Why Talcum Powder is Killing Women

Many of the pills and medical devices that have proved deadly are prescribed for serious medical conditions.

But on occasions, we see products that have been linked to harmful side effects that seem to be innocuous. A good case in point is talcum powder. Although talc has been used for more than four decades by women, concerns that it has caused cancer in women have led to a spate of recent lawsuits.


Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was the subject of two class-action lawsuits filed last year.  They claim talcum powder products were responsible for giving women ovarian cancer. The products in question are Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

Class action lawsuits were filed in the courts a year after South Dakota resident Deane Berg won her legal claim that Johnson & Johnson was negligent because it failed to warn her that three decades of using Baby Powder put her at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer. Berg was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

The lawsuits raise the concern that J&J is failing to warn women about the dangers of its talc-based powders. It’s not the first time that this manufacturer has been sued. Johnson & Johnson is currently involved in litigation over FLQ antibiotics. It’s a very common accusation levelled at the pharmaceutical industry where big profits often take precedence over the safety of the people who use their products.

The first cancer trial to be held at a state court is scheduled to start in Feb. 2016, in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Mo. A jury will hear claims brought by Jacqueline Fox, a 61-year-old woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years ago. Ovarian cancer is a very serious condition and the victim is reported to have undergone many surgeries as well as chemotherapy. She used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for female hygiene for more than 35 years and claimed that the company’s failure to warn caused her condition.

A number of medical studies in recent years have suggested the long-term use of talc-based powders by women as a hygiene product is associated with ovarian cancer.

Recently an influential study pooling the results of eight research papers involving almost 2,000 women found an increased danger of between 20 percent and 30 percent for ovarian cancer in women who used talc for “intimate personal hygiene.”

Notwithstanding the mounting evidence of a link between talc and this extremely serious cancer which is associated with the genital use of talcum powder, the manufacturers of this product have consistently failed to warn consumers of the potential dangers.

Lawyers across the United States are reviewing potential lawsuits from women who believe they were made ill by talcum powder. I fully expect to see an increase in lawsuits related to this issue in coming years.

Johnson & Johnson is no stranger to lawsuits. The pharmaceutical giant has faced a class action claim for millions of dollars over its transvaginal mesh products. More than 70,000 mesh-insert cases against a wide range of manufacturers have been consolidated in Charleston in West Virginia. Others have been filed in state courts across the country.

Facebook as Medium for Serving Divorce Papers

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have made the change from being time wasting distractions influential media in recent years. But social media has not been considered in the past as a means of serving divorce papers – until now. The comments of a judge in a case in New York has raised the possibility of “divorce by Facebook,” CNN reports.

Facebook is being used to serve divorce papers

Ellanora Arthur Baidoo from Brooklyn has been trying to divorce her husband for several years, according to her attorney. However, lawyers were unsuccessful in tracking down Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku to serve him the papers. Baidoo was able to reach her husband by phone but he informed her he has no fixed address and no place of work, court documents stated. “He has also refused to make himself available to be served,” the document said.

The report said Baidoo had exhausted other ways of serving the papers on her husband so she filed an application asking for “service by alternate means,” in this case, via social media. Comments made by Justice Matthew Cooper in this case suggest social media may become an acceptable way of serving divorce papers in the future. The judge said the “advent and ascendency of social media,” means sites like Facebook and Twitter are the “next frontier” as “forums through which a summons can be delivered.”

There are still a number of potential issues before Facebook becomes an established part of the divorce process. Before Cooper agreed to the use of Facebook, Baidoo had to prove the Facebook account she intended to use belonged to her husband, and that he consistently logged on to the account and would see the summons. The CNN report said Baidoo’s marriage to Blood-Dzraku started to fail shortly after they were married in 2009 because her husband refused to participate in a Ghanaian wedding ceremony that would include both their families. The couple never lived together.

Lawyers acting for Baidoo have contacted Blood-Dzraku twice on Facebook, according to reports, but he has not responded. Social media has transformed the way we live our lives and interact with each other so it’s natural that it may end up playing a greater part in a wide range of legal proceedings at some point in the future. There are many obstacles and difficulties that are experienced in break-ups and divorces which is why it’s still important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer.

Ten Top Tips for An Effective Law Firm Blog

Lawyers tend to be fastidious people. They would not be successful in what they do without a keen attention to detail. Appearance is also important to attorneys. When you show up in court, you want to look your best. How can a judge or jury respect your expert opinion, if you don’t respect your own wardrobe?

In saying that many law firms fail to take the same approach to their websites. I still find websites out there that are the equivalent of 1974 in fashion sense. They are wearing facial hair and flairs and look dated. Of course, in terms of web technology you don’t need to look like 1974 to be dated. Looking like 2008 will do the trick.

I’m still struck by the number of lawyers I meet who are not putting new content on their websites. They may have paid a company such as FindLaw a large sum of money to develop their website two years ago and it’s now just out there gathering dust. And they are wondering why the leads are falling off.


Many lawyers are suspicious about blogging and the addition of new content to their website. Attorneys are busy people who have little time to blog and when they do they can make the mistake of writing the kind of ‘insider’ content that would interest other lawyers like themselves, but be of little interest to potential clients or the general public. They may also be suspicious of hiring writers and researchers to help them, even though it’s a lot quicker and easier for them to review content and make additions than to write it from scratch. There are many reasons why your law firm or any other small business will benefit from regularly posted blog content.

A law firm blog is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote your business. If it’s done right it can drive traffic to your website at a fraction of the cost of a pay-per-click campaign, it can increase your client base and establish you as an authority in your field. Occasionally, blogs can have a direct result. In any given year a small number of blogs I write about auto accidents, have led directly to sign ups from people who have searched for the name or the name of a family member. The same can be true with crime blogs.

Here are 10 tips for an effective law firm blog.

1 Write your Blog to Meet your Customer’s Needs. You may be very happy about the fact you have just received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, but your potential clients won’t. Not only have they probably never heard of Martindale Hubbell but they are more interested in finding out how long their bankruptcy proceedings will take, whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation, whether they will lose their home in their divorce or whether they can make a claim against a trucking company for their injuries.

2 Answer the Question. If your potential client wants to know how long he has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in North Carolina, write a blog titled ‘How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in North Carolina?’ However, you should vary up the FAQs. The more you have out there on your website, the more likely you will get an exact match with a potential client’s question. If he or she likes your answer, you are more likely to get a call.

3 Be Local. There are a number of outsourced cookie-cutter writing services there that will deliver generic blogs for you. Some of them may be written by services in places such as India which will deliver vanity phrases and links that can harm your website. A few years ago, it was easier to get onto the first page of a Google search by stuffing your content with phrases such as “Atlanta personal injury lawyer.” Today a series of complex algorithm changes means Google will penalize this kind of writing. You need to be writing about real issues and events in your local community in the way your community newspaper would have done in years gone by. It will resonate with the local people you want to get as clients as well as the search engines. If you are supporting a charity or doing community work, blog it.

4 Develop a Blogging Style. You should develop a consist form of writing that’s not overly formal. A blog is the human face of your business and you may develop a fan base among people who know you. If you are hiring a writer, he or she should get to know you and your style and write accordingly. Throttle back on the sales pitch. I usually find a subtle call to action at the foot of a blog will suffice for the sales pitch.

5 Be Substantial. A word count of about 400 will help your blog to be found online. If it’s longer than this, you should consider breaking it up into categories.

6 Post Regularly. It stands to reason that the more content you have out there, the more likely potential clients will find your blogs. There’s not a lot of consensus about how often you should blog but you should post blogs regularly because if you are creating a steady stream of writing and it stops, it will look as if you are out of date or don’t care about your online appearance. Aim for at least one blog a week but two or three is better.

7 Use Visuals. It’s an increasingly visual age so why are we still inundating people with blocks of text? As a former newspaper reporter, I’m painfully aware of how the younger generation gets its media in a different way than we used to. Many people in the younger generation will watch the video of a news story rather than reading the text. So embed a video in your blog. There’s nothing wrong with a video of the attorney saying almost the same thing as he is saying in the blog. And use original photographs and illustrations too. There are also a number of infographic services that can give you a different kind of blog.

8 Plan your Content. Consider planning content six months or even a year ahead. This will allow you to blog for seasonal trends or events and to ensure you don’t run out of ideas.

9 Share. Putting your blog on your website is just the first step. This is useful and unique content that can also go on social media as well as blogs for legal directories to get your name out there. Make sure you have sharing buttons under your content and use a service such as HootSuite to send out content to a number of social media sites.

10. Monitor performance. Sites such as Google Analytics will allow you to check on which blog posts and terms are the most popular. This can guide you on what sort of blogs you should be writing in the future. You can also get an idea of the popularity of your content if it is shared on sites such as Facebook by the number of likes it receives.

Contact Veritas Legal Media at veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

Fatal Accidents Double At West Virginia’s Fracking Sites

The boom in natural gas in West Virginia has brought prosperity to some previously deprived parts of the state. However, as the industry booms more workers are paying the ultimate price by losing the lives on the job, according to new figures.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found 13 workers in the state’s oil and gas industry died during the five-year period from 2008 to 2012. The figure is alarming because it’s more than double the number of workers who lost their lives during the previous five-year period from 2004 to 2008 when five workers died, according to the bureau.


The Charleston Gazette reported the rise in worker deaths comes at a time when natural gas production in West Virginia has also more than doubled. The increase in deaths coincides with a rush to tap into the Marcellus Shale reserves. Oil and gas extraction activities also more than doubled in that time, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

West Virginia is not alone in paying for the increase in production in lives. Other states that are playing their part in America’s energy boom such as Texas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania have seen increases in worker fatalities, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As a West Virginia injury lawyer I find this trend troubling. It suggests these industries are not putting adequate resources into protecting their workers. The Chronicle reported a decline in deaths in just one state, Wyoming, the only one of eight major states to tap into the energy boom to have “engaged in a sustained state-sponsored effort to reduce workplace fatalities.”

The figures have sparked calls to the Obama administration to launch an initiative to prevent major industry disasters and to address safety problems in the fast-growing oil and gas business.

As well as deaths in the oil and gas industry, worker injuries occur regularly. Last year a fire at an Antero Resource’s natural gas drilling site in Doddridge County, West Virginia injured eight workers.

The Charleston Gazette reported the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering expanding its “process safety management,” or PSM, rule, which requires employers to anticipate potential accident scenarios and take steps to avoid such incidents before they occur. OSHA is considering eliminating the PSM rule exemptions for oil and gas drilling and servicing, and for production facilities.

In a letter to OSHA, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board argued that the exemptions for oil and gas industry sites should be eliminated from the PSM rule.

The CSB said its own review discovered 1,285 incidents oil and gas installations between 2009 and February 2014 that resulted in injuries to workers, deaths, evacuation, damage of more than $500,000 to the facilities or “acute environmental damage.”

A separate report suggests the arrival of oil and gas extraction (known as fracking) industries, increase fatalities on roads around sites.

An analysis of traffic deaths and census data in six drilling states found in some places, “fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004 — a period when most American roads have become much safer even as the population has grown,” stated Associated Press.

Oil and gas extraction has brought increased prosperity to parts of West Virginia but at a high price. The workers in these industries do a valiant job but clearly face danger on a regular basis.

Gay and Lesbian Immigration Issues in the Wake of Landmark Ruling

In June, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the landmark case of United States vs. Windsor, which barred gay couples from the federal benefits attached to marriage. After the ruling, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made it clear her immigration agents would start accepting marriage-based visa applications from same-sex couples.

Napolitano stated in a press release “that all married couples are treated fairly and equally in the administration of our immigration laws.”

Janet Napolitano

The Eligibility of Lesbian and Gay Couples for Green Cards

The most significant change in the wake of the June, 2013, ruling is the eligibility of those in a lesbian or gay marriages for green cards on behalf of foreign national spouses.

DOMA had meant numerous same-sex couples were forced to live outside of the U.S., or separately from their partners, due to its denial of federal immigration benefits to same-sex couples.

The new ruling means gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual foreign nationals will now be eligible for the immigration benefits that others have received, provided they were married in a country or state that performs same-sex marriages. Currently, 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriages. Unions and partnerships are allowed in Colorado.

The law is still developing in this fast-moving field but it should also include the recognition of step-child and step-parents relationships for same sex couples as well as deportation defenses and visa petitions for immigrants and non-immigrants.


The Department of State will now recognize same-sex relationships and issue the appropriate visa classifications for people in same-sex relationships. This means the same-sex partner of an individual with an employment-based visa can receive a visitor B Visa and be able to join their partner.

Asylum Issues

There has been plenty of publicity about Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws, but the sad reality is members of the GLBT community are persecuted across the world. If you are in the U.S. and you face possible prosecution due to homosexuality in your home country, you may be able to claim asylum.

To obtain asylum you must be present in the U.S. in the first place. See the information about asylum provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

You must demonstrate a history of past persecution and a have well founded grounds to show you face future persecution. Members of the GLBT community fall into a particular social group that allows them to apply for asylum or withholding of removal.

However, the laws of your home country are relevant. If you are from a nation that has liberal laws towards homosexuality, you are less likely to gain asylum than if you are from a country that has strict laws against homosexuality such as parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Affluenza and Why Being Rich May Get You Out of Jail Time After a DWI

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Couch, drove a pickup truck pickup at up to 70 mph drunk. He caused a crash that killed four pedestrians who were standing at the roadside.

In a case that has made national headlines, a judge sentenced him to 10 years’ probation. The reason? He came from a rich family.


That’s not a totally accurate summary but it’s the way the case has played out in the media. The judge sentenced Couch after hearing a psychologist called by the defense, arguing he suffers from “affluenza,” a condition in which children from rich families behave irresponsibly due to a sense of entitlement.

Before the sentencing the psychologist, Dick G. Miller, testified that the teen’s life could be salvaged with a couple of years of treatment and no contact with his parents.

Miller explained Couch’s parents gave him “freedoms no young person should have.” He called the teen a product of “affluenza,” a condition whereby his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between his behavior and its consequences.

According to the Star Telegram, Miller testified that the teen was never disciplined, and enjoyed freedoms “no young person should have,” including the freedom to drive since the age of 13.

“The teen never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone. If you hurt someone, you sent him money.”

Local station KHOU reported that Miller told the hearing Couch’s family “felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.” The defense argued that Couch’s parents were as much to for the crime as their son, and that Couch’s life could be turned around if he cut off all contact with them for a one- to two-year period of intense psychological treatment.

The story has led to much discussion about so-called “affluenza.” In a subsequent story Associated Press quoted experts who said “affluenza,” should not be a criminal defense. The term was first used in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill when she wrote the book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.”

Dr. Gary Buffone, a Jacksonville, Fla., psychologist it has since been used to describe a condition in which children — usually from richer families — feel a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses fort their bad behavior, and occasionally “dabble in drugs and alcohol.” He said the term was never intended to be used as a defense in a criminal trial or to justify such behavior.

The case has led to something of a perception that although you may not be able to get away with murder if you are rich, you can get away with intoxication manslaughter – the charge in this case.

Eric Boyles, who lost a wife and daughter in the crash, said told CNN: “There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.”

However “affluenza”, is less about being rich than about the consequences of a dissolute lifestyle that money may have contributed to. Couch appears to have grown up in an argument dominated household where parenting was poor.  The judge likely factored in factors such as rehabilitation and restitution, when sentencing Couch. The sentence may be as much about not punishing a teen for the inadequacies of his parents as it is about wealth.

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Change and Its Implications for Blogging

Over the last two years those folks at Google have been keeping bloggers busy with algorithm changes that effectively tear up the rulebook.

I should qualify that by saying there was no ‘rule book’ as such. Google tends to be cryptic with the information it releases. The rule, as they were accepted, were those developed by webmasters and writers themselves.


Bloggers had a good idea of how manipulate searches a few years ago which went along the lines of – stuff copy with key words, link like crazy and set up satellite sites that interlink to squeeze the most Google juice they possibly could from a piece of writing.

Google may have been big back then but it was a lot less sophisticated than it is now. Over the last few years it has developed algorithm changes intended to punish what it saw as ‘black hat’ tactics. This is in line with the development of Google+ which has increasingly meant reviewers are no longer able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

The algorithm changes came as a shock to many businesses which thought they were ahead of the curve. In 2011 Google came out with Panda which led to some websites being unexpectedly slapped by an extinction threatened Chinese bear.

A panda slap proved the be the death knell for some businesses which saw web traffic drop by as much as 50 percent.

In its algorithm change Google took aim at poor quality websites. It penalized, among other things, a high percentage of duplicate content, page content that failed to match search queries, high bounce rates, unnatural language, low quality in bound links, a lack of original content and so called “boiler plate” content on each page. I still encounter marketing gurus who have not caught up with Panda, who are still teaching the development of the perfect “boiler plate,” which is anchor text on each page.

Panda, pointed out Mark Nunney, was no ordinary change. Unlike previous realignments it contained very real penalties for those who crossed the “Panda Line.”

A year after Panda in April 2013, Google launched its Penguin algorithm change. It used a different set of criteria and aimed to target spamdexing including link bombing. Spamdexing comprises a number of methods, such as repeating unrelated phrases in an  attempt to manipulate the relevance or prominence of the product you are pushing.

Search Engine Land states Google launched Penguin to “better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.”

Now Google has implemented Hummingbird  which targets key words. The message is key words are no longer important and content is key. Google will no longer even provide information to webmasters about which key words are driving traffic to their sites.

In an article about the algorithm change my former colleague Paul Hill of Content Marketing Institute writes : “Consider synonyms — the alternative words or phrases that describe what you do and that people might use, rather than focusing your content around an exact-match keyword.”

In a webinar on October 15 Tom Foster of Foster Web Marketing said the loss of key words would be a shock to some, but the overall effect would be a positive one.

“So should you panic? Is the zombie apocalypse upon us? Is this the end of SEO and web marketing as we know it? No
If anything, Google has come to the realization that people are not zombies and don’t use the internet like mindless, brain-eating, undead creatures.

“Don’t be mad at Google it’s  a natural evolution of what they are trying to do. They are trying to make a better product,” he said.

Danielle Ruderman, Director of Research and Development at Foster Web Marketing,  said the steady stream of algorithm changes highlights the importance of a diversified business strategy.

“If the majority of your business is from the search engines, you are a sitting duck. Do not rely on Google for all of your traffic,” she said.

But for now you ignore Google at your peril. Recent research shows it’s used in 67 percent of web searches. It’s not the only game in town but it’s the biggest player which means it gets to dictate who plays ball.

The fast-moving modern environment is littered with corpses – BlackBerry, MySpace and Alta Vista to name three. Google’s preeminence is unlikely to be permanent.

In running a market strategy you should always consider every eventuality and never put all of your eggs in one basket, be it Google, YouTube or social media. The next Google algorithm is unlikely to be called elephant and to trample on the rule book as we know it. But there’s nothing to stop Google doing it. Put simply Google may do it simply because it can.

David Macaulay is the marketing director of the Cooper Hurley Law Firm and the founder of Veritas Legal Media – veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

Enforcement of Pot DUIs Remains Hazy for Police Departments

Marijuana is now legal in some U.S. states but the issue of enforcing pot-DUI cases is proving a legal minefield.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported on how lawmakers are “struggling to create rules” for how to identify drivers who are under the influence of pot.

It seems identifying pot impairment is not as easy or straightforward as testing for alcohol. “There is no broad agreement over what blood level of THC – marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient – impairs driving,” stated the Wall Street Journal.


The breathalyzers that police use to detect alcohol are unable to detect marijuana levels. The issues inherent in pot-DUI cases are important in states that have legalized the use of marijuana.

In Washington State which legalized recreational marijuana use last year, voters decreed that drivers with five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood are driving under the influence.

Colorado has the same limit but provides a chance for drivers to prove they are not impaired while there is a similar test in Montana, which allows medical marijuana use.

R. Andrew Sewell, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine told the Wall Street Journal the THC compound may quickly leave the system and regular users of marijuana may be impaired little due to their higher tolerance levels. It raises the potential problem of many impaired drivers being missed and innocent people being arrested, he said.

States are also experiencing something of a headache in sorting out punishments for drivers who are found to be high.

In Washington, for example, drivers convicted of alcohol or drug related DUI offenses must install a device on their car which will prevent it starting if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The problem is the ignition interlock can’t detect marijuana or any other drug for that matter.

The ambiguity of testing for marijuana raises a number of troubling questions. What is, less ambiguous is the potential of drivers under the influence of pot to kill and maim.

At the end of 2012 CBS pointed out how five of the eight deadly car crashes in Santa Cruz County in California involved drivers who had smoked pot before getting into their cars.


Lawsuits Often Follow America’s Mass Shootings

By David Macaulay, Veritas Legal Media

America is once again gripped by the enormity of another shooting tragedy : this time the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Over the next few days and weeks, the shooter’s motive will be carefully examined. So too will the question of whether school authorities could have done more to avert this tragedy.

In the wake of mass shootings lawyers often step in, although the enormity of the tragedy does not always have a direct bearing on the issue of liability.

In the wake of the Aurora shooting on July 20, 2012 which saw James Eagan Holmes charged with the shooting deaths of 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, Torrence Brown Jr., one of the survivors, said he was planning on suing the theater.

Brown was friends with 18-year-old AJ Boik, one of the shooting victims. He said he is seeking therapy and is emotionally distraught after the shooting. The shooting left 58 people injured.

According to reports, Brown plans to sue the Century 16 theater, which is owned by Cinemark, for having an exit door that was not equipped with an alarm or guarded.

Lawsuits often come forward in the wake of mass shootings.  After the 1999 Columbine school shooting in Colorado which 12 students and an adult were killed, some families of the victims attempted to sue gaming companies for $5 billion.

The class action alleged those who carried out the massacre, were influenced by a number of violent video games, in particular one called “Doom.” However, a federal judge dismissed the suit.

There were also a number of unsuccessful lawsuits filed against the school. Some of the impacted families won a settlement against the shooter’s parents and against friends who helped provide guns to the young men.

A number of wrongful death suits were filed in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history.

In March 2012 a jury awarded $4 million to each of two families who filed a suit. The families’ lawyers argued the school should have notified the students sooner after learning that two other students had been found shot dead in a West Ambler Johnston dormitory room on the morning of April 16, 2007.The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho went on to massacre 30 other people, including the two victims whose families sued – Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson.

At a later hearing Judge William Alexander II set the jury’s award at $100,000 for each family, the highest amount allowed under Virginia’s cap on damages against the state.

The state settled with some other family members, in the wake of the tragedy.

In 2009, more than 50 relatives of the victims of the Fort Hood massacre sued the federal government, claiming authorities ignored warning signs that the accused killer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was dangerous and violent.

Although lawsuits are common after tragedies plaintiffs face many obstacles. To prove negligence authorities should have known about a risk or have been expected to know. Suing local governments can be difficult even when plaintiffs are successful, issues such as caps often come into play, as demonstrated by the Virginia Tech lawsuits.

Contact Veritas Legal Media at veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

Court Rules Marijuana Use is Not Protected Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

By David Macaulay, Veritas Legal Media

Recently voters in Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The two states are also among 18 that allow the use of the drug for medical use, as well as Washington DC.

But if you are a federal or any other employee you may not be entitled to protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, even if you live in a state that allows marijuana use, a recent court case has ruled.


While Colorado and Washington passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use on November 6, 2012, the drug is still banned under federal law where it is presently classified as an illegal schedule 1 drug.

Marijuana has been used to treat a large number of medical conditions including cancer and multiple sclerosis.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered the issue of protections under the ADA in November, 2012 and found that California residents using medical marijuana permitted by state law but prohibited by federal law, constituted an illegal use of drugs under the ADA of 1990.

In the case of James, et al. v. City of Costa Mesa, residents of two California cities were recommended the use of medical marijuana to ease their pain. The drug is permitted to be used for medical purposes in California.

However, the cities in which they obtained marijuana sought to close marijuana dispensing facilities. The residents sued the cities under the ADA Title II. They claimed that by interfering with their access to medical marijuana, the cities were preventing them from accessing public services.

They sued but were ultimately unsuccessful. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of preliminary injunctive relief, stating the ADA defines “illegal drug use” by referring to federal, not state, law. The court ruled federal law does not authorize the residents’ use of medical marijuana.

The judges said it was “unlikely that Congress would have wished to legitimize state-authorized, federally proscribed medical marijuana use” in what it said was an ambiguous ADA provision.

The issue of medical marijuana use did not arise in the employment context in this case but the terms analyzed by the court are the same ones as used in ASA’s employment provisions. It’s, therefore, reasonable to believe the same provisions apply if an employee with an illness seeks ADA protection to use medical marijuana. An experienced employment attorney can advise you on your rights.

Contact me at veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com ; 757-582-1836