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Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | October 4, 2013 | Volume I, Issue 11
Firm Announcement

Simas & Associates, Ltd. Begins to Fight Back Against Agency Misadventures When Handing Public Records Act Requests

San Luis Obispo, California - After six weeks of no responses, Steven L. Simas had enough.

"We sent a Public Records Act request in and got no response." explained Mr. Simas.  "We then followed up twenty-five days after the response was due reiterating our request.  Not a peep back. Two more weeks past, and still no response from the agency, so we sent a meet-and-confer demand, with the consequence being we would file a writ of mandate.  Having received no response and telephone calls not availing, we filed a traditional writ of mandate under section 1085 under the Code of Civil Procedure.  Hopefully, a Judge can talk some sense into the agency."

The Public Records Act, found in Government Code sections 6250 et seq., is designed to give the public access to information possessed by public agencies. While there are specific exceptions to disclosure, they are read narrowly, in order to ensure that the public's right to inspect and receive an exact copy of a public record is not thwarted.

 

"Our law firm works primarily as Professional Licensee Defense or Respondent Counsel," explained Steven L. Simas, owner of Simas & Associates, Ltd.  "As a result, we are usually representing an individual against a large organization.  Most of the time, the large organization has a significant advantage over our client's in terms of resources at its disposal.  Seeking some of those resources by way of a Public Records Act request is a good way to balance the field,"  

If an agency objects, it is the agency's burden to justify non-disclosure.

"Records that are most likely not going to be disclosed are information concerning individual employee records and proprietary information concerning computer programs of the state," explained Mr. Simas.  "In addition, documents protected by a known privilege - such as attorney-client discussions, work product, medical records, and financial documents."

And even then, only the portions of the record that are excepted or are exempt are redacted, and the rest of the record must be produced.

"And it is not just state agencies," explained Mr. Simas.  "All state and local agencies are affected by the law."  And all are required to do the following:
  • Provide immediate access during business hours.
  • Provide assistance to help identify responsive records and to overcome any practical basis for denying access (i.e. too many records, etc.)
  • Provide copies of responsive records within 10 days - although the agency can provide notice to the requesting party of a need for an additional 14 days for voluminous requests.
  • Access and processing is always free.
  • Copy costs are limited to fees set by the Legislature.


"However, whether it be because of the ongoing budget crisis, bad politics, a lack of training, or a lack of enforcement, our law firm is finding that agencies are consistently failing to deliver their statutory responsibilities," explained Mr. Simas.  "As I just explained, many are just not responding. A number are trying to charge for research time even though it is not supported under the statute.  It is really limiting our ability to obtain information we can use on our clients' behalf to find the appropriate settlement or determine whether alternative standards of care have been accepted in the past."

If interested in learning more about our Professional Licensing Defense practice area, please visit our Contact Us page at www. simasgovlaw.com.
Staff Announcement

Steven L. Simas Presents at Joint Section Meeting of Sacramento County Bar Association
 
Sacramento, California - On September 26, 2013, founder and owner of Simas & Associates, Ltd., Steven L. Simas, presented at a joint section meeting of the Sacramento County Bar Association.  The Labor & Employment Law section and the Administrative Law section met to review cross-over areas of the law.  The meeting and presentation took place at Blue Prynt Restaurant (815 11th Street, Sacramento, California), a common meet-up place for City of and County of Sacramento attorneys and bar associations.

Mr. Simas's presentation was on "Administrative Adjudictions of Civil Service Commissions".  Mr. Simas used his perspective to as outside counsel for the San Luis Obispo County Civil Service Commission to review its history, jurisdiction, disciplinary matters, and administrative hearings.  His presentation included a powerpoint presentation which can be accessed here.
Client of the Month

Joe's Trucking, Inc.
1936 G Street
Rio Linda, CA 95673
P: (530) 668-9000
F: (530) 668-9300
www.joeslogistics.com
info@joeslogistics.com


Joe's Trucking specializes in Less-Than-Load (LTL) produce and freight of all kinds. Founded in 1990 and family owned since its start, it's goal is to help small farmers and small receivers along the I-5 corridor.  It now operates a fleet of over 50 company trucks (all late model Freightliners) and 200 utility refrigerated trailers. Our mission is to maintain a high standard of customer satisfaction and excellent on-time performance. Joe's Trucking has the ability to help shippers and receivers of all sizes to be competitive and gain access to markets and sales.

Simas & Associates, Ltd. is proud to serve as Joe's Trucking, Inc.'s counsel since 2013.  If you would like to be featured as our law firm’s “Client of the Month”, please contact us at info@simasgovlaw.com
Featured Agency Announcement

Physical Therapy Board's Required Notice to Consumers Goes into Effect

On October 1, 2013, California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1398.15, Notice to Consumers, went into effect requiring licensed physical therapists to provide Form NTC 12-01, August 2, 2012 ("Notice to Consumers") to patients.  

The Notice to Consumers must be provided by at least one of the following methods:
(1) prominently posting the Notice to Consumers in an area visible to patients on the premises where the licensee provides the licensed 
services; or,
(2) Providing the patient or the patient's representative with a copy of the Notice to Consumers 
and obtaining an acknowledgement, signed and dated by the patient or the patient's representative, retained in that patient's medical records demonstrating receipt. 
 
Link to Regulation:
http://www.ptbc.ca.gov/laws/prop_regs/ord_adoption.pdf
 
Link to Form NTC 12-01, August 2, 2012:
http://www.ptbc.ca.gov/laws/prop_regs/ntc_12_01.pdf
Featured Blog Entry
 
Scope of Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance, which is also called Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O) or Malpractice insurance, is type of insurance which provides insurance coverage for liability caused by acts, errors, or omissions of a professional in rendering services within the context of the insured’s profession.  When triggered, it helps the professional retain and pay for expenses – including the legal defense and the resulting damages – from liability arising from professional services rendered.

However, professional liability insurance does not always apply to professional licensing defense cases.   That is because many licensing defense cases do not arise out of professional negligence.  Rather, many of these cases arise out of other forms of misconduct by the individual licensee, outside of their professional function.  This could be from driving while under the influence, fraudulent acts, theft, assault and battery, possession of controlled substances, or other acts that paint you and – as a result – the profession in a poor light.  This misconduct and resulting license discipline is not considered to have arisen from acts of the profession.  And, thus, are typically considered outside of the coverage of one’s malpractice insurance policy.


To keep reading this entry, please click here: Scope of Professional Liability Insurance.  For more blog entries from our attorneys and legal staff, please visit our law firm’s official blog – Wit of Mandate.
Looking to Hire
 
The Sacramento Office of Simas & Associates, Ltd. is looking to hire a Civil Litigation Paralegal and an Administrative Assistant / Marketing Coordinator.  If interested or if you know of qualified candidates, please visit or direct qualified candidates to visit our Employment Opportunities section of our website.  Thank you.
Word of the Month
 
Paralegal

Non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiring some knowledge of the law and procedures.  In California, they are regulated by Business & Professions Code sections 6450 et seq., which requires supervision by a member of the State Bar of California and possession of Paralegal certificate.  Usually paralegals have taken a prescribed series of courses in law and legal processes, which is much less demanding than those required for a licensed attorney.

Paralegals are increasingly popular, often handling much of the paper work in litigation, business law, and reviewing transcripts (i.e. hearings, depositions, etc.).  Furthermore, paralegals often take the lead in initial drafts of discovery and discovery respones (i.e. interrogatories, production of documents, etc.) as wlell as procedural motions and other specialized jobs. The main reason is that the hourly rate charged for paralegals is much less than that for the attorneys.  
Paralegals are also sometimes called legal assistants.

For 
more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at SimasGovLaw.com – Glossary.
Upcoming Calendar

It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  So, get your pink on!

October 5, 2013 - Happy World Teachers' Day!

October 6, 2013 - Physician Assistant's Day.

October 9, 2013 - Schwartz-Levi American Inn of Court monthly meeting.

October 12, 2013 - Reno, NV Bus Trip for the Sacramento Legal Secretaries Association and Placer County Legal Professionals' Association.


October 13, 2013 - Chicago Marathon.  Also, California Women's Suffrage Day.  See the reenactment at the State Capitol.

October 14, 2013 - Columbus Day.  Office is Closed.   

October 15, 2013Kennedy American Inn of Court monthly meeting.


October 16, 2013 -  Happy Boss's Day!

October 17, 2013 - Unity Bar Dinner.

October 19, 2013 - Happy Sweetest Day!


October 23, 2013MLB World Series Begins.

October 29, 2013 - NBA Season Begins.  

October 30, 2013 - Public Law section of the SCBA hosts Senate President ProTem Darrell Steinberg to speak about the Downtown Arena Project. Also, the SLO Bar hosts Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.

October 31, 2013 - Happy Halloween! 

November 1, 2013 - All Saints' Day.
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