Suit claims Kaiser fails on mental health
A class-action lawsuit filed against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan this month accuses the health insurance company of failing to properly treat patients with mental illness.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three named plaintiffs but seeks to represent the "thousands of other Kaiser members who have been harmed by Kaiser's systemic denial of timely access to mental health services."
The suit comes four months after the health insurance company was fined $4 million by the state Department of Managed Health Care for having "serious deficiencies" in its care of mental health patients.
The lawsuit filed Oct. 3 by Oakland-based law firm Siegel LeWitter Malkani accuses Kaiser of contributing to the death of at least one patient who committed suicide and forcing at least two other patients to spend thousands of dollars on mental health care outside of Kaiser's health plan.
Representatives from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan could not be immediately reached for comment.
-- Paul T. Rosynsky, Staff
BART permanently eases bike restrictions
After two weeklong pilot periods and an extended trial, bicycles will be allowed on BART trains at all times starting Dec. 1.
BART's board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to allow cyclists on commute trains between 7 and 9 a.m. and between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. in all but the first three cars of a given train, or on "any crowded car."
Bikes are allowed on all trains during non-commute hours, except in the first car or any crowded cars.
BART directors said they will assess the changes in the future to make sure they are working properly.
-- Matthias Gafni, Staff
BART fire blamed on overheated equipment
A smoldering fire that forced passengers to evacuate a BART train Wednesday appears to have been caused by a piece of propulsion equipment that overheated below the tracks, a BART spokeswoman said Thursday.
BART reopened tracks at the station in both directions around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, shortly after the affected train was moved out of the station, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. Other trains moving along the line were delayed up to 15 to 20 minutes as the system recovered.
The fire began just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, when smoke was seen coming from under a Pittsburg/Bay Point-bound train. The fire smoldered for a couple of hours and flared up again after 8 p.m., Moraga-Orinda fire spokesman Stephen Healy said Wednesday.
Trost said a motor reactor, a 1,200-pound piece of equipment used in the propulsion process, overheated.
-- Rick Hurd, Staff
Salvadoran murder suspect deported
A Salvadoran national arrested last year in Contra Costa County and held in custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials has been handed over to El Salvador authorities to face a murder charge in his native country, authorities said.
Handy Brayan Guzman-Romero, 26, was turned over to the El Salvadoran Civilian National Police on Thursday, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE.
Guzman-Romero has been charged with first-degree murder in a criminal warrant issued by Salvadoran authorities for his alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of another man in San Jorge, in northeastern El Salvador, on Nov. 6, 2008.
Guzman-Romero was taken into custody by ICE officials on an immigration detainer days after his arrest by Contra Costa Sheriff's Office deputies on suspicion of hit and run driving without a license in May 2012.
-- Rick Hurd, Staff
High school bands to compete Saturday
More than 50 high school bands will compete for awards Saturday when Foothill High School's annual Band Review takes to the streets.
The event starts along Main Street, where a downtown parade featuring the competing schools is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. At the same time, a free band concert will be held at Amador High School, at 1155 Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton.
The event shifts at 3 p.m. to Foothill High School, at 4375 Foothill Road, where parade awards will be handed out at 3 p.m.
A $10 general admission field show, featuring dozens of bands, is slated from 4 to 10 p.m.
-- Chris De Benedetti, Staff
Event takes unwanted prescription drugs
Those looking to get rid of unwanted medication will be able to do so from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, when National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events will be held around the area.
The service, held in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, is free and anonymous. Details on the event and collection sites are online at www.dea.gov.
Keep medicine in the original container and leave the drug name intact. Black out personal information, including names, prescription numbers and doctor's name. Sharps and controlled substances will not be accepted.
-- Chris Treadway, Staff
More than 300 people flock to business fair
More than 300 job seekers flocked to a job fair at East Bay Works/San Pablo One-Stop on Wednesday night.
The event, called the West WIN Business, Jobs and Community Resource Fair, was organized by the West County Workforce Integration Network, San Pablo One-Stop and Lao Family Community Development.
"The turnout was really strong; it's clear that this was needed and that people in West County are looking for jobs and training," said Kathy Chao-Rothberg, a San Pablo councilwoman and the executive director of Lao Family Community Development.
In all, about 25 organizations sent representatives to explain programs and accept applications.
Unemployment remains at 12.5 percent in Richmond and 15.6 percent in San Pablo, well above the state average of 8.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-- Robert Rogers, Staff