SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Feb. 12 allowed negligence and state unfair competition law (UCL) claims to continue in a home loan modification dispute, but dismissed a claim for statutory cancellation of instruments (Charlotte Johnson, et al. v. PNC Mortgage, et al., No. 14-2976, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17485).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on Feb. 13 dismissed an insurer's suit with prejudice after determining that the lack of action by the insured in the past nine months indicates that the insured abandoned the suit (United Fire & Casualty Co. v. Titan Contractors Service Inc., No. 10-2076, E.D. Mo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17666).
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Claims for breach of contract, breach of warranty and negligence against an insured encompass some acts that are not excluded from coverage under the professional services exclusion in a commercial general liability insurance policy, a South Dakota federal judge ruled Feb. 13, finding that material issues of fact remain with regard to resolution of the insurer's duty to indemnify (General Casualty Company of Wisconsin v. Nelson Engineering Consulting LLC, No. 13-4075, D. S.D.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17705).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 13 refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. against a chiropractor and his practice claiming that the defendants submitted fraudulent bills under Michigan's No-Fault Automobile Act, finding that the insurance company sufficiently stated claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and for common-law fraud and unjust enrichment (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Louis N. Radden, D.O., et al., No. 14-13299, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17788).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Claims filed in 2007 alleging that a Florida city in 1992 unilaterally stopped following a 1982 consent decree requiring certain hiring protocol for its fire department were filed too late and barred by laches, a Florida federal judge ruled Feb. 16 (Olivette Coffey Jr., et al. v. Dwight Braddy, etc., et al., No. 71-44, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18424).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Texas federal judge's determination that Victoria's Secret Direct Brand Management LLC and Avon Products Inc. infringed two online shopping patents, and that the asserted claims of the patents are not invalid, was reversed Feb. 12 by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Soverain Software LLC v. Victoria's Secret Direct Brand Management et al., Nos. 12-1649, 12-1650, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2202).
HOUSTON - Comments made by a juror before jury selection and just before a verdict was reached in a racketeering case did not demonstrate bias or any violation of a trial court judge's rules, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found Feb. 11, upholding the trial court's decision to not grant the defendant a new trial (United States of America v. Armando Villalobos, No. 14-40147, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2132).
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 13 reversed and remanded a lower court opinion regarding what definition of "covered claim" controls a sinkhole damage suit brought by homeowners against the state's insurance guarantor standing in for an insolvent insurer (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, Inc. v. William Simmons and Sylvia Simmons, No. 5D13-4095, Fla. App., 5th Dist.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Feb. 13 refused to vacate a judgment that confirmed a $1.6 billion award issued against Venezuela and in favor of various ExxonMobil entities, but stayed the case pending a decision by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on Venezuela's application to revise the award (Mobil Cerro Negro Ltd., et al. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, No. 14-8163, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17919).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge dismissed multiple claims, including one brought under the state's unfair competition law (UCL), in a class action wage and labor dispute, leaving claims for meal break and rest period violations and declining to strike class allegations (Eve Miranda, et al. v. Coach Inc., et al., No. 14-2031, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18278).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Feb. 11 found that a foundation insured's action seeking coverage for water damage to a renowned work of art was timely, refusing to dismiss the complaint (Richard Avedon Foundation v. AXA Art Insurance Corp., No. 151435/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Texas federal judge properly granted a defendant summary judgment of noninfringement in a dispute over a patented system for providing personal communication services (PCS), the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 12 (Fenner Investments Ltd. v. Cellco Partnership, d/b/a Verizon Wireless, No. 13-1640, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2203).
RENO, Nev. - A jury in the Washoe County, Nev., Second Judicial District Court on Feb. 13 awarded $4.5 million in compensatory damages for a commercial general liability insurer's breach of its duty of good faith and fair dealing in declining a defense and indemnity for property damage sustained to a class of homeowners (Elizabeth Reimers, et al. v. Everest Indemnity Insurance Co., No. CV13-00737, Nev. Dist., 2nd Dist., Washoe Co.).
BOSTON - The high rate of mortality among smokers could be related to diseases other the 21 traditionally associated with smoking, according to an article published Feb. 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine ("Smoking and Mortality - Beyond Established Causes," N Engl J Med 372;7, New England Journal of Medicine).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania state court jury on Feb. 13 awarded $1.3 million in punitive damages to a man who says his bladder cancer was caused by the Actos diabetes drug, according to the parties (John Kristufek v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., et al., No. 120702275, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - Counsel for the National Football League (NFL) and the class plaintiffs in the brain-injury multidistrict litigation against the league on Feb. 13 told the Pennsylvania federal judge overseeing the litigation that they have reached agreement on five issues raised by the judge following a Nov. 19 fairness hearing on a settlement (In re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323, No. 2:12-md-02323 [AB]; E.D. Pa.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Feb. 10 declined to rule on a summary judgment motion in a copyright infringement file-sharing case, finding that the plaintiff had not had adequate time to conduct relevant discovery prior to the motion's filing (Malibu Media LLC v. Roberto Roldan, No. 8:13-cv-03007, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15944).
AUSTIN, Texas - The majority of the Texas Supreme Court on Feb. 13 determined that BP Exploration & Production and its affiliates are covered as additional insureds only for above-surface pollution arising out of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion because the rig owner did not assume any liability for sub-surface pollution (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 13-0670, Texas Sup.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 10 affirmed partial certification of a class of assistant store managers (ASMs) who claim that they are owed overtime (Mani Jacob, et al. v. Duane Reade, Inc., et al., No. 13-3873, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2040).
INDIANAPOLIS - Health insurance provider Anthem Inc. was hit with yet another complaint related to its recently announced data breach on Feb. 10, with a Virginia man alleging negligence and breach of contract in Indiana federal court while simultaneously petitioning the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) to consolidate his complaint with 16 similar suits filed in federal courts around the country (Michael S. Weinberger v. Anthem Inc., et al., No. 1:15-cv-00201, S.D. Ind.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana did not err when finding that a former BP America Inc. employee was unable to provide sufficient evidence to support his claim that the oil company retaliated against him when deciding to terminate his employment over his complaints that it was not following shoreline treatment recommendations (STR) following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 12 (August Walter v. BP America Inc., No. 14-30451, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK - After finding that testimony on pre-closing loan tape discrepancies was relevant to the claims asserted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) against numerous entities, a New York federal judge on Feb. 12 refused to exclude the testimony of the FHFA's expert witness (Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Nomura Holding America Inc., et al., No. 11cv6201, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17447).
PHILADELPHIA - An estate's executor failed to produce evidence of the existence of a valid and paid-for policy of voluntary life insurance with the estate's former employer and insurer, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Feb. 10, granting summary judgment on breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims (Seth J. Diener, guardian ad litem of Estate of Joseph Thomas Mancuso IV, et al. v. The Renfrew Centers Inc. and Life Insurance Company of North America, No. 11-4404, E.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16421).
PHILADELPHIA - The accommodation through which those who object to the contraceptive mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) can avoid providing or paying for the insurance coverage does not burden religious practice, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 11 (Geneva College, et al. v. HHS, et al., 13-3536, Geneva College, Wayne L. Hepler, et al. v. HHS, et al., No. 14-1374, Most Reverend Lawrence T. Persico, et al. v. HHS, et al., No. 14-1376, Most Reverend David A. Zubik, et al. v. HHS, et al., No. 14-1377, 3rd Cir.).