MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama Supreme Court on April 21 found that a company that owns a McDonalds fast food restaurant did not present enough evidence to show that a puddle a woman slipped on was an open and obvious danger and reversed summary judgment granted to the company by the trial court (Andre Barnwell v. CLP Corp., No. 1151329, Ala. Sup., 2017 Ala. LEXIS 37).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from defective drywall manufactured in China on April 21 adopted an expert's formula that states that class members should receive $86 per square foot to remediate damage to their homes' electrical and plumbing systems that resulted from the use of the building material that was made by Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. and other China-based companies (In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2407, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60911).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida jury on April 21 awarded the widow of a smoker in a tobacco suit a total of $12 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award against a tobacco company to $15 million (Mary Lima v. R.J. Reynolds, et al., No. 2015CA007140, Fla. Cir., 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 21 certified a question to the California Supreme Court on whether high interest rates on consumer loans violated California finance law (Eduardo De La Torre, et al. v. CashCall Inc., Nos. 14-17571, 15-15042, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6997).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 21 affirmed a Texas federal judge's ruling denying coverage for partial hospitalization for mental health treatment, saying that the judge properly reviewed the denial of coverage under an abuse-of-discretion standard (Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas Inc., No. 16-20174, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7072).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on April 21 granted Bayer Corp.'s motion for summary judgment in an Aleve case after excluding the plaintiff's two experts from testifying that the over-the-counter pain reliever caused permanent kidney damage (Kenneth Hale, et al. v. Bayer Corporation, et al., No. 15-745, S.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61077).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 24 denied a disability claimant's petition for writ of certiorari, refusing to review the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that that the remand of a disability retirement claim was not an abuse of discretion or a violation of a previous court mandate (Kyle D. Kennard v. Means Industries Inc., No. 16-1117, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Indian tribe's sovereign immunity does not protect a tribal casino limousine driver from an individual capacity lawsuit filed by a couple injured in a crash with the limo because the driver is the actual party in interest, not the tribe, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held April 25 (Brian Lewis and Michelle Lewis v. William Clarke, No. 15-1500, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge properly rejected a state law unfair competition plaintiff's effort to apply the Lanham Act's "establishment claim" standard outside the context of a Lanham Act claim, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 21 (Serena Kwan, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated v. SanMedica International, No. 15-15496, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6995).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 21 reversed a $36 million judgment entered against an insurer in an asbestos coverage dispute after determining that an asbestos exclusion is not ambiguous and bars coverage for underlying asbestos-related claims filed against the insured (General Refractories Company v. First State Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-3409, 3rd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank N.A. have agreed to increase their settlement payment to $142 million, $32 million more than the settlement proposed in March, to end claims by a class of individuals who allege that the banking company opened accounts, enrolled them in products and services and submitted applications for products and services without consent, according to a motion for preliminary approval filed by the plaintiffs on April 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Shahriar Jabbari, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Company, et al., No. 15-2159, N.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - Because a federal court's ruling enforcing a permanent anti-suit injunction issued as part of a $5.5 billion settlement in the Chapter 11 case of Tronox Inc. is not a final order, it cannot be appealed by 4,300 individuals who say they were injured from the company's operation of a wood-treatment plant in Pennsylvania, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 20 (Avoca plaintiffs, et al. v. Kerr-McGee Corp., et al., No. 16-343, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6949).
Medical device companies C.R. Bard Inc. and Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD) will merge in a $24 billion cash and stock deal, the companies announced April 23.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on April 19 remanded a class action lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination by a group of defendant chemical companies, ruling that the local exception to federal class action law applied (MD Haynes Inc. d/b/a Cici's Pizza, et al. v. Valero Marketing and Supply Co., et al., No. 17-6, S.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist., LEXIS 59495).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on April 20 partially granted a motion filed by a loan management company to dismiss numerous claims asserted against it in relation to the denial of a loan modification, but found that claims for violation of the Truth In Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation X of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) can proceed (Douglas and Serenity Boedicker v. Rushmore Loan Management Services, LLC, No. 2:16-cv-02798, D. Kan., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60597).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on April 19 found that a homeowners insurance policy's "business pursuits" and "civic or public activities performed for pay" exclusions bar coverage for underlying defamation and false light claims brought against its insured, declaring that the insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured (Patricia Beil v. AMCO Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-356, S.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59757).
SAN FRANCISCO - In an April 19 ruling, a California federal magistrate judge denied Google Inc.'s motion to quash a warrant, issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), for foreign-stored data, concluding that the warrant on California-based Google constituted a domestic application of the statute that does not run afoul of the presumption against extraterritorial application of U.S. laws (In the Matter of the Search of Content That is Stored at Premises Controlled by Google, No. 3:16-mc-80263, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59990).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 20 found that the United States was responsible for the brain damage a child sustained during delivery at a federally funded facility and ordered the United States to pay the parents of the child $32.9 million (Christina Late, et al. v. United States of America, No. 1:13-CV-0756, M.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60012).
DALLAS - A Texas appeals panel on April 20 upheld a trial court judge's decision to revoke a woman's sentence for four years of community supervision and sentence her to 10 years in prison for insurance fraud, ruling that there was sufficient evidence showing that she committed a new offense of theft from an elderly person (Christine Zimmerman Shearer v. State of Texas, No. 05-16-00317-CR, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3584).
DETROIT - Consumers who purchased Volkswagen vehicles with software designed to cheat emissions tests cannot seek restitution from the auto manufacturer as part of criminal proceedings brought by the federal government against the company because it would unduly prolong the sentencing process, a federal judge in Michigan ruled April 21 (United States of America v. James Robert Liang, et al., No. 16-cr-20394, E.D. Mich.).
CINCINNATI - Allegations that Kentucky Downs LLC infringed the trademarks of other horse racing venues when operating an historical horse-race gambling platform were properly dismissed, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 19 (Oaklawn Jockey Club Inc., et al. v. Kentucky Downs LLC and Exacta Systems LLC, No. 16-5582, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7078).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 19 reversed a trial court's summary judgment ruling in favor of an employer, finding that it had not been established as a matter of law that the Fair Labor Standard Act's (FLSA) seaman exemption applies to the plaintiff, who operated a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) (Kyle Halle, et al. v. Galliano Marine Service, L.L.C., et al., No. 16-30558, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6833).
CINCINNATI - An employee with mental health issues who was demoted and then fired after taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may proceed with his retaliation claims brought under the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a split Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 20, partially reversing a trial court's ruling (Gloria Marshall v. The Rawlings Company LLC, No. 16-5614, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6854).