How Does Your Nursing Home Rate?

The federal government recently revised its five-star rating system for Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. The information contributing to the updated rating system is more accurate and better informs families and caregivers as they choose a nursing home for their loved one.

Prior to these new revisions, 80% of nursing homes rated as five-star facilities. With the new rating system, experts expect it to drop to 49%.

You can search this website to find a high-rated nursing home or check to see how your nursing home compares to others in your community: http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

You can learn more about the new rating system and challenges in the nursing home industry in this Diane Rhem Show recording: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-03-11/rating-the-quality-of-americas-nursing-homes




The Truth about Class Action Lawsuits

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t like class actions. Neither do the corporations that fund their efforts. Why?

Because they know that class actions give American workers and consumers the power and ability to level the playing field. Class actions are a cornerstone of America’s civil justice system, often the only way individuals can hold corporations accountable.

A new report  by the American Association for Justice and the National Association of Consumer Advocates reviewed class actions filed in 2009 and debunks the myths the U.S. Chamber is spinning on class actions lawsuits.


Here are some ways consumers benefited from class actions in 2009:

  • They empowered consumers. When the price of propane shot up in 2008, consumers filed suit against Ferrellgas for allegedly reducing the amount of propane in its tanks without notifying consumers or changing the labels. Through a class action settlement, consumers recovered up to $25 million for being overcharged.
  • They allowed victims of financial fraud to recover. Through a class action, $219 million was returned to investors whose retirement funds were devastated by Bernie Madoff’s colossal Ponzi scheme. The judge in the case praised the equitable settlement, stating that nearly all class members were made whole.
  • They restored people’s rights. Thousands of disabled residents living in New York City Housing Authority buildings could not go in and out of their housing due to widespread disrepair of elevators. Through a class actions, the residents forced the city to repair the elevators in a timely matter.
  • They restored employees’ retirement funds. Level 3 Communications employees filed suit against employee retirement plan managers for withholding information about company troubles and continuing to invest in the overvalued company stock while employees lost their retirement funds. It took a class action to restore $3.2 million in lost retirement funds.
  • They addressed health and environmental harms. A dike at a coal plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) burst, sending more than a billion gallons of highly toxic coal ash slurry into waterways and covering nearly 300 acres with sludge. The coal ash at this plant was held in earthen dikes rather than lined landfills. Leaks and seepage plagued the dikes at the TVA coal plant for years. According to an inspection report, the TVA knew about leaks at the facility for more than two decades and opted not to pay for long-term solutions to the problem. A class action was brought on behalf of property owners who suffered damages. The district court found in their favor on their claims of negligence, trespass, and private nuisance. The case then went to mediation to determine appropriate damages, and on August 1, 2014, it was announced that TVA had agreed to pay $27.8 million to settle claims from property owners who suffered damages due to the 2008 spill of coal ash sludge.


Tucson Festival Of Books at the UofA Campus March 14 & 15

The Tucson Festival of Books, one of our community’s most beloved annual events, will be at the University of Arizona next Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

The event is free and parking at the University of Arizona is complimentary, but use of public transportation is strongly encouraged. The SunTran bus system and the SunLink street car provide convenient alternatives to parking at the University of Arizona.

Over 350 authors – including Noam Chomsky, Amy Tan and Dave Barry – will participate in presentations and workshops for diverse audiences, including children and teens. There will be panels by best-selling and emerging authors, a literary circus, culturally diverse programs, family activities, a poetry venue, exhibitor booths and two food courts.

This Sunday, the Arizona Daily Star will provide a variety of printed articles and advertisements related to the Festival, including a 68-page insert.  This year you can download free tickets for 50 popular events in advance.

To learn more about the event please visit the festival website at http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/.





City High School Students Learn about the Dangers of Distracted Driving

As some students at downtown Tucson’s City High School pointed out to Thabet during his End Distracted Driving presentation yesterday, texting is not the only cause of distracted driving. Applying make up, eating, drinking, changing the radio, and checking GoogleMaps are other common distractions that can lead to an accident – or even death.

The Khalidi Law Firm thanks the nearly 70 City High School students, their teachers and school administrators for their active participation in the assembly.  The student leadership provided valuable feedback which we will use to improve the presentation.

An important lesson of the presentation is that distracted driving is not just a teen problem. Adult drivers are also guilty.  We know that a parent’s behavior has a huge influence on their children. While they would never drink and drive, many moms and dads often drive while distracted when their kids are in the car.  This PSA reminds us to “Be the Driver You Want Your Teen to Be.”

If you know a school or youth group that would be interested in learning about the dangers of distracted driving and some techniques to stay safe, please contact Victoria at vkhalidi@tnklaw.com.

Helping Your Teen Deal with Divorce

Teenagers have an especially difficult time with divorce. Already dealing with the stress of adolescence, it can feel as if the world is falling apart when the break up of their parents is added to the emotional mix.

You can help your teenager deal with the changes that lie ahead. Experts stress that teens desperately needs the equal support of both parents. Try to see the divorce through their eyes. Encourage him or him to talk about their feelings. Be prepared for emotions ranging from anger, sadness, loneliness, to depression. If you notice your teen withdrawing from the family, having difficulty concentrating or engaging in high risk behaviors, get them professional help immediately.

How to help your teens deal with divorce:

  • Never criticize your ex in front of your teen. Your child knows you and can tell if you mean what you say. For her sake, control your nonverbal cues so that they do not contradict what you are trying to portray. Rolled eyes, smirks, slamming doors, in response to an ex are interpreted correctly by your teen. More than younger kids, teens grow very tired of fighting and see parents who engage in bickering and name calling as immature or even worse. Take the high road.
  • Maintain a calm, positive attitude in front of your child. Not to say they can’t ever see you upset but the usual atmosphere of your home should be a positive environment. As the adult, you have the power to set the tone for your home.
  • Establish and stick to a realistic and normal daily routine. Teens deal better with stress if they can maintain a degree of predictability. In their minds, it’s quite different when they bend the rules and they probably will, but they need to know what the usual routine is and what is expected of them.
  • Anticipate signs of stress. Watch for signs of depression and take seriously any talk of suicide. Notice changes in eating habits or sleeping patterns or if they have a diminished interest in people or the activities they used to love. Remain lovingly firm about behaviors that are not acceptable but give generous amounts of support, reassurance and understanding. If need be, seek professional assistance.
  • Encourage your teen to talk about her feelings but be prepared for questioning, criticism and maybe for the first time, your teen’s disappointment in you.
  • Talk to the other adult’s in your child’s life to ask how they interpret how your teen is responding to the divorce. You may be surprised to learn that your teen behaves differently around others than she does at home.
  • Your teen may become very possessive of you and may be threatened by new relationships you form particularly of the opposite sex. So remind them that they are and always will be very important to you.
  • Make time for your teen. Take them out, just the two of you, and enjoy something they enjoy. Let them know you are interested in how they are doing.
  • Set consistent limits that are balanced with more freedom and choices.
  • Allow them to have input about visitation, but not so much that the teen is burdened by having to decide custody and access schedules.




Mother Warns of Unaccountability of Generic Drug Makers in the Death of her Daughter

Few Americans realize that if they are injured or killed by taking a generic brand drug the manufacturer of that drug cannot be held accountable for the injury or death.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that, unlike name-brand manufacturers, generic manufacturers are not responsible for updating the labels on the drugs they sell and cannot be held accountable in court for failing to warn patients when they learn of a new and dangerous side effects. This is especially alarming because 86% of American prescriptions are filled with generic brands.

Food and Drug Administration officials want to “create parity” between brand-name and generic drug makers. Generic drug makers object to the proposal over concerns they would face increased liability. The drug makers have already succeeded in winning a delay – a proposed rule to update generic drug labeling was originally to have been finalized late last year, but has been pushed back until this coming fall.

The lack of legal accountability of generic drug makers affects the lives of thousands of comsumers. To put a face on the problem, the American Association of Justice shares the tragic stories of victims who were injured or killed after taking generic drugs. In this video, the mother of 22 year-old Kira Gilbert (pictured above) talks about her daughter who passed away from acute cardiac failure eight days after she began taking generic Darvocet for pain in advance of knee surgery to repair her ACL that she tore while working at her job in an orphanage.  Kira had no previous history of heart conditions.

Thanks to tort reform – and the hard work of corporate lobbyists – Kira’s family cannot have their day in court.

To learn more about the American Association of Justice’s public education and grassroots campaign to restore accountability, promote safety and ensure Americans have access to justice please visit http://www.takejusticeback.com/

Is Revenge Really Sweet?

Researchers have found that when people take it upon themselves to exact revenge, it often fails to prevent future harm and may not make the avenger feel better.  While the victim may experience an initial intoxicating rush, they often feel far less satisfied after they take revenge than they imagined they would and find that vengeance may escalate the conflict and lead to an increasingly malicious game of tit for tat.

Some personality types are bent on avenging wrongs and injustice while others, who often believe in karma or a higher power, are less likely to seek vengeance.

Upon reflection, most victims really want and benefit from sincere remorse with a promise of reform and rectification, if possible.

All in all, as this New York Times article reports,  vengeance is rarely sweet or satisfying.


Ten Days Left to Get Healthcare Coverage for 2015

February 15 is the deadline for the 2015 open enrollment period.  Figures released by the U.S. Health & Human Services Department show more than 174,000 Arizonans have already signed up for a new plan or had an existing plan renewed through the federal marketplace – surpassing last year’s total by nearly 55,000 people.

This year, not carrying health insurance will cost $325 per adult plus $162.50 per child (up to $975 per family) or 2 percent of your family’s income, whichever is more.

Thanks to strict regulations, you’ll pay the same price for a plan whether you buy from a broker or through the federal health care marketplace at  https://www.healthcare.gov/subscribe/?utm_medium=paid_search

If you sign up online for coverage on healthcare.gov, be prepared to fill out a form that could take 30 minutes or longer. To complete the process quickly, have this info handy:

  • Social security numbers for everyone in your household
  • Your employer’s name and address
  • Your most-recent pay stub or recent records of your wages
  • Information about other types of income you receive, such as alimony, unemployment benefits or a pension

The Amazing Teenage Brain

Ever wonder why teenagers seem so immature and impulsive? Are you shocked by their risky and reckless behavior? Do you ask yourself why they always seem to test perfectly reasonable boundaries?

While a guest on the Diane Rhem Show, Dr. Daniel Siege, a brain researcher from UCLA, answered those questions and dispelled common cultural myths about teenagers.

Dr. Seige found that from ages 12 to 24 the human brain undergoes a burst of growth and maturation. During this vital stage, teenagers and young adults learn how to navigate the world outside the safety of home, how to connect deeply with others, and how to safely take risks.

You can learn more about Dr. Siege’s research and his recommendations to help teenagers and families understand this essential time of emotional intensity, social engagement, and remarkable creativity at http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2014-01-06/daniel-siegel-brainstorm-power-and-purpose-teenage-brain/@00:00

Arizona Among the Worst States When it Comes to Highway Safety Laws

According to the 12th annual report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Association, Arizona has only 5 of 15 recommended highway-safety laws.

We know that distracted driving, often from texting, causes thousands of accidents each year, yet Arizona is one of just two states without even a partial ban on texting while driving.

This month, state Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson, introduced a bill to ban texting while driving for the ninth straight year.

Rather than support the bill, the Senate President Andy Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert, assigned the measure to three committees, rather than the typical two. This is a tactical move that diminishes the bill’s chances of advancing.

According to the association, the laws Arizona lacks are:

Text-messaging restrictions for drivers.

Primary enforcement for front and back seat belts, which would allow law-enforcement officers to stop motorists for not using seat belts.

Mandatory helmets for all motorcyclists.

Six of seven laws that constitute a complete graduated driver’s license program for teen drivers.

These laws benefit drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.  Arizona lawmakers need to put safety before politics.