Attorney general says T-Mobile customers in Kansas eligible for refunds

T-Mobile customers in Kansas who were charged for third-party services on their mobile phone bills without their consent are eligible to receive refunds as part of a multi-state settlement reached earlier this week, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

The national settlement announced today was reached between T-Mobile, the attorneys general of Kansas and 49 other states and the District of Columbia, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. It includes a total payment of $90 million to resolve allegations that T-Mobile placed charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills for third-party services that had not been authorized by the consumer, a practice known as “mobile cramming.” This settlement follows a similar one reached with AT&T Mobility in October.

Under the terms of the settlement, T-Mobile is required to provide at least $67.5 million in refunds to consumers who were victims of cramming.

“Consumers have a right to be clearly informed about the services they are purchasing – and the cost,” Schmidt said. “This settlement returns to consumers charges for programs they didn’t know they were signing up for and were often unable to cancel.”

For more information on how to obtain a refund, Kansas consumers should visit the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or call 800-432-2310.

Second-degree murder conviction upheld of KCK woman

The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of Deborah Meeks of second-degree intentional murder in a case from December 2009 in Kansas City, Kan.

According to court documents, a jury in Wyandotte County convicted Deborah Meeks of second-degree intentional murder for fatally shooting her former partner, Wesley Smith, as he sat on a bed in his home.

Meeks admitted shooting Smith, but said she suffered from battered woman syndrome from years of abusive and manipulative mistreatment at the hands of her partner, according to court documents.

The trial court had excluded evidence of battered woman syndrome because Meeks did not assert self-defense at the trial.

A doctor for the defense submitted a written report that said Meeks killed Smith after an unusually controlling two-week period, which was the culmination of years of abuse and control, and that Meeks had acted in a manner that appeared to have been outside her conscious decision-making control. This report was not admitted by the trial court apparently because self-defense was not claimed by the defendant at the time, and the defense did not present legal authority for the idea that expert testimony about battered woman syndrome could be admitted in cases where the defendant was not acting in self-defense.

Also, the court did not allow evidence to be introduced of prior instances of acts of violence committed by Smith upon Meeks because there was no evidence that she was in danger when she went to Smith’s house with a gun, according to court documents.

Meeks originally had been charged with first-degree murder, but the jury decided upon second-degree murder.

In today’s ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said that “a defendant cannot disclaim a theory of defense before the trial court and then claim on appeal that he or she was prevented from pursuing that defense theory.”

The decision is online at www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2014/20141219/106107.pdf.

Wyandotte County continues to have highest unemployment rate in Kansas

Wyandotte County continues to have the highest unemployment rate of all counties in the state of Kansas, at 5.9 percent for November 2014.

The number was close to October’s 6 percent rate in Wyandotte County, and lower than one year ago, when it was 7.2 percent in Wyandotte County.

Statistics released today by the Kansas Department of Labor also show that Kansas City, Kan., had the highest rate of all large cities in Kansas, at 6 percent in November.

There are 4,119 persons listed as unemployed in Wyandotte County, according to the Kansas Department of Labor.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.3 percent for November 2014, as compared to 4.4 percent in October, and 5 percent one year ago, according to the statistics.

Kansas gained 7,200 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs, an increase of 0.6 percent since last year, and 7,500 nonfarm jobs, a 0.5 percent increase. Since last month, Kansas lost 4,400 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs, or 0.4 percent. The state declined by 4,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs, a 0.3 percent decline since last month.

“Kansas showed positive economic signs this month including a decrease in the unemployment rate, which marks a full year under 5 percent unemployment,” said Lana Gordon, secretary of labor. “In addition, wages showed significant growth since this time last year, furthering the growth seen in past months.”

“After a strong October, seasonal hiring in retail trade was slightly slower than expected in November, leading to a seasonally adjusted over the month dip in private sector jobs.” said Tyler Tenbrink, senior labor economist. “However, other indicators did improve over the month including increasing hours and earnings, signifying continued demand for labor.”