May 2010 Court Decisions: Decided
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May 2010 Archives

Connecticut Jury Finds For Plaintiff Against Tobacco Giant

On Wednesday, May 26, a jury in Connecticut returned an $8 million dollar verdict in favor of plaintiff Barbara Izzarelli against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Her attorney says this is the first such verdict in New England. Izzarelli was a smoker for 25 years and developed cancer of the larynx. At this time, the judge still has possible punitive damages to consider and that could bring the verdict up to as much as $24 million.

9-0: Supreme Court Allows NFL Antitrust Suit

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the National Football League in a case where the NFL claimed it was entitled to broad antitrust exemption.  The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 against the NFL. Tulane University sports law professor Gabriel Feldman called the ruling a "a sweeping defeat for the league" effecting "all commercial deals."

Supreme Court: Black Firefighters Can Sue Chicago

The Supreme Court issued a 9-0 ruling in favor of a group of black firefighters, finding they did not wait too long to sue the city of Chicago over alleged discrimination. The decision, in essence, found that despite a delay in filing the suit from the time of the initial violation, the case can still proceed because the violations were ongoing.

Update: Appellate Court Yanks TV Pitchman's Contempt Conviction

As discussed in a previous post on FindLaw's Legally Weird blog, controversial TV pitchman, Kevin Trudeau, had been hit with a criminal contempt charge for encouraging his followers to overrun the email of the judge presiding over the court case brought against him by the FTC. Hundreds of ensuing emails in support of Trudeau crashed Judge Robert Gettleman's office computer and crushed his Blackberry. The contempt citation levied by the judge against Trudeau was overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on May 20.

$250 Million Plus: Novartis Liable in Sex Discrimination Suit

A New York jury found Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation liable in a landmark sexual discrimination lawsuit on Monday. On Wednesday, the jury awarded punitive damages of $250 million. The pharmaceutical company was sued by 5,600 women who accused Novartis of discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy, as well as paying women less than similarly experienced men.  

Supreme Court Upholds Law on Sexually Dangerous Inmates

Congress has the authority to pass a law allowing sexually dangerous inmates to be held indefinitely, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The USSC ruled that a federal law allowing officials to hold "sexually dangerous" inmates in civil custody after their prison terms are complete, in order to protect communities from the danger such prisoners may pose, is within the power of Congress to address, the Associated Press reports.

The Supreme Court ruled today that it is unconstitutional to keep a juvenile offender behind bars permanently for a non-homicide crime committed as a youth. The decision in the case of Graham v. Florida, will impact Terrance Graham as well as over 100 other inmates convicted as youths who are currently serving life sentences for non-homicide crimes.

$86 Million Walmart Settlement in Wage Lawsuit

Walmart stores will pay up to $86 million to settle a massive wage and hour labor lawsuit. The Walmart settlement to the class-action lawsuit comes after the world's largest retailer was sued for failing to make full payment for vacation, overtime and other wages to California employees. The class was made up of around 232,000 people who will share the settlement.  

Unkindest Cut: Home Depot Pays $25 Mill for Safe Hands

"**** Michael Powell, let him sue us." That little pronouncement by a Home Depot executive upset a federal judge and did not please a jury either. This week, that federal jury awarded the same Mr. Powell nearly $25 million dollars in punitive damages, actual damages, attorney's fees and costs after the Home Depot corporation was found to have refused to pay Powell for the "Safe Hands" saw protection device he invented. According to the evidence at trial, Home Depot copied the device, refused to pay the inventor, and issued the aforementioned comment.

$624 million: BoA-Countrywide Settles Investor Suit

Countrywide Financial Corp, acquired by Bank of America last year, has settled an investor lawsuit for $624 million. The Countrywide class action suit was brought by investors who purchased securities from Countrywide from 2004 to 2008. Many of the litigants in the Countrywide settlement held pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund. Bank of America is paying $600 million while auditor KPMG will pay the remaining $24 million to settle the suit.

Walmart Lawsuit Settlement: $27M for Hazardous Waste Dumping

Walmart will pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it dumped hazardous waste at its California stores. According to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, each of the company's 236 stores and distribution centers across California were violating environmental laws. Dumanis joined more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups in a five-year investigation into the retailer.

Supreme Court: Merck Securities Fraud Lawsuit Can Proceed

In a 9-0 ruling, last week the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a U.S. appeals court, allowing the billion dollar shareholders lawsuit against Merck & Company to proceed. As we discussed previously, the Merck lawsuit was brought on behalf of a group of investors. Merck is accused of knowingly misleading those investors about the health risks of the drug Vioxx, which they claimed artificially inflated their stock prices. Despite the arguments by attorneys for Merck, the justices found that the investors' claims were not prohibited by the statute of limitations.

Jerry's Wife Wins in Seinfeld Cookbook Lawsuit

What's the deal with vegetables? 

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for New York's second circuit agreed with a lower court ruling, finding that the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook did not infringe on another author's work.

USSC to Michigan Update: No, a Thousand Times No, on Carp

If you have been hooked on the on-going saga of Asian Carp, the State of Michigan and the Supreme Court, you will be interested to hear that last week, the Supreme Court denied a request from the state of Michigan for the third time to close the locks leading from Chicago-area waterways to Lake Michigan. According to the state, this would have served to prevent the spread of the insidious Asian carp which have devastated many native species on their journey up the Mississippi river to the Great Lakes, from their original home in the fish farms of the South.