October 2012 Court Decisions: Decided
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October 2012 Archives

Riddell was found not liable in a lawsuit brought against it for a high school football player's injury.

A Mississippi jury took five days to unanimously hold that the football helmet manufacturer was not responsible for the stroke suffered by a ninth grade student, reports The Associated Press.

The student had been participating in a school-sponsored football practice when he was hit. The parents of the student claimed that the helmet pushed back on the student's neck, causing the stroke. However, the Mississippi jury basically found that Riddell was not an insurer against all injuries and sometimes tragic accidents will happen.

A federal appeals court has shot down an NRA lawsuit that sought to allow gun sales to adults 18 to 20 years old.

But the NRA could fire back with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The NRA suit challenged a federal law passed by Congress in 1968 that prohibits gun sales to anyone under 21, Reuters reports. Lawyers for the NRA argued the ban was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment's right to bear arms and the Fifth Amendment's right to equal protection.

Lap Dances Not 'Culture,' Nor Tax Exempt, Court Rules

In a 4-3 decision, New York's State Court of Appeals decided that lap dances are not an artistic endeavor intended to promote culture.

While most states name their high court 'supreme,' in New York the supreme court is a lower level courthouse. The state court of appeals is the highest court, meaning Nite Moves's case will likely end here.

The state sales tax exemption doesn't apply to all performances, something the court noted in the opinion. It only exempts those intended to promote culture.

Arizona's Anti Planned Parenthood Funding Law Blocked by Fed. Judge

Arizona's attempt to cut off public funds to Planned Parenthood ended abruptly on Friday when a judge stopped a new law from being enforced.

The law would have blocked Medicaid funding for family planning and other general health services from going to organizations that also provide abortions. It was signed earlier this year but hasn't yet gone into effect.

Judge Neil Wake's ruling was a temporary injunction meaning he didn't decide whether the law was illegal or unconstitutional. Instead he ordered that the law cannot go into effect until that is determined.

Supreme Court Grants Prisoner's Longshot, Handwritten Petition

If you need more proof that determination pays off look no further than Kim Millbrook, an inmate in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, whose handwritten petition was granted certiorari by the Supreme Court.

That means his complaint is one of the few selected to be heard by the court, an honor that many immaculately typed petitions don't receive.

In his 31-years in prison Millbrook has filed many lawsuits but none have been successful. The one accepted by the court concerns a fairly technical legal matter but his petition likely wouldn't have been accepted without some unlikely assistance.

Phonebook Bans Endangered by 9th Cir. Yellow Pages Ruling

Several cities have tried to push through legislation banning the distribution of Yellow Pages phone books.

Proponents of such bans argue that Yellow Pages are environmentally wasteful and unnecessary in this age of the Internet.

However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently said that even the most unnecessary books deserve First Amendment protections, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The court overturned a Seattle ordinance that would have created an opt-out registry for the telephone listings.

Supreme Court Takes on Arizona Voter Proof of Citizenship Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to step in and take on the controversial Arizona voter ID law that would require voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections.

As you may know, Arizona has been a hotbed for immigration issues. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld the state's law on immigration status checks by police, but struck down rules in the state's measure that would ban illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places, reports Reuters.

Given that the state shares a border with Mexico and frequently deals with immigration issues that other states do not face, it is no surprise that Arizona has been on the forefront of so many immigration battles.

Taking Over an Ex-Employee's LinkedIn Account is Not Actionable

Employees whose LinkedIn accounts are hacked by previous employers have no recourse under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), according to a ruling last week.

Linda Eagle shared her password with a coworker at Edcomm so she could get help managing her LinkedIn account. When Eagle was fired the coworker changed the account's password and the company put a new name and photo on the account.

The judge's opinion isn't that taking over someone else's LinkedIn account isn't ever hacking. But in this case, Eagle doesn't have a real claim against her ex-employer.

NY Shooting Victim Can Sue Gun Manufacturer

A New York state appeals court ruled that a gun manufacturer and distributor could be liable for someone's injuries despite the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The federal statute generally shields firearm manufacturers and sellers from liability for harm caused by criminal use of their products, reports Reuters.

However, the appellate court unanimously reversed a 2011 ruling and said that shooting victim Daniel Williams could go ahead and sue gun manufacturer Beemiller and MKS Supply for his injuries.

Indian Tribe Loses Suit Blaming Alcoholism on Beer Makers

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by an American Indian tribe against several beer manufacturers and stores blaming them for the rampant alcoholism on the Indian reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe, which governs the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, brought the lawsuit against four beer stores across the border in Nebraska as well as large beer manufacturers Anheuser-Busch, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MIllerCoors LLC, and Pabst Brewing Company, reports The Associated Press.

Alcohol is banned on the reservation, and it was alleged that the stores in Nebraska would sell booze to tribe members knowing that the alcohol would be brought back across the border and illegally consumed. The federal judge dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, expressed sympathy for the Indian tribe, and said that the proper venue for the lawsuit was in a state court.

The Supreme Court is back in session for its 2012 Term, with several rounds of oral arguments set to take place over the next few months.

As always, a few closely watched cases are getting the most attention. For the justices' fall term, this includes controversies such as warrantless DUI blood tests, university affirmative action, and international human rights.

Here are five Supreme Court cases that could have wide-reaching effects: