Raub Law Firm, P.C. Blog

A man in a wheelchair couldn’t get to a wedding in a public park. This is what accessibility looks like 30 years after the ADA passed.

Jonathan Gentry and Mark Rakes liked the idea of getting married in front of James Buchanan.

That’s how the couple ended up on the lower level of Meridian Hill Park on a recent Saturday, wearing suits. As about 40 of their guests looked on, the two men stood in front of a bronze statue of the country’s 15th president — and let’s be real, probably the first gay one — and said their vows.

Everything seemed perfect. The weather: The rain from the day before had stopped. The decorations: Two silver balloons in the shape of the couple’s initials floated alongside a red helium-filled heart. The graffiti even: On the bottom of the memorial, written in pink chalk was a haiku.

every heart does mend,

when broken from a lover,

in the spring of year

Jonathan Gentry and Mark Rake got married on April 27 in front of a statue of President James Buchanan in Meridian Hill Park. That day, one of their guests was unable to make it to the ceremony because he was in a wheelchair and the park is not yet fully accessible. (Travis Long)

But not all their guests got to see that. After the ceremony, the couple realized that one man who had come to celebrate their wedding didn’t make it to that part of the park — not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t.

He was in a wheelchair, and the park, the couple learned that day, is not fully accessible.

“It was very disheartening,” Rakes said. “He is a really close friend.”

“We felt terrible,” Gentry said.

Both men said it didn’t occur to them to check if the park had ramps that could accommodate a wheelchair.

The truth is that it probably wouldn’t have occurred to most people. It’s a park in the middle of the nation’s capital overseen by the federal government. It’s understandable that someone would assume the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990, would have made sure it wasn’t off limits to anyone by now.

“It’s 2019,” Gentry said. “How many years has the ADA been in effect?”

Most of us go through our days without thinking much about the ADA and how structures are built around us. Unless we are in a wheelchair and have to calculate each outing, we have the luxury of not thinking about door spans and restroom accommodations. We don’t have to blink at broken sidewalks because they aren’t barriers to us.

But when we are confronted with a situation in which someone has been left out for no other reason than their disability, it’s only right to stop, reflect on our shared spaces and consider who gets to use them — and, more importantly, who doesn’t.

What happened at that wedding is just one example of what many among us face all the time at unexpected moments.

It is also a reminder of why it’s important to keep the pressure on government and private entities to make public places accessible to all.

“The sort of run-of-the mill storefronts, restaurants, retail store, those really should be accessible now, and a lot are but too many still are not,” said Kenneth Shiotani, senior staff attorney for the National Disability Rights Network, which is based in Washington, D.C.

He said outdoor spaces, such as beaches and trails, pose more challenges than man-made structures when it comes to accessibility and for that reason, new guidelines were set for them in 2013. But Meridian Hill Park, which boasts of having the largest cascading fountain in the country, seems much more structured than other outdoor spaces, he said.

“I think the wedding party had reasonable expectations that 30 years later [after the ADA was passed] a federal park would be accessible,” Shiotani said. “It’s a public park, it’s paid for by public dollars, it should ultimately be accessible for everybody.”

An official with the National Park Service, in an email response to an inquiry I sent, said the upper level of the park is currently wheelchair accessible. She also said this about plans: “Additionally, we are in the process of completing construction documents for the next phases of rehabilitation of the park. During this project, we’ll be adding an accessible route into the lower plaza level of the park. Once completed, this will allow complete access of that portion of the park to all. In addition, access will be available to the plaza area in front of the Presidential Memorial to President James Buchanan. We don’t have a completion date yet but construction is anticipated to start sometime in 2020.”

Rakes said his friend left that day frustrated and went home instead of attending the reception, which was held at the Kimpton Carlyle, afterward. I asked him if his friend would want to speak about his experience, and Rakes said he wouldn’t.

Another wedding guest, Ronald Keeney, described the effort that was made to try to get him to the ceremony.

Keeney said he didn’t know the man before they arrived at the park about the same time with their partners. Together, they began looking for the location of the wedding. After they realized it was on the lower level, Keeney said he went to look for a ramp but found only a “shoddy” one being used for construction that covered maybe two stairs.

He knew there was no way to get anybody safely across it, so he offered something else: He told the man he could find a few people at the wedding to help lift the chair down the stairs.

“I felt very awkward having to ask this person if he was willing to be carried,” Keeney said. But there was no other option. “It’s just not worth it,” Keeney recalled the man and his partner telling him.

By then, the ceremony had started.

“It was a terrible situation,” Keeney said. “I felt horrible that they were disappointed. I felt horrible there was nothing in that park that would accommodate him.”

Afterward, Keeney said he was left thinking about that man, but also about how this was just “one little event” — how there would probably be others who would show up to this “beautiful park and find they couldn’t get in.”

[SOURCE]

Increase in Electric Scooters in Corpus Christi Could Mean More Injuries

As we see more electric rental scooters zipping around Corpus Christi, there also are some scary headlines about the serious accidents that happen with these motorized vehicles.  A newly published study states a growing number of people are sent to the hospital, because of injuries from electric scooters.  The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted the study, and analyzed injuries caused by electric scooters. It’s the first study of its kind. In this study of a case series, 249 patients presented to the emergency department with injuries associated with electric scooter use during a 1-year period, with 10.8% of patients younger than 18 years and only 4.4% of riders documented to be wearing a helmet. The most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%).

Meanwhile, around the nation, ER doctors have pointed out an increase in the number of serious accidents that accompany the rise in use of motorized scooters. So, as more people stop renting bikes to get around and opt for electric scooters, how worried should people be in Corpus Christi?

As of September 2018, there had only been one fatal death, in Texas, associated with electric scooters in Dallas.  Meanwhile, there were 42 bicycle accidents and 5,308 car accidents in the same period.  However, it should be remembered that not everyone who gets in an electric scooter accident is going to go to the ER or call 911.

Types of Electric Scooter Accidents

In some of these accidents, the scooter operator is inexperienced and simply loses control and crashes. In this type of accident, there generally is no possibility of a personal injury claim as the operator was at fault. In some circumstances, it is possible that a product liability lawsuit could be a factor if it can be shown that the manufacturer or company that rented the scooter did not provide sufficient warnings and/or instructions about how to use the scooter safely.

Other accidents with electric scooters may involve cars. If a car driver does not yield to you in a crosswalk when you are riding a scooter, you could be entitled to serious compensation for your injuries. In most of these types of crashes, the scooter rider has serious injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma, internal injuries and major cuts and scrapes. In this situation, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Contact a Corpus Christi Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in an electric scooter crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Please contact Corpus Christi personal injury lawyers at the Raub Law Firm,P.C. for a free legal consultation to determine whether you have a solid case. The consultation is at no charge, so you have nothing to lose.

Google and FitBit Collaboration Could Affect Personal Injury Litigation

 

Conceivably, the deal between Google and Fitbit could provide defense attorneys with access to information about a patient’s movement and sleep patterns that could show that the injury claims are, at the very least, overstated.

 

Google and Fitbit Inc. announced on April 30 that they are teaming up to leverage the widespread use of wearable technology to improve the quality of health care. According to the official press release, the deal provides Fitbit with access to Google’s Cloud Healthcare API, which will connect user data with a patient’s electronic medical records in real time.

Information regarding the patient’s movement, heart rate, sleep patterns, etc., will be stored in the Google Cloud Platform and integrated with a patient’s EMR. The hope is that arming clinicians with this objective information will lead to more personalized care and, ultimately, better health outcomes.

The details on how this information will be stored, accessed and used are scant at this point. It also is unclear which EMR software systems will have access to this information and how soon it will become available to clinicians. However, once fully implemented, the agreement between Google and Fitbit could open doors in litigation that previously did not exist.

The most obvious implication is on a personal injury plaintiff’s claimed damages. Often, the plaintiff in a bodily injury case (especially automobile, slip and fall, and trucking cases) claims that the injuries sustained have impaired the plaintiff’s ability to walk, stand and/or sleep. Disproving or undermining these claims is often difficult and very expensive. Typically, one would have to hire a private investigator to surveil the plaintiff clandestinely to show that the plaintiff can walk and/or stand without perceived difficulty. As any defense attorney can attest, surveillance efforts are often hit or miss and frequently return nothing valuable to the case. Further, surveillance has no way of showing how well a plaintiff is able to sleep.

While each plaintiffs attorney wants to believe that a potential client is being completely honest about his or her pain and limitations, the decision to take on a case often comes with a significant economic investment. Assurances beyond simply the plaintiff’s word that the injury has been truly life-altering makes the decision to take a case much easier. Those assurances for plaintiff’s attorneys are often just as difficult to obtain.

Conceivably, the deal between Google and Fitbit could provide defense attorneys with access to information about a patient’s movement and sleep patterns that could show that the injury claims are, at the very least, overstated. This information could prove just as valuable (and cheaper) than surveillance. On the other hand, the information could corroborate a patient’s complaints and bolster the plaintiff’s claim for damages. Consequently, both sides of the personal injury bar may want access to this information.

The introduction of wearable technology has already changed how people view and monitor their activity levels and habits. The deal between Google and Fitbit has the potential to alter how plaintiff and defense attorneys evaluate and litigate personal injury cases. While no one expects Google to simply hand over this information without a fight, the right judge in the right case could find that a request for a patient’s Fitbit information is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” and order that the information be produced. Since we now know that the information is being stored, obtaining access is only a subpoena or court order away.

As Bob Dylan would say, the “times they are a-changin,’”

Samuel E. Britt III is an associate at Weathington McGrew, where he defends physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2014 and worked at a civil defense firm in Augusta before joining Weathington McGrew.

SOURCE

 

Operator of several SA senior-care centers files for bankruptcy

Senior Care Centers LLC, a skilled nursing and senior living provider with more than 100 facilities in Texas and Louisiana — including 10 in San Antonio — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Company officials have attributed the financial challenges to “burdensome debt levels” and “expensive leases.”

For now, that decision is not expected to affect the operation of the Dallas-based company’s facilities. However, the ownership of roughly half of those centers is in flux. Senior Care Centers operates 10 facilities in San Antonio. It also operates centers in New Braunfels, Bandera and Fredericksburg, as well as other Texas cities.

Irvine, California-based Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA) owns 38 facilities operated by Senior Care Centers. On Dec. 6 Sabra issued Senior Care Centers notices of default and lease termination for not paying rent. Sabra also announced that it entered into an agreement with an undisclosed buyer to sell its 36 skilled nursing facilities and two senior housing communities operated by Senior Care Centers for $385 million. It was not immediately clear how many, if any, of those facilities are in San Antonio. Sabra indicated that it expects the deal to close by early 2019.

“We are pleased with the progress we have made on our planned disposition of the Senior Care Centers Facilities,” Sabra CEO Rick Matros said in a statement. “We do not expect Senior Care Centers’ bankruptcy filing to have a substantive impact on our disposition of the Senior Care Centers facilities.”

Meanwhile, Westlake Village, California-based LTC Properties, Inc. (NYSE: LTC), which leases 11 skilled nursing centers in Texas to Senior Care Centers, said on Dec. 5 it too had not yet received rent for the month. LTC has requested a consensual termination of the lease agreement with Senior Care Centers and is in discussion with another Texas operator to potentially take over the facilities under similar lease terms.

The Business Journal confirmed with LTC that those facilities are not in San Antonio.

Michael Beal, chief operating officer for Senior Care Centers, said the bankruptcy filing “allows us to address certain financial issues while continuing to provide the critical care and support on which our residents rely while we work to transition certain communities to new operators.”

SOURCE

 

Personal Injury Firm Claims Rivals Lured Away Clients With ‘Briefcase Full of Cash’

In a new lawsuit claiming $30 million in damages, a prominent personal injury firm, Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez & Winograd, is alleging two competitor law firms enticed clients to switch attorneys by offering them Uber rides from a doctor’s office and then money from a briefcase full of cash in a partner’s office.

New York courts have seen several scandalous spats among personal injury law firms. However, the lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court includes especially remarkable claims, such as competitor attorneys using “case runners” to meet clients at a pain management specialist’s office, then luring them to their firm and finally paying them off in cash if they agreed to substitute counsel.

“Although blatant ambulance-chasing of this kind strikes at the heart of the legal profession as a whole, defendants’ unlawful, coordinated and elaborate scheme … has inflicted serious financial harm upon Ginarte,” the firm’s complaint said. Ginarte alleges the defendants’ conduct caused it to lose ”several of its clients.”

The Ginarte firm is suing William Schwitzer, his New York law firm, William Schwitzer & Associates, and other attorneys at the Schwitzer firm, including Barry Semel-Weinstein, Beth Diamond and Giovanni Merlino. The complaint also names as a defendant Rene Garcia, a solo attorney who allegedly maintains an office at Schwitzer’s firm.

A spokesman for William Schwitzer & Associates and its lawyers named in the suit blasted the lawsuit as baseless and without merit, saying Ginarte’s allegations were “motivated by professional jealousy of our firm’s success.” The spokesman also said the Schwitzer firm does not employ the two people who are named in the suit as case runners.

“We are preparing a counterclaim that will expose the lies in their complaint,” the spokesman said.

Garcia did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The Ginarte firm, represented by Clifford Robert and Michael Farina of Robert & Robert, is suing the defendants for civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, conspiracy, defamation and attorney deceit under Judiciary Law Section 487, which allows parties to recover treble damages.

Founded by Joseph Ginarte and headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, the firm has about 30 attorneys and more than 100 support staff at seven offices throughout the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. It represents plaintiffs in construction and car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability.

The Ginarte firm learned of the alleged conduct just recently, the suit claimed, noting Ginarte began receiving substitution letters from the Garcia and Schwitzer firms, indicating that its clients had retained those firms in their personal injury cases.

Of those former clients, each had a “common link,” Ginarte said, in that Ginarte had referred the clients to a pain management specialist, whom the complaint refers to as “Dr. X.”

The complaint alleges that non-attorney case runners met with clients of Ginarte in or in front of the doctor’s office and then denigrated Ginarte to the clients, telling them Ginarte is ill-equipped or incompetent to handle their cases. They enticed them to retain the Schwitzer and Garcia law firms through “unlawful and unethical tactics,” the complaint alleges.

In particular, if the targeted client agreed at the doctor’s office to meet with substitute counsel, the clients would get driven by Uber to Schwitzer’s office, accompanied by the case runners. The complaint alleges when they arrived at Schwitzer’s firm, the Ginarte clients would be directed to meet with Schwitzer firm attorneys, such as Merlino, Semel-Weinstein and Diamond, who would confront the clients “with high-pressure sales tactics,” including “extravagant promises” and further denigration of Ginarte.

Once a targeted client agreed to substitute counsel and retain the Schwitzer or Garcia firms, Ginarte alleges, the defendants gave the client up to $3,000 in cash and “immediately paid off any loans the client had previously taken out,” according to the suit.

Schwitzer “kept a briefcase full of cash in his office, from which he made the foregoing cash payments to the targeted Ginarte clients,” the suit alleges.

The complaint alleges a “pattern of wrongdoing and deceit,” nothing that William Hamel, previously an attorney of a predecessor Schwitzer firm, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor arising from his involvement in a scheme of paying hospital employees for client referrals. Meanwhile, Garcia was suspended in 2009, based on a special referee’s report sustaining 10 charges of professional misconduct. He was reinstated in 2010.

In a statement, Robert, Ginarte’s attorney, said the matter has been reported to “appropriate authorities.” He added, “It is a highly unusual set of circumstances for an attorney of Joe Ginarte’s stature to be substituted on several high values cases in such a short period time.”

 

[SOURCE]

Your Bankruptcy Discharge Doesn’t End Your Case

Isn’t my case over?

I got my discharge.  Why’s the bankruptcy trustee still  hounding me?, my client asks.

People who’ve filed bankruptcy are focused on the discharge as their goal.

With their discharge in hand, they think it’s all over.

They lose sight of the fact that the administration of a bankruptcy estate by the trustee runs on a parallel track to the one that leads the debtor to a discharge.

Different tracks.  Different timelines.

Trustee’s job

The Chapter 7 trustee’s job doesn’t necessarily end at the 341 meeting, or meeting of creditors in each case, usually about 30 days after the filing, where the debtor appears and answers questions.

Most Chapter 7 cases end for the trustee with the first meeting of creditors.  There are no assets for the trustee to administer and no unanswered questions.

But the trustee may have responsibilities that remain after the meeting.

The trustee is charged with investigating the debtor’s right to a discharge and with turning any nonexempt assets of the debtor  into cash for benefit of creditors.

How exemptions work

The trustee may need to know about bank balances on the date of filing or transfers that he may be able to recover.

If he has assets to distribute, he needs to review the claims filed by creditors.  If the bankruptcy estate has income, he may need to file a tax return.

There can be lots of work for the trustee in an asset bankruptcy case.

Road to discharge

For the debtor, the track is usually far shorter.

The Bankruptcy Code was structured to let the debtor know very quickly after the filing of the case whether he will get a discharge.

Or rather, it’s set up to let the debtor know whether there’s a dispute about getting a bankruptcy discharge or about the dischargeability of a particular debt.

The notice that goes out to creditors right after a bankruptcy case is filed sets out the deadline for creditors to challenge the discharge or the dischargeability of a particular debt.  That date is usually 60 days after the date of the first meeting of creditors.

Anyone challenging the discharge must file an adversary proceeding with the bankruptcy court in that time.

Absent the filing of an adversary, the court issues the discharge.  The debtor heaves a sigh of relief and thinks it’s all over.

Trustee work continues

The trustee’s work is not ended by the debtor’s discharge.

If there are assets, he’s still got work to do.  He may need information or other forms of cooperation from the debtor to do his job as trustee.

The debtor’s failure to provide that cooperation can lead to an action to revoke the discharge.  So the debtor still has some skin in that game.

The administration of some bankruptcy estates goes on for years.  It all depends on the nature of the assets the trustee is administering.

No asset cases

The vast majority of bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases.

That’s a shorthand way to say that there are no assets for the trustee to administer and there will be no distribution to creditors.  Even though  Chapter 7 is termed a liquidation proceeding, there may be nothing of value worth liquidating.

In those cases, the trustee may file his no-asset report and close his file long before the debtor gets the discharge.

So the trustee and the debtor proceed down the tracks of a bankruptcy case, in parallel, but not intersecting.

Creditor Governance

Creditor Governance

By William R. McCumber (College of Business, Louisiana Tech University) and Tomas Jandik (Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas)

A traditional view of creditors is that they are largely passive investors unless a borrower violates the terms of a loan agreement or misses a payment. However, like institutional shareholders, creditors hold concentrated positions in firm securities (loan shares), are sophisticated investors, and have access to senior management and non-public information. Since debt financing is much more common than equity financing, and because the great majority of credit agreements are honored, it is important to better understand how creditors advise and monitor portfolio (borrower) firms. We find that creditors play a significant role in corporate governance under normal circumstances, i.e. when firms are not in technical violation or default. Borrower firms are less likely than non-borrowers firms to file for bankruptcy in the intermediate future, and borrowers shift financial and investment decisions away from value-reducing policies and toward value-creating investments. Importantly, these changes are profitable for borrower firms since both cash flows and returns on assets improve at least three years after loan origination, which in turn decreases creditor portfolio risk. We also find that when creditors retain a larger proportion of the loan on their books, changes in borrower firm financials are more pronounced, providing evidence that creditors exert a greater governing force when more exposed to borrower risk.

[SOURCE]

 

First Meeting With Your Attorney

First Meeting With Your Attorney

What do you do when you are involved in an automobile accident that is not your fault and the insurance company for the person who hit you is calling? You need an attorney.  The insurance company for the guy who hit you is not calling to ask how much your check should be.  The insurance companies do not want you to get legal advice because once you know your rights, they cannot take advantage of you.

Set an appointment to discuss your case with one of our attorneys. The attorney will have numerous questions about the case that involve information only known by you.  There are documents you should get and information you should have in mind prior to this meeting.

First, get your automobile insurance and health insurance information. That information is important for payment of medical bills and possible claims under your uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) portion of your policy.

Second, have a list of all known witnesses to the accident. Addresses and phone numbers are very helpful.  If you have the Traffic Collision Report or police report, always bring it.  If you do not have a report you should have been given a card that contains the report number.  Bring that card to the meeting with our attorney.  Information about the other party who caused the accident is important including name, address and phone number.  If known, bring any information you have concerning the insurance of the other party.

Third, take photographs of property damage and personal injuries and bring whatever photographs you do have. If they are on your cell phone, bring the telephone.  We will need to know where the car is located or where it was fixed.  If you have given a statement to any insurance company or investigator, bring the name, address and telephone number of the person with whom you spoke.

Lastly, if you have had earlier civil claims, lawsuits or workers’ compensation claims involving the same parts of your body or injuries similar to the ones in this accident, bring your old legal paperwork or medical records. If you have medical records from the present accident, bring those records.

These documents will help your case proceed more rapidly. Bring these documents and make that first appointment with your attorney much easier and productive for you and the attorney.

Personal Injury Plaintiff Can’t Hide Post-Accident Instagram Posts, Judge Finds

A plaintiff who brought a lawsuit over injuries she allegedly suffered in a motor vehicle accident—injuries she says have caused her a loss of enjoyment in life—has failed in her bid to keep photos from her Instagram account from being admitted in her case.

The defendants are seeking an admission from plaintiff Christina Smith that photos and a video posted on Instagram after her March 21, 2015, motor vehicle accident, in which a young woman is depicted engaging in various activities, such as rock climbing and strolling on a boardwalk, are indeed of Smith.

The majority of the photos for which the defendants seek admissions are “selfies,” said acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Higgitt. For those who don’t know what a selfie is, the judge cites an entry from the Oxford English Dictionary: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.”

On the day of the accident, Smith was being driven upstate to visit her father in Gowanda Correctional Facility in Erie County in a van being driven by defendant Stafford Brown, which collided with a vehicle being driven by defendant Frank Pasquale on a ramp for Interstate 86 in Cattaraugus County.

Smith claims she suffered injuries to her spine and her knee and has sued both Brown and Pasquale for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment in life. Earlier this year, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Julia Rodriguez denied Brown’s bid for summary judgment.

Pasquale moved to admit in August, arguing that the Instagram photos show that, if they depict Smith, her injuries aren’t as severe as she claims, as well as an admission that she changed her account from public to private at some point after the accident.

Scott Rynecki of Rubenstein & Rynecki, who represents Smith, did not answer Pasquale’s motion to admit and responded instead with a motion for a protective order.

But Higgitt denied Rynecki’s motion, finding that the motion to admit concerns “clear-cut matters of fact”: either Smith has an Instagram account or she doesn’t, the judge said.

Ralph Schoene of Collins, Fitzpatrick & Schoene represents Pasquale; Theresa Mariano of the Law Office of Dennis C. Bartling appeared for Brown.

Rynecki declined to comment and Schoene did not respond to a request for comment.

[SOURCE]

Attorney General Underwood Urges Federal Action To Stop Illegal Robocalls And Spoofing Plaguing Consumers In New York And Across The Country

Bipartisan Coalition of 34 Attorneys General Urges FCC to Let Phone Companies Do More to Block Illegal Robocalls – Including Neighbor Spoofing

NEW YORK – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood – part of a bipartisan coalition of 34 Attorneys General – today called on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules to allow telephone service providers to block more illegal robocalls being made to unsuspecting consumers in New York and across the country.

In formal comments filed with the FCC, the Attorneys General explain that scammers using illegal robocalls have found ways to evade a call blocking order entered last year by the FCC. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014.

Last year, at the urging of a coalition of Attorneys General, the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls; the Attorneys General now seek added authority for the providers to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls – including “neighbor spoofing.”

“Unwanted robocalls aren’t just a nuisance – they’re a means for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Underwood. “New Yorkers have been bombarded with these illegal robocall scams – including the all-too-common spoofed calls that appear to come from a neighbor – and it’s time for federal action.”

“Spoofing” allows scammers to disguise their identities, making it difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice. “Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” the Attorneys General wrote in the comments filed with the FCC.

One tactic on the rise is “neighbor spoofing,” a technique that allows calls – no matter where they originate – to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code and exchange as the consumer. This manipulation of caller ID information increases the likelihood that the consumer will answer the call.

In November 2017, the FCC issued the 2017 Call Blocking Order, which will give phone service providers the ability to authenticate legitimate calls and identify illegally spoofed calls and block them. The added authority sought by the Attorneys General today will allow service providers to use new technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019.

To date, the FCC has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning additional provider-initiated call blocking. The Attorneys General anticipate that further requests for comments will take place on this subject.

The comments were signed by the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.

[SOURCE]

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