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BUSINESS LAW Corporation is person for state RICO law use A corporation is liable under Georgia’s civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law because the corporation is a “person” for purposes of the law, the Georgia Supreme Court held on June 12. Williams Gen. Corp. v. Stone, No. S06G0006. Williams General Corp. sued Thomas Stone and Stone Cold Concerts Inc., alleging misappropriation of trade secrets in violation of Georgia’s civil RICO law. A trial court held that Stone and Stone Cold had violated the civil RICO law, but after the case was reversed on other grounds, a Georgia intermediate appellate court reversed, holding that a corporation was not a “person” for purposes of the civil RICO statute. Reversing, the Georgia Supreme Court held that although a corporation is not defined as a person in the specific section of the Georgia Code providing for the RICO law, both the general title in which the RICO law was located and the general definitions of the Georgia Code define a corporation as a person. Noting that such laws were to be construed liberally, the state Supreme Court said, “We find the language in the statute and the applicable definitions of ‘person’ to be clear. If a different interpretation were called for, though, it would be error to give a more restrictive meaning to the term, thus limiting the remedial purposes of the Act and violating the liberal construction imperative of the legislature.”   Full text of the decision CIVIL PRACTICE Court can’t hear victims’ claims against Kissinger A claim brought by alleged torture victims of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet against former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, alleging that Kissinger was aware of and aided Pinochet’s wrongful acts, was a nonjusticiable political question, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held on June 9. Gonzalez-Vera v. Kissinger, No. 05-1063. Augusto Pinochet came to power in Chile in a 1973 military coup, and was accused of directing the torture and murder of countless Chileans. The U.S. State Department’s Hinchey Report on CIA activities in Chile, released in 2000, indicated that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was aware of human rights abuses by Pinochet. Alleged victims of Pinochet sued Kissinger in a federal court in Washington, D.C., arguing that Kissinger’s alleged rogue actions violated common law as well as Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act. The court dismissed the suit because the United States had not waived sovereign immunity. Affirming, but on different grounds, the D.C. Circuit held that the case presented a nonjusticiable political question. Rejecting the alleged victims’ argument that Kissinger’s acts were outside the scope of his employment and thus justiciable, the court said, “The plaintiffs allege Kissinger ‘purposefully act[ed] outside the proper channels of Congressional oversight,’ but that does not take his conduct outside the scope of his employment; the statutory descriptions of Kissinger’s positions make clear his duty was to the President, not to the Congress.” CONSTITUTIONAL LAW Project regulating traffic isn’t compensable taking A construction project regulating traffic flow did not constitute a compensable taking, the Kansas Supreme Court held on June 9. Kau Kau Take Home No. 1 v. City of Wichita, No. 94,869. The City of Wichita, Kan., began a project to reconstruct the intersection of Tyler Road and Kellogg/U.S. Highway 54 in Wichita. A Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant was located southeast of the intersection. As a result of the city project, the driving distance from the intersection to the restaurant increased by about two miles. The operators of the restaurant sued the city for inverse condemnation. The trial court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment. Affirming, the Kansas Supreme Court said that the project did not cause the loss of any direct access points to the restaurant. Furthermore, there was no reduction in the value of the property because the city did not control the use of the property or restrict the landowner’s right to dispose of it. CRIMINAL PRACTICE Convicted sailor needn’t register as sex offender A person convicted of a sex offense in a Navy court martial does not have to register as a sex offender in New York, the New York Court of Appeals ruled on June 6. People v. Kennedy, No. 79. Shawn Kennedy was court-martialed in 2000 for the general offense of “all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces,” and for the specific offense of “indecent assault,” which has been used as a lesser-included offense of rape. According to the 1995 Sex Offender Registration Act, N.Y. Correct. Law � 168-b, sex offenders must register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services within 10 days of being discharged from incarceration. Section 168-a(2)(d) requires anyone convicted of sex offenses in a jurisdiction “in which the offender is required to register as a sex offender” to register as a sex offender in New York. The New York Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders recommended that Kennedy be required to register as a sex offender in New York. A trial court entered an order supporting the recommendation and an intermediate appellate court affirmed. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s high court, reversed. A court martial for “indecent assault” does not fully identify what Kennedy’s underlying conduct was, the court found. Even assuming that it qualified as a felony sex offense, there is no evidence that naval sex offenders must register with the Navy or have any ongoing obligation to keep the Navy informed of their whereabouts once they leave the service. There is no evidence that the Navy or Department of Defense maintains any registry or equivalent database. Without an obligation to register with the convicting entity, there is no corresponding obligation to register with New York, the court said. EMPLOYMENT Teacher fired for views can’t sue under Title VII A Catholic school teacher who was fired for signing a pro-abortion rights advertisement cannot maintain Title VII claims against the school, the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 7. Curay-Cramer v. The Ursuline Academy of Wilmington, Del. Inc., No. 04-4628. Michele Curay-Cramer, an English instructor at a private, Catholic school in Wilmington, Del., signed her name to a pro-abortion rights advertisement placed in the local newspaper. Curay-Cramer was told she could keep her position if she recanted her statement and said she was anti-abortion. When she refused, the school fired her. Curay-Cramer sued the academy in a Delaware federal court for several causes of action, including: (1) that the school violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it fired her; (2) that it violated the same provisions when it punished Curay-Cramer for her advocacy; and (3) that she was fired for being a woman and that similarly situated male employees were treated less harshly for substantially similar conduct. A Delaware federal court granted the school’s motion to dismiss. The 3d Circuit affirmed. On the first two counts, Curay-Cramer did not engage in protected activity when she signed a pro-abortion rights advertisement that did not mention employment, employers, pregnancy discrimination or gender discrimination. As to the third count, the court said that it was unable to compare the “relative severity” of the offenses committed by male employees of the academy-such as “being Jewish or opposing the war in Iraq”-because to do so would violate the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. ENVIRONMENTAL LAW No need for U.S. to quantify risk of imports The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act by not explaining explicitly the level of risk it would tolerate in importing Spanish clementines, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held on June 8. Cactus Corner LLC v. USDA, No. 04-16003. When Mediterranean fruit fly larvae were discovered in clementines imported from Spain in 2001, the USDA halted clementine imports from Spain. However, several months later, the USDA issued a rule allowing for Spanish clementine imports if certain safety requirements were met. Cactus Corner LLC and other California growers sued the USDA in an attempt to block the imports. A California federal court held for the USDA, and the California growers appealed, arguing that the USDA had violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not explaining explicitly the amount of risk it would tolerate in imported Spanish clementines. Affirming, the 9th Circuit applied a previous holding on the importation of Canadian beef and cattle, holding that, while government agencies had to articulate a “satisfactory explanation” for their actions, they were not required to provide explicit, quantitative explanations of acceptable risk. TORTS Nursing home assault not medical malpractice A suit for damages arising from the sexual assault of a nursing home resident does not fall within the Medical Malpractice Act, the Virginia Supreme Court held on June 8. Alcoy v. Valley Nursing Homes Inc., No. 051701. Delfina Alcoy was sexually assaulted while residing at the Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Alexandria, Va., which is operated by Valley Nursing Homes Inc. After she died, Bennie Alcoy Jr., the administrator of her estate, filed an amended motion for judgment in a Virginia state court against Valley, alleging negligence, sexual assault and battery, and seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Valley contended that the claims were governed by Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Act, and, as such, were subject to evidentiary limitations. The trial court granted Valley’s motion for summary judgment. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the alleged acts did not occur during the course of patient treatment or care. The alleged omissions in personnel/visitor screening and security did not involve the provision of health care or professional services within the meaning of the act.

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