Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

You may have been annoyed by receiving a barrage of "Add Connections" emails from LinkedIn users. But imagine how they felt when they found out the professional networking site had hijacked their email contacts to spam those messages out. They were not pleased.

In response, users filed a class action lawsuit against LinkedIn, claiming the emails damaged their reputations. And now the company has agreed to pay $13 million to settle the suit. So check your Inbox to see if you'll get some of the settlement.

The USS Cole was refueling in Yemen in October of 2000 when two al-Qaeda suicide bombers blew a hole in its hull. The attack killed 17 sailors and injured another 39. Fifteen of the injured sailors and three of their spouses filed a federal lawsuit against Sudan in 2010, claiming the country helped facilitate the bombing by lending material support to al-Qaeda.

The victims won the case, and now a federal appeals court in New York is ordering three banks to turn over Sudanese funds to satisfy the judgment.

The Batmobile is one of the most recognizable cars in the world. The fins, the gadgets, the weaponry: all singular to the Caped Crusader, and all very inviting to copycats.

But those looking to steal the Batmobile's signature look better beware. The 9th Circuit has ruled that Batman's costar car is sufficiently distinctive to warrant copyright protections.

It hasn't been a great year for General Motors. The auto manufacturer has been plagued with recalls and lawsuits regarding potentially deadly ignition switch defects. In all, GM's faulty ignition switch has been tied to at least 124 deaths.

Now the company is paying $900 million to the criminal charges related to the ignition switch. So where does GM go from here, and what will the settlement mean for existing civil lawsuits?

Public Is Subject to Voter Control: WA High Court Nixes Charter Schools

Weeks after the start of a new school year, Washington State's high court ruled that it is unconstitutional to fund charter schools with money from public coffers. The ruling reignited a national debate, raging for decades, about the controversial hybrid form of education that borrows from both the public and private school systems.

The Washington court concluded that charters are not "common schools" and cannot receive public money. "A common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district," the opinion stated. Diverting public moneys for institutions that do not meet this definition violates the state's constitution.

StarKist is offering aggrieved customers the option of $25 in cash or $50 in tuna in order to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the tuna company of shorting the amount of fish in its cans.

The total payout will come to about $8 million, although StarKist has not admitted any fault.

For the first time ever, a state has agreed to pay for a transgender inmate's sex reassignment operation. As part of a legal settlement, California will pay for the surgery for Shiloh Quine, a transgender woman who is serving a life sentence.

The settlement with Quine follows a ruling from a federal judge that required the state to pay for the surgery for another inmate, Michelle Norsworthy. Instead, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Norsworthy would be paroled.

For years, New York has tried to clamp down on the city's sex shops. But the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled this week that adult video stores, bookshops, and even topless dancing clubs are all protected by the First Amendment.

Does freedom of speech = freedom of sex?

The California Supreme Court ruled that couples must be living apart before they can be considered legally separated.

Whether going through a divorce or choosing a legal separation instead of a divorce, the new definition can have a huge impact on each spouse's property and finances. The court attempted to simplify matters by creating a bright-line rule based on the establishment of individual residences as creating a legal separation.

Just a few days before the one year anniversary of his death, Eric Garner's family reached a settlement in its wrongful-death claim against New York City.

Last year, on July 17, 2014, police attempted to arrest Eric Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes. According to the police, Garner resisted arrest, so one officer used a chokehold, which is prohibited by the Police Department's policies. By the end of the short struggle, Garners' cries of "I can't breathe" subsided, and he died.

Not long after, Garner's family filed a wrongful death claim against the city.