SAN FRANCISCO - The Stored Communications Act (SCA) prohibits a service provider from disclosing only communications that are private or for restricted audiences, the California Supreme Court held May 24, affirming in part an appeals court's reversal of an order requiring three social media provider to submit users' posts sought by two murder suspects, but remanding for a trial court to make additional findings and complete the record (Facebook Inc., et al. v. The Superior Court of San Francisco City and County, et al., No. S230051, Calif. Sup., 2018 Cal. LEXIS 3635).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida court did not abuse its discretion in allowing a treating physician in a personal injury case to testify as an expert witness about causation and permanency of injuries, even though the doctor was not designated as an expert witness as required by a trial preparation order, a state appellate panel held May 23 (Robert Walerowicz v. Mandy Nicky Armand-Hosang, No. 4D17-1900, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 7272).
Washington, D.C. - Energy firms on May 22 moved a District of Columbia federal court for an order allowing them to begin attachment and enforcement efforts in an attempt to satisfy payment of a $11.75 million award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against Ghana (Balkan Energy Limited, et al. v. Ghana, No. 1:17-cv-00584, D. D.C.).
PHILADELPHIA - Scant evidence of asbestos exposure from three defendants' products exists, but the evidence rises to a high enough level to deny the summary judgment motions of two other pump makers, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held May 22 (Robert Hedrick, et al. v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. 16-476, E.D. Pa.).
DENVER - Adopting a magistrate's recommendation, a federal judge in Colorado on May 24 denied insureds' motion for leave to amend their complaint in a dispute over coverage for more than $1.8 million in undelivered fine wine (Malik M. Hasan, M.D., et al. v. AIG Property Casualty Co., No. 16-02963, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77435).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a May 24 memorandum, a District of Columbia federal judge turned away a publisher's request that the court compel tobacco manufacturers to reimburse The Little Rock Sun Community Newspaper for costs associated with printing court-approved corrective advertising (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86967).
DENVER - A Colorado federal judge on May 22 found that an insurer has no duty to defend and indemnify its insured against an underlying lawsuit arising from a ski accident that occurred in March 2016, granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment in its declaratory judgment lawsuit (Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Inc., et al., No. 16-02984, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85680).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Intuitive Surgical Inc. took aim May 23 at an Ethicon Endo-Surgery LLC patent covering a surgical stapler, asserting in a petition for inter partes review that the technology would have been obvious to, or anticipated by, a person of skill in the art (Intuitive Surgical Inc. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery LLC, No. IPR2018-00223, PTAB).
BOSTON - Pfizer Inc. will pay $23.85 million to settle federal civil allegations that it used a charitable foundation as a conduit to pay the copays of Medicare patients taking three Pfizer drugs in violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., according to an agreement signed May 24 by the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
PHILADELPHIA - The federal law of tolling, not the Pennsylvania law, applies to state law claims within the federal court's supplemental jurisdiction, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled May 22, denying a motion by Allstate Insurance Co. to grant partial summary judgment on state law claims by 12 agents who joined others suing after they were transitioned from employees to independent contractors (Gene R. Romero, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al., Nos. 01-3894, 01-6764, 03-6872, 15-1049 and 15-3047, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85374).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 22 awarded a hotel franchisor more than $900,000 on its unopposed motion for damages and attorney fees against a former franchisee that continued to use registered trademarks after its franchise agreement was terminated and now must remit profits during that time under the Lanham Act and state law (Choice Hotels International, Inc. v. Frontier Hotels, Inc., et al., No. 15-2355, S.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85914).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 23 granted partial summary judgment on an insurance bad faith claim in an underinsured motorist dispute, ruling that an insured pleaded only conclusory allegations in stating the claim (Marc Williams v. Liberty Mutual Insurance, No. 17-3862, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86356).
INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge in Indiana on May 22 overruled a defendant company's argument that its preceding entities should be able to escape liability for cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for remediation of a former steel manufacturing facility, ruling that the "untimely and unjustified" arguments were raised at the 11th hour and after summary judgment had been awarded to the plaintiff (Valbruna Slater Steel Corporation, et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Co. LLC, et al., No. 10-cv-44-JD, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86174).
TORONTO - The Ontario Court of Appeal on May 24 affirmed a lower court's ruling that refused to pierce the corporate veil of Chevron Corp. to enforce a $9.5 billion environmental damages ruling for Ecuadorian claimants who contend that they were injured by the company during its operation in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador (Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation, No. 2018 ONCA 472, Ontario App.).
CHICAGO - A Chicago cab company was not covered by the Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund (IIGF) under an insolvent insurer's policy for an underlying personal injury lawsuit because the accident occurred outside the time the subject taxi was covered, an Illinois appeals panel affirmed May 23 (The Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund v. Israel P. Nwidor, et al., No. 1-17-1378, Ill. App., 1st Dist., Div. 3, 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 301).
PHILADELPHIA - A former spring water extractor who filed a class complaint accusing other companies of damaging his business by falsely labeling their water as "spring water" may proceed with his Lanham Act and state law claims against only another extractor, not three bottling companies, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled May 24 (Stanley F. Frompovicz v. Niagara Bottling, LLC, et al., No. 18-54, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87156).
CHICAGO - A surgery center failed to sufficiently state a claim against two insurance companies for violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (ICFA), a federal judge in Illinois ruled May 24, holding that the insurers' alleged misrepresentations to the center about whether its procedures were covered did not harm the patient population (Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., et al. v. Southwest Surgery Center LLC, No. 14-cv-8777, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87551).
CAMDEN, N.J. - An insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith when it limited its payment for mold damage within an insured home because the policy at issue included a provision limiting coverage for mold damage, a New Jersey federal judge said May 23 (Charles Hobbs, et al. v. US Coastal Insurance Co., No. 17-3673, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86484).
CINCINNATI - A Michigan federal judge's order denying dismissal of trademark infringement allegations will not be reviewed by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals at this time, the court announced May 23 (In re: MovingSites LLC, No. 18-102, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 13716).
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Court of Appeals on May 23 reversed a trial judge's dismissal of a dissolved self-insurance trust from a liquidator's declaratory judgment action over an insolvent insurer's coverage obligations for workers' compensation claims because it was not within the judge's discretion to answer the novel question on whether a trust can be sued after it has voluntarily dissolved (Raymond G. Farmer v. CAGC Insurance Co., et al., No. 2016-000192, S.C. App., 2018 S.C. App. LEXIS 36).
DALLAS - The Fifth District Texas Court of Appeals on May 22 reversed a trial court's dismissal of a plaintiff's amended expert report in a lawsuit alleging that a nursing facility's negligence contributed to the death of one of the facility's residents because the amended expert report established a causal relationship between the breach of the standard of care and the injuries that ultimately led to the resident's death (Vickie Jones, et al. v. Ashford Hall Inc., et al., No. 05-16-01402, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 3653).
NEW YORK - The lead plaintiff in a shareholder class action against pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) Express Scripts Holding Co. and certain of its executives failed to cure pleading deficiencies in its second amended complaint after its federal securities law claims had previously been dismissed for the same issues, a federal judge in New York ruled May 22 in granting the defendants' motion to dismiss (In re Express Scripts Holding Co. Securities Litigation, No. 16-3338, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85873).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota court on May 21 affirmed a $3.7 million asbestos verdict, rejecting a defendant's claim that experts testified that every exposure to asbestos caused disease, that the expert testimony did not support the verdict and that the court should have applied 2003 amendments to the joint and several liability standard (Jenella Conda v. 3M, et al., Nos. A17-1381, A17-2040, Minn. App., 2018 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 423).
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - A South Carolina jury on May 24 heard from dueling experts over whether cosmetic talcum powder exposes an individual to asbestos and whether the product's usage could lead to pericardial mesothelioma (Bertila Boyd-Bostic v. Imerys Talc America, et al., No. 17-CP-16-0400, S.C. Cir., Darlington Co.)