CINCINNATI - A federal judge in Kentucky erred when dismissing a count from an indictment charging a pharmacist with aggravated identity theft, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 20, finding that the defendant used the identities of a doctor and patient for the purpose of submitting a fraudulent claim to an insurance company (United States of America v. Philip E. Michael II, No. 17-5626, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3918).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The whistleblower anti-retaliation provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 does not extend to individuals who report a securities law violation but do not report it to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 21 in narrowing the statute's definition of a whistleblower (Digital Realty Trust Inc. v. Paul Somers, No. 16-1276, U.S. Sup.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Reversionary interests in land parcels are property of a reorganized debtor, and an insurer's liquidator is precluded from interfering with those interests, a New York federal bankruptcy judge ruled Feb. 15, ordering transfer of title to the reorganized debtor (In re: Frontier Insurance Group Inc., et al., Chapter 11, No. 05-36877, Benjamin Lawsky v. Frontier Insurance Group LLC, et al., Adv. Pro. No. 14-9022, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 442).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Allergan plc and subsidiary SkinMedica on Feb. 16 said they settled a purported class action lawsuit alleging that certain "cosmeceuticals" contain undeclared and unapproved human growth factors (Josette Ruhnke, et al. v. SkinMedica, Inc., et al., No. 14-420, C.D. Calif.).
BOSTON - A Massachusetts federal judge on Feb. 14 granted summary judgment in favor of a disability insurer in a U.S. Army veteran's class action suit alleging that the insurer wrongfully offset disability benefits payable under its policy by disability benefits received from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Marco Martinez v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, No. 16-12154, D. Mass.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by Foot Locker Inc. asking the high court to decide whether a class of pension plan participants could be certified in a case alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when Foot Locker failed to disclose a temporary freezing of benefits after the Foot Locker Retirement Plan was transitioned to a cash-balance plan (Foot Locker, Inc., et al. v. Geoffrey Osberg, et al., No. 17-690, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO - An employee seeking long-term disability (LTD) benefits effectively waived his right to challenge the untimeliness of the initial denial of his claim as he chose to pursue an appeal first rather than filing suit, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 14 (John Dragus v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, No. 17-1752, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3444).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 issued a per curiam decision in an appeal over retiree's health care benefits and reversed a ruling by a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority for the retirees, referencing a dissenting opinion that called the decision "Yard-Man [UAW v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F.2d 1476 (6th Cir. 1983)] re-born, re-built, and re-purposed for new adventures" (CNH Industrial N.V., et al. v. Jack Reese, et al., No. 17-515, U.S. Sup.).
PHOENIX - Granting a joint discovery resolution motion filed by the parties in a wrongful termination suit, an Arizona federal magistrate judge on Feb. 14 found that an employee who was purportedly terminated for whistleblowing related to data breaches experienced by his former employer was entitled to conduct discovery into why documents related to lawsuits over those breaches were designated as confidential (Miguel Corzo v. Maricopa County Community College District, et al., No. 2:15-cv-02552, D. Ariz.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by 137 residents of a Pennsylvania town who say that illegal releases of radioactive materials from a nearby plant caused their cancers and the deaths of their family members and that a federal appeals court erred in ruling on the admissibility of expert testimony in their case (Michelle McMunn, et al. v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc., et al., No. 17-907, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court on Feb. 20 vacated a ruling finding jurisdiction in Oklahoma over a Texas-based asbestos defendant and the resulting $6 million verdict and remanded the case for further consideration in light of recent precedent on the issue. In its petition, the drywall materials company had portrayed the Oklahoma court's ruling as "indefensible" and argued that it evidenced the state's continuing disregard for Supreme Court precedent (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
INDIANAPOLIS - Res judicata and U.S. Supreme Court precedent require judgment in favor of the federal government in a state's and school district's attack on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate, a federal judge in Indiana held Feb. 14 (Indiana, et al. v. Internal Revenue Service, et al., NO. 13-1612, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24863).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Lawyers took deposition comments from a medical claims reviewer out of context to create trial and media leverage, Aetna Inc. says in a Feb. 14 response to an announcement that California would investigate the insurer's claims processing.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on Feb. 19 said it has completed a hearing on the merits of an arbitration commenced by two financial institutions against the Russian Federation pursuant to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) (PJSC CB PrivatBank, et al. v. Russian Federation, No. 2015-21, PCA).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A bank on Feb. 15 filed a complaint in a Delaware court, requesting that it enter an order foreclosing on a property (The Bank of New York Mellon v. Fred A. Bassano, No. 18L-02-067, Del. Super).
ATLANTA - In a Feb. 16 brief to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a group of financial institutions (FIs) that achieved a successful settlement of their claims related to the 2014 Home Depot Inc. data breach oppose the home improvement chain's appeal of a subsequent $15.3 million attorney fees award, calling the amount reasonably calculated and in line with the efforts undertaken by class counsel (Northeastern Engineers Federal, et al. v. Home Depot Inc., et al., No. 17-14741, 11th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a Feb. 16 ruling, four patents directed to a specialized radio frequency identification (RFID) were confirmed by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as unpatentable pursuant to Section 101 of the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 101 (Automated Tracking Solutions LLC v. The Coca-Cola Company, No. 17-1494, Fed. Cir.).
JACKSON, Miss. - A Mississippi Supreme Court majority on Feb. 15 affirmed a trial court's decision to deny a motion to sever and transfer a medical malpractice suit to another county after finding that there is no language in a state statute that prohibits permissive joinder (Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc., et al. v. Sylvia Diane Harkins, et al., No. 2016-IA-00398-SCT, Miss. Sup., 2018. Miss. LEXIS 69).
BOISE, Idaho - An Idaho federal magistrate judge on Feb. 16 lifted a stay against the Idaho Insurance Guaranty Association (IIGA) in a trust bank's coverage dispute but declined to lift a stay and grant a preliminary injunction against an insolvent insurer (Idaho Trust Bank v. BancInsure Inc., et al., No. 12-00032, D. Idaho, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26168).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a Feb. 16 holding, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that although the Patent Trial and Appeal Board erred in omitting the word "average" from its claim construction of a disputed limitation, the board nonetheless correctly deemed three patents nonobvious over prior art combinations asserted by an appellant (Snap-On Inc. v. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, Nos. 2017-1305, -1306, -1307, -1330, -1331, -1332, Fed. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3778).