A federal appeals court has ruled this morning that the NSA’s controversial bulk phone data collection program is in violation of federal law. [More]
Usually you’re rewarded for showing up early. How could showing up 5 hours early cost you $10,000? [More]
Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a New York lawyer’s claims that “ladies nights” at bars were unconstitutional because they forced men to pay more. The lawyer says he’s going to appeal to the Supreme Court, but he admitted to the New York Daily News that the odds the court will agree to hear his case are “about the same as some pretty young lady paying my way on a date.” [More]
Cigarette companies have conspired for decades to defraud and mislead the public about the health risks of “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes, a federal appeals court said yesterday. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that a federal district judge was right to ban the terms from appearing on cigarette packages. Under the ruling, cigarette companies may soon be required to issue a public mea culpa admitting that they were killing people when they said cigarettes were safe and non-addictive.
“Pre-emption” is a legal doctrine that says the federal government can claim all regulatory power over an area or subject, barring states from acting on their own. The drug maker Wyeth has brought a case before the Supreme Court arguing that a woman in Vermont, who lost her arm due to a drug complication that Wyeth knew about but did not publicize, cannot sue them in state court because of pre-emption. Wyeth says that only the FDA has the power to regulate it—and since the FDA approved Wyeth’s drug label, it’s the FDA’s responsibility. We think Wyeth is pretending to care about federal-versus-state power in an attempt to weasel out of any responsibility.
The Supreme Court rejected T-Mobile’s appeal in 3 cases yesterday, which means an earlier federal ruling that says states “can refuse to enforce arbitration clauses if they include bans on class actions” will stand. Now T-Mobile has to go back to state courts to deal with the class action lawsuits against it. [Associated Press]
We’ve heard plenty of horror stories about people’s coverage being denied for situations where they’re darn sure that they were covered, and now, an insurance industry insider has come forward with some tips on how best to make an appeal.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear Microsoft’s appeal in the ‘Vista Capable’ class action suit, and it’s moving forward to U.S. District Court. [Seattle Times] (Thanks to T.J.!)
In a letter dated March 27, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield informed Dona that her father was approved to stay in a cardiac rehab center through March 24. Dona’s mother began planning for her husband’s care shortly before his triple-bypass on March 15. Anthem originally approved the off-site rehab, but changed its mind on March 19, the day before Dona’s father was scheduled to be discharged. With the support of his doctors, he filed an emergency appeal so he could move to rehab the next day. The retroactive approval arrived a week later.
In the state of California it is illegal for supervisors to share in employee tips. Starbucks recently lost a lawsuit brought by an employee who said he was forced to share a portion of his tips with his supervisor. The judgment awarded over $100 million in back tips and interest to the Starbucks baristas of California, and now several similar lawsuits are pending in other states.
The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to halve the punitive damages levied against Exxon for its massive 1989 oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker, from the current $2.5 billion to something more like $1 billion. Exxon claims the higher number amounts to excessive punishment. According to the New York Times, the decision may come down to a tie with four justices on either side; Justice Alito is not participating because he owns Exxon Mobile stock. The Exxon Valdez disaster “caused a 3,000-square-mile oil slick and still affects Alaska’s fisheries after nearly 19 years.”
Free Money Finance dredged a fascinating statistic from Kiplingers that suggests 60% of homes are overvalued by assessors, and that 33% of tax appeals succeed. The stat comes from a dubious source, the National Taxpayers Union, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “the grand-daddy of the tax revolt organizations.” Assessments guide property taxes, which are universally reviled by homeowners. Even politicians, who suckle tax revenue with the vigor of a vampire on a vein, regularly crusade against property taxes during election season.