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A woman who worked for the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department in Wheeling, West Virginia is in the process of suing her former employer. In the suit, Sonya Olako, who worked as a secretary, alleges that she was fired from her position over a Facebook post.

Fired%2053061626-001.jpgThe post in question included Olako’s comments concerning her negative experience at a local restaurant. During her visit there, Olako’s iPhone was stolen, leading her to warn her Facebook friends to avoid the restaurant.

However, the restaurant is owned by a friend of Olako’s now former boss, Ohio County Sheriff Patrick Butler. When Olako returned to work on Monday after making the Facebook post, the sheriff fired her. Immediately, Olako called the human resources department to lodge a complaint. Workers there informed her that she had been suspended for one day. Subsequently, the sheriff informed Olako that she had been suspended for two days. At the end of the two day period, Olako returned to work only to be called in to a disciplinary meeting.

Upon inquiring whether or not her lawyer could be present for the meeting, Olako alleges that she was fired. Later, she received a letter from human resources citing job abandonment as the reason for her dismissal.

In the lawsuit, Olako avers that her right to free speech was violated and that she was wrongfully discharged. Breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress are also cited as causes for action in the suit. The complaint was recently filed, and it seems likely that it will be some time before a decision is reached in the matter.
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On January 15, 2013, the Ohio State Board of Education adopted policies related to tracking the use of seclusion rooms and restraints in Ohio schools. According to StateImpact.npr.org the policies are non-binding.

padded%20room%2038681100-001.jpgIn reading the 11 page policy available HERE, it appears that the policy is actually a set of guidelines for Ohio school districts, with no description of any consequences for non-compliance.

Most often, the consequences for non-compliance for similar situations are lawsuits, many resulting in verdicts and settlements paid from funds much better used for education.

An Ohio investigation last year found that seclusion rooms were being used often as a punishment for students who misbehaved. There was also no requirement to notify parents of students who were secluded or restrained.

Under the new policy, seclusion rooms and/or restraints are to be used only when a student poses a threat to the safety of him/herself or others.

Further, the policy states that the schools must keep records of each instance when restraint or seclusion was implemented and why. Those records must be shared with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) upon request and parents of the student involved in each incident. The parent(s) must be notified immediately and receive a copy of a written report about the event within 24 hours. The report is only made available to the parents and by request to the ODE. The report will never be made public.

While that sounds like a good plan to protect the students’ privacy, it creates an environment of secrecy for each school district where conceivably no one could know of misuse or over use of restraints and/or seclusion rooms.

Even with implementation of these new policies which take effect next school year, there is no reporting requirement for Ohio school districts other than when the data is requested by the ODE.

As a founding partner in a law firm regularly defending California school districts in lawsuits, I believe preventing lawsuits is much more cost effective than defending them. While this “policy” is a step in the right direction, there needs to be more accountability, a well-defined reporting structure and consequences in this important issue.
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The Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles will be hearing a case in which two poker professionals are accused of using a bot, or robot, to play online casino games. The two men, Lary Kennedy and Greg Omotoy, won $80,000 while playing at Full Tilt Poker, an online gaming website. The company claims the two men used robots to win the money rather than using their own skill.

robot-poker-1.jpgOn the flip side, the two men claim that the company itself was the one using bots at the website. Robots have been used in many types of skill games, to pit human against robot. The most well known of these situations was with Deep Blue, a chess playing robot that was able to beat Garry Kasparov, the 1997 Chess World Champion. The machines perform the task of calculating moves endlessly, without tiring.

Kennedy and Omotoy have filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker, and the numerous owners of the company. The claims include Fraud, RICO, Relief Under the California Business Professions Code Section 17200, Unjust Enrichment, Libel and Slander.

The lawsuit claims that the owners played a role in the coding, creation and the use of the bots to fill tables that would allow them to increase their revenue. The two allege that the use of bots is strictly prohibited by Full Tilt Poker’s terms of service. They are seeking restitution in monetary and non monetary forms. Compliments of Pokerati.com you will find a copy of the lawsuit HERE.

This case is another in the lineup that is nearly forcing regulation of online gambling. Although Full Tilt Poker has been involved in other cases over the last few years, it is unclear which direction the court will go when hearing this particular case.
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707642_police_motorcycle.jpgIn this California Court of Appeals case last month, the court ruled that although not everything hanging from a rear view mirror in your car is illegal, a tree shaped air freshener is illegal. As such, it gives police a valid reason to stop you.

The only reason this is posted on the California Business Litigation blog is this:
none of us want to invite a traffic stop.

Throw the air freshener under the seat and have a great new year!

– Richard Oppenheim