CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois overseeing a trial claiming that a former Reed Smith partner's use of the antidepressant Paxil caused him to commit suicide in 2010 on March 20 denied the drug maker's motion to strike portions of testimony from a plaintiff's expert of the amount of data he had access to that purportedly showed that suicidal events were underreported during studies (Wendy Dolin v. SmithKline Beechman Corporation, d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline, No. 12-cv-6403, N.D. Ill.).
LOS ANGELES - Because a plaintiff can arguably state a claim against an insurance claims adjuster for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the claims adjuster is not a sham defendant and was not fraudulently joined to defeat federal jurisdiction, a California federal judge said March 17 in remanding the insureds' suit seeking additional coverage for mold damage to California state court (Health Pro Dental Corp., et al. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, et al., No. 17-637, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38944).
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on March 16 granted in part and denied in part motions for summary judgment by insureds and a homeowners insurer in a class action alleging that the insurer committed breach of contract when it unlawfully applied a policy's $1,000 deductible to an actual cash value (ACV) payment in a hailstorm coverage dispute (Eric Lafollette v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 14-04147, W.D. Mo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37755).
PHILADELPHIA - While a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class settlement agreement reached in a lawsuit against a water ice company allowed for class counsel to seek attorney fees and expenses up to $1 million, the class counsel are entitled to only $651,000 in fees and $40,073.97 in expenses, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled March 16 (Sherry Brown, et al. v. Rita's Water Ice Franchise Company LLC, No. 15-3509, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37676).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An insurer told a federal court in Connecticut on March 20 that its reinsurer is putting requirements on it that are not universally accepted as necessary under the follow-the-settlements doctrine (Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, f/k/a The Aetna Casualty and Surety Company v. Century Indemnity Company as successor to Insurance Company of North America, No. 16-cv-00170, D. Conn.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Class certification in a shareholder lawsuit against a broad line closeout retailer and certain of its executive officers is proper because the lead plaintiff in the action has met all statutory requirements needed for certification, a federal judge in Ohio ruled March 17 (Alan Willis v. Big Lots Inc., et al., No. 12-0604, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38926).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An insurer breached its duty to defend and indemnify an insured for a settlement of underlying claims arising out of a breach of contract dispute on a construction project, an Alaska federal judge ruled March 16; however, the judge held that the insurer did not breach its duty of good faith (KICC-Alcan General, joint venture v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Company Inc., No. 15-00255, D. Ala.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37560).
NEW YORK - A New York justice refused to impose a heeding presumption in an asbestos trial in an opinion posted March 20, saying that absent evidence that a cigarette user who ignored tobacco warnings would have acted differently in the asbestos context, she would not impose such a standard (Donna Castorina, et al. v. A.C.&S., et al., No. 123077/01, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SAN DIEGO - A safety engineer and accident reconstruction expert may not testify regarding Sea World LLC's liability relating to the safety of an area at the time of a woman's accident while visiting the park, a California federal judge held March 17 (Eusebia Baltazar v. Sea World Parks Entertainment LLC, No. 15-2893, S.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39039).
NEW ORLEANS - An award of royalty damages on behalf of a trademark infringement plaintiff was vacated March 16 by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Streamline Production Systems Inc. v. Streamline Manufacturing Inc., No. 16-20046, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4708).
CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada's Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA), which allows employers to pay a lower minimum wage if they provide health benefits, is not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and is not unconstitutionally vague, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled March 16 (Western Cab Company v. The Eighth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, in and for the County of Clark, et al., No. 69408, Nev. Sup., 2017 Nev. LEXIS 16).
PITTSBURGH - Trustees for the asbestos trust established by the Chapter 11 case of Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC) said March 17 in Pennsylvania federal bankruptcy court that they want to reopen the case to find out whether more than $9 billion in claims from a consolidated Texas litigation qualify for payment by the trust, which has assets of less than $4 billion (In re: Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, No. 00-22876, W.D. Pa. Bkcy.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A federal judge in Connecticut on March 17 dismissed a couple's claim that their insurer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA) and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) when denying their claim for concrete decay in their basement, finding that the plaintiffs did not show that the company practiced a pattern of denying similar claims (Kenneth T. Courteau, et al. v. Teachers Insurance Company, No. 16-cv-580, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38434).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that an Indian tribe's sovereign immunity bars a man's class action claims that the tribe violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) by printing identifying information on his credit card receipts will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20 declined to hear the man's challenge to the decision (Jeremy Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, No. 16-745, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 16 affirmed a district court's judgment in favor of two banks, finding that a nonjudicial foreclosure of a property was not barred by a four-year statute of limitations (John Porterfield, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase, N.A., No. 16-50215, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4705).
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana appeals panel on March 16 reversed a lower court's denial of a professional liability insurer's motion for summary judgment and its entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of the insured's estate in a coverage dispute erupting from an underlying malpractice claim (Admiral Insurance Co. v. Joseph Banasiak, No. 45A05-1604-PL-859, Ind. App., 2017 Ind. App. LEXIS 127).
MARSHALL, Texas - Although a urologist's testimony on the inefficacy of natural and herbal remedies was barred in a patent infringement case over a drug's marketing, a Texas federal judge on March 17 allowed the urologist to testify as to the drug's marketing (Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep GbR v. Eli Lilly and Co., No. 15-1202, E.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38512).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Delaware federal judge did not abuse her discretion in determining that a failed patent case by Bayer Cropscience AG was exceptional, thereby triggering an award of attorney fees, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded March 17 (Bayer Cropscience AG v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, No. 15-1854, Fed. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4723).
ATLANTA - A federal district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a third party's proposed jury instructions in an insurance bad faith lawsuit because the proposed instructions were not necessary "to correctly state the law," an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 17 in affirming (Douglas Stalley v. Allstate Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-14816, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4734).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced March 17 that it has awarded a $100 million grant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to fund drinking water infrastructure upgrades in Flint, Mich.
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri woman on March 17 filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Co. in Missouri federal court, alleging that the company committed scientific fraud and is liable for her development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), which was the result of exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup (Linda Crane v. Monsanto Co., No. 17-982, E.D. Mo.).
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia erred in finding that a physical therapist assistant's retaliation claim against his employer should be dismissed, finding that they were not subject to the False Claims Act's (FCA) first-to-file rule, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled March 16, but affirmed the dismissal of his qui tam claims under the statute (United States of America, ex rel. Patrick Gerard Carson v. Manor Care, Inc., a./k/a Manor Care, Inc., et al., No. 16-1035, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4617).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a 7-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on March 21 rejected findings by a divided en banc Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the equitable defense of laches remains available even when a claim for damages is brought within the six-year limitations period set forth in Section 286 of the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 1 et seq. (SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag and SCA Personal Care, Inc. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., No. 15-927, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Section 3345(b)(1) of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA) prevents any acting office for an office under this section from serving as a nominee and acting official, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 21 (National Labor Relations Board v. SW General, Inc., doing business as Southwest Ambulance, No. 15-1251, U.S. Sup.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A judge properly admitted expert testimony that every identifiable exposure to asbestos contributes to mesothelioma, a California appeals court held March 17, while also rejecting challenges involving tobacco use and an award of punitive damages (Charity Faith Phillips, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. F070761, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).