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Attorneys General Urge Circuit Court Not to Expand Title VII

The states have aligned in the battle over LGBT employment rights in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and South Dakota have cast their opinions against a man who claims he lost a job because he is gay. Half of those states are in the Eighth Circuit's boundaries.

Meanwhile, eighteen other states have filed on behalf of the plaintiff in Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC. The appeals court will decide his fate, but will also push the pendulum forward or backward for LGBT rights in America.

Sad news broke last week that federal appeals court judge, Diana Murphy, passed away. She was reportedly not in good health, and was at home last Wednesday when it happened.

Judge Murphy, who was 84 years-old, will be remembered as a legal pioneer. When she was appointed in 1994, she was the first woman justice to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was still on the bench until her passing, just on senior status. She had planned to fully retire this coming July.

TD Ameritrade Securities Cases Get Kicked Back

A "bung," in the English vernacular, is a payment made to someone to do something dishonest.

Like "kickback," it has its origins in football. Some speculate it started with cheating in exchange for "snuff, moustache wax and several pints of pale ale."

Some two hundred years later, a kickback and a bung seem wrong by any definition. In any case, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said three kickback cases based on state laws certainly don't belong in federal court.

City May Be Liable for 'Pay-to-Play' Bail

'My way or the highway,' says the Riverfront Times.

That's how the newspaper describes the situation over traffic fines in the city of Maplewood, a small suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The city makes drivers pay a bond or go to jail when they're ticketed.

"Pay-to-play" bail is business as usual in many municipal courts, but the cities could have a problem. In Webb v. City of Maplewood, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals says the city may be liable for giving drivers nothing more than a "Hobson's choice."

The federal district court in Missouri refused to dismiss a potential class action case against Dr. Pepper and Snapple over the claim that Canada Dry Ginger Ale is "Made from Real Ginger."

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, Arnold Webb, sent out Canada Dry Ginger Ale for testing, which discovered that the soda did not actually contain any real ginger. The lawsuit not only claims that Webb would not have purchased the ginger ale had he known it didn't contain any ginger, it states that the company was unjustly enriched because "he was induced into purchasing the product and did not obtain the full value of the benefit conferred on defendants." Though seemingly light-hearted, this case contains some spicy fraud allegations.

Court: Zoo Animals Protected by Endangered Species Act

A federal appeals court said a family-owned zoo violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to care properly for its tigers and lemurs.

In Kuehl v. Sellner, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision to send several exotic animals at the zoo to a better facility. It was a victory for animal rights activists, who said the decision means endangered species living in captivity deserve the same care as animals in the wild.

But the appeals court also denied their request for $239,979 in attorneys fees. In other words, taking care of tigers and lemurs can be very expensive.

Missouri Defends Campaign Donation Limits

Missouri's campaign finance reform law protects against political corruption, an attorney argued to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Without the voter-approved restrictions on campaign contributions, the deputy attorney general said, political action committees and other entities could circumvent the law. Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution limits contributions to $2,600 per donor.

What's more, Ryan Bangert said, 70 percent of the voters can't be wrong. Unfortunately for them, a trial judge said something different.

Court Puts Flynt v. Executioners to Rest

Larry Flint became famous for pornography and later for litigation.

The long-time publisher came out from the shadows of Hustler magazine in People v. Flynt, which played out in a movie by the same name. "You may not like what he does, but are you prepared to give up his right to do it?" the tagline says.

Nearly 50 years later, Flynt is still doing it. This time he is litigating for access to records of state-sponsored executions in Flynt v. Lombardi.

Government Sues to Put Drug Company Out of Business

When the federal government started issuing press releases about an Arkansas drug company, it was about as lethal as the lawsuit that followed.

The Federal Drug Administration alerted health care professionals and patients not to use drugs from Cantrell Drug Company. Adding injury to insult, the U.S. Department of Justice also issued a press release when it sued the company for allegedly distributing adulterated drugs.

Dr. James McCarley, Jr., founder and chief executive of the company, responded by issuing his own press release and filing his own suit against the government.

Justice Diana Murphy has been honored this year by Minnesota Lawyer for her "Outstanding Service to the Profession." After spending 4 years on the bench in state court, then 14 years on the federal District Court in Minnesota, and then another 22 years on the federal appellate bench in the Eighth Circuit, she has spent almost half of her life on the bench, and she's 84 years old.

Judge Murphy was not only the first female justice on the Eighth Circuit, she was the only from 1994 to 2016.