Litigation

    • 6 Mar 2018

    BMG Awarded $25 million Against Internet Service Provider Infringer

    In an opinion issued on February 1, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that Cox Communications was not entitled to the safe harbor defense contained in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The opinion was authored by Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz and was joined by Circuit Court Judge James A. Wynn and Senior Circuit Judge Dennis W. Shedd. BMG Rights Management Group...
    • 28 Feb 2018

    Rape Conviction Reversed Due to Court-Martial Panel Gender-Stacked Against Servicemember

    A servicemember’s rape conviction was reversed because the court-martial member selection process in his case used gender as an important item in the panel’s selection process. The seven-member panel that convicted and sentenced the servicemember was made up of five women, four of whom were victim advocates trained to provide support and counseling to victims of rape and sexual assault. Although the court...
    • 11 Jan 2018

    California Federal Judge Finds No Merit To Class Action Alleging Starbucks Underfilled Lattes And Mochas

    Putative class representatives filed a class action against Starbucks Corporation, alleging that it uniformly underfilled its lattes by approximately 25% pursuant to the standardized recipe. They asserted in their complaint that the etched "fill to" lines in the pitchers that the lattes were made in were too low by several ounces, and the serving cups were too small to accommodate the fluid ounces listed on...
    • 1 Jan 2018

    Chemist at State Lab Was Getting High

    Thousands of drug convictions in Massachusetts will likely be overturned by Massachusetts authorities because a chemist at the state lab was high on the drugs she was supposed to be testing. This marks the second time in a year that thousands of drug charges were wiped away in Massachusetts due to official misconduct. Sonja Farak, a chemist at the Massachusetts State Crime Laboratory in Amherst, was arrested in 2013...
    • 1 Jan 2018

    Jumping for joy is not work-related accident

    An employee who suffered a knee injury when he jumped to touch a basketball backboard after playing basketball with a co-worker in the employer’s courtyard during a break was not entitled to workers’ compensation. Although the employee contended that he leaped out of happiness, in part for his own good, and in part because he was pleased with his good day at work, the court held that he was playing basketball...
    • 6 Oct 2017

    FBI, FOIA, iPhones & Terrorism

    On September 30, 2017, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the FBI’s motion for summary judgment in a case brought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) relating to an agreement with a technology vendor who assisted the FBI in unlocking an Apple iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook, one of the perpetrators of a terrorist attack that took place in San Bernardino...
    • 4 Oct 2017

    Google Smart Pricing Not Adding Up

    An Arkansas attorney sued Google for allegedly misrepresenting its AdWords advertising program. On September 28, 2017, federal district judge Edward Davila of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a ruling granting in part and denying in part Google’s motion for summary judgment. In his breach of contract claim, the attorney, Rick Woods, contended that Google failed to...
    • 2 Oct 2017

    Subway Class Action Settlement Comes up Short

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a district court’s approval of a settlement in a class action alleging that Subway’s “Footlong” sandwiches were not uniformly 12 inches long. The Court of Appeals determined that because the settlement yielded fees for class counsel and "zero benefits for the class," the class should not have been certified...
    • 26 Sep 2017

    Unused Store Gift Cards Total Over $1 Million

    Large retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BBB) and one of its subsidiaries recently received some fantastic news from the State of New Jersey worth over $1 Million. On September 21, 2017, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division reversed a decision of the New Jersey Treasury Department's Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA) denying their claim for refunds of the value of certain unclaimed merchandise return...
    • 26 Sep 2017

    PARENTS’ NAME CHANGE PETITION FOR TRANSGENDER CHILD GRANTED ON APPEAL

    In a suit brought by the parents of a child undergoing a gender transition, seeking to change the child’s first and middle names, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, at Nashville held that the trial court misapprehended what constituted a valid reason for a name change and who could file a petition seeking a name change. In doing so, the appellate court reversed the denial of the parents’ petition. The parents’...
    • 19 Sep 2017

    Florida Bankruptcy Judge Cites Song & Literature in Dealing with Frivolous Pro Se Filer

    In an Opinion in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, Judge John K. Olson cites several literary references and song in dealing with Kenneth A. Frank, an unrelenting pro se unsecured creditor. Judge Olson’s impassioned Opinion arose from the Court’s Order to Show Cause, entered May 26, 2016, which directed Mr. Frank...
    • 1 Aug 2017

    COUPLE WHO DEFAMED WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER OVER $150 FEE NOW ORDERED TO PAY $1.08 MILLION

    A Texas couple’s dispute with their wedding photographer over what was, and was not, included in the customized photography package purchased escalated when the couple aired their grievance on television and on social media. Now it will cost them $1.08 Million, instead of the $150 disputed fee. Andrea Polito is a photographer and had done business as Andrea Polito Photography, Inc. (APP) in the Dallas, Texas...
    • 1 Aug 2017

    What’s the Big Deal?

    A Texas Tech University assistant professor sued a department chair for libel and recovered a jury verdict for $590,000 in damages. Unbeknownst to the professor, during the trial, the trial judge was offered and accepted an adjunct professorship at Texas Tech University’s law school. The trial judge granted the department chair’s motion for j.n.o.v. in part and set aside the award of $250,000 for mental anguish...
    • 26 Jul 2017

    Michigan Supreme Court Says You Can Be Charged for Drunk Driving in Your Driveway

    The Michigan Supreme Court held on Monday, July 24, 2017, that the Michigan Court of Appeals erred by affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) charge against defendant, Gino Rea, in violation of MCL § 257.625(1). In an opinion by Justice Richard Bernstein, joined by Chief Justice Markman and Justices Zahra and Wilder, the Michigan Supreme Court held that...
    • 13 Jul 2017

    Judge to City: Lawsuit by Couple in Unusual Kidnap Case Compared by Police to Movie “Gone Girl” Can Proceed

    Back in 2015, Denise Huskins reported that she had been kidnapped, while her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, claimed he had been drugged at the time. The police were skeptical of the couple’s claims and compared the case to the movie “Gone Girl,” which is premised on a woman who disappears, then later lies and claims she was kidnapped. The police realized their comments were off-base when a man named Matthew...
    • 22 Jun 2017

    DEAF CLIENT SUES HIS LAWYER FOR MISREADING HIS SIGN LANGUAGE

    A deaf former client is suing his attorney for legal malpractice for allegedly mistaking his sign language and settling a discrimination suit for $207,500 instead of the $200 million he had asked for. James Wang, age 49, claims his lawyer Andrew Rozynski exaggerated his understanding of sign language and confused his sign for “million” with “thousand” while settling a deal in a suit brought by...
    • 22 Jun 2017

    SKY DIVER INSTRUCTOR OFFERED TOO MUCH INFORMATION

    In a suit brought by Donald Zarda, a skydiver, against his former employer, Altitude Express (doing business as Skydive Long Island), alleging that he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor because of his sexual orientation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 , 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq. , does not prohibit discrimination based...
    • 22 Jun 2017

    CHALLENGE TO KENTUCKY COURT CLERK STILL ONGOING

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth District recently decided that a same-sex couple’s suit against County Clerk Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky was erroneously dismissed. The suit for damages-only under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 was brought by David Ermold and David Moore after Clerk Davis denied them the marriage license for which they had applied. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme...
    • 22 Jun 2017

    AARON HERNANDEZ MURDER CONVICTION VACATED FOLLOWING SUICIDE

    The first-degree murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, arising from the 2013 shooting death of fellow player, Odin L. Lloyd, was vacated due to Hernandez’s suicide while incarcerated. Hernandez was found hanging in his maximum security prison cell on April 19 th , shortly after he had been acquitted of two other murders. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh relied on centuries...
    • 22 Jun 2017

    Rock Band Name “The Slants” Protected

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied a rock band’s application for a federal trademark of the band’s name, “The Slants” under a provision of the Lanham Act prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute any persons, living or dead. On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court held that the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause, set...
    • 26 May 2017

    4th Circuit’s Opinion on International Refugee Assistance Project v. Donald Trump

    In a 10-3 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that President Trump’s revised Executive Order, which suspended the entry into the United States of nationals from certain Designated Countries, was unconstitutional. The Court opinion addressed the President’s second executive order, Executive Order No. 13780, which was a revised version of the travel ban announced in March ...
    • 5 May 2017

    Campaign Protestors’ Complaint Against Trump and Supporters Goes Forward

    In an action relating to a campaign rally during the 2016 presidential election, protestors alleged that then-candidate Donald Trump directed his supporters to "get 'em out of here" and that, as a result, the supporters physically attacked them and forced them to leave. The suit was brought by three plaintiffs, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau--all who attended a presidential campaign...
    • 29 Mar 2017

    Nominal Damages Not Sufficient in Facebook Defamation Suit

    An appellate court in Ohio determined that a man whose ex-girlfriend defamed him on Facebook did not receive fair compensation when he was only awarded $600 in damages, as the evidence was not competent and sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that the defamatory statements were only viewed by residents of Sandusky County, Ohio. The defamation included false statements that the man was "hooked...
    • 24 Mar 2017

    Supreme Court Holds Cheerleading Uniforms Eligible for Copyright Protection

    In a case involving whether the designs on cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright protection under the Copyright Act of 1976, the Supreme Court on March 22, 2017, held that an artistic feature of the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable...
    • 2 Mar 2017

    Defendant Raises, Argues, and Loses Serial Comma Argument

    In Heyliger v. People of the Virgin Islands , 2017 V.I. Supreme LEXIS 9, a defendant in a felony murder case pinned his appellate hopes in part on a grammatical nicety, but failed to persuade the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands of his point of view. The defendant was charged under V.I. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 922(a)(2), the felony murder statute, based on the underlying offense of third-degree assault. He argued...