LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court on May 26 affirmed a trial court judge's decision that the sole owner of a limited liability corporation was liable for a $4.9 million judgment in favor of a homeowners association complaining of construction defects, holding that the owner could be liable as an alter ego (1426 North Laurel Avenue Homeowner's Association v. Sunset on Sunset LLC, et al., No. B257815, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 2; 2016 Calif. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3875).
TAMPA, Fla. - Dismissal of a statutory bad faith claim in a workers' compensation coverage dispute is not proper because abatement of the claim pending resolution of a breach of contract claim is appropriate, a federal judge in Florida ruled May 26 (DSK Group Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 15-1987, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69225).
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on May 26 granted preliminary approval of a settlement of a consolidated complaint accusing Shop-Vac Corp., Lowe's Home Centers Inc. and Lowe's HIW Inc. of misrepresenting certain features of wet/dry vacuums (In Re: Shop-Vac Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, No. 12-2380, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69345).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An inventor's efforts to overturn a final rejection of various claims of her patented method of providing real-time, bi-direction transactions on a network was turned away by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 27 on grounds that it lacks jurisdiction over non-final appeals from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) (In re: Lakshmi Arunachalam, No. 16-1560, Fed. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9696.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 27 ruled that a company suing the former operators of a gas station that has allegedly contaminated local groundwater was entitled to reconsideration of its previously dismissed nuisance claim as to injunctive relief only (The Plumbing Supply LLC d/b/a Faucet Works v. Exxon Mobil Oil Corp, et al., and CPD NY Energy Corp. v. Cumberland Farms Inc., et al., No. 14CV3674, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69863).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Texas federal judge properly construed the disputed term "communications path" as it appears in three patents directed to improved access to a local area network (LAN), a divided panel of the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 31 (Ruckus Wireless Inc. et al. v. Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC, Nos. 15-1425, -1438, Fed. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9786).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 26 reversed a trial court's denial of arbitration in a class complaint accusing two billing aggregators of engaging in a scheme that caused Washington residents to unknowingly subscribe to premium text messaging services and ordered the trial court to make two additional findings before determining whether the billing aggregators may enforce an arbitration clause (Richard A. Geier, et al. v. m-Qube Inc., et al., No. 13-36080, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9640).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer in an insurance bad faith lawsuit because an insured failed to show that the insurer engaged in an unreasonable investigation of the insured's claim for underinsured motorist benefits, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 26 (George Morello v. AMCO Insurance Co., No. 14-16219, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9662).
LOS ANGELES - The plaintiffs in a proposed class action suit against Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. told a federal judge in California on May 27 that they plan to settle their claims stemming from an alleged outbreak of the norovirus (H.C.L., a minor, by and through his guardian ad litem Richard R. LeSecla, Jr., et al. v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. No. 2: 16cv399. C.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - In a majority en banc opinion, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 27 found that although government agents arguably violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by retaining hard drives containing personal files that were irrelevant to their investigation, they did so in good faith and, therefore, evidence obtained from the drives should not have been suppressed (United States of America v. Stavros M. Ganias, No. 12-240, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9706).
ATLANTA - Only speculation permits the conclusion that Crane Co. required the asbestos-containing replacement gaskets at the heart of a mesothelioma lawsuit, a divided 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held May 27 (Mike Thurmon, et al. v. Crane Co., No. 14-15703, 11th Cir.).
FRESNO, Calif. - The named plaintiff in a wage-and-hour class complaint filed against Frito-Lay Inc. has failed to show that a $600,000 settlement is fair because the plaintiff's counsel appeared to rely on a faulty valuation that resulted in an unjustified discounting of the claims, a California federal judge ruled May 25 (Eliazar Sanchez, et al. v. Frito-Lay, Inc., No. 14-797, E.D. Calif.).
MONTPELIER, Vt. - The Vermont Supreme Court on May 27 affirmed a lower court's ruling that concluded that the statute of limitations had run on the State of Vermont's claim for damages against gasoline producers related to groundwater contamination due to methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) (State of Vermont v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No, 2015-201, Vt. Sup.).
LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Supreme Court on May 27 refused to grant a petition for leave to appeal filed by insurers in a dispute arising out of whether a total pollution exclusion precludes coverage for smoke inhalation injuries caused by a fire because the record in the case is undeveloped (Charlie B. Hobson et al. v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co. et al., No. 151447, Mich. Sup.; 2016 Mich. LEXIS 1071).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on May 27 dismissed a class complaint filed against a health insurance provider following a data breach, finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution (Pamela Chambliss, et al. v. CareFirst, Inc., et al., No. 15-2288, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70096).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In what he deemed a "fierce and protracted" legal battle, a District of Columbia federal judge on May 27 concluded that two plaintiffs are entitled to a declaration that there is no likelihood of confusion between their "La Indita Michoacana" trademark and various other marks asserted by a defendant on the basis of their common usage of the word "Michoacana" (Paleteria La Michoacana Inc. et al. v. Productos Lacteos Tocumbo S.A. De C.V., No. 11-1623, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69621).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A decision by a Delaware federal judge - later upheld by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals - which invalidated four of five patents covering the antibiotic Cubicin will stand, thanks to a denial of certiorari on May 31 by the U.S. Supreme Court (Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 15-1210, U.S. Sup.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - Because the standard in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ) regarding the admissibility of expert testimony does not change the long-established rule that lay persons can identify marijuana based on their personal experience and knowledge, a Florida appeals panel on May 25 affirmed a juvenile's conviction for possession of marijuana (R.C. v. State of Florida, No. 2D15-1738, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8107).
GRETNA, La. - A trial court did not err in determining that an insurer owes no coverage for mold and water damages in an insured's home because the policy clearly excludes coverage for water damage caused by a continuous or long-term leak, the Fifth Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal said May 26 (William Patrick Power el al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 15-796, La. App., 5th Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 1036).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on May 27 denied a building owner's motion for partial summary judgment on its claim for breach of the warranty against redhibitory defects against the manufacturer of windows that allegedly leaked after installation, holding that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether improper installation caused the leaks rather than a defect in the windows (425 Notre Dame LLC v. Kolbe & Kolbe Mill Work Co., et al., No. 15-cv-454, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69910).
SEATTLE - Because it is likely that an excess insurer's policy will be triggered in an environmental contamination coverage dispute, a Washington federal judge on May 27 denied the excess insurer's motion for summary judgment as it pertained to the insured's claim for declaratory judgment (Seattle Times Co. v. National Surety Corp. et al., No. 13-1463, W.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69981).
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 25 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that a renters insurance policy's business exclusion precludes coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging that the insured wrongfully disputed his former employer's use of his personal credit card to book hotel room reservations (Bryan Griggs, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 13-35282, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9583).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 26 affirmed that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify a number of its policyholders against underlying claims arising from the discharge of raw sewage because the insurer properly reserved its rights and the policyholders failed to prove they were prejudiced when the insurer withdrew its defense based on the policies' exclusions for pollution liability and biological deterioration (Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Co., et al. v. Randy Shearer, et al., No. 15-1837, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9635).
ST. LOUIS - A surface water exclusion in a homeowners insurance policy precludes coverage for damage from a pipe leaking, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 27, affirming summary judgment to the insurer on a breach of contract claim (Michael Bull v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 15-1397, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9703).