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We are proud to share with you announcements concerning current legal developments, our recent accomplishments and other news & information that may be of interest to our friends and clients.
Monday
Mar272017

CWP&G Partner Stewart "Dan" Roll to Speak at Upcoming Seminar Regarding the Use of Drones

CWP&G is pleased to announce that one of its Partners, Stewart “Dan” Roll will be speaking at a continuing education seminar entitled “Drone Law” on June 23, 2017 being presented by the National Business Institute (“NBI”).  The seminar is being held at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association facilities at One Cleveland Center, 1375 East 9th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.  Further information regarding the seminar and how to attend are available at the NBI website www.nbi-sems.com.   If you have any questions regarding the latest rules, regulations and case law surrounding the use of drones, please contact Dan Roll at 216-621-8484.      

Tuesday
Mar212017

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Workplace Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued a proposed 75 page enforcement guidance on unlawful workplace harassment. The proposed guidance document explains the legal standards applicable to claims of unlawful harassment under federal employment discrimination laws.

When it is issued in final, this proposed sub-regulatory document will supersede four prior guidance documents issued by the EEOC. The proposed guidance document is intended to communicate the Commission’s position on important legal issues. The guidance document will also provide valuable insight on the state of federal discrimination and unlawful workplace harassment law.

The laws enforced by the EEOC protect individuals from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual stereotyping, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age or genetic information. Harassment is covered by the EEO laws only if it is based on an employee’s legally protected personal characteristics. Federal EEO law is violated if the evidence establishes that the complainant was subjected to harassment creating a hostile work environment because of his or her protected characteristic. For an employer to be liable under an EEO statute for workplace harassment based on a protected trait, the harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to affect a “term, condition, or privilege” of employment. Two examples of unlawful harassment are: (1) an explicit change to the terms or conditions of employment that is linked to harassment based on a protected characteristic, e.g., firing an employee because she rejected sexual advances, and (2) conduct that constructively changes the terms or conditions of employment through creation of a hostile work environment. Thus, harassment based on a protected characteristic is actionable when the employee is subjected to “discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult” that is severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively and subjectively hostile work environment.

As many employers recognize, adopting proactive measures helps to prevent harassment from occurring. The EEOC identifies five core principles that have generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment: committed and engaged leadership; consistent and demonstrated accountability; strong and comprehensive harassment policies; trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.

The cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture of respect in which harassment is not tolerated. A comprehensive, clear harassment policy that is regularly communicated to all employees is essential.

As discussed by the EEOC, an effective harassment complaint system welcomes questions, concerns, and complaints; encourages employees to report potentially problematic conduct early; treats alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, alleged harassers, and others with respect; operates promptly, thoroughly, and impartially; and imposes appropriate consequences for harassment or related misconduct, such as retaliation. Regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees will ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.

A well drafted, thoughtfully communicated, and properly updated harassment prevention policy will help to ensure that the workplace is free from harassment and discrimination to the benefit of employers and employees.

Should you have questions regarding unlawful harassment, workplace investigations, retaliation, or work place policies, please feel free to contact Scott D. Simpkins at 216-621-8484.

Wednesday
Dec282016

CWP&G Recognized by City of Parma’s Treasurer for Assisting City with Saving Almost $1.4 Million Over the Past Five Years

In a recent Cleveland.com article, the City of Parma’s Treasurer, Tom Mastroianni, announced how the City has saved almost $1.4 million since 2011 by refunding City bonds to obtain better rates.  In the article, Mr. Mastroianni, acknowledged the City's bond counsel CWP&G for their assistance and legal counsel in the ongoing process of saving City residents money.  A copy of the article can be found at http://www.cleveland.com/parma/index.ssf/2016/12/parma_treasurer_announces_savi.html.  If you have any questions regarding this article or you would like to discuss our municipal finance practice, please call Dennis R. Wilcox or Patricia M. Ritzert at 216-621-8484.

Friday
Dec162016

The Recent Impact of Tort Reform; Is this the “Fair and Predictable System of Civil Justice” Intended by the Ohio General Assembly? 

Effective April 7, 2005, the Ohio General Assembly enacted R.C. 2315.18 as part of a broader tort-reform bill. R.C. 2315.18(B)(2) establishes a cap on compensatory tort damages for "noneconomic loss, " which includes but is not limited to "pain and suffering, loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education, disfigurement, mental anguish, and any other intangible loss.” Generally speaking, caps are set at $250,000 to $350,000.

According to the Ohio General Assembly, tort reform was passed purportedly in the interest in "a fair, predictable system of civil justice" that preserves the rights of injured parties while curbing frivolous lawsuits, which increase the costs of doing business, threaten Ohio jobs, drive up consumer costs, and may hinder innovation.”

The damage caps on noneconomic loss do not apply where the noneconomic loss is for "permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system" or for "permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.

Very recently, in Simpkins v. Grace Brethren Church of Delaware, 2016-Ohio-8118, 2014-1953, the Ohio Supreme Court applied the damage caps on noneconomic damages to reduce a $3,500,000 jury verdict in favor of a young girl who was forcibly raped by her minister to $350,000. While the jury determined the young girl’s noneconomic damages totaled $3,500,000, the Supreme Court, applying the tort reform statute, found her damages were properly reduced to $350,000.

The majority of the Ohio Supreme Court found that application of the damage caps to a minor who was the victim of sexual assault does not violate the minor's constitutional rights to a jury trial, to a remedy and open courts, to equal protection, and to due process.

Two Justices dissented. Justice O’Neill, with Justice Pfeifer concurring, wrote: “This child was raped in a church office by a minister, and a duly empaneled jury established an appropriate level of compensation for the loss of her childhood innocence. We have no right to interfere with that process. Shame on the General Assembly. The children are watching. And I for one do not like what they are seeing.”

To Justice O’Neil’s dissent one might add that, not only has the Ohio General Assembly preordained a formula to place a cap on the amount of noneconomic damages a young girl might obtain from a rapist as determined by a duly empaneled jury of our peers, the Ohio General Assembly has preordained that in certain circumstances an individual can receive treble (or triple) damages in the event of the willful destruction of trees (R.C. 901.51), for certain unfair consumer sales practices (1345.092), and for damages in civil action to enforce publicity right (2741.07(D)).

It is unfortunate that the Ohio General Assembly has placed a premium on vines, bushes, trees, or crops on land of another, while in the name of creating a fair, predictable system of civil justice, has preordained a formula to place a cap on the amount of noneconomic damages a young girl might obtain from a rapist.

While the civil justice system shouldn’t be this complicated; regrettably, it is. Should you have questions regarding the civil justice system, please feel free to contact Scott D. Smpkins at 216-621-8484.

Wednesday
Oct052016

Court Grants Final Approval to $84 Million Class Action Settlement

CWP&G is pleased to announce that on June 30, 2016, Judge Dan Polster of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted final approval to an $84 million class action settlement in the matter Department of the Treasury of the State of New Jersey and its Division of Investment v. Cliffs Natural Resources, Inc., Case No. 1:14-cv-01031.  The securities class action matter was brought against Cliffs Natural Resources, Inc. and certain of its senior executives.  The settlement class consists of all persons and entities who or which purchased Cliffs common stock from March 14, 2012 through March 26, 2013, inclusive, and were damaged thereby, except for certain persons and entities excluded from the settlement class by definition. 

CWP&G acted as court-appointed local counsel with co- lead counsel Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, LLP and Lowenstein Sandler, LLP.  More information about the settlement can be found at http://www.cliffssecuritieslitigation.com/.