11-17 Tammuz, 5781                                                   June 21-27, 2021 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--652nd Web Ed.




Under current New York law, a health care agent (someone appointed by an individual to make health care decisions for that person should he or she become incapable of making their own health care decisions) does not have the legal authority to order that nutrition and hydration should be withdrawn from a patient unless they know or are reasonably certain that this is something the patient would have wanted. However, there is a new bill, S. 4967/ A. 2634, which would give health care agents the authority to make decisions to withdraw nutrition and hydration from a patient, which would result in that patient dying of starvation and dehydration, in the total absence of knowing whether the patient would in fact have wanted this.

Agudath Israel has circulated a legislative memo opposing this change. The Agudah’s memo states that food and water are basic human needs and should not be withdrawn from patients, and that death by dehydration and starvation is one of the most painful ways for a human being to die. To allow a health care agent to order such a death for an incapacitated and helpless patient who can no longer speak for themselves, without any evidence whatsoever that the patient would desire such a death, is morally unconscionable. Furthermore, the memo states that “our Jewish tradition places a premium on the value and sanctity of life, and every moment a life can be prolonged is precious.”

In addition, the memo references a similar amendment proposed to a different law which was passed a number of years ago, that governs what authority health care surrogates should have. (A surrogate is someone designated by law to make health care decisions for a patient who is incapacitated and cannot make health care decisions for themselves, where the patient did not appoint a health care agent.) That amendment also sought to change the law to enable surrogates to withhold nutrition and hydration from a patient and Agudath Israel strongly opposed it at that time. The Agudah memo states that just as that previous amendment was morally a terrible mistake, so too would be giving health care agents the authority to withdraw nutrition and hydration from patients without knowing what the patient would have wanted. The Agudah urged members of the State Legislature to vote against the bill.   


Comprehensive investigative work by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), assisting the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel Affirmative Litigation & Consumer Protection Division (LACC) has resulted in a $60,000 settlement against a Los Angeles-based collection company for court judgments.

The civil complaint named Van Nuys Financial, which also operates under the alias business names Master Financial of California, Inc., Master Financial 2000, and Fleetwood Financial, as well as its owner-operators, John Ezra Sutton, Mark Zohar Sutton aka Zohar Sutton, and Rachel Sutton, collectively referred to as Van Nuys Financial (VNF).

The settlement resolves claims in a 2019 lawsuit filed by LACC against VNF. The lawsuit alleged VNF took advantage of consumers who had won money judgments in small claims court but who had not been able to collect those judgments. Contacting them through unsolicited telephone calls, and direct mail, VNF would encourage consumers who had prevailed in small claims court to assign their unsatisfied monetary judgments to VNF. After realizing the difficulty of collecting their judgments, consumers entered into written contracts with VNF and assigned their judgments to them. In exchange for the assignment, VNF would keep an agreed-upon percentage of the money collected, usually 30 to 40%, and would promise to remit the rest to the consumers.

The lawsuit alleged false advertising and misrepresentation because of VNF's pattern and practice of collecting on an assigned judgment but failing to notify consumers that they had done so. Additionally, on these occasions, VNF either did not provide the original judgment creditors any payment of the collected funds or they provided them some lesser amount.

“The Small Claims court allows all people in Los Angeles County to seek justice on equal footing. That spirit of fairness and equity must also allow for people to receive the judgments they earned in full,” said DCBA Director Rafael Carbajal. “These days, every dollar makes a difference for the consumers we serve. We congratulate our department’s investigations team and County Counsel on securing this settlement and helping to put money back into the hands of people who deserve it.”

DCBA investigators interviewed dozens of victims who had similar experiences after assigning their judgments to VNF. DCBA’s investigation further revealed that many of VNF's victims were unaware that VNF had ever collected on their assigned judgment.

VNF has agreed to pay restitution of $60,000 via monthly payments over a period of ten (10) years, with the first payment due February 1, 2022. Consumers may be entitled to restitution if they assigned their small claims court judgment to VNF and VNF collected the assigned judgment yet failed to pay the agreed-upon portion to the Consumer. Consumers who assigned their judgments to VNF and are uncertain if VNF ever collected any money on the judgment may contact the Superior Court with their case number to obtain information on the assigned judgment.


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LOS ANGELES– The Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) announced today that for the fifth consecutive year, CIT Bank has awarded grant funds to HCIDLA to help low-income Angelenos achieve the American Dream of owning their first home.

This year, CIT Bank awarded HCIDLA a $300,000 Community Development Grant to assist 20 low-income families purchase their first home in the City of Los Angeles.  Cumulative, since 2017, CIT has awarded HCIDLA $1.9 million for the City’s First-Time Homebuyers program.

For over 25 years, HCIDLA has operated first-time homebuyer assistance programs, providing eligible first-time, low- and moderate-income homebuyers with purchase assistance in the form of a deferred-payment “soft second” loan to be used toward down payment, acquisition and closing costs.

"We are grateful to CIT for their continued support of this program, and welcome once again this new grant," stated HCIDLA General Manager, Ann Sewill.  Ms. Sewill also added, "these funds will help low income Angelenos purchase a first home."

The initial grant from CIT Bank in 2017 provided $400,000, which enabled HCIDLA to assist 28 hard-working families purchase single family homes and condominiums throughout the City. Combined with three subsequent grants for a total award of $1.6 million from CIT Bank, HCIDLA assisted 98 families achieve the dream of homeownership thus far via the Low Income Purchase Assistance (LIPA) Homeownership Program.  For this same purpose, CIT is renewing this grant for another year to support low- income seekers of the American Dream in the City of Los Angeles.

"Through the LIPA Program I was able to purchase a condo and become a homeowner in Los Angeles.  I had doubts about being able to become a homeowner within Los Angeles due to the high cost, but this program made it possible,” said homebuyer, Mr. Terry Beasley Jr., who purchased a condominium in the San Fernando Valley region.  He also added, “I am extremely happy in my new home and would recommend this program to anyone wanting to become a first-time homebuyer but may have doubts about being able to qualify… The homeownership dream is possible!”

With low inventory of affordable homes and rising home prices, the path to homeownership has become increasingly difficult, especially for low- and moderate- income, first-time homebuyers. HCIDLA’s resources for first-time homebuyers are primarily federal grants.  With these limited resources, HCIDLA can typically assist fewer than 100 home buying low-income households a year and thus continuously seeks other grant sources. The renewed grant from CIT will be leveraged with the LIPA program funds to assist an additional 20 low-income families purchase homes.  

The program supports the City's goal to stabilize neighborhoods and remedy socio-economic inequities by providing access to low-income homebuyers to build wealth through owning their own homes and to secure permanent housing in the City of Los Angeles. To learn more about the City’s First-Time Homebuyer Programs.


TEL AVIV -- Start-Up Nation Central recently revealed that Israel’s innovation technology sector broke a new capital funding record this week, reaching a total of $10.5 billion raised since the start of the year, according to Start-Up Nation Finder. In doing so it matched the total raised throughout the whole of 2020, which was itself a record year, in less than half the time.

Investments in Israel exceed global trends. The marked increase in investments in Israeli tech companies (most of which originate from foreign investors) is even more pronounced when compared with investment performance worldwide. While Israel recorded an increase of 137% for the first five months of 2021 compared to the first five months of 2020 (according to Start-Up Nation Finder), the increase globally was only 89%. Europe recorded an increase of 123% over the same period, while the US saw an increase of 91% and Asia saw an increase of 69%, according to PitchBook data*.

Uri Gabai, the incoming CEO of Start-Up Nation Central's new Research and Policy Institute commented: “The record funding in 2021 indicates that the growth in 2020 was not a short-term Covid-related boost but reflects top investors’ increasing trust in the Israeli innovation ecosystem. The significant increase in median deal size reflects a maturing ecosystem that is able to maintain its competitive edge as a global hub of technological innovation and offering problem-solving solutions. We hope a new budget by the expected incoming government will focus on growth-oriented policies such as enhancing the innovation ecosystem’s economic impact and tackling the chronic shortage in tech-oriented human capital.”
The median funding round amount more than doubled year-over-year from $6.8 million in 2020 to $14 million by June 8 in 2021. In terms of growth rounds (round B or higher), the median round size rose from $26 million in 2020 to $46 million in 2021. Early-stage companies experienced a similar boost in median funding from $4 million to $8 million.

The significant rise in investments in Israeli high- tech and innovation since the beginning of the year focused on the more advanced stages, with most of the capital (64%) invested in rounds C or later.

2021 has already set a record for the number of mega-rounds (investments of over $100 million) raised, with 30 having been completed so far compared to 21 mega-rounds throughout all of 2020. These rounds represent 53% of all capital raised, and for the first time they account for more than half of the total funds invested.

Bulk of funding goes to Cybersecurity, FinTech, and Enterprise Solutions companies.  The top three sectors pulled an accumulated $6.2 billion or 60% of all investments. These sectors are all software, strongly B2B oriented and saw huge increases in demand for their solutions over the last year as work practices changed.

Start-Up Nation Central is the one-stop-gateway to the Israeli innovation ecosystem. Established in 2013, it is a non-profit organization that leverages its knowledge, resources, and network of key industry and government ties to connect innovative Israeli technological solutions with multinational corporations, governments, investors, and NGOs from around the world.

Start-Up Nation Finder is a free online platform for identifying and engaging Israeli tech organizations based on customers' specific interests. This Innovation Business Platform is a comprehensive knowledge hub on Israeli startups, investors, acceleration hubs, multinational corporations, and technology-based innovation associated with academic research. The open-source platform provides up-to-date information and insights on thousands of active Israeli tech companies.

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles