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Alternative Title: Expectation of Privacy Doesn't Apply to Pocket-Dials

An expectation of privacy doesn't apply to your accidental pocket-dials, the Sixth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. Someone who pocket-dials, butt-dials, purse-dials, or otherwise unintentionally calls another party doesn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the court ruled, and whoever is on the receiving end of the call is free to eavesdrop -- even to record your conversations.

The case came after an executive accidentally pocket-dialed a colleague's secretary. That secretary listened in, for over an hour and a half as plans for firing her boss were discussed. When she revealed them, the executive sued, claiming that her eavesdropping was an unlawful interception of private communications. Not so, the Sixth Circuit ruled.

Constitutional violations are injuries in and of themselves and prisoners asserting them do not have to allege a concomitant physical injury, the Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday. That means that such suits are not prohibited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which prohibits prisoners from asserting 1983 claims alleging only mental or emotional injuries. A violation of one's First Amendment rights is a separate injury, not limited by the PLRA's preclusion.

The Sixth's ruling puts it in the more permissive side of a long standing circuit split over whether prisoners can sue for constitutional violations that did not result in physical injury. Following yesterday's ruling, not only will prisoners' constitutional claims survive the PLRA, prisoners may also be entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

6th Cir. OKs Suit Against Morgue Worker Who Had Sex With Corpses

In a set of consolidated cases, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted some relief against a county mortuary employee who sexually abused dead bodies at the mortuary over a period of 25 years.

While admittedly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, Kenneth Douglas sexually abused "an untold number" of dead bodies at the Hamilton County Morgue in Cincinnati between 1982 and when he was finally caught in 2007. The plaintiffs -- relatives of three of the deceased whose bodies Douglas abused -- sued Douglas as well as Hamilton County.

The case against the county therefore centers around what Douglas' supervisors knew or should have known. How much should they have known? Apparently, a lot. Douglas' supervisor knew or should have known about his alcohol use because Douglas drank at work; he also knew that Douglas had sex with live women at the morgue, "something he apparently did with some frequency."

CDA Immunity Lives: TheDirty Online Gossip Opinion Reversed

Whew. Even when you know a dangerous and terrible precedent is likely to be overturned, it's never over until it's over, right?

Well, it's over, barring en banc or U.S. Supreme Court review. Both of those seem like long shots, considering the Sixth Circuit's opinion falls in line with every other circuit to consider Communications Decency Act (Section 230) immunity.

Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and teacher who slept with a student, took umbrage at user-submitted gossip on TheDirty.com (calling her promiscuous, STD-ridden, and not so easy on the eyes). The the law seemed clear before her case was decided: Websites aren't liable for what their users say. A district court, however, botched the law completely, and held TheDirty.com liable for the gossip.

Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit thankfully and predictably reversed.

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Medical Malpractice and Medical Battery Are Different Things, Duh

Battery is an intentional tort.

Malpractice is negligence-based tort.

One requires intent. The other is failing to meet the reasonable standard of care. Any 1L could tell you this. Why is this case in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals then?

It's (Allegedly) a Milk Price Fixing Conspiracy!

Dean Foods and Suiza were the two largest bottlers and processors of milk in the United States. In 2001, they merged, with the approval of the Department of Justice.

The DOJ, however, required certain concessions to be made. The new Dean Foods would have to divest a handful of plants to the Dairy Farmers of America (a cooperative) and the two entities would have to agree to supply contracts that allowed DFA to supply Dean with milk for some of its plants.

The divested plants, as well as five others, were combined into a new competing company, National Dairy Holdings, which was owned by two former Suiza executives, a former business partner of DFA's chief executive officer, and DFA itself, which owned 50 percent of the company and had veto rights.

Amici Tech Giants Raise Stakes in TheDirty v. Cheerleader Case

Our first take on this case was that it seems to be pretty cut and dried: the Kentucky-based federal district court misinterpreted the Communications Decency Act when it held gossip site TheDirty.com could be held liable for users' scurrilous comments about Sarah Jones, a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.

The comments discussed her rumored sexual habits and certain sexually transmitted diseases that she was alleged to have acquired.

Local Case: Catholic Hospitals, Abortions and Standard of Care

This isn't our usual appellate fare, but a local district court case may interest you, especially if you've been following other swirling legal conflicts between religious rights and healthcare.

In a lawsuit headed for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, a plaintiff, Tamesha Means, alleges that a local Catholic hospital negligently denied her proper healthcare, and exposed her to unnecessary pain, due to mandates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issues the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."

Sixth Circuit to Review TheDirty Bengals Cheerleader CDA Case

This case has everything: a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader, who slept with (and later became engaged to) a student, sued a gossip website over posts submitted by users claiming that she had multiple sexually transmitted diseases and that she had slept with the entire Bengals football team.

Yes, that's a very loaded sentence, as is the case. Actually, check that: this wouldn't be a loaded case, were it not for a district court judge misapplying the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a law which has unanimously (at least, outside of this single Kentucky-based federal court) been interpreted as protecting websites from being sued for user-submitted content.

Court Sides with Cleveland Indians in Insurance Negligence Case

CSI dropped the ball. The insurance brokerage company knows it made a mistake, it admits it, and in all likelihood, it'll be held accountable for it. But the question is: will that accountability come via the tort of negligence or for breach of contract?

When National Pastime, a company that runs promotions for Major League Baseball teams, contacted CSI about a series of Kids Nights at the Cleveland Indians baseball park, they explicitly stated that an inflatable slide would be used. CSI instead procured a policy that didn't cover inflatables, and when the slide collapsed onto two nearby people (killing one), the team was left without coverage.