Tag Archives: Supreme Court

California Law on Eggs Hurting the Economy?

Posted by Gen Nagai

A law passed on 2015 that eggs sold in California have to come from hen that have enough room for them to stretch in their cages. This may also be known as “free-ranged eggs”. The purpose of this is to not only let the hen live a better life but studies have found that not giving them the ideal way of living increases the chances of getting salmonella from the eggs that they produce.

This may sound good, however, bad news come with it. Firstly, consumers will have to expect prices of the eggs to rise. Secondly, there may be a shortage of eggs may occur as 90% of eggs come from places where it is not acceptable to sell according to the California Law.

Today, over a dozen states have filled a law suit directly to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (Dec.04, 2017) to block this law as it violates the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are pre-empted by federal law. Although, a similar case has been rejected 6 different times by 6 different states, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is confident in the new lawsuit as he has economic studies to back his case up.  He has mentioned that California’s egg law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually as a result of higher egg prices.

States that are backing up this case include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Gen is a business information technology management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/04/the-associated-press-the-latest-13-states-challenge-to-california-egg-law.html

 

Missouri Appeals Court Vacated $72 Million Award

In February 2016, a jury awarded a woman $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages in a suit against Johnson & Johnson for causing her cervical cancer.  She died in 2015 after prolonged use of baby powder made by the company.

In its ruling vacating the judgment, the appeals court cited a recent Supreme Court ruling disallowing lawsuits in states where the plaintiff is not a resident and where the injury did not occur.  The plaintiff in this case is from Alabama and sued in Missouri.

“Jim Onder, who is representing many plaintiffs in the lawsuits, has argued that Missouri is a proper jurisdiction because Johnson & Johnson packages and labels some products in Missouri.”  According to the article, most research indicates talc, which is a soft mineral, has a minimum correlation to ovarian cancer.  In other lawsuits, jurors awarded plaintiffs more than $300 million combined, and the company intends to have all these rulings overturned.

 

Samsung Appeals to SCOTUS Over Design Patent

Posted by Ashley Hellmers.

The New York Times published an article reporting that the Supreme Court has decided to hear Samsung’s appeal over how must be compensated for the replication of Apple’s designs.  Samsung violated Apple’s design patents for the iPhone in the creation of their S7 smartphones. Design patents are created to protect how a product looks, while a utility patent is created to protect how a product operates. Utility patents are much more common than design patents especially in this technological age. This case is monumental because the Supreme Court has not heard a case surrounding design patents in the last hundred years. The key question the Supreme Court will determine is “Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?”

Originally, Apple was to be awarded $548 million dollars by Samsung’s due to their infringement on Apple’s design patents. Three elements were declared to have been replicated from Apple’s iPhone: “a particular black rectangular round-cornered front face”; “a substantially similar rectangular round-cornered front face plus the surrounding rim”; and “a particular colorful grid of sixteen icons.” If a design patent is infringed upon, all profits made by the infringing company for the product are to be granted to the patent’s owner. According to the article, “even if the patented features contributed to 1 percent of the value of Samsung’s phone, Apple gets 100 percent of Samsung’s profits.”

Samsung is appealing to the Supreme Court because they believe design patents and this profit rule should not be applicable in this technological era. Many companies, such as Google and Facebook, are speaking out on the side of Samsung that the design patents are out of touch with the digital era. In terms of technology, a products function is more important and more profitable than its design. Therefore, Samsung believes that the profit rule associated with design patents is outdated. Samsung is seeking to pay only $149 million to Apple after the appeal. Apple was pushing for the Supreme Court not to hear the case.

Ashley is a marketing major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Samsung Appeals to Supreme Court Over Feud With Apple Dealing With Design Patents

Posted by Katie Kim.

In the technology industry, two leading companies may be heading to the Supreme Court over the design of smartphones. There is no confirmation of whether or not the case will be accepted, but the Supreme Court has not taken a design patent in over a century.

A few weeks ago, Samsung agreed to pay Apple $548 million in damages over a design patent but did not agree to it as part of a settlement. Apple took Samsung to court on the grounds that Samsung intentionally and knowingly copied Apple’s iPhone designs. Apple prides themselves on their innovation and when the threat of copycats infringe on their innovations it takes away from their profits. Apple submitted evidence that showed the evolution of the Samsung product increasingly resembled the Apple iPhone

At trial, Apple convinced the jury that some of the designs Samsung used on their smartphones, like the rounded rectangular corners and touch screen made of smaller icons, were taken from and patented by Apple.

On the other hand, Samsung argued that the law under design patents was misapplied. The law is meant to protect “ornamental” features that are not part of the products intended function. Samsung lawyers feel that this should have been made clear to the jury.

On Monday, Samsung filled an appeal to the Supreme Court. The company argues that the legal framework behind designed patents is flawed and out dated for the modern digital world. “The law was written for a time long before the smartphone was invented,” said Mark A. Lemley, a law professor and director of the Stanford University program in law, science and technology. If Samsung is left to stand with a sweeping rule against it then it will “lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies.”

Katie is an accounting and finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2018.

Uber Taken To Trial

Posted by Catherine Caldwell.

The trendy new and convenient company, Uber Technologies Inc., is currently enduring a legal battle for its illegal classification of freelancers. Uber was founded in 2009, as an application that acts as an electronic link from individuals who have cars to individuals who needs rides. The company has received a reputation of convenience to its customers and an easy way to make profit for its drivers. However, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, a powerful attorney in the state of California, disagrees with the classification of Uber drivers.

Shannon Liss-Riordan is no stranger in her attack on large billion dollar industries such as Uber. She has made cases against Starbucks, Harvard University and FedEx, to name a few. Ms. Liss-Riordan thinks that Uber drivers are unlawfully “on-demand workers” with no benefits. Instead of freelancers, Uber drivers should receive employee status, which would include drivers receiving reimbursement of their transportation expenses among other employment protective benefits.

As a software intermediary in the transportation business, Uber Technologies Inc. claims that they do not need grounds for titling their drivers as employees. Uber does not have a “fleet of drivers” waiting to pick up the next customer, but is based on convenience for both the drivers and employees. Uber does not plan on settling the case and has begun their approach by assembling 400 statements from drivers saying they were content with the flexible labor opportunities. However, in retaliation, Liss-Riordan took 50 of those statements and found that those drivers stated they would like to have official employment status.

In September, the case won class action status in San Francisco and will continue in federal court. Valued at $51 billion and is willing to fight for their case all the way to the Supreme Court and are unwilling to settle.

This case will create a precedent in the industry of software application employment services, and therefore needs to be handled very tactically. The basic labor protection laws should not be ignored due to new forms of introducing a business such as Uber. However, each Uber driver participates to make profits on their own agenda. Some use the service for extra cash, where others, in the grueling unemployment climate, use Uber as full time opportunities. In my opinion, the court should require Uber to create employment contracts with Uber drivers who can prove that it is a major source of income.

Catherine is a finance and information technology major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2018.

US Supreme Court Debates on Conspiracy Charge

Posted by Ilse Narvaez. 

A conspiracy occurs when two or more parties agree to commit a crime. The crime is complete when the agreement is made. The four elements of conspiracy are an agreement, unlawful object, knowledge and intent, and an overt act. The prosecution has to prove there was knowledge of the conspiracy and the target of the conspiracy. The Hobbs Act prescribes criminal punishment for “whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce by extortion” (Justice.gov 7).

From May 2009 to February 2011, Samuel Ocasio, a Baltimore police officer, and approximately 50 other police officers were involved in a kickback scheme. During the scheme, police officers working at automobile accidents, encouraged people to use the services of Majestic Auto Repair Shop for towing and repairs (Reuters). In return, the owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop, Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia, paid the officers between $150 and $300 per referral. Payments were collected the next day usually at Moreno’s home, an ATM, or a convenience store. The City of Baltimore already had contracts with pre-approved towing companies that did not include Majestic. In addition to his, officers were prohibited from accepting any compensation, gifts, or rewards without the Police Commissioner’s permission. The scheme was discovered when federal agents were wiretapping Majestic, and recorded scores of calls connected to the kickbacks (Chicago Tribune).

A grand jury indicted 9 police officers including Ocasio, and the Majestic owners, in connection with the kickback scheme. Ocasio was convicted of three charges of extortion and one charge of conspiracy and sentenced to 18 months in prison for his participation. Ocasio argued against the conspiracy charge, since he believed he could not be guilty if the money was obtained from Moreno and Mejia whom were co-conspirators. The court denied this because Majestic, not its owners were actually the source of payments. The court also mentioned that the government did not have to prove that the conspiracy was to obtain money from someone outside of the conspiracy.

After convicted, Ocasio appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. His argument was that “conspiring to extort property from one’s own coconspirator does not contravene federal law” (Justice.gov 9). The court of appeals affirmed the previous conviction for various reasons. The court held that a person who actively participates in a conspiracy scheme can be prosecuted as a co-conspirator even if he is also a victim of the agreement. This relates to the basic conspiracy rule that mentions that a conspirator is responsible for his actions as well as for the actions of his co-conspirators. In this case, Ocasio may have taken money from Moreno and Mejia instead of customers, but he is responsible for the actions of the brothers as well. The court also disagreed that “the Hobbs Act’s ‘from another’ language requires that a coconspirator obtain property ‘from someone outside the conspiracy’” (Justice.gov 9). This simply means that someone other than the public official.

Due to the affirmation of the conviction by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ocasio decided to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to take the case that will only have an effect on the conspiracy charge. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case before June.

Ilse is a graduate student in accounting with a certificate in forensic accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.

Works-cited

Justice.gov “In the Supreme Court of the United States.” Ocasio vs. United States of America.

Web. <http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/osg/briefs/2015/01/28/14-361_ocasio_opp_4.pdf>.

“U.S. Justices Weigh Baltimore Cop’s Kickback Conspiracy Appeal.” Reuters. Thomson

Reuters, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/06/us-usa-court-conspiracy-idUSKCN0S02LR20151006#7Kh5jkDcFhxjWb05.97

“At the Supreme Court, a Case for Fans of ‘The Wire'” Chicagotribune.com. Web.<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-supreme-court-the-wire-20151006-story.html>.

Abercrombie and Religious Accommodation

Posted by Shakil Rahman.

Americans pride themselves on the idea that their country is the land of the free, where people of different parts of the world could have the equal opportunity to live as they wish, pray freely, and be free to live without being persecuted for their beliefs. It is stated in the constitution and laws are created to make sure people’s rights are not infringed upon or people are discrimination for their beliefs. But there are times when the people seem to be discriminated against because of their beliefs and it spills into the national spotlight.

Abercrombie & Fitch are multimillion dollars clothing store and in one of their stores a Muslim woman named Samantha Elauf applied for a job but she was rejected. When inquired about why she was being rejected, the company replied that the company’s dress code is “classic East Coast collegiate style” and since she wore head scarf, a headwear named Hijab that Muslim women wear, which went against the dress code, she was not hired. Ms.Elauf filed a discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch and the case went to the Supreme Court after being going through trial court and appeals court. The defendant claimed that since the plaintiff did not specifically state that the head scarf was worn for religious reasons they did not discriminate the plaintiff. The Supreme Court justices voted 8-1 for the plaintiff stating that the company should have understood that the head scarf had a religious significance, since it is of common knowledge and therefore the plaintiff was being discriminated and that is prohibited by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit against the company is based around the claim that the company rejected the applicant’s application for a job due to dress code violations knowing that it had religious significance. The reasoning given by the company was that the applicant did not specifically ask for religious accommodation, therefore there was no discrimination. While it is true that the applicant did not request religious accommodation, head scarves are commonly used for religious reasons in various religions and being ignorant of the fact is not valid argument. Therefore, when the company rejected Ms.Elauf’s application due to her wearing a head scarf, they were discriminating her based on her religious practices. Being ignorant of law is not sufficient excuse either, since the company is supposed to know the laws of the land it is conducting its business in.

In the modern world where globalization has brought the world, and the business world, laws are created to make sure that people are not discriminated for their personal life choices. But sometimes the laws are not interpreted in the same manner by people. For instance, for this lawsuit, the trial court granted the Plaintiff $20000 for the lawsuit, but the appeals court saw the same case and decided that there were no signs of discrimination and overturned the ruling, only for the ruling to be overturned by the Supreme Court. Interpretation of the law is an important part of the business world that must be done in a prudent manner by the courts but also by companies and individuals in order to avoid situations where a wrongdoing does not occur due to ignorance.

Shakil is a student at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University.

Customers’ Privacy

Posted by Michael Habib.

Many people today always hear about the search warrant and are police required to have probable cause to search a suspect’s cell phone. Recently, a case was heard in the Supreme Court regarding a robbery and police accessing information from the cell phone carriers that lead to Mr. Quartavious Davis’s arrest in Florida. Mr. Davis was convicted of a string of robberies in 2010 and was sentenced to approximately 162 years in prison, without parole. Mr. Davis challenged and argued that police did not access a search warrant when seeking information from his cellphone carrier MetroPCS Communications Inc. The information provided resulted and provided evidence of the approximate location of Mr. Davis during the time of the string of robberies.
According to Lawrence Hurley, in May, the “11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the failure of obtaining a warrant did not violate Davis’ right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” This lead Davis to seek Supreme Court review and the result was the same as the 11th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals.
The big question here that is constantly brought up by many people is how much privacy people and business have? Specifically, the four main cell phone carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, should they fight to keep their customers information private? According to Lawrence Hurley, this information is requested by law enforcement tens of thousands times per year. Many lower level courts have similar cases regarding business protecting the privacy of their customers and infringement of privacy.
A counter-argument can be for purpose where businesses and law enforcement may want to have the availability of this information to quickly solve cases such as Mr. Davis’s robberies. Business owners may support this for the purpose to protect their business from these robberies, however other business such as the cell phone carriers may argue that this is infringement of privacy towards their customers and hurts their business.

Michael is an accounting major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2017.

Individual Arbitration vs. Class Action

Posted by Ashley O’Connell.

An article from the New York Times named, “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice,” caught my attention in regards to the companies American Express and Citibank. Recently, American Express and Citibank have emphasized their beliefs of how customers can no longer use class action, but in fact use individual arbitration instead. Located in the fine print of American Express’ contract it states, “You or we may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration. Claims are decided by a neutral arbitrator.” By doing so, it is causing uproar between consumers and the company for numerous reasons: it is cheaper to use the approach of class action, the customers are more comfortable utilizing class action, and arbitration clause have far worse consequences.

By forcing customers to use arbitration, the freedom of the people is not being recognized and their right to make their own decisions and go to court is no longer available. American Express is not the only company doing this to customers; Citibank is another targeted company. It was noted that two-thirds of customers from Citibank had dealt with credit card fraud and did not receive any monetary awards throughout the arbitration process. The arbitration clause consequences, “can be seen far beyond the financial sector,” and are also made even between private schools and funeral homes.

There are a few cases, on the other hand, that the Supreme Court allowed class action to take place in regards to fraud. It states in the article that the customers who were allowed to use class action were one’s who, “the lawyers represented clients that had paid billions of dollars to resolve class actions over the years.” These are lawyers who are making millions of dollars, and that is the reason why the class action is allowed to take place.

I disagree and believe that customers should have the right to fight on what they believe. Whether is through class action or arbitration, consumers should be allowed to do that they are comfortable with. The statistics in the article show that there is a significant difference between people who take action through arbitration versus class action. Class action allows consumers to work in groups and defend themselves against a company.  This is more favorable and certain companies did not want that to happen. I would advise consumers to read the contracts of the companies in which they are involved; they are signing away their rights every time a contract is signed that is not read thoroughly, and the use of individual arbitration is a pattern that is spreading throughout companies.

Ashely is an accounting major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2017.

Protecting the First Amendment

Posted by Danielle Lindsay Feoranzo.

In the United States, freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. It is a prized right and the courts have protected this right to the fullest extent. As Americans in a democratic country, we have the power to speak our minds to ensure we can voice our political opinions and criticize government actions or policies. Thus, as citizens we hold great authority for which could either positively and or negatively influence our country’s future.

In today’s world, social media has made a strong precedence in our community and the functionality of our world. This includes Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, and the heavy-weight, Facebook. These outlets of social media can be used by famous celebrities to endorse a product, or politicians to promote themselves and their campaigns. Social media is an outlet that can connect one with the world, therefore in essence is a huge stage to express oneself and one’s opinions.

It was on June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania man who posted many violent messages on Facebook (the Court raising implications of freedom of speech). However, prior to the Supreme Court hearing the case, the man was convicted under a federal threat statue and sentenced to jail time of forty-four months. The man appealed this judgment, stating the government should have been required to prove he actually intended to make a threat. The Pennsylvania man argued he was exercising his freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. He also mentioned he was inspired by the artist Eminem and his lyrics for which is recited and had no intention to threaten anyone.

The Supreme Court ruled in his favor and stated, “It was not enough to convict the man based solely on the idea that a reasonable person would regard the communications as a threat” (Ariane de Vogue, CNN). What is important to take notice is the “reasonable person” standard was rejected by the Court. This is because the government needed to prove the defendant’s intent.

To conclude, the Pennsylvania man expressed himself on Facebook, whether it was crude to some or not, it did not uphold in court as a threat. This case is another example of how the Court will go out of its way to protect speech under the First Amendment.

Danielle is a business administration major with a concentration in management information and technology at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.