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Leah Nicholls

Kazan Law Helps to Fund Public Justice Attorney Leah Nicholls

Leah Nicholls

Leah Nicholls
Photo credit: Public Justice

Giving back is one of our guiding principles at Kazan Law.  Because we work with mesothelioma patients and their families, much of our giving back goes to mesothelioma research.  However, helping to fund research for new treatments and cures for mesothelioma is just part of the story for us. We also believe in giving back to further the pursuit of justice.

We are proud to donate to nonprofit legal organizations that take on the tough ones and stand up for humanity.  As legal advocates for victims of asbestos exposure, we defend our clients against corporate misconduct and we gladly support legal assistance for those who need it in other causes.

One of the organizations we support is aptly named Public Justice.  Based in Washington D.C. and Oakland, they consider themselves America’s public interest law firm and according to their mission statement, they:

  • protect people and the environment
  • hold the powerful accountable
  • challenge government, corporate, and individual wrongdoing
  • increase access to justice
  • combat threats to our justice system
  • inspire lawyers and others to serve the public interest

Kazan Law helps fund Public Justice by co-underwriting together with another firm a full-time position for one of their attorneys.  Her name is Leah Nicholls and since joining Public Justice’s Washington D.C. office in September 2013, she has helped defend residents of a rural island community against a toxic bauxite refinery, protect the injury settlement of an airlines employee, ensure access by citizens to state government records in Virginia, challenge Texas health regulations over a salmonella outbreak due to unsanitary poultry facilities, argue for a WalMart employee’s right to disability benefits and argue other cases, many involving the Supreme Court.

Leah said in a recent memorandum, “This past year has been both challenging and rewarding, and I am extremely lucky to be able to do the kind of important work that Public Justice does at the highest levels. I am deeply grateful to Steven Kazan for this outstanding opportunity.”

And I am deeply proud of what this young attorney has accomplished at Public Justice in such a short time and look forward seeing all that she will do in the years to come.

Court Reinforces Right to Sue at State Level for Workers Exposed to Workplace Toxins

OSHAOccupational safety means just that.  It means safety on the job from life-threatening hazards like asbestos exposure and other workplace toxins. So today I have good news for all of us who care about justice and occupational safety for America’s work force!

Last week, a federal court unanimously issued a ruling strengthening protections for Americans injured by hazardous substances, including asbestos exposure, on the job.

Specifically, the federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit filed by the American Tort Reform Association that challenged an important section of wording in OSHA’s revised hazard communication standard.  OSHA is the Occupational and Safety Hazard Administration, a division of the Department of Labor.

Both state and federal laws outline how companies are required to label harmful substances – including asbestos – in the workplace. Federal law usually trumps state law, but victims injured due to inadequate hazard labeling are still allowed to sue their employer for damages under state law.  The American Tort Reform Association, an industry-funded group, tried to overturn that and was unsuccessful.

I learned of this favorable ruling from Leah Nicholls, the Kazan-Budd attorney at Public Justice, a Washington D.C.-based public interest law firm.  I am proud to say that Kazan Law co-funds Leah Nicholls at Public Justice so she can work on difficult cases to protect people and the environment against powerful interests.

“The court’s opinion is great news for all of us who want to hold employers liable for injuries to employees,” Leah said.

“OSHA endorses the ability of employees injured because of inadequate labeling of hazardous substances to sue under state law to get damages for their injuries and, importantly, to prevent the same injuries from happening to other employees,” she added. “The fact that the D.C. Circuit held that OSHA’s endorsement stands will help persuade other courts that the existence of federal regulations does not prevent people from suing under state laws.”

The US Supreme Court has issued several rulings in recent years scaling back Americans’ ability to sue corporations for damages. The high court is also the most business-friendly since World War II, according to the New York Times business section. In that context especially, Leah said, “This is a heartening decision.”  I concur.

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