CLAUSE BANNING CLASS ACTIONS VIOLATES POLICY
SAN FRANCISCO — A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ordered fitness club chain 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. to withdraw its motions to compel arbitration in a group of employment suits filed by current and former employees.
Both plaintiffs and defense lawyers said the move was a new one for the agency, which has been under increased scrutiny lately for its role in fighting employment arbitration policies.
Judge William Schmidt ruled that the company had violated federal law by including a provision precluding class actions in its mandatory arbitration policy. Such a policy, he said, flies in the face of decades of federal law that protects employees’ rights.
CLAIMS AGAINST DEWEY BELONG IN NEW YORK
NEW YORK — A fraud suit launched in California by former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner Henry Bunsow against former leaders of the defunct law firm must be tried in New York, a federal bankruptcy judge has ruled.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Carlson in San Francisco ordered the suit transferred to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn, who is overseeing Dewey’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York City.
Carlson rejected arguments that the case belongs in California state court because it deals with state tort claims that should be heard by a California jury.
CLASS CERTIFIED OVER LACK OF DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
NEW YORK — A federal judge has certified a class of disabled people who allege that New York City’s emergency preparedness plans did not adequately address their needs during 2011′s Hurricane Irene.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled that the Brooklyn, N.Y., Center for Independence for the Disabled and two individual plaintiffs had standing to seek class damages for threat of future harm.
“It is, of course, not possible to know with certainty if or when disaster will strike the City, but — as the tragic events of the past few weeks make abundantly clear — it is beyond ‘mere conjecture’ that another disaster, whether natural or man made, will occur and that it will seriously affect members of the proposed class,” Furman wrote.
RITE AID SETTLES CLAIM FILED BY EPILEPTIC EMPLOYEE
WASHINGTON — Rite Aid Corp. has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle charges brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that it wrongfully discriminated against a Maryland employee who suffers from epilepsy.
The settlement was one of four announced on November 7.
The EEOC sued Rite Aid in Baltimore federal court in 2008, alleging that the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it fired Christopher Fultz as a pharmacy order picker at the company’s Mid-Atlantic customer service center in Perryman, Md.
OLDER WORKERS MAY PURSUE CLAIMS AGAINST TD BANK
NEWARK, N.J. — Former TD Bank N.A. employees can continue with their putative class action alleging that a reduction in work force disproportionately affected older workers.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler refused to dismiss the complaint, finding the plaintiffs had stated a prima facie case by identifying 18 under-40 employees who were retained while many older than 40 allegedly were shown the door.
“It would pose a substantial hurdle indeed if a class action plaintiff, in order to survive a motion to dismiss in an age discrimination case…needed to provide detailed [personal] information about every one of his or her similarly-situated co-workers,” Kugler wrote.
SECOND ROUND OF FORCED MEDICATION APPROVED
NEW YORK — A federal judge has authorized a second round of forced medical treatment in a case in which the first attempt failed to restore a defendant to mental competency.
U.S. District Judge Eric Vitaliano said federal prosecutors had established a substantial likelihood that four more months of forced treatment, but with a different antipsychotic drug, would enable Osmond Decoteau to assist in his defense.
Decoteau, who suffers from a delusional disorder, is accused of masterminding a $20 million mortgage loan fraud. He underwent court-ordered treatment earlier this year but remains incompetent.
MEDIATION ORDERED IN ROW OVER CHANNEL DREDGING
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that no state water-quality certification has been granted for deepening the Savannah River shipping channel may raise difficult legal issues in an ongoing dispute over the $650 million project, a federal judge said.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ordered all the parties in the federal suit “to participate fully and in good faith in court-ordered mediation.”
The suit concerns whether a state pollution control permit is needed for the work. The state high court ruling, Gergel said, suggests “this may be a propitious moment for the parties to sit down and attempt to resolve through mediation these complex and difficult issues.”
TEENS’ RECORDS OFF-LIMITS IN ‘KIDS FOR CASH’ LAWSUIT
PHILADELPHIA — The detention facilities that housed juveniles in Pennsylvania’s “kids-for-cash” scandal may not demand their criminal records in a civil action brought by dozens of the teenagers, a federal judge has ruled.
The three defendants sought the records in an effort to prove that the juveniles were deprived of their constitutional rights because of their own conduct, rather than because of collusion between two former Luzerne County, Pa., judges and the developer of the detention centers.
U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo disagreed, writing, “Whether plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were violated is not dependent on the past conduct of plaintiffs, it is dependent on the conduct of provider defendants.”
APPLE HIT WITH $368 MILLION INFRINGEMENT CLAIM IN TEXAS
A jury in Tyler, Texas, ordered Apple Inc. to pay $368 million for infringing four patents owned by a small software company called VirnetX Inc. The patents relate to virtual private network (VPN) technology.
VirnetX alleged that Apple’s VPN on Demand service for the iPhone was a blatant copy of VirnetX’s software. The complaint also targeted Cisco Systems Inc., Aastra Technologies Ltd. and NEC Corp. Both Aastra and NEC settled before trial for undisclosed sums.
In 2010, VirnetX won a $105 million verdict against Microsoft Corp. in a different case involving two of the same patents. Microsoft later paid $200 million to settle that case.
PLAINTIFF CANNOT TIE BANK TO ALLEGED INJURY BY TERRORISTS
NEW YORK — A federal judge has dismissed an Anti-Terrorism Act lawsuit accusing Arab Bank PLC of serving alleged terrorists who injured a man near the Israel-Gaza border.
Mati Gill, a U.S. and Israeli citizen, alleged the bank supports terrorist activity by providing services directly and indirectly to Hamas, including the transfer of “martyr payments” to compensate the families of suicide bombers.
“Plaintiff must establish by a preponderance of evidence that the Bank recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally, and proximately, caused plaintiff’s injuries, either by the Bank’s own actions or in a conspiracy with Hamas or other terrorist organizations,” U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote. “It cannot do so.”
ANOTHER SETTLEMENT REACHED IN 2009 METRO TRAIN CRASH
WASHINGTON — A federal judge has approved a confidential settlement in one of two remaining wrongful death claims in litigation over a deadly rail crash in 2009.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton approved the deal between the family of Ana Fernandez, who was killed in the crash, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and three companies that supplied parts for its rail system.
The crash killed nine people and wounded dozens. Eight of the wrongful death cases filed against Metro and the private defendants have now settled. The last one, filed by the family of Lavonda King, remains pending.