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Court nixes class-action status for TGI Friday's drink suit
Legal News | 2017/10/12 13:58
A lawsuit accusing restaurant chain TGI Friday's violated consumer fraud laws with its drink pricing can't go ahead as a class action that could have included millions of members, but a similar case involving Carrabba's Italian Grill restaurants can, New Jersey's state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Debra Dugan sued TGI Friday's after she was charged one price for a drink at the bar and a higher price at a table in 2008. The restaurant didn't list drink prices on its menus, according to the lawsuit.

A lower court in 2012 granted class-action status to anyone who ordered unpriced drinks at 14 of the company's restaurants in New Jersey from 2004 through 2014. TGI Friday's had estimated that could have amounted to as many as 14 million customers, according to court filings. But the plaintiffs disputed that figure.

According to the lawsuit, TGI Friday's conducted research that showed that customers spent an average of $1.72 less on drinks if the prices were displayed than if the prices weren't displayed. The lawsuit sought to prove that that amount could be considered a loss for anyone who had ordered a drink at the restaurants. Wednesday's 5-1 ruling rejected that argument, but said individual claims could still proceed.




NC appeals court restores man's lawsuit against wife's lover
Legal News | 2017/09/06 15:47
A jilted husband's lawsuit against a doctor accused of stealing his wife's love can proceed after a North Carolina appeals court ruled Tuesday that the husband can continue suing the spouse's lover, seeking damages.

The state Court of Appeals decision resurrects a lawsuit that a trial judge had thrown out in Forsyth County, whose seat is Winston-Salem. The judge ruled that state law violates a person's constitutional free speech and free expression rights to engage in intimate sexual activity and expression with other consenting adults.

North Carolina is one of only about a half-dozen states that still allow lawsuits accusing a cheating spouse's lover of alienation of affection and criminal conversation.

"These laws were born out of misogyny and in modern times are often used as tools for enterprising divorce lawyers seeking leverage over the other side," Judge Richard Dietz wrote in the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel. Nevertheless, such lawsuits "are designed to prevent and remedy personal injury, and to protect the promise of monogamy that accompanies most marriage commitments."

The court said Marc Malecek filed the lawsuit after his wife, a nurse, had an affair in 2015 with Dr. Derek Williams, a physician at the hospital where the woman works. Williams challenged the laws as unconstitutional, citing a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision voiding a Texas law outlawing homosexual acts because liberty meant allowing adults to make their own decisions about conduct.

Williams argued that the state laws "target extra-marital intimacy or sex because the State disapproves of expressing that intimacy while married to someone else," Dietz wrote.

The largest alienation award in state history was in 2011, when a Wake County judge awarded $30 million to the former wife of a Raleigh business owner. The ex-wife had sued the businessman's current spouse.

About 200 lawsuits alleging alienation are filed each year in North Carolina, but the potential liability is raised in virtually every divorce case that involves infidelity, Raleigh divorce attorney Lisa Angel said in an interview.

"People who are suffering a divorce as a result of an affair, there's a lot of economic damage. It's not that hard to make the case, as the court is making it clear here, that there's injury to a person when this happens," Angel said.



Dispute over rights to Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan goes to court
Legal News | 2017/08/30 14:55
Tom Clancy's widow wants a court to rule that the author's estate is the exclusive owner of the rights to his famous character Jack Ryan.

News media outlets report that Alexandra Clancy's lawsuit says that the author's estate should be the sole beneficiary of any posthumous books featuring the character who was first introduced in "The Hunt for Red October."

Alexandra Clancy is suing the personal representative of Clancy's estate, J.W. Thompson Webb, for allowing other entities to profit from posthumous book revenues. Clancy's first wife, Wanda King, is a partial owner of those other entities.

The lawsuit says: "Tom Clancy made Jack Ryan; and in a sense, Jack Ryan made Tom Clancy."

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court in Baltimore. Tom Clancy died in 2013.



South Korean court sentences Samsung heir to 5 years prison
Legal News | 2017/08/26 14:54
A South Korean court sentenced the billionaire chief of Samsung to five years in prison for crimes that helped topple the country’s president, a stunning downfall that could freeze up decision making at a global electronics powerhouse long run like a monarchy.

The Seoul Central District Court said Friday that Lee Jae-yong, 49, was guilty of offering bribes to Park Geun-hye when she was South Korea’s president, and to Park’s close friend, to get government support for efforts to cement his control over the Samsung empire. The revelations that led to Lee’s arrest in February fed public outrage which contributed to Park’s removal.

A panel of three judges also found Lee guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury. Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term.

The court said Lee and Samsung executives who advised him caused “a big negative effect” to South Korean society and its economy.

“The essence of the case is unethical collusion between political power and capital,” the court said in a statement. It led the public to fundamentally question the public nature of the president’s work and to have “mistrust in the morality of the Samsung group,” it said.

The families who control South Korea’s big conglomerates, known as chaebol, were lionized a generation ago for helping to turn South Korea into a manufacturing powerhouse put public tolerance for double standards that put them above the law has been rapidly diminishing.

Analysts said the verdict will not immediately have an impact on Samsung’s business operations, which are overseen by three chief executives. The company has successfully weathered past crises that include two recalls of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones prone to catch fire and Lee’s arrest. It is set to report its highest-ever earnings this year.

But long-term business decisions, such as finding future growth areas and identifying companies for acquisitions, may have to be put on hold.


UAE prison time dropped for transgender Singaporean, friend
Legal News | 2017/08/24 14:54
A transgender Singaporean and her friend facing a year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for dressing in a feminine way have seen their sentences reduced to a fine and deportation, an official said Monday.

Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, a transgender woman who has not undergone a sex-change operation, and her friend, freelance fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli Bin Abdul Rahman, will pay a fine of 10,000 dirhams — about $2,270 — and be immediately deported, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations, declined to elaborate further about the case as the process of freeing the two was ongoing.

A separate report on Monday in The National, a state-linked newspaper in Abu Dhabi, quoted an unnamed official as also saying the two would merely face a fine and deportation.

Their families and the Singaporean Embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to comment.

The two Singaporeans were arrested in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, on Aug. 9. Police stopped them at Yas Mall as they tried to eat at a food court, said Radha Stirling, CEO of the advocacy group Detained in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi advertises itself as a tourism destination and is home to the long-haul air carrier Etihad Airways. However, the emirate bordering Saudi Arabia is more conservative than Dubai, the UAE's commercial heart.

Even trips to Dubai can pose risks to LGBT travelers and others as laws sometimes contradict social attitudes.

Alcohol possession for foreigners is technically illegal without a government-issued license obtainable only after gaining their employer's permission, though liquor and beer is widely available in bars and clubs in both cities. Foreigners also have faced charges in the past for having sex outside of marriage.




The Latest: Suspect in 36 fire deaths appears in court
Legal News | 2017/06/10 21:33
A man who leased the Oakland warehouse where 36 people died in a massive fire appeared briefly in court on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Derick Almena had been expected to enter a plea Thursday but his attorney asked to delay the arraignment.

A judge ordered the 47-year-old Almena to return June 15 when co-defendant Max Harris is expected to make his first appearance on the same charges.

Officials say the warehouse was illegally turned into living spaces and an unpermitted concert was held there on the night of the fire in December.

Almena's attorney Jeffrey Krasnoff said his client is being used as a scapegoat and plans to fight the charges. Harris doesn't have an attorney yet.


Court: Ohio E-School Can't Delay Repayment of $60M to State
Legal News | 2017/06/09 04:32
ECOT's reported enrollment of 15,000 Ohio students makes it one of the largest online charter schools in the U.S.

Democrats jumped on the court's decision to pile criticism on the school, which has struggled for years against attacks on its enrollment practices and student performance ratings.

"This sham, unaccountable school is a clear waste of taxpayer money and needs to be shut down," said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton. "The main thing that they seem to do well is shower Republican candidates and committees with political donations instead of educating children. Unfortunately, it is a symptom of a much larger disease facing Ohio's education system."

ECOT spokesman Neil Clark said the school didn't get a fair shake in court. He took particular aim at one of the three deciding judges, Gary Tyack, as being biased against the school, online learning and school choice.

"Today, Judge Tyack confirmed that he would put his agenda before the law," Clark said in a statement. "He is desperate to destroy ECOT and is unwilling to even wait for the judicial system to play out before advancing his vendetta."

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor rebuked Tyack after oral arguments were held in the case before the state's high court. She wrote that his comments against the school, its founder and online education were derogatory, extrajudicial, unnecessary and unacceptable.

The school's efforts to revisit the issue of Tyack's impartiality came as it braced for Monday's important school board vote, which comes amid the long-running legal dispute over what attendance-tracking practices should be used to determine state funding.

A state hearing officer ruled against the school in its appeal of the state Education Department's determination that the school owes $64 million for enrollment that can't be justified due to lack of documentation.



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