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Samsung worker killed by brain tumor wins compensation case
Environmental | 2017/11/12 04:46
Overturning an appeal court's decision, South Korea's Supreme Court said Tuesday the family of a Samsung worker who died of a brain tumor should be eligible for state compensation for an occupational disease.

The ruling on Lee Yoon-jung, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 30 and died two years later, reflects a shift in the handling of such cases in South Korea.

Workers used to have the onus of proving the cause of a disease caused by their work. But after years of campaigning by labor advocates to raise awareness about the obstacles workers face in getting information about chemicals used in manufacturing, courts have begun to sometimes rule in favor of workers.

Lee worked at a Samsung chip factory for six years from 1997 to 2003 but there was no record available of the levels of chemicals she was exposed to while working there.

An appeals court denied the claim filed by Lee, based on government investigations into the factory conducted after she left the company. The investigations reported that the workers' exposure to some toxins, such as benzene, formaldehyde and lead, were lower than maximum permissible limits. They did not measure exposure levels to other chemicals or investigate their health risks.

The Supreme Court said such limitations in government investigations should not be held against a worker with a rare disease whose cause is unknown.

The case filed by Lee's family is the second time this year South Korea's highest court has ruled in favor of a worker. In August, the Supreme Court struck down a lower court's ruling that denied compensation to a former Samsung LCD factory worker with multiple sclerosis.

The government-run Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service, the defendant in the case, did not respond to requests for comment.

Lim Ja-woon, the lawyer representing Lee, said brain tumors are the second-most common disease, after leukemia, among former Samsung workers who sought compensation or financial aid from the government or from Samsung for a possible occupational disease. He said 27 Samsung Electronics workers have been diagnosed with brain tumors, including eight people who worked at the same factory as Lee.


Landowners to court: Exxon Mobil pipeline breaches contract
Environmental | 2016/10/19 03:10
Attorneys for landowners along a crude oil pipeline that ruptured in Arkansas in 2013 say Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. breached its contract because the pipeline interferes with their ability to enjoy their property.

Attorneys for the landowners and Exxon Mobil appeared Wednesday before judges from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota.

The landowners asked the appeals court to reinstate their case, which was dismissed last year, and have it re-certified as a class-action suit. Attorney Phillip Duncan says it's an issue of honoring easements.

Exxon Mobil attorney Gary Marts said the case was properly dismissed. He says landowners are essentially trying to regulate pipeline safety through a lawsuit - but that's the job of a federal agency.

The Pegasus Pipeline runs through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Texas.



Court hearing on potential Ontario ban of Indians name, logo
Environmental | 2016/10/18 03:10
A Toronto court will hear arguments on an attempt to bar the Cleveland Indians from using their team name and logo in Ontario.

The legal challenge by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal comes on the same day the baseball team takes on the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto.

Cardinal's lawyers will ask the court Monday to bar the usage of the name and logo by the team, Major League Baseball and Toronto team owner Rogers Communications, which is broadcasting the game in Canada.

The logo, called Chief Wahoo, is a cartoon man with red skin and a feather in his headband.

Cardinal says they shouldn't be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo shouldn't be broadcast and the team should be referred to as "the Cleveland team."



Florida's high court urged to throw out death sentences
Environmental | 2016/05/07 19:43
Former judges and top legal officials are calling on the Florida Supreme Court to impose life sentences on nearly 400 people now awaiting execution on death row.

The group, which includes three former state Supreme Court justices and two former presidents of the American Bar Association, filed a legal brief Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of Florida's death penalty.    

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida's death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional, prompting the state Supreme Court to halt two executions. The Florida Legislature responded by overhauling the law.

But the Florida Supreme Court still hasn't decided what should happen to those sentenced to death under the previous sentencing scheme. The court will hear arguments from lawyers this week on what should be done.


US House staffers subpoenaed by federal court
Environmental | 2016/04/07 07:51
Four congressional staffers have told the U.S. House that they've been subpoenaed by the federal court in Springfield, Illinois, where a grand jury is conducting a probe into the spending of former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.

The financial chief for the House, Traci Beaubian, and three other staff members wrote letters notifying the chamber about the subpoenas that were read on the House floor Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported  based on House records noting the letters were received and video of the letters being read. The letters did not mention the subject of the subpoenas.

Schock, the one-time rising GOP star from Peoria, came under intense scrutiny in early 2015 for his spending, including redecorating his office in the style of TV's "Downton Abbey." He left office in March 2015 amid questions about congressional and campaign spending.

He has since been issued at least two grand jury subpoenas seeking campaign and congressional records. FBI agents also have removed boxes and other items from his central Illinois campaign office.



PG&E starts pipeline shutdown under court order
Environmental | 2013/10/07 17:12
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it will comply with a judge's order and shut down a natural gas pipeline after safety issues were raised.

The utility said Sunday it believes the pipeline is safe despite an engineer's email questioning the safety of the 83-year-old line's welds. PG&E said it could take until Tuesday to safely shut down the line and seamlessly switch its customers to another line.

A judge ordered the line shut down after San Carlos city officials discovered the email and declared a "state of emergency."

The email said PG&E's records incorrectly show the line containing a newer, more reliable weld than it actually has.

PG&E said state-of-the-art tests show the line is safe and that it was shutting the line only because of the court order.



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