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In 2019 Supreme Court cases to watch, we find the question of whether a Jones Act seaman can assert a claim for punitive damages in conjunction with a claim for unseaworthiness. The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that plaintiff Christopher Batterton could assert a claim for punitive damages after suffering permanent disability while working as a deckhand. In a similar case, the Fifth Circuit ruled punitive damages could not be recovered under the Jones Act or general maritime law.
To dismiss an action with prejudice, a court must show “the failure to comply with the court order is the result of purposeful delay or contumacious conduct and the district court first employs lesser sanctions”.
For eight years Curtis Burton served as CEO of Buccaneer Resources LLC, an oil exploration and production company. By 2014, Buccaneer’s secured creditor, Meridian Capital CIS Fund held all of Buccaneer’s senior debt. Just before Buccaneer filed for bankruptcy in May 2014, it terminated Burton which he claims was a violation of his contract. Burton also claims Meridian forced Buccaneer to fire him and filed a claim alleging tortious interference with a contract.
Counsel for American Airlines emailed a settlement offer to the counsel of a passenger suing for injuries allegedly sustained on an AA flight. The plaintiff’s counsel responded with approval of the settlement, then, less than a month later, attempted to reverse their approval. AA filed a motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement. The judge in the case agreed with AA, although all terms of the settlement had not been discussed a yes by the plaintiff’s counsel bound the plaintiff to the agreement.
KPMG, LLC, provided annual auditing services for Singing River, a community hospital owned by Jackson County. In 2013, Singing River hired Horne, LLP, for their annual audit instead. Horne’s audit showed KPMG’s prior annual audits “had resulted in an $88,000,000 overstatement of Singing River’s accounts receivable” and an employee pension plan underfunded by around $150 million. Singing River and Jackson County filed a separate breach of contract, negligence and professional malpractice cases against KPMG.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and US Department of Justice go head to head on whether Title VII applies to discrimination against individuals based on gender identity.
Is an elected official’s Facebook page their private page or a public site? A federal appellate court says it depends on how it’s used. Phyllis Randall, the Chair of the Loudoun County, Virginia Board of Supervisors, set up a Facebook page identifying herself as a government official and listing her public title as well as contact information for her office on the page. Her posts from the page are addressed to her constituents and she encouraged conversation between her constituents on her page until one of them, Brian Davison, posted content with which she disagreed.
 “Unreasonable” administrative expenses and a failure to monitor investment options will cost Duke University $10.65 million. Duke settled the claim with participants in the University’s 403(b) plan who alleged the University breached their ERISA duties. Schlichter Bogard & Denton, the St.
Federal Arbitration Act § 1 does not cover “contracts of employment” with “workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” Dominic Oliveira and a group of other drivers relied on this exception when New Prime Inc., an interstate trucking company, sought to compel arbitration in their claim for owed wages. The Supreme Court determined § 1’s  “contract of employment” applies broadly to any agreement to perform work.
What’s a reasonable accommodation for absences due to disability? For a Cargill Meat Solutions employee, it was 194 days of missed work over a twelve month period. Cargill accommodated employee Sheena Lipp’s needs due to an incurable lung disease for more than two years. Her accommodations included lifting assistance, limited work hours and a clean working environment. Cargill allowed her additional time off work for sick days and allowed her additional leave time of nine months to care for her ailing mother.
The credibility of a witness sways jurors decisions. A witness’s account of events is so important Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 32(a)(4)(E) only allows a deposition to be used in place of a live witness when “exceptional circumstances make it desirable”. When Chelsea Swearingen sued her former employer, Gillar Home Health Care. L.P., for wrongful termination, Gillar filed a motion to use a key witness’s deposition instead of requiring her to appear in person.
Following much study and years of test flights and pilot programs, State Farm received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first national waiver to conduct drone operations over people and flights beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight. State Farm received short term waivers limited to specific geographic areas to survey damage from hurricanes in 2018.
The Supreme Court reversed Fifth Circuit precedent in one of its first decisions of 2019, Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc. Archer sought monetary damages and injunctive relief when it sued Henry Schein for violation of federal and state antitrust laws.
“Magical unicorn poop” made an appearance in Los Angeles federal court with toy maker MGA entertainment’s Pooey Puitton toy purse. MGA sought a declaratory judgment that consumers are not likely to confuse their Pooey Puitton product with products from luxury handbag maker Louis Vuitton. Compare images of the two products for yourself here.  
When Allina Health System merged the Courage Center into their operations they implemented their well-documented policies on pre-employment health exams and vaccinations for client-facing staff. Janice Hustvet, a fifteen-year employee of the Courage Center, failed to submit to a Respirator Medical Evaluation and to take an MMR vaccine since her health exam showed she did have immunity against rubella, both requirements of keeping her job.
Palin Enterprise, Associated leased a portion of its commercial business to Agile Trade-Show Furnishings. In the lease agreement, Palin required Agile to procure a liability insurance policy but did not require the policy to be the primary liability coverage. When an Agile employee was injured using a freight elevator on the leased property, Agile’s insurance company Wausau declined to defend Palin because the policy provided excess insurance only.
A Risk Alert issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations calls out specific electronic messaging covered by the Advisers Act Rule 204-2. The rule requires investment advisors and personnel to keep “originals of all written communications received and copies of all written communications sent” related to specific business activity. In addition, the alert draws attention to advisors who links to information on their social media pages.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery . . . until it crosses the line into trademark and trade dress infringement. Off-White, labeled by Lyst magazine as the “hottest fashion brand in the world”, alleged a Brooklyn children’s clothing company, Brooklyn Lighthouse, has been selling products with identical or very similar logos and marks as Off-White.
Doral Juvenile Group faced a lawsuit by Nicole and Cameron Hinson when their one-year-old child suffered injuries while seated in a forward-facing car seat allegedly designed, marketed and sold by Doral. Schiff Hardin, L.L.P, a law firm, represented Doral who was self-insured for up to $6 million. Doral carried a policy of excess insurance for liability from $6 million to $25 million with Ironshore Europe DAC.
When Dave & Buster’s reduced hours for 1200 full-time employees in an attempt to avoid the ACA employer mandate, an employee filed a class action lawsuit in a federal district court in New York 

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