Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

December 2014 Archives

2014 in Review: The 10 Most Popular 'Decided' Blog Posts

This has been a big year for landmark decisions and settlements, and FindLaw's Decided was there to cover all of 2014's big legal moments.

There were Supreme Court decisions and denials, companies settling over less than honest business practices, and even a reminder on how social media can screw up a perfectly good legal agreement.

Here's to 2014, and here's the Top 10 cases you loved most from this year:

Ski Resort's Waiver Not Binding: Ore. Supreme Court

Injured skiers and snowboarders got a win in the Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday; the state's highest court ruled that a ski resort's blanket liability waivers were not enforceable.

The ruling focused on the case of Myles Bagley, a snowboarder who was paralyzed in 2006 after an accident at the Mount Bachelor terrain park near Bend, Oregon. The Associated Press reports that Bagley had his injury claim against the ski resort thrown out of a lower court, because his lift ticket and season pass contained a liability waiver.

Why did the Oregon Supreme Court find that the waiver wasn't binding?

Ohio Sup. Ct. Upholds Cities' Traffic-Camera Tickets, Appeals

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the use of traffic cameras by state municipalities as well as the administrative procedure for hearing appeals by those ticketed.

The ruling was split, with three of the court's seven justices dissenting, reports The Plain Dealer. And the decision comes as legislation requiring a police officer be present at every traffic camera was passed in the Ohio legislature last week. That bill would effectively end the use of the cameras in much of the state.

What led to the court's decision?

Mistake of Law Doesn't Make Traffic Stop Illegal: Supreme Court

Police officers may stop a vehicle based on a misunderstanding of traffic laws without violating the civil rights, the Supreme Court has ruled.

In its 8-1 ruling on Monday, the High Court found that even though a North Carolina police officer misunderstood a state traffic law regarding brake lights, the mistake was reasonable, and thus the search that followed was not illegal. The driver, Nicholas B. Heien, consented to the search of his car following the stop, which yielded a baggie of cocaine.

So why did the Court rule for a search based on a good-faith mistake in Heien v. North Carolina?

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Prompts $6.8M Settlement Proposal

A 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River area has prompted the company responsible to propose forking over $6.8 million in settlement funds.

Enbridge, a Calgary-based energy company, has offered to pay to settle a class-action lawsuit by those who lived within 1,000 feet of the affected river, offering more to those who live closest to the spill area. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that Enbridge has already settled with dozens of other plaintiffs, although four more spill-related cases are set for trial next year.

What are the terms of this proposed settlement?

No Pay OK for Amazon Security Screenings: Supreme Court

Workers at Amazon's warehouses won't have to be paid for time spent in security screenings thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued today.

The High Court unanimously determined that while workers may spend as long as 25 minutes in security screenings after they clock out, the process was not "integral and indispensible" to the workers' jobs. The New York Times reports that this decision could affect more than 400,000 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Amazon and other companies.

What are the nuts and bolts of this Amazon ruling?

SiriusXM to Pay $3.8M Over Unwanted Charges, Failure to Cancel

SiriusXM agreed to pay out $3.8 million to settle charges that it stuck consumers with unwanted charges and used misleading advertising.

According to The Plain Dealer, the settlement includes at least 45 states whose attorneys general had received complaints from consumers about trouble canceling contracts or "higher-than-expected fees." As part of the nationwide settlement, SiriusXM will change its billing practices, change advertising, and revamp its cancellation policy.

But what, if anything, will consumers get in this deal?

L.A. Schools Settlement: $140M to Students Who Were Fed Semen

The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay nearly $140 million to settle sex abuse lawsuits linked to ex-elementary school teacher and convicted child molester Mark Berndt.

Berndt, 63, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2013 after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts upon a child, Reuters reports. Berndt was arrested after an investigation by police uncovered evidence that he'd forced his students to play a "tasting game" in which they were fed cookies tainted with Berndt's semen.

What are the details behind this settlement?