CHICAGO - Expert testimony on sociological and statistical analysis is allowed in a racial discrimination lawsuit between an employer and its former employees to discuss whether minority employees received disparate treatment, an Illinois federal judge held March 24, finding that the testimony meets the standards set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) (Kenneth Martin, et al. v. F.E. Moran Inc. and Fire Protection of Northern Illinois, No. 13-03526, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42974).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois dismissed without prejudice claims from a man that his former employer falsely billed Medicare, Medicaid and other private insurers for endovascular laser therapy (EVLT) procedures that were not medically necessary or done with reused laser fibers, finding that the allegations were not made with the required level of specificity to support his False Claims Act (FCA) allegations (United States of America, ex rel. Constantine Zverev, et al. v. USA Vein Clinics of Chicago, LLC, et al., No. 12 CV 8004, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43807).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 27 reinstated a gay employee's bias claim, finding that while it can't reconsider the ruling in Simonton v. Runyon, 232 F.3d 33 (2d Cir. 2000), which held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it does find that the employee plausibly alleges a gender-stereotyping claim cognizable under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) (Matthew Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Incorporated, et al., No. 16-748, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5278).
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Supreme Court on March 27 voted 6-1 in favor of vacating a ruling denying the state of New Jersey's motion to dismiss a contribution lawsuit brought by NL Industries Inc. under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act), finding that the state could raise the sovereign immunity defense for an incident that occurred before the act was enacted (NL Industries, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, No. A-44-15, N.J. Sup., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 325).
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 determined that a disability insurer acted arbitrarily and capriciously by relying on a job description of a generic "lawyer" rather than a job description of a specialized "environmental lawyer" when it determined the onset date of a claimant's disability (Jane Doe v. Standard Insurance Co., No. 16-2085, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5232).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney who challenge a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. filed a petition for writ of certiorari March 27 in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that "the Second Circuit's unprecedented authorization of a preemptive collateral attack on a foreign country's money judgment warrants" the high court's intervention (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A686, and Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A714, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 27 denied a petition for certiorari filed by class members in a credit card fee lawsuit in which a $7.25 billion class action settlement was reached in December 2013 and then set aside by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 30, 2016, after it determined that the merchant class had divided interests and needed separate counsel (Photos Etc. Corp., et al. v. Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc., et al., No. 16-710, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. LEXIS 2042).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Whether a church establishes a plan or not, pension plans for religious nonprofits are and have been exempt from the minimum funding and reporting and disclosure requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the attorney representing three religious hospitals and health care providers argued March 27 before the U.S. Supreme Court (Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Maria Stapleton, et al., No. 16-74, Saint Peter's Healthcare System, et al. v. Laurence Kaplan, No. 16-86, Dignity Health, et al. v. Starla Rollins, No. 16-258, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A petitioner told the U.S. Supreme Court on March 27 that venue is proper only in a defendant's place of incorporation and that, accordingly, allegations of patent infringement by Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC should have been levied in Indiana federal court and not in Delaware, where allegedly infringing products were shipped (TC Heartland LLC d/b/a Heartland Food Products Group v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, No. 16-341, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California court on March 22 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant a demurrer filed by a mortgage company to a complaint filed by borrowers in relation to a foreclosure, finding that they did not allege sufficient facts to support their claim for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) (Lonnie Ratliff, Jr. v. EMC Mortgage LLC, et al., No. A144123, Calif. App., 1st. Dist., Div. 3, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2057).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 denied an architect's appeal seeking to reverse a ruling in favor of a home builder's insurer in a breach of contract dispute arising from an underlying $63,471,000 copyright infringement dispute, rejecting the architect's argument that an unobjected-to proof of claim in a bankruptcy case should be allowed and should become a final judgment when the bankruptcy case is closed (Kipp Flores Architects, LLC v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co., No. 16-20255, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5241).
SAN ANTONIO - An expert is qualified to testify on independent marketing organizations (IMOs) in the insurance industry and regarding an IMO's "compliance or lack of compliance with industry standards," a Texas federal magistrate judge ruled March 24 (Wealthmark Advisors Inc. and David Shields v. Phoenix Life Insurance Co. and PHL Variable Insurance Co., No. 16-00485, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42978).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on March 27 agreed to hear a defense technology company's appeal of a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling to determine if there is a split among the circuits regarding whether a duty to disclose is created by Item 303 of Securities and Exchange Commission Regulation S-K that is actionable under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Leidos Inc., v. Indiana Public Retirement System, et al., No. 16-581, U.S. Sup.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Any delay in a retired police officer's notice of intent to file an asbestos tort action against the City of Buffalo was reasonable given the facts of the case, and no evidence suggests the municipality will suffer prejudice from the late notice, a New York appeals court held March 24 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. CA 14-01919, N.Y. App., 4th Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2279).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A man's Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) suit impermissibly seeks equitable relief in the face of other available remedies, a federal magistrate judge in Alabama held March 23 (Jeffrey Woodruff v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, et al., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41921).
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. - A West Virginia federal judge on March 23 refused to dismiss an insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit challenging coverage for a lawsuit alleging that the insured's employee filed fraudulent tax returns, finding that the factors weigh in favor of the federal court retaining jurisdiction (Ohio Security Insurance Co. v. K R Enterprises, Inc., et al., No. 15-16264, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42011).
CINCINNATI - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits is supported by the medical evidence, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said March 22, agreeing with a district court's finding that the claimant failed to show that his depression prevented him from performing the duties of his occupation (Les A. Gilewski v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-2028, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5240).
NEW YORK - Finding an expert's testimony on the ergonomics factors of a plaintiff's job in relation to his injuries to be admissible, a New York federal judge on March 24 denied partial summary judgment to a railroad company in a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) lawsuit because it is premised on the exclusion of that testimony (Donovan G. Hewitt v. Metro-North Commuter Railroad, No. 14-8052, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43383).
CHICAGO - Illinois federal court is the wrong jurisdiction for John Crane Inc.'s fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders, two federal judges held separately March 23 in dismissing the company's lawsuits, but without prejudice to refile the actions in the proper courts (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 16-5913, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42758, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 16-5918, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41840).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Efforts by a copyright infringement defendant to obtain summary judgment were unsuccessful on March 24 when an Indiana federal judge found that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014), did not change the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' "discovery rule" for determining when an allegation of infringement has accrued (Design Basics LLC v. Westport Homes of Fort Wayne Inc., et al., No. 16-170, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43060).
CHICAGO - The parents of a child who allegedly developed E. coli after eating soy nut butter filed suit on March 23 in Illinois federal court against a soy nut butter maker, claiming that the butter led to their son developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) (Michael James Richardson, et al. v. The SoyNut Butter Company, No. 17-CV-2233, N.D. Ill.).