HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 7 found that insureds have sufficiently pleaded a claim for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing against their homeowners insurer, allowing the bad faith claim, as well as two claims under the Texas Insurance Code, to proceed against the insurer in a coverage dispute prompted by Hurricane Ike damage (Sher Khan, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, et al., No. H-11-2693, S.D. Texas, Houston Div.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63842).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 3 certified a class of 29 employee benefit plans that lost money after investing plan assets with Bernard Madoff on breach of fiduciary duty claims arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (In re: Beacon Associates Litigation (Buffalo Laborers Security Fund, et al., v. J.P. Jeanneret Associates, Inc., et al.), No. 09 Civ. 777, S.D. N.Y.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63549).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eight patent infringement defendants saw their petition for a writ of mandamus granted May 4 by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which directed a Texas federal court on remand to determine whether the claims arise "out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a) (In re: EMC Corporation, Misc. No. 100, Fed. Cir.). Subscribers may view the decision available within the full update.
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 3 upheld the certification of a class of Ohio residents who purchased washing machines that allegedly grew mold, finding that a federal district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class on the issue of liability (In re: Whirlpool Corporation Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, No. 10-4188, 6th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9002).
ATLANTA - In a case in which the U.S. government sued a defendant to recover on defaulted student loans, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 7 affirmed a district court's dismissal of the defendant's counterclaim alleging negligence and negligent supervision by the government and seeking rescission of the loans, granting of the government's summary judgment motion, denial of further discovery and denial of his motion to dismiss (United States of America v. Massood Jallali, No. 11-11737, 11th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9237).
VERO BEACH, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 3 found that a primary and excess insurer breached their insurance contracts with a hotel owner in a coverage lawsuit arising from hurricane damages, awarding the insured $2.4 million in additional damages caused by Hurricane Frances and determining that the insured sustained 18 months of business interruption from hurricanes Frances and Jeanne (PIN-PON Corporation v. Landmark American Insurance Company, No. 2009 0320 CA 03 c/w No. 2009 CA 01 2244, Fla. Cir.). Subscribers may view the verdict form available within the full update.
OMAHA, Neb. - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 7 upheld a District Court's decision to have the same class counsel represent both active and retired employees of a Nebraska city in a dispute over health care benefits, finding that all class members were properly represented and the settlement agreement was fair (Professional Firefighters Association of Omaha, Local 385, et al. v. James Conrad Zalewski, No. 11-1817/3253, 8th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9226).
NEW YORK - A New York state parole officer may proceed with her sexual harassment claim based on allegations that her supervisor touched her inappropriately, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 4, partially vacating a district court ruling (Fedie R. Redd v. New York State Division of Parole, No. 10-1410, 2nd Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9194).
NEW YORK - ConAgra Foods Inc. on May 7 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York objecting to bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc.'s motion to withdraw from contributing to pension funds for its employees, contending that doing so would have "serious" financial consequences for other companies that contribute to the funds (In Re: Hostess Brands Inc., No. 12-22052, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
ABINGDON, Va. - A private action to secure clean potable water from a coal company under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) (30 U.S. Code Section 1270) survived a defense motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on May 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Jennie McCracken, et al. v. The Black Diamond Co., No. 11-73, W.D. Va.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63096).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on May 7 gave a plaintiff who is representing herself in an employment action a chance to refile a racial discrimination claim against an individual after finding that the plaintiff failed to meet the requirements for pleading her allegations (Jeanice L. Owens v. Enable Holdings, et al., No. 11-1703, N.D. Ill.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63363).
TUSCON, Ariz. - An Arizona appeals panel on May 4 affirmed summary judgment for a defendant in a wrongful death action involving an allegedly dangerous space heater, determining that the company "did not participate significantly in the stream of commerce for this particular heater" (Briza Grubb, et al. v. Do It Best Corp., et al., No. 2 CA-CV 2011-0140, Ariz. App., Div. 2; 2012 Ariz. App. LEXIS 70).
CHICAGO - A shareholder arguing that she has rebutted a group of corporate directors' argument that they used sound business judgment in awarding certain compensation to the corporation's executives contended in an Illinois federal court on May 4 that her complaint adequately brings a claim of breach of loyalty (Natalie Gordon v. William M. Goodyear, et al., No. 12-cv-00369, N.D. Ill.).
NEW YORK - Bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. on May 7 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York objecting to a creditor's motion seeking to lift the automatic stay to pursue a state court lawsuit, arguing that the creditor shows no cause why the stay should be lifted (In Re: Eastman Kodak Company, No. 12-10202, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
NEW YORK - The federal bankruptcy judge presiding over the Chapter 11 proceeding of Hawker Beechcraft Inc. in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on May 7 approved $300 million in post-petition financing (In Re: Hawker Beechcraft Inc., No. 12-11873, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
LOS ANGELES - A man's disclaimer of any liability for conduct arising under a federal officer does not negate the fact that he seeks recovery for exposure to asbestos aboard U.S. Navy ships, a California federal judge held May 3 (Gerald Brantley v. Borg-Warner Morse Tec Inc., et al., No. 12-540, S.D. Calif.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62220).
CHICAGO - The parents of an 18-year-old who allege that their daughter is incapacitated by a brain tumor caused by exposure to fugitive radioisotopes released from a nuclear power plant were granted a motion to voluntarily dismiss without prejudice May 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; the defendants filed a joinder in the motion for conditional dismissal (Cynthia Sauer, et vir v. Exelon Generation Co., et al., No. 10-3258, N.D. Ill.).
COLUMBUS, Ga. - Following a bench trial, a Georgia federal magistrate judge held May 4 that a plaintiff's breach of fiduciary duty claim in a suit alleging violations of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was time-barred and that even if the claim was not time-barred, the plaintiff had failed to show that the defendants were fiduciaries who owed him any duties (Homer Ira Lockhart v. Southern Health Plan Inc., et al., No. 04-0006, M.D. Ga.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63265).
VALDOSTA, Ga. - A federal judge in Georgia on May 2 denied two insurance companies' motion for default judgment in an asbestos-related coverage dispute, holding that default judgment should not be issued in a case where a nondefaulting defendant remains (Owners Insurance Company and Auto-Owners Insurance Company, v. Jeffery Daniel, as Executor of the Estate of Virgieline Daniel, and Demott Tractor, Co., Inc., No. 7:12-CV-27 (HL), M.D. Ga.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61307).
CLEVELAND - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 3 announced that the federal government, State of Ohio and 18 companies have reached an agreement wherein the companies would pay $5.5 million to resolve claims over natural resource damages to the Ashtabula River and Harbor that occurred as a result of discharges of hazardous waste for more than half a century (United States of America v. Cabot Corporation, et al., No. 12-cv-01097, N.D. Ohio). Subscribers may view the consent decree and complaint available within the full update.
SCRANTON, Pa. - Participants in their employer's health plan failed to demonstrate that the insurer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by terminating the insurance contract because the employer breached the contract's underwriting requirements, a federal judge ruled May 3 in granting the insurer summary judgment (New Life Homecare, Inc., et al. v. Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, et al., No. 3:06-2485, M.D. Pa.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61959).
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A plaintiff asserting trademark infringement stemming from the cancellation of a restaurant franchise agreement has asserted no claims that justify federal jurisdiction, a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico said May 3 in remanding the claims (Franquicias Nativas Inc. et. al. v. Cleridel Corporation, No. 11-1934 (MEL); 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62287).
PHILADELPHIA - Shareholders are not entitled to a lifting of a mandatory Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) discovery stay because they have failed to show that not lifting the stay would cause them any undue prejudice, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled May 2 (Edward Dipple v. Michael R. Odell, et al., No. 12-1415, E.D. Pa.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61532).
SAN FRANCISCO - Allegations of intentional actions by an insured leave no room for possible coverage as an "accident" or "occurrence" under a property liability policy, a California appeals panel ruled May 2, affirming a lower court's dismissal of bad faith and breach of contract claims against an insurer (Chi Kin Hu v. Fire Insurance Exchange, No. A133238, Calif. App., 1st Dist.; 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3305).
CINCINNATI - A company is liable for retiree health care benefits and reimbursement for Medicare Part B premiums for retirees of the company's predecessors, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed May 3 (Willard Bender, et al. v. Newell Window Furnishings, Inc., Kirsch Division, et al., No. 11-1335, 6th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9003).