Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the use of traffic cameras by state municipalities as well as the administrative procedure for hearing appeals by those ticketed.

The ruling was split, with three of the court's seven justices dissenting, reports The Plain Dealer. And the decision comes as legislation requiring a police officer be present at every traffic camera was passed in the Ohio legislature last week. That bill would effectively end the use of the cameras in much of the state.

What led to the court's decision?

Police officers may stop a vehicle based on a misunderstanding of traffic laws without violating the civil rights, the Supreme Court has ruled.

In its 8-1 ruling on Monday, the High Court found that even though a North Carolina police officer misunderstood a state traffic law regarding brake lights, the mistake was reasonable, and thus the search that followed was not illegal. The driver, Nicholas B. Heien, consented to the search of his car following the stop, which yielded a baggie of cocaine.

So why did the Court rule for a search based on a good-faith mistake in Heien v. North Carolina?

A 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River area has prompted the company responsible to propose forking over $6.8 million in settlement funds.

Enbridge, a Calgary-based energy company, has offered to pay to settle a class-action lawsuit by those who lived within 1,000 feet of the affected river, offering more to those who live closest to the spill area. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that Enbridge has already settled with dozens of other plaintiffs, although four more spill-related cases are set for trial next year.

What are the terms of this proposed settlement?

Workers at Amazon's warehouses won't have to be paid for time spent in security screenings thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued today.

The High Court unanimously determined that while workers may spend as long as 25 minutes in security screenings after they clock out, the process was not "integral and indispensible" to the workers' jobs. The New York Times reports that this decision could affect more than 400,000 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Amazon and other companies.

What are the nuts and bolts of this Amazon ruling?

SiriusXM agreed to pay out $3.8 million to settle charges that it stuck consumers with unwanted charges and used misleading advertising.

According to The Plain Dealer, the settlement includes at least 45 states whose attorneys general had received complaints from consumers about trouble canceling contracts or "higher-than-expected fees." As part of the nationwide settlement, SiriusXM will change its billing practices, change advertising, and revamp its cancellation policy.

But what, if anything, will consumers get in this deal?

The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay nearly $140 million to settle sex abuse lawsuits linked to ex-elementary school teacher and convicted child molester Mark Berndt.

Berndt, 63, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2013 after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts upon a child, Reuters reports. Berndt was arrested after an investigation by police uncovered evidence that he'd forced his students to play a "tasting game" in which they were fed cookies tainted with Berndt's semen.

What are the details behind this settlement?

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it was constitutional for private probation companies to monitor offenders but ruled it was illegal to extend sentences once imposed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the state's High Court found that private probation supervision companies like Sentinel Offender Services were allowed to supervise misdemeanor probationers, but they couldn't extend their sentences. This ruling may impact the $40 million in supervision fees private companies collect from low-level offenders.

What are the details of this Georgia Supreme Court ruling?

The NTSB has ruled that drones, despite being in a regulatory gray area, are subject to the FAA's rules.

This is a reversal of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) judge's ruling in March, which found that the FAA didn't have any legitimate regulations which could touch drone pilots. But on Tuesday, that judge's decision was appealed to the four-member board, which reversed the lower administrative decision and found that drones are indeed "aircraft" under the FAA's regulations.

So with all this back and forth, what should drone pilots know about this NTSB ruling?

A federal judge has approved a settlement agreement in which Anadarko Petroleum Corp will reportedly pay $5.15 billion to clean up pollution at nearly 2,000 sites across the country.

The United States Department of Justice is calling the settlement the largest-ever recovery for environmental cleanup, reports Reuters. The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by creditors of Tronox, a spin-off of energy company Kerr-McGee, against Anadarko, which acquired Kerr-McGee in 2006.

What led to this record-setting environmental cleanup settlement?

Gay marriage opponents got their first victory in a federal appeals court Thursday, as the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld same-sex marriage bans as constitutional in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Two judges on the 6th Circuit's three-judge panel determined that the issue of defining marriage should be left to the states, not judges, reports the Detroit Free Press. Meantime, the lone dissenting judge blasted her colleagues, calling the opinion more of a "TED talk" than a constitutional analysis. The 2-1 decision is now the rule of law in the four states mentioned above.

Why did the 6th Circuit uphold these states' gay marriage bans when so many other courts have struck down similar laws?