Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

DreamWorks is one of several large animation studios sued in one of the largest class action lawsuits ever brought against animation studios by employees. DreamWorks has offered to settle their portion of liability in the case by putting $50 million into the settlement's common fund. DreamWorks, along with Disney, Pixar, LucasFilm, Sony, Blue Sky, and others were sued for allegedly agreeing to wage-fix and not poach each other's animators and employees.

The settlement still needs to be approved. However, prior settlements from Sony and Blue Sky for much smaller amounts have already been approved, so it seems likely that DreamWorks' offer will be as well. Unlike most settlements, class action settlements must be approved by a judge in order to protect the interests of the class members. Shockingly, the lawsuit seems to be a result of Steve Jobs' time as the CEO of Pixar.

A recent Ninth Circuit decision requires all crisis pregnancy centers to distribute information about publicly funded contraception and abortion services. This is not welcome news for pro-life groups. California's Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act went into effect on January 1st, 2016 and requires that pregnancy centers and clinics provide a notice to their patients about the available, publicly funded, prenatal, abortion and family planning services.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a pro-life organization, and two other groups, challenged the act's constitutionality and sought a preliminary injunction exempting them from posting the required-by-law notifications. After the lower court rejected and dismissed their claims, they appealed. The 9th Circuit upheld the act in a decision published last Friday.

An important ruling out of Chicago's Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week analogized cat and dog ownership to the Uber versus taxi regulation debate. The case involved the taxi industry's challenge to the city of Chicago's decision to regulate ride sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, differently than taxi cab companies.

The circuit court affirmed the decision of the lower court, agreeing that the city is free to regulate the two industries differently.

In the slide-to-unlock legal saga that started years ago between tech leaders Samsung and Apple, the Federal Appeals Court reversed the prior appellate decision, reinstating the $120 million verdict against Samsung. The two tech giants are gearing up for an even bigger battle this week before the Supreme Court on an unrelated patent infringement case dating back to 2011.

The slide-to-unlock case, originally decided in May 2014, had a federal jury award Apple $119.6 million for Samsung's infringement of their the slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, and quick-link feature patents. After the verdict, Samsung appealed, and the Appeals Court overturned the jury's verdict, however this year, the same Appeals Court reversed the prior ruling, reinstating the jury's verdict.

In what must be a shock to Mike Pence, Indiana's Republican Governor and Donald Trump's running mate, a federal appeals court confirmed that Pence did in fact discriminate against Syrian refugees. Pence insisted that his action in denying funding to any state agency that assisted Syrian refugees was not an act of discrimination. However, both the Federal District Court and Federal Appeals Court pointed out that Pence's action was discriminatory, and that he is going to lose the underlying lawsuit.

Last year, amid the crisis in Syria causing millions of people to be displaced from their homes, over half of which being children, countries around the world opened their borders and hearts. The United States has only accepted a small fraction of the displaced peoples. In Indiana, Pence wanted to impose an outright ban on refugees. However, in no uncertain terms, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't buying it.

For the first time during his time in office, Congress voted to override President Obama's veto, passing a bill that allows 9/11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in the terror attacks. The Obama administration said it's sympathetic to victims' families, but opposed the bill, fearing that allowing such lawsuits for Americans in this case would open the door to legal challenges against American officials in other countries in the future. But the vote wasn't very close: The Senate voted 97-1 in favor of the override; the House vote was 348-77 in favor.

So what does the new law mean? And is Congress already having buyer's remorse over the override?

Last week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court, stating that they properly denied the preliminary injunction requested by the plaintiffs in the case of Defense Distributed v. Department of State. This is the case involving the infamous Liberator, a 3D printable hand gun that cannot be detected in a metal detector. The design schematics have already been distributed over the internet and downloaded countless times.

The decision itself, while fascinating in its own right, does not even touch the most important and highly contentious questions that the district court must now decide.

Last week, California teachers across 13 districts breathed a collective sigh of relief as a court ruled that standardized test scores of students should not be factored into teacher evaluations. Judge Goode explained that legislative purposes behind the standardized tests are to evaluate students, schools, and even whole local education agencies, and that using the tests to evaluate individual teachers was not envisioned by the legislature.

While the proponents for evaluating teachers based on standardized test results, a group called Students Matter, can still appeal this ruling, the ruling against them clearly explains that the law does not say what they want it to say. This lawsuit was strongly opposed by the California teachers union.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that 21st Century Fox (Fox News) will pay Gretchen Carlson $20,000,000 in settlement for the sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered at the hands of Roger Ailes. While the large dollar amount Fox paid may shock many, legal professionals are more shocked about the public apology 21st Century Fox made Tuesday morning. Also, CNN reported other victims of Ailes agreed to settle their claims.

It is exceedingly rare that a single plaintiff sexual harassment suit gets an eight figure settlement, and even rarer to see a defendant issue a public apology to the plaintiff. While Ailes denies the allegations, an award that large speaks volumes, and the apology amplifies that a hundred fold.

Good news for teachers in the Golden State: the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal challenging teacher tenure and other job protections for educators. This means seniority rules and due process protections for teachers will remain in place, after a trial court judge threw them out in 2014.

This case is just one flashpoint in the current push-and-pull of traditional teacher protections and unionization and a platform of education reform that aims to re-make schools in the image of private businesses. Here's a closer look at the court's ruling.