Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed out a portion of a Texas criminal statute that prohibited taking unauthorized pictures in public for the purposes of sexual gratification after finding that the law violated First Amendment free speech rights.

The state's highest criminal court upheld a lower court decision on Wednesday overturning the law 8-1, reports the Houston Chronicle. Under the law, taking surreptitious photos of a person in a public place, such as upskirt photos of women, was considered a state jail felony. The law was challenged by Ronald Thompson, who was charged under the law in 2011 after taking pictures of clothed children at a San Antonio waterpark.

What was the court's rationale for overturning the law?

Electric car maker Tesla has gotten the go-ahead from Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled Monday that a state law couldn't be used to stop Tesla from selling cars.

The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association had tried to bar Tesla from selling its premium electric cars at an upscale mall in Natick, under a law that prevents manufacturers from owning and operating dealerships. But the high court disagreed.

The Boston Globe reports that Tesla is facing similar restrictive laws in Texas, Arizona, and Maryland. So how did Tesla manage to win in Massachusetts?

In a statement suspiciously timed to coincide with the media coverage of Apple's new product launch, Snapchat quietly announced Tuesday that it's settled a lawsuit filed against the company by one of its founders.

Although the terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, Snapchat was recently valued at $10 billion following a round of venture capital fundraising, reports Forbes, making it likely that the settlement of the lawsuit by ousted co-founder Reggie Brown didn't come cheap.

What was Brown's beef with his former Stanford frat brothers and company co-founders Even Spiegel and Bobby Murphy?

Nebraska's indoor smoking ban remains intact, but the exemptions for smokers to puff inside cigar bars and tobacco stores has been ruled unconstitutional.

In its decision, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that there was no substantial difference between a cigar bar and other publicly accessible workplaces, and that special exemptions for these businesses are "directly contrary" to the state's indoor smoking ban. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the state's attorney general asked the high court on Monday to rehear the case, which may have dire effect on all future legislation.

What did the Nebraska Supreme Court dislike about the smoking ban's exemptions?

A federal judge ruled Thursday that BP was grossly negligent in causing the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and now the company has to pay.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier found that BP acted with "gross negligence" in the oil spill that killed 11 rig workers and caused billions of dollars in damage to Gulf businesses. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the precise dollar amount owed by BP as a result of this ruling isn't clear yet, but The Associated Press estimates the damage at $17.6 billion.

How does this new case relate to BP's past and future court woes?

A Washington state judge has ruled that a suburb of Tacoma can prohibit marijuana retail operations despite the new state law legalizing the practice.

The ruling came in a case brought by a resident of the town of Fife who wished to open a pot shop there but was blocked by city authorities, reports The Associated Press.

What was the basis of the ruling and what does it mean for the future of Washington's still-fresh foray into legalized marijuana sales?

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a man and his four sister wives in a decision that struck down a portion of Utah's anti-polygamy law.

The case involved the stars of television reality series "Sister Wives," who filed a civil rights lawsuit against Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman following a 2010 investigation into allegations of bigamy, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Does this "Sister Wives" ruling mean that polygamy is now legal?

Vitaminwater has settled a class action lawsuit over claims that its labeling and marketing were deceptive and misleading.

The class action includes Vitaminwater consumers in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and the Virgin Islands who purchased the product since 2003. As of Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported that the settlement was still pending approval in a New York federal court. If approved, the settlement will prohibit Vitaminwater from making claims like "vitamins + water -- what's in your hand."

What was the case against Vitaminwater, and how will its marketing be changed by this settlement?

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute order halting gay marriage in Virginia on Wednesday.

In an underwhelming one-paragraph order, the High Court imposed a stay on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling, effectively putting Virginia gay marriage on "pause" until it can be appealed. The Washington Post suggests that the Supreme Court doesn't want to implicate itself in making a decision on marriage by refusing to act.

Was this Virginia decision really all that surprising?

The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld its earlier ruling that brand-name drug manufacturers can be held liable for warning labels on generic versions of their drugs.

The ruling allows an Alabama man who claims he was injured by a generic version of the heartburn drug Reglan to bring suit against Pfizer (which bought Wyeth, the company that originally produced Reglan), even though the man never actually took any of the drugs manufactured by the company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What was the court's rationale in allowing the man to bring suit?