May 7, 2014
Highlights from the past week’s litigation headlines over at the Westlaw Journals blog include stories about a sexual orientation discrimination suit against the Library of Congress; an Ohio newspaper’s claims that military police destroyed journalists’ photos; business groups will ask for stay of “conflict mineral” rules; the 8th Circuit backs $8 million Cisco whistleblower award; and an insurer’s duty to defend a bar against a drunk patron’s death:
Judge OKs gay man’s Title VII claims against Library of Congress: A former Library of Congress employee can proceed with claims that his boss violated civil rights laws by firing him because he is gay and did not share the supervisor’s religious beliefs, a federal judge in Washington has ruled. In a March 31 ruling, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia denied the Library of Congress’ motion to dismiss Peter TerVeer’s suit, finding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation as part of its ban on “sex discrimination.” (Employment)
Military police destroyed photographs, Ohio newspaper claims: Two Ohio journalists claim that military police stationed at a Department of Defense facility violated their civil rights by detaining them and destroying pictures saved on confiscated memory cards. In a April 4 complaint, Jetta Fraser and Tyrel Linkhorn, employees of the Toledo Blade newspaper, are raising claims including unlawful search and seizure, deprivation of press and speech rights, and civil assault and battery for an incident that allegedly occurred outside the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Allen County, Ohio. (Government Contract)
Business groups will ask for stay of ‘conflict minerals’ rules: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups announced May 2 that they intend to ask a federal appeals court to stay “conflict minerals” disclosure requirements for companies, to allow more time to consider the rules’ effectiveness and legality.
The rules require public companies to determine if they use “conflict minerals” from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo or neighboring countries. The rules, mandated by Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, are intended to address the atrocities associated with the mining of certain minerals, which helps finance extreme violence in central Africa, particularly sexual and gender-based assaults. (Securities Litigation & Regulation)
8th Circuit backs $8 million Cisco whistleblower award: A federal appeals court has ruled that nearly one-sixth of the government’s $48 million settlement of a False Claims Act case against Cisco Systems Inc. must go to two whistleblowers who initially filed suit over the software company’s purported kickback scheme. On April 10, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Norman Rille and Neal Roberts are entitled to an $8.1 million “finder’s fee” because they were the original source of information regarding Cisco’s alleged conduct. (Software Law)
Insurer must defend bar over drunk patron’s death: A policy exclusion for liquor-related liabilities does not release an insurer from having to defend a bar against claims related to the accidental death of an intoxicated patron, a federal appeals court has ruled. Because the complaint includes an allegation of liability under a theory of common-law negligence, the policy’s liquor-liability exclusion does not apply, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in an April 21 opinion. (Insurance Coverage)