WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 agreed to hear the appeal of two consolidated personal injury cases in which the employer, BNSF Railway Co., has asked the high court to decide whether a state court may decline to follow the decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman (134 S. Ct. 746 ) in a lawsuit against an American defendant under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) (BNSF Railway Company v. Kelli Tyrrell, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Brent T. Tyrrell, et al., No. 16-405, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - Surviving beneficiaries of a Merchant Marine's Jones Act survival action originally filed in 1989 should not be penalized simply because the court lacked the resources to quickly resolve asbestos cases, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held Jan. 6 (Creighton E. Miller (administrator for estate of Joseph F. Braun v. Manville Corporation Asbestos Disease Compensation Fund, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-33896, E.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1975).
CHICAGO - An insurer has no duty to indemnify an insured and no duty to reimburse an additional insured for alleged water damage to an apartment building because there was no covered "occurrence" for the insured's failure to properly cover the building's roof, an Illinois federal judge ruled Jan. 6 (Brit UW Ltd. v. Tripar Inc. and Davis Russell Real Estate and Management LLC, No. 15-5866, N.D. Ill.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2462).
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Dec. 20 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation that the majority of claims asserted by former property owners against two loan companies in relation to the foreclosure of their property be dismissed, but found that their cause of action for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) should be allowed to proceed (Rodney Helm, et al. v. Freedom Mortgage Corporation, et al., No. 15-cv-12394, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175450).
LONDON - An England and Wales court on Dec. 19 rejected the appeal of an investor in a Moscow real estate project of a judgment enforcing a $72,243,000 arbitral award issued in favor of another investor by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), finding that the judge did not err in his interpretation that an underlying arbitration clause existed (Ashot Yegiazaryan v. Vitaly Ivonovich Smagin, No.  EWCA Civ 1290, England and Wales App.).
CINCINNATI - An insurer did not act in bad faith in declining to settle a wrongful death lawsuit for policy limits without a release of all claims against its insured because under Kentucky law, the insurer was required to protect its insured from an excess judgment while attempting to settle the claim with the third-party in good faith, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 15 (Joseph Shaheen, ancillary administrator of the Estate of Nadia Shaheen, deceased, v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., No. 15-5863, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22422).
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 7 found that a homeowners insurance policy draws a clear distinction between an insurer's duty to defend that applies to suits alone and the insurer's right to investigate that applies to both suits and claims, affirming a lower federal court's ruling that the insurer has no duty to defend its insured (Harry Sanders, executor of the Estate of Nancy A. Andersen and assignee of John Doe, v. The Phoenix Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-2539, 1st Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 21773).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A federal judge in New Mexico on Dec. 6 ordered a woman who pleaded guilty to disability insurance fraud and wire fraud to pay two beneficiaries of an estate more than $100,000 in restitution, finding that the contingency fees charged by a research firm and a law firm they hired to research where funds from their deceased father's estate were located were acceptable under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA) (United States of America v. Juanita Roibal-Bradley, No. CR 15-3253, D. N.M.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168259).
NEW YORK - One of six employees who sued their former employer for age discrimination after they were terminated as part of a reduction in force (RIF) may proceed with her claims after providing sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment motion, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 2 (Maria Martinez, as Executor of the Estate of Oscar Martinez, et al. v. New York City Transit Authority, et al., Nos. 15-3159, 15-3165, 15-3166, 15-3180, 15-3183, 15-3198, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 21509).
NEW YORK - A group of institutional investors has met all statutory requirements to serve as lead plaintiff in a securities class action against a real estate investment trust and several of its former executive officers and directors, a federal magistrate judge in New York ruled Nov. 29 (Westchester Putnam Counties Heavy & Highway Laborers Local 60 Benefit Funds v. Brixmor Property Group Inc., et al., No. 16-2400, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164682).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Nov. 30 vacated a $20 million verdict awarded to the estate of a woman following a trial in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Gwendolyn E. Odom, No. 4D14-3867, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 17713).
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Nov. 28 granted a motion filed by lenders to dismiss claims asserted by an estate against them in relation to the foreclosure of a property, finding that the estate lacked standing to bring the claims and that it failed to assert that there was a defect in the foreclosure process (Estate of Doreen Bessette v. Wilmington Trust N.A., Successor Trustee to Citibank N.A. as Trustee for Structured Asset Mortgage Investments II Trust 2007-AR1 Mortgage Pass-Through-Certificates Series 2007-AR1, et al., No. 16-cv-11936, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163372).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal magistrate judge on Nov. 29 partially granted a loan servicer's motion to dismiss claims for fraudulent misrepresentation but allowed part of a borrower's claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to proceed (Frank Malifrando v. Real Time Resolutions Inc., et al., No. 2:16-cv-0223, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164497).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 23 dismissed an appeal of a borrower's claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), finding that a letter he sent was not considered a qualified written request and that his TILA claim was barred by a statute of limitations (Joseph A. Guerra v. Just Mortgage, Inc., et al., No. 13-16725, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 21108).
NEW YORK - New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Nov. 18 announced that a $25 million settlement had been reached ending claims that Trump University - which was owned by President-elect Donald Trump and marketed itself as a university to train, educate and mentor entrepreneurs involved in real estate investing - was actually a sham and defrauded its students out of millions of dollars.
CHICAGO - A fire and explosion investigator may opine that a negligent design in a toaster caused a fire and that it was unreasonable for the manufacturer to design a toaster that "would indefinitely heat food products to the point of combustion as a result of foreseeable failures and blockages" within the toaster, an Illinois federal judge ruled Nov. 16 (David Ostrinsky, as administrator of the estate of Michael Ostrinsky, deceased v. Black & Decker [U.S.] Inc., et al., No. 15-1545, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159447).
PEORIA, Ill. - In a life insurance payment dispute, a medical doctor may testify on behalf of an estate as to the diagnosis and treatment of a man when he arrived at the hospital and his death, an Illinois federal judge ruled Nov. 9 (Jamie Troeger, administrator of the estate of Gayle Mitchell v. Minnesota Life Insurance Co., No. 14-1083, C.D. Ill..; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155334).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on Nov. 8 certified a class of borrowers who allege that a title company violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by providing cash and other benefits to mortgage lenders in exchange for referrals (Edward J. and Vicki Fangman, et al. v. Genuine Title, LLC, et al., No. 14-81, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154582).
CHICAGO - The National Hockey League (NHL) on Nov. 4 asked the federal judge in Illinois overseeing a wrongful death suit brought by the estate of a former professional hockey player to reconsider his order allowing the estate to file a second amended complaint, saying the claims brought by the estate in the second amended complaint are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (Len Boogaard, et al. v. National Hockey League, et al., No. 13-C-4846, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134232).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Nov. 2 held that a Real Estate Property Managed endorsement rendered an insurer's policies excess with respect to an underlying personal injury claim, finding that the insurer has no duty to defend or indemnity its property manager insured (Atain Specialty Insurance Co. v. Sierra Pacific Management Co., et al., No. 14-00609, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152874).