Westlaw Journals

FAA improperly changed expense-sharing rules for private pilots, website says

From Westlaw Journal Computer & Internet: A “flight-share” website has asked for judicial review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s legal interpretation of current rules for private pilots who post itineraries online to find potential passengers who will split expenses.

Last August the FAA decided that pilots who post their planned trips to Flytenow Inc.’s website require one of the two highest levels of certification, according to the opening brief the company filed with the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Court bars ‘every exposure’ theory testimony in Louisiana mesothelioma case

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A plaintiff’s expert witness in a mesothelioma trial may not testify that any exposure to asbestos causes an individual injury because his “every exposure” theory lacks scientific support, a federal judge in Louisiana has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk of the Eastern District of Louisiana granted a defense motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Samuel P. Hammar that any exposure to Amchem Products’ asbestos-containing adhesive played a substantial role in causing the plaintiff’s illness.

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Judge tosses bulk of claims in auto body shops’ antitrust suit against State Farm

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a large portion of a lawsuit in multidistrict litigation court accusing State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and 40 other insurers of conspiring to suppress reimbursement rates for vehicle damage repair costs.

In gutting the majority of the claims, U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the Middle District of Florida ruled that a group of Florida auto repair shops insufficiently pleaded that the defendants engaged in an ongoing and concerted course of action to illegally control and artificially depress costs in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.

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Wal-Mart sued in Georgia over wrong prescription

From Westlaw Journal Professional Liability: A pharmacist at a Wal-Mart store in Georgia filled a man’s prescription for blood pressure medication incorrectly, causing him to develop kidney failure, according to a state court lawsuit.

Plaintiff Harold Williams, who also worked at Wal-Mart, says the company fired him while he was sick from the taking the wrong medication.

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Confusion, misunderstanding spike mail-fraud plea, 7th Circuit says

From Westlaw Journal White-Collar Crime: Although a lawyer claimed his client was lying about a plea agreement and a trial judge approved the client’s admission of guilt, a federal appeals court has allowed the defendant to withdraw his guilty plea.

Mortgage fraud defendant Siamak S. Fard told the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Illinois federal trial court should have allowed him to withdraw his plea because he only pleaded guilty to wire fraud after his lawyer said the deal involved cooperating with prosecutors and no jail time.

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Judge tosses emotional-distress suit over radiation exposure

From Westlaw Journal Toxic Torts:  The wife of a nuclear operator has not sufficiently pleaded emotional distress from a release of radioactive contaminants at her husband’s workplace, but she can amend her claims, a federal judge in Idaho has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge of the District of Idaho granted a motion to dismiss by defendant Battelle Energy Alliance, finding the complaint did not establish BEA had a legal duty to protect plaintiff Jodi Stanton from fear of secondhand exposure to radiation.

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Appeals court affirms longer sentence for doctor in kickback scheme

From Westlaw Journal Health Care Fraud:  The sentence for a doctor convicted for his role in a kickback scheme was appropriately increased because he held a position of public trust, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

While the standard for analyzing whether a defendant abused a public trust was well-settled, the appeals court said, the question of whether the standard was properly applied under the facts of the case involving Dr. Ashokkumar R. Babaria presented the court with an issue of first impression.

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DOT rule is music to some fliers’ ears

From Westlaw Journal Aviation: U.S. air carriers must treat musical instruments the same way as other carry-on and checked baggage under a final rule the U.S. Department of Transportation issued Dec. 30.

The rule is designed to prevent incidents such as the one last spring in which US Airways refused to allow a professional violinist to fly from North Carolina to Arkansas unless he checked his $250,000 violin.

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Woman sues to stop debt collector from calling cellphone

From Westlaw Journal Bank & Lender Liability: A Minnesota woman says in a lawsuit that a debt collection company has been illegally calling her cellphone and leaving voicemail messages to collect a debt she did not incur.

Patricia Ebling’s complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota alleges that Minneapolis firm ClearSpring Loan Services Inc. has violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, which prohibits the use of an automated dialing system or artificial or pre-recorded voice to call a cellphone without consent.

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Man beaten with pool cues at beach bar receives $800K

Michael Barnes purportedly suffered a Le Fort I Maxilla fracture, several broken teeth and unconsciousness, leading to implantation of jaw wires and titanium plates resulting in permanent injury while visiting Prince’s Beach Bar, LLC  d/b/a DP’s.

The plaintiff Barnes alleged he was a lawful business invitee when he was attacked by assailants wielding pool cues. The 40-year-old landscaper said the defendant Prince’s Beach Bar bouncers and other staff failed to prevent the individuals from committing the assault upon him. (more…)