U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Injury and Tort Law Category

Most recently in the Bill Cosby legal drama, it was reported that Cosby finally filed the petition for certiorari seeking to overturn the California Supreme Court, and rather follow the federal First and Third Circuit courts of appeal.

On the criminal front, Cosby will be sentenced this September, and it has been reported that he will be considered a Tier III sexual predator and listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life. However, that's not what the High Court's being asked to consider. Rather Cosby is asking SCOTUS whether: "an attorney's statement denying wrongdoing on behalf of a client who has been publicly accused of serious misconduct enjoys constitutional protection"?

A decision handed down by the conservative majority of the High Court this week was criticized by Justice Sotomayor as using "a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

Notably, the case involved claims under the Alien Tort Statute seeking to hold Arab Bank, a corporation located in Jordan (with a branch in New York), liable for deaths and injuries caused by terrorist acts committed abroad. The majority affirmed the holding of the lower courts that a foreign corporation cannot be held liable under the ATS if all the conduct occurred abroad, and went a step further, ruling that foreign corps can't be sued at all under the ATS.

'Very Troubling,' Scholar Says as High Court Closes Door on Injury Claims

Erwin Chemerinsky, the constitutional law scholar, may have more published opinions than any justice of the Supreme Court.

That's because media outlets often quote him, and judges generally do not talk to the press. So when Chemerinsky speaks, people usually listen.

Now that he has landed in the dean's chair at Berkeley Law, Chemerinksy also has a bully pulpit for his latest opinion: recent Supreme Court decisions are "very troubling."

The Supreme Court justices blazed a trail through the wilderness of Indian Law on Monday, guided by Lewis and Clarke. But, no, there weren't any river fordings. Sacajawea was nowhere to be found.

In a strange coincidence, the Supreme Court's first case to deal with tribal sovereignty this term is captioned Lewis v. Clarke. Rather than an expedition into the West, the case, for which the Court just heard oral arguments, deals with the reach of native tribes' sovereign immunity.

The first decision of the Supreme Court's October 2015 Term is out and it's unanimous. On Tuesday, the Court released its first opinion, on the first case it heard arguments from this term: OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs -- we'll call it Sachs from now on, since Personenverkehr doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. It's a case involving the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the ability of U.S. citizens to sue foreign government entities.

The opinion kicked off a busy week for the Court, which also heard its first oral arguments of December. Here's what you need to know.

SCOTUS Hears Arguments: Can Gov't Freeze Money to Pay Lawyers?

Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the case of Luis v. United States, a case of first impression for SCOTUS that asks probing questions about the role of government forfeiture of personal assets.

The legal issue at the core of Luis is this: Can prosecutors freeze all of the defendant's assets even if they are unrelated to any criminal activity and even if freezing them would hinder the defendant's ability to hire counsel?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Spokeo v. Robins, a case which could have major implications for Internet privacy litigation. Spokeo, a "people search" website, aggregates public information on individuals, from their educational levels to the cost of their house. But, whoops! Sometimes that information isn't always accurate.

When Spokeo published inaccurate information about Thomas Robins, he pursued a class action against the site for violating the privacy-focused Fair Credit Reporting Act. But besides that statutory violation, Robins couldn't point to any injury. Sure his info was wrong, but was he fired over it? Did his wife leave him? No. So, the question before the court yesterday was, then, does Robins even have any right to sue?

Also Decided at SCOTUS: Bankruptcy and Whistleblowing

What else happened at the Supreme Court this week? As we reported yesterday, a case that's going to be of significance to patent trolls and the people who fight against them.

But there were two other opinions released yesterday, dealing with more the more prosaic topics of bankruptcy and whistleblowing. ("Patents aren't prosaic?" you're asking. The answer is "no." They're very exciting.)

So, let's see what else the Court did to put your tax dollars to work.

In Teeth-Whitening Case, SCOTUS Extends Antitrust Immunity Exception

Teeth whitening may not be "the practice of dentistry." Who knew? On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, 6-3, that the determinations of a state regulatory board can be actionable as antitrust if the board is composed of market participants who are using the power of the state to shut out competition.

The Court's opinion extended the doctrine of state-action antitrust immunity to include state regulatory agencies composed of private market participants. Before this case, it applied only to private bodies granted state regulatory authority, or other private entities effectively engaging in state action.

SCOTUS Maintains Veil of Secrecy Over Juror Deliberations

What happens in the juror room stays in the juror room (unless it's a mock trial and you get to watch hidden cameras and the foreperson who is a lawyer in real life declares himself as such and misstates the law, causing you to lose your graded mock trial final -- sorry, I'm still bitter).

Gregory Warger was riding his motorcycle when Randy Shauers clipped him. Fault was at issue, as was the proper measure of damages, but in the end, the jury sided with Shauers. Warger, after losing a leg in the accident, got nothing.

But then a spark of hope emerged: It turns out the foreperson had lied during voir dire when she was asked if there was any reason why she could not award damages. During deliberations, she told her fellow jurors that her daughter had been at fault in an accident and a lawsuit would have ruined her daughter's life. Someone leaked this to the lawyers and signed an affidavit. Warger wanted a new trial.

Too bad.