Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

March 2013 Archives

Supreme Court: Drug Dogs Need Warrant to Sniff Suspect's Home

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police may not use drug dogs to sniff outside a suspect's home without a warrant.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the use of drug sniffing dogs to investigate a home and its immediate surroundings constituted a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, reports Reuters.

Therefore, police need probable cause and a search warrant to engage in such searches.

50 Years After Gideon, 5 Problems Facing Public Defenders

Criminal defendants have the right to counsel, even if they can't afford one. That's a staple in the law. And it was solidified even further 50 years ago in the landmark decision Gideon v. Wainwright.

On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states must provide a court-appointed attorney for a criminal defendant who's charged with a serious offense, if the defendant lacks the resources to hire his own attorney.

But the post-Gideon road hasn't been an easy one. There are still many problems facing public defenders and the clients they represent. Here are five of the most pressing:

J&J DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuit: Dissecting the 1st Verdict

A California jury has awarded Loren "Bill" Kransky $8.3 million in what could be the first of thousands of verdicts against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for injuries caused by a metal hip inplant, developed by the company's DePuy unit.

Jurors found that the health care products company was negligent in designing the ASR hip implant. Kransky's award includes $338,136 for his medical bills and $8 million for his physical pain and mental suffering, reports Bloomberg.

Kransky's lawyers had also sought $179 million in punitive damages. However, jurors found that J&J did properly warn consumers of the dangers with the hip implant, and did not award any punitive damages.

Bev Stayart Loses Another Lawsuit Over Search Engine Results

If you do an online search for "Bev Stayart," the search engine may suggest "bev stayart levitra." So the real Bev Stayart filed a lawsuit against Google and other search engines.

She wasn't pleased that her name is associated with a medication for erectile dysfunction. She sued Yahoo! and lost, and then filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming the search engine violated Wisconsin's privacy laws.

She's right that Wisconsin does have a right to privacy law. But did Google violate it when her name popped up in what's known as a "search assist"? Courts don't seem to think so.

Supreme Court Ruling in Student Loan Case May Discourage Lawsuits

In a case involving a student loan collections dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of a debt collector, the ABA Journal reports.

This ruling, which awarded court costs to the debt collector, could potentially send a powerful message to the little guy: Don't sue your debt collector, no matter how much they allegedly harass you.

Consumers are supposedly protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Act prohibits creditors and debt collectors from pursuing a debtor unfairly or using unfair tactics.