HONOLULU - A Hawaii federal judge on April 20 declined to grant class certification in a lawsuit accusing the state of improperly denying access to driver's license exams for people with limited English proficiency (Faith Action for Community Equity, et al. v. State of Hawaii, et al., No. 13-450, D. Hawaii; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51736).
NEWARK, N.J. - A declaratory judgment trademark plaintiff won an award of attorney fees on April 21, when a New Jersey federal judge agreed that Union County, N.J., asserted, in two cease-and-desist letters, trademark rights that it knew did not exist (Tina Renna v. County of Union, N.J., No. 11-3328, D. N.J.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52381).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - After the People's Republic of China failed to respond to arbitration commenced by the Republic of the Philippines in relation to a maritime dispute, a tribunal for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on April 21 ordered that it will consider communications, including a position paper in which it stated that China will not participate in the case, as a pleas on the tribunal's jurisdiction (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People's Republic of China, PCA).
SAN FRANCISCO - A District Court erred in applying an abuse-of-discretion standard of review to a benefits denial suit because the summary plan description (SPD) does not constitute the plan document as the insurer argued, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 21 in vacating and remanding the lower court's decision (Matthew Prichard v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. et al., No. 12-17355, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6553).
RICHMOND, Va. - A multiemployer pension fund properly filed a complaint in federal district court to seek review of an arbitration order related to the fund's assessment of withdrawal liability under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA), the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 21 (Freight Drivers and Helpers Local Union No. 557 Pension Fund v. Penske Logistics LLC, et al., No. 14-1464, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6557).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota state appeals court panel on April 20 held that failure-to-warn and design defect claims involving off-label promotion of Medtronic Inc.'s Infuse bone growth protein are preempted by federal law but claims based on failure to timely report adverse events and breach of express warranty are not (Paul V. Angeles, et al. v. Medtronic, Inc., et al., Nos. A14-1149, A14-1150, A14-1151, A14-1152, A14-1153 and A14-1154, Minn. App.; 2015 Minn. App. LEXIS 19).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A majority of the Maryland Court of Appeals held April 21 that underlying claims against a light designer and manufacturer insured did not trigger the "advertising injury" coverage under two commercial general liability insurance policies because there was no causation between the injury suffered and the insured's advertisement activities (Maryland Casualty Co., et al. v. Blackstone International Ltd, et al., No. 51, September Term, 2014, Md. App.; 2015 Md. LEXIS 286).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A state court jury awarded $25 million in punitive damages April 21 to a man who alleged that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by his 40 years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Thomas Ryan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-022579, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 21 affirmed the conviction of a man found guilty of obtaining stranger-obtained life insurance (STOLI) policies for unqualified applicants, but ordered a federal judge in Texas to recalculate the man's sentence and restitution amount because he erred in relying on the intended loss the insurance companies (United States of America v. Vincent Bazemore, No. 14-10381, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6610).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 21 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that a professional liability insurer has no duty to cover the costs of a $1.75 million legal malpractice action filed against a law firm insured and two of its attorneys (Chicago Insurance Co. v. Paulson & Nace, et al., No. 14-7063, D.C. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6529).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The railroad company defendants sued by a New Jersey school district and borough for $5,865,339 in damages for a chemical spill that was the result of a train derailment on April 20 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court, contending that the plaintiffs' allegations are based on a report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that is "improper and inadmissible" (Paulsboro Public Schools, et al. v. Consolidated Rail Corporation, et al., No.14-07431, D. N.J.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on April 17 dismissed claims based on fraud and the state's unfair competition law (UCL) with prejudice in an alleged wrongful foreclosure case, while dismissing four other claims with leave to amend (Dan Wiskind v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, No. 14-4223, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51088).
NEW YORK - A New York bankruptcy judge on April 21 ruled on a trust's objection to certain claims asserted by a borrower, finding that her claims for wrongful foreclosure and violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Credit Cost Disclosure Act (MCCCDA) can proceed (In re Residential Capital LLC, et al., No. 12-12020, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.; 2015 Bankr. LEXIS 1373).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After finding that all mold-related claims asserted against a contractor and others in an underlying state court case were excluded under an insurance policy, an Alabama federal judge on April 21 found that an insurer has no duty to defend the parties in the case (Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v. The Retirement Systems of Alabama, et al., No. 14-248, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52055).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A code redeemable for a car wash purchased along with gas at a fuel and convenience store is not equivalent to a gift certificate under Minnesota Statutes, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled April 20, upholding the dismissal of a purchaser's class complaint (Donald R. Wells, et al. v. Holiday Companies, Inc., et al., No. A14-1421, Minn. App.; 2015 Minn. App. LEXIS 18).
TAMPA, Fla. - A nature photographer won a default judgment April 21 in Florida federal court on claims of copyright infringement (Mia McPherson v. Seaduced LLC, No. 14-2315, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52374).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 21 ruled that a federal judge in Texas did not err when ordering a physician couple to pay $37 million in restitution as part of their guilty plea to a 10-year-long insurance fraud scheme, holding that the judge correctly applied the appeals court's remand instructions after he initially ordered the defendants to pay $43 million (United States of America v. Arun Sharma, et al., No. 13-20325, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6611).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The time limits set forth for suits against the federal government in Section 2401(b) of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) are subject to equitable tolling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled April 22 in a 5-4 decision (United States v. Kwai Fun Wong, No. 13-1074 and United States v. Marlene June, Conservator, No. 13-1075, U.S. Sup.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma residents who contend that they were injured from exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on April 21 denied the residents' motion to reconsider her denial of class certification (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel of the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 20 found that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board properly refused an Asian-American dance rock band's attempt to register "The Slants" (In re: Simon Shiao Tam, No. 14-1203, Fed. Cir.).
CINCINNATI - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act bars an employer in an action brought by multiemployer benefit funds to collect delinquent payments under a union contract from asserting the equitable defenses of laches and estoppel, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 20 (Operating Engineers Local 324 Health Care Plan, et al. v. G & W Construction Company, et al., No. 12-1786, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6420).
NEW YORK - Shareholders and an electronic manufacturing services provider and certain of its executive officers have agreed to a $30 million settlement on claims that the defendants misrepresented the company's earnings, profitability and financial outlook in violation of federal securities laws, according to documents filed in New York federal court on April 17 (In re Celestica Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 07-312, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK - The federal judge overseeing the multidistrict ignition switch litigation against General Motors LLC (GM) entered an order April 17 requiring GM to produce documents already turned over to governmental agencies and Congress but allowing the automaker to retrieve any documents that were inadvertently produced (In re: General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation, No. 14-md-2543, S.D. N.Y.).
BOSTON - The manufacturer of pharmaceutical cleanrooms and its insurer will pay $1 million to settle allegations that defective cleanrooms contributed to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis, according to a settlement agreement proposed April 20 by a bankruptcy trustee (In Re: New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., No. 12-19882, D. Mass. Bkcy., Eastern Div.).