CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - With the admission of a retired prison official's expert testimony, a Texas federal magistrate judge found March 7 that a prison's grooming policy requiring short hair imposes "a substantial burden" on prisoners' religious exercise (Teddy Norris Davis, et al. v. Lorie Davis, director, TDCJ-CID, No. 12-166, S.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31944).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on March 3 denied a former truck driver's request to certify a class of truck drivers in relation to an alleged failure to pay a minimum wage for the hours worked, finding that he failed to meet the federal pleading requirements (Robert Gatdula, et al. v. CRST International Inc., et al., No. 11-1285, C.D. Calif., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184720).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on March 6 entered final approval of a $9.3 million settlement that certified a class of consumers who purchased a concrete resurfacing paint made by Rust-Oleum Corp. that allegedly bubbled and flaked prematurely (In re: Rust-Oleum Restore Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2602, Case No. 15 C 1364, N.D. Ill.).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 2 granted a petition for rehearing filed by defendants in an action to confirm a $48 million arbitral award issued by the International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) International Court of Arbitration for the purpose of correcting its previous instructions to the district court with instructions that the district court apply New York law to the remaining issues of the case (CBF Industria de Gusa S/A, et al. v. Amci Holdings Inc., No. 15-1133, 15-1146, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3815).
SAN DIEGO - A former Trump University LLC student on March 6 filed an objection to the $25 million settlement to be paid by the now-defunct school, owned by President Donald J. Trump, to end claims that the school was a sham and defrauded its students out of millions of dollars, arguing that the settlement agreement fails to provide class members with the option to be excluded from the settlement (Sonny Low, et al. v. Trump University, LLC, et al., No. 10-940, Art Cohen, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, No. 13-2519, S.D. Calif.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. - In a married couple's lawsuit alleging violation of their constitutional rights by a police officer during a traffic stop, a South Carolina federal judge on March 2 excluded in part testimony from a police captain who is also an attorney that served to bolster the credibility of the police officer (Jerome C. Newkirk Sr. v. James B. Enzor, individually and as an officer of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, No. 13-1634, Catherine B. Newkirk v. James B. Enzor, individually and as an officer of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, No. 13-1635, D. S.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29333).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Although a police officer improperly testified as a lay witness regarding historical cell site data to support a conviction against a woman for felony murder and conspiracy to commit robbery, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held March 2 that the testimony did not create a prejudicial impact on the jury's finding (State of West Virginia v. Tulsa Johnson, No. 16-0265, W.Va. Sup.; 2017 W. Va. LEXIS 120).
MINNEAPOLIS - A researcher at the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center on March 2 told the federal judge overseeing the National Hockey League (NHL) concussion multidistrict litigation that the league is seeking raw research materials only to discredit her and her work so it can achieve its goals in the lawsuit (In re: ational Hockey League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 14-2551, D. Minn.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal on March 1 approved a class action settlement between former U.S. veterans and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston after determining that the terms of the settlement, which provides compensation to class members whose disability benefits were offset or reduced by Liberty Life, is reasonable (James L. Bush v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, et al., No. 14-1507, N.D. Calif.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A civil engineer's education, experience and expertise in stucco installation was not enough to show that his testimony in support of a proposed class action filed by homeowners against Pulte Home Corp. satisfied the requirements of Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), a federal judge in Florida ruled March 3 in granting the home builder's motion to exclude (Shaun Gazzara, et al. v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 16-cv-657-Orl-31TBS, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30251).
LANSING, Mich. - The University of Michigan (UM) was hit with a lawsuit in Michigan court March 2, with a research and educational organization claiming that the university failed to comply with its request under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (MFOIA) for copies of emails UM's president sent containing the word "Trump" (Mackinac Center for Public Policy v. University of Michigan, No. 17-000050-MZ, Mich. Clms.).
NEW BERN, N.C. - Two medical doctors may testify that a decedent suffered a cardiac event before falling from his wheelchair, a North Carolina federal judge held March 1, also allowing an expert for the decedent's side to testify as to the cause of death (Gwendolyn Jackson Pinnix and Warren Ivan Jackson, executors of the estate of David W. Jackson Sr. v. SSC Silver Stream Operating Company LLC, No. 14-00161, E.D. N.C.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28679).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Finding that Vizio Inc. qualifies as a "video tape service provider" under the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), a California federal judge on March 2 denied dismissal of a putative class claim under the statute for the purported disclosure of consumers' personally identifiable information (PII) via the firm's smart TVs (In Re: Vizio, Inc., Consumer Privacy Litigation, No. 8:16-ml-02693, C.D. Calif.).
SAN DIEGO - After finding that a restaurant chain's shared tip-pooling policy is not unlawful, a California federal judge on Feb. 28 dismissed a former server's claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and for penalties under the California's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) (Brendan Wilkes v. Benihana Inc., et al., No. 16cv2219, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29127).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on March 1 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court, arguing that the district court should modify a scheduling order to extend the discovery deadline and change the date of trial plaintiff selection in a collection of lawsuits brought by residents who allege that the company is liable for their injuries by the alleged presence of perchlorate in the aquifer that supplies their drinking water (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).
SEATTLE - Having excluded an insurer's expert testimony in a retrial as inadmissible, a Washington federal judge on March 1 ruled that the insurer cannot establish whether alleged "collapse" conditions observed in 2008 at an insured's condominium complex were present during another insurer's policy periods (Houston General Insurance Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., et al., No. 11-2093, W.D. Wash.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29177).
NEW YORK - In a Feb. 28 ruling, a New York federal magistrate judge not only found a copyright and trademark defendant's discovery responses to be noncompliant with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34, he also took the opportunity to criticize attorneys throughout the district for continually failing to comply with December 2015 amendments to the rule (James H. Fischer v. Stephen T. Forrest Jr., et al., No. 1:14-cv-01304 and 1:14-cv-01307, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28102).
SAN ANTONIO - A plaintiff's expert sufficiently relied "upon his engineering background, knowledge of basic principles and inspection of the winch at issue in this case in formulating his testimony," a Texas federal judge ruled March 1, declining to exclude the testimony in a strict products liability lawsuit (Christopher Villegas v. Cequent Performance Products Inc., No. 15-473, W.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28597).
CHICAGO - In a Feb. 27 putative class complaint filed in Illinois federal court, a frequent charitable giver and one of her intended nonprofit recipients sued PayPal Inc. for allegedly redirecting funds donated for organizations that are not registered with PayPal to unrelated organizations that are (Friends for Health: Supporting the North Shore Health Center, et al. v. PayPal Inc., et al., No. 1:17-cv-01542, N.D. Ill.).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on Feb. 27 denied a defense motion to dismiss an Employee Retirement Income Security Act class action alleging that American Century Services LLC charged excessive investment management and record-keeping fees for its 401(k) plan and filled the retirement plan with proprietary investment options for its own benefit, saying that the plaintiffs' allegations state a claim for breach of fiduciary duty (Steve Wildman, et al. v. American Century Services LLC, et al., No. 4:16-cv-00737, W.D. Mo.).
HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut federal judge on Feb. 28 granted summary judgment in favor of Honeywell International Inc., finding that union employees who retired after the expiration of collective bargaining and related agreements that offered them lifetime medical coverage benefits are not contractually vested (David Kelly, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 3:16-cv-00543, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28203).
DAYTON, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Feb. 28 found that plaintiffs satisfied their burden of proving that Honeywell International Inc. agreed to provide lifetime health care benefits to retirees from its Greenville, Ohio, plant and permanently enjoined the company from dropping the benefits for those who retired from the plant before June 1, 2012, and their eligible spouses and dependents (Barbara Fletcher, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 3:16-cv-302, S.D. Ohio, Western Div., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28324).
BOSTON - A Massachusetts federal judge on Feb. 28 refused to dismiss an action filed by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, which is seeking payments related to a $62 million arbitral award, finding that the underlying claims could potentially be affected by an arbitration agreement (Cerner Middle East Limited v. Ahmed Saeed Mahmoud Al-Badie Al-Dhaheri, et al., No. 16-11984, D. Mass, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27954).
OAKLAND, Calif. - In a March 1 motion in California federal court, the plaintiffs in a class action accusing Facebook Inc. of privacy violations in its scanning of users' private messages (PMs) seek preliminary approval of a settlement with the social network, noting changes that Facebook has made to its allegedly illegal practices (Matthew Campbell, et al. v. Facebook Inc., No. 4:13-cv-05996, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An arbitrator for the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on March 1 released a decision in which he refused a request filed by investors in a luxury development in Costa Rica to stay an arbitration pending the outcome of their petition in a U.S. federal court to set aside an award, finding that a stay of the arbitration would prejudice the Republic of Costa Rica (Aaron C. Berkowitz, et al. v. The Republic of Costa Rica, No. UNCT/13/2, ICSID).