NEW YORK - In an unpublished decision, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held April 25 that a Connecticut federal judge properly dismissed a putative class action filed by Family Dollar Stores Inc. employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, saying that the plaintiffs failed to show that the insurance company that issued group life insurance to them was a fiduciary under ERISA (Patrick Hannan, et al. v. Hartford Financial Services Inc., et al., No. 16-1316, 2nd Cir.).
CINCINNATI - An employee with mental health issues who was demoted and then fired after taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may proceed with his retaliation claims brought under the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 20, partially reversing a trial court's ruling (Gloria Marshall v. The Rawlings Company LLC, No. 16-5614, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6854).
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 21 affirmed a lower federal court's finding that a homeowners insurer did not violate its policy when it depreciated labor costs in determining the actual cash value of an insured's loss following hail and water damage (Margaret Graves v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-3187, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6980).
DENVER - The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 19 rejected insureds' argument that an insurer acted in bad faith by unreasonably delaying an appraisal and by failing to conduct an adequate claim investigation, affirming a lower federal court's ruling in favor of the insurer (Hayes Family Trust, et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty, No. 15-6231, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6713).
SAN FRANCISCO - Claims against Twitter Inc. under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) were wrongly dismissed, a group of terror victims' family members told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a March 31 appellant brief, arguing that their claims over Twitter's provision of material support to terrorists are not subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) (Tamara Fields, et al. v. Twitter Inc., No. 16-17165, 9th Cir.).
FRESNO, Calif. - An insurer did not breach a boat business' all-risk policy in bad faith by denying coverage for a theft claim because the evidence at trial showed that the loss of the business' boat inventory was not the result of theft but rather a family's asset transfer scheme gone awry, a California federal judge held March 31 (Pacific Marine Center, Inc. v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, No. 1:13-cv-00992, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49637).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Delaware federal judge properly determined that a Medtronic Inc. claim for attorney fees in a patent dispute was timely and that a sublicensor was responsible for paying the fees because of a contractual fee-shifting provision, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 4 (Medtronic Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures LLC v. Boston Scientific Corp., et al., Nos. 2015-1996, 2015-2074, 2015-2075, Fed. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5766).
PHOENIX - Dismissal of an insurer's suit seeking a coverage declaration for an underlying state court lawsuit alleging personal injury claims caused by pigeon droppings is appropriate because the insureds entered into an agreement with the underlying plaintiff and the insurer withdrew its reservation of rights, an Arizona federal judge said March 22 in granting the insureds' motion to dismiss (American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Scottsdale Casitas Condominium Association, et al., No. 16-2289, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42343).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on March 1 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court, arguing that the district court should modify a scheduling order to extend the discovery deadline and change the date of trial plaintiff selection in a collection of lawsuits brought by residents who allege that the company is liable for their injuries by the alleged presence of perchlorate in the aquifer that supplies their drinking water (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).
RICHMOND, Va. - A woman from Kenya who worked in Virginia for a family from Saudi Arabia and alleges that she was denied the full wages and forced to work more hours than the wages and hours that were stated in her employment contract failed to show that her situation constituted forced labor as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 2 (Winfred Muchira v. Halah Al-Rawaf, et al., No. 15-2198, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3782).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 27 upheld the firing of a Wisconsin Department of Health Services employee following multiple absences, some to care for her own health and some to care for a family member, finding that the employee failed to show that she was an "otherwise qualified" employee, as required by the Rehabilitation Act (Joyce Whitaker v. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, No. 16-1807, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3446).
ATLANTA - A Georgia jury on Feb. 22 awarded $45.8 million to a woman and her family after finding that two doctors and the hospital where she gave birth were responsible for her brain damage, which left her completely disabled (Keith Traube v. Atlanta Women's Specialist, et al., No. 14-EV-001821, Ga. State, Fulton Co.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana appeals panel on Feb. 17 affirmed rulings awarding summary judgment to a home builder and its insurer, finding that a family's allegations that defective workmanship caused a fire that destroyed the home were perempted by the New Home Warranty Act (NHWA) (James E. Shields Jr., et al. v. Alvin R. Savoie & Associates Inc., d/b/a Savoie Construction, et al., No. 2016 CA 0825 consolidated with No. 2016 CA 0826, La. App., 1st Cir., 2017 La. App. LEXIS 249).
OCALA, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 17 awarded a man and his daughter a total of $3.95 million in compensatory damages for the loss of two family members who were killed when a truck driver collided with their car, which had been disabled after being hit by a drunken driver; however, the jury found that the drunken driver was more responsible for the two deaths than the trucker (Eliezer Maldonado, et al. v. Wayne T. Fellows Inc., et al., No. 2013-CA-001308, Fla. 5th Jud. Cir. Marion Co.).
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 14 awarded a total of $5.4 million to a family after finding that two tobacco companies were responsible for a woman's addiction to cigarettes, which led to her lung cancer and death (John Brown v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 15-002451-CI, Fla. 6th Jud. Cir. Pasco Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Several movie studios tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Feb. 8 appellee brief that a video-streaming service provider blatantly violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by circumventing the technological protection measures (TPMs) on DVD and Blu-ray copies of their movies to offer edited versions to customers, also arguing that the defendant's defenses under the Family Movie Act (FMA) are incompatible with that statute's purposes (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 16-56843, 9th Cir.).
DENVER - In a bad faith lawsuit between a contractor and insurer, a Colorado federal judge on Feb. 8 certified a question to the state's high court on whether a claim under Colorado Revised Statutes Section 10-3-1116 is subject to a one-year statute of limitations and applicable to "All actions for any penalty of forfeiture of any penal statutes" (Rooftop Restorations Inc. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-2560, D. Colo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17787).
PHILADELPHIA - The defendants found responsible for the 2013 collapse of a Salvation Army building in Philadelphia on Feb. 8 agreed to pay a total of $227 million to the 19 plaintiffs, those who were injured and the families of those killed in the collapse, according to a press release and media reports (Angelo Harmon, et al. v. The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, et al., No. 130700720, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation claim can be defeated where an employer shows that it honestly believed that an employee misused FMLA leave, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 30 (Fredrick Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC, No. 15-3839, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1593).
SAN FRANCISCO - Appealing a trial court injunction preventing it from providing content-filtered copies of four movie studios' films to its customers, a video-on-demand (VOD) provider told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Jan. 27 brief that its services constitute fair use under the Copyright Act and are specifically protected by the Family Home Movie Act (FMA) (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 16-56843, 9th Cir.).
SEATTLE - The Railway Labor Act (RLA) preempts a flight attendant's claim that she was unlawfully denied the right to use already allotted vacation leave earlier than planned to care for a sick family member in violation of the Washington Family Care Act (WFCA), a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 25, finding that the dispute is a "minor" one under the RLA and a grievance must be filed pursuant to the controlling collective bargaining agreement (CBA) (Alaska Airlines Inc. v. Judy Schurke, et al., No. 13-35574, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1318).
DENVER - A commercial property insurer's voluntary payment of an appraisal award and the insured's acceptance of the payment settled any dispute over the amount of storm loss to the insured's property, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 4, affirming a lower court's decision to vacate an order confirming the appraisal award and a judgment in favor of the insured (In re: Appointment of Umpire for Hayes Family Trust, on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated, Clayton A. Hayes, cotrustee v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., No. 15-6164, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 81).
DALLAS - A Texas state jury on Dec. 16 found that a nursing home and hospital were not responsible for the death of an elderly woman whose family filed a wrongful death and negligence suit after she developed bed sores and died from pneumonia (Greg Frausto v. Pennsylvania Rehab LP., et al., No. DC-12-13131, Texas, 68th Jud. Dist., Dallas Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.