Jul 132017
 

Consumers Get Leverage Over Banks

On July 10th 2017, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a new rule banning banks from using arbitration clauses. This is a major step toward leveling the field for consumers.

Until now, most banks’ – and other financial institutions’ – contracts have used arbitrations clauses which means that we as consumers were bared from seeking justice in the courts.

Arbitration clauses were favorable for financial institution and helped them victimize numerous customers in the same way, while consumers had no way of fighting back. (In other words, banks were able to cheat consumers at their discretion and – by the use of the arbitration clauses in their contracts – made themselves immune to class action lawsuits.) Now, the new rule enables the many exploited consumers of the same financial institution to get together and file class action lawsuits to recover their money!

A word on class action lawsuits: in most cases, the overcharges by banks and financial institutions are relatively small and as such don’t justify the cost of filing an individual lawsuit. Still, such “small” amounts overcharged to thousands or even millions of consumers add up: they unjustly enrich banks at the expense of consumers. A class action lawsuit is the most effective – and cost-effective! – option for a group of consumers to sue to recoup their losses and stop banks from victimizing consumers.

As much as we don’t know what inspired Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to introduce the latest ruling in favor of consumers, it is quite possible that our own – Los Angeles! – City Attorney Mike Feuer’s victory over Wells Fargo Bank might have triggered the change.

In a statement following the announcement of the new rule, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said:

“This CFPB action is a major victory for every American who’s been scammed by a financial institution–but blocked from getting real relief because the amount pilfered from that one consumer, taken alone, just didn’t justify the fight. Now everyday consumers can join forces to compel companies to stop unfair practices. That’s good for consumers, and it’s good for competing businesses that play by the rules.

While already there’s talk that Republicans in Congress will move to block the CFPB’s action, lawmakers would do so at their peril. Financial institutions may bankroll campaigns. But consumers vote.”

Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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Jun 212017
 

Cocaine Dealing At Day Care Stopped

 

CITY ATTORNEY MIKE FEUER SEEKS INJUNCTION AGAINST OWNERS OF HIGHLAND PARK HOME ALLEGEDLY DEALING COCAINE WHILE OPERATING UNLICENSED DAY CARE CENTER

 

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office, in partnership with LA IMPACT, has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the owners of a Highland Park home where, allegedly, large scale cocaine sales take place and an unlicensed childcare business is being operated. Within the past month, more than 20 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $430,000 in wholesale value were recovered at the property.

“The rampant drug activity we allege at this home is a dangerous blight on the community—and especially alarming because little kids are caught up in the middle of it. Imagine if your children were being cared for in the same house where cocaine was being sold,” said Feuer. “My office will do everything in our power to shut down what we allege is an incredibly toxic combination of illegal drugs and day care.”

The lawsuit names Felipe Talamante and Garcia Talamante, the owners of a multi-unit residential property located at 5215 Marmion Way in Northeast Los Angeles. For at least the past two years the property allegedly has been known by law enforcement as a site for the distribution of narcotics and heavily frequented by drug users and buyers. The location allegedly is also being used as an unlicensed child care center for children between two and seven years old and is located within 900 feet of Monte Vista Elementary School.

In 2015 a search warrant was executed on the property, resulting in the arrest of defendant Felipe Talamante and the recovery of 20 kilograms of cocaine. In May 2017, a second search warrant was served resulting in the recovery of an additional 20 kilograms of cocaine as well as two rocks of cocaine and digital sales. Defendant Felipe Talamante was again taken into custody for narcotics sales and child endangerment.

The City Attorney’s lawsuit alleges: Investigators observed children being dropped off at the home throughout the day as part of an illegal day care business and numerous children were observed playing on the patio where criminal activity was taking place. The recovered cocaine was found in the same room with a child size mattress where the children would allegedly nap.

The lawsuit seeks the closure of the property and monetary penalties, costs of the law enforcement investigation and attorney’s fees. The City Attorney will also seek a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to shut down the illegal day care center.

Inaugurated in July 1991, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (L.A. IMPACT) is the brainchild of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association. The task force is a compilation of numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County whose primary focus is to investigate major crimes, with an emphasis on dismantling mid to major level drug trafficking organizations.

Since July, 2013, City Attorney Feuer has expanded his Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program and has filed 86 abatement lawsuits and obtained 89 injunctions requiring comprehensive physical and managerial improvements to nuisance properties. In this same time period, the office has successfully secured the closure of seven gang/narcotics locations and recovered $1.25 million in costs and fees. Feuer also recently established an easy-to-use online method through which residents may report properties with gang and / or narcotics activity in their neighborhoods. He’s asking residents to report these properties by calling his office at (213) 978-8340 or visiting the City Attorney’s website: www.lacityattorney.org. All reports may be made anonymously.

 

 

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May 252017
 

City Attorney Mike Feuer

“This was a very important case to me – as a father, as a son, as someone who recognizes the damage that body shaming can do because it is so humiliating,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “The issues that surround body shaming can be devastating – not only to daughters and mothers, but also to sons and fathers, members of the LGBTQ community, to a trans kid who might be struggling with identity, to people who are disabled. The message today is clear: body shaming is not tolerated in the City of Los Angeles.

“When I first heard about this case, I was incredulous that while the taking of the photo in these circumstances is clearly against the law, the actual distribution of it didn’t have any real consequences,” continued Feuer. “So just this week, the California State Senate passed a bill I’ve sponsored (SB 784 – Crimes: disorderly conduct: invasion of privacy). The bill provides that if you take a photo of someone in these circumstances without their permission–someone who is nude or partially clothed–and then distribute it, the penalty is enhanced by $1,000 and the individual whose photo was taken is entitled to restitution in an amount necessary to get that picture off the internet and out of public distribution. That’s crucial, because every day that picture lives online is another day of humiliation. I am optimistic this bill will soon be enacted and further protect Californians from body shaming.”

Feuer’s office filed a criminal case against former Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers in November for allegedly secretly photographing a 70-year-old woman in the nude while she was in the shower area of a local fitness center. Mathers allegedly posted the photograph to social media.

Mathers, 29, was charged with one count of invasion of privacy (PC 647(j)(3)(A). Today she entered a plea of no contest and will perform 30 days of community labor.

“This country has a growing problem of bullying through body-shaming on social media that needs to be addressed,” said State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) “Having a photo taken of you in a fitting room or locker room when you have a reasonable expectation of privacy is humiliating in and of itself — but when that photo is then shared across social media the victim can experience long-term harm and embarrassment. This type of behavior is destructive and Senate Bill 784 will make sure our laws keep pace with the ever changing social media environment. As the Mather’s case has demonstrated, this legislation is an important step to protecting the privacy of Californians.”

Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine supports the work L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer in this case, too. Apart from any legal repercussions, this particular act of body shaming says a lot about the perpetrator. Obviously, Dani Mathers doesn’t have either a mother or grandmother, leave alone any respect for women or the aging. Worse, it didn’t occur to her yet that she herself is a woman and a human being who is not immune to either life or aging. Let’s hope that time and the inevitable changes it produces will reform her.

The case – in spite of the legal victory – is quite depressing. Here is a wise take on it, from Twitter.

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer On Body Shaming

Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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