Articles Tagged with Understanding Legal Terms

If you have made a loss claim with your insurance company within the past seven years, there may be a file with your name on it, identified as your C.L.U.E. report. C.L.U.E., or Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, is a claims history database created by ChoicePoint, and it enables insurance companies to access consumer claims when they are underwriting or rating an insurance policy. The report contains not only the consumer’s claim information, including date of loss, type of loss, amounts paid, and a description of the property covered, but also personal information about the consumer such as name, date of birth, and policy number.

C.L.U.E. reports are mainly used when insurers underwrite and rate new policies, and when renewing a policy, insurers usually don’t even have to access C.L.U.E. reports because the information is already stored in their own database. In fact, the C.L.U.E. database is a subscription-based database, which means insurance companies have to subscribe to be able to access the information, so not all insurance companies submit their consumers’ information to be stored in C.L.U.E. reports. Additionally, even if your insurance company does subscribe to C.L.U.E., if you haven’t made a loss claim in the past seven years, you don’t have a C.L.U.E. report at all.

The problem arises when you realize that all the information in your C.L.U.E. report is being submitted by the insurance company, without your consent or knowledge, but the companies are protected to do so under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, inaccurate information may be listed in your report without your realization. Each consumer is allowed to request a single copy once every 12 months, and if there are any errors found, consumers can contact ChoicePoint directly to report the discrepancy. ChoicePoint then contacts the insurance company to request clarification; after 20 days without the company’s response, ChoicePoint will contact the company again to follow up. After 28 days without the company’s response, ChoicePoint will again follow up, and if, after 30 days, the company has still not responded, the questioned information will be removed from the consumer’s C.L.U.E. report.

Although you cannot access anyone’s C.L.U.E. account but your own, if you are considering purchasing property and would like to see the claims made on that property, you can ask the current homeowners to make a request for their own report.
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For many of us, we have seen technology bloom at an amazing speed, progressing from radios to televisions, computers that filled rooms to ones that lay on our laps, and now to small and very powerful mobile phones. We rely heavily upon these tiny complex devices that reside in our pockets; they tell us the weather, news, how to get places, and, most importantly, they keep us connected to others around us.

Consequently, since technology has progressed, we now need advanced laws to protect our information from others. The main statutory protection, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, was written in 1986, well before the invention of the internet. The ECPA was primarily designed to prevent unauthorized government access to private electronic communications, such as writing, images, and data, and as we are all increasingly sharing our lives online, communicating and participating in e-commerce, we drastically need an update to modernize the ECPA. As Americans, we expect our personal and private information to be just that, personal and private. Most of us rely on computers, cell phones, and, largely, the internet to communicate, learn, and receive information, and what we view and discuss reveals a tremendous amount of information about our lives. This information needs to be protected.

At present, 82% of Americans own and use cell phones on a regular basis, and a rapidly increasing 40% of us own smart phones, capable of pinpointing our locations, browsing the internet, sending emails, and utilizing applications like Facebook and Twitter. Recently, Apple and Google appeared before the U.S. Senate to defend their mobile device location tracking policies, while Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) addressed the issue that Congress needs to take steps to enforce mobile privacy safeguards since mobile devices are only getting more popular.
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In 1980 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, under section 101 of the Patent Act, that a live, artificially engineered microorganism is patentable. The patenting of human genes is much like any other patent, but more recently, the commercialization of those patents can be seen as a monopoly. Myriad Genetics was granted a similar patent in 1999, which was seen by many, to limit research and raise the cost of Breast and Ovarian cancer test. In March of 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a summary judgement that invalidates certain of Myriad Genetics’ patents related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
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On October 9, 2009, Judge Fallon of the Eastern District of Louisiana issued Pre-Trial Order No. 1(B) – Preservation of Evidence. The Order outlines the requirements for the preservation of all physical evidence, including drywall, HVAC coil material, plumbing components, electrical components and any other personal property items.
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After Hurricane Katrina thousands of people along the Gulf Coast filed claims on their insurance policies. The insurance companies responded by paying some claims in full, some claims partially, and not paying some claims. Policy holders with valid claims were forced to resort to litigation to get fairly reimbursed for their loss of property or damage to their property. Thornhill Law Firm filed many of these claims and were able to help their clients recoup some of their losses, but we were forced to turn away those that called us after the period of prescription or peremption had run. Prescription, which exists in both common and civil law, is the idea that if a claim has not been made within a certain time period, then there no longer exists a remedy at law. Peremption, a civil law concept, actually stops the claimant from bringing the claim. Effectively, peremption extinguishes a claim. Prescription and peremption are commonly referred to as statutes of limitations or statutes of repose.
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• Admissibility of digital evidence:

The 2003 Louisiana Legislature passed Act 1135 amending the provisions of the Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 1001 (3) to provide that digital evidence from palm pilots, the blackberry, e-mail, and related evidence is to be treated as original for evidentiary purposes.

This and similar provisions of the Code of Evidence (e.g. Art. 1003.1) fail to recognize the potential for abuse of digital evidence. The problem with e-mail and any digital evidence is that it may be deleted, altered or preserved incorrectly. There is a presumption of admissibility of electronic duplications in Article 1003.1 by providing “a duplicate may be deemed inadmissable or excluded solely because it is in electronic format”, as will be seen from the following, this is a problem.
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I. Introduction
There is no field of governmental activity concerning which the people are as poorly informed as the field occupied by the judiciary.

It is highly inconsistent to complain of the ignorance and apathy of voters and then to ‘close the windows of information through which they might observe and learn.’ Generally only idle people, pursuing ‘idle curiosity’ have time to visit court rooms in person. What harm could result from portraying by photo, film, radio and screen to the business, professional and rural leadership of a community, as well as to the average citizen regularly employed, the true picture of the administration of justice? Has anyone been heard to complain that the employment of photographs, radio and television upon the solemn occasion of the last Presidential Inauguration or the Coronation of Elizabeth II was to satisfy an ‘idle curiosity’? Do we hear complaints that the employment of these modern devices of thought transmission in the pulpits of our great churches destroys the dignity of the service; that they degrade the pulpit or create misconceptions in the mind of the public? The answers are obvious. That which is carried out with dignity will not become undignified because more people may be permitted to see and hear.

– Justice Otto Moore of the Colorado Supreme Court, 1956 Continue Reading