Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

August 2014 Archives

Federal Judge Rules for Sister Wives, Despite Utah Law

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a man and his four sister wives in a decision that struck down a portion of Utah's anti-polygamy law.

The case involved the stars of television reality series "Sister Wives," who filed a civil rights lawsuit against Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman following a 2010 investigation into allegations of bigamy, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Does this "Sister Wives" ruling mean that polygamy is now legal?

Vitaminwater Settles Class Action Over Misleading Health Claims

Vitaminwater has settled a class action lawsuit over claims that its labeling and marketing were deceptive and misleading.

The class action includes Vitaminwater consumers in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and the Virgin Islands who purchased the product since 2003. As of Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported that the settlement was still pending approval in a New York federal court. If approved, the settlement will prohibit Vitaminwater from making claims like "vitamins + water -- what's in your hand."

What was the case against Vitaminwater, and how will its marketing be changed by this settlement?

Supreme Court Issues Last-Minute Stay in Va. Gay Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute order halting gay marriage in Virginia on Wednesday.

In an underwhelming one-paragraph order, the High Court imposed a stay on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling, effectively putting Virginia gay marriage on "pause" until it can be appealed. The Washington Post suggests that the Supreme Court doesn't want to implicate itself in making a decision on marriage by refusing to act.

Was this Virginia decision really all that surprising?

Brand-Name Drug Makers' Liability for Generics Upheld by Ala. Court

The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld its earlier ruling that brand-name drug manufacturers can be held liable for warning labels on generic versions of their drugs.

The ruling allows an Alabama man who claims he was injured by a generic version of the heartburn drug Reglan to bring suit against Pfizer (which bought Wyeth, the company that originally produced Reglan), even though the man never actually took any of the drugs manufactured by the company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What was the court's rationale in allowing the man to bring suit?

4th Cir. Won't Stay Va. Gay Marriage Ruling Pending Appeal

A federal appeals court has refused to stay its ruling striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban, potentially allowing same-sex marriages to begin as early as Wednesday.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a lower court's ruling striking down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage last month, but it is refusing to halt the effect of that decision while opponents appeal. The New York Times reports that in a 2-1 decision, a 4th Circuit panel declined to stay its earlier ruling.

Why did the 4th Circuit refuse to stay its decision when so many other courts have?

Tenn. Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban: Is 'Pro-Gay' Trend Over?

A Tennessee state court has turned the tide of gay marriage decisions and upheld Tennessee's ban on same-sex marriage.

In a rather short decision issued by Ninth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Russell Simmons Jr., the judge denied a challenge by a same-sex couple who were legally married in Iowa. As the Washington Blade reports, this "no" to gay marriage is perhaps the first loss in at least 30 court victories for marriage equality in the past year.

So why did the Tennessee court stand fast with the gay marriage ban, and does this signal the end of the courts' pro-gay marriage trend?

BofA Close to $17B Mortgage Settlement, Largest in U.S. History

Bank of America has reached a tentative $17 billion settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations that it fraudulently marketed mortgage-backed securities.

The terms of the mortgage settlement were reached last week during a phone conversation between Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Attorney General Eric Holder, reports USA Today. If approved, the settlement would be the largest ever between the government and a financial institution in the ongoing string of disputes involving mortgage servicing and mortgage-backed securities.

What are the terms of the settlement and how does it compare to past settlements between the government and financial institutions?

Ala. Abortion Clinic Law Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

An Alabama federal judge ruled Monday that the state's abortion clinic law, requiring admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued his ruling after a three-week trial on the issue, deciding that the law in question would close more than half of Alabama's abortion clinics. reports that Judge Thompson had delayed his decision until Monday in order to consider a similar case that found Mississippi's abortion clinic law unconstitutional.

So what did the federal judge say about Alabama's abortion clinic law?