1st Circuit: Pleading Rules Don't Strip Qui Tam Suit Of 1st-To-File Status

    BOSTON - A federal appeals court on June 3 said a False Claims Act lawsuit that pleads essential facts of fraud but that might not meet heightened pleading requirements can still bar a second, similar whistle-blower lawsuit under the first-to-file rule (United States of America, ex rel. Heidi Heineman-Guta v. Guidant Corporation, et al., No. 12-1867, 1st Cir.).

    Louisiana Court Sustains Survivor Claims Dismissal In NORM Exposure Lawsuit

    NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal panel issued an opinion May 29 affirming dismissal of survivor claims against oil production companies for alleged occupational exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material in oil field pipe but remanded with leave to amend a claim for exemplary damages (Patricia Watkins v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 12-477, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2013 La. App. LEXIS 1075).

    Asthmatic Child's Secondhand Smoke Defeat Is Affirmed In California

    LOS ANGELES - A trial court's rejection of the attempt by the parents of an asthmatic child to limit outdoor smoking in the development where she lived has been affirmed by a California appeals court, which said May 29 that the plaintiff failed to show a public nuisance (Melinda Birke, et al., v. Oakwood Worldwide, et al., No. B234296, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 7; 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3813).

    Illinois Panel: Man Failed To Prove Fraud Claims Against Construction Firm

    ELGIN, Ill. - The Second District Illinois Appellate Court on May 30 affirmed a trial court decision in a construction defects dispute, determining that the plaintiff failed to establish fraud in fact or fraud in law under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (Mervyn Cohen v. Larry Basil, et al., No. 2-12-0785, Ill. App., 2nd Dist.; 2013 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1151).

    Magistrate Judge Allows Majority Of City's Supplemental Expert Reports

    SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge in California overseeing a lawsuit brought by a dry cleaning company against a California city under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act on May 30 rejected the majority of the plaintiff company's motion to strike information in supplemental reports supplied by the city's experts, finding that their rebuttal opinions were based on new information resulting from a January 2013 investigative report (KFD Enterprises Inc. v. City of Eureka, No. 08-4571 MMC, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76252).

    9th Circuit Affirms Denial Of Dental Services Under Medicare

    PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 31 affirmed a district court's judgment affirming the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) decisions denying benefits under Medicare for dental services (Ronald Fournier, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, No. 12-15478, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10997).

    Retiring Bankruptcy Judge Transfers Pittsburgh Corning Chapter 11 Case

    PITTSBURGH - Seven days after issuing final rulings confirming the plan of reorganization for Chapter 11 debtor Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC), Pennsylvania federal Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald, who is retiring from the bench, on May 31 transferred the case to another bankruptcy judge (In re: Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, No. 00-22876, W.D. Pa. Bkcy.).

    Judge Dismisses Insurer's Fraud, Accounting Claims In Defects Coverage Dispute

    SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on May 30 dismissed an insurer's fraud, accounting and reimbursement claims against an insured and a law firm regarding defense coverage for underlying construction defect lawsuits (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Centex Homes, et al., Nos. 13-0088, 12-0371 & 11-3638, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76308).

    Court Vacates Judgments, Finds Trial Judge Erred In Handling Discovery

    LOS ANGELES - A trial judge erred in setting, and refusing to continue, hearings on summary judgment motions set three days after two asbestos defendants presented representatives for deposition, a California appeals panel held May 30 (Edward Catiller, et al. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles Co., Dexter Hysol Aerospace LLC, No. B248439, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.; 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3860; 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3844).

    Court Vacates Dismissal Of Mold Class Claims Against Housing Authority

    NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana appeals court on May 29 vacated and remanded a proposed class action filed by residents who allege that housing authority properties contained toxic mold, finding that the trial court should have ruled on the issue of class certification before dismissing their claims (Janice Claborne, et al. v. The Housing Authority of New Orleans, No. 2012-CA-0808, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2013 La. App. LEXIS 1083).

    Bankruptcy Judge Allows FAA Claims Of More Than $20M Against AMR Corp.

    NEW YORK - The federal bankruptcy judge presiding over the Chapter 11 proceeding of AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines Inc., on May 31 ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed claims of more than $20 million against AMR and its affiliates (In Re: AMR Corp., No.11-15463, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).

    Debtor: U.S. High Court Must Resolve Circuit Court Split On Homestead Exemptions

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Chapter 7 debtor who asserts that a financial charge that was levied against his residential property should not be permitted because of the homestead exemption on May 29 filed an additional brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that only the high court can solve the split that exists among circuit courts regarding the applicability of the exemption in question (Stephen Law v. Alfred Siegel, No. 12-5196, U.S. Sup.).

    Federal Judge Denies Dismissal Of Suit Alleging Student-Loan Fraud

    PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 31 adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendation (R&R) to deny the dismissal of a suit in which a former employee of Education Management LLC (EDMC) alleged that EDMC made false certifications of compliance regarding its eligibility to receive federal student loan funding (United States of America ex rel. Jason Sobek v. Education Management LLC, et al., No. 10-131, W.D. Pa.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76354).

    U.S. High Court Won't Review Sham Affidavit Rule In Fosamax Jaw Injury Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 3 denied review in a Fosamax jaw injury case in which the plaintiff attempted to revive her failure-to-warn claim by arguing that a federal appeals court misapplied the sham affidavit doctrine by excluding her warnings expert rather than letting a jury determine his credibility (Linda Secrest v. Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp., No. 12-1318, U.S. Sup.).

    Supreme Court Grants Certiorari In Dispute Over Lanham Act Standing

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The question of which analytic framework applies when assessing prudential standing in Lanham Act false advertising cases will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted certiorari on June 3 in a longstanding dispute over toner cartridges (Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., No. 12-873, U.S. Sup.).

    U.S. Supreme Court Vacates Moldy Washer Ruling In Light Of Comcast

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 3 granted a petition for writ of certiorari in the appeal of a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision to overturn denial of class certification in a suit over mold growth in certain front-loading automatic washers and remanded the matter to the appellate court for further consideration in light of the recent ruling in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend (569 U.S. __ $(2013$)) (Sears, Roebuck and Company v. Larry Butler, et al., No. 12-1067, U.S. Sup.).

    Pennsylvania Superior Court Remands Vinyl Chloride Suit For Strict Liability Analysis

    PHILADELPHIA - A unanimous Pennsylvania appeals court panel issued a memorandum order May 31 remanding the appeal of an August 2011 no-evidence summary judgment for the defendants in a vinyl chloride exposure personal injury lawsuit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas before reaching the merits of the appeal and with instructions to explain dismissal of the abnormally dangerous strict liability claim pursuant to Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 520 (1977) (Joanne Branham, et al. v Rohm & Haas, et al., No. 2199 EDA 2011, Pa. Super.).

    Several State-Law Claims Against Apple Are Dismissed On Eve Of Antitrust Trial

    NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York overseeing the multidistrict litigation against Apple Inc. on claims that the company conspired with several publishers to fix prices of electronic books approved the dismissal of several state-law claims on May 29, just days before the June 3 trial date (In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, No. 11 MD 2293, S.D. N.Y.; State of Texas, et al. v. Penguin Group $(USA$) Inc., et al., No. 12 Civ. 3394, S.D. N.Y.).

    5th Circuit: Firing An Employee Who Is Lactating Violates Title VII

    NEW ORLEANS - Discharging a female employee because she is lactating or expressing breast milk constitutes gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 30 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Houston Funding II, Limited, et al., No. 12-20220, 5th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10933).

    3rd Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Asbestos MDL Cases Lacking History Of Exposure

    PHILADELPHIA - A federal appeals court panel on May 31 affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of 12 asbestos multidistrict litigation cases for failure to comply with a court order requiring a history of the plaintiffs' asbestos exposure (In Re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation $(No. VI$)), Nos. 12-2061, 12-2063-2072, 12-3082, 3rd Cir.).

    Federal Judge Dismisses Insurance Broker From Bid-Rigging Lawsuit

    TRENTON, N.J. - The judge in the insurance brokerage antitrust multidistrict litigation on May 29 approved a stipulation releasing insurance broker Wells Fargo & Co., from allegations that it engaged in bid rigging in the commercial insurance market (In re Insurance Brokerage Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1663, No. 04-5184, D. N.J.).

    11th Circuit Panel Upholds Dismissal Of Sales Associate's Pregnancy Bias Suit

    ATLANTA - A new home sales associate failed to show that her pregnancy rather than a sales error that she failed to correct caused her to be terminated, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 30 upholding a summary judgment ruling for the plaintiff's former employer (Cheris Hubbard v. Meritage Homes of Florida, Inc., No. 12-15172, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10906).

    Panel Says No Duty To Defend; Insured Failed To Comply With Notice Provision

    NEW YORK - An insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured for a personal injury claim because the insured failed to comply with the insurance policy's notice provisions, the First Department Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court said May 28 (Richard Rivera v. Core Continental Construction 3 LLC, et al., No. 302797/10, N.Y. Sup., App. Div. 1st Dept.; 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3711).

    No Benefits Owed Under Accidental Life Insurance Policy, Federal Judge Says

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Because there is no support for a claimant's argument that the North Carolina Legislature intended to remove suicide exclusions from accidental life insurance policies, the claimant is not entitled to benefits for her husband's death, which was caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a North Carolina federal judge said May 28 (Tricia Irene Gilbert v. Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Co., No. 13-29, W.D. N.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74618).

    2nd Circuit Says Affiliate Of Bankrupt A&P Did Not Violate Lease

    NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 29 ruled that an affiliate of bankrupt The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc. did not violate its lease by failing to get consent from its landlord to sublet part of its storefront to another business (Gator Monument Partners v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc. $(In Re: The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc.$), No. 12-3466, Chapter 11, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 10741).