Author

Kurt Niland

5242 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

Lithium-ion Batteries Ignite on China Southern Flight

A Lithium-ion battery fire that forced a China Southern Airlines plane to make an emergency landing in Malaysia Dec. 23 underscores the risks that the powerful, rechargeable batteries pose to commercial aviation. The aviation news website Simple Flying reported that China Southern Airlines Flight CZ396 had just taken off from Penang, Malaysia bound for its hub In Guangzhou, China, when a passenger’s battery pack exploded in an overhead compartment. The plane, an Airbus A321, radioed for help and turned back to Penang as cabin crew fought to extinguish the fire. Simple Flying reports that the crew managed to get the ... Read More

U.S. Attorney General Nominee Vows to Uphold False Claims Act

Stepping back from previous criticism of the False Claims Act, William Barr, Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, pledged he would stand by the law that authorizes whistleblowers to sue on behalf of the U.S. government and American taxpayers. Mr. Barr, who served as the attorney general in President George H.W. Bush’s administration from 1991 to 1993, once described the False Claims Act as an “abomination” and displayed an appetite to challenge the law, which he viewed as unconstitutional. In 1989, Mr. Barr wrote that the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act replaced the Judicial Department’s prosecutorial discretion ... Read More

Contractors Cited for Wisconsin Gas Explosion

Federal authorities investigating a natural gas explosion that destroyed a city block of downtown Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and killed a business owner have faulted two utility contractors, alleging they failed to follow proper safety procedures before drilling underground lines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assessed one serious penalty each for Kansas-based Bear Communications and VC Tech of Michigan and proposed the maximum allowable fine of $12,934. Verizon contracted Bear Communications to run fiber optic cable lines under the city. Bear Communications subcontracted VC Tech to perform horizontal directional boring – a technique used in laying underground lines without ... Read More

Whistleblowers Say Colorado’s Revenue Dept. Wasting Millions of Taxpayer Dollars

Whistleblowers within the Colorado Department of Revenue say that waste, incompetence, and mismanagement in the agency are costing state taxpayers millions of dollars. The Denver Channel’s Contact 7 says it received a letter in a Colorado Department of Revenue envelope from “Concerned Colorado Department of Revenue Employees, Taxpayers, & Citizens of Colorado.” The whistleblowers pointed to “Climate Surveys” that assess the atmosphere within the agency by compiling anonymous feedback from Tax Division employees. “It is very important you get the results of these surveys … to understand the level of internal strife caused by the incompetence and mismanagement of resources ... Read More

Speed Was a Factor in Deadly Arkansas Charter Bus Crash, Authorities Say

The driver of a charter bus that sped off the highway and rolled into a drainage ditch last month, killing a 9-year-old boy and injuring dozens of others, was driving too fast for conditions, Arkansas authorities said. The charter bus, owned by Flannigan Tours of Southaven, Mississippi, but leased to Scott Shuttle Services, was transporting a youth all-star football team from Dallas home to Memphis when the crash occurred. Arkansas State Police say the charter bus was traveling east on Interstate 30 on Dec. 3. Driver Eula Jarrett, 65, attempted to get off the highway at the 111 exit ramp. ... Read More

Injured Truck Driver Drops Jimmy Buffett From Negligence Complaint

Singer Jimmy Buffett and his signature company Margaritaville have been released from a negligence complaint filed by a truck driver who was severely injured on the job. The complaint, filed by truck driver Mary Kay Puckett, will still pursue damages from Live Nation Entertainment and MGM Resorts, according to The Blast. Ms. Puckett states in her negligence lawsuit that she was hired to transport set pieces and equipment for Jimmy Buffett’s Oct. 15, 2016, show at the MGM in Las Vegas, past of his “I Don’t Know” tour. When she arrived at the venue a crew member verbally accosted her, ... Read More

Negligent Security Suit Blames Savannah Apartments Over Young Woman’s Murder

The family of a murdered college student has filed a negligent security lawsuit against a Savannah, Georgia apartment complex, alleging lax security measures at the property created a haven for criminal activity. Rebecca Foley, 21, was shot inside her Volkswagen on Jan. 21, 2103, by Bloods gang members while trying to flee a robbery attempt in the parking lot of the Colonial Village at Marsh Cove apartments in south Savannah. A protracted investigation and criminal prosecution resulted in the November conviction of two gang members, who were sentenced to life without parole, and cleared the way for a civil lawsuit ... Read More

NTSB: Casino Shuttle Boat Fire Caused by Poor Maintenance, Training

A fire that broke out aboard a Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz shuttle boat in Fort Richey, Florida, last year was the result of a deficient maintenance program and a lack of guidance in responding to high-temperature warning indicators, federal investigators said. On Jan. 14, 2018, the casino shuttle boat, a 72-foot-long vessel named the Island Lady, was transporting 53 people to the Tropical Breeze Casino boat about nine miles out in the Gulf of Mexico in international waters when a fire broke out onboard. With the casino shuttle filling with smoke, the captain managed to turn the vessel around and ... Read More

Home Depot Whistleblower Files Retaliation Complaint

A former Home Depot employee is suing the national DIY retailer alleging it fired him in retaliation for calling out illegal hazardous waste dumping practices. James Girsch , 65, of Escondido, California, filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against Home Depot Nov. 29 in San Diego Superior Court. The former Home Depot paint department supervisor says he was one of the whistleblowers who reported that Home Depot centers in California were “routinely and systematically sending hazardous waste to local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes, and were tossing documents containing sensitive customer information into store trash bins, potentially ... Read More

E-Cigarette Explosion in Canadian Man’s Mouth Triggers Lawsuit

E-cigarettes have exploded in popularity since they first hit the market in the mid-2000s, and they continue to literally explode in the hands, mouths, pockets, and purses of unfortunate vapers everywhere, causing serious injury and property damage. The Vancouver Sun reports that Shelby Hare, a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, is suing the two local e-cigarette retailers and two international manufacturing and distribution companies after his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth on Dec. 30, 2016. Mr. Hare alleged that a defect in his e-cigarette caused the blast, leaving him with severe injuries that included a broken jaw, shattered teeth, ... Read More