Select Cases Of Interest
I am attorney Michael S. Biggs. As a litigator and trial attorney, here are some select noteworthy cases that I have handled.
- A nurse was exonerated on an accusation of 33 counts of gross negligence involving medication mismanagement allegations and charting deficiencies, after a two-week hearing at the California Office of Administrative Hearings. After extensive cross-examination and defense expert witness testimony, it appeared that hospital management had failed to competently investigate its allegations against the nurse and neglected to provide the Board of Registered Nursing with full and complete information when it filed its complaint with the Board of Registered Nursing against its employee the nurse.
- A hospital employer reported a nurse to the Board of Registered Nursing for failing to chart medications accurately. The Board of Registered Nursing brought an accusation against the nurse, alleging failure to chart medication via Pyxis MedStation. The employer hospital was hasty and failed to look at an alternate cause of the problem as insisted on by the nurse employee. The Board of Registered Nursing, once presented with the true facts, dropped its accusation against the nurse.
- A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) was accused of not following care provider employer policies and the employer retaliated against the LVN by filing a complaint with the Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians. The board did not file an accusation after its investigator interviewed the LVN and found no basis for the care provider‘s allegations.
- A new psychologist made a mistake in judgment while in a life crisis and signed her supervisor’s signature on an intern hours form. The Board of Psychology filed an accusation against the psychologist. The psychologist took ownership of her bad judgment, was remorseful and had mitigating circumstances due to her own diagnosed short-term depression over a problem in her life. She also had the support of her employer, a health care management organization (HMO) that agreed to closely supervise the psychologist for a period of time. The psychologist kept her license but was subject to three years of terms and conditions to ensure she would not be a potential risk to the public.
- A 28-year-old nurse just starting out was arrested first for drunk in public and then a year later for drunk driving. Both arrests were off work and on personal time but the law in California firmly established that off-work conduct such as alcohol-related arrests “are substantially related to a nurse’s fitness to practice.” The Board of Registered Nursing brought an accusation to revoke the nurse’s license on the arrest grounds and separate grounds, a failure to report the arrests to the Board. The client could not defeat the accusation outright because of the facts and the established law. A settlement was negotiated with the board. The client kept her license subject to a three-year term and conditions requiring sobriety, counseling and alcohol testing. The client never missed a paycheck and remains employed at the hospital.
- A physician gave prescription non-narcotic medication to a family member without examining the person and this fact was used against him. The medical board brought an accusation, seeking revocation. After negotiations with the board through the deputy attorney, the general revocation was dropped with “minimal discipline imposed.”
- A Bay area public high school history teacher with 14 years’ experience was subjected to systemic harassment by a new high school principal and some colleagues due to her political beliefs. The principal admonished the teacher in front of pupils in a history class arguing with her that “what she was teaching was not true,” even though the history taught was an approved lesson plan out of a choice per teacher discretion from many lesson plans. The harassment continued until the teacher was written up by the principal and referred to peer review so that “she would modify her beliefs.” The teacher refused to comply and work conditions became intolerable. The teacher stayed home for three months. A lawsuit was filed in California Superior Court. The school district settled, agreeing to drop the peer review requirement, expunged all adverse action from the teacher’s file and paid damages, The teacher returned to teaching history at that high school and the principal was transferred.
- A firefighter engineer accused of stealing private property while on duty was immediately put on paid leave. The battalion chief held a Skelly hearing unreasonably relying on “hearsay and other people’s baseless opinions” and terminated the firefighters’ employment. A lawsuit affirming a 14th Amendment procedural due process constitutional law lawsuit was filed in federal court. After several settlement conferences with at fire district with command staff and Chief, the firefighter was reinstated to his former position and his record cleared.
- A firefighter captain was accused by another captain of physical assault after that captain in a drunken rage attacked the client at an off-duty firefighter awards ceremony party. The client was “railroaded,” put on paid leave the next day by the battalion chief and subsequently terminated from employment after a Skelly hearing. Subsequently, a state arbitrator with the Industrial Relations Conciliation Board in a non-binding opinion held that it was wrongful termination and that the captain should be reinstated with back pay. The fire department district refused. A lawsuit was filed in federal court and the client won a summary judgment for 14th Amendment due process for the railroaded Skelly hearing and the wrongful termination case was set for trial. Prior to trial, the fire district settled, paying damages to the client, cleared his employment record and per his demand gave him back his firefighter badge that they had taken from him. He did not return to work there.
- A Federal Court case was settled against the City of San Francisco where police made a mistake and stormed into a house breaking down the front door without a warrant with a 90-year-old retired city worker asleep in the living room in a chair and then pointed guns at the man’s grandson. The police made a mistake but instead of taking ownership of that lied and made up a story that they heard a woman screaming inside the house when they happened to be passing by. This lie was established by subpoena of service call and 911 data and officers’ movements at that time. The city attorney once seeing the evidence informed the Chief of Police and asked the City Council to approve payment of damages.
- An industrial business owner was cited by the Army Corp of Engineers for $100,000 per day until violations corrected where business owners on sight manager bulldozed adjacent San Francisco Bay wetlands causing environmental damages. The matter was negotiated. At on-site meeting a plan was agreed to where business owner agreed to remediate the damage to the wet lands and the government would waive the fines.
- Injunction FRCP 65 brought in Federal Court stopping adjacent property, a wrecking yard, from regularly spilling large amounts of oil and transmission fluid onto bare soil next to a creek damaging the wildlife habitat and causing a public health risk.
- A lawsuit brought to rescind purchase sale of a business and disgorge payment where seller was deceptive and mislead purchaser “cooked the books” inflating business income.
- A successful defense made on breach of contract misrepresentation lawsuit brought against national business software platform developer for point-of-sale rewards cards for convenience store chain where it was alleged software product was a fraud and that the convenience store sustained millions of dollars in damages due to that. The problem was that the store’s IT department was incompetent and the software developer seller was blamed. Firm filed motion for Judgment on the Pleadings to get case dismissed Defendant store settles with client day before hearing for $20,000.
- Defended on County Planning Department Notice of Abatement where land owner converted a farm structure into a living structure and was assessed $220,000 in fines including the County’s cost to demolish structure. The case settled, and the County agreed to $20,000 in fines and a senior building inspector was assigned to assist the landowner in making modifications to satisfy necessary basic requirements for non-conforming legal status.
- California Civil Code 526(a) Injunction and writ of mandate in relation to misappropriation and improper spending for personal benefit and campaign violations related to asset forfeiture funds brought by tax payer clients in tax payer public interest lawsuit against Mendocino County District Attorney in his official capacity.