So You Wanna Be a Vegetable

May 12, 2010

Imagine, if you will, that an injury, disease, or simple old age causes you to become incapacitated.  Incapacitated is the euphemism I’m using to indicate that you no longer have control over your mind and/or body.

There is a nasogastric tube inserted into your nose down to your stomach, which takes care of pumping nutrients & pharmaceuticals directly into your system, and, there is a Foley catheter inserted into your urethra because you’re not sufficiently aware to know when your bladder is full to go to the restroom to take care of it.  There are restraints on your wrists because you’re so bugfuck crazy, that you have to be preempted from tearing out the tubes.

In short, you’re barely alive.  In fact, the only thing keeping you that way is a ventilator.  You have brain activity, but your body is so thrashed/elderly,  the only reason you’re still here at all is because of the machine, the drugs and the tubes.  And let’s not forget the pending bill from the hospital that you will leave behind for your family to deal with.

Such medical attention will surely make your loved ones feel better because they’re not ready to say goodbye, but does this condition seem to you like there is even the slightest quality of life whatsoever?

Do you think that if you were forced to live for an unspecified duration with tubes going into and coming out of your body, and, the pharmaceutical cocktails floating in your bloodstream slowly poisoning whatever is left of your mind, that you’d be happy?

Would you live like a prisoner trapped in your own body simply to make your family happy?

I know it’s a bummer to bring up the unpleasant realities of disease & death, but consider this a public service announcement.  If you find it uninteresting, then you may as well just sign on to the So You Wanna Be a Vegetable club because that is essentially how you will end up if you don’t take the appropriate steps to ensure that you just want to be able to expire in peace without all the medical intervention and drugs.

Even if you have taken the trouble to complete a Do Not Resuscitate Order, that still doesn’t mean you won’t spend the rest of your days (and what’s left of your estate) paying for hospital care to keep you alive via artificial means.

Despite the fact that the language of the DNR specifies limited emergency care, medical personnel still won’t allow you to die with dignity unless your heart stops beating and/or you stop breathing.  Since DNRs are revocable by the family, eventually you’re going to end up on a ventilator where you will pretty much stay that way indefinitely, ensuring that your breathing never stops on its own.

You could linger for years in this condition as your body and mind slowly degrade leaving you trapped in a bed, shot up with drugs and developing pressure ulcers because hospital staff are overwhelmed with caring for other patients who will recover. But you won’t.

You will lie there in your own vomit, feces and other bodily fluids, unable to do anything but wait for the nurse.  You’re on your way out, you see, and because of that, like it or not, you are at the bottom of the nurse’s roster of patients.  Sure, you’re in a hospital and being charged thousands of dollars per day, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a room at the Ritz and 24×7 attention.

You’ll be lucky if your nurse has time during her shift to push in the medical cocktail into your IV and attend to your hygienic needs when she’s supposed to because 35 States don’t have a nursing-ratio law. If you’re not hospitalized in one of those 15 that do, this means that your nurse could have upwards of 20 to 30 other patients to get to before s/he can wipe your ass and flip you over onto your other side.

Food for thought – There are approximately 80 million baby boomers in this country between the ages of 46 – 64.  What are the chances that many of them are in the same hospital you are all waiting for their meds/care from the same R.N.?  Are you still confident that in your deteriorated condition you’re at the top of that list consisting 20-30 patients?  If you do, you probably haven’t ever had to wait at the doctor’s office an extra sixty minutes to two hours in addition to the time your appointment was.

And you can forget about company unless you’ve got an extraordinarily devoted family who will live at the hospital with you and otherwise make sure you’re receiving the care you need.  If not, the best you can hope for attentive medical company is a lowly nursing student the hospital pawns off on the undesirable patients at death’s door.

The nursing student has not yet become desensitized to allowing dying patients to lie in their own filth, so you may have a chance of getting immediate care, but I wouldn’t plan on it given that there are very few students these days who aren’t about the big money and the signing bonuses they know they’re going to rake in upon graduation.

Just as Med School used to be about curing sick people, the decision to attend Nursing School used to be about compassionate human beings learning to administer care to the sick, wounded & dying.  But also similar to the physician mentality, it’s all about the dollar signs now.  But don’t take my word for it.  Talk to any nursing student.  You may find one or two who don’t care about the money, but you’ll fast determine that they are in the minority.

Since the hospital can’t just let you die, and, are forced by law to provide the barest minimum of palliatative care, this is what you can look forward to given your condition.

Warning:  Graphic image of a pressure ulcer

I was going to upload the image, but it’s just far too disturbing.  Bed sores may sound like the punchline to a joke, but they are the furthest thing from funny.  They’re what happens to you from lying in a hospital bed in any one position for too long.  If you don’t die from the meds used to keep you artificially alive, then the bed sores will kill you ever so slowly and ever so…    p a i n f u l l y.

Are you still entertaining the idea of life in this condition for the sake of sparing your family from having to attend your funeral?

Are you 100% certain that your family would do what’s right for you instead of what’s convenient for themselves?

Your tortured existence could have been avoided had you made your wishes known in writing before you arrived at this point.  This is where an advance health care directive comes in, AKA a living will.  Let’s just refer to it as a Will for sake of brevity.

A Will is a legal document you leave behind that specifies not only who will inherit your assets, but also determines who has ultimate say so as to what action -if any- should be taken in the event of a medical condition such as the one referenced above.  Even the next of kin -in most instances the spouse- does not have the legal authority to make the call to pull the plug in the absence of a Will. The Terry Schiavo debacle brought this particular point front & center to national attention.

So do yourself and your loved ones a tremendous favor.  Read up on the advance health care directive, decide as to whether or not you want to end up in the produce section with bone deep bed sores, and act accordingly.

©2010 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Fun with Substitute Tax Return Forms

March 3, 2010

By midnight, 15 April of each year, Americans must have filed their personal state and federal taxes.  Normally, this is accomplished by your employer having given you your annual W-2 wage report.  But let’s say that your previous employer was a deadbeat douche and didn’t bother to provide you with the required report.   How then are you supposed to file the requisite taxes on your earnings?

After all, we wouldn’t want the poor, mega-billion dollar corporations such as Goldman Sachs, et al. to have to shoulder the tremendous patriotic duty of paying for 2 wars, subsidizing Big Pharma, and bailing out banks supporting the federal government alone, would we?  Of course not.

One day, in a land and time far, far, away,  you and I will both be billionaires, just like the television says so, and, then we will be able to afford tax lawyers to set up trusts in order to exploit loopholes in the tax code but in the meantime, we’re stuck being little people and have to report every nickel of our income instead of sheltering it offshore in the Caymans.  In fact, the federal government has a special message just for all us taxpayers.

The IRS has Form 4852 for those whose employers did not provide a W-2 wage report, and, the State of California has Form 3525 available.  Check with your own state government website for the appropriate tax forms.

UPDATE

Good news for residents of the Golden State, you may be one of the millions who qualifies to use Calfile, the California Franchise Tax Board’s free and direct e-file.   Check out who qualifies here.


How to Get Screwed in Court in 8 Easy Steps

February 11, 2010

  1. Have a tax arbitrarily assessed upon you for driving.  Also known as a speeding ticket.
  2. Indicate to the court on the day of your arraignment that you plead not guilty, and, reserve the right to go to traffic school per Rule of Court 4.104(c)(3).
  3. During your court trial, object per California Evidence Code §§ 771 and 1237 that the prosecution’s witness has not properly laid the foundation to read directly from his notes and be overruled.
  4. During the same trial, indicate to the court that during your arraignment, you reserved the right to go to traffic school per the appropriate rule of court and still be denied the right to attend.
  5. Point out to the court that the prosecution’s witness did not bother to tell you why he pulled you over, or show you the speed he supposedly clocked you driving at.
  6. Point out to the court that the prosecution’s witness has no case because he has not proven anything and has instead simply read back why he issued the ticket.
  7. Point out to the court the prosecution’s witness has not bothered to answer any questions upon cross-examination and has simply regurgitated the reason for issuing the citation instead of answering the defense’s questions.
  8. Point out to the court that the prosecution’s witness does not understand how lidar works since he was not able to explain it during cross-examination.

For any John Q. Patriotic brain dead Americans out there who still labor under the delusion that traffic tickets are about safety instead of revenue generation, I encourage you to attend traffic court and behold the obfuscation, lies, denial, and outright screw-overs perpetrated upon traffic citation defendants by the Superior Court in Orange County.

To characterize the proceedings as a Kangaroo Court is putting it charitably.   It’s more like a lost skit from Monty Python and the joke is on you.


Oorah for Me

January 28, 2010

Above referenced is the wage claim I mentioned a few days ago.  Pertinent information has been redacted to preserve the privacy of the parties involved.  All you need to know is that I beat the greedy prick.

Sometimes, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters as much as the size of the fight in the dog.

©2009-2011 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 


Odyssey of a Wage Claim

January 23, 2010
Click to enlarge
NOTE:  If you would like to view the official case file for help with your own wage claim, then please contact me offline  for details.  I will make available my materials for a nominal fee.

Not that any further evidence is needed that the State of California is in the toilet, the above referenced image is a timeline of how long it will take should an employee need to file a wage claim against his deadbeat employer for nonpayment.  Of course, for 2010, the wait time is probably longer because the State is a lot more broke than it was last February.

Referring to the image, you can see that you will be waiting quite some time just to receive an initial hearing date.  Hopefully, you didn’t actually need the money your deadbeat employer owes you because you will probably never see it.  At least not in the short term.  Perhaps later, when the Judgment is attached as alien to his estate when the greedy, old, prick croaks, and, if the State has located all the money he has hidden from the IRS so as to avoid paying the appropriate taxes on his salary, but most assuredly not any time soon.

After the initial hearing, you will then wait several more months for the conference.  After waiting five (5) months to get the conference date, the DLSE continued mine from mid-December to mid-January.  It was awfully thoughtful to give themselves a break for the holidays, don’t you think?

Once you attend the conference, a Judgment will be rendered by the Labor Commission in fifteen (15) days, or so I was told.  Thereafter, assuming Judgment was made in your favor, the Franchise Tax Board will then go after the deadbeat to attempt collection of the debt.   If the deadbeat ignores those attempts, the debt then goes into collections just like any other debt.

Realistically, I realize that I can’t get blood from a stone, or in this case, from a deadbeat douche who not only willfully bounced my paycheck, but also, did not bother to pay state or federal taxes on my salary despite having removed them.  However, I filed the claim simply because sometimes, in the absence of having the avaricious cocksucker’s legs broken,  you just have to fight on the principle of the matter.

Update

Please see Oorah for Me for the outcome of this case.

Disclaimer:  Not all wage claims will result in judgment for the plaintiff. Retaining legal counsel is not a requirement, however, be aware that filing the claim in pro per will be challenging if you are not familiar with how it works, particularly in calculating what is owed.  Your mileage can and will vary, but if you’re going to go at it alone, then make sure you thoroughly read and comprehend the Labor Commissioner’s website on procedure.

Additionally, I am a Paralegal with previous Employment Law experience, and, am well versed in form completion, drafting and submitting wage claims. Plus I’m just one of those people that if you’re going to knock me down, then you better make sure I stay down because when I get back up, your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower.  This characteristic helps immensely when dealing with douches who are accustomed to screwing over employees with impunity.

That my previous douche employer did not bother to respond to the Labor Commissioner throughout the course of an entire year only made the case a slam dunk for me.   Essentially, the employer slit his own throat by ignoring official correspondence that was legally served upon him.  But the Labor Commissioner would have found in my favor even if said employer had appeared at any of the hearings simply because it is not an option to whine about personal issues and use it as an affirmative defense for not paying employees.

©2009-2011 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Shaken Down with a Smile

January 5, 2010

If you’re going to fight a citation, then the arraignment is the time to make pre-trial motions, particularly those pertaining to discovery.   If the defendant doesn’t lodge one, there won’t be an opportunity later.

I attempted to make a motion requesting a hearing on the discovery I had previously served upon the prosecution before the arraignment date, only to be told by the temporary judiciary employee, er, I mean, Commissioner, that I was not entitled to receive the item I had asked for with my discovery request, therefore, a hearing on whether or not it was admissible was not granted.

The word “slick”  does not begin to describe traffic court in sunny Stepford, otherwise known as the County of Orange.   By the time I left the courthouse, I had an overwhelming urge to stop and double check that I still had in my possession both my wallet and private parts because the experience at the table in front of the Commissioner’s bench felt an awful lot like a shake down more than an arraignment.  But for one, every motion and recitation of case law and rules of court was completely glossed over and brushed off.

The only positives  were that I was granted release upon my own recognizance instead of having to post bail, and the trial date was surprisingly calendared in a speedy manner per the statute.


Understanding the MySpace Privacy Case

December 8, 2009

Issue

Berkeley student, Cynthia Moreno published an entry to her MySpace page entitled “An Ode to Coalinga” (the “Ode”). She opened the Ode with “the older I get, the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga,” and then proceeded to detail a barrage of negative commentary about the city and its residents. Six days later, she removed the Ode, however, before she had deleted it, the principal of her former high school had already been to her page, copied her Ode and fired it off via email to his female friend who happened to be the editor at the local newspaper. Cynthia hadn’t used her surname on her page, however the principal, Roger Campbell, had thoughtfully included it for his friend in the newsroom.

The editor then published the Ode as a “Letter to the Editor,” attaching Cynthia’s full name. Long story short, the community of Coalinga experienced a rather violent reaction to the Ode. The Moreno family received death threats, shots were fired upon their home, and ultimately, Mr. Moreno was forced to close the family business. Such a concerted effort put forth by the city’s inhabitants in an attempt to exact retribution upon the family makes it clear to me that the Ode probably wasn’t very far off the mark in portraying the community in a negative light.

Proud Coalinga residents viciously maligned as violent

Ms. Moreno filed a complaint against Mr. Campbell, the newspaper, and the publisher for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, however, the publisher managed to convince the Superior Court to dismiss the complaint based on an anti-SLAPP defense pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16. Ms. Moreno did not follow up on an appeal from the judgment. However, the case against Mr. Campbell and the Hanford Sentinel proceeded.

Law

Section 1708.7 of the California Civil Code makes a person liable for the civil crime of stalking. Also referred to as a tort.

Section 646.9 of the Penal Code makes stalking a criminal offense.

And Section 422 of the same Penal Code makes stalking via electronic communications device, also known as “cyberstalking” a criminal offense.

Perhaps such behavior as exhibited by Mr. Campbell is more consistent with invasion of privacy, instead. After all, merely checking up on the details that someone else voluntarily uploaded to a popular Internet website is hardly criminal or criminal-like behavior. But is it really considered stalking or an invasion of privacy if a person willingly discloses on the Internet the particulars of his or her personal life and thoughts?

All of the above referenced statutes go to great lengths to codify exactly what constitutes the official offense of stalking as defined by the State Legislature, but anyone who has ever followed anyone else on a social networking website such as MySpace is guilty of committing a kind of stalking and privacy invasion on a regular basis. A very benign flavor, but stalking or invasion of privacy, nonetheless. What else would you call the act of “following” someone’s activities on the web?

The California Court of Appeal in the Moreno MySpace case didn’t buy that line of argument either. But that doesn’t make the verdict justifiable, in my opinion. If Justice is indeed blind, then she is also deaf and mute as well.

The bottom line of this particular case does not jibe with any facet of the stalking or invasion of privacy laws as they are currently written, which is just as well because like morality, ethics also cannot be legislated. However, I will let you decide for yourself as to whether the instant case was a voluntary disclosure or simply a matter of an authority figure who not only abused his discretion, but who also, evidently, spends his time lurking on social networking websites in search of students.

Richard Vernon, Principal, The Breakfast Club

Analysis

The Appeals Court concluded that Ms. Moreno did not establish a cause of action for her invasion of privacy claim. Such a violation would have required her to set forth:

  1. A legally protected privacy interest;
  2. A reasonable expectation of privacy;
  3. A serious invasion of the privacy interest.

Four distinct kinds of activities have been found to violate this privacy protection and give rise to tort liablity. These activities as defined by statute are:

  1. Intrusion into private matters;
  2. Public disclosure of private facts;
  3. Publicity placing a person in a false light;
  4. Misappropriation of a person’s name or likeness.

The court found that since Ms. Moreno had published her journal on MySpace, the Ode was therefore, not private. A critical component of an invasion of privacy charge is public disclosure of private facts. A matter that is already public is not private.

As to the intentional infliction of emotional distress, there are four elements that must be determined by a jury to determine whether conduct was sufficiently extreme and outrageous to result in liability:

  1. Outrageous conduct;
  2. Intention to cause or reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress;
  3. Severe emotional suffering;
  4. Actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress.

The court determined that in order for conduct to be reasonably regarded as extreme and outrageous, an objective standard must be applied. The standard is how reasonable people might view the conduct, and, those who are either overly sensitive or callous are disincluded.

The Superior Court concluded that Mr. Campbell’s conduct did not meet the standard of outrageousness necessary to constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress despite the fact that he submitted the Ode to the newspaper for publication knowing he did not have permission to do so. Ms. Moreno alleged that he did so to punish her for the contents of the Ode and to cause emotional distress and alleged conspiracy to include the newspaper as well as the publisher.

The Appeals Court decided that whether Campbell’s conduct was extreme and outrageous was for a jury’s determination. And since Ms. Moreno had filed an appeal from the judgment against her resulting from the anti-SLAPP statute, and then later abandoned it, she could not then amend her complaint to include that Mr. Campbell had conspired with the newspaper and the publisher to cause her emotional distress.

Conclusion

Essentially, the Appeals Court relied on the language of the invasion of privacy law and ultimately concluded that since Ms. Moreno published her Ode on the Internet, she could not then have a reasonable expectation to privacy.

Ed Rooney, Principal Ferris Bueller's Day Off

That this verdict was analyzed appropriately and a logical conclusion deduced, there is no argument. However, I would submit to the reader that given his position as high school principal, the ethics of Roger Campbell should be called into question, and, his employment status terminated based on his questionable behavior.

©2009 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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