SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in granting judgment in favor of a pension plan and its administrators in a dispute over a since-deceased plaintiff's entitlement to benefits because the plaintiff was unable to independently provide key information about corporate structures or hours worked needed to substantiate his claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 21 (Estate of Bruce H. Barton v. ADT Security Services Pension Plan, et al., No. 13-56379, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7216).
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A firearms expert may testify in a products liability lawsuit that a rifle was defective and that the defect caused the accident that led to the death of a hunter, a South Dakota federal judge ruled April 14, denying a motion filed by the makers of the rifle to exclude (Carol O'Neal, as personal representative of the Estate of Lanny O'Neal v. Remington Arms Company LLC, et al., No. 11-04182, D. S.D.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50107).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 12 found that a trial court erred by not entering a stay of final judgment in a tobacco case because the tobacco company had begun to exercise its right to seek a further review of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Janice L. Sikes, as personal representative for the estate of Jimmie Wayne Sikes, No. 1D13-3183, Fla. App., 1st Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5539).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on March 25 denied a motion seeking to allow a deceased man's estate to replace him as the lead plaintiff in a proposed class complaint accusing a timeshare company of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by placing unsolicited phone calls to the man's cellular telephone (Mark Hannabury v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC, No. 14-6126, W.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39493).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on March 23 reversed a $3.8 million verdict for the plaintiff in a tobacco case and ordered a new trial after finding that the plaintiff's attorneys made improper comments to the jury during closing arguments (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., as successor by merger to Lorillard Tobacco Company v. Kathleen Gafney, as Personal Representative of the estate of Frank Eugene Gafney. No. 4D13-4358. Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 4520).
GREENWOOD, S.C. - A South Carolina judge on March 21 gave final approval to a $1 million settlement between a day care center and the father of a 2-year-old who died from E. coli he contracted from a teacher who had the infection and was allowed to work while she was sick (Barry Mayfield, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Myles S. Mayfield, deceased minor, v. The Learning Vine, LLC. No. 015-CP-24-00794, S.C. Comm. Pls., 8th Jud. Cir., Greenwood Co.).
PITTSBURGH - An engineering consultant offered sufficient support for his opinion that an unknown contaminant prevented an exhaust port of a height control valve from closing when expected to do so, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled March 15, denying the valve manufacturer's motion to exclude testimony in a products liability action (Bonnie Rapchak, executrix of the Estate of John E. Borzik v. Haldex Brake Products Corp., No. 13-1307, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33148).
AUSTIN, Texas - The special deputy receiver (SDR) of an insurer in receivership reported to a Texas court on March 15 that counting reinsurance recoverables, the receivership estate's total assets are greater than $132 million (State of Texas v. Highlands Insurance Company, No. D-1-GV-03-004537, Texas, 53rd Dist., Travis Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - Although a Florida federal judge expressed his doubts as to the ultimate success of a borrower's complaint against her lender under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), he found in a March 9 ruling that, as pleaded, her complaint has facial plausibility that allowed it to mostly survive the lender's motion to dismiss (Matilde Amarchand v. CitiMortgage Inc., No. 8:15-cv-02051, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30463).
AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas judge on March 1 approved an agreement between an insurer's receivership estate and a trust set up to deal with asbestos related claims against a company in bankruptcy (State of Texas v. Highlands Insurance Company, No. D-1-GV-03-004537, Texas, 53rd Dist., Travis Co.).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 1 affirmed a trial court's decision finding Ford Motor Company General Retirement Plan Retirement Committee did not owe a retired worker's estate the initial, miscalculated cash out amount that it offered the retired employee (Lydia Donati v. Ford Motor Company, General Retirement Plan, Retirement Committee, No. 15-160, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 65696).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 2 partially granted a motion filed by a loan servicer to dismiss claims asserted by a property owner in relation to her mortgage, allowing her to amend her claims for violation of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collections Act (MCDCA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) (Chineme C. Aghazu v. Severn Savings Bank, FSB, et al., No. 15-1529, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25685).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 25 affirmed a $3.3 million verdict for the son of a man who was killed from injuries he sustained from a fork-lift type vehicle after finding that the trial court did not err in denying a trucking company's motion to compel a witness to appear (Michael Hill, as special administrator of the Estate of Jimmy Hill v. J.B. Hunt Transportation, Inc. No. 15-7021. 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3313).
SAN FRANCISCO - After finding no evidence to support an estate's claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), breach of contract and declaratory relief, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 25 affirmed a district court's decision to grant a motion to dismiss the case (Robert Chandler, as representative of the estate of Rosemary S. Chandler, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al., No. 14-15069, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3375).
BATON ROUGE, La. - Citing Ogea v. Merritt (130 So. 3d 888, 894-95 ), a Louisiana federal judge on Feb. 24 denied dismissal of a counterclaim that accuses a corporate declaratory judgment plaintiff's manager of being personally liable for common-law trademark infringement, as well as unfair competition under the Lanham Act (Audobon Real Estate Associates LLC v. Audobon Realty LLC, No. 15-115, M.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22387).
RICHMOND, Va. - A real estate developer's untimely notice of a claim over alleged defective soil settlement issues prejudiced its commercial general liability insurers, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 23, upholding summary judgment to the insurers (St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co. and National Surety Corp. v. THF Clarksburg Development Two, LLC, et al., No. 15-1453, 4th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 19 affirmed a district court's ruling that a proposed class's claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) were time-barred, finding that the plaintiffs were not entitled to equitable tolling (Judith Cuningham, et al. v. M&T Bank Corp., et al., No. 15-1412, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2851).
ATLANTA - A trial court erred in excluding an expert's testimony that a man died as a result of a defect in the design of his rifle, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 17, reversing summary judgment entered in favor of the gun manufacturer (Cynthia Seamon, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Kenneth Seamon v. Remington Arms Company, LLC, No. 14-15662, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2645).
DENVER - A Colorado federal judge ruled Feb. 16 on various Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ) motions to exclude testimony regarding professional police standards and "selective attention" among other subjects in a lawsuit against a county and its police department for a shooting and killing of a police officer by another officer (Tamara Davies, as personal representative of the Estate of James Davies v. The City of Lakewood, Colo., and its Police Department, et al., No. 14-01285, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18348).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Feb. 16 granted a lender's motion to dismiss a property owner's claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), finding that certain claims for damages were not actionable under RESPA (Amelia Giordano v. MGC Mortgage Inc., No. 15-4399, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18283).