Civil Litigation

In Win For LGBTQ Rights Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio Policy Blocking Transgender Residents From Changing Sex Marker On Their Birth Certificates To Match Their Gender Identity

January 7th, 2021 by

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2018 challenging Ohio’s refusal to allow transgender residents to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. The lawsuit was brought by three transgender women and one transgender man who had sought unsuccessfully to change their birth certificates to reflect their identified gender.  Ohio and Tennessee are the last two states to change this discriminatory and outdated policy.
In an opinion issued on December 16, 2020, a federal judge struck down the Ohio policy, clearing the way for transgender individuals in Ohio to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.  The court rejected the state’s arguments that they had this policy in place to maintain “accurate records” and that somehow preventing changes the gender marker on the birth certificates of transgender Ohioans would prevent criminals from “perpetrating fraud.” The court noted that prior to 2016, Ohio had allowed such changes to be made. But in 2018, the state reversed itself and put in place a policy to prevent transgender Ohioans from changing the gender marker on birth certificates even though the state allows gender changes for driver’s licenses and official state identification cards.
The court found that the current policy, “resembles the sort of discrimination-based legislation struck down under the equal protection clause… as nothing more than a policy ‘born of animosity toward the class of person affected’ that has ‘no rational relation to a legitimate government purpose.'” The judge concluded that, “The court finds defendants’ policy to be unconstitutional and hereby permanently enjoins defendants from enforcing their policy.”
As quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article, Kara Ingelhart, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal noted “Finally, transgender people from Ohio will be able to correct their birth certificates so that this necessary identity document is consistent with their gender identities. Accurate birth certificates are essential. They are foundational to our ability to access a variety of benefits such as employment and housing, and to navigate the world freely and safely, as who we truly are.”
For the plaintiffs who brought the case, the court’s decision tears down what they described in their complaint as a barrier to the full recognition, participation and inclusion of transgender people in society. Their legal victory means the state cannot enforce this discriminatory policy which the court found “treats transgendered people differently than similarly situated Ohioans.” The state’s policy on birth certificate gender marker changes can no longer be used to subject transgender Ohioans to discrimination, privacy invasions, harassment, humiliation, and stigma.
For more information on the court’s decision see:

Victory! Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio’s Anti-Transgender Birth Certificate Policy

Federal judge sides with transgender residents on changing Ohio birth certificates

Federal judge strikes down Ohio policy prohibiting transgender people from correcting their birth certificate

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Update on Duke Class Action Payments

September 7th, 2016 by

For those of you who made claims in Williams v. Duke, the claims process is underway. The review of these claims is a detailed process, with over 200,000 claims received.  For more information on the estimated time frame checks will be mailed visit dukeclassaction.com.

 

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Judge Says $100 Million Not Fair And Reasonable To Settle Uber Class Action

August 22nd, 2016 by

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week federal Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California declined to approve a $100 million dollar settlement in a class-action suit by approximately 385 thousand Uber drivers. The Judge said that the amount was still not enough to be fair and reasonable. The Judge said drivers were potentially owed $700 million in mileage reimbursement, $122 million in tips, $2.4 million in overtime and $30 million in phone reimbursements. Attorneys for the drivers and Uber had agreed on the settlement. The risk for Uber in not settling is it could get hit with a big verdict at trial. There is risk for the drivers as well, however, aside from potentially losing at trial. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the decision to certify the class of 385 thousand drivers. If that decision were to be overturned, nearly all of the drivers would have to pursue their claims individually in arbitration. When the same thing happened to Lyft in a similar lawsuit, it increased its proposal from $12.5 million to $27 million and that amount was approved by the judge overseeing that litigation. We’ll see what happens here.

Follow these links for more details:

 

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Deadline TODAY to file for Duke settlement

April 13th, 2016 by

If you paid an electric bill to Duke between 2005 and 2008, the deadline to file a claim is today. Residential customers could receive payments of $40 to $400 and commercial customers could receive up to $6,000 each. “It takes less than five minutes to make a claim on the website, and customers do not need to find the notice that was mailed to them,” said Randy Freking. Follow this link to file. To find out more read this article in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Tune into WLW at 4:45 today to listen to Randy Freking talk about this case and what it means for Duke Energy electric ratepayers.

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Duke Settles Fraud Class Action- An Update for Ohio Class Members

December 16th, 2015 by

As announced publicly on October 21, and reported in various media outlets, Duke Energy has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging a pattern of fraudulent behavior by Duke and its predecessor, Cincinnati Gas & Electric beginning in 2004. After seven years of litigation – even an attempt by Duke to have the U.S. Supreme Court intervene – the utility agreed to pay $80.875 million to electric customers who paid bills between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008.

The settlement amount represents seven million plus dollars more than Duke was accused of paying in bribes to 22 “favored” customers in an elaborate scheme discovered by an employee who subsequently became a whistleblower.  $50 million of the settlement will be paid directly to residential and non-residential customers who submit claims to the Class Action Administrator, chosen and overseen by the two law firms who served as class co-counsel in the litigation: Freking Myers & Reul and Markovits, Stock, and DeMarco.

At least another $8 million will be spent on energy efficiency programs administered by a five person board that will report to federal district court Chief Judge Edmund J. Sargus, who will also decide the amount of attorneys’ fees to award class counsel. After payment of fees and expenses, any excess settlement amount will be added to the fund for energy efficiency programs.

If you are a class member, and can be located as a Duke customer between 2005-2008 from available information, you may receive a postcard in the mail describing the settlement and the Claims Procedure by December 31, 2015. (Given the lapse in time between 2005-2008 and the settlement, not all Class Members may be located.) You may also find the same information available at dukeclassaction.com, so even if you don’t receive a Notice, you may still complete a Claim, which is easy to do. Claim forms will also be available at https://fmr.law/duke-settlement/.

Chief Judge Sargus will conduct a Fairness Hearing on April 18, 2016 in Cincinnati, after which he will finally approve or disapprove the settlement.

If you have questions, please contact Susan Hartung at Freking Myers & Reul by email: shartung@fmr.law.

 

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