November 19, 2014
Some highlights from the past week’s litigation news headlines over at the Westlaw Journals blog include stories about how lower courts are dealing with Obamacare contraception cases and the workplace issues raised by Ebola.
Uncertain courts punting in Obamacare contraception cases: Five months after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that secular corporations can object to Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate” on religious grounds, lower courts continue to express uncertainty about how and when to apply the landmark Hobby Lobby decision and its companion ruling. Federal judges across the country have temporarily stayed suits challenging the birth control provision, leaving short-term injunctions in place as they await answers from appeals courts to some of the questions the justices left unresolved when they allowed the owners of closely held corporations to assert their religious rights on the companies’ behalf. (Health Law)
At work, Ebola could raise fears for employees, questions for employers: The Ebola threat, although small and closely monitored in the United States, has raised concerns among workers and questions for employers trying to ensure workplace safety while not impeding employees’ rights. Labor and employment attorneys from across the country have examined the issues employers face with Ebola, including federal and state laws protecting employees from discrimination, retaliation and workplace dangers. (Employment)
Spider-Man rights suit precluded by earlier decisions, Pa. federal judge rules: Stan Lee Media Inc. and a Pennsylvania theater cannot pursue claims concerning ownership of intellectual property rights in the Spider-Man character because four other lawsuits have already decided the issue, a federal judge has ruled. On Oct. 30, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed claims by Entertainment Theatre Group, which does business as the American Music Theatre, and intervenor Stan Lee Media Inc., that the media company owned the character rights and could license them to the theater. (Intellectual Property)
Shipyard pays Justice Department $1 million to end small-business fraud case: The United States has agreed to a $1 million payment from a Florida-based shipyard to end its lawsuit alleging the company fraudulently obtained Coast Guard contracts by posing as a small firm owned by service-disabled veterans. The Justice Department said in an Oct. 29 statement that the payment by North Florida Shipyards in Jacksonville and President Matt Self resolves allegations that the company violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729. (Government Contract)
Montana Supreme Court orders new trial in suit over fingernail product: The Montana Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a suit by a woman who says she suffered boils, rashes and respiratory problems from exposure to an acrylic fingernail polish product. On Oct. 21, the high court ruled unanimously that a judge in the state erred by admitting expert defense testimony during trial on Ronda Kenser’s claims against Premium Nail Concepts Inc. and then denying her request for cross-examination. (Products Liability)