TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Answering three certified questions from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the affirmative, the Florida Supreme Court on Dec. 4 found that although the estate of a deceased employee of an insured has standing to bring a breach of contract lawsuit against the insured's employer's workers' compensation and employer liability insurer, a workers' compensation exclusion and release prevent the estate from collecting a $9.5 million wrongful death judgment from the insurer (Leticia Morales, et al. v. Zenith Insurance Co., No. SC13-696, Fla. Sup.; 2014 Fla. LEXIS 3555).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 affirmed a court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of various banks in relation to the foreclosure of a property, finding that the property owner's claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and other claims should be dismissed (Charles Austin Whittier III, et al. v. OCWEN Loan Servicing LLC, et al., No. 13- 20639, 5th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 22722).
PALM BEACH, Fla. - Trial got under way Dec. 3 with opening statements in a suit alleging that a longtime smoker's death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by his addiction to cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Dorothy Haliburton, as personal representative of the estate of Andrew Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 502008CA000703, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
DAYTON, Ohio - After finding irrelevant a servicing firm's argument that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) did not apply because property owners did not live in the property when the alleged violations occurred, an Ohio federal judge on Dec. 2 refused to dismiss the case (William Barrett, et al. v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, No. 3:14-cv-297, S.D. Ohio; 2014 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166948).
BAY CITY, Mich. - A Michigan federal judge on Nov. 24 adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that a property owner's lawsuit against a bank should be dismissed, finding that he lacked standing and that his claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) were time-barred (Robert Vandell v. U.S. Bank N.A., No. 14-cv-11933, E.D. Mich.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163915).
HOUSTON - The families of two Texas residents who were former employees of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. who died following exposure to what they referred to as "highly toxic gas" on Nov. 17 filed two lawsuits against the company in Texas state court, seeking $1 million each, alleging that DuPont is liable for the deaths because of a chemical leak at the chemical processing facility where the decedents worked (Jasmine Rae Wise, individually and as the representative of Chrystle Rae Wise, v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., No. 2014-67256, Texas Dist., Harris Co., and Michelle Tisnado, individually and as the representative of the Estate of Gilbert Tisnado v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., No. 2014-67139, Texas Dist., Harris Co.).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - After finding that property owners' claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) were time-barred, a New York federal judge on Nov. 7 granted a lender's motion to dismiss all of their claims against it (Anthony Papapietro, et al. v. Popular Mortgage Service Co., et al., No. 13-cv-2433, E.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158482).
TOLEDO, Ohio - An Ohio federal magistrate judge on Nov. 6 granted a plaintiff's motion to quash discovery of materials related to the planning and preparation of her ex-husband's will and estate in a dispute over life and disability insurance benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), finding that they were subject to the attorney-client privilege (Anette Davis v. Mary Ann Drake, et al., No. 3:14-cv-00113, N.D. Ohio; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157313).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Nov. 3 granted a lender's motion to dismiss claims against it for fraud and negligent servicing but allowed a property owner's claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to proceed (James J. McKay v. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., No. 2:14-cv-00512, S.D. Ohio; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155426).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 3 affirmed a district court's decision to dismiss claims asserted by property owners in relation to a bank's foreclosure of their home, finding that the owners failed to submit sufficient facts to support their claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) (Barbara J. Lattimore, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, No. 14-12009, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 20955).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - After finding that a property owner lacked standing to bring certain claims for wrongful foreclosure and that his claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) failed, a California federal judge on Oct. 31 granted a motion filed by various mortgage entities to dismiss the case (Son P. Dang v. Residential Credit Solutions Inc., et al., No. 14-02587, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154873).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A members-only real estate agent organization filed a complaint against the operator of a popular real estate information website on Oct. 27, alleging that Zillow Inc. misappropriated its proprietary listings of upcoming listings and disseminated them to www.zillow.com users (Top Agent Network Inc. v. Zillow Inc., No. 4:14-cv-04769, N.D. Calif.).
ATLANTA - A clinical laboratory network manager who was fired after her involvement in a real estate website was discovered failed to prove claims of retaliatory termination or breach of contract, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 14 (Melissa C. Butterworth v. Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, No. 13-15021, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19680).
PHILADELPHIA - A nationwide nursing home company will pay $38 million to resolve allegations made in a whistle-blower qui tam action that it provided inappropriate rehabilitation therapy to elderly patients in order to increase Medicare and Medicaid billings, according to a settlement agreement announced Oct. 9 by the U.S. Department of Justice (United States ex rel. Tracy L. Lovvorn v. Extendicare Real Estate Investment Trust, No. 10-1580, E.D. Pa.).
SAN FRANCISCO - On remand from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a California federal judge on Oct. 7 granted leave to amend numerous claims asserted by property owners, including claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA) (David Merritt, et al. v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al., No. 09-cv-01179, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142842).
CONCORD, N.H. - A New Hampshire justice on Oct. 6 approved a $175,000 settlement agreement between a liquidated insurer's estate and the successor of certain assets and liabilities of a chemical company (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Company, No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Sup., Merrimack Co.).
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A professional liability insurance policy is not void ab initio in a coverage dispute over malpractice and negligence claims arising from an alleged doctor imposter, a South Carolina federal judge ruled Oct. 2 (Evanston Insurance Co. v. Vickie Watts, as personal representative of the estate of Dorothy Jones, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00655-JFA, D. S.C.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140227).
MIAMI - A Florida federal jury on Sept. 29 rejected strict liability and negligence claims in an action alleging that asbestos in John Crane Inc. products led to a man's fatal mesothelioma (Mary Charlene Hays, personal representative of the estate of William Hays v. John Crane Inc., No. 09-81881, S.D. Fla.).