PENSACOLA, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on July 18 ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pay more than $23.6 billion in punitive damages to the family of a man who alleged that his death from lung cancer was caused by smoking (Cynthia Robinson, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CA-98, Fla. 1st Cir., Escambia Co.).
PENSACOLA, Fla. - A Florida state court jury July 17 awarded $16.8 million to the family of a man who alleged that his death from lung cancer was caused by smoking (Cynthia Robinson, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CA-98, Fla. 1st Cir. Court, Escambia Co.).
HONOLULU - A federal judge in Hawaii on July 15 partially granted and partially denied dismissal of claims filed by families living in military housing who argued that the premises were contaminated with pesticides and were therefore uninhabitable (Cara Baker, et al. v. Ohana Military Communities LLC, No. 14-000217, D. Hawaii; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96218).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on July 10 ruled that the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) $5 million amount-in-controversy requirement was met and denied a motion requesting that he remand a wage-and-hour class complaint filed by employees of a family restaurant and fun center chain (Franchesca Ford, et al. v. CEC Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 14-1420, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94059).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Finding that there are disputed issues of material fact as to what loan documentation a federal flood insurer and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had to review, an Arkansas federal judge on July 8 denied motions for summary judgment in a coverage dispute over flood damage to a family-owned motel (M&K Restaurant LLC, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Co. Inc., et al., No. 4:12-cv-00783 KGB, E.D. Ark., Western Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92396).
MADISON, Wis. - Denying in part a clothes dryer manufacturer's motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff insurers' expert witnesses, a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge on June 26 concluded that an arson expert and certified fire investigator was qualified to testify as to the purported defective designs of dryers that allegedly caused fires, while precluding his testimony related to the effectiveness of manufacturer warnings to consumers (American Family Mutual Insurance Co., et al. v. Electrolux Home Products Inc., No. 3:11-cv-00678, W.D. Wis.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86880).
CHICAGO - The statute of limitations was not equitably tolled for an insurer, as a subrogee to its insured, to file a negligence lawsuit against contractors over water damage to the insured's home, an Illinois appeals panel ruled June 27, finding that the insurer's failure to obtain an executed assignment was not an extraordinary circumstance (American Family Mutual Insurance Co., as subrogee of Michael P. McGrath Jr. v. Patrick Plunkett and Patrick Plunkett Architectural Design Ltd., No. 1-13-1631, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 5th Div.; 2014 Ill. App. LEXIS 447).
DALLAS - The Texas judge presiding over a case in which $2.9 million was awarded to a family for injuries related to hydraulic fracturing on June 19 denied the company's motion seeking judgment as a matter of law reversing the award (Lisa Parr, et al. v. Aruba Petroleum Inc., No. 11-1650, Texas Law No. 5, Dallas Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on June 20 announced a proposed ruled expanding the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of where they reside. The expansion was proposed in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor (133 S. Ct. 2675, 186 L. Ed. 2d 808 ), in which the high court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted "marriage" and "spouse" to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.
DENVER - An earth movement exclusion bars coverage for an insured's water damage in her home, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held June 19, affirming dismissal of breach of contract and statutory and common law bad faith claims against an insurer (Shannon Wagner v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-1438, 10th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11526).
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers (LAC Basketball Club Inc.) and The Sterling Family Trust violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California unfair competition law by failing to pay interns, a former intern alleges in his class complaint filed June 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Frank Cooper, et al. v. LAC Basketball Club, Inc., et al., No. 14-4445, C.D. Calif.).
DETROIT - General Motors Co. (GM) on June 5 announced a program to compensate people who lost family members or who suffered serious physical injuries as the result of ignition switch failures in GM vehicles.
FRESNO, Calif. - A California jury on May 27 awarded the family of a man felled by an asbestos-related disease $7,438,500 plus $3.5 in punitive damages and held sole remaining defendant Honeywell International Inc. 30 percent liable, sources told Mealey Publications (James Phillips v. Amcord Inc., et al., No. 12CECG04055, Calif. Super., Fresno Co.).
DENVER - An insurance agent's negligent misrepresentation claim against insurers regarding an alleged breach of an agency agreement is not precluded by the economic loss rule, a Colorado federal judge ruled May 13 (David Bartch v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-01931, D. Colo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66160).
SAN FRANCISCO - Members of a San Francisco family are defrauding taxpayers by operating a string of fleabag motels in violation of their contracts with the city to provide "clean, safe, habitable conditions" for tenants in publicly funded transitional housing, the city attorney alleges in a lawsuit filed in state court on May 12 under California's unfair competition law (UCL) (City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Balvantsinh "Bill" Thakor, et al., No. 539230, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
INDIANAPOLIS - A fact finder could conclude that an insurer's decision to go to trial and risk excess judgment, rather than offer the policy limits or reserves to settle, constituted bad faith, an Indiana federal judge found May 5, partly denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Randall L. Woodruff v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 1:12-cv-00859, S.D. Ind.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62038).
NEW ORLEANS - A former postal worker may proceed with her claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as, unlike her claims brought under the Rehabilitation Act, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) controlling her employment did not clearly require her to resolve those claims through arbitration, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 30 (Sandra Kay Gilbert v. Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service, No. 13-40328, 5th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8182).