Westlaw Journals

Allstate acts in bad faith by requiring ‘disinterested’ witness, class action says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Bad Faith: A Pennsylvania woman claims in a class-action lawsuit that Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co. acts in bad faith by denying uninsured-motorist coverage to policyholders injured in car accidents caused by unidentified drivers when there is no “disinterested” witness to verify how an accident occurred.

The insurer’s “unfair and deceptive conduct … has been ongoing for decades” and is “motivated by greed and profit at the expense of the well-being of injured policyholders across Pennsylvania,” the suit says.

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2 men seek release of documents on CIA dispute with Senate group

From Westlaw Journal Government Contract: An investigative journalist and a political historian have filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint in federal court, seeking the release of documents concerning a dispute between the Central Intelligence Agency and a Senate committee arising from the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

Reporter Jason Leopold, of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Ryan Noah Shapiro, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claim the CIA has wrongly denied their request for an expedited release of records, including those on agency contractors.

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Supreme Court rejects special presumption of prudence for ESOP fiduciaries

By Steven Flores, Esq., Winston & Strawn

From Westlaw Journal Securities: Steve Flores of Winston & Strawn discusses a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that will impact cases concerning employee stock ownership plans.

In Fifth Third Bancorp. v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (June 25, 2014), the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a widely accepted presumption of prudence favoring fiduciaries of qualified retirement plans designed to invest primarily in employer stock through employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs.  The plaintiffs in this case alleged that in 2007, Fifth Third Bancorp and several officers breached fiduciary duties to the Fifth Third ESOP, because they knew, or should have known, that Fifth Third’s stock was overvalued and excessively risky.

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Supreme Court to reconsider authority of bankruptcy court judges

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to revisit the constitutional authority of bankruptcy courts, this time considering whether the non-Article III judges may enter a final judgment on a creditor’s claim against a bankruptcy estate that implicates state law property rights.

The high court also plans to take up the question of whether a debtor’s consent to the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court is sufficient to satisfy Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which provides the framework for the federal courts.

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Lights out for suit against Linn Energy

From Westlaw Journal Derivatives: A class-action lawsuit accusing Linn Energy of misleading its investors by using a non-generally accepted accounting practice will not go forward, a Manhattan federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit, saying in a July 7 opinion that the complaint, filed by several pension funds, failed to allege the company and its directors lied or made omissions about its accounting practices.

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9th Circuit affirms FLSA retaliation verdict against LAPD

From Westlaw Journal Employment:   A Los Angeles federal judge properly refused to instruct a jury about workplace rule violations in a police officer’s Fair Labor Standards Act retaliation suit against the city’s police department, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

There is no evidence the officer would have been fired for rule violations he admitted to during testimony at a fellow officer’s wage suit against the department, the appeals court ruled in a 2-1 decision.

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Judge OKs boat accident victim’s declaratory judgment suit against State Farm

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A Michigan woman who was injured in a boating accident may move forward with her lawsuit for a court order compelling State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. to defend and indemnify the man who allegedly caused the accident, a federal judge has ruled.

In a July 7 ruling permitting plaintiff Kelly Scott to pursue her suit, U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker of the Eastern District of Michigan rejected State Farm’s argument that Michigan law bars any tort victim from suing the insurer of the party that allegedly caused her injury.

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Supplement maker agrees to recall, destroy product

From Westlaw Journal Pharmaceutical: Nutritional supplement maker Triceutical Inc. must recall and destroy all dietary supplements it has produced since February 2012 under a consent decree entered by a New York federal judge.

The agreement is the latest development in an investigation that dates to May 2012, when the Food and Drug Administration found various regulatory violations at the company’s Farmingdale, N.Y., production facility.

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New York towns can ban fracking, state high court rules

From Westlaw Journal Environmental: New York’s highest court has ruled that two towns may use zoning laws to ban oil and gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing, with their borders.

Handing fracking opponents a legal victory, the state Court of Appeals said in a 5-2 decision that the state Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law does not preempt municipalities’ ability to ban fracking.

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Man buried in cement receives $5M

John Hauge, an adult male, in the scope of employment as a machine operator assigned to a job at Ash Grove Cement Company, became completely buried in dry cement powder that hardened when exposed to his bodily fluids.

He reportedly suffered brain trauma, severe emotional distress manifesting as PTSD and depression, ingestion of dangerous materials leading to throat and esophagus cement burns and lung damage, and other life-threatening injuries leading to him becoming permanently unemployable. (more…)