Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[03/24] Minda v. US
In a case in which the IRS sent a report containing plaintiffs' names, social security numbers, and financial information, to the wrong person --- an unauthorized unrelated third party -- brought under 26 U.S.C. section 7431, which permits a taxpayer whose return or return information has been unlawfully disclosed to bring a civil action against the United States for damages, the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Government is affirmed where, plaintiffs are only entitled to 1,000 each in statutory damages for the disclosure of the report, not $1000 for the disclosure of each item of information contained in the report.

[03/24] Williams v. Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.
In an action alleging violations of federal and state warranty law and other claims, brought by appellants who purchased allegedly defective outboard motors that defendant designed and manufactured in Japan and that defendant imported and marketed in California, the district court's dismissal of defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) dismissal of plaintiffs' claims are affirmed where: 1) the district court lacked general jurisdiction over defendant because defendant itself did not have sufficient contacts with California for the exercise of general jurisdiction, and plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts to make out a prima facie case that related entities were 'alter egos'; 2) the district court lacked specific jurisdiction over non-resident defendant, and plaintiffs did not allege any action that defendant 'purposefully directed' at California; and 3) plaintiffs failed to plead a prima facie case of consumer fraud.

[03/23] Bluewave Healthcare v. US
In a challenge to the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motions to quash writs of attachment against real and personal property and writs of garnishment against two bank accounts, in underlying qui tam actions involving Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claim Act claims, the appeal is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction where the denial is an unreviewable interlocutory order.

[03/22] In Re: Fosamax Products Liability Litig.
In consolidated personal-injury suits against a drug manufacturer, averring that the osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused plaintiffs to suffer serious thigh bone fractures, and bringing state-law tort claim alleging that defendant failed to add an adequate warning of the risk of thigh fractures to Fosamax's FDA-approved drug label, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, based on the Supreme Court's decision in Wyeth v. Levine, which holds that state-law failure-to-warn claims are preempted when there is 'clear evidence' that the FDA would not have approved the warning that a plaintiff claims was necessary, is vacated where: 1) preemption is an affirmative defense, and defendant has not carried its burden to prove that it is entitled to that defense as a matter of law; and 2) plaintiffs have produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the FDA would have approved a properly-worded warning about the risk of thigh fractures--or at the very least, to conclude that the odds of FDA rejection were less than highly probable.

[03/20] Sheley v. Harrop
In a dispute involving the control of a pest control company started by decedent, asserting causes of action to recover damages for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty based on actions taken by defendant (decedent's wife) in cooperation with the decedent, the trial court granted of defendant's anti-SLAPP motion as to plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is: 1) modified by granting defendants' motion to strike the specific claims founded on allegations of protected activity in each remaining cause of action in the cross-complaint; and 2) otherwise affirmed as modified.

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Labor & Employment Law

[03/23] Farrar v. Direct Commerce, Inc.
In a suit against plaintiff's former employer, alleging causes of action for breach of contract, conversion, wrongful termination, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and failure to pay wages owed and waiting time penalties, the trial court's denial of defendant's petition to compel arbitration on the ground of the arbitration provision was procedurally and substantively unconscionable is reversed and remanded for arbitration where, although the arbitration provision is one-sided, as it excludes any claims arising from the confidentiality agreement plaintiff also signed, that offending exception is readily severable and, on this record, should have been severed.

[03/22] Barton v. Constellium Rolled Products
In a class action filed by retirees and their union after their former employer unilaterally altered its retiree health benefits program, the district court's grant of summary judgment to the employer is affirmed where the governing collective bargaining agreement does not provide for vested retiree health benefits.

[03/22] DB Healthcare, LLC v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc.
In ERISA actions brought by health care providers designated to receive direct payments from employee health plan administrators for medical services, the district court's dismissal of the actions is affirmed where: 1) neither direct statutory authority nor derivative authority through assignment authorized the healthcare providers to bring suit in federal court under ERISA's civil enforcement provisions; and 2) the health care providers here lacked derivative authority to sue, given the nature of the governing agreements and of the purported assignments.

[03/21] Egan v. Delaware River Port Authority
In a suit claiming that the Port Authority discriminated against plaintiff in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. section 621 et seq. (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. section 12101 et seq. (ADA), and retaliated against him for exercising his right to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. section 2601 et seq. (FMLA), the district court's judgment entering the jury's finding that he was not the victim of discrimination or retaliation is: 1) vacated in part where the district court erred in requiring plaintiff to provide direct evidence of retaliation; and 2) affirmed in part where the district court within its discretion in excluding the testimony of plaintiff's coworker.

[03/21] Brunozzi v. Cable Communications, Inc.
In consolidated actions brought by cable and internet service technicians, alleging that a company's compensation plan violates the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. section 207, Oregon's statutory requirement that an employer pay all wages earned and unpaid after terminating an employee, ORS 652.140, and Oregon's laws prohibiting discrimination against a private employee who engages in whistleblowing, ORS 659A.199, and wage-claim discussions, ORS 652.355, the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants is reversed where: 1) defendant's pay plan violates the FLSA's overtime provisions; and 2) plaintiffs' state law claims also survive summary judgment.

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Workers' Comp

[03/23] People v. Riddles
Conviction of workers' compensation insurance fraud in violation of Insurance Code section 11760(a) and restitution order are affirmed where: 1) a workers' compensation insurer may recover, as restitution under Penal Code section 1202.4, the premiums it would have earned in the absence of misrepresentations by an insurance applicant; and 2) the court did not err in imposing a fine.

[01/20] Metro Machine Corporation v. DOWCP
In a petition for review of an order of the Benefits Review Board affirming decisions of an ALJ granting a claim for medical benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. section 907, the petition is denied where: 1) the only error the ALJ committed was in failing to apply the 'naturally or unavoidably results' standard to the fracture claim; and 2) remand for application of that standard would be a futile exercise, given that there was no issue presented regarding avoidability.

[11/22] Gage v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
In a workers' compensation action brought by petitioner, a deputy sheriff who sustained a job-related injury, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's decision denying penalties for the unreasonable delay of advance disability pension payments is annulled and remanded where: 1) such payments qualify as compensation under Labor Code section 3207; 2) such penalties available under Labor Code section 5814 are available for unreasonable delay or denial of the payment of compensation; and 3) no other provision of the Labor Code excludes such payments from the penalty provisions of section 5814.

[11/15] Lee v. West Kern Water Dist.
In a case involving the applicability of the workers' compensation exclusivity rule, which governs the matter of when an injured worker can bring a civil action against the employer and when he or she is instead limited to the remedy of a workers' compensation award, brought by a former employee against a water district and four coemployees, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the coemployees staged a mock robbery with plaintiff as the victim, the trial court's judgment is: 1) reversed as to the grant of defendants' motion for a new trial where the jury instructions were not erroneous, and alternative grounds for affirmance proposed by defendants lack merit; and 2) affirmed as to the order denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

[08/17] Kerrigan v. MSPB
In an appeal of a final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board dismissing, for lack of jurisdiction, his claim that his workers' compensation benefits were improperly terminated in retaliation for protected whistleblowing activity, the Board's decision is affirmed where, although the Board incorrectly held that 5 U.S.C. section 8128(b) bars its review of petitioner's appeal, petitioner failed to make a nonfrivolous allegation that his protected disclosure was a contributing factor in the agency's action.

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