Court Roundup

Georgia
Feds seeking to dismiss birth control lawsuit

ATLANTA (AP) — The federal government has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta and other religious institutions seeking to overturn a provision in the federal health care law that requires group health plans to provide free birth control.
The groups argued in a lawsuit filed in October that their religious beliefs prohibit them from providing the required coverage for certain services provided for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In a filing Monday, lawyers for the federal government argue the groups haven’t shown any actual or imminent harm. They also argue that proposed amendments would accommodate religious groups’ objections to covering contraceptive services.
The lawyers note that similar lawsuits have been filed around the country, and several courts have already dismissed them.

New Mexico
Lawsuit seeks reclassification of Mexican wolves

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists have filed another lawsuit as they push for reforms of the federal government’s troubled effort to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves in the American Southwest.
The latest lawsuit centers on a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reject a petition that sought the classification of Mexican wolves as an endangered subspecies or separate population of gray wolves.
The Center for Biological Diversity says specific protection is needed for wolves living in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.
The center’s wolf specialist, Michael Robinson, says Mexican wolves are the smallest, most genetically distinct of all gray wolves in North America. He says they’re uniquely adapted to the Southwest.
The complaint follows a lawsuit filed in November that focuses on recommendations made by a scientific panel more than a decade ago. Environmentalists say the agency has failed to consider those recommendations.

Ypsilanti
EMU settles lawsuit with booted student for $75K

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by a woman who contends she was kicked out of a master’s degree program at Eastern Michigan University because of her opposition to homosexuality has been settled for $75,000.
The Ypsilanti school announced the settlement Monday with Julea Ward, saying it leaves Eastern Michigan’s policies and programs intact.
Ward’s lawyer Jeremy Tedesco tells AnnArbor.com he feels Ward’s constitutionally protected rights have been “vindicated.”
A federal appeals court revived Ward’s lawsuit this year. She was in a counseling program at the university when she asked her superiors to refer a gay client to someone else. She says she told professors that her Christian faith prohibited her from affirming homosexual behavior.
The university expelled Ward from the program, although she was just a few classes short of a degree.

Pennsylvania
3 women sue Va. church, Pa. camp over sex abuse

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) — Three women have sued a Virginia church and two summer camp nonprofits for alleged sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a camp worker who, they say, was not properly screened despite past complaints of similar misconduct.
The camp worker is not named as a defendant by the women who were 13 to 17 years old when they were allegedly abused from 2003 to 2005 at events they say were coordinated by nonprofits Christian Camps of Pittsburgh Inc. and Summer’s Best Two Weeks, and the Vienna Presbyterian Church of Vienna, Va.
A church official did not immediately return a call for comment on the lawsuit reported Tuesday by the Daily American of Somerset, which is where the lawsuit was filed. An attorney for the camp groups also didn’t immediately return a call.


Minnesota
Jury gives award of $590,600 to ex-inmate with TB

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A jury has awarded $590,600 to a former Ramsey County inmate who became gravely ill with tuberculosis in custody
A federal jury determined Monday that public health nurse Mary Clausen was “deliberately indifferent” to the plight of Marchello McCaster, who lost 44 pounds while serving a 56-day sentence in 2008.
McCaster was coughing and visibly ill, but the county contended he never complained of symptoms indicating TB.
His attorney, Robert Bennett, tells the Star Tribune the award is half for compensation and half for punitive damages. He says the county will cover it because the nurse was a county employee.
Ramsey County settled an earlier lawsuit by inmates exposed to McCaster’s TB for about $16 million.
County attorney’s office spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein says they’re disappointed and reviewing their options.

New York
Chain of yoga studios settles copyright suit      
     
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York chain of yoga studios has agreed to stop offering hot yoga classes patterned after Bikram Yoga.
Yoga to the People was accused by Bikram of copyright infringement.
The chain has agreed to stop using the Bikram sequence of postures by Feb. 15.
But the chain’s founder told The New York Times he will not be leaving the hot yoga business. Greg Gumucio said he’s working on new postures that also will use high temperature rooms.
The suit charged that the sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a 105-degree room were the intellectual property of their founder, Bikram Choudhury.
A Copyright Office ruling supported Gumucio’s position. However, it still required him to fight the matter in court.


California
Lucasfilm verdict in pregnancy job case overturned

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California appeals court has overturned a Lucasfilm pregnancy case verdict, saying jurors should have been told the entertainment company was entitled to withdraw its job offer.
A Marin County jury had awarded $114,000 and a judge awarded $1.2 million in lawyer fees to Julie Gilman Veronese, whose discrimination lawsuit said filmmaker George Lucas’ firm wrongly withdrew a job offer after learning she was pregnant.
Lucasfilm denies the allegation.
The San Francisco Chronicle says the 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday overturned the jury verdict.
The appellate court says the trial judge should have told jurors that Lucasfilm was entitled to use its “business judgment” in revoking its job offer.

Colorado
Shoplifter sues liquor store owner who shot him

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A shoplifter who was shot in the face after stealing a bottle of vodka from a liquor store is suing the shop owner.
A paper reports that the shoplifter seeks at least $100,000 for pain and suffering. Bryson Dewberry was shot in the jaw two years ago by Chang Ho Yi.
According to a lawsuit filed in early October, Yi witnessed the 2010 theft and pursued Dewberry out of his store with a loaded .357 revolver, which he fired as Dewberry was in the getaway car.
Dewberry’s lawsuit alleges that Yi behaved “negligently and recklessly.” Yi was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, but a grand jury didn’t charge him.n

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