RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 15 reinstated a sexual harassment suit filed by a temporary factory employee, opining that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides for joint employer liability and that when the "hybrid" test is properly applied to the worker's suit, both the factory and the temp agency were the worker's employers (Brenda Butler v. Drive Automotive Industries of America, Incorporated, et al., No. 14-1348, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12188).
PHILADELPHIA - A Delaware federal judge's denial of a preliminary injunction in a trademark infringement case rested on an "overly narrow interpretation of the kind of confusion that is actionable under the Lanham Act," the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 16 (Arrowpoint Capital Corp. v. Arrowpoint Asset Management LLC, No. 14-3063, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12283).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 17 held that a property owner's complaint against the property's former owners alleged only economic losses and failed to allege covered "property damage" under a "Masterpiece" insurance policy, affirming a lower court's ruling that the insurer has no duty to defend against the underlying dispute (Phillip O'Dell, as Assignee of Roland B. Mahoney and Sandra R. Mahoney v. Pacific Indemnity Co., No. 14-14457, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12374).
ATLANTA - A federal district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that a disability plan's claims administrator and plan administrator are not liable for penalties and attorney fees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for failure to provide plan documents to a plan participant, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 in an unpublished opinion (Allena Burge Smiley, D.M.D. v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, No. 15-10056, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12334).
BOSTON - Although largely agreeing with a Massachusetts federal judge's "capable handling" of a "complex case," the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 16 nonetheless found that the district court erred in concluding that a copyrighted work cannot be both joint and derivative as a matter of law (Ross Greene v. J. Stuart Ablon, et al., Nos. 13-2237, -2294, -2369, 1st Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12305).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A former employee's claims against a Nike Netherlands affiliate must be litigated in Dutch court, not the United States, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 16, upholding a trial court's decision (Loredana Ranza v. Nike, Inc., et al., No. 13-35251, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12290).
NEW YORK - A medical center's severance policy that had been maintained for almost 25 years and had not been modified for 15 years was an employee welfare benefit plan within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 17 (Alexander Okun, MD, v. Montefiore Medical Center, No. 13-3928-cv, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S App. LEXIS 12361).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 17 granted leave to consumer advocacy group Public Citizen Inc. to file an amicus curiae brief in support of a group of former National Football League players seeking reversal of the approval of a class action settlement of brain-injury claims against the league (In re: NFL Players Concussion Injury Litigation, Nos. 15-2206, et al., 3rd Cir.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The plaintiff in a Engle-progeny suit that resulted in a $4 million verdict has demonstrated that she has "an objectively reasonable basis to fear that she will not receive fair review" of pending post-trial motions because of hostility between the trial judge and a member of the plaintiff's legal team, a Florida appeals panel ruled July 15 (Debra Perrotto, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 4D14-4943, Fla. App. 4th Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 10777).
SALEM, Ore. - A trial judge did not err in refusing to reduce a $25 million punitive damages award in a suit brought by the family of a woman who died of a brain tumor that resulted from metastatic lung cancer, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled July 15 (Paul Scott Schwarz, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 325, Ore. App.; 2015 Ore. App. LEXIS 878).
NEW YORK - Health care providers are not beneficiaries of their patients' health insurance plans and, therefore, do not have standing to assert anti-retaliation protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed July 15 (Henry L. Rojas, M.D., et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-3455, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12210).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on July 17 awarded $9 million in punitive damages - $3 million each against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. - to the widower of a woman who died of lung cancer after years of smoking (John McCoy, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025806 , Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).
LOS ANGELES - A judge properly excluded hearsay layperson testimony, as well as unfounded expert testimony of a hobbyist, in finding insufficient evidence of a man's exposure to a manufacturer's televisions, a California appeals court panel held July 16 (Jenny M. Leidig, et al. v. Zenith Electronics LLC, No. B256932, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4; 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4962).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on July 14 affirmed a magistrate judge's ruling denying a reinsurer's motion to compel discovery, holding that the magistrate judge's ruling was not clearly erroneous or contrary to the law (Utica Mutual Insurance Company v. Clearwater Insurance Company, No. 13-cv-01178, N.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 16 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that a professional liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured against a bank's underlying claim that it discovered a $10.5 million shortfall in the depository accounts it was providing for the insured's customers (NetSpend Corp. v. Axis Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-50878, 5th Cir.).
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court panel on July 16 reinstated a $6.5 million Actos bladder cancer verdict, finding that the trial court erred in excluding the plaintiffs' causation expert in a post-verdict ruling (Nancy Cooper, et al. v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., et al., No. B250163, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3; 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4965).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 15 held that the estate of a man who was killed when an inflatable slide fell on top of him at a Kids Fun Day event at a Cleveland Indians baseball game failed to establish negligence and breach of contract claims against an insurance broker (Kimberly Johnson, as executrix of the estate of Douglas Johnson, deceased v. Doodson Insurance Brokerage of Texas LLC d/b/a CSI Special Insurance Group d/b/a CSI Insurance Group, No.14-1379, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12150).
FORT SMITH, Ark. - An insurer is to produce certain documents pertaining to a construction project at issue in a subrogation lawsuit over costs associated with payment to complete and repair a subcontractor's work, an Arkansas federal judge ruled July 16 (Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. The Harris Company of Fort Smith Inc. v. Limestone Development LLC and ARK-CON Testing Service Inc., No. 14-02096, W.D. Ark.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92607).
BALTIMORE - Expert witnesses for the U.S. government in a case alleging that actions of the operator of a mobile X-ray business in committing Medicare fraud caused the deaths of four people can testify as to the "but-for" causation of death standard for two of the deceased patients but cannot testify about the but-for cause of bodily injury because the government relies on an incorrect definition of that standard, a Maryland federal judge held July 14 (United States of America v. Rafael Chikvashvili, No. 14-0423, D. Md.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91680).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on July 15 dismissed an inmate's lead-paint poisoning claim against prison officials on grounds that there is no evidence that they had knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint in the area where the inmate claims to have been infected (Markee D. Carter v. Philip Earley, et al., C-13-4373, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92115).
PHILADELPHIA - A former UPS Supply Chain Solutions employee failed to show that his termination, following excessive absences, interfered with his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 16 (Myron Giddens v. UPS Supply Chain Solutions, No. 14-4291, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12279).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 16 found that it was not unreasonable for a jury to determine that an insurer suffered no prejudice from its insured's delay in giving notice of a claim for a fire loss, which was caused by the spontaneous combustion of a country club's recently laundered kitchen rags that had been used to clean a fryer containing the insured's soybean oil (Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Co. v. Asoyia Inc. et al., No. 14-2270, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12321).