TransUnion headed to trial over government watch list alerts


5/12/17 REUTERS LEGAL 21:04:10
REUTERS LEGAL
Copyright (c) 2017 Thomson Reuters
https://1.next.westlaw.com/Document/I2a42a570375811e78b72d2bf6c8db419/View/FullText.html?transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)
May 12, 2017

TransUnion headed to trial over government watch list alerts
Dena Aubin
(Reuters) – Credit bureau TransUnion will try to convince a jury next month that it took reasonable steps to check the accuracy of its reports as it defends itself against accusations that it wrongly tagged consumers as being on a federal list of security threats.
In a trial brief filed on Thursday in San Francisco federal court, lawyers for TransUnion said plaintiffs suing the credit bureau have no evidence that it violated anyone’s rights or acted recklessly.
Filed in 2012, the class action accuses TransUnion of wrongly reporting that consumers were on a list of terrorists, drug traffickers and other security threats maintained by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Companies and individuals are prohibited by OFAC rules from doing business with anyone on the list, with steep penalties for violations, and TransUnion provides OFAC alerts to lenders as a service to help them comply.
The lawsuit said many consumers were wrongly tagged as being on the blacklist because TransUnion reported an OFAC red flag when a name partially matched a name on the government’s list.
A spokesman for TransUnion and lawyers for the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment. Trial is set for June 12 in the case, brought on behalf of thousands of consumers nationwide.
The case is believed to be the first major class action to go to trial against a credit bureau over OFAC alerts. The other two major credit bureaus, Experian and Equifax, also offer OFAC screening for their customers, although they have not faced class actions over their practices.
The named plaintiff in the TransUnion lawsuit, Sergio Ramirez of Fremont, California, said he was denied an auto loan in 2011 after the dealer ordered a credit report from TransUnion and saw a notation that he may be on the government’s blacklist.
When Ramirez contacted TransUnion and asked for a copy of his credit report, the OFAC alert was not on it, his lawsuit said.
Plaintiffs accused TransUnion of violating the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires credit bureaus to take reasonable steps to assure their reports are accurate.
TransUnion also violated the act by not including OFAC alerts in copies of reports requested by consumers, plaintiffs alleged. Plaintiffs seek punitive damages to be determined at trial.
In its trial brief, TransUnion said in 2011, when the alleged conduct occurred, the company knew of no technology that could have achieved greater accuracy than the screening process it used.
TransUnion’s OFAC alerts also stated that the individual was only a potential match to the government’s list, alerting users that further review was needed, the credit bureau’s lawyers said.
In their own brief, lawyers for Ramirez said TransUnion’s procedures were inadequate because they screened only for a first and last name, or an approximation of those names, and did not check any other identifying information.
When a consumer requested a copy of his credit report, TransUnion sent information about the OFAC alert in a separate letter, saying it was being provided as a courtesy. At best that created an ambiguity about whether that information was in the consumer’s report, plaintiffs said.
The case is Sergio Ramirez v. TransUnion, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 12-0632.
For the plaintiffs: Andrew Ogilvie at Anderson Ogilvie & Brewer and James Francis and John Soumilas at Francis & Mailman
For the defendant: Julia Strickland and Stephen Newman at Stroock Stroock & Lavan and Bruce Luckman at Sherman Silverstein Kohl Rose & Podolsky
—- Index References —-
Company: EQUIFAX INC; EXPERIAN PLC; TRANSUNION
News Subject: (Business Lawsuits & Settlements (1BU19); Class Actions (1CL03); Consumer Protection (1CO43); Judicial Cases & Rulings (1JU36); Legal (1LE33); Liability (1LI55))
Industry: (Banking (1BA20); Credit (1CR60); Financial Services (1FI37); Retail Banking Services (1RE38))
Region: (Americas (1AM92); California (1CA98); North America (1NO39); U.S. West Region (1WE46); USA (1US73))
Language: EN
Other Indexing: (John Soumilas; Bruce Luckman; Julia Strickland; James Francis; Stephen Newman; Andrew Ogilvie; Sergio Ramirez)
Keywords: banking; fedlit (MCC:OVR); (MCCL:OVR); (N2:USA); (N2:AMERS); (N2:NAMER); (N2:US)

Alan Judd/AJC: State still sending mentally ill people to homeless shelters


State still sending mentally ill people to homeless shelters

By ALAN JUDD The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 3 hrs ago
http://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/state-still-sending-mentally-ill-people-to-homeless-shelters/article_b4537c5d-8212-5a63-bc39-e2766efb57c0.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-siderail-latest

ATLANTA (AP) — Mentally ill patients often left Georgia’s state psychiatric hospitals with just a bus token and directions to a homeless shelter.

For people with disabilities, these same institutions became places of permanent confinement.

This is the system that Georgia, under pressure from the federal government, pledged seven years ago to radically overhaul. But with a court-enforced deadline fast approaching, the state increasingly seems unlikely to fulfill its promises.

Georgia has less than 14 months – until June 30, 2018 – to comply with a settlement it reached with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010. The agreement followed an investigation that concluded the state had systematically violated the rights of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

But the state continues to discharge patients with mental illness to places where they are unlikely to get psychiatric treatment: extended-stay motels, for instance, and even the massive Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter in midtown Atlanta. All patients with disabilities are supposed to be moved into group homes or other community-based facilities, but at the current rate of progress, the state might not meet that requirement for another 10 years.

As officials try to comply with the agreement, they also are investigating an alarming number of deaths in community-based treatment: about 350 since 2014. Those apparently include five dozen suicides.

A court-appointed monitor credits the state with making many promised improvements, especially regarding crisis intervention and other services for people with mental illness.

Still, a grim picture emerges from the monitor’s most recent report, as well as from interviews and documents reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It is “absolutely essential” that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability “act with urgency to meet its obligations,” the monitor, Elizabeth Jones, wrote in late March in a report to U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell. “Although there has been noteworthy progress in certain discrete areas of implementation, the reform efforts require additional diligent and effective actions if compliance is to be achieved within the anticipated timeframe.”

Department officials declined to be interviewed.

In a statement, the agency did not say whether it expects to meet the deadlines next year. But the department said it is moving at “a reasonable pace” to move. “Transitions are carefully and individually planned to meet the unique needs and preferences of each individual and to provide the best opportunities for success in the community.”

The agency said it welcomed the monitor’s “reflections and recommendations.”
Neighbor News Online Updates

The Justice Department began investigating Georgia’s psychiatric hospitals in 2007 after a Journal-Constitution series, “A Hidden Shame,” exposed a pattern of poor medical care, abuse, neglect and bad management that had caused dozens of unnecessary deaths.

Transforming a historically troubled mental health system has been a slower process than perhaps anyone envisioned when state and federal authorities put together a plan. Already, a judge extended the deadline for compliance once, from 2015 to 2018.

The state has spent millions of dollars and reorganized the bureaucracy that oversees the hospitals and community treatment. It also closed two state hospitals, in Rome and Thomasville. All that’s left of Central State Hospital, the notorious facility in Milledgeville that once warehoused as many as 12,000 people, is a unit for people committed through the criminal justice system.

In past years, the state hospitals, especially Georgia Regional Hospital/Atlanta, sent scores of newly discharged patients to locations where continued treatment seemed unlikely: homeless shelters, street corners, even an abandoned van on a street in Atlanta’s West End.

But from 2016 to 2017, according to the monitor’s report, the hospitals cut discharges to homeless shelters by half. At the same time, however, the number of patients placed in extended-stay motels quadrupled.

Congress expands ‘unmasking’ probe amid questions over Rice role



As seen on: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/55750485/posts/1426818286
Brittius
If It Walks Like A Duck…
Stately McDaniel Manor
An enormous amount has already been written about the Obama Administration’s coopting of American intelligence agencies for the domestic surveillance of members of the Trump campaign and eventual transition team. Virtually none of that has been written by the mainstream media, who have actually categorized it a non or false story, preferring instead to beat the long dead horse of Trump collaboration with Russia. Fox News has been the media leader in accurately reporting that particular, ever-expanding story. Fox now adds to the mounting revelations and evidence:

Republicans
Congress expands ‘unmasking’ probe amid questions over Rice role
Malia Zimmerman
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/12/congress-expands-unmasking-probe-amid-questions-over-rice-role.html
Now Playing
What is the status of the Susan Rice investigation?

The House and Senate intelligence committees are expanding their investigation into the so-called “unmasking” controversy, Fox News has learned, to examine whether other candidates or lawmakers beyond President Trump’s associates were affected.

Until now, the investigation focused on how the identities and communications of Trump transition members were collected by U.S. intelligence agencies and then revealed to, and disseminated among, high-ranking members of the Obama administration.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., now plans to audit files from the National Security Agency and White House to determine whether identities and conversations of presidential candidates — or members of Congress — also were swept up during NSA surveillance of foreign leaders. He also plans to review whether Obama’s National Security Council and White House counsel collected and distributed the intelligence for reasons unrelated to foreign intelligence.

“We will be performing an accounting of all unmasking for political purposes focused on the previous White House administration,” a member of the committee told Fox News. “This is now a full-blown investigation.”

Staffers on the Senate committee told Fox News they also have expanded their investigation into whether presidential candidates were unmasked and information was misused — and what role former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, among others, played following reports that she requested Trump-affiliated names be unmasked.

For a private U.S. citizen to be “unmasked,” or named, in an intelligence report is extremely rare and typically only done if it has some foreign intelligence value. Typically, the American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.

The intelligence reports that Rice and others in the administration reportedly assembled are similar to what a private investigator might piece together, congressional and U.S. intelligence sources said. In some cases, rather than documenting foreign intelligence, the files included salacious personal information that, if released, could be embarrassing or harmful to the person’s reputation, U.S. intelligence and House Intelligence Committee sources said.

These reports were then disseminated to about 20 to 30 people who had classified clearance in the Obama administration hierarchy, these sources said.

Trump, members of his family, and members of his campaign and transition teams, were likely subjects of “incidental electronic surveillance” by U.S. intelligence agencies, Fox News reported.

Sources told Fox News that names were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan — as well as Rice and her former deputy Ben Rhodes, even though the names were supposed to be reported only to the initial requester.

If the names were unmasked in intelligence reports and then leaked to the media for political reasons, it could constitute criminal behavior.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s initial national security adviser, is one known example of a Trump campaign official whose name was unmasked from an intelligence report and leaked to the press. While Rice hasn’t said whether she unmasked Flynn, the leak of his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak where he discussed U.S. sanctions led Flynn to resign three weeks into his term.

Nunes first announced on March 22 that he’d viewed intelligence reports that contained incidental surveillance on members of the Trump team.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page also was monitored by the FBI after the agency obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant as part of an ongoing investigation into possible links between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign.

In a statement to Fox News, Page said he has done nothing wrong and was a political target.

Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman

Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.

BANK OF AMERICA SETTLES IN DISCRIMINATION SUIT


4/17/17 REUTERS LEGAL 21:00:04
REUTERS LEGAL
https://1.next.westlaw.com/Document/I403d27b023b211e78f2c97ee0dd8864f/View/FullText.html?transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)
Copyright (c) 2017 Thomson Reuters
April 17, 2017
Bank of America to pay $1 mln to settle racially biased hiring allegations
Robert Iafolla
(Reuters) – Bank of America has agreed to pay $1 million to settle 24-year-old allegations that it systematically denied entry level jobs to black applicants, the U.S. Labor Department announced on Monday.
Bank of America will pay the money in back wages and interest to more than 1,000 applicants for clerical, teller and administrative jobs at the bank’s Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters, according to the department. The bank was represented by McGuireWoods in the matter.
Under the terms of the settlement, Bank of America did not admit to liability. Bank spokesman Andy Aldridge said in an emailed statement that the bank disagrees with the Labor Department’s findings but is glad for the case to be over.
The settlement “is a win for the affected job applicants, for Bank of America and for the department,” Thomas Dowd, acting director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), said in a statement.
The case began with an OFCCP audit of the Charlotte headquarters of NationsBank in 1993, which became part of Bank of America in 1998 after various mergers and acquisitions.
OFCCP filed an administrative complaint in 1997 accusing the bank of intentionally discriminating against black candidates in violation of a 1965 executive order prohibiting government contractors from racially biased hiring and employment practices.
Litigation stretched for more than 15 years. Bank of America challenged the agency’s selection of its Charlotte headquarters for the OFCCP compliance review and that it had consented to regulators’ search of its records. The department in 2008 added another class of applicants who were allegedly discriminated against.
Labor Department Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman in Washington, D.C. ruled in 2013 that the bank had discriminated against black applicants in 1993 and between 2002 and 2005. She recommended that the bank pay just under $1 million to the first group of applicants and $1.2 to the second group.
In 2016, the department’s Administrative Review Board affirmed Chapman’s ruling for the 1993 group, but reversed her on the 2003 to 2005 group.
Bank of America challenged that ruling at the U.S. District Court for D.C. in 2016, arguing that it violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The bank said that the administrative ruling was premised on a “fundamental misunderstanding” of systemic discrimination cases, including the proof required and how statistics are used in such cases.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in D.C. has entered an order to stay the proceedings until Bank of America fully complies with the terms of the settlement agreement, according to the Labor Department.
The case is Bank of America v. U.S. Labor Department, U.S. District Court for D.C., No. 16-968.
For the plaintiff: Elena Marcuss of McGuireWoods
For the defendant: Peter Wechsler of the Justice Department
—- Index References —-
Company: BANK OF AMERICA CORP; GREAT NATIONS BANK; MCGUIREWOODS LLP
News Subject: (Civil Rights Law (1CI34); Legal (1LE33); Major Corporations (1MA93))
Industry: (Banking (1BA20); Banking Services for Small Business (1BA68); Commercial Banking Services (1CO19); Financial Services (1FI37))
Region: (Americas (1AM92); North America (1NO39); North Carolina (1NO26); U.S. Southeast Region (1SO88); USA (1US73))
Language: EN
Other Indexing: (Bank of America v.) (Peter Wechsler; Linda Chapman; Thomas Dowd; Andy Aldridge; Elena Marcuss; Amy Berman Jackson)
Keywords: banking; employment (MCC:OVR); (MCCL:OVR); (N2:USA); (N2:AMERS); (N2:NAMER); (N2:US)
Word Count: 446
End of Document © 2017 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.

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Georgia – Near Atlanta – Bridge on I-85 Collapse



Officials provide updates on I-85 bridge collapse, investigation
http://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/dekalb/officials-provide-updates-on-i–bridge-collapse-investigation/article_5ac439f8-1637-11e7-bf46-076851367242.html#utm_source=mdjonline.com&utm_campaign=%2Fneighbor-newspapers%2Fnewsletters%2Fbreaking%2F%3F-dc%3D1490982235&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline
Christine Fonville 11 hrs ago Comments

During a 12:30 p.m. press conference today, Russell R. McMurry, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation; Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety; Joel Baker, Fire Chief of the City of Atlanta Fire Department; Keith Parker, CEO of MARTA and Chris Tomlinson, Executive Director of GRTA/SRTA addressed the media and public with updates about the investigation into the I-85 bridge collapse and what commuters can expect going forward. The following is information released at the conference:

-About 700 ft of the bridge will need to rebuilt. This includes about 350 ft on the northbound side and 350 ft on the southbound side. McMurry said the project will take “several months.”

-According to McMurry, the materials stored under the bridge were “common construction products, conduit and PVC plastic.” He emphasized that the materials were noncombustible and had been stored in that area since around 2006. McMurry also stated that “it is not an uncommon practice to store [those materials] under bridges.

-When asked why the materials got hot enough to cause the bridge to collapse, Baker responded, “it was due to the amount of materials involved, which generated a lot of heat.”
Neighbor News Online Updates

-McDonough said there would be no way to “produce detours on city streets,” and that drivers need to start planning alternate routes to avoid I-85. He described the current traffic plan as, “simple: use I-285.”

-MARTA ridership has seen a 25 percent surge and there has been an 80 percent increase in sales which Parker noted is proof that people are “preparing to find alternate transportation methods.” MARTA extended more trains this morning and will increase the amount of service they run during the weekends. Parker also said that Park-n-Ride lots are filling up in and around metro-Atlanta.

Check back with Neighbor News Online for more updates.

That’s one hell of a way to get people in Georgia to give up driving, collapse the bridges.