OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Dec. 3 modified an order enjoining the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate, expanding it to prevent the government from interfering with insurers or third-party administrators (The Catholic Benefits Association LCA, et al. v. Sylvia M. Burwell, et al., No. 14-240, W.D. Okla.).
PHOENIX - An Arizona federal magistrate judge on Dec. 1 determined that a disability claimant sufficiently pleaded claims for relief against the plan administrator and the insurer (Sharyn A. Medeiros v. Wells Fargo & Company Long Term Disability Plan et al., No. 14-1129, D. Ariz.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166505).
NEW YORK - A man's asbestos exposure arose from insulation on boilers, not the erection of the boilers themselves, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Dec. 2 (Kevin A. Norton and Adele Norton v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190279/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5110).
LYNCHBURG, Va. - A Virginia federal judge on Dec. 3 dismissed claims asserted against the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) by a former employee who alleged that she suffered respiratory ailments caused by mold, but noted that he would not reach a decision on whether VDOT provided her with reasonable accommodations at the present stage of the case (Theresa Hall Marsh v. Virginia Department of Transportation, No. 6:14-CV-00006, W.D. Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167333).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Dec. 2 dismissed a disability claimant's allegations against her employer because the employer is the plan sponsor and not subject to liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (Susan Saunders v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, No. 14-1181, N.D. Ala.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166876).
BALTIMORE - A long-term disability insurer is entitled to an entry of default judgment and more than $59,000 because the claimant failed to respond to the insurer's complaint and failed to repay the insurer for overpayment of benefits, a Maryland federal judge said Dec. 2 (Unum Life Insurance Company of America v. John D. Pittman, No. 14-1442, D. Md.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166801).
TRENTON, N.J. - After finding that an action to set aside a foreclosure was barred by the entire controversy doctrine, a New Jersey federal judge on Dec. 3 granted a motion filed by several banks to dismiss the case (Tommy Guaba, et al. v. World Savings Bank, FSB, et al., No. 14-2408, D. N.J.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167116).
NEW YORK - Concluding that underlying plaintiffs in a breach of insurance contract lawsuit never intended to confer agent status on a broker, a New York federal magistrate judge on Dec. 2 denied a lawyer's motion to quash discovery of his communications with the broker under an assertion of attorney-client privilege (La Suisse, Societe D'Assurances Sur La Vie n/k/a Swiss Life AG v. Moses Krause, et al., No. 1:06-cv-04404, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166673).
SAN FRANCISCO - A long-term disability plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act properly offset a firefighters' workers' compensation settlement, but remand is necessary to determine the amount of salary continuation benefits that the plan can properly offset under the plan terms, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 2 in an unpublished opinion (David Barboza v. California Association of Professional Firefighters, et al., Nos. 12-17439 and 13-16652, 9th Cir.).
PALM BEACH, Fla. - Trial got under way Dec. 3 with opening statements in a suit alleging that a longtime smoker's death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by his addiction to cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Dorothy Haliburton, as personal representative of the estate of Andrew Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 502008CA000703, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
LOS ANGELES - An environmental group on Dec. 3 filed a complaint in California federal court contending that various agencies under the auspices of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by approving permits for hydraulic fracturing (Environmental Defense Center v. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, et al., No. 14-cv-09281, C.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Citing an 1872 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, a California federal magistrate judge on Dec. 2 ordered a copyright infringement plaintiff to file a supplemental brief on the question of statutory damage availability in the case (Pete Livingston v. Art.com Inc., et al., No. 13-3748, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166972).
DAYTON, Ohio - After finding irrelevant a servicing firm's argument that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) did not apply because property owners did not live in the property when the alleged violations occurred, an Ohio federal judge on Dec. 2 refused to dismiss the case (William Barrett, et al. v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, No. 3:14-cv-297, S.D. Ohio; 2014 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166948).
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Dec. 3 granted a copyright and trademark infringement plaintiff partial summary judgment, acting on remand from the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Dassault Systemes S.A. v. Keith Childress, No. 09-10534, E.D. Mich.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167548).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two insurers had no duty to defend an insured against claims for property damage that occurred prior to the commencement of the policy periods, a California appeals panel affirmed Dec. 2 (Bann-Shiang Liza Yu v. Interstate Fire and Casualty Co., et al., No. G048813, Calif. App., 4th Dist. Div. 3).
DETROIT - A Michigan Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 2 affirmed a trial judge's ruling awarding summary judgment to a roofer accused of negligently installing a roof on a middle school, after finding that the school's claims were barred by the six-year statute of limitations (White Cloud Public Schools v. Orchard Hiltz & McCliment Inc., et al., No. 315013, Mich. App.; 2014 Mich. App. LEXIS 2349).
NEW ORLEANS - Four defendants in the Chinese drywall products liability litigation on Dec. 4 filed a notice to ask the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review a Nov. 4 ruling by a federal judge in Louisiana denying their request for reconsideration of a ruling allowing a Florida man to pursue a state court lawsuit complaining that the property value of his condominium in a building that does not contain the product is adversely affected because it is near a building that has the product in it (In re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall products Liability Litigation, MDL 2047, Case No. 09-md-2047, E.D. La.).
PHILADELPHIA - Football players and their representatives filed three sets of objections Dec. 2 to the proposed settlement of the brain-injury class action against the National Football League in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (In re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323, No. 2:12-md-02323 [AB]; E.D. Pa.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A $27 million jury award to a woman who alleged that her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by her years of smoking should be reduced as excessive, Philip Morris USA Inc. argues in a brief filed in federal court Dec. 1 (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA, et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157-WGY-HTS, M.D. Fla.).
SEATTLE - An injury arising from potential exposures both as a direct employee and as a contractor is indivisible, and the employer is immune under Washington state law, a federal judge held in rejecting plaintiffs' "dual persona" argument on Dec. 2 (Alan McMann and Donna McMann v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 13-5429, W.D. Wash.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166984).
ATLANTA - A Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 68 offer of judgment does not automatically moot the named plaintiffs' claims or the class claims even if a motion for class certification has not yet been filed, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 1 in a decision it noted addressed two issues of first impression (Jeffrey Stein, D.D.S., M.S.D., P.A., et al. v. Buccaneers Limited Partnership, No. 13-15417, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 22603).
BOSTON - An insurance company sued its reinsurer in a federal court in Massachusetts on Dec. 2, claiming that the reinsurer has failed to follow the insurer's settlement of certain underlying asbestos bodily injury claims (Lexington Insurance Company v. R&Q Reinsurance Company, No. 14-cv-14293, D. Mass.).
The City of Denton, which passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits, on Dec. 1 filed answers to two lawsuits that were filed separately challenging the constitutionality of the fracking ban (Texas Oil and Gas Association v. City of Denton, No. 14-08933-431, Texas Dist., 16th Jud. Dist., Denton Co., and Jerry Patterson v. City of Denton, No. D-1-GN-14-004628, Texas Dist., 431st Jud. Dist., Travis Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania's top court on Dec. 3 rejected 19 asbestos plaintiffs' petitions for review of a ruling allowing the transfer of their cases to Northampton County from Philadelphia County (Joyce M. Stettler and Raymond J. Stettler, et al. v. Allied Signal Inc., et al., Nos. 192 EAS 2014-207 EAL 2014, Pa. Sup.).