WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mandatory public-sector agency fees for employees who choose not to join a union where the fees are used to support collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment are constitutionally sound, respondents in an agency fee appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court argue in two separate briefs filed Jan. 12 (Mark Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al., No. 16-1466, U.S. Sup.).
GALVESTON, Texas - A Texas federal judge on Dec. 5 found that an insured's breach of contract and negligence lawsuit against an adjuster is time-barred by a two-year statute of limitations, granting the adjuster's motion for summary judgment in Hurricane Ike coverage dispute (Gracie Reese v. Aftermath Public Adjusters, Inc., et al., No. 16-273, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199527).
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Sept. 7 ordered a nonprofit public insurer and a reinsurer to arbitrate a $1.3 million breach of contract lawsuit based upon an arbitration clause in a reinsurance agreement (Alabama Municipal Insurance Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., No. 16-00948, M.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144748).
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on Aug. 16 trimmed some claims from a lawsuit brought by the Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) against a chiropractic firm and its owners, finding that while the insurer's claims were timely and not barred by Massachusetts' Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) statute, the company's claims for civil conspiracy, money had and received, breach of contract and intentional interference with advantageous business relationships were not sufficiently pleaded (Government Employees Insurance Co. v. Barron Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, P.C., et al., No. 16-cv-10642-ADB, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130278).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A woman who alleges that her age was the motivating factor in a decision to not renew her employment contract has established a prima facie case of age discrimination, a Florida federal judge ruled June 12, finding that genuine issues of fact precluded granting her former employer's motion for summary judgment (Carmel Saxon v. Seminole County Public Schools, No. 6:15-cv-01854, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89663).
HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut appeals court found that an insurer's duty to defend was not barred by a public entity errors and omission liability insurance policy's contract exclusion because an underlying complaint left open the possibility that a negligent misrepresentation claim against the insured did not arise out of a contract, reversing and remanding a lower court in an opinion to be officially released Dec. 6 (Town of Monroe v. Discover Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. AC 38332, Conn. App.; 2016 Conn. App. LEXIS 443).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Oct. 25 agreed to transfer a breach of contract class complaint to Virginia, finding that the contract's forum-selection clause "does not contravene any anti-waiver provision of California's UCL [unfair competition law] or the strong public policy of California" (Run Them Sweet, LLC v. CPA Global Limited, et al., No. 16-3662, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147803).
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A subrogation waiver clause included in a heating oil agreement sent to an insured by the heating oil company contravenes public policy because the average consumer does not have the chance to negotiate the provisions in residential heating oil contracts, a Pennsylvania federal judge said Oct. 5 in finding that an insurer is not barred from asserting negligence claims, as the subrogee of its insured, against the heating oil company (State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., et al. v. Petroleum Heat & Power Co. Inc., et al., No. 13-6732, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138479).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 8 affirmed the decision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to Raven Crest Contracting LLC allowing the company to discharge fill materials, holding that the Corps did not have to consider the effects of surface mining on public health when issuing the permit (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 14-2129, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12598).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 21 affirmed a lower court order dismissing a complaint alleging that Philip Morris USA Inc. violated the terms of a contract by overcharging military exchanges for cigarettes because the transactions "creating an inference of fraud were publicly disclosed" (United States, Ex Rel. Anthony Oliver v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 15-7049, D.C. Cir.).
ST LOUIS - A Missouri jury awarded $4.1 million to the widow of man who contracted mesothelioma after asbestos exposure as an electrician, holding the lone remaining defendant 5 percent liable, sources told Mealey Publications Feb. 1 (Jean Urbach v. The Okonite Co., No. 1122-CC-10636, Mo. Cir., St. Louis Co.).
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - A Tennessee jury on Sept. 17 returned a defense verdict in a case alleging exposure to asbestos during contract work at a Honeywell International Inc. predecessor's brake-manufacturing facility, sources told Mealey Publications (Nancy Harriss, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 14C771, Tenn. Cir., Hamilton Co.).
LOS ANGELES - A California judge's decision to deny a woman's request to vacate an arbitrator's decision to award $1,707.11 to a contractor accused of faulty workmanship during renovations to her home was affirmed by a state appeals panel on June 22; it found that the judge did not err in finding that the terms of the construction contract did not violate California's public policy and that she was properly informed about the arbitration process (Rena Morris v. Michael O'Neill, et al., No. B258467, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 7; 2015 Calif. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4464).
SAN FRANCISCO - Parties to a suit alleging a man contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos as a seaman settled May 18 during trial, sources told Mealey Publications. On May 8, the federal judge overseeing the case applied maritime law and found the substantial factor causation standard governed the trial (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - A New York jury on Sept. 29 awarded $7 million to a man who contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during the construction of a National Grid Generation LLC predecessor's facility, sources told Mealey's Publication (Ralph North v. National Grid Generation LLC, No. 190114/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Aug. 18 refused to allow subsequent purchasers of a newly constructed home to pursue claims for breach of implied warranty of habitability against the builder, ruling that the parties' arguments were predominantly grounded in public policy rather than contract law (Michael Conway, et al. v. Cutler Group Inc., d/b/a The David Cutler Group Inc., No. 80 MAP 2013, Pa. Sup.; 2014 Pa. LEXIS 2084).
DETROIT - The bankrupt City of Detroit on May 20 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan objecting to a $26 million claim against it filed by the Macomb County public works commissioner related to a claim from an underlying lawsuit in which the commissioner contends that the city breached its contract with the public works department (In Re: City of Detroit, No. 13-53046, Chapter 9, E.D. Mich. Bkcy.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Members of a San Francisco family are defrauding taxpayers by operating a string of fleabag motels in violation of their contracts with the city to provide "clean, safe, habitable conditions" for tenants in publicly funded transitional housing, the city attorney alleges in a lawsuit filed in state court on May 12 under California's unfair competition law (UCL) (City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Balvantsinh "Bill" Thakor, et al., No. 539230, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - Finding that an insured's breach of contract and bad faith counterclaims against its insurer did not arise primarily out of the insurer's protected activity, a California federal judge on April 3 declined to strike or dismiss the counterclaims under California's anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) statute (Gotham Insurance Co. v. Shasta Technologies LLC, et al., No. 4:13-cv-03810, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47007).