January 8, 2009
A federal appeals court has scheduled arguments for Feb. 4 in a Mississippi homeowner’s appeal involving a Hurricane Katrina damage case.
David and Marilyn Aikens filed an appeal of a ruling by U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr., who dismissed a Houston, Texas, engineering firm, Rimkus Consulting Group Inc., as a defendant in the couple’s lawsuit over its damage claim. Senter ruled last January that the Aikenses failed to show that Rimkus acted with gross negligence or malice.
In their lawsuit, the Aikenses say a Rimkus engineer initially concluded Katrina’s winds were strong enough to destroy the home – a “very favorable” finding for the homeowners. But the couple claims a Rimkus team leader later revised the engineer’s report to “mollify the language,” so their claim could be denied by USAA Casualty Insurance Co.
Read Article: Clarion Ledger
An Emeryville company has been ordered to pay more than $4.3 million in damages to the families of three Bay Area industrial pipefitters who died of asbestos-caused lung cancer.
The widow and son of Concord resident William C. Hearn will receive $1.29 million as part of a verdict reached by a San Francisco jury on Tuesday, according to Paul and Hanley, a Berkeley-based law firm.
The jury found that Plant Insulation Company, formerly a major industrial insulation products and contractor in Northern California, was 59 percent at fault for Hearn’s death, the law firm said. Hearn was exposed to asbestos while working at a variety of industrial sites.
Read Article: Mercury News
Six veterans who claim they were exposed to dangerous chemicals, germs and mind-altering drugs during Cold War experiments sued the CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies today. The vets volunteered for military experiments they say were part of a wide-ranging program started in the 1950s to test nerve agents, biological weapons and mind-control techniques.
They allege in their lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court that they were never properly informed of the nature of the experiments and are in poor health because of their exposure. They are demanding health care and a court ruling that the program was illegal because it failed to obtain their consent. Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks class action status on behalf of all participants allegedly exposed to harmful experiments without their knowledge.
At least 7,800 U.S. military personnel served as volunteers to test experimental drugs such as LSD at the Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Md., during a program that lasted into the 1970s, the lawsuit said. Many others volunteered for similar experiments at other locations, according to the lawsuit.
Read Article: Mercury News
The billion-dollar jury verdict has disappeared from U.S. courtrooms.
For the second time in the past three years, juries in 2008 issued no awards above that amount, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. In 2007, there was one such verdict, for $1.5 billion. In the previous 14 years there was at least one billion-dollar verdict a year and a total of 26. Six cases produced awards of more than $5 billion each.
One reason for the drop: Because of changes in legal rulings, punitive-damage verdicts can be thrown out if they far exceed actual damages. Some lawyers don’t seek amounts that clearly violate the rules. Phoenix attorney Grant Woods said when he asked for punitive damages in a contract trial in September, he urged jurors to award “not too little, not too much.”
Read Article: Bloomberg
Business interests in the nation’s capital have lined up to oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, painting it as some sort of electoral payback for labor unions. That is an injustice to what is, in reality, legislation that would restore civil rights that had been unacceptably narrowed by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
We hope the House, which is set to take up the legislation on Friday, moves it forward.
The issue springs from a lawsuit filed by Ledbetter, who had been a supervisor at an Alabama Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant for nearly two decades. Toward the end of her time at the plant, she learned she was being paid 40 percent less than some of her male peers. Ledbetter proved to a jury she had been discriminated against and won a judgment ultimately set at $360,000.
The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which cast aside the judgment not on the merits of the case, but because justices said she hadn’t filed her claim in a timely manner. This was not an ordinary argument about deadlines. The Supreme Court departed from precedent set by other federal courts and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in ruling that Ledbetter should have filed her action within 180 days of the last time her bosses made a discriminatory pay decision.
Read Article: Denver Post
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