Good morning. An upcoming trial over a Tesla crash will ask a jury to decide a first-of-its-kind question: Who is legally responsible when the car was partially driving itself? Plus, a new survey shows law students like online classes, and the DOJ successfully blocks the merger of Penguin Random House. We’re never eating candy again.
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A first-of-its kind test for the legal responsibility of a human driver in a Tesla on Autopilot will be the crux of a manslaughter trial set to begin in Los Angeles later this month, Hyunjoo Jin reports.
The trial, scheduled for Nov. 15, could shape public – and future jury – perceptions of Tesla and could be a test case for whether the technology has advanced faster than legal standards. Civil cases over Autopilot crashes are headed for trial next year, and the DOJ is investigating whether Tesla itself should face criminal charges over its self-driving claims.
Tesla, which did not respond to requests for comment, says on its website that its driver assistance systems "require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous."
"The state will have a hard time proving the guilt of the human driver because some parts of the task are being handled by Tesla,” said Edward Walters, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law who specializes in the law governing self-driving cars.
Online law school classes last year were rated either excellent or good among 76% of respondents to the latest Law School Survey of Student Engagement, an annual research project housed at Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research. It’s a shift from earlier in the pandemic, when previous research found that law students were largely dissatisfied with online classes. (Reuters)
U.S. National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said she will seek to limit employers' use of "intrusive" electronic monitoring with tools such as GPS and webcams because of its potential to discourage workers from unionizing. In a memo, she said she plans to ask the five-member board to rule that using technology to monitor and manage workers is illegal if it would tend to interfere with their rights to advocate collectively for better working conditions. (Reuters)
- Eyitayo St. Matthew-Daniel, a former assistant chief in the DOJ’s Antitrust Division and an assistant attorney general, joined Paul Weiss as a partner in New York. (Paul Weiss)
That’s how many tons of cocaine – yes, tons – that the DOJ says a former heavyweight boxer from Montenegro attempted to smuggle to Europe from Colombia on commercial cargo ships in the U.S. Goran Gogic was arrested after prosecutors accused him of being the ringleader of a complicated scheme that involved hoisting drugs onto cargo ships from approaching speedboats. The operation required knowledge of each ship's crew, route and location data, and whether there was room to store drugs in shipping containers that were already aboard, prosecutors said. A lawyer for Gogic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Manhattan federal judge blasted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for requiring defendants, as a condition of settlement, to give up the right to deny the agency’s accusations – but don't expect the SEC to give up the policy anytime soon. Alison Frankel explains why recent challenges to the SEC’s decades-old gag policy have run into procedural brick walls. Even the handful of judges who have criticized the gag provisions – a distinct minority among hundreds who have approved SEC settlements that contain the requirement – have concluded that they’re not empowered to allow settling defendants to rip off their gags.
"We did not fight a civil war about oboe players."
—Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who questioned WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman during oral arguments about whether or not Harvard uses race as a determining factor in admission to the school. Waxman said it could be determinative in the same way that being an oboe player when the Harvard-Radcliffe orchestra needs an oboe player could be determinative. “We did fight a Civil War to eliminate racial discrimination,” Roberts replied.
UVA Law professor Kim Forde-Mazrui explains how the two cases heard by the court could imperil policies that universities have long used to promote diversity on campus.
Former Loevy & Loevy attorney Scott Drury will respond to the plaintiffs’ firm’s accusations that he tried to force it to withdraw from a class action against facial recognition startup Clearview AI just as a potentially lucrative settlement was possibly in the works. The Loevy firm told a Chicago judge that Drury went behind the firm’s back to steal its clients. The firm asked U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to affirm that it is class counsel in the case and not Drury, who has launched his own firm Drury Legal. Drury has disputed the claims and said he will challenge the motion.
David DePape, who is facing charges of attempted kidnapping of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assault of a relative of a federal official after police say he broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco home and attacked her husband Paul, is slated to be arraigned. Paul Pelosi, 82, suffered a skull fracture in the attack and underwent surgery.
Long time Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, once the most powerful figure in the state’s government, is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on charges he led a conspiracy to accept bribes and other gifts in exchange for official actions. Madigan has waived his appearance at the arraignment.
A Dedham, Massachusetts, judge is holding a hearing in the criminal case against Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is charged with molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1974. McCarrick, once the archbishop of Washington, D.C., is the highest-ranking current or former U.S. Catholic official to be prosecuted for sexually abusing a minor. He has pleaded not guilty.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California, said a lawsuit accusing Geico of overcharging more than two million California policyholders on car insurance early in the COVID-19 pandemic may proceed as a class action. Freeman rejected an argument from Geico and its Duane Morris attorneys that a group lawsuit over the alleged inadequacy of its "Geico Giveback" program would create "insurmountable manageability problems." (Reuters)
Apple sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Virginia federal court after the PTO rejected its bid for a federal trademark on a "Smart Keyboard" iPad accessory. Apple, which is represented by Blankingship & Keith and Kirkland & Ellis, said the PTO erred when it found that "Smart Keyboard" is a generic phrase instead of a distinctive name that customers would associate with Apple's accessory. (Reuters)
Cineworld Group, which owns Regal Cinemas and operates more than 9,000 screens across 10 countries, announced a bankruptcy settlement with its landlords and lenders, clearing the way for the company to borrow an additional $150 million and make a $1 billion debt repayment. Landlords and junior creditors dropped their opposition to the billion-dollar debt repayment after Cineworld, represented by Matthew Cavenaugh of Jackson Walker, agreed to pay at least $20 million in rent that will accrue after Sept. 30. (Reuters)
A lawsuit filed by Washington state against a company the state has accused of being a patent troll can proceed after a federal judge said a state law that penalizes companies for making bad-faith patent claims does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Landmark Technology A LLC and its attorneys from Newman Du Wors could not dismiss the state's claims that the company's practice of making broad infringement allegations against "every kind of business under the sun" violates the law, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez held. (Reuters)
Walmart dodged a proposed class action accusing it of falsely marketing store-brand cough syrup as "non-drowsy” after U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman in Manhattan ruled that plaintiff Aileen Goldstein's claims for economic damages were blocked by federal drug law. Liman also held that Goldstein, who is represented by Dovel & Luner, had no standing to ask for a court order against Walmart's marketing because she was not likely to be injured by it in the future. (Reuters)
Lawsuits accusing companies of fraud-induced share price inflation turn on “corrective disclosures,” the moments that reveal the alleged fraud and bring share prices back to earth. Increasingly, those disclosures are coming from short seller reports, write Alexander Drylewski, Virginia Milstead and Sahng-Ah Yoo of Skadden. But short sellers can be motivated to overstate a company’s problems, so courts have differing attitudes about whether these reports can truly serve as a corrective disclosure. Here’s where the writers say the courts stand on the issue now.
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