The People's Lawyer Consumer News Alert
Center for Consumer Law
  Volume 142 Number 58

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The People’s Lawyer’s Tip of the Day

Some ads for weight loss products promise miracles. They might say that the product works for everyone or will let you lose weight permanently. Those claims are lies.  Click here for more.

FDA proposes warning pictures for cigarette packages

Cigarette smokers are probably aware of the health risks associated with smoking, but to drive home the point the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes new graphic images for cigarette packages. The agency has proposed a rule that would require warnings that include color images depicting some of the serious health risks of smoking, including a child breathing from an oxygen machine after becoming ill from second-hand smoke. If adopted, it would be the biggest change to cigarette packages in over three decades. Click here for more.

Your Money

Wall Street began this year with trepidation. A fourth-quarter sell-off had threatened to end a 10-year bull market. Confidence returned however, and 2019 has been fairly good to shareholders. The best stocks to buy for 2019 are strong companies with solid underlying fundamentals, poised to prosper regardless of what the future holds. With trade wars and inverted yield curves stirring up fears once more, some of the 10 best stocks to buy for 2019 can serve as a relative safe haven for equity investors. Others, smaller and under the radar, offer diversification and long-term growth opportunities. Here’s a rundown of U.S. News’ top 10 stock picks for 2019, with updates on their performance. Click here for more.

For the Lawyers

Congress, not the courts, is responsible for changing the rules for discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy. Borrower, who became unable to make payments on her student loans and other debts, initiated an adversarial action against the Department of Education in bankruptcy court after receiving a general discharge of her debts, in an attempt to have two student loans discharged as well. While the borrower was able to prove that her monthly expenses exceed her income, the bankruptcy and district courts found that she failed the three-prong test for evaluating claims of “undue hardship.” Borrower failed to (i) show that she was “completely incapable of employment now or in the future”; or (ii) prove that her present state of affairs was likely to persist through the bulk of the loan repayment period. The borrower appealed, arguing that the three-prong test “is inconsistent with the plain meaning of the term ‘undue hardship’” and urged the appellate court to adopt instead “a ‘totality of the circumstances’ test.” On appeal, the 5th Circuit agreed with the lower courts, stating that when Congress amended the bankruptcy law regarding the discharge of federal student loans, the intent was to limit it to cases of “undue hardship” in order to prevent the use of bankruptcy except in the most compelling circumstances. According to the appellate court, until an en banc panel or the Supreme Court reviews the standard, the panel finds no error in the lower courts’ decision. In the Matter of: VERA FRANCES THOMAS, 5th Cir 2019 Click here for more.

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