Stories to Watch in 2018
The California and San Francisco attorneys at Evans Law Firm represent clients in a variety of cases ranging from financial elder abuse, life insurance and annuities case, nursing home abuse cases, whistleblower actions under the False Claims Act and Internal Revenue Service whistleblower program and more. As California attorneys with a broad practice, we follow developments in the law and stories to follow throughout the country and in California as the new year unfolds. We want to share some current highlights with you.
Fires and Mudslides
In California the raging fires in the North Bay and Southern California were perhaps the biggest Statewide story of 2017. Clean-up and rebuilding are only beginning. After considerable partisan squabbling, it looks as if federal assistance is on the way. Poor and elderly victims were among the hardest hit as the deadliest fires in the State’s history drove across the North Bay. Some facilities were accused of abandoning elderly residents and lawsuits alleging abandonment and neglect have been initiated on behalf of elderly victims.
2018 opened with devastating mudslides in Santa Barbara and Montecito following December wildfires, the largest in the State’s history. The search for survivors is still going on. Already, two lawsuits have accused area utilities of negligence contributing to the destruction. Geologists and officials are already studying satellite imagery of the mudslides, in the hopes that similar calamities can be prevented in the future.
January 1, 2018 marked the effective date of legalized recreational marijuana sales in California. California is the biggest market to open up to legalized sales so far. Marijuana possession and sales, however, continue to be federal crimes. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Obama Administration’s policy which transferred marijuana industry regulation to states and directed federal law enforcement to allow businesses compliant to State law requirements to operate. Sessions’ decision overturns that policy. The federal and State law conflict will likely be the subject of litigation and political conflict in the coming year.
Consumer Protection and Financial Regulation
There are several consumer protection developments to watch as the new year begins. The Trump Administration has signaled it is no friend to consumers by the pending appointment of Mick Mulvaney, an avowed opponent of federal consumer protection, as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Mulvaney’s appointment is likely to go through and cuts and hiring freezes at the CFPB had already begun.
Also troubling is the Trump Administration’s vow to gut the consumer protections of Dodd-Frank. Dodd-Frank was signed into law by President Obama in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2008 that caused devastating financial losses to the American public. So far, the Trump Administration has not succeeded in destroying the consumer protections of Dodd-Frank but it has not gone off the administration’s radar.
Similarly, the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule,” requiring a higher standard of conduct for investment advisors and an advance especially for senior consumers, is still on thin ice. The rule brings a much-needed safeguard to consumers, especially seniors, who are often the targets of advisors with commission-driven insurance and annuity products to sell. Fortunately, the financial industry itself has moved in the direction of requiring advisors to operate under the fiduciary rule regardless of the current administration’s ambivalence on the standard.
New Tax Law
The first major overhaul of the federal income tax code since 1986 goes into effect this year. Rates changes, personal exemptions are eliminated, standard deductions increase and certain itemized deductions, such as for state and local taxes and mortgage interest, are capped. The individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act will be eliminated beginning in 2019. Be sure to consult with your tax advisor early in the year as to how the tax law changes may affect you.
Elder abuse in California is an important practice area for attorneys at Evans Law Firm. Elder abuse protections continue to expand under the case law in our State. While the federal government under the current administration has pulled back on consumer protection generally including for seniors, California continues to broaden the reach of elder abuse protection. In the financial industry, banks and securities firms also appear to monitoring elder abuse and advisor/agent standards of care more than those firms have in the past. The financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm continue to pursue all remedies and litigation strategies on behalf of seniors who have been victims of elder abuse at the hands of insurance companies and agents, financial advisors, caregivers, family members, trustees and agents under powers of attorney and all those who financially exploit seniors. In 2018, we will continue to keep you posted on developments in elder abuse law in the State of California.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse here in California or have suffered a financial loss as a result of the purchase or surrender of a financial product here in California, contact Ingrid Evans and the other attorneys at the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex qui tam or whistleblower cases, including IRS tax avoidance whistleblower cases and tax and securities fraud whistlwblowers, and cases against large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.
 We do not provide tax advice at the Evans Law Firm.