CA man awarded $5M in disability discrimination lawsuit

A former employee of a cellular company won $5 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit against his former employer in California. Stephen Colucci was a T-Mobile retail store manager for seven years.  In July 2014, Colucci’s new regional manager told him that he was being transferred to another work location – a T-Mobile kiosk located inside the Ontario Mills Mall.  Colucci suffers from agoraphobia, PTSD, and panic disorder based on witnessing a stabbing incident when he was a teenager.  Colucci disclosed his disability to his new supervisor, and to Human Resources and offered to transfer to a different location or to remain in the store he was managing.  He was not transferred to the kiosk but he was thereafter verbally harassed and mocked by the new supervisor.  Colucci lodged a harassment complaint to T-Mobile’s integrity line hotline and confronted his new supervisor about the harassment.  Within hours of learning about Colucci’s complaint, the new supervisor terminated his employment, allegedly based on a violation of the company’s conflict of interest policy.  Colucci established that the stated reason was pretextual and that the real reason he was terminated was based on retaliatory motives. T-Mobile retaliated against Colucci by terminating him within hours of making complaints about his new supervisor.  T-Mobile’s Human Resources Department did not investigate the complaints and supported the new supervisor’s decision to terminate Colucci. T-Mobile’s internal paperwork indicated that “litigation was probable” at the time of termination.   In addition, T-Mobile’s loss prevention team discussed the termination decision on a recorded conference call and a loss prevention manager reported on the call that Colucci was terminated for making complaints. National Trial Lawyers member Pat Barrera of Barrera and Associates in El Segundo represented Colucci. The Superior Court awarded Colucci $5,020,042.00 in damages in October 2017.  The court also denied T-Mobile’s post-trial motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in December 2017.  Plaintiff’s motion for fees and costs is pending.

NA Top 40 member involved in Intel lawsuit over security defect

The National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia is on a legal team that has filed a lawsuit against computer chipmaker Intel because of a security flaw, according to a news release from the Beasley Allen law firm.

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (January 9, 2018) – Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., have filed a federal lawsuit against Intel Corporation after the company admitted a defect in its central processing units (CPU) used in personal computers leaves users’ sensitive, private and secure information vulnerable to hackers. Shortcuts the company used while designing the processors created the defect known as “Meltdown.”

The complaint alleges that Intel deceptively marketed its processors as some of the fastest available on the market, despite knowing the flawed design would require a “patch,” which can slow personal computer processing down by as much as 30 percent. Beasley Allen lawyers W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, and National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia represent named Plaintiff PC users Richard Reis and Zachary Finer in the class action litigation.

“Untold millions of computer owners have just learned that their computer product contains a significant defect in the Intel CPU that has caused a glaring security risk in their computer. Even if it is allegedly repaired by Intel software updates, it will suffer significant performance degradation,” Miles said. “Simply, purchasers of these products either must replace their computer or suffer from poor performance on their defective computer, neither of which they bargained for when they purchased a computer with the Intel CPU.”

Earlier this month, PC users learned about the defect that was discovered last June by Jann Horn, a security analyst working for Google.

Among its many functions, the CPU allows the computer’s operating system to interact with its hardware. The CPU dedicates some of its processing power for this task, which is called kernel memory. When a PC user executes a command the kernel memory carries out the command. This requires the PC to switch between different modes – an action Intel worked to make as fast and efficient as possible.

During the design, Intel introduced shortcuts, or design defects, that sacrificed security for processor speed in all its CPUs manufactured since 2004. The design defects allow low-privilege processes access to the kernel memory.

Because of the design defects, hackers and the malicious software they develop gain the ability to spy on computer processes and any information preserved on the PC’s or server’s physical memory. Hackers can easily gain access to information including passwords, usernames and sensitive personal information – making users vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. Information may even be vulnerable in real time.

Companies that design operating systems are currently developing the “patches” that can help protect users against the vulnerability “Meltdown” created, but the added security will reverse the feature that made the CPUs fast.

The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, case number CV-00074-SVK.