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Civil Rights, Injury and Tort Law, and Employment Law Issues

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By FindLaw Staff on April 06, 2010 5:14 PM

Guinn v. AstraZeneca Pharms. LLP, No. 09-11104, concerned an action claiming that plaintiff's use of defendant's prescription drug Seroquel caused her to develop diabetes.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants, on the grounds that 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that plaintiff's expert's differential diagnosis was unreliable under Daubert because she failed to adequately consider possible alternative causes of plaintiff's weight gain and diabetes; and 2) plaintiff identified no evidence of specific causation other than the expert's testimony.

Starling v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs., No. 09-11168, involved an action claiming that defendants violated plaintiff-firefighter's First Amendment right to intimate association when they demoted him for an extramarital affair with one of his subordinates.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that the county's interest in discouraging extramarital associations between supervisors and subordinates was so critical to the effective functioning of the Fire Department that it outweighed plaintiff's interest in extramarital association with a subordinate, even assuming arguendo that the First Amendment protected extramarital association as fundamental right.

Schaaf v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., No. 09-10806, concerned an action alleging that plaintiff's maternity leave impermissibly contributed to her demotion by defendant.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, on the grounds that 1) defendant offered evidence showing that plaintiff was demoted as a result of her ineffective management style, and plaintiff did not offer any evidence to the contrary; and 2) although evidence that defendant deviated from its ordinary disciplinary procedures may have caused a jury to entertain the possibility of an alternate explanation for plaintiff's demotion, plaintiff offered no evidence that would have allowed a jury to find that there was such an alternate explanation.

Cremeens v. City of Montgomery, No. 09-15633, involved an action by fire investigators for the City of Montgomery's fire department seeking overtime pay from the city.  The court of appeals reversed summary judgment for defendant, on the ground that 29 U.S.C. section 203(y) did not render obsolete a Department of Labor regulation, the "dual assignment" provision of 29 C.F.R. section 553.213, which controlled public agency payments of overtime to employees who performed both fire protection and law enforcement activities.

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