Litigation

Supreme Court Hears Discrimination Case Against Comcast

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a discrimination case against Comcast by Byron Allen, the owner of Entertainment Studios Networks, The New York Times reports. The lawsuit claims the company’s decision not to carry programming from Allen’s network was determined in part by his race. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, says its decision was an ordinary business calculation and was due to insufficient demand for Entertainment Studio’s offerings. The case concerns a Reconstruction-era federal law that gives “all persons” the same right to “make and enforce contract” as “is enjoyed by white citizens."

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Woman Involved in Kroger Shooting Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against the Suspect, Retailer

A woman who was inside a Louisville Kroger last year when a gunman opened fire killing two shoppers has filed a class-action lawsuit against the suspect and supermarket chain, the Courier Journal reports. Plaintiff Denise Clark claims that she suffered "physical, mental and/or emotional injuries" as a result of the shooting, and was only offered a $10 gift card as compensation. Clark's attorney said that more than two dozen shootings have taken place at Kroger stores around the country since 1991, and despite knowing about these issues the company took no actions to provide safety measures for its customers. The gunman, Gregory Bush, is facing murder and hate crime charges in state and federal court.

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Charlottesville Lawsuit Could Shape Courts' Handling of Cases Involving Extremism

A lawsuit against promoters of the Charlottesville protests centering around removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, which left one woman dead and several others injured, could frame how courts handle future cases of violent extremism, The New York Times reports. Lawyers for the plaintiffs maintain that online chats by organizers of the rally discussing attire, recruitment, the legality  of using certain weapons along with racist remarks against African Americans, Jews and others constitutes a conspiracy to commit violence against racial minorities. Lawyers for many of the defendants deny the allegations, arguing their First Amendment rights cover the online conversations. Karen L. Dunn, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, says that participants planned the violence beforehand, and “there is no First Amendment protection for violence.” Federal Judge Norman K. Moon previously rejected the defendant’s attempts to have the suit dismissed, citing Griffin v. Breckenridge, and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as precedents.

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City of Chattanooga Settles Lawsuit Regarding Traffic Stop Beating

The city of Chattanooga has settled a lawsuit regarding the beating of a man by police during a traffic stop, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Fredrico Wolfe maintains that Chattanooga police officer Benjamin Piazza assaulted him despite his compliance, which body camera evidence appears to support. Footage shows the officer approaching Wolfe’s car, gun drawn, while ordering him out of the vehicle. Wolfe then exited the car appearing to obey but fell as he was being handcuffed. The officer is then seen on the video punching Wolfe 10 times. A spokesman for Hamilton County District Attorney Neil Pinkston said that the office has not yet decided whether it will file criminal charges against Piazza.

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Family of Man Killed by Knoxville Police Officer File Suit Alleging Suppression of Evidence

Attorneys for the family of a man killed by a Knoxville police officer have filed a lawsuit in Knox County Chancery Court alleging that city officials are withholding records regarding the incident, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Channara Tom “Philly” Pheap was shot in the back by Knoxville Police Officer Dylan Williams after an altercation in response to a hit-and-run call. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, Joshua Hedrick and Lance Baker, say they are being stonewalled in their quest for public records such as the final autopsy report, 911 recordings and police cruiser video. The suit named the city of Knoxville, Knox County and the Knox County Emergency Communications District as defendants.

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Hollabaugh Selected as a Top Woman in Litigation

TBA Litigation Section member and managing partner of the Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Lela M. Hollabaugh has been selected for the Top 250 Women in Litigation 2019 by Benchmark Litigation. Hollabaugh is a renowned product liability and mass tort practitioner and currently serves as lead counsel for Amazon in a products liability case regarding the sale of hoverboards by third-party sellers. She has served as the lead trial lawyer in more than a dozen jury trials, as well as more than two dozen bench trials, arbitrations and administrative hearings. 

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6th Circuit COA Revives Lawsuit Claiming Sexual, Racial Harassment by Ohio Judges

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has partially reinstated a lawsuit alleging four state court judges in Ohio conspired to dissuade female employees from reporting discriminatory practices by those judges, Forbes reports. Plaintiff Andrea Boxill submitted several grievances claiming she was the victim of continued sexual and racial harassment and ultimately filed suit against one of the judges in 2016 after her issues were not addressed. Boxill’s lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson on the grounds of failure to state a claim. 6th Circuit judges Danny J. Boggs, Raymond M. Kethledge and Jane Branstetter Stranch reversed the district court’s dismissal of Boxill’s hostile work environment claim and remanded the case for further proceedings.  

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Federal Judge Issues Stay Pending Outcome of TSC Decision Regarding Cap on Non-Economic Damages

A federal judge on Monday issued a stay on a judgment where a freight company was found responsible for the negligence of an employee that rear ended a woman's car, with a jury awarding her $2 million in non-economic damages. Tennessee Eastern District Judge Travis R. McDonough ordered the stay pending the outcome of Jodi McClay v. Airports Services Management, LLC, where the Tennessee Supreme Court will consider the issue of the state’s cap on these damages. This comes after a recent, similar case where Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley challenged the cap saying it appears to be unconstitutional, citing the Tennessee Constitution's declaration that "the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate." McClay is set for the Supreme Court’s Sept. 4 docket.
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Man Sued Over Negative Online Review Highlights SLAPP Concerns

A Florida dog owner was recently sued for a negative review posted online, highlighting concerns regarding Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits, CBS News reports. Defendant Tom Lloyd took his sick dog to DeLand Animal Hospital where he was told that the animal would need emergency surgery. Six hours later the hospital informed him that it was unable to locate a surgeon. Lloyd then took the dog to another veterinary clinic that told him it was too late for surgery and the dog would need to be euthanized. He subsequently posted the unfavorable online review in question, when the reviewed hospital and veterinarian sued him shortly thereafter for defamation, claiming his statements were "false" and "published maliciously and recklessly." This case was settled after Lloyd participated in an interview with CBS; however, similar suits have been recently filed in New York, Kansas and South Carolina. While some states, including Tennessee, have laws against SLAPP lawsuits, there are no federal laws barring the practice. Tennessee's law became effective July 1.

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Woman Reportedly Raped by a Chattanooga Police Officer Alleges Fourth Amendment Violations, Coverup

Attorneys representing a woman in a lawsuit against the city of Chattanooga who alleges former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan raped her filed an amended complaint on Wednesday alleging a coverup and Fourth Amendment violations, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The updated filing contends that Logan has a history of “inappropriate sexual misconduct, including a previous rape incident” and that Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Edwin McPherson conspired with retired Capt. Pedro Bacon to suppress records of that misconduct. At least three women maintain that they were raped by Logan since he began his law enforcement career in 2015. The city has not filed a response to the complaint and has declined to comment on the matter.

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