Tenants Settle Claims of Habitability Violations

Attorney Richard Myers represented tenants who alleged that owners and managers of a 300-unit apartment building in downtown Portland failed to remedy habitability defects, including cockroach and bedbug infestations.

The tenants began noticing insects shortly after moving into the building. The building managers ultimately allowed them to terminate their rental agreements without a penalty, but not before they had to discard personal items, put food in sealable containers, and spend many uncomfortable hours battling the infestations.

Myers filed lawsuits for violation of ORS 90.320 and Portland City Code that requires residential property owners to eliminate pest infestations.

Five tenants settled their claims for a total sum of more than $45,000. A sixth tenant settled her claims for a confidential amount.

Justice for Injured Worker

Attorney Richard Myers successfully represented an injured worker who was denied reemployment. The worker suffered a serious on-the-job injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim. Her claim was denied and the employer refused to restore her employment after she recovered from the injury.

Myers represented the worker in a hearing on her workers’ compensation claim. The judge ruled in her favor and issued a penalty for the insurance company’s unreasonable denial of her claim. Shortly after the hearing, Myers successfully pursued separate claims on behalf of the worker for the employer’s unlawful discrimination against a workers’ compensation claimant (ORS 659A.040) and failure to reinstate an injured worker (ORS 659A.043). The worker has since found permanent employment with a new employer.

Naturopathic Physicians and Their Patients File Discrimination Lawsuit

BHMK filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of naturopathic physicians and their patients. The lawsuit alleges that two insurance companies—Health Net Health Plan of Oregon, Inc., and American Specialty Health Group, Inc.—violated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) by discriminating against naturopathic physicians.

The ACA mandates non-discriminatory health care with the goal of improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of patient care. Specifically, insurance companies cannot discriminate against a health care provider acting within the scope of their state-issued license.

The State of Oregon has licensed naturopathic physicians since 1928 with a broad scope of practice that allows naturopathic physicians to serve as primary care providers, provide preventative services, prescribe pharmaceuticals, and order tests necessary to diagnose and treat illness.

The lawsuit alleges that Health Net and American Specialty Health violated the non-discrimination mandate by limiting patient access to naturopathic physicians licensed in Oregon. Those discriminatory practices include prohibiting reimbursement to naturopathic physicians for certain types of care, capping annual reimbursement amounts to naturopathic physicians, and paying naturopathic physicians less than other providers performing the same service.

The lawsuit seeks several remedies, including: (1) reimbursement to individuals who have been denied benefits under their health insurance plans; (2) repayment of profits retained by the insurance companies as a result of their discriminatory practices; (3) enforcement of non-discriminatory practices in the future; and (4) a declaratory judgment clarifying application of the ACA’s non-discrimination mandate.

You can read more about the lawsuit here and here.

Court Approves $2 million Settlement in Class Action Wage Lawsuit

BHMK in collaboration with attorneys from the Oregon Nurses Association successfully settled the class action lawsuit of Thanane v. Providence Health & Services – Oregon.

The lawsuit alleged that Providence violated state and federal laws by withholding wages from employees. Specifically, BHMK attorneys argued that Providence managers fraudulently altered employee timecards to avoid payment of overtime wages. They also argued that Providence systematically underpaid wages by using timekeeping software in a way that rounded clock-in and clock-out times to the detriment of employees.

Providence will pay approximately $2 million as part of a settlement of all claims. More than 25,000 current and former Providence employees were notified that they would receive compensation as part of the settlement. Federal district court judge Michael Mosman approved the settlement at a hearing on June 17, 2015. Checks will be distributed to former and current employees in the next several weeks.

You can read more about the settlement here.