The state of Nevada passed earlier this year a school voucher program that radically diverts from other similar programs launched by other states across the United States. As the Las Vegas Sun reported last August 27, Nevada lawmakers have allowed any family whose child is currently attending the public school system to benefit from a stipend of around $5,000 for concerns such as tutoring, distance education, and even private school tuition. In other states, such programs are only available for lower income families or those with children that have special needs. As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada to put an end to what they call an “unconstitutional program”. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the ACLU sees the voucher program as “[tearing] down the walls separating church and state erected in Nevada’s constitution”. This assertion comes from the fact that the program will be relying on public funds. ACLU executive director Tod Story says that majority of these funds will be used to fund tuition or services schools and other institutions that are “explicitly religious in nature”. The constitution of Nevada states that “no public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.” The ACLU asserts through their lawsuit that this is a mandate being ignored by the school voucher program. Amidst the criticism, over 2,500 parents have already applied to the program after only a few weeks since the enrollment in schools first opened.
David Mueller, previously a Denver radio DJ with a career that spans 20 years, has filed legal action against Taylor Swift for an accusation that resulted in his termination from the Colorado-based station. The accusation states that Mueller, during a meet-and-greet in June 2013 for the station (KYGO), inappropriately touched Swift by lifting up her skirt and touching her buttocks. Mueller and his girlfriend (and co-worker), Shannon Melcher, were immediately removed from the premises following the allegation. The singer’s management team made quick contact with the station and Mueller was promptly fired from his position. Mueller’s legal team states that the accusation is false as the photograph maintains that her skirt remains in place and there is reportedly no evidence of his touching her in an inappropriate fashion. His team has not made the photograph of the three of them (Melcher was also in the photograph as she and Swift were hugging and smiling, reportedly) public. Swift’s legal team has also commented that the grounds of his termination were actions independent of Swift herself, insinuating that she could not be held accountable for the actions of Mueller’s employers. The lawsuit demands compensation for the loss of wages where Mueller had previously been making $150,000 a year with his job at the radio station.
A Kentucky county clerk is denying marriage licenses to gay and heterosexual couples in rebellion against the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down bans on gay marriage across the United States. In fact, one Rowan County Clerk denied marriage licenses to four couples. Now the two same sex couples and two heterosexual couples are suing the clerk who cited religious reasons for her actions. This is just one example of a clerk in the South who cited religious reasons for denying couples marriage licenses. The clerks are claiming that their right to “religious freedom” gives them the right to not give marriage licenses. However, officials are warning the clerks that they could face civil liability. Since the ban on gay marriage was lifted in all states, clerks could be facing criminal charges of official misconduct or misdemeanor that could result in a year in jail. This comes soon after a gay couple in Texas sued a clerk in Hood county after being denied a marriage license. Although the clerk cited religious reasons as well, the couple was granted a marriage license just 12 hours after filing the lawsuit. Actions are being called against clerks by many activists claiming that the denial of marriage licenses is unconstitutional. The debate remains heated over what actions the constitution protects in terms of the clerks.
During the Cannes Film Festival, Voltage Pictures has been heavily promoting a new film starring Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway. The movie, titled Colossal, will revolve around a woman who feels connected to a monstrous giant lizard that’s destroying the City of Tokyo in Japan. If this plot sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in another blockbuster hit before. Toho, the Japanese company that holds the rights to the Godzilla franchise, certainly thinks so. Last Tuesday, May 19, Toho filed a lawsuit in the California federal court against Voltage Pictures on claims of copyright and trademark infringement. According to Toho, aside from the close similarity the movie has to previous Godzilla movies, Voltage Picture’s blatant use of their character’s name and likeness is also a clear violation of the law. As pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter, the main focus of Toho’s lawsuit is the way that Voltage Pictures “are brazenly producing, advertising, and selling an unauthorized Godzilla film on their own.” Their main issue is the way the production company had been continuously using their copyrighted content and trademarks in order to promote their new movie. Colossal writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, who was previously noted to have said that his movie is “going to be the cheapest Godzilla movie ever”, is a co-defendant in the lawsuit. Toho, represented by lawyers Aaron Moss and Chuck Shephard from Greenberg Glusker, are specifically suing Voltage Pictures for “copyright and trademark infringement, trademark dilution, Lanham Act violations, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.” They are looking to have the production of Colossal halted on top of damages.
Reuters reported that GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to settle a false advertising lawsuit filed by Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit was in reaction to the ads that Glaxo released to promote their new over-the-counter allergy medication, Flonase. According to their ads, Glaxo claimed that Flonase “outperforms the number 1 allergy pill… and controls six allergy symptoms versus one by the other pill.” Although the pill was never named in the ads, the allergy drugs Benadry and Zyrtec by Johnson & Johnson units McNeil-PPC Inc and McNeil Consumer Healthcare are often common consumer preferences. McNeil emphasized that the claims made by Glaxo are not supported by scientific studies, and such exaggerations could create unfair competition between their respective products. The settlement came to light on Monday, during a hearing in Manhattan where McNeil was supposed to urge the court to disallow Glaxo from making any future claims comparing Flonase with their own allergy medications. Representatives from both camps said that the terms, while confidential, are “mutually acceptable and amicable.” As noted by Reuters, the case is officially referred to as McNeil-PPC Inc and McNeil Consumer Healthcare v. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare LP, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 15-1866.
Court documents show that the number of lawsuits against Pfizer for Lipitor continues to increase, currently at 1,600. The main allegation of plaintiffs is that they were not adequately warned about the serious side effects of the drug, designed to manage cholesterol levels. Among these side effects is the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus). Multidistrict litigation (MDL) records show that there are 1,604 cases under MDL 2502 for the consideration of Judge Richard M. Gergel. MDL 2502 was certified in February 2014 with 56 lawsuits, and climbed to 1,451 by November. Since then, about 150 cases have been added. Drugs that can lower cholesterol, or statins, in general have been associated with serious side effects such as the development of muscle problems as well as diabetes. Statins are a type of drug that inhibits the activity of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme, which encourages the production of about 70% of cholesterol in the body. This is widely known in scientific circles, sparking the debate about whether the benefits accruing from statins are outweighed by their associated risks. However, the general public is largely ignorant to these risks. It is the responsibility of drug manufacturers to ensure that patients and doctors are well-informed about the dangers of taking a particular product. The next scheduled status conference for MDL 2502 is on January 22, 2015, where some lawsuits may be dismissed for lack of proper documentation. It is important for plaintiffs to have competent legal representation avoid losing out on a claim because of a technicality. The first bellwether trial is scheduled to be heard in court sometime in October 2015.