Monday, October 1, 2012

Seattle to Require Health Code Inspection of All Rental Properties

The Seattle City Council today unanimously adopted a program requiring the registration and inspection of all residential rental properties in Seattle.  Implementation of the program begins in 2014.

The new law requires landlords to complete a checklist certification that units meet City health and safety code.  Units will be inspected every five years.  See more in this article.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ackley Law Group Represents Two in Nationwide Tattoo Ink Infection Outbreak

Health officials have traced an outbreak of tattoo infections, causing bubbly rashes, not to problems with the needles or equipment sterilization, but to infected ink.  Specifically, the infection is traced to contaminated water used in making the ink.  Read the full CBS News article here.

Ackley Law Group represents two individuals in Washington State with infections caused by tattoo ink.  The culprit bacteria can cause itchy and painful blisters that often require antibiotics with serious side effects, and months of treatment, to clear up.

Both the federal Center for Disease Control and our local Department of Public Health have investigated the outbreak.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ackley Law Group Assists Man Targeted By Online Embarrassment Extortion Scam

If it seems illegal, it probably is.  This is what 29 year old Alan Chalfant of Tacoma suspected and confirmed after he was targeted for embarrassment and extortion by the site  Alan was part of an ordinary dating website, where he contacted a girl he thought was pretty.   The girl led him to a Facebook chat page and then abruptly ended all contact.  Later, Alan found out the chat and his real name and information were posted by Baitmymate, listing him as a busted cheater.  The problem?  Alan was not in a relationship.

After contacting the site, the "removal department" indicated that someone had paid them to stage the conversation, lure him into a chat room, and post Alan's information.  The problem?  Alan initiated the conversation with the "woman."  The "removal department" emphasizes the embarrassing exposure caused by their posts, dismisses any legal ramifications of their actions, and even goes so far as to offer him a payment plan on the cost to take down the embarrassing post.  Baitmymate has victimized people all over the country in similar fashion, and appears to be doing so with impunity. is registered through Moniker Privacy Services, a domain registration company that refuses, absent legal compulsion, to reveal the true identity of the web domain registrant.  The IP address associated with the site has been linked to Panama, but may originate elsewhere.

Thanks to a story by Brandi Kruse at KIRO 97.3 FM, the Department of Justice is currently investigating scams such as this.

If you are a victim of an internet-based crime, file a complaint with the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Andrew Ackley on Protecting Your Rental Deposit as a Tenant

I recently spoke with Brandi Kruse of KIRO 97.3 FM here in Seattle about protecting your rental deposit as a tenant in Washington.  Link for the article and news piece is here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Andrew Ackley Speaking at National Seminar on Social Media in Personal Injury Discovery

Fellow Lawyers:

Here is the link to sign up for the seminar and CLE credit.  In the materials you will get a list and summary of most of the on-point cases from around the country.  Never go searching through Blawgs and offbeat news again for support!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Facebook Steps Up Anti-Bullying Features for Teenagers

After teaming up with Yale, Columbia, and Berkeley for months of research and focus groups with kids, teachers, and clinical psychologists, Facebook has developed an interactive tool for teenagers not just to "report" bullying, but to effectively triage the complaint and provide assistance based on the severity and urgency of the problem.  CNN describes the new feature in detail here.

Also, here is Facebooks Tools for Addressing Abuse page.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Security Life Selling Illegal Dental Policies in Washington

About three years ago I purchased a dental insurance plan from Security Life Insurance Company.  I had no idea that Security Life failed to file the policy with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC), and was therefore selling the plan illegally.  The OIC apparently notified Security Life about the illegal sale more than two years ago.  Nevertheless, Security Life continued to renew (and in fact increase the price of) my policy.

In the middle of May Security Life sent me a letter indicating they were canceling my policy at the end of June.  There are other fish in the sea, as they say, but here's the thing:  My policy has several lengthy waiting periods and time period restrictions for coverage of certain expenses--standard things we all need from time to time.  That means I've been paying into their system (much more than I am receiving in return) for an extended period to obtain the benefit of my continued payments (more coverage).  Because Security Life was selling an illegal policy, however, my accrued benefits are going to waste.

Definitely filing a complaint with the OIC under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, and will hopefully find out when their investigation is complete how many others have been affected by this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Facebook Fights Back For Users' Privacy

Many stories have hit the news recently about employers or other superiors requesting, if not demanding, an employee's or potential employee's Facebook records. In some instances, they require not just entries themselves, but the login information. Here is one example where a teacher's aide was fired for not forking over her password. She is fighting her own legal battle against the school.

Seeing its own interests at stake, Facebook is jumping into the fray. The social networking service would hardly function if users believed any inquiring mind could have access to their personal information. What's more, divulging passwords grants the recipient access not just to that person's account, but the profiles, messages, photos, and every other piece of content on his or her friends' accounts. Those friends would have no reason to suspect that someone other than the person they accepted as a trusted friend is meandering through their private profile. Sharing passwords undercuts the purpose and expectations of privacy settings and the self-regulated privacy of a friend group.

I would describe Facebook's notice on this issue as somewhere between incredulous and scathing, or perhaps both. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Group Therapy Dilemma

Since filing Oraivej v. CSI this winter, several groups from around the country have contacted me about their advocacy for safe and effective group therapy, including alcohol programs, anger management classes, and drug addiction programs.

The dangers of group therapy revolve around one central issue: the idea of bringing together a group of vulnerable people. They could be emotionally vulnerable, malleable, desperate, or volatile. They could be a danger to other participants or to themselves, or they could be easy prey for others in the group.

While there is a clear potential for chaos in a group therapy setting, many of the dangers of group therapy play out in indirect ways and materialize outside the classroom. Members develop a trust relationship with other vulnerable members, and exploit the relationship in private. This could be in the form of anything from rape to robbery to swindling.

This is not to say that there are not benefits of learning and healing with others, taking comfort in not being alone, and learning from others' mistakes. But, given the potential risks, it's important to have a well-defined standard of care for group therapy providers to provide safe and effective classes. This is what many advocates strive for.

Below are some links to others in the Blogosphere speaking on this issue:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Waze" to Get In An Accident

If there is an award for the most horrifically counterproductive software products, "
Waze" has to win for 2012. Waze is a smartphone application that offers GPS mapping and turn-by-turn directions to your destination. The routes are automatically updated based on traffic conditions, including data from other Waze users in your area--if another Waze user gets stuck in a traffic jam, the application updates your route accordingly. Waze also encourages users to manually contribute information to other Waze users, including taking a photograph of whatever road ailment you think other drivers ought to know about. These include the traffic jams and accidents, police officers, construction, and a general "hazards" category. The program also features a "Chit chat" function, presumably for a new era of road rage and commiseration.

We all hate traffic. We all want to get to there sooner, faster, easier, while braking as little as possible. But, we have to ask, do we really want drivers around us:
  1. constantly peeking down at their smartphones for real-time or close to real-time updates, just to save fifteen seconds?
  2. looking down at their phones and suddenly making last minute turns and lane changes because some other guy with his iPhone reported an unidentified hazard?
  3. reaching for their phones and attempting to take a picture of road hazards?
  4. relying on anonymous Waze users posting a picture of a clown in the road and claiming it was taken on I-5?
I hope the answer is a resounding No.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Toyota Can't Get it Right

According to The Associated Press, via NPR, federal investigators are looking into fires in 2007 Toyota Camry and Rav4 vehicles. Where is the fire? Naturally, the driver's side door. The probe could affect 830,000 vehicles nationally.

For other driving safety information, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cruise Line Forum Clause

I'm sure you've heard of the cruise ship that sunk off the coast of Italy after the captain ran the ship aground, and then bailed before passengers and had a chance to get on life rafts. The Carnival Corp. owned Costa Cruises (owner of the Costa Concordia cruise liner) offered each uninjured passenger a full refund and $14,400 in cash.

Those who were injured (or lost their lives) and need more than Costa Cruises' cash offer are running into a ship-sized roadblock. Costa Concordia is based in Miami. Ordinarily, this would mean that an injured passenger could file suit against Costa Cruises in Florida. However, the small print on each Costa Concordia ticket includes a "choice of forum" clause, requiring any lawsuits against the company to be brought in Italy. As you would imagine, the cost and practical hurdles of filing suit in Italy deter many legitimate claims.

Though passengers probably did not consider the possibility of town-size ship running aground during their vacation when signing below the small print, the clauses will probably be upheld based on multiple prior Supreme Court decisions. See this Seattle Times article for more.