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What Goes Around Comes Around…to the Source

The only PCB producer in North America is feeling the heat from decades of improper disposal management. Thousands of individuals have filed personal injury lawsuits, claiming that PCBs were the direct cause of their health problems.

PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of synthetic organic compounds of chlorine and benzene. It is a product that is resistant to heat and degradation, making it the ideal coolant or insulator in many electrical and electronic products. Its main use is to keep transformers and capacitors cool and electrical components insulated. The problem is it is a persistent organic pollutant. It gets into the air, the soil, and the water, and it does not easily degrade. It has been widely used everywhere, and because it was not properly disposed of, it is now an unwanted part of the ecology.

Monsanto Company was the sole producer of PBCs in North America. PCB production was in its Anniston facility from 1935 to 1971, and in Sauget from the late 1960s to 1977. Records show that the company routinely dumped production wastes into nearby rivers, such as Snow Creek in Anniston. Residents in and around the plants had no idea that they were being regularly exposed to a carcinogenic agent until years later when people who developed certain cancers and persistent skin problems were found to have large amounts of PCBs in their systems.

Monsanto and other companies have attempted to settle these complaints without admitting to any wrongdoing. However, settling personal injury lawsuits is just one part of the equation. The bigger question is who is going to clean up the mess?

According to the article found at http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2015/03/17/san-diego-sues-monsanto-over-pcb-pollution.html, Monsanto and its associates are liable for damages caused by PCBs in San Diego Bay. The claim pointed out that they were the only producers of PCB in the country and that “[d]espite growing evidence of PCBs infiltration of every level of the global ecology, Monsanto remained steadfast in its production of Aroclors and other PCBs.” The City of San Diego is suing the company for cleanup costs, loss of natural resources, and punitive damages.

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Overview of Trade Secrets

Intellectual property is a hot topic in business today because it’s difficult to define and protect ownership of such a valuable but intangible commodity. Intellectual property comes in four forms, the least regulated of which is trade secrets. Trade secrets are not protected by any federal law, although the Uniform Trade Secrets Act has been adopted by most states.

A trade secret can be any kind of information important to a business’s operations that gives a competitive advantage, and that reasonable effort is being exerted to protect. The point of a trade secret is that it is supposed to be secret. Therefore, if a company has not placed enough measures to guard the trade secret, then it loses the protection of the UTSA as soon as the secret becomes known by any third party, or the general public.

In order to warrant prosecution upon the loss of a trade secret, there must be reasonable proof that it was shared or used illegitimately.

Keeping information as a trade secret is the opposite alternative to patent protection. In order to qualify for a patent, an idea must be thoroughly explained to the point where an independent researcher could follow the explanation and recreate the system or technology. However, the amount of protection and royalties given in a patent is meant to compensate for the lack of secrecy. Patents also have limited life spans, after which the material becomes public domain. It’s up to the owner of intellectual property to decide which form of protection to pursue.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Litigate

For most people, the process of law and justice can be a bit confusing. This is one of the reasons why people try to avoid lawsuits, even when they have a good chance to win in court – because they believe the process is too difficult and complicated. This is not the case, however, and it shouldn’t be. Knowing the terms that are used in court is one way to help in understanding how the system works. One of the most common court proceedings is litigation. Litigation is simply the legal process of taking a case or lawsuit in court, heard and decided by either the judge or jury. It is a very common process when it comes to civil cases. Litigation occurs when the person who filed the lawsuit (called the plaintiff) has reached out and tried to settle the issue with the person who caused the declared injury (called the defendant) but have not succeeded. It may be a hard decision to go to court, mainly because it is lengthy and could cost money. It is, however, the best option to choose after negotiations or settlements have not been agreed upon. Some of the main advantages of litigation are:

  1. It is an open, transparent process.
  2. It follows a strict and uniform law of the land.
  3. The result is final and binding (however, it may still be subject to appeal in higher court)

Hiring a lawyer for litigation is highly advised because they can better represent you and your cause in court therefore increasing your chances of getting the result you prefer. To employ a lawyer is highly vital when it comes to accident cases because they can protect you from being taken advantage of by the defendant’s side. There are even lawyers who work on a contingency basis: meaning they get paid after the case has been settled. Court proceedings should not be something to fear; being informed about the whole process through the help of a good lawyer is the best way to go through the case. Be informed and knowledgeable about court proceedings to avoid losing your case.