strategy where a company refuses to do business with a consumer who will not sign away their 7th Amendment right to sue the company in a court of law. Those who acquiesce and sign away this right, which is the vast majority of consumers, must resolve any disputes through privatized arbitration – a process that favors corporate parties. Additionally, the CFB rule prohibited financial firms from requiring consumers to sign away their right to bring class action lawsuits. This form of litigation assures that companies that charge illegal fees to consumers face consequences for their actions.

The vote is a major triumph for the banking industry. Every Senate Democrat voted to uphold the CFPB rule, as well as several Republican Senators, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kennedy (R-LA).

Democrats believed the rule was necessary to give consumers leverage to stop companies from taking financial advantage of consumers. Recent examples were the abusive sales practices at Wells Fargo and the security breach at Equifax, both of which were protected through forced arbitration and the catalyst for the recent action by the CFPB.

Ironically, the 50 senators who supported the CFPB rule protecting consumers represent well over 30 million more people than the 50 senators who voted to rescind it.

If you have been a victim of unscrupulous or abusive consumer practices by a corporation, call the Consumer Protection Lawyers at Ramsey Law Group for a free consultation.

John Ramsey, has earned the title of 2017 Texas Super Lawyer for the 6th straight year in a row

Ramsey Law Group is proud to announce that our firm’s founder, John Ramsey, has earned the title of 2017 Texas Super Lawyer for the 6th straight year in a row. We are also pleased to announce that Associate Joel Pardo has been awarded the title of Texas Rising Star for 2017. Both awards were issued by Thomson Reuters.

The title of Super Lawyer is a highly-sought-after honors that entail a rigorous, multiphase selection process. Every year Thomson Reuters selects attorneys from all firm sizes and over 70 practice areas throughout the United States for the annual Super Layers list.

Lawyers are selected through nominations by their peers, third party feedback and a rigorous screening process by Super Lawyer’s research team. Lawyers cannot nominate themselves, nor can they campaign in an effort to achieve votes.

Candidates are then evaluated based on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Leading candidates in each practice area are invited to evaluate their peers based on first-hand knowledge of their practices. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. For the final selection, lawyers in the top 5% of the state are selected for the annual Super Lawyers list.

An additional 2.5% of the remaining candidates who are 40 or younger—or have been in practice 10 years or less—are selected to the Rising Stars list.

Lists are published annually in state and regional editions of Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city regional magazines and newspapers. All attorneys selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers, regardless of year, can be found on SuperLawyers.com.

Congratulations to John and Joel for these esteemed honors.

Monsanto Influences Review of Roundup’s Health Effects

Monsanto Co., creators of the genetically-modified “Roundup Ready” seeds, found a solution for crops to withstand the adverse effects of Roundup. Consumers supposedly now have the capability to kill weeds without harming essential crops due to Roundup’s active ingredient chemical glyphosate, one of the world’s most widely-used crop chemicals. However, consistent use of the chemical has raised health concerns amongst its users. According to Monsanto, research from outside sources assures the safety of this herbicide, however new evidence suggest that Monsanto played a significant role in their own scientific reviews.

Earlier this month lawyers who are suing Monsanto released dozens of internal company emails that expose how Monsanto allegedly collaborated with an outside consulting firm to influence the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology. The journal published a self-proclaimed “independent” review of Roundup’s health effects. The 2016 review was a rebuttal to the 2015 assessment from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stating that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. This research caused California to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen and resulted in more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who allegedly contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

According to Monsanto, the company’s involvement was limited to paying Intertek Group’s consulting unit to develop a review titled, “An Independent Review of Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” The Declaration of Interest statement revealed that the Expert Panelists may have served as consultants to Intertek and were not directly contacted by the Monsanto Company. The Declaration of Interest statement further states that Monsanto employees did not review the Expert Panel’s manuscripts prior to submission.

However, recent reports allege that this information may contradict Monsanto’s own internal emails, which reveal that William Heydens, the company’s Regulatory Chief and other Monsanto scientists may have been involved in the reviewing and editing process of drafts submitted by outside experts.

In a February 2016 email, John Acquavella, an epidemiologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, suggested that, “An extensive revision of the summary article is necessary.” This suspicious statement raised concerns for the coordinator of the Glyphosate study for Intertek, Ashley Roberts, who then forwarded the note to Heydens at Monsanto stating, “Please take a look at the latest from epi(demiology) group!!!!” Monsanto was then billed $20,700 for work performed on the review, according to an invoice.

Other emails reveal that Dona Farmer, Monsanto’s Lead Toxicologist, was not listed as a co-author of a 2011 research paper on glyphosate’s reproductive effects, despite allegations that she made substantial revisions to the paper. Monsanto claims that Farmer’s edits were insignificant, despite the fact that nearly all of her revisions appeared in the final, published version of the paper. Her name and affiliation with Monsanto does not appear in the publication’s acknowledgements.

Nevertheless, Monsanto stands by its claim that this process was “independent.” To that effect, Monsanto’s Vice President for Global Strategy, Scott Partridge, states that Monsanto performed only “cosmetic editing” of the Intertek papers and had no significant influence on altering the panelists’ conclusions.

In subsequent litigation, lawyers pursuing claims against Monsanto obtained more than seventy (70) internal Monsanto documents and posted the documents online. As a result of the disclosure, Monsanto requested that San Francisco’s U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabrai order the removal of the documents from the website and sanction the lawyers.

For years, many have questioned the health effects of the widespread use of Round Up on crops. Hopefully, this litigation will reveal the truth and if information has been kept from the public eye that supports the causal link between Round Up and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or proves Monsanto was involved in the peer review process for scientific publications related to Round Up, Monsanto will have a lot of questions to answer.

Massive Equifax Data Breach Could Possibly Affect 143,000,000 Consumers

The credit rating company Equifax revealed on Thursday that its database may have been hacked in the summer of 2017. The company confirmed that the information potentially accessed by hackers includes names, Social Security numbers, some credit card numbers, and possibly other personal documents.

As a result of the hack, Equifax created a website that allows users to check to see if they are among the 143,000,000 people whose personal information may have been compromised.  But the website created to bring awareness to users has raised more concerns than solutions. Users claim to receive unclear responses while others have questioned its overall validity.

For people to check whether they may have been part of the data breach, the user must enter their last name and the last six digits of his or her nine-digit Social Security number.  On Friday morning, after users had attempted to submit their information to see if their data was in jeopardy, the following screen read either: “we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident” or that it did not think you were part of the breach. Some users claimed to enter a fake last name and Social Security number and were still lead to a message saying the user may have been affected. This has raised many consumers on the part of the consumers who may have been victimized.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, consumers were directed to enroll in a Trusted ID Premiere program if their data was impacted. Once the user selected “Enroll”, they were given a future enrollment date that included a warning of no additional reminders.

Some consumers that have attempted to check on their individual status have also stated the Equifax website included an Arbitration Clause, which means that users of the site may have had to waive their rights to sue Equifax by simply checking on their individual status. Equifax included a statement to its terms of service on its website which allows people to opt out of the Arbitration Provision, however, it requires mailing information and a clear statement that the consumer does not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration.  This too has likewise raised suspicion against Equifax in its handling of this severe data breach.  In response to the criticism, Equifax released a statement Friday night explaining that the arbitration waiver in the site’s terms of service did not apply to the cybersecurity attack.

Even worse, some news agencies have reported that some executives at Equifax may have sold stock in the company after learning of the breach but before disclosing the breach to the general public several weeks later.

At least one lawsuit has already been filed against the company regarding the breach.

If you have been affected, or think that you may have been affected by the Equifax security breach, call the Consumer Lawyers at Ramsey Law Group for a free consolation.

Lithium Battery Fires and Explosions – Are We Surrounded By Ticking Time Bombs?

Lithium batteries, commonly used in products such as laptops, smart phones, hover boards, and e-cigarettes, are compact, lightweight, and hold a powerful and long-lasting charge. Lithium batteries are designed for high-energy output with minimal weight.

Over the past few years, however, consumers have learned that these lithium batteries are extremely hazardous due to their propensity to explode and/or catch fire. In fact, several recently-reported incidents of lithium ion batteries exploding and/or causing fires are raising serious concerns.

During a recent city council meeting in Nevada, a women’s purse suddenly burst into flames due to a battery malfunction in the bag—leaving the women with burns and charred clothing. In February of 2016, one man’s pocket erupted in a Kentucky convenience store caused by his extra e-cigarette battery. Similarly, in December of 2016 a man in California suffered major injuries due to the battery in his e-cigarette catching fire. Another man in Florida, who was an attorney, caught on fire while in court because his e-cigarette caught fire in his suit pocket.

Other consumers have likewise complained of similar fires/explosions resulting from malfunctions in their smart phones, laptops and hover boards. The TSA went so far as banning certain Samsung phones from flights within the last year.

Lithium batteries are more likely to catch fire or explode if they are exposed to hot conditions or if the battery is somehow compromised. Consumers can take the following precautions to minimize the risk of battery fires:

  • Avoid storing the batteries at high temperatures.
  • Keep them away from hot vehicles.
  • Do not cover laptops or tablets with blankets or leave unattended on bedding.
  • Do not store cell phones in warm articles of clothing.
  • Do not carry e-cigarette devices in articles of clothing or in purses.
  • Avoid storing lithium battery products together.
  • Avoid overcharging your batteries. The batteries do not fare well if they are completely drained before recharging or if they are over-charged. Remember to charge your battery before the charge has completely left the device. Take note that car chargers are notorious for overcharging batteries. Likewise, do not allow your device to charge all night long as your sleep.
  • Avoid charging lithium batteries with power sources that are not approved by the product’s manufacturer.

In the event of a fire or explosion, it is very important to save all evidence in such cases, including, most importantly, the device that caused the fire and all its component parts.

At Ramsey Law Group, or lawyers specialize in product liability actions and cases involving fires and explosions. We have recovered over $100,000,000 for our clients who have been injured or killed by defective products or who have been burned or killed by fires. In 2010, we successfully tried a fire case in Harris County, Texas, which resulted in a Top Ten Texas Verdict for the year 2010.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a lithium ion battery fire or explosion, call the Fire and Explosion Injury Attorneys at Ramsey Law Group for a free consultation.

Consumer Products Routinely Cause Serious Injury and Death

The typical American consumer gives little thought as to whether the goods and/or services he or she purchases are designed and manufactured safely. However, as a result of manufacturers and retailers rushing their products to market in an effort to stay competitive, thousands of defective products are recalled every year.

Notable defective consumer products include the following:

  • Seat belts
  • Airbags
  • Tires
  • Motorcycles
  • All Terrain Vehicles
  • RVs and buses
  • Space heaters
  • Home appliances
  • Child seats and infant carriers
  • Defective gas cans
  • Children’s toys
  • Playground equipment
  • Baby cribs
  • Firearms
  • Power tools (drills, hammers, chainsaws, lawn mowers)
  • Adulterated food products

In 2015, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“USCPSC”) reported 175,800 injuries to children under the age of 12 as a result of defective toys. Eleven (11) of those injuries resulted in death. The USCPSC also reported 193,842 injuries related to household products, with 183 of those injuries resulting in death.
Recalls are common in the automotive industry as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reported that the auto industry recalled close to a third more vehicles in the U.S. (22 million) than it sold (just over 15 million) in 2015. A considerable portion of these recalls can be attributed to the Takata air bag recall, which NHTSA has called the largest, most complex automotive safety recall in US History.

To prevent future deaths and unnecessary injures, consumers need to be aware of the risks these products may cause.
The USCPSC provides an in-depth list of daily products recalled including when and why the product was recalled, and where the product was sold. These recalls can be found here https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls.

An additional option to stay up-to-date on recalled products such as children’s toys and household appliances is the CPSC’s recall newsletter, which can be found here https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Subscribe.

Furthermore, everyone should check their automobiles and tires for recalls on NHTSA’s website, which can be found here www.safercar.gov.

If you know someone who has been injured or killed by a defective consumer or automotive product, call the Defective Product Lawyers at Ramsey Law Group for a free consultation at 713-489-7577.

How close are we to self-driving cars?

According to a USA TODAY Network survey, close to a dozen states plan to lead the country in autonomous vehicles. This shows the nation’s willingness to embrace the auto technology advancement.

These self-driving vehicles hinge on powerful computers analyzing data that is produced by advanced censors. However, the success of this transportation revolution is strongly dependent upon one detail: paint.

For autonomous vehicles to advance, the most crucial modernization needed for infrastructure is making sure that lines on our 4 million miles of roads are bold, bright, and preferably white so the vehicle computer vison gear can easily detect them.

As simple as the upgrade seems, there is a reluctance among states to spend funds on road infrastructure for small improvements. The Governors Highway Safety Association addresses this anticipated reaction from the states with recommendations such as, “Be a player in your state” and, “Be flexible, this is a new game.”

Another difficulty for autonomous vehicle advancement is the lack of national vision and support. President Trump promised to spend upwards of $1 trillion on infrastructure needs. Currently, there is not a plan in place to secure these funds or how they will be allocated.

Elaine Chao, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, said this month in Detroit that the Trump administration is “reviewing and updating this policy to incorporate feedback and improvements recommended by numerous stakeholders.”

An additional factor creating uncertainty among states is the reliance on tech power companies such as Uber, Google’s Waymo, and automakers like Ford Motor. The global companies are supposedly in the process of developing self-driving cars that will have technology that won’t depend on roadway improvements.

“We are working very closely with a lot of cities, states and the federal government, but we need to make sure the technology is able to work in the current environment,” GM President Dan Amman said in February. “So we’re not depending on an improvement in infrastructure.”

A driving statistic for technologist to promote self-driving cars is the estimated 40,000 deaths from traffic accidents in 2016. This number is mainly attributed to distracted driving. Which is why companies build demos of their products that demonstrate passengers doing activities such as laptop work and conference calls all while the car self drives. According to the Society of American Engineers, this is the most advanced self-driving, also known as Level 5 Autonomy.

Trucking is another industry that is a good candidate for self-driving technology. Long haul routes are done at fixed speeds which is very compatible to self-driving software. Further, at the University of Nevada at Reno, researchers are developing LiDAR sensors that would be able to scan metrics from passing unconnected vehicles in order to enhance safety at intersections, which are where a large percentage of accidents take place.

“We believe (self-driving cars) can help get us to zero traffic deaths,” says Greg Larson, who leads traffic operations research for Caltrans, California’s Department of Transportation.

Michael Replogle, New York City’s DOT Deputy Commissioner for Policy stated, “The only way for the nation’s infrastructure to effectively cope with self-driving cars is continued and frequent dialog between the key constituents: cities, states, federal officials and the manufacturers.”

If you or a loved one have been injured due to an automobile or automotive component part defect, call the Automotive Product Liability Lawyers at Ramsey Law Group for a free consultation.

Ramsey Law Group wins $43,600,000 verdict in Texas against Wal Mart

On Friday, July 14, 2017, a Nueces County jury rendered a $43,600,00.00 verdict in favor of our client, Adelaide Price in her case against Wal Mart. John Ramsey of Ramsey Law Group and David Bright and Craig M. Sico of Sico, Hoelscher, Harris & Braugh, L.L.P. in Corpus Christi represented Ms. Price.

FACTUAL SUMMARY

On January 27, 2014, Adelaide Price was seriously and permanently injured when she was struck by a truck while exiting a Wal Mart in Corpus Christi, Texas. At this particular intersection, there were no stop signs or painted “stop” markings at the end of the row leading up to the store.

Ms. Price suffered numerous orthopedic fractures to her face, shoulder, hip, arm, hands, legs and feet. Two of her extremities were “de-gloved”, where the skin is torn away from the body. Her facial fractures resulted in reconstructive facial surgery and the re-attachment of her jaw to her facial bones. She was hospitalized where she underwent numerous surgeries, and subsequently endured months of painful rehabilitation and physical therapy.

Four months before Ms. Price’s incident, a nearly identical collision occurred between a motor vehicle and pedestrians at the same intersection in the parking lot of the same Walmart. The other incident involved a mother and her baby who was in a baby carrier in the shopping cart, who was thrown to the ground after impact. That incident was captured on Wal Mart’s surveillance video system like Ms. Price’s incident, and played for the jury.

One month before that, Wal Mart re-striped and re-painted its parking lot and still did not remedy the dangerous condition.

While Walmart Stores of Texas has experienced similar accidents at more than 18 other locations throughout the state of Texas in the last 5 years, it continues to refuse to place stop signs at all its stores. All other 18 videos of men, women, grandparents, toddlers, and infants being struck by vehicles under identical scenarios in Texas Wal Mart parking lots were likewise captured on surveillance video and played for the jury. Interestingly, at least 30 other Wal Mart locations throughout Texas do have these vital stop signs installed. When asked about this conundrum during trial, Wal Mart’s corporate representative simply said he “did not know” why some stores have them and some don’t.

The incident took place at the portion of the parking lot in front of the store where pedestrians and vehicular traffic cross — the most dangerous area of the parking lot for pedestrians.

The jury rendered a verdict of $13.6 million in actual damages and $30 million in punitive damages. They assessed 75% fault to Wal Mart and 25% to Cass, the driver who struck her.

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