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Legal News You May Have Missed: Week Ending February 8, 2013

By: Jeffrey Lapin

Lapin Law Offices Legal News

This week’s legal news that you may have missed for the week ending February 8, 2013, all involve cases in which the United States or one of its departments or agencies are either the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit:

U.S. Postal Service won’t pay East Cleveland for traffic camera tickets because it says it’s exempt from local laws

     (By: Michael K. McIntyre via Cleveland.com)

Neither rain nor snow nor, apparently, traffic laws will keep the Post Office from its appointed rounds.

The notorious East Cleveland traffic cameras nabbed U.S. Postal Service Vehicles breaking the law seven times and sent a notice to the Post Office on Broadway with the bad news every driver hates to see: a picture of the infraction and a demand for payment.

Jennifer Breslin, senior litigation counsel for the Postal Service, sent East Cleveland a letter, instead, invoking the U.S. Constitution as an excuse for not paying up.

‘In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible … However, as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation … The Postal Service requires its employees to obey all traffic laws and rules while operating Postal Service vehicles. However, the state and/or local ordinances imposing penalties and fines cannot be enforced as against the Postal Service.’

(Click on the headline above to read the entire article)

A copy of Ms. Breslin’s letter can be found here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/123382350/Post-Office (posted by Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed)

IRS Intensifies National Crackdown on Identity Theft; Part of Wider Effort to Protect Taxpayers, Prevent Refund Fraud
   
 (From: IR-2013-17, Feb. 7, 2013)

Continuing a year-long enforcement push against refund fraud and identity theft, the Internal Revenue Service today announced the results of a massive national sweep in recent weeks targeting identity theft suspects in 32 states and Puerto Rico, which involved 215 cities and surrounding areas.

The coast-to-coast effort against 389 identity theft suspects led to 734 enforcement actions in January, including indictments, informations, complaints and arrests. The effort comes on top of a growing identity theft effort that led to 2,400 other enforcement actions against identity thieves during fiscal year 2012.

The January crackdown, a joint effort with the Department of Justice and local U.S. Attorneys offices, unfolded as the IRS opened the 2013 tax season. …

Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

To help taxpayers, the IRS has a special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and a special guide to assistance. For victims, the information includes how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For other taxpayers, there are tips on how taxpayers can protect themselves against identity theft.

(Click on the headline above for the full Press Release)

› Lawsuit presses Postal Service to pay interest on decades of death benefits

     (By: Joe Davidson via Washington Post)

It seems only right to Pamela McKinney.

If you owe the federal government back taxes, you have to pay interest on top of the base amount.

So, Uncle Sam also should have to pay interest when the government owes individuals money.

That gets to the nut of her case against the U.S. Postal Service. If she wins, a lot of people could be surprised with a nice check.

To simplify a long and complicated story — the Postal Service paid death benefits to Postal Service survivors. In some cases, the benefits were paid late, as much as 25 years late, according to McKinney’s complaint.

“This suit seeks payment of interest for the decades that the proper benefits were withheld,” said the document, an amended class-action complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by McKinney’s attorneys.

(Click on the headline above for the full article)

Case Information: Pamela McKinney v United States Postal Service – Civil Action No. 11-cv-631 (RLW) – United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Additional information regarding this lawsuit: MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding 9 Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 08/22/2012

› United States sues Standard & Poor alleging it inflated ratings on mortgage investments to its own benefit

From Press Release: Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Press Conference Announcing Lawsuit Against S&P

The Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s Financial Services – as well as its parent company, McGraw-Hill – alleging that the credit rating agency S&P engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in financial products known as Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, or RMBS, and Collateralized Debt Obligations, or CDOs.   We allege that, by knowingly issuing inflated credit ratings for CDOs – which misrepresented their creditworthiness and understated their risks – S&P misled investors, including many federally insured financial institutions, causing them to lose billions of dollars.   In addition, we allege that S&P falsely claimed that its ratings were independent, objective, and not influenced by the company’s relationship with the issuers who hired S&P to rate the securities in question – when, in reality, the ratings were affected by significant conflicts of interest, and S&P was driven by its desire to increase its profits and market share to favor the interests of issuers over investors.

Yesterday’s action was brought under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, which allows the Justice Department to seek civil penalties equal to the losses suffered by federally insured financial institutions.   To date, we have identified more than $5 billion in such losses, resulting from CDOs that were rated by S&P between March and October 2007.   During this period, nearly every single mortgage-backed CDO that was rated by S&P not only underperformed – but failed.

Put simply, this alleged conduct is egregious – and it goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis.

Related Press Releases:

 

That’s it for this week. If you find something interesting you would like us to post email it to Lapin Law Offices. If we post it we will give you credit, if you want, for sending it to us. Please do not send any copyrighted material or anything else you do not have the rights to send.

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Jeffrey Lapin

Lawyer, Founder and Owner at Lapin Law Offices
I am a trial lawyer and the Founder and Owner of Lapin Law Offices. I represent injured, abused and disabled clients with caring, passion and dedication in Lincoln and throughout Nebraska.

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