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Deceased Star Trek Actor Prompts Chrysler and Jeep Recalls

bigstock-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee-103920923-300x202.jpgThe world was saddened on June 19th by the tragic death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. His sudden and unfortunate death may have prompted the recent Chrysler and Jeep recalls. In the early morning hours of June 19, Yelchin was discovered pinned between his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a brick column in his California driveway. It was described by investigators as a 'freak accident', which left many wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.

The Jeep Cherokee involved in Yelchin's death was among the models under an ongoing recall for faulty transmissions that caused the cars to roll without warning. While the initial Chrysler and Jeep recalls had already begun before the actor's untimely death, no vehicle repairs had been implemented, sparking a widespread recall of Jeeps, Chryslers and even Dodge models.

Audi, VW Reach Reimbursement Deal Over Faulty Headlights

Law360, New York (April 22, 2013, 5:52 PM ET) - A New Jersey federal judge on Friday preliminarily approved a settlement in which Volkswagen Group of America Inc. agreed to reimburse and extend warranties for a conditionally certified class of Audi and Volkswagen vehicle owners who launched suit over allegedly defective headlights.

U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty signed off on the proposed settlement in which VW agreed to fully reimburse the cost to repair high intensity discharge headlights that would randomly flicker or shut off for current and former owners and lessees of 2005 and 2006 model year Audi A4 (B6) vehicles, 2005 model year Audi A4 (B7) vehicles, and 2004 to 2007 model year Volkswagen Touareg vehicles.


Strippers Are 'Employees' Under State Law, And Due Minimum Wage, Nevada Court Rules

Oct. 31 - Dancers who perform at a Nevada strip club are employees, not independent contractors, and therefore are entitled to the minimum wage under state law, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Oct. 30.

Reversing a lower court's dismissal of a class action filed by dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen's Club, the seven-member supreme court said the "economic realities" test used under the Fair Labor Standards Act should also be used to determine whether an employment relationship exists under Nevada's minimum wage law.

Applying a non-exhaustive six-factor test, the court said although Sapphire appears to give dancers autonomy over work schedules, methods of payment and whether to dance for individual patrons, the economic realities are that Sapphire exerts significant control over the dancers, who are integral to the club's business and must be deemed "employees."

Its ruling that the dancers are employees rather than independent contractors conforms to the "great weight of authority" from other jurisdictions in strip club wage and hour cases, the court said.

Mercedes Loses Sanctions Bid In Chrome Defect Suit

Law360, New York (January 06, 2014, 1:38 PM ET) - A California judge on Thursday refused a bid by Mercedes-Benz USA LLC for sanctions in a putative class action alleging injury risks from chrome-plated interior trim pieces, chastising the carmaker for taking quotes from opposing counsel out of context to cast the suit as frivolous.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said Mercedes-Benz had failed to show that plaintiff Ani Avedisian's first amended complaint was objectively baseless or was launched without a reasonable or competent prefiling inquiry, and therefore had no basis for demanding Rule 11 sanctions.

In the February 2012 suit, Avedisian accused the company - the U.S. distributor for Daimler AG - of selling cars over a six-year period with trim pieces that can flake, crack and peel and create sharp edges that can lacerate passengers' hands.

Chipotle Failed To Reimburse For Workers' Shoes, Atty Argues

Law360, Los Angeles (April 17, 2013, 3:31 PM ET) - A lawyer seeking to represent more than 26,000 Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. employees asked a California judge Wednesday to certify a class suing the restaurant chain because of its "clear corporate policy" of not reimbursing employees for new work shoes it allegedly required them to buy.

At a sometimes cantankerous hearing, plaintiffs' lawyer Stephen M. Harris argued in favor of a motion for class certification, saying there was "clear evidence" that Chipotle deducted from workers' paychecks the cost of footwear in its "Shoes for Crews" program that it started in 2007.

"Sixty-five percent of employees during the period had shoe deductions deducted from their wages," Harris told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Barbara M. Scheper. "This is a pretty clear, simple case."

Costs of 60 Recalls Cuts GM's Second Quarter Profits

GM's faulty ignition switch problems, together with all other recalls so far on 29 million vehicles, though only 22 million in second quarter, cut second quarter loses by 80%. The pre-tax losses claimed come from several fronts, though all involve the recalls. $400 million, so far, has been put into a fund to compensate victims of the faulty ignition switch, 13 dead to date and many accidents. Ken Feinberg is administering the Fund. Feinberg also administered both the 9/11 Fund and BP oil spill Fund. Claims are being accepted for GM's Fund beginning August 1 until the end of the year. The Fund itself may grow to $600 million or more, with no apparent limit placed on it. 

Driverless Cars About to Hit the Road

self-driving-car-300x300.jpgCome September, California will be granting licenses for autonomous vehicles. Driverless cars. Other states have passed laws for driverless cars and still others have it under consideration, but none but California are to the point of granting licenses. The California license grant will only be for testing purposes with massive insurance coverage requirements, so do not run out to get your driverless vehicle yet. It will take some time while Google works out the kinks, together with Toyota and BMW who are also in the race with this technology.

Who do you suppose is responsible when a driverless car has an accident? One of the primary points of these vehicles is to avoid human error that is the basis for a huge percentage of auto accidents. We have a system of blame, responsibility and liability in place for auto accidents. When the human, not just the human error factor, but the actual human, is removed from the equation, our existing system fails. We need to rethink where to place blame and liability when there is no human action involved. We will need to legislate the behavior of machines.

Lessons in Quality Control: The GM Ignition Switch

GM-Ignition-Switch.jpgGeneral Motors (GM), the US automobile giant, is certainly no stranger to bad publicity and scandal. Yet the latest in a row of controversies will have even GM reeling - a scandal rising from the defective ignition switches in GM cars that led to at least 13 deaths.

The Tragic Tale

In the first quarter of 2014, GM decided to recall 2.6 million of the small cars it had manufactured, from models that were related to an estimated 32 crashes and 13 casualties since 2005. The faulty ignition switches in models such as the Saturn Ions and the Chevrolet Cobalts would accidentally cause the car engines and the air bags to switch off while driving.

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