Texas High Court Rules Courts Can Scrub Defamatory Comments From the Internet

Categories: Legal Battles

What does The Big Lebowski have to do with a Texas Supreme Court decision in a defamation case? Everything.
After the Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion on Friday in Kinney v. Barnes, Robert Kinney's attorney declared victory. Kinney, an Austin businessman, had sued his former boss to force the removal of online postings accusing Kinney of taking bribes.

"This is a win for Robert and other people who are smeared online," appellate attorney Martin Siegel said. No longer can a person "destroy someone else's reputation online and have that stay on the web forever, as the other side wanted."

Funny thing, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case opposing Kinney's arguments, declared victory as well.

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In a Dallas Courtroom, It's Big Pharma vs. Women over Vaginal Mesh

Categories: Legal Battles

Hal Samples
Read our May cover story, "Women vs. Big Pharma in the Battle Over Trans-vaginal Mesh," by Amy Silverstein
Few people outside of public health advocates and consumer groups used to pay much attention to the Food and Drug Administration's confusing, shadowy process for approving medical devices to the market. When patients find themselves suffering after a surgery that was supposed to help them -- like, say, a hip implant -- they often find that their doctors are at a loss and their only recourse is in the courts.

That's how Dallas District Court Judge Ken Molberg ended up overseeing two trials in six months over a device called vaginal mesh, which doctors have been using to treat prolapsed organs and incontinence in aging women before they understood all of the potentially horrific side effects. The earlier mesh trial, as I detailed in a May feature story, resulted in the jury awarding a woman named Linda Batiste $1.2 million from Johnson & Johnson. The second trial, currently under way, is against Boston Scientific, which, like J&J, appears highly disinterested in research that might hurt its bottom line.

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The Military's Insurer Has Been Refusing to Cover This Little Girl's Therapy for Four Years

Categories: Legal Battles

It's been more than two years since a federal administrative judge told Tricare, the Department of Defense-run healthcare program for military families, to pay for Kaitlyn Samuels' physical therapy. And for more than two years, Tricare has been stubbornly ignoring the decision.

That's Tricare's prerogative. The administrative ruling carries all the legal weight of a strongly-worded recommendation. The Samuels family responded earlier this month by filing a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense that, if they prevail, will force Tricare to reverse itself.

Kaitlyn, now 17, is the daughter of Mark Samuels, a recently-retired Navy captain. She was born with crippling scoliosis that, left untreated, would eventually twist her spine so severely that her internal organs would be crushed.

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Highland Park Lacrosse Player Beat Up Chef After Being Kicked Out of Party, Suit Claims

A previous iteration of the Cornell University lacrosse squad

Dallas caterer and restaurateur Andrew Ormsby, who operates an eponymous catering company out of the Cityplace tower and is one of the people behind the Ku De Ta day resort, filed a lawsuit in Dallas County accusing Domenic Massimilian, a Cornell University lacrosse player, of assault.

Massimilian, who played high school lacrosse at Highland Park High School before heading to Salisbury, a Connecticut prep school, and then Cornell, attended an event held at Ku De Ta, which is part of a compound that includes Ormsby's home, on May 29. During the event, Ormsby says, the teenager both drank and smoked pot. Ormsby claims he kicked Massimilian out of the party, but the teenager returned, punched Ormsby and then stomped and kicked him after he fell to the ground.

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Parents Claim HEB School Officials Railroaded Special-Needs Kid So They Could Expel Him

Smartphones in schools have hidden dangers, like getting in trouble for photographing your buddy on the toilet.
From the sound of it, at least as his parents tell it, Charles and Kristie Cripps' son was a pretty normal kid. He had some behavioral issues, largely stemming from ADHD, like insulting his classmates' penis sizes and careening around his school in the manner typical of adolescent boys.

Because of these issues, the Cripps' son was provided special education services, including a service called "social skills training," intended to teach him the differences between acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors. But the training didn't take, the boy's parents say, and their son's behavior continued to deteriorate. Tensions grew between the boy's school, his special education advocate and his mother to the point that, according a federal lawsuit filed by the Cripps against the Hurst Euless Bedford Independent School District, school officials conspired to catch him in behavior that would lead to a felony charge -- and allow his expulsion from the district.

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Dallas Lawyers Try a Mulish Approach in Defending Protest Law. Judge Cracks Whip.

Thumbnail image for BushCheneyProtestArrest.jpg
Occupy Dallas
Dallas Police Chief David Brown never gave a terribly convincing defense of an ordinance barring protesters from demonstrating near highways. He said it was intended to protect the safety of motorists who might be distracted by a sign-waving demonstrator, but as council member Philip Kingston highlighted as the City Council considered revising the ordinance, Brown produced not a shred of evidence to support his claim.

Several peace activists challenging the constitutionality of the law in court would also like to know the city's rationale for the law, both for the decades-old original ordinance and the updated version passed in January. If a government in America decides to abridge free speech, after all, the courts require there be a compelling reason. Vague allusions of public safety may satisfy two-thirds of the Dallas City Council, but hopefully not a federal judge.

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Katy Trail Ice House Outpost Sued for Allegedly Over-Serving Two Patrons, One of Whom Ended Up Dead

Categories: Legal Battles

Drriss & Marrionn

Over the course of four hours, the Katy Trail Ice House Outpost in Plano served Benjamin Crosby and Joe Grams the equivalent of 43 alcoholic drinks, a lawsuit filed in Dallas district court on Thursday claims.

Robert and Cheryl Crosby, Benjamin Crosby's parents, say that the ice house did this even though the pair obviously was drunk.

Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code says that an establishment serving alcohol can be held liable when it serves someone who is "obviously intoxicated to the
extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others."

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The Companies Whose Fertilizer Blew Up West Say West Should Share in the Blame

Categories: Legal Battles

Francisco Antonio Ceron Garcia
Fifteen people were killed in the April 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion. A report by the state, and two fertilizer suppliers, say that could have been prevented.
In the year-plus since the West fertilizer plant explosion, the tragedy has made its way to where it was always destined: the courts. Around 200 plaintiffs, mostly people who had family members killed or property destroyed, have filed suits.

El Dorado Chemical Company and CF Industries are two fertilizer suppliers that have been hit with a barrage of lawsuits alleging their malfeasance, with victims arguing that the suppliers provided fertilizer chemicals that were unnecessarily dangerous. But the two companies are now fighting back.

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Uber and Lyft Are Being Sued in Texas for Discriminating against Disabled People

Marcel Oosterwijk via Flickr
The regulations the Dallas City Council might eventually maybe get around to putting on Uber, Lyft, and the like could include a provision requiring a certain portion of their fleets to be handicapped-accessible. But there are already laws in place requiring transportation providers to accommodate passengers with disabilities: the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and, on the state level, chapter 121 of the Texas Human Resources Code.

"Really, [Uber and Lyft] are similar to any other entity: You have to provide equivalent services to people with disabilities that you provide to people who don't, and you have to reasonably accommodate people with disabilities," says Wayne Krause Yang, legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.

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Alleged Phony FedEx Mastermind Responds to Company's Allegations

Categories: Legal Battles

Jacob B√łtter
Don't screw with FedEx. They'll get litigious.

Remember Brad Ward? He's the guy we told you about last month who FedEx says scammed more than $70,000 in free shipping from the company using a series of fraudulent shipping accounts. At the time, Ward told us he had no idea what FedEx was talking about. Thursday, Ward submitted his official reply in federal court.

See also: A Dallas Shipping Company Used an Elaborate Scam to Ship Everything Free with FedEx, Lawsuit Claims

In it, Ward admits several of the Memphis shipping behemoth's less significant accusations while strongly denying FedEx's primary contention, that he profited by shipping customers' FedEx packages through his Lone Star Shipping Co. without paying for them, something the company says he was able to do by charging the shipments to accounts tied to deceptive addresses and credit cards that would later be declined.

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