BG Summer Associate Spotlight: Mackenzie Howe

As we continue to recognize the promising legal talent that we have with us at BG this summer, today’s Summer Associate Spotlight focuses on Mackenzie Howe, a rising 2L at West Virginia University College of Law. Mackenzie is originally from Danville, Kentucky, and graduated with a B.S. in psychology from Centre College in Kentucky and worked for a year as a deputy clerk at the Kentucky Court of Appeals before starting law school.

We hope you enjoy this Q&A with Mackenzie:

Q: What’s your favorite quote that inspires you?
A: My favorite quote is by Reba McEntire: “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” It’s a great reminder to focus on my professional, academic, and personal goals without taking myself too seriously.

Q: If stranded on a desert island, what would you bring with you for entertainment?
A: If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d bring my all-time favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. It’s a great comfort read! I’d listen to Tell Me I’m Pretty by Cage the Elephant or Bad Self Portraits by Lake Street Dive. My must-have films are The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Dirty Dancing, my two favorites growing up.

Q: What is something that you’ve learned while you’ve been at BG this summer?
A: One thing that I will take away from my summer at BG is the power of concise writing and organization. Effective communication is key! Additionally, I am coming away with a deeper appreciation for mentorship and lifelong learning. It is so inspiring to work with people who are always committed to learning or teaching something new.

Q: Last but not least, what kind of law are you most drawn to practicing at this time in your legal studies?
A: Right now, I am most interested in mass torts, commercial and environmental litigation, and appellate practice.

Thank you for joining our community this summer and contributing to our work, Mackenzie! #summerassociate #summer #wvucollegeoflaw #wvu #thankyou #community

BG Summer Associate Spotlight: George Jacobs II

Bailey Glasser appreciates the burgeoning legal talent that we have with us this summer. Today’s Summer Associate Spotlight focuses on George Jacobs, a rising 2L at West Virginia University College of Law. George’s additional studies at WVU included not only obtaining a BA in International/Global Studies, but also receiving a Master of Arts in History where his thesis was entitled: “Levantine Immigration and Community Building in Charleston, West Virginia, 1900-1930.”

We hope you enjoy this Q&A with George:

Q: What’s your favorite quote that inspires you?
A: My favorite quote is from Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

Q: If stranded on a desert island, what would you bring with you for entertainment?
A: If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d bring “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy to read, “The Lighthouse” to watch, and “Con Todo El Mundo” by Khruangbin to listen to. Some media about surviving in the wild might be more helpful, but at least I’ll be entertained.

Q: What is something that you’ve learned while you’ve been at BG this summer?
A: Every day with BG is an opportunity to learn something new. I’ve learned firsthand how experienced attorneys handle important depositions and prepare a case for trial. I’ve also received numerous opportunities to draft motions and complete interesting research projects. I thank everyone at BG for trusting me with difficult and exciting assignments, and for fostering a learning environment that has exceeded my expectations.

Q: Last but not least, what kind of law are you most drawn to practicing at this time in your legal studies?
A: The areas of law I am most drawn to at this point are commercial and environmental litigation, class actions/mass torts, labor and employment, and appellate advocacy.

Thank you for joining our community this summer and contributing to our work, George! #summerassociate #summer #wvucollegeoflaw #wvu #thankyou #community

Federal Appeals Court Reinforces Protection for Worker Class Action Rights in ESOP Action

Bailey Glasser’s ERISA litigation team won another victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which declined to reconsider a May 2024 ruling that an employee stock ownership plan trustee and selling shareholders in a stock sale to the plan can’t compel individual arbitration of a representative action on behalf of the plan accusing them of overcharging the plan, rejecting the trustee’s argument that the panel unfairly displayed “hostility to arbitration.”

In an order filed on July 9, the Second Circuit rejected Argent Trust Co.’s petition for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc, doubling down on its divided May 1 opinion that found allowing arbitration would have prevented a plan participant from seeking plan-wide remedies authorized by federal benefits law.

The case involves a proposed class of employees seeking relief under federal ERISA law. This decision addressed one of the most important issues in employee benefits litigation today: whether ERISA plan sponsors can force employees to waive plan-wide relief in favor of individualized arbitration, thereby gutting participants’ ability to enforce the core private right of action ERISA affords. This repeated victory for participant rights follows a victory by BG’s ERISA litigation team on the same issue before the Third Circuit in June 2023.

The Court’s May 2024 opinion backed the Southern District of New York’s November 2021 order denying a motion to compel arbitration of an ESOP participant’s suit alleging mismanagement by Argent, which served as trustee to debt relief company Strategic Financial Solutions’ ESOP, and the selling shareholders and their trusts.

The Bailey Glasser team in this matter is comprised of partner and Practice Group Leader Gregory Porter and partner Ryan Jenny, both in Bailey Glasser’s Washington, D.C. office. Co-counsel in this case is Tillman J. Breckenridge, Peter K. Stris, Rachana A. Pathak, and John Stokes of Stris & Maher LLP.

To learn more about our award-winning ERISA practice – including our 2025 nationwide Chambers & Partners ranking, visit this link: https://www.baileyglasser.com/services-erisa-employee-benefits-and-trust-litigation

The case is Dejesus Cedeno v. Argent Trust Co., docket number 21-2891, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

For more, read this Law 360 article: https://www.law360.com/articles/1856532?e_id=e710f5b1-e0ec-4910-bc7f-0d1e404a2625&utm_source=engagement-alerts&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=similar_articles?copied=1

Meet BG Summer Associate Cameron Adkins, Harvard Law 2L

Bailey Glasser has an exceptional group of summer associates with us this year. Today we are spotlighting Cameron Adkins, a rising 2L at Harvard Law. Originally from Logan County, West Virginia, Cameron graduated from Columbia University with a major in political science before he headed to Harvard Law. Please enjoy this Q&A with Cameron:

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: My favorite quote is from “The Power of Persistence” by Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Q: If stranded on a desert island, what books, music, and films would you take with you?
A: You’d find me reading Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” and “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I’d be listening to “Purgatory” by Tyler Childers, and I’d be watching “Dead Poets Society,” “Interstellar,” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Q: What is something you’ve learned while with BG and what kind of law are you currently most interested in?
A: On reflecting on my journey here at BG, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about the law, legal writing, our legal system, and what it takes to be an exceptional litigator. Right now I’m very interested in pursuing class action/mass tort and product liability law, as well as appellate litigation.

Cameron, thank you so much for joining us this summer and for becoming part of our Bailey Glasser community.

Federal Court Approves Title IX Class Action Settlement With University of Central Oklahoma

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton approved a class action settlement yesterday that requires the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) to provide female student-athletes with equal treatment and opportunities, hire an outside expert to conduct a review of its intercollegiate athletic program, and develop and implement a Gender Equity Plan to bring the entire program into compliance with Title IX. The settlement also provides UCO’s women’s varsity indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and cross country teams with specific relief starting in 2024-25, including equipment, supplies, transportation, publicity, and practice schedules equal to those provided to men’s varsity teams; access to college-level practice facilities; and the ability to host at least one home competition every year. And it prohibits UCO from retaliating against any of its female student-athletes in violation of Title IX.

The settlement resolves a Title IX class action filed against UCO in 2022 by Tatum Robertson and Eve Brennan, two members of the women’s varsity track & field teams, for discriminating against its female student-athletes. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination by any educational institution receiving federal funds.

The women’s indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, and cross-country teams at UCO—unlike any men’s teams—were provided no locker room, no competitive facility, and required to practice at a local middle school. When they complained about the unequal treatment they and other women athletes received, UCO fired their head coach.

“This lawsuit should not have been necessary,” said plaintiff and class representative Tatum Robertson. “We are delighted that UCO is finally going to stop discriminating against its women athletes and give them the equal treatment, benefits, and opportunities the law requires.”

“UCO has now agreed to everything we wanted from the start,” said plaintiff and class representative Eve Brennan. “That it took two years is particularly disturbing because Title IX has been the law for 52 years. But now UCO’s sex discrimination is going to stop.”

“We applaud the plaintiffs for fighting not only for themselves, but for all female student-athletes at UCO,” said plaintiffs’ counsel Lori Bullock of Bailey & Glasser, LLP. “We are honored to represent women who are willing to stand up to their universities and demand equality.”

To read more, click this link.

Lori Bullock, Katherine Charonko, and Joshua Hammack Named to 2024 Lawdragon X – The Next Generation List

Bailey Glasser partners Lori A. Bullock, Katherine Charonko, and Joshua I. Hammack have been named to Lawdragon’s 2024 500 X – The Next Generation guide. This recognition acknowledges the achievements of the top 500 lawyers who have vaulted to the forefront of the legal profession. This Lawdragon recognition is prestigious as the 500 lawyers included were selected through a process of “select[ing] members of this guide through our time-honed process of submissions, independent research and vetting with friends and foes.”

Lori Bullock is an impactful litigator, handling challenging cases across several litigation areas, including Title IX athletics, labor and employment, sexual harassment, disability discrimination, education law, and civil rights, and is the managing partner of BG’s Des Moines, Iowa office. Lori has won ground-breaking Title IX settlements for student-athletes at nine U.S. colleges and universities for violating the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination at educational institutions receiving federal funds, including appeals to federal circuit court and the Supreme Court included in this submission. She was also part of the team that won the $5 million judgment against “MyPillow’s” Mike Lindell related to false claims made about the 2020 election.

Katherine Charonko is a litigator and head of the firm’s sophisticated and cutting-edge ESI group where she oversees e-discovery in complex disputes involving billions of documents and ensures proper collection, production, and review of electronic data. Kate holds the global Certified e-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) credential, a global recognition that assures clients and co-counsel that our approaches are compliant, efficient, cost-effective, and reduces risk in all phases of e-Discovery. In addition, Kate is a key part of the firm’s multidistrict litigation (MDL) teams, which concentrate largely on automotive and medical device product liability actions. She serves as liaison director of e-Discovery and ESI on several MDL leadership committees nationwide and has worked on landmark MDL matters including some of the largest vehicle defect litigations in history, including the Volkswagen emissions case, and many more. Indeed, Kate was recognized for her product liability work in this year’s Chambers & Partners accolades in the nationwide plaintiffs category, among other recognitions.

Joshua Hammack handles complicated matters from their inception through appeal. He has briefed and argued appeals in state and federal courts across the country for a host of substantive legal areas, including Title IX, the Commerce Clause, contract interpretation, deed construction, statutes of limitation, and the Video Privacy Protection Act. He has briefed multiple issues to the Supreme Court of the United States. In just the last eight months, he has argued before the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits, as well as intermediate appellate courts in West Virginia and New York. Members of the firm regularly gather to watch or listen to his oral arguments, and he also hosts an annual training session on brief writing for lawyers at the firm.

To learn more about the 2024 LDX500 guide, visit: https://www.lawdragon.com/guides/2024-06-28-the-2024-lawdragon-500-x-the-next-generation

National Cancer Survivor Month – Partner Sharon Iskra’s Survivor Story

Authored by Sharon F. Iskra, Partner and Institutional Abuse & Neglect Team Leader:

A cancer diagnosis is a devastating shock to anyone. Not to be dramatic, but a second cancer diagnosis (despite you doing everything “right” the first time) makes you feel like you are marked for certain and impending death. I was helped through both of these by family, friends, and faith. I was also uniquely strengthened by a stranger who took the time to tell me, boldly and honestly, all the real details of her own cancer story. I will never forget how comforting it was to speak with one who had been there, lived that, and who just sitting across the table from me was living proof that one can thrive during and on the other side of cancer treatments. That’s the person I want to be for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis today.

I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. I had surgery and several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. All my hair fell out and my white blood cell count dropped to levels that provoked serious concern among my doctors – but we thought, if it’s killing everything else, the treatment has got to be working. I ate right, rested/isolated/sanitized, exercised, etc. Despite all that, and while still on my meds, two years later I found another lump. It looked so uncharacteristic of cancer that my surgeon took it out under local anesthesia. I remember her reassuring me even as I was lying on the op table that it didn’t look like anything. We were both surprised when that proved wrong.

More treatment. More tough choices and a series of complications. In all, a total of six surgeries. Sitting on the couch saying, “I just want my normal back. I want to go somewhere where this isn’t my life.” I had vivid dreams of running through open fields and down desert roads to a horizon where this wasn’t my reality, even just for a weekend.

Lessons learned about obstacles like these: you can’t get around them, you can only go through them. Each of us is given a container with our numbered days, but no one knows the size of his/her container. Your only choice is how you respond to the obstacle and live out the given days. But you’re also far more capable and resilient than you imagined, and you’re not alone: the path you’re on has been trod by fellow survivors like me, who have long celebrated our return of abundant hair. Better yet, I’ve returned to thriving in my niche law practice, in fitness, and community service. I no longer desperately seek an elusive horizon; the cancer lives quietly now in my rearview where I only glance at it when I choose.

May it be so for you. I’ll sit across the table from you if you need me. And I hope you will be someone’s inspiring stranger and burden bearer one day.
————–
Partner Sharon Iskra is the leader of the Bailey Glasser’s Institutional Abuse & Neglect team and is a nationally recognized advocate and voice for the vulnerable. She litigates cases for children, individuals with special needs, and others who have been abused, neglected, or exploited in institutions such as group homes, rehabilitation centers, universities, hotels, foster care facilities, and other settings. In addition to her professional advocacy, Sharon’s personal passion for serving is also unique: in 2004, she paused her successful legal career for nine years to direct children’s and urban ministries at a local church. In addition to her caseload and CASA work, Sharon has served on missions to orphanages in Haiti and Africa in 2014, 2016, and 2019. She plans to continue her lifestyle of personal and professional missions effecting positive change at home and abroad for many years to come.

Learn more about Sharon’s advocacy here.

#Cancersurvivormonth #breastcancer #survivorstory

BG Files Asbestos Lawsuit on Behalf of Woman Exposed on College Campus

Did you know that lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure at schools, universities, or hospitals? Bailey & Glasser, LLP recently filed an asbestos lawsuit in West Virginia on behalf of a 63-year-old nonsmoker who was diagnosed with lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos on a college campus and while working in various hospitals as a nursing student.

BG partners Michael Robb and Travis Prince filed the complaint on behalf of Donna Spurling in Kanawha County Circuit Court against Fairmont State University and several West Virginia hospitals including Monongalia County General Hospital, United Hospital Center, and Fairmont Regional Medical Center.

Our Complaint alleges Ms. Spurling was exposed to building materials containing asbestos regularly in buildings on her college campus and at various hospitals while a nursing student at Fairmont State from 1998-2004. The Complaint details the history of asbestosis, saying the danger of asbestos dust to result in the potentially fatal lung disease was recognized in medical and scientific circles by the early 1930s, and includes details about how Metropolitan Life worked to hide the dangers of asbestos.

“Defendants had actual knowledge of the dangers to Donna R. Spurling of asbestos exposure, nevertheless, defendants deliberately, intentionally and purposefully withheld such information,” the Complaint stated.

Bailey Glasser’s Asbestos & Lung Disease practice is at the forefront of the fight for people poisoned by asbestos and other carcinogens and has years of experience representing individuals exposed to asbestos in both industrial and non-industrial settings such as schools and hospitals.

To learn more about this lawsuit, read the West Virginia Record article here.

For more about Mickey and his experience, visit here.

For more about Travis and his experience, visit here.

For more on our Asbestos & Lung Disease Practice, visit here.

Law360: “Pa. Court OKs $3.65M Deal On Student Loan ‘Pay-To-Pay’ Fees”

BG secured approval for a $3.65 million settlement in a class action before a Pennsylvania federal district court on behalf of federal student loan borrowers charged illegal fees just for paying their monthly loan payments online or over the phone.

The lawsuit against Educational Computer Systems Inc., alleges that the servicer charged federal student loan borrowers nationwide illegal “Pay-to-Pay” fees, or extra charges to process one–time monthly payments on their Perkins loans online or by phone, in violation of several federal and state consumer protection laws. Bailey Glasser’s Patricia Kipnis, partner and leader of the firm’s Consumer Litigation Practice Group, and partner James Kauffman, along with attorneys from the law firm Tycko & Zavareei LLP, are class counsel in this case.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Dodge stated on the record that she would grant the motion for final approval of the settlement and the motion for attorney fees, administrative costs, and class representative awards, with a formal order to follow. The motion for settlement included the $3.65 million payment that will refund more than 40,000 class members a pro-rata portion of the fees they paid to ECSI.

Judge Dodge remarked on the record describing the settlement as “fair and equitable,” and stated, “this case was administered effectively, litigated appropriately, and very well.”

Lead counsel Patricia Kipnis said, “We’re thrilled with this result in what we believe to be the first case against a student loan servicer asserting the legal theory that Pay-to-Pay fees are unlawful under consumer protection statutes.”

You can learn more about this settlement by reading this Law360 article here.

And for more information on our Pay-to-Pay services, visit here.

#baileyglasser #classactions #paytopay #consumerprotection #illegalfees #studentloans

Join Bailey & Glasser, LLP in Celebrating Juneteenth Freedom Day 2024

Join Bailey & Glasser, LLP in celebrating Juneteenth Freedom Day 2024.

While the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 officially freed enslaved persons in the South, the proclamation could not realistically be enforced in any location where the Confederacy remained in control, including the westernmost state of Texas. It was not until Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Grange arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865 – more than two months after the Confederate Army surrendered – that the state’s enslaved residents finally learned slavery had been abolished.

For Black Americans, gaining the full rights of citizenship—and especially the right to vote—was central to securing true freedom and self-determination. “Slavery is not abolished until the Black man has the ballot,” Frederick Douglass famously said in May 1865. While the 15th Amendment passed in 1869 gave Black men the right to vote, they were still largely kept from voting due to literacy tests, poll taxes, and campaigns of violence designed to marginalize the Black vote across the South and thereby silence their voices in the political realm.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, designed to remove barriers to political participation by racial and ethnic minorities, with Sections 2 and 5 being two provisions that brought new protections to voters across the country. Litigation over the scope and coverage under the Voting Rights Act hasn’t ceased since its passage, reflecting the ongoing strife and struggle over the fundamental ability to vote – a founding principle of this country.

In a Democracy Docket article, “Sounding the Alarm: The 8th Circuit’s Discordant Note on Voting Rights,” Martin Luther King III, leader of the organization Drum Major Institute, and Bailey Glasser lawyer Paul-Kalvin Collins draw attention to the 2023 ruling by the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that bar private litigants from bringing lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, “the very bulwark against racial discrimination in voting.”

Earlier this year, the Eighth Circuit denied an appeal to review a previous three panel ruling finding that federal law does not allow private groups and individuals — who have for decades brought the majority of lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — to sue because that law does not explicitly name them. Only the head of the Justice Department, the panel found, can bring these kinds of lawsuits. This decision is the first of its kind, with other federal courts weighing in on this issue, including the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing this decision or favoriting private plaintiffs in Section 2 cases.

The article warns of the ruling’s impact on the safeguards of voting rights and the “potential reverberations through the foundations of our democracy.” To read the full article visit here.

The nonprofit Drum Major Institute, first founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961, continues his fight for justice and equality. “Together, as drum majors for justice, we can ensure that the dream of Dr. King endures, and the Voting Rights Act remains a potent instrument in the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive America.” Learn more about DMI here.

For more information on lawyer Paul-Kalvin Collins, visit here.

#Juneteenth #FreedomDay #Diversity

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