Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


Over two years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, same-sex couples are still battling on the fringes for the same rights as heterosexual couples. And when it comes to parental rights, those battles -- for custody, visitation, even access to a spouse and child during and after childbirth -- can be fierce.

The Arizona Supreme Court leaned on that U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle one of those battles, pertaining to parental rights under the state's paternity statute. Only there was no "pater" in this case -- it involved two female spouses, and the rights of the non-biological parent.

Why wait until you're 15 to understand what it's like to hitchhike from coast to coast? You don't need to be in middle school to feel the yearning and aspirations of 1940s New York City cafe society, right? Surely a tale about two fishermen of varying ages wouldn't be lost on a nine-year-old.

All are semi-compelling arguments for translating canonical books for a younger audience. Unfortunately for the publishers of those kid-friendly classics, none of those is a legal defense to copyright infringement. "The mere removal of adult themes," a federal judge said, ruling that KinderGuides children's versions were unlawful copies of the original works, "does not meaningfully recast the work any more than an airline's editing of R-rated films so that they can be shown to children on a flight absolves the airline from paying a royalty."

There's no doubt our smartphones can be distracting. There's no doubt that distracted driving is dangerous, even deadly. And there's no doubt smartphones, or at least some alerts, could be disabled while we're driving. So does not automatically disabling distracting smartphone functions while we're driving mean that smartphone manufacturers are liable for distracted driving accidents?

Not according to a California Superior Court in Santa Clara, California. The father of a man killed by an 18 year old who was texting and driving, sued Apple, claiming the company knew the dangers of texting and driving, possessed a "lock-out mechanism" capable of disabling functions like texting while someone is driving, and failed to provide the feature for users. But the court dismissed the lawsuit, saying Apple's role in the accident was far too attenuated" to be legally responsible for the death.

Last November, Californians passed on the opportunity to abolish the death penalty in Golden State, and instead voted in favor a measure meant to expedite executions. Proposition 66, referred to as a measure to "mend not end" capital punishment in the state, ostensibly set a five-year deadline on court appeals from death row inmates.

One such inmate challenged the law, saying in part, that it violates the separation of powers doctrine by interfering with the courts' discretion and ability to hear and resolve capital appeals and habeas corpus petitions. But the California Supreme Court today upheld the new provisions, relying on the interpretation that the deadline is "directive rather than mandatory."

Amid controversies over sexual harassment, data security, and an ousted CEO, Uber scored one legal victory last week. The Second Court of Appeals for the Southern District of New York ruled that clicking Uber's "Register" button means consenting to a forced arbitration clause in its terms of service, meaning that customer disputes must be resolved in arbitration, rather than in court.

Spencer Meyer had sued the company over its "surge" pricing feature, but may not be able to get the case in front of a jury.

Shakespeare was wrong. A rose by any other name might still smell as sweet, unless that name is pink slime. Then, there's a good chance consumers would never know what it smells like because no one smells pink slime.

Do you remember the news reports about "pink slime" that made the local news circuit back in 2012? How could anyone forget right? Finding out that over half the nation's ground beef contained pink slime was eye opening. But the phrase pink slime didn't win any friends over at Beef Products Inc. who were the ones skewered by the report. Instead, it led to the company hiring some lawyers, filing suit, and winning a sizable settlement from Disney and ABC news.

Theranos Settles Walgreens Case

The epic legal saga surrounding Theranos has come closer to reaching a final conclusion as the company announced a settlement between it and Walgreens. Walgreens was among Theranos's largest partners. Their case sought to get back the $140 million that was agreed to as part of the joint venture.

Theranos is a blood testing company that promised to revolutionize the industry with their one drop blood tests. Basically, it promised to do what is currently not possible: perform a myriad of the standard blood tests using only a single drop. Unfortunately, the company was unable to deliver on its futuristic promises, leaving its business partners justifiably upset.

In Washington, DC, the right to carry a gun in public has been the center of much debate and controversy for several decades. However, over the last several years, DC has been faced with challenges to the safety restrictions imposed on gun ownership.

Just this week, one of those challenges was actually successful in dismantling a statute that made it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in the District without a permit. The permits would only be provided to individuals who could show a compelling need or a good reason for being allowed to carry a concealed handgun. For instance, carrying valuables or cash for work, being targeted for violence in the past, or needing to protect a vulnerable family member, all could potentially qualify a person for a permit.

Emma Sulkowicz gained notoriety in 2014 when she began carrying a 50-pound mattress around Columbia's campus as part of her senior art thesis and to protest the university's handling of her sexual assault allegations against fellow student Paul Nungesser. Nungesser was found not guilty of misconduct, and police declined to press charges, but Sulkowicz continued her protest of Nungesser's presence on campus.

Nungesser eventually sued the school, first for failing to protect him from Sulkowicz's protest, then, after that case was dismissed, for violating Title IX, claiming that the school's policies amounted to "sex bias in disciplining him for an alleged sexual assault." Although that lawsuit was also dismissed, Columbia settled with Nungesser, though Sulkowicz was not party to the settlement and the terms remain confidential.

A ruling on a pair of cases out of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, affirmed a private individual's right to record police performing their duties in public. The cases of Amanda Geraci and Richard Fields both involve law enforcement officers retaliating against them for recording officers performing their duties in public.

While the federal district court handling these two cases found that neither Geraci, nor Fields, were protected by the First Amendment, the Third Circuit was quick to correct the lower court on their mistaken interpretation. Notably, the lower federal court was seemingly going rogue with their interpretation.