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November 2005 Archives

Jury Awards $3.4M to Fired Blind Executive of State Agency

A Pittsburgh jury awarded $3.4M in damages yesterday to the former head of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services.  Christine L. Boone sued the state and two agency executives, charging that she was wrongfully terminated from her position because of her visual impairment.

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A Florida jury awarded $61 million to the family of a teenager killed in a Ford SUV rollover accident when the boy's 17-year-old friend fell asleep driving the vehicle.  While the jury didn't assess punitive damages in the case, it ordered the car manufacturer to pay  $1.2 million in damages, and $60 million for the pain and suffering of the dead boy's family.  As in many personal injury trials where significant damages are awarded, it appears likely that Ford will appeal the verdict, a process that could prolong resolution of the case for years.

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Congress Seeks To Protect Workers' Pension Plans

The U.S. Senate passed a bill today seeking to protect roughly 44 million Americans enrolled in 'defined-benefit' pension plans.  The bill forces companies to honor obligations they made to their workers to fund worker retirement plans, instead of trying to shift the burden on to the federal government

You can learn more about employee rights and pension plan benefits here:

Online DVD rental company Netflix settled a consumer class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of subscribers.  According to the settlement terms, customers with memberships prior to Jan. 15, 2005 are eligible to receive free a free month of service (former members), or a membership upgrade (current members).

For more details read this article, and the settlement information.

San Francisco Passes Pit Bull Law Targeting Dog Owners

San Francisco Passes Law Targeting Pit Bull Dogs

Following in the footsteps of Denver's City Council, yesterday San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a law targeting pit bull dogs.  The new ordinance is designed a reaction to another vicious dog bite attack  where a 12-year-old boy was mauled to death.  The ordinance takes effect January 1, 2006, and requires owners to spay or neuter the breed, and get breeding permits from the city.

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Katrina Victims Sue Over Housing Assistance

Victims of Hurricane Katrina filed a class-action lawsuit charging that the federal government wrongfully denied them badly needed housing assistance.  The suit seeks to force FEMA to provide badly needed temporary housing to Katrina victims who lost their homes when fleeing the storm.  They claim that FEMA denied them housing assistance if they spent FEMA emergency funds on necessary provisions and sundries.   Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida residents are still struggling with housing shortages and relocation efforts.

Election Day 2005

Tuesday, November 8 is election day.  In communities across the U.S. voters will be electing Senators, Governors, Mayors, and deciding on ballot measures.  On FindLaw you can also find a listing of attorneys in Election, Campaign, and Political Law.

November is National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, and the theme for 2005 is "Answering the Call" -- a recruitment campaign encouraging families and individuals to consider adopting a child. Learn more about adoption from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse and FindLaw for the Public's Adoption Center.

Merck Found Not Liable in Second Vioxx Trial

In a victory for Vioxx manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc., a New Jersey jury found the company not liable for a postal carrier's non-fatal heart attack in 2001. The plaintiff had claimed that his use of Vioxx (and Merck's alleged failure to warn Vioxx users of the painkiller's safety risks) caused a blood clot to form in his leg, resulting in a heart attack. The New Jersey jury disagreed, finding no such failure to warn, and insufficient proof of any fraud or misrepresentation committed by Merck.

More about Vioxx from FindLaw for the Public: Facts About Vioxx | Vioxx FAQs | Vioxx News | Vioxx Links

Rosa Parks was honored by thousands of people today at a memorial service at Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit.  Parks was remembered for her sacrifice, dedication, and contributions to the cause of racial justice and equality in America.

In attendence were members of Congress, former President Bill Clinton, and religious and civil rights leaders.  "The woman we honored today held no public office, she wasn't a wealthy woman, didn't appear in the society pages," said Senator Barack Obama. "And yet when the history of this country is written, it is this small, quiet woman whose name will be remembered long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten."

After the church service Parks will be laid to rest at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.  Parks passed away on October 24th at the age of 92.  On Sunday and Monday, more than 30,000 people, including President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush paid tribute to Parks as she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda.  Parks was the first woman to be given this honor.  President Bush ordered U.S. flags flown at half-staff today in remembrance of Parks.

New Bankruptcy Law Resources Available on FindLaw

As previously reported, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (PDF), a major reform of the bankruptcy system, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in April 2005. Additional changes instituted by this new law took effect on October 17, 2005.  FindLaw has recently updated its Bankruptcy & Debt Center to reflect the changes in the law.  You can learn about Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and much more.

Alito Nominated to U.S. Supreme Court

On October 31, President Bush nominated Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Judge Alito currently serves as a justice on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge Alito's FindLaw Newsmaker Profile and Judge Alito's Lawyer Directory Profile provide additional information on this nominee.