With the Pokémon Go craze sweeping the nation, some homeowners have noticed smartphone wielding people walking on their lawns or parking in their driveways. As the game increases in popularity, more and more homeowners have found themselves inadvertent participants in the game.
Pokémon Go directs players to real locations to search for virtual creatures and items. The goal is to get people going to new places—but this can be a problem when these new places aren’t actually open to the public.
The problem has triggered warnings from several police departments across the nation. The message to Pokémon Go players: avoid trespassing onto private property!
As more and more people download the Pokémon Go app, the number of trespassers may increase. We will wait to see how the makers of the game address this ongoing problem.
Weiner & Thompson, P.A. is pleased to announce that one of its partners, Laurie Thompson has been elected as Development Director for the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (“FAWL”). Ms. Thompson has been active in FAWL for years, serving as the South Palm Beach County Chapter’s President in 2013-2014. After her term as President of the local FAWL Chapter Ms. Thompson served as the Development Committee Chair for State FAWL and was subsequently asked to join the Board as the Development Director.
FAWL’s mission is to actively promote gender equality and leadership roles of women in the legal profession, judiciary and community at large. Ms. Thompson is honored to be a leader in FAWL and in that role and as a partner in a law firm works to promote women in the legal profession.
Changes to various sections of HB 535 are now in effect. The changes include the following items:
- Clarification that certain swimming pools used for specific purposes are not subject to regulation;
- The Florida Building Code (code) requires two fire service elevators for buildings in certain circumstances;
- The location of standpipes in high-rise buildings are subject only to specified requirements;
- Requirement of fire sprinklers in restaurants with a fire area occupancy load of 200 patrons or more
- Additions of provisions to the code regarding fire separation distance and roof overhang projections
- Authorization of local building officials to issue phased construction permits
- Requirement completed building permit applications to be submitted electronically
- Exemption of Wi-Fi smoke alarms and those that contain multiple sensors, such as those combined with carbon monoxide alarms, from the 10-year, no removable, nonreplaceable battery provision and provides requirements regarding alarm monitoring system registration
- Authorization of mandatory blower door/air infiltration testing, effective July 1, 2017, and provides air change and infiltration rates
- Creation of the Calder Sloan Swimming Pool Electrical-Safety Task Force and the Construction Industry Workforce Task Force
- Allows a specific energy rating index as an option for compliance with the energy conservation code and directs the Florida Building Commission to study and determine if on-site renewable energy generation can be counted toward energy conservation goals under the code.
United Health Care filed suit against urine-testing business Sky Toxicology, claiming it lost $50 million from unnecessary drug tests.
Sky Toxicology had an agreement with addiction treatment businesses including sober homes. The treatment providers would invest in Sky Toxicology and would receive money from Sky each month in exchange for sending their treatment clients to get drug tests at Sky labs.
United alleges that Sky’s treatment center investors would only receive money from Sky if they kept sending clients to Sky for drug testing. As soon as the testing referrals stopped, the payments from Sky would stop. United further stated that Sky billed the patients’ insurance companies for the drug tests, so each patient referral meant more money for Sky.
United alleges that this was a “kickback” arrangement, and that it was illegal under Florida and federal law. Without commenting on this case, we are skeptical of almost any arrangement that allows financial benefits to be shared among those engaged in the delivery component services that are provided in the recovery setting.
This is not the first time Sky Toxicology has been sued by an insurance company. Cigna also sued Sky last year. It is clear that insurance companies have recognized the kickback issue and are going to do what they can to keep their costs down.
We will watch this case and keep you updated on any new developments. If you have other questions about drug testing or related legal issues, please contact Weiner & Thompson, P.A., the lawyers to Florida’s recovery provider community.
After a recent meeting in Delray Beach, it looks like the Federal government is considering stepping in to help local governments regulate sober homes. Attendees at the meeting, held on May 2nd, included the mayor of Delray Beach and other South Florida city and county officials, as well as U.S. Representative Lois Frankel (D- West Palm Beach) and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Gustavo Velasquez.
Local officials told Representative Frankel and Assistant Secretary Velasquez about the increasing “problems” from sober homes, including high numbers of calls to the fire department for overdoses. The local officials pushed for federal regulation. Although a change to the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act is unlikely, HUD and the Department of Justice are expected to issue a joint statement by August 2016. According to Representative Frankel, the statement will make clear that cities and counties can “deny a request for public accommodation when it changes the character of a neighborhood.” Local officials could use this joint statement to limit sober homes.
With this news, it is clear that it is more important than ever for sober home operators to be vigilant at efforts to self-regulate the sober home industry. If local and federal officials see well-run and high-functioning sober homes dominating the industry, they will be less concerned and less likely to increase regulations. Sober home operators need to rally and work together to ensure that well-run sober homes are able to continue providing a supportive living environment and the sense of community that is essential to a successful recovery. If self-regulation leads to fewer poorly-run sober homes, the well-run homes will have a better chance at succeeding.