Injury & Tort Law Decisions: Decided

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A vermiculite mine in northwestern Montana was one of the principal industries for residents in the town of Libby. Unfortunately, a byproduct of mining vermiculite is asbestos, which, for decades, has been known to be a dangerous, toxic substance from which exposure can result in severe illness causing death.

As a result of the mass exposure, workers in the mine, their families, and other residents of the town made up the thousands who have gotten sick over the years. While the mine is now closed, the residents of Libby have been left to face the aftermath.

Police officers from Battle Creek, Michigan were recently cleared of wrongdoing for killing two dogs that barked at officers during the execution of a search warrant. The owners of the two dogs were living with a known drug dealer who had recently been released from prison and was suspected to be selling drugs.

The owners filed a civil lawsuit against the officers and police department, which was dismissed on summary judgment. The case went up to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the judgment of the Michigan Federal Court.

The New York Attorney General's office today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with President-elect Donald Trump in a series of lawsuits regarding his eponymous Trump University. According to a statement from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations of fraud after thousands people across the country were duped into paying for Trump University courses, which more often than not left students "worse off financially than they had been before."

It marks a change of heart for the litigious future president, and means he'll carry one fewer legal headache into office next year.

An Illinois judge recently ruled against Dennis Hastert, allowing the victim of the former politician's sexual abuse to proceed with his contract enforcement action. The case stems from a recently entered into oral settlement agreement between Hastert and an unnamed individual whom Hastert abused in the 1970s while the individual was a minor.

In 2010, Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to the unnamed individual in installments over a period of time. When Hastert had neared the half way point, in about 2014, Federal authorities became suspicious of Hastert's banking activity. As a result of the incremental withdraws from his bank account, Hastert was charged with the crime of structuring, which makes it a crime to attempt to hide certain banking transactions. The unnamed victim filed suit back in April of this year.

Despite nearly four years having passed since the suit was initially filed, the case against Maine West High School has finally settled. While the school district admitted no liability in the settlement, they paid 5 students a total of $1,000,000 to settle their case. Each student will receive $200,000. Since the case took so long, the students are now all adults.

The 2012 case started after high school athletics hazing went too far. One boy was held down, groped, and sodomized with a finger and foreign object. While the coaches and students involved were all cleared of criminal charges, the civil suit included 5 students who all asserted that they had been hazed by upperclassmen.

In a shocking twist, the Utah woman who accidentally killed her husband in a car crash, then sued herself as the representative of her husband's estate as a result of the car crash, won before the Utah Supreme Court last month. The ruling, which seems so absurd, confirms that the legal "absurdity doctrine" did not apply to the situation.

Although the Utah woman was at fault for the accident, her role as the executor of her husband's estate essentially makes her a third party acting on behalf of her husband's estate. So while for the sake of appearances it looks like she is suing herself, it is actually her late husband's estate that is suing her. The estate collects any settlement or verdict, and would distribute the funds with the rest of the late husband's assets.

When a female University of Virginia student came forth with allegations of a brutal sexual assault at a frat party, Rolling Stone thought it had a bombshell on its hands. But the story blew up in its face, as those claims unraveled in the weeks after it was published. After a police investigation found no evidence of the alleged crime and Rolling Stone retracted the story, UVA administrator Nicole Eramo, sued the magazine, its publisher, and the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, for defamation.

Eramo, who oversaw on-campus sexual violence cases when the article was published, won her case last week, with a jury finding Rolling Stone knew or should've known elements of the story relating to Eramo were false.

For the first time during his time in office, Congress voted to override President Obama's veto, passing a bill that allows 9/11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in the terror attacks. The Obama administration said it's sympathetic to victims' families, but opposed the bill, fearing that allowing such lawsuits for Americans in this case would open the door to legal challenges against American officials in other countries in the future. But the vote wasn't very close: The Senate voted 97-1 in favor of the override; the House vote was 348-77 in favor.

So what does the new law mean? And is Congress already having buyer's remorse over the override?

On Tuesday, CNN reported that 21st Century Fox (Fox News) will pay Gretchen Carlson $20,000,000 in settlement for the sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered at the hands of Roger Ailes. While the large dollar amount Fox paid may shock many, legal professionals are more shocked about the public apology 21st Century Fox made Tuesday morning. Also, CNN reported other victims of Ailes agreed to settle their claims.

It is exceedingly rare that a single plaintiff sexual harassment suit gets an eight figure settlement, and even rarer to see a defendant issue a public apology to the plaintiff. While Ailes denies the allegations, an award that large speaks volumes, and the apology amplifies that a hundred fold.

A federal judge has tentatively approved the largest class action settlement in U.S. history, allowing Volkswagen's agreement to pay $15 billion to consumers to move forward. The car manufacturer settlement claims that it doctored emissions data on hundreds of thousands of cars, leading consumers to think they were more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

With judicial approval, Volkswagen can now start gathering information on some 475,000 consumers eligible for compensation, which could begin as early as October. Here's what you need to know.