Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

July 2012 Archives

AZ Abortion Law to Take Effect After Judge's Ruling

Arizona's law banning abortions after 20 weeks will go forward says U.S. District Judge James Teilborg.

The law is a change from the current system in Arizona. Under the previous law, abortions were permitted up until viability which occurs around 24 weeks. Starting Thursday, abortions after 20 weeks will not be allowed unless there is a medical emergency.

Judge Teilborg was asked to stop enforcement of a new Arizona law passed by the legislature. He declined to do so by ruling that the law is acceptable under the Constitution.

Arizona is not the first state to ban abortions around 20 weeks but it's still a tricky decision, legally speaking, for a state to ban abortions before viability.

Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in jail for covering up sex abuse claims at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Lynn is the first Catholic priest to be sentenced to prison for his mishandling of sex abuse claims.

Lynn managed priest assignments and child sexual assault complaints at the church from 1992 to 2004. His child endangerment charges stem from his failed oversight of defrocked priest Edward Avery, who was sentenced to a possible five-year prison term for sexually assaulting an altar boy in 1999.

By not stopping priests like Avery, the judge said that Lynn "enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children," reports The Associated Press.

A federal appeals court ruled that Elmbrook School District violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by holding its high school graduations at a church.

For almost a decade, one of the district high schools held graduations at a nearby Christian church. The school had good intentions as it previously held graduations in its hot, stuffy, and cramped gym. The nearby Christian Elmbrook Church offered more spacious accommodations and a more comfortable environment for students and their family.

However, as time went on, the graduation ceremonies become more religious with church workers passing out evangelical literature, reports the State Bar of Wisconsin. Non-Christian attendees eventually complained.

Naked airport protester John Brennan's acquittal is being heralded as a victory for free speech. But the reason for his legal victory may only work in Oregon.

Brennan, 50, of Portland, Ore., famously stripped in front of TSA screeners at the Portland International Airport in April. After standing stark naked for about five minutes, police tackled him to the ground and hauled him to jail, The Oregonian reports.

Brennan was charged under a local law that prohibits indecent exposure, a misdemeanor. But the judge found Brennan's striptease could be excused.

Disneyland's Segway policy must balance the rights of disabled visitors with the theme park's safety concerns, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overruled a lower court that found Disneyland's Segway ban complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Associated Press reports. While Disneyland doesn't allow Segways, it does offer wheelchairs and scooters for disabled guests, pursuant to federal law, Disney's lawyers argued.

But that doesn't go far enough, the Ninth Circuit held.

Pharmaceutical Industry Violated Antitrust Says 3rd Cir.

The pharmaceutical industry was given a nasty shock Monday when a federal court ruled that their practices violated antitrust law.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a settlement between Schering-Plough and a competing firm that would delay the sale of a generic drug. These pay-for-delay deals have been standard practice in the industry for many years and this decision may spell their end.

The Federal Trade Commission has opposed the deals for years, reports The Washington Post, but this is the first time a court has struck down the deals as anticompetitive.

This may be bad news for big pharma but it could be great for American consumers.

Capital One to Pay $210M in U.S. Consumer Agency's First Action

Capital One is not quite "No Hassle" according to federal charges that the credit card company violated consumer protection requirements.

Capital One will pay $210 million to settle charges raised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The majority of that money will go to consumers but $60 million will be paid out in fines.

This if the CFPB's first enforcement action since the federal agency was created about a year ago. Its purpose is to protect consumers from financial threats, including hidden or excessive fees, reports The Washington Post.

Capital One's policies were problematic because of the way they deceived customers into spending more money.

Software Guru that Killed Wife Must Pay $60M to Children

Hans Reiser was ordered to pay his two children $60 million in the wrongful death lawsuit brought against him for killing his wife.

As a result of the verdict, Hans Reiser's proceeds from his software projects will likely all go directly to his kids, reports NBC. Reiser has already been sentenced to 15 years to life in the criminal trial for killing his wife, so he probably didn't have much need for the money anyway.

The wrongful death trial against Reiser lasted less than a week, but there were plenty of twists and turns along the way.

What's the top factor that determines how much interest you pay on your mortgage?

For most people, the answer would be your credit score. However, for some minority borrowers of Wells Fargo, the answer may have been the color of their skin.

Wells Fargo just settled a massive lawsuit for $175 million. The Department of Justice accused them of discriminatory lending practices. Wells Fargo said it was innocent, but opted not to fight the case.

The EPA's more stringent air quality rule that limits how much nitrogen dioxide emissions can be emitted near major roadways was upheld by a federal appeals court.

The upshot of the ruling is that car manufacturers, factories, and oil companies may all have to make significant changes to their business to comply with the rules.

More likely, the oil industry will appeal the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C., sending the case for possible review before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Google to Pay Record FTC Fine for Violating Apple Users' Privacy

Google has reached a settlement with the FTC over privacy concerns regarding Google's use of Apple's Safari browser.

This agreement comes several months after the FTC began investing Google's activities in response to a Wall Street Journal article. The article indicated that Google was tracking Safari users by circumventing the privacy controls using a special piece of code. They discontinued that practice after the article was published by the FTC launched an investigation into Google's privacy practices.

The alleged settlement amount is $22.5 Million. If that's true, it would be the biggest fine ever levied by the FTC.

Top 5 Cases From the Supreme Court's 2011 Term

The Supreme Court's 2011 term was a busy one as usual.

Several high-profile decisions were handed down, including one that may define President Obama's presidency.

Along with the Obamacare decision, other major Supreme Court cases involved state immigration powers, lying about military medals, prisoner rights, and GPS tracking. Here are our top five cases from the 2011 term:

It's a big win for liars: You are now constitutionally allowed to lie about receiving a military medal.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Stolen Valor Act that had made it a crime to lie about receiving military medals. The Court held that First Amendment free speech rights trumped integrity and honor when it came to such awards.