Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


Feds Issue Guidance to Schools on Treatment of Transgender Students

The Department of Education last week issued guidance to public schools on protecting the civil rights of transgender students. For schools, this is about more than just making students feel safe. Their federal funding depends on compliance with the law.

The new guidance is intended to make it clear to public school educators that transgender students cannot be discriminated against and that schools don't decide gender identity. In other words, public schools must respect the gender self-identification of students, and that applies to bathroom use too.

Donald Trump Woos Classic Conservatives With SCOTUS Wish List

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not exactly the conciliatory type, and he seems to like getting people riled up. But today Trump tried to woo conservatives by releasing a list of Supreme Court nominees that is, reports CNN, widely pleasing to people in the Republican Party.

The list contains the names of 11 conservative judges who could ostensibly replace the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, both physically and in spirit. Trump's move is viewed as an effort to relieve conservative fears that Trump will not be a reliable Republican representative.

Federal Regulators Block Staples and Office Depot Merger

A federal judge this week granted a request from trade regulators, halting a merger between office supply giants Staples and Office Depot to prevent a monopoly. This is the second time that the Federal Trade Commission has blocked consolidation of these two companies and the office suppliers announced that they will not appeal the ruling.

The blocked merger is likely to save hundreds of jobs for Staples workers in Boca Raton, Florida, reports the Florida Sun Sentinel. But not everyone responded positively to the government intervention, and stocks for both Staples and Office Depot reportedly dropped after the announcement that they are scrapping the $6 billion merger.

Over 30 years after his first murder, and six years after his arrest, Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., dubbed the Grim Sleeper serial killer was found guilty of 10 counts of murder in the slayings of nine women and one 15-year-old girl. Franklin targeted vulnerable young black women in the Los Angeles area for decades spanning the crack cocaine epidemic and killed his last known victim in 2007.

It was a 13-year gap in the middle of that span that earned Franklin the Grim Sleeper moniker, distinguishing him from other serial killers operating in the same area at the same time.

For the second time in three months, Johnson & Johnson has lost a jury trial linking use of its talcum powder-based products to cancer. In this case, a Missouri jury has awarded a woman $55 million who contracted ovarian cancer after using the company's products for feminine hygiene.

This follows an earlier award of $72 million to a deceased woman's family in February, and is another of thousands of pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.

NY Trump University Fraud Case Will Go to Trial in Fall

Donald Trump is a busy billionaire and this fall it seems his steak-filled plate will be very full. The businessman-turned-politician is running a presidential campaign while facing a trial for fraud associated with Trump University.

Across the country, there are a few cases against Trump University, a real estate seminar that costs tens of thousands of dollars to attend. Yesterday a New York court found sufficient questions of fact that a fraud case brought by New York Attorney General (AG) Eric Schneiderman should go to trial. The AG sought summary judgment, or a ruling based on the evidence submitted thus far, but this was denied and the judge has reportedly expressed a desire to "move expeditiously as possible."

Judge Awards 5-hour Energy $20M in Damages

The manufacturer of 5-hour Energy, Innovation Ventures, just got a rush. A New York federal judge partially granted the company's motion for summary judgment and awarded it $20 million in statutory damages.

The three defendant companies, Advanced Nutraceutical Manufacturing LLC, Nutrition Private Label Inc., and Midwest Wholesale Distributors Inc. made and manufactured counterfeit bottles of the energy drink and were found to have violated Innovation Ventures' trademark. The court's opinion was 94 pages. You'll soon find out why.

Cleveland will pay Tamir Rice's family $6 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit after Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014. It represents the city's largest settlement in a police-related lawsuit, but the city admitted no wrongdoing in the 12-year-old's shooting, which occurred while he was playing with a toy gun in a park.

The settlement is on par with other police misconduct claims nationwide, and was a long time coming for the Rice family.

Uber might have just dodged the biggest bullet aimed at its disruptive, ride-sharing business model. In a massive settlement announced last night, Uber will pay up to $100 million to drivers who sued the company in an effort to be considered employees. In return, drivers agreed to remain independent contractors.

While this may seem like a distinction in name only, the legal status of Uber's workforce has an enormous numerical impact on Uber's bottom line.

Ever since Wisconsin passed a law requiring residents to present a valid photo ID at the polls in order to vote, the state has been a lightning rod in the debate about voter fraud laws. Preceding the 2014 elections, amidst a flurry of litigation, the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that Wisconsin could not enforce its ID requirement.

Last week, with a presidential election looming in the fall, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals waded back into the voter ID law morass, ruling that Wisconsin residents who have difficulty getting photo IDs may be able to vote without them.