Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


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.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Trinity Church in Missouri should have been awarded public funding for resurfacing their playground with recycled tire rubber. While, at first blush, this may not sound so shocking, the ruling tows the line on the separation of church and state.

While seven justices concurred in the result, even among those justices, there was a difference in opinion regarding whether the decision was limited based on the facts of the case. Basically, the Trinity Church applied for a state grant to provide money to rubberize their playground, but was denied due to being a religious organization. The church filed suit, alleging the denial violated the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Despite two different federal appeals courts upholding the ban on the travel ban, the U.S. Supreme Court surprisingly reversed both rulings. However, even with their reversal, SCOTUS still limited the reach of the executive order issued by President Trump.

Primarily, the Court found that the ban could not be applied to individuals seeking entry who have sufficient, and legitimate, ties to the United States. The Court did find that in the absence of a prospective foreign visitor's ties to the U.S., the temporary travel ban could be applied.

Brendan Dassey was just 16 when he was railroaded into confessing involvement in the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. Those who watched his interrogation in "Making a Murderer" saw all the hallmarks of an impressionable and possibly mentally impaired teen harangued by officers until he gave them a nonsensical confession, all without a parent or attorney present.

Now 27, Dassey has been ordered to be released from prison after a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that Dassey's confession had been coerced, calling it "death by a thousand cuts." But that release may not happen right away.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, federal law enforcement officials ordered hundreds of mostly Muslim, Arab, or South Asian illegal aliens to be taken into custody and detained. These detentions happened before officials demonstrated any particularized suspicion or knowledge that the detainees had any connection to terrorism, and many were held for months under "harsh conditions" that included repeated and random strip searches, 24-hour-lighted cells, and physical and psychological abuse.

Six of those detained filed a lawsuit against a group of federal officials including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar. But the Supreme Court dismissed those claims, ruling that federal officials are immune from such lawsuits.

Convicted sex offenders are subject to a variety of conditions on their probation or parole. Every state has a mandatory sex offender registry requirement, although time on the registry may vary. And courts have even allowed lifetime GPS monitoring of sex offenders. All of which is to say that the government and law enforcement have a lot of leeway when deciding how to punish and monitor sex offenders.

But North Carolina took that a step too far, apparently. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a state law banning registered sex offenders from social media sites like Facebook was unconstitutional.