Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

"Company Doe's" secrets could soon be revealed after a federal appeals court panel determined the corporation cannot keep product-safety litigation secret to protect its image.

The case involved the death of an infant, and the corporation wished to be only known as "Company Doe" in court papers to maintain confidentiality. But a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that sealing court records in this case violated the public's constitutional rights to "obtain access to civil proceedings," Reuters reports.

So when will "Company Doe" and its secrets be revealed? It's still not quite clear.

A federal judge announced Monday that Ohio must recognize legally performed out-of-state gay marriages, but his order will not immediately go into effect.

Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio determined that Ohio's refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages was "unconstitutional and unenforceable," reports The Columbus Dispatch. The ruling avoided dealing directly with Ohio's ban on performing in-state gay marriages.

With Black's ruling stayed pending appeal, what can we learn from this federal decision on gay marriage in Ohio?

Unneeded Heart Stents Settlement: $37M for Mark Midei's Patients

A $37 million settlement agreement has been reached between the former owner of a Maryland hospital and patients of Dr. Mark Midei who went through unnecessary heart stent procedures.

Although Midei wasn't a party to the lawsuit, the settlement agreement seeks to do away with the class action lawsuits against Catholic Health Initiatives for Midei's actions, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The settlement agreement must be finalized by a judge before it's binding, but if approved on the current terms, as many as 273 patients could receive compensation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that aggregate campaign contribution limits for individual donors are unconstitutional in light of the First Amendment.

According to The New York Times, Wednesday's 5-4 ruling is a "sequel" to the High Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, which struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.

Now, thanks to the Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, individuals are free to spend an unlimited aggregate amount on direct contributions to candidates, political parties, and political action committees.

The U.S. Supreme Court has beefed up a federal law preventing domestic violence convicts from possessing a gun, even if there was no proof of actual "violence" or injury.

In a unanimous decision, the High Court ruled last week that the federal ban applied even to those domestic violence convicts who had pleaded guilty without there being evidence of physical abuse, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote this opinion for the Court, which may close a loophole that had existed in federal law for almost 20 years.

Fla.'s Damages Cap for Medical-Malpractice Death Cases Struck Down

In case you missed it, the Florida Supreme Court recently struck down the state's damages cap on wrongful death awards resulting caused by medical malpractice.

The state law placed a $1 million limit on the amount of money people could be awarded for pain and suffering when someone dies from medical malpractice.

Why was the cap on damages for these types of cases struck down?

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Delaware's appeal to revive what critics called "secret courts" for business litigants.

The case came from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that a Delaware law allowing state judges to conduct secret arbitration programs for business disputes valued at more than $1 million was unconstitutional, reports The News Journal.

Why are Delaware's so-called "secret courts" no good?

Voter laws in Arizona and Kansas requiring proof of citizenship when registering by mail were upheld by a federal judge Wednesday.

A U.S. District Court judge in Witchita, Kansas, ruled that because Congress had not acted to outlaw these sorts of "proof of citizenship" rules in the states, the two states were free to add those requirements to voter registration forms, reports Reuters. This ruling overturned a decision by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) which had denied Arizona's and Kansas' requests to require proof of citizenship for voters.

Does upholding a "proof of citizenship" requirement sanction voter suppression in these states?

Toyota is slated to pay $1.2 billion to resolve a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice over safety issues.

The car manufacturer admitted it concealed and misled consumers regarding safety defects in its vehicles, two of which caused unintended acceleration, reports Reuters. The acceleration defect was blamed for the deaths of a California Highway Patrol officer and his family -- allegedly caused by unintended acceleration in his Lexus.

How does this new settlement square Toyota with its customers and the federal government?

Birthing Moms Can Kick Dads Out of Delivery Room: N.J. Court

In the first ever ruling of its kind, a New Jersey judge ruled that a woman in labor has the right to ban an unwed father from the delivery room.

The case -- argued the day the mother went into labor (!) -- stemmed from an estranged couple who called off their wedding prior to the birth of their child. Steven Plotnick sued his ex-fiancée Rebecca DeLuccia for the right to know when she went into labor and for access to the baby upon its birth, The Star-Ledger reports.

Though the child has since been born (in case you're wondering: pops was present at the birth), Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled in favor of the mother.