• Posts by Anne Marie Murphy
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    Anne Marie Murphy is a Principal at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, where she practices civil litigation focusing on complex commercial litigation, class actions, consumers’ rights and elder abuse (including both financial ...

Finra Enacts Important Rule to Protect Seniors Against Fraudulent Activity

In you have a brokerage account it is subject to oversight by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority).  Over the past several years FINRA has implemented new protections for senior citizens.  An important new rule (FINRA Rule 2165) went into effect in February 2018 to address scams and other fraud targeting vulnerable adults.  Rule 2165 is designed to protect two populations:

  • Elders aged 65 and older; and,
  • People over 18 who a brokerage firm “reasonably believes” have a mental or physical impairment that renders the individual unable to protect his or her own interests.

This wording dovetails nicely with FINRA’s “know your customer” rule (FINRA Rule 2090).

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Topics: Elder Abuse
The CPFB Remains Under Attack: Consumers Should Care About an Agency that has Recovered More than $11.9 Billion for Everyday Workers

Over the past several years we have posted news about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”).  As attorneys focused on socially just causes, we care about the watchdog agency that was formed to protect the interests of everyday consumers against unscrupulous practices of financial institutions.  The CFPB’s mission becomes that much more important in this era of forced arbitration and contractual class action bans.  In more and more cases the courthouse doors are shut to consumers who have been defrauded by their banks, mortgage companies, payday lenders, and brokerage firms.  Imagine your bank took $500 from your bank account without justification, what are your options?  It used to be that you could band together with other bank customers who had the same thing happen, but in 2018 that is often not the case.  This is one reason that the CFPB is so critically important – in a time when citizens’ rights to hold financial institutions accountable are being trampled, there at least was a government agencies that was designed to help injured consumers. 

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In September 2017 an East Palo Alto women was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial elder abuse.  The prosecutors in the case, including San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, did an excellent job seeing the case against Shirley Remmert to conclusion.

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Topics: Elder Abuse

From time to time we have posted information about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) because it is an extraordinary agency fighting in the trenches for everyday consumers against big business, including financial institutions that are scamming Americans.  On Friday September 8, 2017 the CFPB won a trial in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California before Judge Richard Seeborg.  The CFPB won $7.9 million in its case against Nationwide Biweekly Administration Inc. and its subsidiary, Loan Payment Administration, and its owner, Daniel Lipsk.  The CFPB presented testimony by experts as well as everyday consumers, including a retired schoolteacher and a member of the armed services and an FBI agent (all who testified that they had personally been tricked by the defendants).

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On Monday, July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a rule that will halt abusive tactics by credit card companies, banks, and other financial firms to prevent consumers from bringing class actions. 

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With the median price of home in some Bay Area counties topping the $1 million mark real estate fraud is rampant.  There are many types of real estate fraud – from equity stripping to foreclosure rescue, however, in recent years, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has noticed an uptick in criminal fraud related to real property deeds. 

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Unsafe at 30,000 Feet: Why Lithium Ion Batteries Present a Serious Problem for Airlines and Passenger Safety

If you flew on a domestic flight between October 14, 2016 and January 10, 2017 you heard announcements about the ban on the transport of Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices.  This ban was put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) because of the serious risk of the smartphones (also referred to as phablets) overheating, exploding and catching fire.  Although the FAA lifted the requirement of announcements, the devices are still banned on passenger and cargo flights.  (See, https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=21335). 

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Tens of thousands of Californians work in the state’s Skilled Nursing Facilities (“SNF”) and Assisted Living Facilities (“RCFE”).  Much of this workforce is underpaid and overworked.  Workers who care for senior citizens are the front line for preventing abuse and neglect.  Sadly, the companies that employ these workers frequently place hard working nursing staff, including Registered Nurses (“RNs”) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (“LVNs”) and Physical and Occupational Therapists in difficult if not impossible situations because they place profits over quality care.  When elder abuse occurs employers are often quick to blame low level staff when the root cause of the abuse is systematic under-staffing and poor training.

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Topics: Elder Abuse

Pyramid and Ponzi schemes describe two types of fraud but lawyers who represent victims of the schemes, as our firm does, know that both types of fraudulent scheme share many characteristics.

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Chemical restraints are drugs that are given in nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities) for improper purposes – for example, to make a senior’s behavior more “manageable” and for staff convenience.  Sadly, although against the law – chemical restraints are widely used.  According to professionals who oversee the health and safety of nursing home residents, misuse of chemical restraints can permanently damage the cognition of seniors.  A senior who lived independently and who is subject to chemical restraints at a nursing home may suffer permanent damage.

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Topics: Elder Abuse
Protecting Our Seniors (and Taxpayers) – U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Indicts Operators of 70 Facility Nursing Home Chain

Fraud in nursing homes is rampant and takes every imaginable form – from the small scale (a staff member who take narcotics from elders to sell on the street) – to the massive (systematic defrauding of the government).  With billions of government dollars flowing through our Nation’s nursing homes it is a hot bed for criminal activity.  Fortunately, whistleblowers and government investigators are able to work together to return funds to the government when there has been fraud or false claims for reimbursement by nursing homes.  

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Topics: Elder Abuse

Senior advocates, including elder abuse attorneys have long voiced opposition to the continued use of forced arbitration provisions in nursing home contracts.  In a rule that becomes effective November 28, 2016, the U.S. Government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) is prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.  This move is a critical protection for our Nation’s approximately 1.3 million nursing home residents. 

Although the rule will not help elders in assisted living or nursing home residents with contracts that pre-date the November 28, 2016 effective date of the rule, the importance of this move by CMC cannot be understated.  The full text of the final rule, which is over 700 pages in length can be found here.

Our firm, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP represents elders in elder abuse and other types of litigation. We handle a wide range of cases under California’s elder abuse law, including cases involving serious injuries or death – as well as financial fraud.  

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Topics: Elder Abuse

Bedsores – also known as pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers – are extremely painful.  They can lead to death.  A bedsore is an injury to the skin and tissue caused by prolonged pressure on the skin.  To people without medical training the name may seem benign.  They are not.  A Stage 4 bedsore can be an open wound that extends to the bone.

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Topics: Elder Abuse
Do You Have Children and Shop at IKEA?  If so, you need to be aware of IKEA’s major recall of dressers

29 million dressers are being recalled by IKEA for a tipping hazard that has led to the death of at least 6 children.  The recall covers dozens of models of dressers, although most news coverage has focused on the top selling Malm dressers – if you have bought any model dresser from IKEA you need to check the full list of recalled dressers.  IKEA dressers are ubiquitous in homes around the world, including in the United States.  

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10 Things You Should do if Your Parent is in a Nursing Home

As elder law attorneys we help seniors, dependent adults and their families when there has been serious injury or death or large losses of money.  Over the years we have worked with hundreds of elders and family members.  These are 10 take away points that we wished all families with loved ones in nursing homes (also referred to as Skilled Nursing Facilities (“SNFs”)) knew:

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Topics: Elder Abuse

May 5, 2016 marks an important day for consumers in the United States, as it is the day that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB) issued proposed rules prohibiting banks and other financial institutions from inserting mandatory arbitration provisions in consumer contracts.  These arbitration clauses have grown in popularity as a tool by big-business to prevent consumers from banding together to pursue claims in court and also from pursuing claims as class actions.  Mandatory arbitration provisions give financial institutions a free pass to violate the law at the expense of consumers.  Banks know that they can make billions through sharp and illegal practices when they put a ban on class actions and court proceedings into their ‘take it or leave it’ contracts with consumers.  Big-business knows that few consumers would have the resources to pursue a claim in arbitration when only a few dollars, or few hundred dollars, or even a few thousand dollars are at stake.  This is especially true since class action bans prohibit consumers from joining together to remedy wrongs and is especially true when the mandatory arbitration clauses let the financial institutions pick which arbitrator to use, which rules apply, and which law applies.

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Bargain Shopper Beware: the growing use of deceptive suggested retail prices

Everyone likes a good deal when shopping.  However, if you are one of the millions of Americans who make purchasing decisions based on a comparison of the sale price to the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) there is a high probability that you are not getting the deal you think you are getting.  

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Attorneys who litigate in Federal Court need to be aware of the recent amendments to the FRCP, which went into effect on December 1, 2015, in particular changes to  Rule 26, which governs the “duty to disclose” information in discovery.

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On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, CPM and co-counsel Howard Law Firm and Jenkins Mulligan & Gabriel, LLP, filed a lawsuit against Costco, Chareon Pokphand (“CP”) Foods, PCL and C.P. Food Products, Inc. on behalf of consumer, Monica Sud and all others similarly situated. As described in the Complaint, Costco continues to knowingly purchase prawns from CP Foods—prawns that are directly tied to human trafficking and slave labor. As documented by the Guardian, the Associated Press and the Environmental Justice Foundation, CP Foods purchases fish meal, which  contains “trash fish,” farmed frequently from suppliers that own, operate or buy from pirate boats manned with slaves that catch the trash fish to use for fishmeal. CP Foods uses this trash fish to feed its prawns, which are then shipped to the U.S. and U.S. consumers. 

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Protecting Our Seniors: CCRCs - Buyer Beware

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (“CCRCs”) are gaining in popularity as an option for senior retirement living. Many CCRCs offer gorgeous surroundings akin to a 5-star hotel. Often they tout ties to prestigious universities in the hopes of attracting alumni and faculty. However, for all the attractions of CCRC living, there are serious legal consequences to be considered before a senior should make the move to a CCRC.

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Topics: Elder Abuse
Pension Advance Scams Target Senior Citizens and Military Veterans

Criminals and fraudsters often target senior citizens and military veterans – residents who have given much, and who are sometimes among the most vulnerable members of a community. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, 70 percent of assets in the United States are in the hands of seniors (defined as citizens who are over 65 years of age.)

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Topics: Elder Abuse

The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) has reportedly observed a disturbing uptick in elder abuse centered on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) Aid and Attendance benefit. Aid and Attendance is a financial need-based benefit to help senior veterans who need assistance to pay for in–home care, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. The program provides an important benefit to our nation’s elderly veterans. Unfortunately, due to the reality that some opportunists view senior veterans as attractive targets for scams, proceeding with caution is paramount.

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Topics: Elder Abuse

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