WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 27 granted two Catholic groups' petition for certiorari and vacated a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate did not substantially burden religious beliefs. The court remanded the case for further consideration in light of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. (573 U.S. __ ) (Michigan Catholic Conference, et al. v. Burwell, Sec. of H&HS, et al., No 14-701, U.S. Sup.).
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's high court on April 22 reversed a lower court and found that certain alleged wrongful acts by a self-insured managed health organization are covered under a number of reinsurance agreements (WellPoint, Inc. [f/k/a Anthem, Inc.], et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh PA, et al., No. 49S05-1404-PL-244, Ind. Sup.; 2015 Ind. LEXIS 316).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 27 granted certiorari to an online data aggregation service in a case pertaining to whether the lead plaintiff in a putative action brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) needs to establish an injury in fact to have standing to sue under Article III of the U.S. Constitution (Spokeo, Inc. v. Thomas Robins, et al., No. 13-1339, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on April 23 granted preliminary approval to a proposed class action settlement alleging that a mortgage lender and an insurer were involved in an unjust kickback scheme involving force-placed flood insurance, in violation of, among other things, the state's unfair competition law (UCL) (Stephen Ellsworth v. U.S. Bank, N.A., et al., No. 12-2506, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53625).
ST. LOUIS - MI Holdings Inc., which was sued by a Missouri resident who contends that he suffered personal injuries as a result of exposure to radioactive material related to the Manhattan Engineering Project near the St. Louis Airport, on April 22 filed a brief in Missouri federal court contending that the resident's deadline for the production of material in discovery is "unreasonable" (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).
TRENTON, N.J. - Raritan Baykeeper Inc. and Edison Wetlands Association Inc. on April 24 agreed to dismiss their claim accusing the New Jersey Department of Transportation (N.J. DOT) of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at a site in Sayreville, N.J., after finding that the agency did not violate the terms of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharges of storm water (Raritan Baykeeper v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals court on April 24 found that a lower court erred in finding that insureds were entitled to appraisal of their claim for sinkhole damage, further concluding that the insureds' conduct in litigating their claim amounted to a waiver of the appraisal (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association Inc. v. Oscar Lustre, et al., No. 2D13-5780, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 6026).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana appeals panel on April 24 upheld a trial court's finding in favor of a couple who claimed that structural defects in their home were the result of the builder's noncompliance with applicable building standards, ruling that the judge properly considered the facts in the record presented during trial (Joseph Catalanotto, et al v. Jim Walter Homes, No. 2014 CA 1274, La. App., 1st Cir.; 2015 La. App. LEXIS 187).
LOS ANGELES - An insurer has no duty to defend its insureds against underlying environmental contamination claims arising out of their operation of a dry cleaning business because the policy's chemical discharge exclusion clearly bars coverage, a California federal judge said April 23 (Hollyway Cleaners & Laundry Co., et al. v. Central National Insurance Company of Omaha Inc., No. 13-7497, C.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54080).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on April 23 declined to strike class allegations brought by applicants and employees of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) who allege that the authority's background check policy that disqualifies from employment individuals with a criminal history disproportionately excludes black applicants and employees (Erick Little, et al. v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, et al., No. 14-1289, D. D.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53367).
CINCINNATI - An Ohio federal judge's summary judgment dismissal of trademark infringement claims on res judicata grounds was vacated and remanded April 24 by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (A Metal Source LLC v. All Metal Sales Inc., et al., No. 14-3951, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6836).
AUSTIN, Texas - Claims against a compounding pharmacy and several of its pharmacists are health-care liability claims and are therefore subject to the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA), the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously April 24 (Randol Mill Pharmacy, et al. v. Stacey Miller, et al., No. 13-1014, Texas Sup.).
WORCESTER, Mass. - Individuals who signed up to participate in an obstacle course event and then sued the organizers after the event was moved to a different location must arbitrate their claims individually, a Massachusetts federal judge ruled April 22, dismissing the participants' class complaint (Lisa C. Pazol, et al. v. Tough Mudder Incorporated, et al., No. 14-40180, D. Mass.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52784).
SAN FRANCISCO - Although admittedly "concerned about the sizable amount" of actual damages claimed by a copyright infringement plaintiff, a California federal judge on April 23 nonetheless ordered two defaulting defendants to pay $1.6 million (FormFactor Inc. v. Mr. Prober Technology Inc. et al., No. 13-3688, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53637).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge in California on April 24 held that the plaintiff in a trade secrets case failed to establish a predicate breach of contract in support of its state unfair competition law (UCL) claim; therefore, the defendant was entitled to have judgment entered in its favor (Netlist Inc. v. Diablo Technologies, No. 13-5962, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54109).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on April 24 affirmed a ruling that denied benefits to a veteran who contended that his throat cancer and other ailments were caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The judge concluded that the veteran did not provide sufficient evidence for his claims (James E. Hughes v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-1521, Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 504).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana appellate panel on April 24 affirmed a trial judge's ruling dismissing a man's claims against Lowe's Home Center Inc. as a supplier of Chinese drywall, after finding that the judge did not err when holding that the plaintiff's claims were subject to the nationwide class action settlement in Vereen v. Lowe's Home Centers Inc. (SU10-CV-2267B [Ga. Super., Muscogee Co.]) (George Cepriano Jr. v. B Square Builders LLC, et al., No. 2014 CA 1568, La. App., 1st Cir.; 2015 La. App. LEXIS 828).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on April 22 partially granted defendants' motion to dismiss a state unfair competition law (UCL) claim in a dispute over an allegedly fraudulent substance abuse program, finding that the parents had standing to bring the claim and seek restitution but could not seek injunctive relief and that the son lacked standing to bring a UCL claim. The court declined to dismiss all other claims (Christopher Keller, et al. v. Narconon Fresh Start, et al., No. 14-2168, S.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53596).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Ohio federal judge's construction of "when a caller is placed on hold" was not improper, a panel of the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 24 (Info-Hold Inc. v. Muzak LLC, No. 14-1167, Fed. Cir.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Philip Morris USA Inc. is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on claims of fraudulent concealment and conspiracy brought by a longtime smoker who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a federal judge ruled April 23, vacating an award of $20.76 million in punitive damages (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157-WGY-HTS, M.D. Fla.).