LODI — Lodi Police Department responded to the report of a man having a seizure near Lodi Lake and Mills Avenue at about 4:10 p.m. Friday.

When officers arrived shortly after the call from a passing motorist, the man appeared to be having difficulty breathing, police said.

Paramedics arrived and attempted to perform life saving measures, but he was pronounced dead that scene, police said.

Traffic in both directions on Turner Road was diverted down North Loma Drive while conducting an investigation.

Officers said it does not appear that foul play was a factor in the man’s death. His identification is being withheld, pending notification of next of kin.

— Wes Bowers

Lodi olive oil firm settles in trademark infringement claim

LODI — Lodi based olive oil company Corto Olive, L.P. “Corto Olive” and Gemsa Enterprises, LLC “Gemsa Oils” announced the favorable settlement of Corto Olive’s lawsuit against Gemsa Oils for allegedly infringing Corto Olive’s 51-49 registered trademark and the distinctive packaging for its brand of blended oil.

In the lawsuit, Corto Olive alleged that Gemsa Oils, a direct competitor, used packaging that was virtually indistinguishable from Corto Olive’s.

Gemsa Oils denied Corto Olive’s claims. As part of the settlement, however, Gemsa Oils agreed to cease all use of the allegedly infringing packaging, to recall unsold inventory in the old packaging, to destroy all of the old packaging and marketing materials, and to create new packaging designs, which Corto Olive has approved. Corto Olive has dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.

Corto Olive was founded by the Cortopassi family, a farming family from Lucca, Italy, with a multi-generational reputation as producers of high-quality foods.

Gemsa Enterprises, LLC is a family-owned and operated, Southern California based, producer of extra virgin olive oil and an importer of premium edible oils.

— Oula Miqbel

S.J. Sheriff's Office to increase security measures at events

FRENCH CAMP — In light of recent tragedies throughout the nation, and in the interest of public safety, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it is stepping up security measures at public events.

The Sheriff's Office said deputies will now begin carrying rifles to both dissuade any potential threats and reduce reaction time should a life threatening event occur.

“We understand and appreciate the need to balance the public’s concern for safety and the desire for law enforcement to not appear threatening, however safety comes first,” the Sheriff's Office said. “Our intent is not to alarm anyone, but to show that we are prepared.”

— Wes Bowers

Department of Insurance wins battle with Mercury Insurance

SACRAMENTO — The California Supreme Court denied a petition for review by Mercury Insurance Company thereby letting stand a $27.6 million fine the Department of Insurance imposed on Mercury for charging illegal fees in violation of Proposition 103. The fine is the largest in the Department’s history against a property and casualty insurer.

In 2015, the Commissioner fined Mercury $27.6 million for charging consumers unapproved and unfairly discriminatory rates.

Despite being advised for years by the Department of Insurance not to do so, Mercury continued to allow its auto insurance agents to charge consumers $50 to $150 in illegal fees on top of the premium the Department approved.

Proposition 103, passed by the voters in 1988, prevents auto insurers from charging excessive rates and requires that rates be approved by the Commissioner.

Under the scheme, Mercury illegally labeled its “agents” as “brokers,” implying that they worked for the consumers rather than Mercury, and allowed them to charge and collect unapproved fees on more than 180,000 transactions from 1999 to 2004, improperly collecting at least $27,593,562 from consumers.

The scheme created a major incentive for Auto Insurance Specialists (AIS), Mercury’s largest independent agent, to place virtually all of its policies with Mercury to the exclusion of other insurers, and resulted in different Mercury customers paying different amounts for the same policy, depending on what the agent charged in fees.

During this time, AIS placed approximately 90% of its California automobile business with Mercury, nearly doubling the placed premium from $225 million in 1999 to $400 million in 2003 and 2004, premium that other insurers might have received if Mercury had complied with the law.

— Oula Miqbel

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