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Public Pension Funding Levels Improve in Second Quarter 2021

The stock market's strong performance in the second quarter of 2021 helped the top 100 U.S. public pension plans improve their funding status, according to a report by the actuarial firm Milliman, Inc. This continues an upward trend in public pension funding levels that is now in its fifth quarter.

PBGC to Administer $94 Billion in Financial Assistance to Multiemployer Pension Plans

Multiemployer pension plans are back in the news following enactment of The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 on March 11, 2021. The Rescue Plan creates approximately $94 billion in funding for more than 200 eligible multiemployer pension plans that are severely underfunded. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced a new Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program under ARP in an interim final rule released on July 9, 2021. This article addresses key features of the PBGC program.

Pension Reform Planned for Texas Retirement System

The Texas Governor recently signed into law a pension reform bill designed to improve the financial integrity of the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), which manages benefits for employees and retirees of State of Texas agencies and some higher education institutions. There are three component funds through which benefits are accrued and paid. All three plans are single employer defined benefit pension plans.

Understanding Dementia and Medical-Legal Implications

Provided by: Sanjay Adhia, MD
Dementia encompasses degenerative disorders of the brain. It can be subtle and fluctuate in severity even from day to day. It can accompany genetic factors, or be associated with an injury or repeated injuries to the brain and head. It is serious and marked by symptoms that can impair making informed decisions or manage the most basic tasks we take for granted in living our daily lives.

Cell Tower Data Analysis Is Junk Science? You'Re Doing It Wrong.

Provided by: David Allen Burgess
Many of the calls I get from attorneys are requests for the analysis of cellphone records to determine the location of a phone at some given time. The analysis can provide useful information, but poor application of standards is threatening to ruin a valuable type of evidence.

TCPA Compliance in the Wake of Facebook v. Duguid

Provided by: Context Corporation
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on April 1, 2021 rendered its long-awaited decision in the matter of Facebook v Duguid, which undoubtedly was the single most anticipated in the realm of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Just in case you need to get up to speed, I provided a good deal of background and context on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in a previous article, TCPA: Facebook v Duguid. Subsequently, I raised the specter of continuing litigation in Facebook v Duguid: It Ain’t over Yet. Responsible call center operators (i.e., good actors) now must deal with life after this decision.

How to Avoid Massage Client Injuries

Provided by: Benjamin Institute
Few things are worse than asking a returning client how they feel after a session and having them reply: “I don’t know what you did, but my pain is much, much worse.” Every therapist I know sincerely wants to help their clients feel better, whether the treatment is geared toward relaxation or a specific injury or pain. Unfortunately, in my work as an expert witness, I have seen many cases of well-meaning therapists who have seriously injured their clients.

Proactive SMS and a Claim of Distracted Driving

Provided by: David Allen Burgess
From time to time, an attorney will request cellphone activity records from a mobile operator, and those records will show some text messages to and from strange numbers. There is a good chance that the person who uses the phone never sent or saw these messages. And if this happens in the middle of a legal case where cellphone activity is an issue, the resulting confusion can be a source of doubt and error.

Facebook v. Duguid: It Ain't Over Yet

Provided by: Context Corporation
The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in the matter of Facebook v Duguid has been perhaps the single most anticipated in the realm of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), at least in the last decade or so, and all over a punctuation mark—a comma, to be exact. I’m not an attorney with a TCPA focus—actually, I’m not an attorney of any sort—but I know a bunch of them, have been retained by more than a few, and read a lot of their opinions, arguments and musings. Not particularly surprising to those of us who work in the TCPA domain or are impacted by it, the published articles, blogs and such are mostly, if not all, written by attorneys in the defendants’ bar. I reckon those in the plaintiffs’ bar like to keep their opinions, musings and strategies to themselves until the litigation process begins. I provided some TCPA background and context in a previous article, TCPA: Facebook v Duguid, but will repeat some of that here to refresh your memory.

State Sponsored Retirement Plans Continue to Expand

Several states are taking the lead from California, Oregon and Illinois by offering state-sponsored retirement plans that encourage or require private sector employers to participate.

From Columbine to Aurora to Boulder: Why?

From studies and news after Columbine: “Attackers were as likely to be rich as poor. They are from all ethnic and racial backgrounds (though three-fourths were white). They had intact and broken families, good and bad report cards. A few felt isolated but just as many had a lot of friends. Most were suicidal, but only a few had been diagnosed with mental disorders.” -U.S. Secret Service Study

Medico-Legal Risks & Appropriate Documentation in Medical Records

Provided by: Ee Lin Wan, MD
While electronic medical records have made it easier for healthcare professionals (& lawyers) to review daily progress notes, certain functionality can lead inadvertently to poor care. This is especially given the "cut and paste" functionality that is prevalent in this system.

Expert Analysis of Important Financial and Insurance Issues in the Ever Given Suez Canal Blockage Litigation

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Worldwide Banking and Financial Expert Witness Don Coker examines some important nuances of the litigation that will certainly follow the recent catastrophic Suez Canal blockage. Coverages including cargo insurance, protection and indemnity, business interruption, contingent business interruption, loss of hire, blocking and trapping, and parametric coverage are all issues that certainly will be a part of expert witnesses' damages analyses as insurance claims and litigation go forward.

What Is Computer Hacking?

With the recent Van Buren decision, the Supreme Court limited the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and brought it more in line with what security experts would understand to be "hacking". But, what does that mean?

VAWA Evaluations: 7 Common Questions Applicants Have About VAWA Evaluations and Petitions

There are several immigration waivers and petitions that individuals can apply for in order to become legal permanent residents in the United States. We have a detailed blog post that goes over the seven immigration cases where you might need a psychological evaluation. One of the most common petitions falls under the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA). VAWA allows a battered immigrant spouse, child, or parent of either gender to file an immigration petition without their abuser’s knowledge. If approved, a VAWA petition lets the applicant work in the United States and become a legal permanent resident (a green card holder). Although the petition includes “women” in the title, men are also able to apply for a petition under this law. The goal of this blog post is to discuss this law in more detail, answer the most common questions we are asked regarding VAWA evaluations, and explain how a VAWA evaluation can help your case.

Immigration Hardship Evaluations: 5 Questions Applicants Have About Hardship Evaluations & Waivers

If you are trying to get a visa or green card but are blocked due to inadmissibility, you can apply for an I-601 or I-601A waiver based on the extreme hardship that a qualified relative will experience if you are not admitted to the United States. Attorneys will often ask applicants (the qualifying relative) to meet with a psychologist for an immigration hardship evaluation. Immigration hardship evaluations document the various hardships the qualifying relative will face if you are deported or if they have to leave the country.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): Facebook v. Duguid: Punctuation Matters

Provided by: Context Corporation
The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in the matter of Facebook v Duguid has been perhaps the single most anticipated in the realm of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), at least in the last decade or so, and all over a punctuation mark—a comma, to be exact. The legal battles over that comma are the stuff of legends and the implications of that decision are considerable, if not monumental. The decision leaves a lot of unanswered questions, however, and even raises a few in the mind of this consultant. I’ll explore those in another article at another time.

Minimizing Medicolegal Risk in the Covid and Post-Covid Era

The post-COVID could present new, unprecedented risks for healthcare providers.

The Status of Single Employer Pension Plans in 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ("ARPA"), signed into law on March 11, 2021, provides two significant funding relief measures for defined benefit single employer pension plans, as outlined below.

Multiemployer Pensions Get Relief in The American Rescue Plan

Financially distressed multiemployer pension plans are receiving $86 billion in financial assistance as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) enacted by Congress in March 2021.

Will Contest and Estate Planning Competency: The Role of a Forensic Psychiatrist

During a Will contest, a forensic psychiatrist can provide valuable expertise by assessing testamentary capacity, or the testator’s ability to make his/her Will. If the testator lacked testamentary capacity, the Will could be invalidated. A Will is separate from other vehicles that individuals may use to distribute their estate on death, such as a Revocable Trust.

DMA Computes $300M Damages Resulting From Breach of Fiduciary Duty in Retirement Portfolio Accounts

Provided by: DMA Economics
One of the largest employee retirement funds in the country at the time with nearly $1b in assets under management. The fund managers were alleged to have violated their fiduciary duty to maintain proper diversification in the fund by allowing one particular security to make up more than 25% of fund value and up to over 40% of fund value by mid-2015 There were also allegations against the retirement fund managers of failure to prudently divest the security when accounting irregularities became publicly known in late 2015

First Ever Class Certification in “Natural” Mislabeling Mascara Matter

Provided by: DMA Economics
The issue Mascara falsely labeled as being natural Label claims “Natural” fibers on mascara are alleged and proven to be false Class action filed and DMA Economics is tasked with computing aggregate damages to the class who purchased the mascara at a premium because they believed it was natural.

Pooled Employer Plans Start to Enter Pension Market

Leaders in the pension and retirement industry are starting to offer “pooled employer plans” (PEP) to small and medium-sized businesses that want to offer pension benefits to employees. The PEP is a new type of multiple employer plan (MEP), which must be administered by a “pooled plan provider” (PPP).

Pooled Employer Plans Expand Pension Benefits for Small Businesses

The "Pooled Employer Plan" (PEP) is a new entrant in the pension and retirement industry. Unrelated small employers can now join with other businesses to offer defined contribution pension plans to employees who may not otherwise benefit from an employer-sponsored plan.

COVID-19 Issues for ERISA Retirement Plan Sponsors

Economic disruption in the first two quarters of 2020, combined with future business uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic, is prompting Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) retirement plan sponsors to review their pension plan management options.

Multiemployer Pension Program Risks Insolvency by 2026

The Multiemployer Insurance Program managed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PGGC) is projected to become insolvent by 2026, according to the PBGC’s recently released 2020 Annual Report.

Reverse SEO for Law Firms: How to Protect Yourself and Your Clients Against Negative Content

More than two-thirds of clients are willing to travel farther to reach an attorney that has a solid online reputation with excellent reviews and ratings, instead of visiting a lawyer closer to their home and more convenient to reach, but who has a poor online reputation.

Your Online Reputation: 7 Things CEOs Must Know

Why does your online reputation matter? Just as most people Google the name of a company prior to doing business with it, the same is done for the individuals we do business with.

Retiree Medical and Health Benefits Face Budget Cuts

Retiree medical benefits are increasingly at risk as cities, counties, states, and corporate benefit plan sponsors seek to reduce the financial stress imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Class Action Litigation: An Expert Witness's In-Depth Analysis and Comments

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Banking and Financial Expert Witness Don Coker lists some of the important nuances of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and explains how some details important in this class action litigation manage to get lost in the weeds. The Act was enacted in 2003 as a revision of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940, and has been modified numerous times since its initial enactment. For lawyers (of which I am not one), you can find the Act at 50 U.S.C. Sections 3901-4043. The Act applies to active duty military, and covers financial items such as credit card interest rates, residential leases and security deposits, mortgage interest rates and foreclosures, life and health insurance, financial contracts and respossessions, storage liens, and default judgments.

Expert Witness Assistance in Business Interruption Insurance Claims Litigation Due to COVID-19 Factors

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Nationwide Banking and Financial Expert Witness for Plaintiffs and Defendants Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of Business Interruption Claims for litigation involving COVID-19 factors, which vary a great deal from case to case. The issues are compounded by many policies being tailored to individual business's needs. Another layer of complexity is added by courts in the various states adding their own varying interpretations to important terms and features of Business Interruption Insurance policies.

The Ups & Downs of Parking Lot Control Arms

Provided by: Michael Panish
What every attorney needs to know about how they function, why they fail, and why someone was injured. Who is at fault, who is to blame, and what the industry standards are that affect the claim?

Expert Opinions on Variable-Rate Demand Obligation Litigation Over Collusion Allegations and Resulting Damages

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Banking, Financial, and Securities expert witness Don Coker - who has served as an Expert for eighteen municipalities, states, and other taxing authorities nationwide, 115 banks, and over 1,000 other clients including the Internal Revenue Service (seven times), and as a trustee of a governmental taxing authority, and a banker and trust department executive that has bought and sold bonds of all types - explains some background and important nuances of municipal bond Variable-Rate Demand Obligations (or Variable-Rate Demand Notes) for litigation.

Defective Gate Designs Cause Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

Provided by: Michael Panish
Gate injuries are often caused by improper design and fabrication. From the very inception of a new gate project, an improperly crafted gate is inherently the beginning of a future serious injury or even deadly claim. By Michael Panish

Automatic Gate Operators - The Relevance of UL 325 Standards

Provided by: Michael Panish
Michael Panish, Door & Gate Expert Witness outlines the relevance of UL 325 standards (Underwriters Laboratories) for automatic gate operators.

Magnetic Locks That Fall From Overhead - Why They Fall and Cause Injuries & Injury Case Examples

Provided by: Michael Panish
Injuries that result from falling magnetic lock components are common. Mike Panish, Door, Gate & Lock Expert Witness, outlines injury case examples and explains why these locks fall and cause injuries.

Elopement from Facilities - Common Elopement Cases & What Could Have Been Done to Prevent Elopement?

Provided by: Michael Panish
Legal expert, Michael Panish, explains and outlines anti elopement hardware and egress requirements for life safety of long-term care facilities, mental healthcare facilities, dementia wards, psychiatric facilities, and residential care facilities. He describes common elopement cases.

The Dark Side of Telemedicine

The sudden increase in demand for telemedicine services has created new opportunities for fraud and abuse.

Important Industry Standards in Financial Litigation Involving Renegotiating or Modifying a Credit Agreement

Provided by: Don Coker
Renowned Nationwide Banking and Financial Expert Witness Don Coker explains some of the important nuances of credit agreement renegotiation and modification that can become important issues in financial litigation over the status of lender claims on first-lien collateral.

How COVID-19 Is Changing Retirement Plan Savings

Retirement plan participants are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in several ways. Last month we wrote about how ERISA retirement plan sponsors are working to maintain compliance and fiduciary obligations while protecting the future security of plan assets. This month we look at how COVID is affecting pension plan participants.

Forward and Reverse Likelihood of Confusion - What's The Difference?

The courts recognize two types of confusion in trademark or trade dress cases: Forward Confusion and Reverse Confusion.

What Is Secondary Meaning? Can a Survey Help?

The concept of secondary meaning is straightforward in intellectual property matters. A secondary meaning survey typically seeks to assess whether a “significant” or “substantial part” of the customer class associates a trademark or trade dress with a single source.

What Does the Manual for Complex Litigation Say About Sampling/Opinion Surveys?

§11.493 Sampling/Opinion Surveys Statistical methods can often estimate, to specified levels of accuracy, the characteristics of a “population” or “universe” of events, transactions, attitudes, or opinions by observing those characteristics in a relatively small segment, or sample, of the population.

Intellectual Property Survey? Make Sure You Know the Rules.

The following factors courts often consider when determining the admissibility of a Lanham Act survey, to guide its surveys and reports. Specifically, whether the:

Hiring a Survey Expert Witness? Five Things You Need to Know.

Not all survey expert witnesses are equal. Below are five key questions to ask before signing the letter of agreement. A valid and reliable survey can make all the difference to your case.

How to Best Leverage Your Expert Witness

Experts can help throughout your entire case. Your expert witness can help in many ways, provided they have the right expertise and experience. Experts may be counted on by attorneys throughout the case process: Trial Strategy, Discovery, Depositions, Pre-Trial Preparation, and Trial.

Likelihood of Trademark Confusion Factors by Federal Circuit

Each of the 13 federal courts of appeal have their own test for evaluating whether a likelihood of confusion exists between two trademarks. Although the tests are not identical, most of them are substantially similar and use many of the same factors. And the factors are non-exclusive.

Is a Trademark Infringement Survey Really Necessary?

Is a Trademark Infringement Survey Really Necessary? Yes, according to the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law. "Courts have continually utilized surveys to show evidence of secondary meaning, generieness, dilution, and functionality in trademark litigation." - The John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, Robert Thornberg.

Investment Advice Fiduciary Redefined by U.S. Dept. of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") recently announced its new approach for determining an Investment Advice Fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") and the Internal Revenue Code ("the Code"). This new approach, announced on June 29, 2020, follows a 2018 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that vacated the Department's 2016 fiduciary rule and its exemptions.

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