Election of Judges Important – Our Recommendations

Friends –

We’re all suffering from election fatigue this year, perhaps more than ever before.  But election ballots will be mailed out this week, and in the past many of you have sought our recommendations on the judicial races.  Washington is one of only eleven states that elect our judges at all levels, and in ostensibly a non-partisan, non-political fashion, which makes your participation critical in the construction of this state’s judiciary.  We say “ostensibly” because this year – as we have warned clients in past judicial races – there are distinctly “political” efforts, some from outside Washington State, to affect the outcome of our Supreme Court’s lineup.

Our recommendations for Washington State Supreme Court are as follows:

Position #1 – Justice Mary Yu – a distinguished jurist, a former prosecutor, and formal social justice organizer, who is the only candidate receiving the highest possible rating from every peer and legal group.  Every major bar association which gives “judge of the year” awards has recognized her.  Her opponent’s only talking point revolves around the Supreme Court’s decision on school funding and charter schools, which occurred because of the failure of the state legislature to do its job.

Position #5 – Justice Barbara Madsen – chosen by her colleagues on the Court to be the Chief Justice, she leads a state supreme court that is rated by conservative and legal scholars alike as one of the top three in the nation.  Her opponent is similarly a one-issue campaigner, sponsored by a local billionaire because of the charter school ruling.

Position #6 – Justice Charles Wiggins – a recognized national leader on the issue of judicial ethics, with extremely high ratings from all Bar groups, and has been the most prolific writer and workhorse on the Court in the last term.  He is perhaps the most experienced appellate lawyer on the bench, versus an opponent with little or no appellate experience, running solely on school funding/charter school issue.

Of course, feel free to get further information on these candidates from the voters’ pamphlet and from www.votingforjudges.org.  Polls predict that many voters will delay or not cast ballots this year because of dissatisfaction with and disinterest in the candidates at the top of the ticket.  How our state functions depends upon Washington citizens voting all the way down the ballot this year.  We urge you to do your part!


Jay, Brian, Jane and Reed


 Photo credit: Scott* via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA




WA Teens in School Have Limits on Work Hours

The start of school signals changes to work hours and requirements for teens. Employers have a Sept. 30 deadline to renew and have on file permission from parents and schools for teens to work during the school year.

“Parents, schools, teens, and employers all play an important role in determining work hours and duties for youth,” said Josie Bryan, child labor specialist with the

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). “This annual review allows everyone to take stock of any changes that need to be made.”

Employers are responsible for completing and keeping on file a Parent/School Authorization for teen work. This permission form must be renewed by September 30 each year. It must include the start and quit times and job duties, and be signed by the employer, teen, parent and school authority.

In addition to the authorization, Bryan noted employers should keep a copy of the teen worker’s proof of age, such as a birth certificate, driver’s license or passport.

For teens working in non-agricultural jobs, the breakdown of hours they are allowed to work during school weeks looks like this:

  • 14- and 15-year-olds: Three hours/day between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. for no more than 16 hours, six days a week
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: Four hours/day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (midnight Friday-Saturday nights), for no more than 20 hours, six days a week.

Teens ages 16 and 17 can work up to 28 hours per week, with six hour shifts during the school week, if they have special permission from their school and parents. “School officials shouldn’t approve any more hours if a review of the student’s progress indicates additional work hours will be detrimental in school,” Bryan said.

A list of work hours for teens working in agricultural jobs during weeks school is in session can be found at L&I’s teen worker webpage.

Bryan made clear students can’t work until after school hours. A youth who is homeschooled must follow the school district hours in that area, she said.

Employers must have a minor work permit endorsement on their business license to legally hire teens. The form is available through the state Business Licensing Service.

For information, contact the L&I Teen Safety Program (teensafety@Lni.wa.gov), 1-800-219-7321.





Foot Drop

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Foot drop describes the inability of a person to lift his or her foot at the ankle due to weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. Foot drop can be caused by several things including: an injury to the spinal cord, an injury to the nerve that controls the muscles involved in lifting the foot during hip or knee replacement surgery or during intramuscular injections, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or muscular dystrophy.

Symptoms of foot drop include dragging your foot on the floor when you walk, walking like you are climbing stairs to prevent your foot from dragging, and numbness on the top of your foot and toes. Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of a person’s drop foot and include orthotics such as braces or foot splints, physical therapy, or surgery including decompression, nerve sutures, nerve grafting, nerve transfer, or tendon transfer.

Depending on the cause of a person’s foot drop, it may not be a lifelong disability. If the underlying cause is trauma or nerve damage it is possible for a person’s foot drop to improve or go away completely; however, if the underlying cause is a progressive neurological disorder, foot drop will likely continue as a lifelong disability.


WA L&I Proposes a 0.7% Average Rate Increase – Hearings Scheduled

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced a 0.7% increase to the average base rate for workers’ compensation premiums across 324 risk classifications for 2017.

The adjustment will:

  • Ensure steady and predictable rates.
  • Benchmark against wage inflation (this happens automatically in other states).
  • Slowly rebuild reserves to protect against unexpected changes.

The proposed rate will help keep pace with wage inflation, which impacts injured worker claim costs.

Washington State is one of the few states where workers’ compensation premiums are shared, with 50% paid by employers and 50% paid by workers through payroll deductions.

Six public hearings will be held across Washington State on the proposed 0.7% average base rate increase to workers’ compensation premiums. The hearings will start at 9 a.m. on the following dates and locations:


·         Vancouver, WA, Oct. 26, 9 a.m., Marshal Community Center


·         Tukwila, Oct. 27, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries


·         Everett, Nov. 1, 9 a.m., Everett Community College


·         Spokane Valley, Nov. 2, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace


·         Richland, Nov. 3, 9 a.m., Richland Community Center


·         Tumwater, Nov. 4, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries Headquarters


Go to www.Lni.wa.gov/Rates to:

  • Find the proposed rate for your assigned risk class.
  • Read the news release and Q&As.
  • Find out where to send written comments if you do not attend a public hearing.
  • Watch videos to learn more about controlling workers’ comp costs.


OSHA: Settlement Reached in Case of Worker Fired After Multiple Reports of Mold Hazards

A Pennsylvania pallet companyagreed to pay $105,000 for wrongfully firing an employee who complained – first to the employer and then to OSHA – about hazardous mold at the company’s Biglerville plant. IFCO Services N.A. Inc. also must provide every employee at the worksite an OSHA handout that explains legal protections for whistleblowers against employer retaliation. OSHA’s investigation found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it terminated the worker for engaging in protected activities under the Act. For more information, read the news release.

Read More – Your Rights as a Whistleblower


 Photo credit: scanlime via Foter.com / CC BY-SA


Chart Shows Why Big Pharma is Fighting Legal Marijuana – The Washington Post


Original Article by Christopher Ingraham, Reporter — The Washington Post



There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.

But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

 Read the full article on the Washington Post site.


Free Legal Assistance for WA Natural Disaster Victims

Volunteer lawyers from the Washington State Association for Justice are now offering legal assistance to those affected by natural disasters in Washington State. Victims can consult with the attorneys, without charge, about insurance claims, property losses, government benefits, or other matters arising from the recent wildfires. No fees of any kind will be charged for legal questions. Please see the list of participating attorneys on the WSAJ site for assistance.


Photo credit: OregonDOT via Foter.com / CC BY


Westport, WA Seafood Company Fined More Than $100,000 for Unsafe Forklifts

Forklifts are among the most hazardous vehicles in the workplace, with a great risk of injury and death if they’re not maintained and operated safely. Employers who knowingly and repeatedly expose workers to unsafe forklifts may face stiff penalties.

That’s what happened with a company in Westport. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited Ocean Gold Seafoods Inc., a total of $117,740 for willful and repeated serious workplace safety violations at its seafood processing plant. Many of the violations were related to forklift safety.

The fines include a willful violation with the maximum allowed penalty of $70,000 for not performing regular safety inspections and not fixing defective items on the vehicles, like nonworking horns and broken seatbelts.

An L&I inspection found that the company rarely performed forklift inspections, and defects that were reported weren’t fixed. There were several instances where forklift seatbelts weren’t in working order, including one that was pulled completely out and wouldn’t retract. Other defects included machines without working horns. This prevented operators from notifying employees in limited visibility areas that a forklift was coming through the door and put pedestrians at risk of being struck and killed.

The employer was cited for a repeat-serious violation with a penalty of $15,400 after the inspector saw two workers operating forklifts without wearing their seatbelts. The seafood company was cited for the same issue in August 2015.

Being crushed by a forklift tipping over is the leading cause of forklift-related deaths in the U.S. If there’s an accident or tip-over, operators are much safer strapped into the seat because they are at lower risk of falling out.

Ocean Gold was cited for nine additional violations for exposing workers to fall hazards; failure to ensure emergency brakes were set on unattended forklifts; defective stair tread; exposed electrical wires; equipment and clutter stored in front of control panels; and unsafe use of extension cords. The violations carried penalties totaling $32,340.

A serious violation exists in a workplace if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition. A willful violation can be issued when L&I has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. General violations are the lowest level and are cited when the violation itself wouldn’t cause serious injury or death.

The employer has 15 days to appeal. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.



65th Annual Safety and Health Conference – Spokane, WA

One of the largest safety and health conferences in the nation will be held in Spokane, WA at the end of the month.

The 65th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference takes place on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Spokane Convention Center. Registration is open now.

The event is geared toward workers, employers and safety and health professionals. It brings together industry experts to deliver a program of cutting-edge education, special events, demonstrations and networking.

The two-day conference kicks off with safety trainer and motivational speaker Dale Lesinski talking about human nature and how it relates to safety at work.

Featured conference events and activities include:       

  • Two days of 70-plus industry workshops
  • An exhibition hall with displays of the latest products and services to improve your safety, health and wellness programs
  • The annual Forklift Rodeo
  • Pre-conference OSHA 10 General Industry Safety and Health Training
  • Pre-conference Bakken Oil Transport Emerging Risks Awareness Training

The 2016 Governor’s Lifesaving Awards will be presented during a luncheon at the conference on Thursday, Sept. 29. The awards, presented by KREM 2 news anchor Laura Papetti, recognize people whose heroic acts saved a life at work. People can attend the luncheon separately or as part of the conference. The luncheon costs $25.

A $200 advance registration fee covers the two-day conference, with special discounts for groups of five or more. Students and registered apprentices pay only $50. A box lunch is included on the 28th.

The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries sponsor the conference with support from industry partners.

For more information or to register, visit www.wagovconf.org. For questions, call 360-902-5415 or email info@wagovconf.org. TDD users call 1-360-902-5797.

Photo credit: Peter Kaminski via Foter.com / CC BY 




Seattle Port Commission Approves Funding for Design of Solar Project

The Port of Seattle Commission approved funding for design of the Port’s first-ever solar demonstration project. The project at Fishermen’s Terminal is included as part of a routine replacement of net-shed roofs. The net-sheds house the fishing nets and gear for the North Pacific Fishing Fleet.

Solar power has sparked the interest of Commissioners who, this year, convened the Energy and Sustainability Committee to guide the Port’s policies related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency.

“As we explore innovative policies to guide the reduction of our carbon footprint, I am encouraged that this demonstration project could lead the way for additional solar project opportunities at the Port in the future,” said Port Commissioner Fred Felleman.

Planners estimate that the net-shed solar panels could produce 11,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, reducing carbon emissions by 279 pounds in the first year. The project could be in place by the end of 2017. The demonstration project will be designed to help the Port gain in-house knowledge about the benefits and challenges of solar projects, including installation, operation, and maintenance. The design will also include public education components for visitors to visualize the benefits of solar power.

Engineers are also looking at the feasibility of installing solar panels at Pier 69, the Port of Seattle headquarters on the Seattle Waterfront, as well as other Port properties. The potential exists to offset carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of pounds per year, reducing greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

About the Port of Seattle

Founded in 1911, the Port owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, two cruise ship terminals, Fishermen’s Terminal — home of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, one grain terminal, a public cargo terminal, four public marinas, and manages a number of real estate assets for financial return and economic advantage. The port’s operations currently help create nearly 200,000 jobs and $7 billion in wages throughout the region. Over the next 25 years, the port’s “Century Agenda” seeks to create an additional 100,000 jobs through economic growth while becoming the nation’s leading green and energy-efficient port. Learn more at www.portseattle.org.

Published by Causey Law Firm