U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

January 2018 Archives

Fired Theater Clerk Must Get More Back Pay, Court Says

David Pittington was trying to make a living as a low wage-earner in a small-town, Tennessee theater.

He worked in a wooden shack outside, collecting $8 to $10 an hour. He didn't complain too much, except about how management treated his wife, who also worked there.

When the company fired him, he sued for wrongful discharge. A jury gave him $10,000 in back pay, but an appeals court said that wasn't enough in Pittington v. Great Smokey Mountain Lumberjack Feud.

During a conference with over a 100 lawyers in his courtroom, District Court Judge Dan Polster, who has been assigned to handle the consolidated multi-district litigation in the Opioid crisis cases, demanded that the parties in the extraordinarily complex litigation try to figure out a way to settle the whole matter.

In his remarks, Judge Polster explained his belief that everyone in litigation is somewhat responsible for the current opioid epidemic. From the doctors to drug makers, distributors, hospitals, and even governments and individuals, Judge Polster believes there's plenty of blame to share, but that pointing fingers just isn't worthwhile. He explained that on that day, based on the numbers, 150 individuals would die due to opioids.

Court Rejects Attack on Anti-Abortion Law

Tennesseans voted abortion rights out of the state constitution, and that settles it, a federal appeals court said.

Fifty-three percent of the voters approved the constitutional amendment, but opponents sued for a recount. The U.S Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to reject the lawsuit in George v. Hargett.

"Although the subject of abortion rights will continue to be controversial in Tennessee and across our nation, it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people's 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest," Judge David McKeague wrote.

Court Interprets Insurance Term: 'Illegal Use of Alcohol'

A day after the New Year's drinking ended, a federal appeals court ended a life insurance company's attempt to deny coverage to a drunk driver.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal did not condone the driver's behavior -- he partied, crashed and suffered severe injuries. But the appeals court also did not let the insurer escape the terms of its own policy.

"This matter is about whether a contract should mean what it says," wrote Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr. in Heimer v. Companion Life Insurance Company.