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Ninth Circuit Finds Consumer Standing in ESPN Privacy Case

In football, a quarterback usually scores through others -- like a running back who takes a handoff and runs the ball into the end zone.

Chad Eichenberger might feel a little like a quarterback in his case against ESPN. He sued the sports channel for invasion of privacy when it disclosed his video preferences to an analytics service.

A judge dismissed the case, and a federal appeals court affirmed, because nobody could actually identify him from the disclosure. But Eichenberger did have standing to sue, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said, and that set up the play for the next plaintiff -- like a handoff.

Thomas Robbins filed a class action lawsuit against Spokeo back in 2011, but his case has not made it very far due to being held up on appeals. Robbins v. Spokeo even made it all the way up to the Supreme Court last year, before being sent back to the Ninth Circuit again for further analysis.

Now, the Ninth Circuit has finished that further analysis and issued their opinion, sending the case back to the lower district court to proceed on the merits. Despite being over half a decade old at this point, the class action component of the case has not even begun.

Will Anti-Abortion Activist Out People in Fetal Tissue Research?

An anti-abortion activist may have short-lived success against the University of Washington's Birth Defects Research Laboratory following an appeals court decision.

David Daleiden, notoriously famous for releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood facilities, demanded the university produce documents about the purchase of fetal tissue, organs, and cells. A trial judge blocked his request after anonymous plaintiffs sued to protect their identifying information.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that order in Doe v. University of Washington, but remanded the case for the trial judge to make more specific findings about how releasing the information could harm the plaintiffs. It may not take much.

Court Revives Tainted-Groundwater Case

Where was Erin Brockovich when this happened?

A Chilean chemical company was contaminating the water in Southern California for years, according to a lawsuit filed in City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation. The city said the company was responsible for harmful fertilizer chemicals in its water system.

A jury didn't think so, but the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated their judgment. It's not a Brockovich movie, but it has an interesting plot twist and the story is not over.

Court Splits Baby Food Case Against Gerber

A federal appeals court threw out claims that Gerber deceived consumers about its baby food, but said the plaintiff may sue for unfair competition.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded Bruton v. Gerber Food Products. The appeals panel said the company's labels were not likely to deceive the public about the quality of its baby food.

However, the plaintiff may have a claim that the labels violated California's Unfair Competition Law.

Joann Davis was an elderly widow of an Apollo engineer trying to hawk an extra-terrestrial rock when she wound up in trouble with the space agency. After Davis contacted the agency for help selling the rice-sized rock, in part to cover her son's medical bills, NASA organized a sting, detaining Davis in a Denny's parking lot, and declining to let her use the restroom, even as she wet herself.

Davis sued NASA, for a detention that was "unreasonably prolonged and unnecessarily degrading," in violation of the Fourth Amendment. And that suit can go forward to resolve genuine issues of material fact surrounding the lawfulness of her detention, the Ninth Circuit ruled last Thursday.

Porn Star's Libel Suit Survives Dismissal at the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit greenlit a defamation lawsuit brought against the British tabloid Daily Mail Online by the former soft-core porn model Danni Ashe.

It's a bit of a victory for those "public figures" who generally fight an uphill battle with regards to defamation suits.

Burning Man's La Contessa Is Not Visual Art Under VARA

The legendary La Contessa which once started off life as a school bus but later transformed into a model replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon did not qualify as visual art under the federal Visual Artists Rights Act and other implicated Nevada laws, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

For those who can't remember, La Contessa lasted about four years at the festival until she was banned because her "unsafe driving practices far exceeded community tolerance and out-weighed the visual contribution [she] made." What a bunch of party poopers.

9th Circuit Revives Bogus Casting Call Model Mayhem Suit

Owing to a recent reversal of a lower federal court decision by the Ninth Circuit, the model networking site Model Mayhem and its parent company Internet Brands must face a previously dismissed case arising out of a casting couch scam. According to the lawsuit, the scam left the plaintiff drugged, raped, and cast as an unwilling member in an illicitly published porno.

The plaintiff's lawyer has celebrated the decision as a "landmark" victory for victims who were similarly scouted by unscrupulous scammers and it clarifies the proper application of the Communications Decency Act.

Sexual Harassment Claims Against Prison Co. Will Go Forward

A previously dismissed sexual harassment suit brought against a Florida-state correctional agency that contracts with the Department of Justice must be reinstated, said the Ninth Circuit. The case centers on the unprofessional and sexually explicit behaviors of male co-workers who were employees of Florida based Geo Group.

The Arizona Attorneys Office seemed happy by the Ninth Circuit's ruling. "This ruling allows our office to seek remedies for 25 women who were forced to accept sexual harassment by their male co-workers and supervisors as a requirement for their work at the Geo Group," said Mia Garcia, a spokesperson for the AZ Attorney General's Office.