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6th Cir. Dismisses Second Forum Case in Just as Many Weeks

The Sixth Circuit just affirmed a second dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds in just as many weeks.

In this case with international implications, the Sixth Circuit found that American citizen Brandon Hefferan should have brought suit in Germany instead of the United States, following his nightmarish experience with a surgical stapler that malfunctioned.

6th Cir. Affirms Whopping $10.4M Asbestos Cleanup Bill Against Scrapper

A salvage scrapper will have to pay the full amount of some $10 million in cleaning costs to the EPA according to a recent ruling by the Sixth Circuit which affirmed the decision of a federal district court.

That lower federal appeals courts was not persuaded by defendant Mark Sawyer's theories, saying that in this case of first impression, the EPA must be compensated for its clean-up expenditures after Sawyer's company completely contaminated a 300-acre plot of land in violation of federal environmental law.

Ricky Edwards worked for CSX Transportation for 31 years before his career was ended by a freak accident -- caused in part by a "nasty" toilet. When Edwards showed up to work with an upset stomach one day, his nausea was only exacerbated by the foul conditions in his train's bathroom: urine, feces, and "blue chemical" splattered all over the toilet.

When his nausea escalated, Edwards chose to ralph over the rails, rather than in the foul toilet. In the process, he fell from the train, breaking his back and ending his career with CSX. And that wasn't the end of the gut-retching news for Edwards, whose suit against CSX was tossed by the Sixth Circuit last Friday.

Appeals Court Applies Statutory Immunity in Wheelchair-Skiing Case

An interesting case was affirmed for the defendant ski-resort at the Sixth Circuit recently, offering refresher insights into the proper means and technique of statutory interpretation.

The case involved a lady in a wheelchair on a ski-lift tramway. Despite the prosaic facts, the plaintiff offered some curious legal theories in her injury claim.

A nursing home patient's agreement to arbitrate "any and all disputes" against the facility doesn't prevent his estate from bringing a wrongful death suit after he died in the home's care, the Sixth Circuit ruled last Friday.

The court rejected arguments that the Federal Arbitration Act gave the nursing home the right to compel arbitration, finding that the FAA did not change Kentucky state law on wrongful death suits.

The Clean Air Act might be massive, complex, and unwieldy, but it doesn't "occupy the field" of air pollution control, the Sixth Circuit reminded us in two decisions released earlier this month. As such, the Clean Air Act does not preempt state common law claims against polluters who are regulated under the Act.

Even if you're in compliance with federal rules and regulations, you can still be sued for pollution under state common law, the court found. The ruling puts the Sixth Circuit in line with precedent from the Second and Third Circuits, but veers slightly away from Supreme Court caselaw.

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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