Legal news affects our every day lives, whether we notice it or not. Here’s a summary of a few of this month’s major cases.
Ford Motor Co. has been named in a lawsuit over cheating diesel emissions testing. The lawsuit filed by a group of Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty owners alleges that the vehicles give off more emissions than tests certify. According to the complaint, Ford installed “defeat devices” on nearly a half million 2011-17 Super Duty diesels which allowed the cars to fool emissions testing. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of Ford vehicle owners. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors and Mercedes have all been accused of cheating emissions testing.
The announcement represents a change from Obama administration policy that barred health-care workers at facilities receiving federal funds from refusing to treat people who are transgender or seeking abortions. That policy was never carried out because of an injunction by a Texas judge. The Trump administration has indicated it will change the never-enforced regulation. The change is expected to allow health workers to refuse to perform abortions or services related to gender transitions.
Wal-Mart is facing a lawsuit alleging that it deceived customers who were intending to buy organic eggs. The federal lawsuit filed on Monday alleges that the chain grocery store deceived customers by selling organic eggs laid by hens raised in enclosed structures under package labels that said the birds had access to the outdoors. According to the lawsuit, instead of being raised outdoors, the chickens are raised inside enclosed structures that have screens to let in air. “The theoretical ability to view the outdoors is not the same as having access to it,” says the lawsuit.
Reuters notes that the Chicago-based 7th Circuit in 2017 found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination and is prohibited by Title VII. However, also in 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a cert petition from the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit, where it was found that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Additionally, an en banc appeal regarding sexual orientation discrimination and federal law is pending in the New York-based 2nd Circuit, according to Reuters.
On January 8, 2018, Fitbit investors asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illson to grant preliminary approval of a $33 million settlement involving Fitbit, company executives, and underwriters who artificially inflated stock prices while concealing defects associated with its fitness-tracking technology. Fitbit consumers were the first to file a lawsuit against the company for its faulty heart rate tracking technology claiming that the devices were “wildly inaccurate” and failed to work during intense exercise.
The U.S. House of Representatives rejected privacy limits on Thursday when it approved a six-year extension of the law that permits warrantless surveillance of foreign targets that can also sweep up Americans’ communications. The bill reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act goes next to the Senate, where additional privacy protections are expected to be rejected.
A lawsuit has been filed alleging that Junior Mints packaged candies contain too much air. Two new plaintiffs have joined the federal class action lawsuit against Tootsie Roll Industries, which makes Junior Mints. According to the complaint, the candies are packaged in a way that consumers “cannot see the excessive air in the container.” As stated in the lawsuit, “The size of the products’ boxes in comparison to the volume of the candy” makes it appear that people are “buying more than what is actually being sold.”
The state of New Jersey is set to join a lawsuit in an attempt to protect undocumented aliens who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents as children. There are currently 800,000 “Dreamers” protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which President Trump recently decided to end. “The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane, and devastating to [those] who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program,” stated New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed the lawsuit against the president in September.
On January 18, 2018, proposed class claims were filed against organic grocery store chain, Whole Foods, in California Superior Court. Plaintiffs in the suit allege that the company has been including an excessive amount of vitamin B12 in Whole Foods’ house brand of liquid vitamin B supplements. Named plaintiff, Matthew Palmer, argues in the complaint that if consumers had known the actual amount of vitamin B12 per serving they would not have purchased or consumed the products and accuse Whole Foods of a lack of quality control.
A court has ruled that children of immigrants do not have a right to government-paid lawyers in deportation hearings. The federal appeals court decided unanimously decided that minor immigrants in the country without legal authorization are not entitled to government-paid lawyers. The case was decided by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld an immigration judge’s decision to deny asylum to a minor who left Honduras at 13 years old after being threatened by gang members.
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