CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal Documents Blog

CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


A federal appeals court has denied Fox's bid to shut down the Dish Anywhere streaming platform. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of TV streaming just three weeks after the Supreme Court shut down Aereo for streaming TV over the internet without permission.

So why did a California federal court give the green light to Dish to continue selling a service so similar to Aereo?

Fox had argued that Dish "engages in virtually identical conduct when it streams Fox's programming to Dish subscribers over the Internet--albeit also in violation of an express contractual prohibition--has repeatedly raised the same defenses as Aereo which have now been rejected by the Supreme Court."

Fox asked the 9th Circuit to impose a preliminary injunction, one that would put a halt to the service.

In a short four-page opinion (attached below), the judges found that Fox's claim that it would be "irreparably harmed" without an immediate block to Hopper was not credible.

Immigrant advocacy groups have sued the federal government for a failure to provide legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation.

The class-action lawsuit (attached below) alleges the government is violating due process by having children navigate the complex immigration legal system alone.

The suit comes as the Obama administration scrambles resources to meet a surge of unaccompanied minors arriving at the nation's southwest border. The complaint seeks to require agencies to provide children with legal representation at deportation hearings.

"The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Their ability to grasp what is at stake and even just perform the act of talking to a judge is virtually nonexistent.

"A 10-year-old cannot make legal arguments and cannot even make reliably accurate factual statements that a court can rely on in deciding that child's case."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Council and other groups on behalf of children facing deportation hearings.

Lindsay Lohan has filed a lawsuit against the makers of "Grand Theft Auto V," alleging they used her likeness without permission for a character in the hugely popular video game.

Lohan's lawsuit (filed in New York and attached below) alleges that Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive's use of a character named Lacey Jonas is an "unequivocal" reference to the 28-year-old actress.

The Jonas character appears in the game hiding from paparazzi and asks one of the main characters for a ride. "Please, I'm hardly wearing any makeup," the Jonas character says. Later, Jonas gets frustrated when the main character doesn't recognize her. "I'm really famous!" she says, as they evade photographers.

For months ahead of the game's release, the complaint claims, the companies promoted the Lacey Jonas character and a side plot that must be rescued from paparazzi.

Lohan starred in the 2004 movie "Mean Girls," but in the decade since has become better known for her legal issues (including theft and reckless driving) and six rehab stints.

In 2000, Lohan sued E-Trade over a commercial that featured a "milkaholic" baby named Lindsay. Then in 2011, she filed suit against Pitbull for rapping, "So, I'm tip-toein', to keep flowin', I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan."

Lohan's latest lawsuit may well come down to her "rights of publicity" and whether the Jonas character is actually based on her likeness.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search an arrested suspect's cellphone.

The 9-0 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts held the right of police to search an arrested suspect at the scene without a warrant does not extend in most circumstances to data held on a cellphone. Still, there are some emergency situations in which a warrantless search would be permitted, the court said.

Ruling on two cases from California and Massachusetts, the justices acknowledged both a right to privacy and a need to investigate crimes. But they came down squarely on the side of privacy rights.

Seeing someone with a cellphone is such a common thing today, that "the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy," Roberts wrote. "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime...Privacy comes at a cost."

A federal appeals court has released a secret Justice Department memo that justifies a 2011 drone attack that killed Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born Islamist preacher and suspected al Qaeda leader.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals released a redacted version of the secret Obama administration memorandum on Monday. The memo (which starts on page 67 after the opinion) states that since the U.S. government considered al Awlaki to be an "operational leader" of an "enemy force," it was legal for the Central Intelligence Agency to attack him with a drone even though he was a U.S. citizen.

The memo says the killing was further justified under Congressional authorization for the use of U.S. military force following the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacked-plane attacks.

The Obama administration released the memo in response to a court order following Freedom of Information lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.

"High-level government officials have concluded, on the basis of al-Aulaqi's activities in Yemen, that al-Aulaqi is a leader of (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) whose activities in Yemen pose a 'continued an imminent threat' of violence to United states persons and interests," the document said.

Awlaki was killed in what U.S. officials acknowledged at the time was a CIA drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011, Reuters reports. Another American citizen, Samir Khan, was killed in the same attack, although U.S. officials have said that Khan was not intentionally targeted.

Six federal trademark registrations owned by the Washington Redskins were cancelled by an appeal board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The board ruled the term "Redskins" is disparaging to a "substantial composite" of Native Americans.

The immediate legal impact of the ruling, which can be appealed to federal court, could be limited, however. The Washington Redskins football team is not required to stop using the name.

But Wednesday's 2-1 board ruling (attached below) could give critics of the term another shot to urge Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder to change it.

"[W]e decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," said the 2-1 ruling by a panel of three administrative trademark judges at the patent agency, also known as the PTO.

If the trademark ruling survives any potential appeals, the Redskins would lose certain rights and find it harder to crack down on unauthorized sales of merchandise with the team's name and logo.

"This probably isn't going to affect the team's ability to run the business or enforce its rights," Marc Reiner, an intellectual-property lawyer at Moss & Kalish PLLC, in New York, told The Wall Street Journal. "This is just a government body saying that it's inappropriate to have this as a registered trademark."

California's laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissals deprive students of their constitutional right to an education, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling is a serious defeat for teachers' unions that overturns several California laws that govern the way teachers are hired and fired. 

The 16-page decision (attached below) may set off a slew of legal fights in California and other states, where many education reform advocates are eager to change similar laws.

"There is ... no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms," Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote. "Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.

"The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience."

Enforcement of the much awaited ruling in Vergara v. California will be delayed pending an appeal by the lawsuit's defendants, the state and California's two major teachers unions.

The Seventh Circuit has written a scathing rejection of a "scandalous" class-action settlement by in which a lawyer inserted his father-in-law as a named plaintiff and negotiated a $2 million advance on his fee.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in the opinion (attached below) that the lower court should have heeded dire warning signs. 

"Almost every danger sign in a class action settlement that our court and other courts have warned district judges to be on the lookout for was present in this case," Posner wrote. "The district court approved a class action settlement that is inequitable-- even scandalous."

Lead attorney Paul M. Weiss' agreement was structured to pay him and his co-counsel $11 million. 

Though the settlement was valued at $90 million, the class "could not expect to receive more than $8.5 million from the settlement, given all the obstacles that the terms of the settlement strewed in the path of the class members," Posner wrote.

A delayed General Motors recall that led to at least 13 deaths was caused by "a pattern of incompetence and neglect" throughout the company, an internal report released Thursday said.

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announced that 15 employees -- many of them senior legal and engineering executives -- have been dismissed and five more have been disciplined after the probe by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas.

Valukas' report, described by Barra as "brutally tough and deeply troubling," is attached below.

Barra has confirmed that GM will soon begin compensating victims of crashes linked to the faulty ignition switches that have plagued the company for over a decade, The Associated Press reports. The program is expected to begin taking claims August 1 of this year.

GM officials said that the number of fatalities related to the part defect may rise. Reuters reports that at least 74 people have died in crashes similar to those GM has linked to the faulty switches, based on an analysis of government data.

Donald Sterling has formally responded to the NBA's lifetime ban, claiming it was illegal under California law to oust him based on a "lover's quarrel" that was "illegally recorded."

In Sterling's response (attached below) he says the racist, hateful remarks were uttered in private settings and that he never had knowledge nor provided consent to have them recorded.

Sterling is not going to go down without a fight, it seems. Sterling's lawyer, Max Blecher, told ESPN that his client "is going to fight to the bloody end."

The recording of Sterling's private remarks to V. Stiviano was arguably are unlawful under California law. And the NBA is attempting to throw him out based on the recording.

If the NBA was suing Sterling in a court of law, the recording would likely be deemed inadmissible under rules of evidence. But, as Sterling acknowledges, the NBA's internal system of justice doesn't follow courtroom rules of evidence.

Donald Sterling's answer also included a cover letter that the Los Angeles Times reports he has received offers "in excess of $2.5 billion" to buy the Clippers.