FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A request for a mistrial by two tobacco companies was denied June 2 when a Florida judge instead found that an initial, inconsistent verdict by jurors in an Engle progeny case and $8 million award for wrongful death could stand; nearly one week later, on the evening of June 8, the jury rendered a punitive damage award of $12 million (Herbert Landi v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. CACE08025814, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
ST. LOUIS - In a dispute over the mishandling of funds belonging to insolvent funeral insurers, a Missouri federal judge on June 8 denied a special deputy receiver's motion for protective order as to documents and communications relating to any assumption reinsurance agreements (Jo Ann Howard & Associates P.C., et al. v. J. Douglas Cassity, et al., No. 09-01252, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96627).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A Connecticut federal judge on June 6 dismissed claims alleging bad faith and violations of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act and Unfair Insurance Practices Act alleged against a homeowners insurer because the insurer's coverage denial was fairly debatable; however, the judge refused to dismiss the breach of contract claim against an insurer after determining that there is a possibility that coverage exists under policies issued before 2006 for cracking in the insureds' basement walls as a result of a chemical reaction (Stephen Rosenberger, et al. v. Amica Mutual Insurance Co., No. 17-612, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95345).
ALBANY, N.Y. - In a June 7 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals found that enforcement of a law that requires retailers on reservation land to prepay taxes on cigarette sales to patrons who are not members of the Seneca Nation of Indians does not run afoul of Indian Law Section 6 or the Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1842 (Eric White, et al. v. Eric Schneiderman, et al., No. 59, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 1353).
DES MOINES, Iowa - A $900,000 jury award for the family of a woman who was determined to have died from dehydration due to negligence at the nursing home where she resided was not excessive given "degree of reprehensibility," an Iowa Court of Appeals panel ruled June 6, affirming a trial court's order upholding the jury award (Kristine Christensen, et al. v. Good Shepherd, Inc., No. 17-0516, Iowa App., 2018 Iowa App. LEXIS 535).
NEWARK, N.J. - In a June 7 unpublished opinion, a federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a third amended securities class action complaint, ruling that a lead plaintiff failed to show that a Chinese social media company and certain of its current and former senior executives issued any misrepresentations in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings concealing that the company was not in compliance with Chinese internet licensing laws (Andrew Goldsmith v. Weibo Corp., et al., No. 17-4728, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95592).
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Appeals Court on June 6 affirmed the remittitur of a $32 million award to $20 million to the husband of a woman killed by a speeding SUV that crashed into a Cumberland Farms convenience store as she was entering it. The appeals court also refused to grant the store operator a new trial on the grounds that the trial court had admitted an unreviewed report on 485 prior car strikes at its other stores (Albert R. Dubuque Jr. v. Cumberland Farms Inc., No. 17-P-266, Mass. App.).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on June 7 declined to grant final approval to a proposed $1.2 million Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) settlement after only 211 claims were validated, totaling $27,430, ruling that class counsel failed to show that there was sufficient evidence made to reach other members of the class (Desiree Marengo, et al. v. Miami Research Associates, LLC, No. 17-20459, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95908).
PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania Superior Court on June 8 affirmed that a father's claim that his son's overdose death was caused by the off-label promotion of the opioid Actiq are preempted by federal law (Joseph A. Caltagirone, et al. v. Cephalon, Inc., et al., No. 1301 EDA 2017, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 628).
ATLANTA - A federal judge in Georgia on June 8 awarded summary judgment to Atlas Corp. after finding that an Ohio man was unable to show that an alleged defect in the shingles installed on his home caused a leak that required the roof to be replaced (In re Atlas Roofing Corp. Chalet Shingle Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2495, Brian David Seltzer, et al. v. Atlas Corp., No. 13cv4217, N.D. Ga., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96545).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on June 8 denied a general practitioner's motion for acquittal on charges of health care fraud, finding that the spreadsheets and explanation of benefit (EOB) documents presented by the government constituted sufficient evidence showing that the doctor submitted fraudulent claims to insurance companies (United States of America v. Vilasini Ganesh, et al., No. 16cr00211, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97028).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 11 found that the retroactive application of Minnesota's revocation-upon-divorce statute to a life insurance policy does not violate the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution, reversing an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling against two individuals named as contingent beneficiaries of their father's life insurance policy (Ashley Sveen, et al. v. Kay Melin, et al., No. 16-1432, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3503).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Putative class members may not file a new class action lawsuit outside the applicable statute of limitations in lieu of joining an existing class action lawsuit or filing an individual action, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 11, overturning a federal circuit court's determination in a securities class action lawsuit that the American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah tolling doctrine tolls the statute of limitations to permit a previously absent class member to bring a subsequent class action outside the applicable limitations period (China Agritech Inc. v. Michael Resh, et al., No. 17-432, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on June 6 awarded partial summary judgment to Deutsche Bank Americas Holding Corp. and its co-defendants on allegations that they violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by engaging in prohibited transactions when overseeing a 401(k) plan, finding that there was no evidence that a different, more expensive class of funds was offered to members of the plan compared to those offered to other shareholders (Ramon Moreno v. Deutsche Bank Americas Holding Corp., et al., No. 15 Civ. 9936, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95324).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on June 6 dismissed claims alleging that a short-term disability (STD) insurance provider violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by engaging in prohibited transactions after determining that the plan's trustees failed to prove that the insurer engaged in any transactions that are prohibited under ERISA (Joseph Sellers Jr., et al., v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 16-2428, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95278).
WAYCROSS, Ga. - An expert for a widower in a wrongful death action against medical personnel had most of his opinions trimmed from his expert report June 6 by a Georgia federal judge due to lack of compliance with Federal Rule of Evidence 702, Fed. R. Evid. 702 (Sredrick Jones v. Wallace Steve Anderson, D.O., et al., No. 5:17-cv-77, S.D. Ga., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95315).
SAN FRANCISCO - Health insurance plans covering room and board for medical and surgical procedures must do so for inpatient mental health stays as well under federal law, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held June 6 in reinstating an Employee Retirement Income Security Act action (Danny P., et al. v. Catholic Health Initiatives, No. 16-35609, 9th Cir.).
MIAMI - Finding no genuine issue of material fact, a Florida federal judge on June 5 ordered a woman to pay $8,903.36 plus interest to the U.S. government for reinsured student loans (United States v. Tracey Ann Limato, No. 17-14439, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96055).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on June 5 refused to dismiss claims for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and breach of warranty asserted by a consumer who alleges that a coffee filter's label was misleading, finding that she pleaded sufficient allegations in support of her claims against the seller and maker of the filter (Gina Beckman v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., et al., No. 17-cv-02249, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95414).
MIAMI - A Florida jury on June 6 sided with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. when, after brief deliberations, it found that a plaintiff's husband - who died in 1994 of lung cancer - was not a member of the Engle class (Eulalia Lopez v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-076453-CA-01., Fla. Cir., 11th Jud., Miami-Dade Co.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on June 7 denied a company's request to vacate a judgment for it to add a claim under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to a suit it is bringing against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the plaintiff had years to amend its complaint (FMC Corp. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-CV-487, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96073).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on June 7 refused to confirm a Malaysian arbitral award issued against the government of India and its Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, finding that enforcing specific performance of a part of the award, which would require India to allow the company to regain access to a geographic block to determine the viability of a reserve of natural gas there, would violate U.S. public policy (Hardy Exploration & Production [India] Inc. v. Government of India, et al., No. 16-140, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95965).
NEW ORLEANS - An oyster biologist has ample qualifications, and his methods to determine whether oil well activity killed most of the oysters in a couple's oyster beds are sound, a Louisiana appeals court panel held June 6 in affirming judgment for the couple on their negligence claims against a drilling company (Pero Cibilic, et al. v. Cox Operating, L.L.C., No. 2017-CA-0813, La. App., 4th Cir., 2018 La. App. LEXIS 1181).