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2012 March - April

Consumer Rights Screening Tool for Domestic Violence Advocates

By Leah A. Plunkett & Erika A. Sussman

Safety plans for domestic violence survivors should establish economic security for those survivors who have gone through economic abuse by their batterers. Together consumer advocates and domestic violence communities can recognize and understand common consumer challenges that survivors encounter. This screening tool introduces common consumer problems, suggests specific questions for engaging the survivor, and offers possible solutions.

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Remittances: A New Market Calls for New Protections

By Karen K. Harris

Immigrants in the United States remit tens of billions of dollars every year to family members in their home countries. The size of the remittance market and opportunities for new customers in a heretofore largely unbanked population have led banks and other financial institutions to offer remittance transfers. Sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act affect remittances, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued final rules to implement these sections. Provided that consumer protections are in place, remitting through banks is a way for immigrants to benefit from entry into the mainstream financial market.

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The Sheepherder Project

Systemic Change for Marginalized Workers

By Jennifer J. Lee

Representing sheepherders who work in the United States as part of the H-2A program is extremely challenging. Not only are sheepherders geographically isolated, but also they are exempt from many of the state and federal laws that protect workers. The Migrant Farm Worker Division of Colorado Legal Services designed its Sheepherder Project to bring about systemic change for sheepherders through litigation and a variety of advocacy strategies. Colorado Legal Services’ innovative project can serve as a model for any poverty law advocate.

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Securing Civil Protection Orders for Teens When Laws Ignore Teens

By Lisa Vollendorf Martin

Teen dating violence is common, but teens may have difficulty securing civil protection orders because state laws governing these orders largely ignore teens. Without clear statutory guidelines for teens, two distinct legal questions are key to their securing orders of protection: standing and legal capacity. Courts in many states have the discretion to permit minors to represent themselves without parent notification, especially when self-representation allows minors to protect their health, safety, and welfare.

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How the Federal Trade Commission and Advocates Together Can Benefit Low-Income Consumers

By Thomas B. Carter & Monica Vaca

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government’s consumer-protection arm, formed the Legal Services Collaboration to work with legal aid attorneys to protect low-income consumers. The FTC can bring large cases and share its expertise, but it needs frontline information from legal aid attorneys to make its enforcement efforts as effective as possible. One such collaboration between the FTC’s immigration initiative and Catholic Charities of Baltimore targeted a local notario scam against immigrants and yielded a broader campaign to protect immigrant consumers nationwide.

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Affirmative Litigation Ensures Coverage of Medically Necessary Adult Diapers

By Joel Ferber

Individuals who had a variety of disabilities and lived in community settings challenged Missouri’s policy of denying, for such individuals, adult incontinence briefs necessary to avoid skin breakdowns and infections. Although the case was not brought as a class action, the court found that the policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act’s “integration mandate” as established in Omstead v. L.C. and ordered the state to establish a policy whereby adult Medicaid recipients could obtain medically necessary incontinence briefs. The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a statement in support of plaintiffs. The court awarded attorney fees to plaintiffs’ counsel.

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