Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


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?

Police can force suspects to unlock their smartphones with a fingerprint, which is different than a passcode, according to a Virginia judge's recent ruling.

While the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that police officers may not search inside an arrestee's cell phone without a warrant, a Virginia state judge believes officers might be able to unlock it with a fingerprint. Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled that while a suspect may not be compelled to give up his or her secret code, a fingerprint is a completely different story.

Does this ruling spell ruin for fingerprint technology protecting cell phone privacy?

Cable giant Comcast has agreed to a $50 million settlement in a class action that accused the company of overcharging its cable TV subscribers.

This case has been bouncing around in court for over 10 years now with plaintiffs alleging that Comcast had monopolized the cable-TV market in Philadelphia and unfairly raised prices. Reuters reports that the suit once covered more than 2 million subscribers, but the settlement reached on Tuesday covers just over 800,000.

What are the details of this Comcast settlement, and when will current and former subscribers see a dime of it?

Earlier this month, we blogged about a lawsuit against Trinity Industries, which makes highway guardrails. The suit alleged that Trinity failed to report a change in the design of its guardrails to the government. This design change, the government said, led to the death of five people and the injuries of even more.

Yesterday, a federal jury in Texas returned its verdict against Trinity: $175 million, which will be tripled under a federal statute to $525 million.

What could have led to such a big verdict?

An Arizona law denying bail to certain undocumented immigrants was struck down on Wednesday by a federal appeals court, finding the law to be an unconstitutional violation of due process.

This isn't the first time that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reviewed Proposition 100, a 2006 Arizona ballot measure that denied bail to undocumented immigrants charged with "serious" crimes. The Los Angeles Times reported that the appellate court upheld the law in a 2-1 decision last year, but the full panel wanted to rehear the case.

So why did the 9th Circuit decide to struck down the no-bail law this time?

A strip club in Massachusetts can operate with fewer restrictions thanks to a recent federal appellate court's ruling.

Showtime Entertainment LLC sued the town of Mendon because of the hamlet's "maze of regulations" which made it near impossible to establish or operate an adult entertainment business there. Mendon's bylaws focused specifically on adult entertainment businesses like Showtime, requiring them to be within a size and height limit, mandating off-duty policemen to patrol the business, and forbidding alcohol.

Why did the court rule for Showtime over Mendon's rules?

AT&T has agreed to a $105 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over claims that the carrier allegedly charged consumers for unauthorized third-party services and subscriptions through a process called "cramming."

The settlement is the largest to date in the FTC's effort to combat the practice of mobile cramming. Earlier this year, the FTC filed a complaint against T-Mobile alleging that carrier was cramming users' bills with unauthorized third-party charges as well.

What exactly is cramming, and what are the terms of AT&T's cramming settlement?