Data breaches are the new hard drive crashes for businesses

Ten years ago, when I spoke with businesses about their IT strategies, one of the major gaps I would find was in data backup coverage – especially with small and medium-sized businesses. Entrepreneurs can be notorious optimists, and many just thought “it will never happen to me.” There are all-too-many stories of businesses suffering severe financial harm and crushing stress while trying to recover from a crashed hard drive that was not backed up.

These days, even most small business have accepted the need to commit to some type of backup strategy, with varying levels of thoroughness. However, a new IT threat lurks for businesses of all sizes: the data breach. Data breach risks fall into two main categories: 1) breaches that cause your business economic harm by compromising your important business secrets or result in a direct loss of funds, or 2) breaches that compromise the PII (Personally Identifiable Information), PHI (Protected Health Information), or any other private data concerning your customers. It is common for a business who has suffered a data breach to face risks from both categories. It is a given that businesses who suffer a data breach are open to potential legal bills for defending against class action suits brought on behalf of customers.

Just as ten years ago, after a hard drive crash, a business would suddenly realize the need to be proactive rather then reactive concerning a backup strategy, businesses today are realizing the need to be proactive concerning data breach risks. Obviously, a first step is to harden security protocols to prevent a breach.

However, as long as humans still work in businesses and have access to data, data will be breached. Recent well known hacks of Target, Anthem, and EBay have shown that even corporations with multi-million dollar IT budgets can be compromised. Steps beyond mere prevention must be taken.

Prudent organizations have a data breach strategy already in place, because it’s always easier to plan before a crisis occurs. If a breach event takes place, management already has existing relationships with lawyers, PR professionals, and forensic IT consultants to mitigate the risks to the company. Research shows that having a data breach plan in place substantially reduces the bottom-line cost of the breach to the company.

If you’d like more information on how to develop a comprehensive data breach protection plan for your business, please reach out and we would be happy to have a conversation with you.

Are you having problems with escrow refunds and payoff balances?

Refinancing your existing mortgage can often render unwanted and unexpected results. In our experience many Mortgage Companies commit errors when calculating pay off balances, settlement charges or when issuing escrow refunds. Consumers have to be especially vigilant to ensure that the refinancing does not result in accounting inaccuracies and charges are not duplicated. When refinancing your home loan, Mortgage companies will have to compute and add two figures: (1) the pay off amount; and (2) the total settlement charges. The following are things to look out for when going through a refinance:

  1. The pay-off amount is typically calculated by first adding the principal balance, interest owed and other fees and then subtracting from this total any escrow balance. If the escrow balance is not subtracted from the pay-off calculation you are entitled to an escrow refund.
  2. Make sure to verify that you are not being charged the interest owed twice. Mortgage companies in some instances will use interest payment to calculate both the payoff amount and the settlement charges. In such instances Mortgage Companies are subject to federal and state legal claims.
  3. Consumers also have a right to demand an explanation of the pay-off amount. A Mortgage Companies’ failure to respond to such a demand will result in violation of federal law.
  4. Mortgage companies can also at times force you to take a cash pay off by not revealing the pay off until closing. You may be able to identify a cash payoff by reviewing the HUD Statement provided to you at closing.
  5. Make sure to carefully review your HUD Statement and have a complete understanding of all settlement charges listed in this document. The HUD Statement can be the single most important closing document which warrants your close attention.
  6. Find out when your next payment is due and verify this information by reviewing your Promissory Note and the Amoritization Schedules. If you have setup an automatic withdrawal make sure to cancel the automatic withdrawal before the next payment. You cannot rely on the Mortgage Company to not withdraw the payment.
  7. Ask for a copy of your closing documents before the closing date. It is very common for people to identify issues on the date of closing when the pressure is high and you are most amenable to  compromising.

If you feel like you were treated unfairly by your Mortgage Company during the origination process please contact our offices for a free consultation.

Final Approval in Medicaid Waiver Class Action against the State of Indiana 

Saeed & Little, LLP had filed a class action against the State of Indiana in July 2014 for its failure to go through the promulgation (notice and hearing) process before utilizing a new evaluation tool to determine eligibility. Saeed & Little, LLP was approached by numerous class members with development disorders who were receiving Medicaid benefits from the State of Indiana before being suddenly deemed ineligible to receive benefits under the new evaluation tool. These actions left many individuals unable to pay for home or community based services.  Parties reached a settlement in late 2015 and the State of Indiana agreed to: suspend its usage of the new evaluation tool for final determination of eligibility; and re-evaluate all individuals who were denied benefits and deemed ineligible under the new evaluation tool. The relief obtained by the Saeed & Little, LLP via this settlement was possibly the maximum relief the class would have hoped for at trial.  The settlement received final approval from the Marion County Superior Court in February 2016.

Park Tudor Parents: Don’t Call Barnes and Thornburg, Call The U S Attorney

WTHR report that Barnes and Thornburg is taking over the investigation at Park Tudor reeks of cover up. (http://www.wthr.com/story/31213033/park-tudor-board-launches-investigation-into-allegations-against-former-coach) Park Tudor and Barnes want to control the flow of information; they both know better. Instead of encouraging parents to call Barnes with information about child abuse, Park Tudor and Barnes should be encouraging parents to directly contact the United States Attorney Office or the FBI.

Every adult in Indiana is a mandatory reporter of child sexual abuse (Indiana Code 31-33-5-1) Park Tudor and their last big law firm Ice Miller have already proven they are more interested in protecting the image of Park Tudor and the checkbook of their insurance carrier; they cannot be trusted to fulfill their legal and ethical duties to report child sexual abuse directly to law enforcement. If the Federal indictment is to be believed, the last time parents of children reported abuse directly to Park Tudor, Ice Miller obstructed justice, possessed child pornography, and broke chain of custody.

Saeed and Little, LLP has more experience representing victims of institutional sex abuse than any firm in Indiana and as much as any firm in North America; we are happy to help Park Tudor parents and abuse victims. Call our office and we can walk over to the US Attorney’s office together, or call the US Attorneys directly at 317-226-6333.

Food isn’t garbage

The privatization of every conceivable service is Indiana is a bad thing. A very bad thing. I could gripe about our roads, our schools, or our utilities (Citizens Energy Group: you’re not off the hook!), but today I’m going to complain about our waste disposal.

It is terrible. Our privately-run waste management company, Covanta, is actively trying to keep us from helping the environment. But this week, Mayor Hogsett suspended a contract for a $45 million commingled trash-recycling center based on various concerns about how the deal had been made and the environmental impact of it:

“[O]pponents bristled at a process that they felt circumvented the sort of public input that might be expected on an agreement of this magnitude. The deal, which extended Covanta’s existing contract to incinerate the city’s trash, locked Indianapolis into a $112 million commitment through 2028. And, to the chagrin of environmentalists, it arguably includes disincentives to conservation. The city would have incurred a $4 million annual penalty if it implemented a competing recycling program in order to recycle more goods.”

http://www.indystar.com/get-access/?return=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.indystar.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Fpolitics%2F2016%2F02%2F10%2Fcity-covanta-halt-deal-combine-waste-and-recycling%2F80171180%2F

So, hooray for that! But we could be doing so much more!

What I would like to see is city-provided curbside pickup of recyclables and compostables. It is doable – many cities have banned organic waste in the trash, why shouldn’t we? When I lived on Vancouver Island, our trash was picked up every two weeks (each household was allowed two black bags every two weeks), as were our composting and recycling (unlimited). Seattle and San Francisco have similar bans, and in 2015, Vancouver did the same thing.

Consider this:

Food rotting away in landfills is the second largest source of methane emissions produced by people. In the U.S., landfills may account for more than 20 percent of anthropogenic methane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That makes landfills a significant source of activity related to climate change, since the the greenhouse potential of methane is 21 times that of mere carbon dioxide or higher.

Wasted food is also a waste of space. Some 30 million tons of food waste wind up in U.S. landfills every year. Food scraps account for 18 percent of the waste stream, the second largest category of municipal waste in the nation, just after paper.

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2015/01/every-city-needs-vancouvers-ban-on-food-scraps/384391/

So the point of this blog is what? If we’re honest with ourselves, our government, in its infinite wisdom, has already sold everything not nailed down to a private company. Will we be able to do anything? Probably not as a city or a state. But we can as individuals: compost your scraps, recycle your recyclables, and don’t forget to cut up the plastic rings that come with six-packs so birds don’t choke on them.

jessica-blog-post-food-image

Why you should choose us for criminal defense.

All criminal defense attorneys are not equal. If you have been charged with a criminal defense, the outcome can affect the rest of your life. Sadly, even if you are sure of your own innocence, you still need to be prepared to defend yourself in court. Time in jail or prison, as well as the mere fact of having a criminal record, can affect your life very seriously. Here are some questions you should ask from an attorney as you are making the very important chance of who to hire to represent you in a criminal matter:

  • Do you visit every crime scene?
  • Will you depose every one of the State’s witnesses?
  • How many cases have you taken to trial?
  • What do you think my chances are in this case?

The attorneys at Saeed and Little visit the scenes in our cases. There is no substitute for walking the scene, as oftentimes the reality of the physical location is very different than what the paper evidence portrays. Sometimes the only way to find that other surveillance camera or to find a physical impossibility to to visit the scene.

We also depose the State’s witness. In the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t make sense to decide whether to take a plea or to go to trial without first deposing the State’s witnesses. We take the time to depose the State’s witnesses so that we can more accurately evaluate the strength of the State’s cases.

We have tried many criminal jury trials, including major felonies. There are many cases that need to go to trial, and if so, we will vigorously defend you at a jury or bench trial.

No one can predict the future, and if we could, we’d probably be in Vegas right now. However, we give our clients honest risk evaluations concerning their cases. If we think the State’s case is weak and that you should take a case all the way to trial, we will give you that advice.

Conversely, if, based on our experience, the State’s case looks very strong, we will give you that advice as well.  What we don’t do is give our clients unrealistic expectations, and then pressure them to sign as plea as soon as the retainer is in. If the State wants to punish you, then they should have to prove their case before they can do so.

If you have been accused of a crime, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Saeed and Little for a free consultation today, at 317-721-9214.

Coach Mark Walker Banned for Life

Mark Walker, “the former CEO and head coach at Excel Aquatics” in Nashville has been banned for life by USA Swimming based on allegations brought by two now-grown men that he had abused them as children/youth.

Although Tennessee generally has a one-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions (TCA § 28-3-104), TCA § 28-1-106 extends it to one year after the victim’s 18th birthday if the harm occurred when the victim was a child.
Unfortunately in this case, the statute of limitations has long since passed, and no criminal charges could be brought against Walker. But these are rarely isolated incidents; experience tells me that there are likely more victims out there.

Saeed & Little has been fighting for kids abused by their swim coaches for seven years. We know how the USA Swimming machine works. If you or one of your children has been abused by Mark Walker or any other coach, no matter which state you are in, please call us for a free case evaluation. We want to help you.

http://www.wsmv.com/story/31121976/midstate-swim-coach-notified-of-lifetime-ban-from-usa-swimming

Post Conviction Relief

Millions of people have become aware of the legal proceeding called Post Conviction Relief following Making A Murder. Post Conviction proceedings are the last chance a convicted person has to introduce new evidence, raise new defenses, or seek a declaration that their trial counsel was ineffective.

Last summer the United States Supreme Court ruled that the 2012 case Miller v. Alabama (the Miller Court held that juveniles could not be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole) applies retroactively. Saeed & Little LLP has handled post conviction cases involving juveniles and looks forward to handling more. We have done post- conviction proceedings for all major felony offenses and currently some of our cases are pending in the Indiana Court of Appeals and the Federal Courts on habeas grounds.

Our experienced attorneys will read a complete trial transcript and give you our opinion of you or your loved ones post convictions options for $5,000.

Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

It never gets easier to hear about the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, but we can’t let that stop us from talking about it. As unpleasant, horrifying, and infuriating as it is, we can’t ignore it. We can’t sweep it under the rug or think of it as someone else’s problem. It is everyone’s problem. We have to acknowledge it, so that survivors can come forward into a community that believes and supports them.
There is NO EXCUSE for child sexual abuse, and there is NO REASON to protect the perpetrators of it. Yet that is exactly what many dioceses in the Catholic Church continue to do.
On January 15, the Seattle Archdiocese published a list of 77 clergy who had been accused of sexual abuse (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-archdiocese-posts-list-of-clergy-accused-of-sexual-assault/#list), which is a good first step, but the list is incomplete (http://kuow.org/post/survivor-why-isnt-my-abuser-seattle-archdioceses-list). Other dioceses are still refusing to publish a list of the known sexually abusive priests at all — even after the Vatican has substantiated the claims against them (I’m looking at you, Syracuse, New York).
The time will come when the legislators catch up to the criminals, and the statutes of limitation that are preventing criminal prosecutions and law suits will change. Until then, consider Canada — if you were abused there, call us. We might be able to help you now.
The cover-ups have to stop.

Making A Murderer – Len Kachinsky Should be Disbarred

Like millions of Americans I watched the Netflix series Making A Murderer and was completely horrified. I was not surprised by the behavior of the police or the prosecutor’s office; for those of us that have tried major felony cases in the United States, the sort of shenanigans portrayed in Netflix’s series are everyday life. (see Indiana State Tox lab false reporting of drug tests for starters http://archive.indystar.com/article/20120330/NEWS14/303300002/Star-Watch-Indiana-lacks-answers-toxicology-lab-tests-used-criminal-cases)

Prosecutorial misconduct occurs here in Indianapolis and thankfully our Court’s have started to admonish prosecutors. http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/06021401jgb.pdf Even alleged frame ups like those Mr. Avery claims was visited upon him not once but twice occur here in Indiana as well (http://www.greensburgdailynews.com/news/local_news/wrongfully-convicted-former-greensburg-woman-to-try-to-settle-lawsuit/article_95cda02e-eed6-5bd0-a9f4-fee03257f802.html)

What was most surprising to me was that Brandon’s first attorney Len Kachinsky was not disbarred. From the outset I was confused by Len’s approach, perhaps since his client had already “confessed” to police Len was trying to get more contradictory statements of his client out into universe of evidence to discredit his prior “confession.” I was put of by Len speaking to the media before he spoke to his client However I disregarded any ideas of a novel strategy when Brandon spoke to police on a Saturday without his lawyer present- it was obvious that Len wanted his client to plead guilty and that Len expected in return for delivering a guilty plea and a cooperating witness for the State to use against Mr. Avery- Len would be rewarded in his next judicial race. The trial court in Brandon’s case clearly erred in admitting Brandon’s confession with the private investigator Len hired, the Prosecutor’s clearly violated the Rules of Ethics by introducing that statement, but the Wisconsin bar bears the most fault here.

It is beyond comprehension that Len Kachinsky did not lose his bar license for his conduct while representing Brandon. By failing to punish Len Kachinsky for throwing his client under the proverbial bus the Wisconsin Office Of Lawyer Regulation showed what length disciplinary associations will go to protect their own, particularly politically connected lawyers.