News

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit certified two questions to the Mississippi Supreme Court dealing with voluntary payment of an insurance company. An explosion at Omega Protein Corporation’s Moss Point, Mississippi location resulted in the death of an employee of Accu-Fab & Construction, Inc. Omega had insurance coverage from ACE American Insurance Company and First Specialty Insurance Corporation.
In a split 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the District Court’s opinion that agents of American Family Life Insurance Company are employees not contractors due to unique facts of significant control exerted by the company. The Sixth Circuit based its decision on the weight given to independent contractor agreements. The case gives relief to many insurance carriers who have watched the case closely.
In 2002, Eric Stricklett drove a vehicle which struck and injured eleven-year-old Scott Alves. Alves’s parents provided Stricklett’s insurer, Summit Insurance Company, with Alves’s medical records but told them the child continued to undergo medical treatment for his injuries and they had not received his medical bills. They did submit the medical bills to Summit a short time later. In March 2003, Summit informed the Alveses their investigation showed no fault on the part of Stricklett for the accident and they would make no offers.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found SuperShuttle franchisee van drivers are independent contractors, not employees. The NLRB applied the entrepreneurial opportunity principle to the common law independent contractor analysis.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit joined the Eleventh Circuit in denying job applicants a disparate impact claim under the ADEA. The case centers around Dale Kleber, a 58-year-old attorney, who applied for an in-house counsel position with CareFusions Corporation. Although the job description required “3 to 7 years (no more than seven years) of relevant legal experience” and Kleber held more than 7 years experience, he applied for the job. A younger candidate whose experience met the requirements was hired instead. Kleber filed a disparate impact violation suit.
When three employees left the employment of Kelly Services, a staffing agency based in Minnesota, and went to work for a competitor, the agency filed a suit alleging a violation of their contract’s non compete clause. Kelly Services obtained a preliminary injunction that lasted through the one-year duration of the non compete agreement. When the injunction was lifted, the employer continued the case seeking attorneys’ fees. The non compete clause required the employee to pay all attorneys fees incurred to enforce the agreement.
After 45 years as precedent for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemption 4, National Parks & Conservation Association v.
Most CGL policies cover physical injury to a property, which may include the loss of use of the property or loss of use of a property that is not physically injured. Thee Sombrero, Inc, a commercial property owner, successfully sued Crime Enforcement Services, a private security service for Sombrero’s nightclub, for breach of contract and negligence. CES’s insurance company, Scottsdale, denied coverage.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied Erik Brunetti’s application to register “FUCT” as a mark in 2011 because the mark is a “vulgar term”, which is prohibited. Brunetti appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which affirmed the USPTO. Brunetti took his case then to the Federal Circuit.
Springboards to Education, Inc., launched a literacy program entitled “Read a Million Words campaign” in 2005. They marketed the program to school districts. In 2008, Houston Independent School District (HISD) implemented a similar program called “Houston ISD Millionaire Club”.
Human Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana found itself in the middle of larger antitrust action in which it was not an active party. During the discovery phase of a lawsuit where University Health Shreveport and Vantage Health Plan, Inc., alleged Willis-Knighton Medical Center engaged in anticompetitive practices, plaintiffs learned of documents between Humana and Willis-Knighton. Humana initially refused to comply with subpoenas for documents and was eventually compelled by the court to produce those documents.
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.

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