ER Bill Surprise!

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New data suggests that EmCare, now one of the nation’s largest physician-staffing companies for emergency rooms, is showing a disturbing pattern. In the case of a small Spokane, Washington hospital, the number of patients coded as having billing for the most complex, expensive level of care quadrupled after the hospital contracted for services through EmCare…. Read more »

The new CFPB rule

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On July 10, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a controversial rule to prevent companies from using arbitration clauses to stop litigation over customer complaints. Questions: 1. Many of these clauses have been related to credit card or banking customer contracts. If consumers don’t agree with the arbitration, why haven’t they filed class action… Read more »

May all your Wishes Come true!

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Donald Trump met with Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son and soon news of 30,000 to 50,000 new U.S. manufacturing jobs were part of Trump’s boasts. Now Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn, appears to be reneging on claims that it is preparing to build a $7 billion factory in the U.S. Questions: 1. How did Foxconn’s chief executive officer,… Read more »

Here we Go Again! Contracts for Deed!

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In the 1930s through the 1960s, most African-Americans could not get mortgages. This was because the U.S. government deemed neighborhoods where they lived ineligible for federal mortgage insurance, which was the Depression-era innovation that made mortgages widely affordable. As a result, hucksters moved in and peddled homeownership through contracts for deed, where the home seller… Read more »

Arbitration Lurks in the Fine Print

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In this article, the New York Times found that arbitration rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies to be their clients. According to the authors, this has created an alternative justice system with conflicts of interest. Questions: 1. What types of claims are… Read more »

Impending Huge Penalties!

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The Kansas Supreme Court found that FedEx drivers were illegally misclassified as independent contractors from the late 1990s through 2011, despite being treated as employees. According to Alan Pyke, FedEx set contract agreements with delivery and pickup drivers in order to avoid the higher costs associated with making the drivers full employees. Questions: 1. What… Read more »

Lose-Lose and Win-Win: Time for Change

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Most airline tickets are nonrefundable and require a hefty change fee plus any fare differential. And many hotel rooms are totally nonrefundable and nonchangeable, so you could lose the entire value of your room. So why isn’t it the same policy when the airlines or hotel changes your arranged plans? As this article points out,… Read more »

Chapter 11 for Quiznos

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Quiznos, the Denver-based sandwich chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy in the next few weeks, due to debt and declining sales. Questions: 1. This is not the first time that Quiznos has negotiated with creditors. Explain its out-of-court restructuring deal that occurred two years ago. 2. Assuming that the past debt load was similar… Read more »

What’s Martha Stewart Doing in Court Again?

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In the latest Martha Stewart saga, Macy’s alleges Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia violated exclusivity terms of its contract when it agreed in 2011 to open Martha Stewart stores inside J.C. Penney’s stores. Questions: 1. Martha Stewart denied Macy’s allegations that she did anything unethical and said she was only looking to expand her brand. After… Read more »

Hospital Costs

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Two years ago, Augie Hong, who works for an investment firm in San Francisco, awoke with severe abdominal pains. He went to an ER at the hospital closest to his house and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He wasn’t worried about the cost because he had health insurance from his employer. However, when he got… Read more »