NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Justice on July 26 filed an amicus curiae brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of the United States stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect from discrimination based on sexual orientation (Melissa Zarda, co-independent executor of the estate of Donald Zarda, et al. v. Altitude Express, doing business as Skydive Long Island, et al., No. 15-3775, 2nd Cir.).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on July 12 refused to rule on a loan-servicing company's motion to dismiss claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) until the parties move to substitute the deceased plaintiff with her successors in interest (Margarette Smith v. Specialized Loan Servicing LLC, No. 16cv2519, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109002).
JACKSON, Miss. - A majority of the Mississippi Court of Appeals on June 27 found that it was reversible error for a circuit court to grant a homeowners insurer's motion for partial summary judgment and dismiss its insureds' claims for punitive and extracontractual damages before trial (The Estate of Sylvia F. Minor and Paul S. Minor v. United Services Automobile Association, No. 2014-00372, Miss. App., 2017 Miss. App. LEXIS 386).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on June 21 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant summary judgment to a tobacco company in a wrongful death suit because a man who died from smoking related diseases was not an Engle class member and therefore the woman representing his estate cannot be considered an Engle class member and she filed the suit after the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim had expired (Donna Fanali v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D16-67, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 8987).
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana appellate panel on June 19 found that a trial court erred in denying summary judgment for a group of local government defendants in a negligence suit after the majority found that the defendants did not have a duty to protect a man who died after contracting a deadly, brain-deteriorating disease from swimming in a local pond and remanded the case to the trial court (Daviess-Martin County Joint Parks and Recreation Department, et al., v. The Estate of Waylon W. Abel, by John Abel, et al., No. 19A04-1607-CT-1563, Ind. App., 2017, Ind. App. LEXIS 260).
MIAMI - After a former property owner failed to respond to a bank's motion for summary judgment on his claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), a Florida federal judge on June 12 entered a default ruling against him and entered judgment in favor of the bank (Francisco Urdaneta v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 1:16-cv-22987, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90693).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on June 12 refused to strike a wine maker's claim for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and another claim in relation to its alleged misuse of a trademark for a chardonnay, finding that the owner of the mark showed a probability of prevailing on its claims (JaM Cellars Inc. v. Vintage Wine Estates Inc., No. 17-01133, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90002).
TACOMA, Wash. - Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) can file a third-party complaint against the estate of a man who formerly owned the site of a gas station he and his wife leased to the company so it can seek a claim for contribution under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) because it does not need to incur costs for remedial actions before filing suit, a federal judge in Washington ruled June 7 (Wakefield Family, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. C17-5114-RBL, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87520).
DAYTON, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on June 5 dismissed a former property owner's claims against loan servicers for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), finding that the property was exempt from RESPA requirements because it was more than 25 acres and that the court lacked jurisdiction over his breach of contract claims (Michael Hoy v. Aurora Loan Services LLC, et al., No. 3:16-cv-502, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85999).
PITTSBURGH - In a mortgage insurance reinsurance scheme case, a Pennsylvania federal judge on June 6 denied leave to a putative class of mortgagors to file a third amended complaint based on their new theory under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) because it is time-barred and reliance on any equitable tolling doctrine has been disavowed (Linda Menichino, et al. v. Citibank, N.A., et al., No. 12-00058, W.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86380).
BALTIMORE - Asbestos plaintiffs were on notice that a settling defendant could have more access to insurance coverage than previously disclosed after Porter Hayden, in which a court concluded that the aggregate limits in product liability policies did not apply to installation or operation claims, a Maryland appeals court held June 1 (Estate of Harold L. Adams, et al. v. Continental Insurance Co. No. 1065 September Term 2014, Md. Sp. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 567).
NEW YORK - Myriad copyright infringement defendants won a summary judgment on May 30 from a New York federal judge that any liability for their appropriation of a spoken-word criticism of non-jazz music is barred by the doctrine of fair use (The Estate of James Oscar Smith, et al. v. Cash Money Records Inc., No. 14-2703, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82240).
CHICAGO - Zillow Inc. and Zillow Group Inc. (collectively, Zillow) on May 25 removed to federal court a class complaint accusing the real estate website of providing inaccurate home value estimates in violation of Illinois state laws (Vipul B. Patel, et al. v. Zillow, Inc., et al., No. 17-4008, N.D. Ill.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 30 reversed a Montana Supreme Court ruling and held that BNSF Railway Co., under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), is not subject to general personal jurisdiction in Montana - a state where it is not headquartered or incorporated - when it comes to injury claims that are unrelated to activity occurring in that state (BNSF Railway Company v. Kelli Tyrrell, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Brent T. Tyrrell, et al., No. 16-405, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE - A Washington appeals panel on May 22 vacated a trial court judge's decision to award $9,772.50 in damages to a couple who accused their home builder of defective construction, holding that the builder's failure to complete a cedar fence and issues with the kitchen cabinets and trim and the exterior stone veneer of the garage did not breach the terms of the real estate purchase and sale agreement (REPSA) (Ian Schumacher, et al. v. T. Garrett Construction, Inc., No. 76022-0-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 1226).
JACKSON, Miss. - A man's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis started the clock on the statute of limitations and bars his silicosis claim against a respirator manufacturer, a divided Mississippi Supreme Court held May 18 in reversing a $14 million verdict (American Optical Corp. v. Estate of Robert Lee Rankin Sr., et al., No. 2015-CA-0166-SCT, Miss. Sup., 2017 Miss. LEXIS 190).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on May 18 denied a contractor's motion for summary judgment after determining that an insurer's proposed expert testimony on the causation of a fire presents a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether one of the contractors who worked in the home's basement contributed to the cause of the fire (State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., as subrogee of the Estate of Alkis J. Marland v. Hartman Contractors, et al., No. 14-6535, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75967).
ATLANTA - In a May 18 ruling, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that copyright registration occurs when the Register of Copyrights registers a work, and not merely when an application for a registration is filed (Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com LLC, No. 16-13726, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8766).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 15 affirmed a district court's dismissal of a borrower's claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) against a loan-servicing company, finding that Florida was the improper venue for the case (Robert Crenshaw v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 16-16201, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8502).