CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal Documents Blog

CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


Miami police are investigating a woman's report that she blacked out after drinking and smoking marijuana with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and two other NFL players.

The police report (attached below) does not allege any crimes but police say they are investigating the case as a "suspicions incident."

"There are no charges, definitely not. There is an investigation," Miami Police Department office Rene Pimentel told USA Today.

A woman (whose name is redacted from the report) said that on April 1 she visited Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, 27, at a Miami apartment.

She said Kaepernick, 26, and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, 23, were also at the apartment. She also said she had been in a "sexual relationship with Mr. Kaepernick in the past," according to the police report.

Rabbi Loses Supreme Court Case Over Frequent Flyer Miles

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that an airline customer cannot sue after being thrown out of a frequent flyer program.

The court ruled 9-0 that Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg cannot pursue his claims against Northwest Airlines, which merged in 2010 with Delta. He sued after he was ousted from Northwest's WorldPerks loyalty program for complaining too often about getting bumped from flights and repeatedly seeking compensation.

The decision (attached below) means airlines have sole discretion to drop frequent flyers.

The court held the federal Airline Deregulation Act barred Ginsberg's lawsuit. The act says states have no say in regulating the price, route or service of an air carrier.

Ginsberg said the airline told him it took action in part because he allegedly sought compensation after booking reservations on full flights, knowing he would be bumped to another flight.

Northwest said he filed 24 complaints and that the contract allowed it to terminate membership for abuse of the program at its sole discretion.

Northwestern University football players on scholarship are university employees and may unionize, a National Labor Relations Board hearing officer ruled on Wednesday.

The first-round legal victory by Northwestern players has the potential to shake up the world of big-time college sports. But the fight has just begun, as this is likely just the start of a long, arduous legal battle.

Still, the Northwestern football union ruling (attached below) is groundbreaking and could prove revolutionary.

NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr ruled that ex-Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and current players are employees and entitled to form a union.

Universities have long argued -- successfully in court -- that athletes are not employees.

But Ohr disagreed, ruling Northwestern's players work between 20 and 50 hours per week and generate millions of dollars for their institutions. He illustrated how they perform services under a contract of hire (scholarship), subject to the other party's control (coaches) and in return for payment ($61,000 per academic year at Northwestern; $76,000 for those players who attend summer school).

Northwestern promptly announced it plans to take the case to the full NLRB in Washington.

"This is a landmark decision," William Gould IV, a former chairman of the NLRB, told the Chicago Tribune. "This is going to rattle the universe of universities."

The legal battle for compensating college athletes just began in earnest.

A New Jersey father has been ordered to pay half the cost of his daughter's law school education at Cornell Law School, with his portion to be about $112,500, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled.

James Livingston must pay half the law school tab thanks to the terms in his divorce settlement agreement, according to the attached decision by the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division.

Livingston, a history professor at Rutgers University, must give his daughter the $112,500 so she can pay the $225,000 tab to attend Cornell Law School. When Livingston and his ex wife divorced in 2009, they agreed to split the cost if their daughter attended law school and maintained at least a 'C' average, the suit said.

After the divorce, Livingston had a falling out with his daughter and they stopped talking, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. Even so, Livingston offered to put up $7,500 per year if she attended Rutgers Law School and lived at home. His daughter opted to go to Cornell instead.

The New Jersey appeals court judges sided with the daughter, saying that the divorce agreement did not explicitly give the father a say about which school she could choose.

New Jersey children suing their parents for for college tuition has been national news of late. New Jersey honor student Rachel Canning sued her parents last week for college expenses. There is no contract or divorce settlement in play in the Canning case.

'Upskirt' Photos are Not Illegal, Mass. High Court Rules

It is not illegal to secretly photograph underneath a person’s clothing (known as “upskirting”), Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled in privacy decision that may prompt lawmakers to update state law.

The state’s highest court ruled (see decision below) that a man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of women on the Boston subway did not violate state law because the women were neither nude nor partially nude.

“A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering these parts of her body is not a person who is ‘partially nude,’ no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing,” wrote Justice Margot Botsford of the state Supreme Judicial Court.

The high court overruled a lower court decision that upheld charges against Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 by transit police who set up a sting after getting reports that he was using his cellphone to take photos and video up female riders’ skirts and dresses.

Robertson had argued that it was his constitutional right to take the photos. Existing so-called Peeping Tom laws in Massachusettsprotect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude. But the law does not protect clothed people in public areas, the court said.

At least one prosecutor has urged state lawmakers to act.

“Every person, male or female, has a right to privacy beneath his or her own clothing,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said in a statement Wednesday. “If the statute as written doesn’t protect that privacy, then I’m urging the Legislature to act rapidly and adjust it so it does.”

NJ Student Sues Parents to Force Them to Pay Her College Tuition

A New Jersey honor student has taken the unorthodox step of suing her parents for immediate financial support and to force them to pay for her college education.

Rachel Canning's lawsuit (attached below, complete with email exchanges) alleges that her parents threw her out of their home when she turned 18 and now refuse to pay her way through college. But Rachel's father, a former police chief, says Rachel moved out when she refused to abide by the house rules.

Both sides have lawyered up and spent Tuesday afternoon at a hearing before Morristown Judge Peter Bogaard.

Rachel Canning's lawsuit seeks a judge's declaration that she is non-emancipated and dependent as a student on her parents for support. She asked the judge to order her parents to pay an unpaid high school tuition bill, cover her current living and transportation expenses, and commit to a college fund for her.

"We love our child and miss her. This is terrible. It's killing me and my wife. We have a child we want home. We're not Draconian and now we're getting hauled into court," Sean Canning told The Daily Record.

Texas Gay Marriage Ban is Unconstitutional: Fed. Judge

A Texas law barring same-sex marriage has been struck down and ruled unconstitutional. But Judge Orlando Garcia's decision (attached below) doesn't mean gay marriages can be held in the Lone Star State.

In the latest ruling in the national fight for gay marriage, Judge Garcia placed a stay on the decision, anticipating an appeal by the state. While there is a preliminary injunction on the state's ban, the stay means the ban will remain in effect for now.

"Today's court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent," Garcia held. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution."

Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin was indeed subjected to racial slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by Richie Incognito and two other teammates, according to the long-awaited report released by prominent attorney Ted Wells' on Friday.

Incognito was the ringleader of three players who orchestrated "a pattern of harassment" not only on Martin, but also another unidentified young offensive lineman and a member of the team's athletic training staff. Be warned: Wells' 150-page report (attached below) contains some extremely vulgar language.

The harassment by Incognito and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey contributed to Martin's departure from the team in October, according to Ted Wells' 150-page report (attached in full below).

"The Report finds that the assistant trainer repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language; that the other offensive lineman was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching; and that Martin was taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments," Ted Wells states in his summary.

Wells says his inquiry found Martin was taunted and ridiculed almost daily. After Martin left the team in October, Incognito boasted about "breaking Jmart" in a notebook the linemen used to tally fines and bonuses among themselves. When the investigation began, Incognito asked another player to destroy the book, but investigators obtained it.

"As all must surely recognize, the NFL is not an ordinary workplace," the report states. "Professional football is a rough, contact sport played by men of exceptional size, speed, strength and athleticism. But even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults."

Woman Files Lawsuit to Prove She is Alive

A St. Louis woman has spent months trying to convince people that she's alive. Now she has filed suit to say reports of her death are greatly exaggerated.

In a peculiar federal lawsuit (attached below), Kimberly Haman has sued her local bank and a major credit reporting company to prove she is not among the deceased.

She has been turned down for a credit card and twice denied refinancing on her mortgage due to her "deceased" status, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Haman alleges the problem began when Heartland Bank reported her death to Equifax. She says she has repeatedly asked Heartland and Equifax to fix the error, to no avail.

The suit claims a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows recovery of compensatory and punitive damages, lawsuit costs and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

The screenwriter who found Philip Seymour Hoffman dead of a drug overdose denied a supermarket tabloid's claim that he and Hoffman were lovers and has filed suit for $50 million.

The National Enquirer ran a cover story claiming that playwright David Bar Katz was Hoffman's "gay lover." On Wednesday Katz filed a civil suit in New York seeking $5 million in damages and another $45 million in punitive damages.

Katz's lawsuit (attached below) calls the story "a complete fabrication."

"There was no interview," Katz's lawyer claims in the 5-page complaint. "Bar Katz and Hoffman were never lovers. Bar Katz did not see Hoffman freebasing cocaine the night before he died or at any other time. Bar Katz never saw Hoffman use heroin or cocaine."

The suit calls the Enquirer article "one of the most reprehensible examples of yellow journalism" ever.

The National Enquirer has yet to respond to the lawsuit.