Good morning. This has been the year of free speech – and “cancel culture” – on law school campuses. Plus, the gamers are pushing back on Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision, and the city of Buffalo sues gun manufacturers under a new New York law. Let’s get started.
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This year, law school campuses became ground zero for the arguments swirling around so-called “cancel culture” and free speech, reports Karen Sloan.
The 5th Circuit’s James Ho and the 11th Circuit’s Elizabeth Branch announced a boycott against clerks from Yale law school over what they called suppression of ideas and commentary on campus, although the judges softened their stance after the school emphasized this fall its "enduring commitment to the free and unfettered exchange of ideas."
The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School initiated an ongoing effort to sanction Professor Amy Wax over comments many students deemed racist, and students at Georgetown University Law Center called for the school to fire newly hired faculty member Ilya Shapiro after the conservative lawyer tweeted that President Joe Biden’s pledge to select a Black woman for the Supreme Court would result in a “lesser” nominee than his preferred candidate.
Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky said he worries about students facing subtle pressure from classmates to withhold certain views, which is harder to address than protecting invited speakers.
“Law schools have to be places where all ideas and views are expressed,” Chemerinsky said.
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U.S. lawmakers have left a proposal to make the federal judiciary's PACER online court records system free out of a sprawling $1.66 trillion spending measure. The legislation had lingered despite information from the Congressional Budget Office that showed making PACER free would not add to the federal deficit as initially presumed, but would actually cut it by $14 million over a decade. (Reuters)
Plaintiffs' firm Hagens Berman asked a U.S. judge in Seattle to appoint the firm as interim lead class counsel for students suing tech firm RealPage over an alleged conspiracy to fix and inflate rental housing prices. Several other firms asked to be lead counsel for multifamily residential real estate plaintiffs. RealPage, represented by Gibson Dunn, has denied the claims. (Reuters)
Fox Rothschild appears to have settled a lawsuit brought by a former administrative attorney who accused an ex-firm attorney of sexual harassment and assault. Stephanie Jones and Fox Rothschild informed U.S. District Judge Evelyn Padin in Newark, New Jersey, that they would be dismissing "any and all claims" against each other, but did not specify any settlement terms reached. (Reuters)
That’s how many former Twitter employees filed demands for arbitration accusing the social media company of various legal violations stemming from Elon Musk's takeover, including targeting women for layoffs and failing to pay promised severance. The workers are represented by Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, who said they had all signed agreements to bring legal disputes against the company in arbitration rather than court, which means they will likely be barred from participating in ongoing class actions over the layoffs. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Liss-Riordan said her firm has spoken with hundreds of other ex-Twitter employees and intends to file more legal claims in arbitration on their behalf.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Tort Reform Association told the 7th Circuit on Monday that bankruptcy is often the only way for an otherwise successful company to resolve “catastrophic” mass torts exposure because Chapter 11 promotes fast, fair and global claims resolution. The pro-business groups urged the appeals court to reverse a bankruptcy court ruling that allows tens of thousands of military veterans continuing litigating MDL hearing loss claims against earplug maker 3M, despite the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a 3M subsidiary. The Chamber’s stance echoes a report earlier this month by its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform, which extolled the benefits of bankruptcy as a faster, fairer alternative to MDLs. But Alison Frankel noticed a gap in the business groups’ arguments: How, she asks, will the bankruptcy process cull all those supposedly frivolous claims?
"Defendants' actions have created, maintained, or contributed to a condition in Buffalo that impacts the health and well being of us all."
—The city of Buffalo, New York, which filed a lawsuit in state court accusing major gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson Brands, Beretta USA, Bushmaster Firearms Industries, Colt's Manufacturing and Glock of fueling violence through irresponsible marketing and sales practices. The case appeared to be the first time a city has sued major gun companies under a 2021 New York law that allows lawsuits against gun makers and sellers for creating a "public nuisance" through their business practices. While all of the other companies did not respond to requests for comment, Bushmaster said in a statement that it had not fully reviewed the complaint but that it appeared "false.”
A Bahamian court is expected to continue a hearing in the case of Sam Bankman-Fried. The FTX founder signed legal papers that pave the way for his extradition to the U.S. following the collapse of his crypto exchange, but it's not clear what will take place at the hearing. On Tuesday, Bankman-Fried's local defense lawyer, Jerone Roberts, declined to comment as he departed a courthouse in capital Nassau. U.S. embassy officials earlier entered the courthouse, a Reuters witness said, but Bankman-Fried was not seen on Tuesday.
The U.S. House of Representatives committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump is expected to issue its final report on the findings of its investigation. The select committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans has spent more than a year investigating the attack that followed Trump’s fiery speech falsely claiming that his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden was the result of election fraud.
The FTC’s opening brief is due in the D.C. Circuit as the agency challenges a federal judge’s dismissal of an antitrust complaint against pharmaceutical company Endo International. The appeals court at the request of the FTC resumed the litigation despite Endo's Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. Endo and Impax Laboratories have argued the pharmaceutical deal at the center of the FTC's case was a lawful licensing agreement that still allowed the companies to compete.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
The full 11th Circuit said it will rehear a panel's July ruling reviving a lawsuit by a Georgia man claiming Bayer AG's Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer, a decision Bayer's incoming U.S. General Counsel Bill Dodero said is "one of the most important developments" in seven years of lawsuits over Roundup. The company, which maintains the product is safe, has repeatedly sought to create a conflict between federal appeals courts in order to get the litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, in the hope of ending it nationwide and avoiding potentially billions of dollars in damages. (Reuters)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected China Telecom’s challenge to a FCC order withdrawing the company's authority to provide services in the U.S. The FCC said in 2021 that China Telecom "is subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government." (Reuters)
The Massachusetts state prison system will reform how it cares for inmates with serious mental health issues and supervise prisoners at risk of harming themselves to resolve a years-long civil rights investigation by the DOJ. The Massachusetts Department of Correction entered into a settlement agreement after investigators concluded conditions at its prisons resulted in inmates on mental health watch dying or injuring themselves. (Reuters)
Wells Fargo agreed to pay $3.7 billion to settle charges from the CFPB over mismanagement of automobile loans, mortgages and deposit accounts. The agency said it ordered the bank to pay a $1.7 billion civil penalty and another $2 billion to redress more than 16 million consumer accounts affected by violations. (Reuters)
Baltimore and its attorneys from Sher Edling urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a petition filed by Big Oil asking it to review lower court orders sending its climate change lawsuit back to state court, arguing a review would only extend delays that have plagued the case for half a decade. BP, Shell, Exxon and others, represented by a team including Kannon Shanmugam and Theodore Wells of Paul Weiss and Theodore Boutrous of Gibson Dunn, have filed five petitions at the high court challenging circuit court decisions that sent cases like Baltimore’s back to state courts. (Reuters)
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