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Britney Spears Files To Have Accountant Replace Father As Conservator 

An attorney working for Britney Spears has officially filed to make the pop star’s new conservator her accountant Jason Rubin; a position that’s currently being held by her father. Lawyer Matther Rosengard made the official request in a Los Angeles court filing this week. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that Rosengart filed a petition to remove Jamie Spears, her father, as a conservator and replace him with Rubin. In a recent court hearing. Spears spoke for herself and stated that she wanted her father removed immediately, and would like to sue him for abuse. 

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Rosengart just recently started representing Spears after she was able to choose her own lawyer in a landmark decision made in her conservatorship case last month. Spears has been enduring this arrangement for 13 years now. 

The conservatorship means she has no control over her finances, estate, career, social media, or reproductive rights; she claimed in court that the individuals working in her conservatorship refuse to let her take out her IUD. 

After Spears delivered an emotional testimony last month that spread throughout social media, the icon has gained a slew of public support, including a message from Congress who invited Spears to the White House to better break down the issues with abusive conservatorships all throughout the US.

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Spears claimed that throughout her conservatorship she was forced to perform and take medication against her will. Her top priority has now become terminating the conservatorship, but mainly removing her father from the role of conservator. 

Spears also claimed that she would not be performing as long as her father still had control over her career and finances. 

“There’s a real question as to why Mr Spears does not voluntarily step aside today. Today. Does anybody really believe that Mr Spears’s involvement in the case is in the best interest of Ms Spears?” said Rosengart earlier this month in court. 

Spears is due back in court on September 29th, where a final decision over her father’s removal as conservator will be made.

Courtroom

Michael Jackson’s Estate Reaches Tax Victory In Court Battle 

Michael Jackson’s estate won a major years-long court battle after a US tax court found that the IRS inflated the value of his assets and image at the time of his death. 

According to reports, “The IRS had put the value of three disputed aspects of Jackson’s worth at the time of his 2009 death at about $482 million. This led to an estate tax bill for his heirs that was far too high given the King of Pop’s financial situation when he died. In his decision issued Monday, Judge Mark Holmes put that figure at $111 million, far closer to the estate’s own estimates.”

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“We’re pleased. We always try to do the right thing. We tried from the beginning to follow the IRS rules and regulations, and relied on the best experts possible. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to litigate to protect ourselves,” co-executor John Branca told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The judge claimed to have mainly disagreed with the IRS over their value of Jackson’s image and likeness, which seemed to dwindle after multiple accusations of child molestation against the singer. The IRS gave an estimate of $161 million while Holmes ruled it was just $4.15 million. 

“Despite Jackson’s acquittal on all counts at his 2005 trial, the allegations continued to dog him, and while Jackson was selling out dates for a planned world tour when he died, he could not find a sponsor or merchandise partner. “The fact that he earned not a penny from his image and likeness in 2006, 2007, or 2008 shows the effect those allegations had, and continued to have, until his death,” Holmes wrote in the 271-page decision.

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After the two lawsuits involved in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” were dismissed this year, however, as well as the pandemic forcing many projects to be delayed, Jackson’s estate leaders feel like it will not be the perfect time to start promoting Jackson’s legacy. 

“We’re at an absolute turning point,” Branca said. “I think people have come to realize that Michael was innocent of any charges and unable to protect himself. We’ve got a wonderful Broadway play coming, we’ll be reopening our Cirque du Soleil show soon and we’ve got some surprises coming.”

The judge noted that the estate has received massive success following Jackson’s death through his shows, concert films and several strategic moves to sell his assets. However, he also claimed that “the IRS appeared to be factoring those successes into its decisions rather than considering only the circumstances at the moment of Jackson’s death, when things were considerably more grim after several years of waning popularity, poor management and reckless spending from Jackson.”

The judge went on to mock the estate’s initial valuing of Jackson’s image and likeness at only $2,000, however, they were also “putting one of the best known celebrities in the world, the King of Pop, at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic.”

Sydney Australia

Australian Politician To Pay Twisted Sister $1.2 Million After Copyright Case

Australian politician Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million Australian dollars (about $1.17 million) in damages to famous rock band Twisted Sister after losing a copyright case involving the classic song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” 

Back in 2019, Palmer used the melody and rhythm of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political advertisements for the United Australia Party. The advertisements featured a vocalist singing along to the song’s melody with the lyrics: “Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more.” 

The lyrics obviously are a reference to the original song, which features lead singer Dee Snider singing: “Oh we’re not gonna take it, no we ain’t gonna take it, oh we’re not gonna take it anymore.” 

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Universal Music acquired the publishing rights to the original song from Snider back in 2015. The music group filed a copyright lawsuit against Palmer back in February 2020. During the trial Palmer accused Twisted Sister of “swindling its hit song from a famous Christmas Carol.” This is in reference to the fact that Snider has spoken out in the past about how “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” was a major influence in the writing of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” 

The opening five words in the lyrics for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” have the same melody as the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and therefore the same melody as the song in the ad, however, the Christmas carol follows a completely different chord progression and is traditionally played in a much different way than the rock classic. 

Palmer’s attorney played a mashup in court of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which was performed by Twisted Sister during a live Christmas concert in Chicago back in 2014. 

Snider said the two songs were “rhythmically different, and that is inspiration not duplication. The songs had to be shoehorned together to create the versions used in his musical and the 2006 cover. It was very difficult.”

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Universal attorney Patrick Flynn explained to the court that Palmer initially balked at paying the original copyright fee of $150,000, which would’ve allowed him to use the song’s melody completely legally. Instead, Palmer offered just $35,000. This week, Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann ruled that Palmer was guilty of “infringing the copyright of both the musical and literary work of the original track.” 

“Mr. Palmer’s use of [the song] was opportunistic. He saw political and personal advantage in both its notoriety or popularity and the message it conveyed and he thought that he could get away with using it merely by altering some of the words. He was wrong,” Justice Katzmann ruled

Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million in Australian dollars, as well as covering all the legal costs to remove all copies of his song and video from the internet. Snider took to Twitter to celebrate the win: 

“HALLELUJAH!! Just found out that the copyright infringement of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ by ‘politician’ Clive Palmer in Australia has been decided MAJORLY in favor of myself as writer and @UMG as publishers! WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ANY MORE!!”

AstraZeneca Vaccine

European Union Sues AstraZeneca Over Vaccine Delivery Delays 

The European Union (EU) announced this week that it will be launching legal action against the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca after claims that it repeatedly under-delivered on its Covid-19 vaccine shipments throughout the continent. 

The 27 nations within the European Union have all reported a relatively slow rollout of vaccinations for citizens due to delays in delivery from AstraZeneca. The union claims that tens of millions of doses have fallen through, and the company has barely upheld their end of the contract with the EU to get every citizen vaccinated. 

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The EU initially ordered 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, with an optional 100 million doses, of which the union has gone without. 

AstraZeneca released a statement in which they claimed that they “regret” that the European Commission is choosing to take action against the company, but it would be strongly defending itself in a court setting. 

AstraZeneca and the EU in general have already been dealing with some major tensions as many citizens refused to get vaccinated, so that combined with the company’s own failures to deliver the agreed upon doses has led to a major feud between the government and pharmaceutical company. 

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Stefan De Keersmaecker, health spokesperson of the European Commission, was the one who initially announced that a lawsuit had been launched, arguing that “the terms of the EU-AstraZeneca contract had not been respected, and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses.”

“We want to make sure that there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to, and which have been promised on the basis of the contract. All 27 countries support this legal action.”

AstraZeneca released their own statement this Monday: “Following an unprecedented year of scientific discovery, very complex negotiations, and manufacturing challenges, our company is about to deliver almost 50 million doses to European countries by the end of April, in line with our forecast.”

The company added that “AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”

Zillow Facing Antitrust Lawsuit After Accusations Of Favoring Certain Listings 

A real estate startup company is suing Zillow within a federal court over allegations that the website is violating antitrust laws by “deceptively steering customers to home listings from a subset of agents.” 

The suit was filed in a US federal court in Seattle in which the startup Rex alleges that Zillow and its affiliate Trulia are illegally favoring certain listings by brokers who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR); the most prominent US real estate trade association. The startup has claimed that non-NAR real estate agents are now located in a “hidden tab” on the website. 

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Rex’s general council Mike Toth was recently interviewed to discuss the suit regarding one of the nation’s most popular real estate listing websites. “The change by Zillow and Trulia forces all non-NAR listings to have permanent low visibility. This is the real estate web returning to this old vision of data segregation rather than data democratization for consumers.”

The suit could potentially shift the way in which certain online real estate platforms operate and allow more opportunities to arise for more buyers and sellers to negotiate the type of agent they want. Zillow and Trulia account for 75% of the online home search market in America, and when they made changes to their sites in the beginning of January, listings began being segregated to hidden areas of the site. 

“Zillow and Trulia started segregating listings, giving preferential treatment to the 1.3 million real estate agents who belong to NAR. Other listings, including those posted by brokers not affiliated with NAR, foreclosures and homes listed for sale by owners without agents, are now relegated to a separate tab. We are asking the court to block Zillow and Trulia from segregating listings,” Rex claimed. 

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NAR has their own real estate listing site, Realtor.com, which is the second-most viewed site for agents throughout the nation. That platform is known for only showing listings by NAR’s agents, and understandably so considering it’s their own website. So the issue now is that the changes Zillow and Trulia made means that three out of the four most popular real estate listing sites are favored for NAR’s agents and their listings exclusively. 

Those listings in particular tend to be more expensive because they require the seller to pay a commission, often 6% of the homes sale price, which is split between the agents of the buyer and seller. Rex has now raised these antitrust concerns with the Justice Department and 35 state attorney generals. 

Viet Shelton is a spokesperson for Zillow who claims the company “made the change in January after it became a participant in the Multiple Listing Services Internet Data Exchange feeds, which are operated by NAR. Zillow’s rules for the IDX feeds require participants to segregate listings. Zillow is committed to giving consumers the most up-to-date housing information on the most amount of listings possible on a single platform. We made changes to the way some listings appear on the site in order to be compliant with MLS rules.” The suit will likely begin unfolding within the next month or so.

Boeing Airplane

Boeing Set To Pay $2.5 Billion In Settlements Over 737 Max Fraud

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that the company repeatedly lied about the 737 Max’s engineering problems which eventually led to two catastrophic crashes that killed hundreds of individuals; both crashes had no survivors. 

The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and beyond the settlements the company will face no further charges from the US Department of Justice. Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division recently released a statement regarding the charges. 

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“Boeing’s employees chose a path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up the deception.” 

Boeing is the nation’s second-largest defense contractor, and is now set to pay the Department of Justice a criminal penalty of $246.6 million. “The families and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passenger victims who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in Ethiopia five months later will be paid from a fund of $500 million,” according to Burns. 

If split evenly that would equate to around $1.4 million for each family. A majority of the settlement will be given to airline companies that had purchased the faulty 737 Max aircraft and were forced to ground all of the planes following the two crashes. According to the Department of Justice all of the airlines impacted will receive $1.77 billion in compensations for their financial losses. 

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“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers.” 

Both crashes were caused by changes in the airplane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System which forced the nose of 737 Max to tilt towards the ground, leaving the pilots completely powerless in preventing a fatal crash landing. 

Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer, David Calhoun, recently sent out a note to his employees throughout the nation, explaining that he “firmly believes that entering into this resolution is the right thing to do for Boeing, and is a step that appropriately acknowledges how the company fell short of its values and expectations.” 

“This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations,” Calhoun continued. Internal Boeing documents revealed that engineers of the 737 Max aircraft notified the company of the Augmentation System’s “egregious problems” as early as 2016, so many are upset with the settlement announcement, claiming the company should be much more severely punished for such a careless mistake that claimed so many innocent lives.

Law Suit Concept

Sia Shows Support For FKA Twigs’ Lawsuit Against Shia LaBeouf: “He Hurt Me Too”

Singer FKA Twigs recently filed a lawsuit against actor Shia LaBeouf, alleging that he caused her severe emotional distress during their relationship through physical and emotional abuse. Singer Sia showed her support to Twigs on social media this past weekend, along with her own accusations against LaBeouf.

In a social media post made this past Saturday, Sia recommended that all individuals in the entertainment industry “stay away” from LaBeouf, claiming that she has been “emotionally hurt” by the actor. LaBeouf and Sia first worked together back in 2015 for her music video “Elastic Hearts.”

“I believe he’s very sick and I have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself – stay safe, stay away.”

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Sia continued in her post to claim that LaBeouf was a “pathological liar who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single.” The singer didn’t elaborate much more on the history or timeline of her relationship with Labeouf, or the emotional hurt that he caused her, however, it’s speculated that based on the adulterous comments their relationship likely occurred around when the music video was filmed; at the time LaBeouf was dating his now ex-wife Mia Goth.

LaBeouf and Goth had their own tumultuous relationship forced in the public eye after they got into an aggressive verbal altercation in public that was filmed by onlookers. Eventually a group of men pulled LaBeouf away and drove him home where he supposedly told the men that if he stayed back with Goth he “would’ve killed her.”

Once Twigs filed the lawsuit, she took to her Instagram to discuss the difficulty of deciding to file and go so public with it: “My second worst nightmare is being forced to share with the world that I am a survivor of domestic violence. My first worst nightmare is not telling anyone and knowing that I could have helped even just one person by sharing my story. It was hard for me to process that I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship and never thought something like this would happen to me.”

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The lawsuit was filed last Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Twigs listed five “causes of action” for the suit, which included battery, sexual battery, assault, emotional distress, and gross negligence. She’s seeking unspecified monetary damages from him and besides Twigs other women were also cited in the suit who have a history of abusive relationships with LaBeouf. The lawsuit also asserts that LaBeouf knowingly gave Twigs a sexually transmitted disease.

“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency.”

Twigs spoke with the New York Times the day the suit went public, claiming that she wanted to go public with her story to show how even a critically acclaimed musician with money, a home, and a strong network of individuals supporting her could be caught in this type of situation. LaBeouf surprisingly responded to Twigs’ article after the Times requested a comment from him, in which he claimed that he was “not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.” There is currently no word on when the suit will be heard in court.

Facebook App on Wood Background

US Government Files Major Lawsuit Against Facebook

Dozens of state and federal government bodies have sued Facebook in twin antitrust lawsuits that allege the social media platform has “abused its dominance in the digital marketplace and engaged in anticompetitive behavior.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is specifically seeking a permanent injunction to be made in federal court that would require Facebook to divest its assets, which includes popular social media apps Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans. Facebook‘s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, in a statement to the press. 

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The multiple lawsuits have been months in the making and reflect a major point of contention that has existed in the tech industry for awhile now. Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012 in a deal worth $1 billion. Two years later it announced that it was buying WhatsApp in a deal that was worth $19 billion. 

New York Attorney General Letita James made an announcement around 14 months ago that claimed her office was leading a group of attorneys in investigating Facebook for alleged anti competitive practices. More than 40 attorneys general signed onto the complaint that was filed against the platform this week. The FTC investigation has been completely separate from what James has been working on, however, the two legal complaints essentially regard the same issues. 

“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition.”

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James continues to claim that “by using its vast troves of data and money, Facebook has squashed or hindered what the company perceived to be potential threats.” The New York state suit involves a court order that demands Facebook notify state officials of any future business deals and acquisitions worth $10 million or more. 

Facebook has over 3 billion users worldwide across its portfolio of apps. The dominance has raised a lot of concerns for competing platforms and brands in the industry, especially with the way that Facebook has been involved in the elections and with Trump’s administration in general. Google was involved in a similar federal suit this year after it was alleged that the company had “stifled its competition” in order to maintain its power as the most popular search engine. 

The issue of having “too much power” has existed within the tech industry since the dawn of its creation. Potential anticompetitive behavior is the most prominent in that industry in particular, and is one of the greatest threats to the way our economy works, according to the lawsuits. For Facebook, government officials will now work to prove that the company’s misconduct led to real-world harms to its competitors, and users. 

In another allegation, state officials claim that Facebook has opened up its platform to third-party app developers, however, once the multi-billion dollar company perceives those developers as a threat, it cuts off its services and funding as a means of killing it before it grows too large. 

White Island Volcano

New Zealand Authorities File Charges Over Fatal White Island Volcano Eruption 

Officials in New Zealand have filed charges against 13 parties that supposedly failed to perform their proper health and safety obligations when doing wellness visits on the White Island volcano to see its eruption status. When the volcano erupted last year it killed 22 individuals as a result of these failings. 

White Island is an active volcano that is also referred to by its Maori name, Whakaari. It’s located right off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island and was one of the countries most popular tourism destinations before it erupted in December 2019 and killed a multitude of local tour guides and visitors. 

WorkSafe New Zealand is the company that acts as the country’s workplace health and safety regulator. This Monday WorkSafe announced that it had filed charges against 10 separate organizations and three specific individuals for allegedly not performing standard, and “reasonably practicable,” health and safety procedures that were put in place to protect White Island workers and visitors from a potential eruption. 

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The 10 organizations are facing a maximum fine of 1.5 million New Zealand dollars, which is equivalent to $1.1 million. The three individuals are facing a maximum fine of what’s equivalent to $211,000 in America; 300,000 New Zealand dollars. WorkSafe chief executive Phil Parkes recently spoke with the press after making the lawsuit announcement. 

“This was an unexpected event, but that does not mean it was unforeseeable and there is a duty on operators to protect those in their care.”

In the weeks leading up to the eruption, New Zealand volcano monitoring service GeoNet raised the alert level on White Island to a Level 2 out of 5. A Level 2 alert means that at the time there was “moderate to heightened volcanic unrest,” and surrounding individuals and communities should be concerned. 

When the blast initially happened, 47 individuals were on the island,  including honeymooners and young families on vacation. Parkes stated that the hardest part of this whole ordeal is knowing that those people were going to the island with the “expectation that systems were in place to make sure they made it home safely.” 

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“As a nation we need to look at this tragedy and ask if we are truly doing enough to ensure our mothers, fathers, children and friends come home to us healthy and safe at the end of each day.”

Parkes described the investigation that preceded the charges being filed this week as the “most extensive and complex in WorkSafe’s history.” WorkSafe didn’t name the specific organizations and individuals charged – as they may seek anonymity when the case is first heard in December of this year – but they did mention that they weren’t investigating any of the organizations involved in the rescue and recovery of the victims after the eruption, as all of the charges relate to failings that occured weeks before the blast, not how it was handled during. 

GNS Science – a Crown research organization that monitors volcanic activity – has released a statement revealing it’s one of the 10 organizations being charged in the suit. “We stand by our people and our science which we will continue to deliver for the benefit of New Zealand,” they wrote. 

The National Emergency Management Agency has also confirmed that they’re facing charges. The Agency is a government entity which handles the country’s entire civil defense; which includes defense from natural disasters. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week that her thoughts were with the families of those who experienced a tragic loss as a result of this eruption, and hopefully these court proceedings can serve some justice.

Federal Judge Dismisses Amazon Warehouse Workers’ Covid-19 Lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in New York involving an Amazon warehouse employee who was claiming that the company was putting employee lives on the line with their mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The suit initially began after a slew of Amazon warehouse employees contracted the coronavirus due to a lack of proper health and safety procedures. 

The lawsuit was initially filed in June after workers accused Amazon of creating a “public nuisance by exacerbating Covid-19 risks.” These “exacerbations” took the form of a company culture that created “workplace fear” for the employees. According to the filing, workers were told to “work at dizzying speeds, even if doing so prevents them from socially distancing, washing their hands, and sanitizing their work spaces.”

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This Sunday, US District judge Brian Cogan made a ruling in Brooklyn, NY, in which he decided that the warehouse employees should have brought the issues up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instead. Cogan claimed that the federal agency would better be able to “strike a balance between maintaining some level of operations in conjunction with some level of protective measures.” 

Given the federal courts lack of expertise on workplace health and safety issues during a global health crisis, Cogan feared bringing the lawsuit to the courts would only create a bunch of conflicting rulings from various judges who also lack experience in this type of legal issue. 

“Court-imposed workplace policies could subject the industry to vastly different, costly regulatory schemes in a time of economic crisis.”

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The Amazon workers’ lawyers said that they were weighing an appeal of Cogan’s ruling, claiming that the judge’s redirection of the case to be further dealt with by the OSHA “should be very concerning to anyone who cares about the health of American workers, given that OSHA has been virtually AWOL throughout this crisis,” they said in a statement after the ruling was made. 

Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski recently released a statement after the ruling as well, denying any wrongdoing from the company, and calling the lawsuit an “effort to exploit the pandemic.”

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees, which is why at the onset of the pandemic we moved quickly to make more than 150 COVID-19 related process changes.” 

In general, worker advocate groups all throughout the nation have filed public nuisance suits due to the lack of effort from the OSHA, meaning they’ve looked into the options with the agency but as they claimed, the organization has been relatively absent throughout the past nine months. 

Towards Justice and Public Justice are two legal non-profits that helped bring the Amazon suit to the courts initially. Additionally, the two companies are separately suing OSHA in a federal court in Pennsylvania due to their lack of efforts to address the “imminent dangers” workers everywhere continue to face.