LAKELAND, Fla. - A trial judge erred in finding that appraisal was not mandatory with regard to sinkhole damage due to the language of an insurance policy and that there was no right to an appraisal because the issue in dispute is the amount of loss, not coverage, a Florida appeals panel held Oct. 17 (The Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. Cannon Ranch Partners Inc., No. 2D14-827, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 17033).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on Oct. 15 dismissed delivery drivers' claims filed under the Kansas Wage Payment Act (KWPA), finding that Kansas law allows minimum wage claims to be pursued only under the Kansas Minimum Wage Maximum Hour Law (KMWMHL) and that KMWMHL specifically exempts employers, such as the plaintiffs' employer, that are covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Jeffrey Wheaton, et al. v. Hinz JJ, LLC, et al., No. 14-2223, D. Kan.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147203).
SAN FRANCISCO - In two nearly identical Oct. 17 rulings, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of copyright infringement claims levied by a photographer against two major textbook publishers (Tom Bean v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, No. 10-16771, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19858; Tom Bean v. Pearson Education Inc., No. 13-16977, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19869.).
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on Oct. 16 denied a health care company's motion to dismiss a False Claims Act suit against it, ruling that the dissemination of audit results concerning its billing practices to doctors employed by the company did not constitute a public disclosure (United States, ex rel. Cecilia Guardiola v. Renown Health, et al., No. 12-cv-00295-LRH-VPC, D. Nev.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148227).
HOUSTON - The owners of two diagnostic centers in Texas on Oct. 16 agreed to pay a combined $2.6 million to resolve claims from three whistle-blowers alleging that the owners violated the False Claims Act and Stark statute, according to filings in Texas federal court (United States, ex rel. Maribeth Holderith v. One Step Diagnostics Inc., et al., No. 12-cv-2988, S.D. Texas).
SAN DIEGO - A newspaper company will pay $3.2 million to resolve claims that it violated California labor laws and the unfair competition law (UCL) by misclassifying newspaper carriers as independent contractors under a class action settlement that received preliminary approval Oct. 17 from a federal judge (Yvonne Dalton, et al. v. Lee Publications, Inc., No. 08-1072, S.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148240).
CINCINNATI - A Tennessee federal judge did not err in granting a copyright infringement defendant summary judgment on grounds that his license agreements with the plaintiffs were valid and had never been withdrawn or canceled under the requirements of Russian law, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 17 (Taryn Murphy and Chris Landon v. Sergey Lazarev, No. 14-5028, 6th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19951).
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Oct. 17 found that insureds waived their right to an appraisal, reversing a lower court's ruling against an insurer in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Florida Insurance Guaranty, etc. v. Gerassimos Maroulis and Irina Dmitrieva, No. 5D13-3185, Fla. App., 5th Dist.).
NEW YORK - A suit brought By Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on behalf of California owners of vehicles manufactured by General Motors LLC (New GM) belongs in the GM ignition-switch multidistrict litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the automaker argues in an Oct. 16 response to a motion to remand the suit to state court in California (In re: General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation, No. 14-md-02543-JMF, People of the State of California v. General Motors LLC, No. 1:14-cv-07787-JMF, S.D. N.Y.).
SALT LAKE CITY - Expert testimony was required to prove an injured skier's negligence claim against a ski resort where he was hit by a tram or something hanging from it, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 17 (Bradley R. Callister v. Snowbird Corp., No. 20130269-CA, Utah App.; 2014 Utah App. LEXIS 251).
NEW YORK - A federal district court order that held that a plan sponsor is a plan administrator within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and remanded for additional evidence is not an immediately appealable final order, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 15 in an unprecedential order (Raymond Thomas v. Bank of America, No. 13-442, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19711).
HOUSTON - A trial judge erred in submitting a charge of general negligence, rather than a charge of premises liability, against an electricity carrier to a jury, the Texas First District Court of Appeal ruled Oct. 16 (Oncor Electric Delivery Co. v. Marco Murillo, No. 01-10-01123-CV, Tex. App., 1st Dist.; 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 11479).
ST. LOUIS - An employer that complied with the terms of a document written by the union representative is liable for delinquent contributions to a multiemployer fund pursuant to that document under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, even though the employer did not sign the document containing the terms, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 15 (James Russ, et al. v. South Water Market, Inc., et al., No. 13-3613, 7th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19763).
ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands - The doctrine of assumption of the risk is not a complete bar to recovery under a negligence theory in a premises liability case but can be used in apportioning damages between the premises owner and an injured party, the Supreme Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands ruled Oct. 16 (Elissa Machado v. Yacht Haven U.S.V.I., LLC, et al., No. 2012-0137, Virgin Islands Sup.).
DETROIT - After finding that a bank failed to show that it has a right to insurance proceeds that were paid in relation to a fire at a foreclosed property, a Michigan federal judge on Oct. 16 refused to dismiss a declaratory judgment dispute over entitlement to the funds (Rafah Dawood v. Fifth Third Bank, et al., No. 14-cv-12442, E.D. Mich.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147456).
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Oct. 15 declined to dispose of a homeowner's bad faith claim against her insurer, related to Hurricane Isaac damages, finding that genuine fact disputes exist over matters such as the amount of coverage and cooperation with the claim investigation (Evonthe Hayes v. Southern Fidelity Insurance Co., No. 2:14-cv-00376, E.D. La.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146962)
LANSING, Mich. - A defect in the parking lot of a party store was open and obvious, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 14, reversing a trial court's denial of summary judgment for the store in a suit brought by a customer who was injured when she fell while getting out of her car (Elaine Villanueva v. Cherry Belt Party Store, No. 317044, Mich. App.; 2014 Mich. App. LEXIS 1890).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which has been sued by a class of Ohio residents who contend that the company is liable for wrongful death and other injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid, on Oct. 17 filed 47 additional answers contending that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The answers all follow a boilerplate format (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
MISSOULA, Mont. - The issue of whether the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) owed a duty of care to a woman who was injured when she fell in a home it owned is a question of fact within the province of a jury, a federal judge ruled Oct. 15 (Sherri Young v. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., et al., No. 13-38, D. Mont.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147088).
CHICAGO - A physician who was also a shareholder and member of the board of directors of the anesthesiology practice where she worked was an employer, not employee, so she has no standing to sue the practice for disability discrimination after she was terminated, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 15 (Linda Bluestein, M.D. v. Central Wisconsin Anesthesiology, S.C., Nos. 13-3724, 14-1256 and 14-1257, 7th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19760).
ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York Court of Appeals on Oct. 16 refused to rehear a hydraulic fracturing ban lawsuit in which the court split when it issued its opinion concluding that local municipalities may pass bans on the oil and gas extraction procedure because the supersession clause in the statewide Oil, Gas Solution Mining Law (OGSML) does not preempt the home rule authority vested in municipalities to regulate land use (Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden, et al., No. APL-2013-00245, N.Y. App.).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 14 partially reinstated racial bias, retaliation and hostile work environment claims brought by two black employees who allege that they were not treated as well as white employees while working for the New York University Medical Center (Desmond Leung, et al. v. New York University, et al., No. 13-2267, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19663).
FORT PIERCE, Fla. - A smoker's failure to specify the years during which he smoked each manufacturer's cigarettes renders his complaint insufficient under the federal pleading standards, a federal judge in Florida ruled Oct. 15 (Daniel S. Echols, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:13-CV-14215, S.D. Fla.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146841).