On April 16, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen. In its opinion, the Court addressed whether equitable doctrines derived from the principle of unjust enrichment can override the clear terms of an ERISA benefit plan regarding rights to reimbursement from a third-party recovery. Mr. McCutchen was a participant in the US Airways group health plan (the “Plan”), which was governed by ERISA. After incurring claims under the Plan based on injuries he sustained in an automobile accident, McCutchen hired an attorney on a contingency fee basis to sue the driver of the other vehicle. McCutchen sought damages for medical costs, lost earnings, and other injuries. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement recovery, and McCutchen also obtained a payment from his own automobile insurer. After offsetting his total recovery by his attorney’s contingency fee, McCutchen was left with a recovery that was less than… Continue Reading
A Minnesota middle school student has sued her school district, claiming that school staff unlawfully searched her Facebook and e-mail accounts and punished her for a Facebook posting that criticized a school employee, CNN reports. The complaint, which the student filed with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that employees at Minnewaska Area Middle School violated the student’s First and Fourth Amendment rights. According to the suit, the 12-year-old student felt that one of the school’s hall monitors was picking on her, so she wrote on her own Facebook wall that she hated that person because she was mean. The message was not posted from school property or using any school equipment or network, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges that school employees pressured the student to divulge her e-mail and Facebook login information, which they then used to search her accounts. The student was given… Continue Reading
Students and Social Media: The Supreme Court Could Decide Whether Schools May Punish Off-Campus Online Speech
A teenager who posts a racy photo on Facebook might be grounded for a week, but should the teen also be suspended from school or kicked off the swim team? A flurry of recent court decisions is bringing just this issue to the fore: can a public school punish its students for their off-campus online activities?
>As we reported here back in February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed a district judge’s 2007 ruling that a California law that restricts sales of “violent” video games to minors is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit found the law unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored, because treating violence as obscenity is not permissible by the Constitution and because the state had not demonstrated that violent video games cause psychological or neurological damage. After the law was defeated at the Ninth Circuit, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the filing of a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to save the law, arguing that the same justifications for precluding sales of pornography to minors should be applied to violent video games. “By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law… Continue Reading
>The blogosphere is all abuzz about Bilski going to the Supreme Court. When Bilski was first issued, I didn’t expect it to go to the Supreme Court — but after seeing how broadly it has been applied and interpreted, I expected no less. As the video game industry continues to evolve, patents are becoming more of an issue, both from an enforcement and defense position. A Supreme Court ruling could go a long way toward determining whether the software and business method patents obtained by software companies are a hollow or substantive asset.
>Ok… who remembers this: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Left, B, A, Start? The hard-core (old-school) gamers should instantly spot the typographical error in this classic Contra cheat code. Many legal commentators believe section 365 of the United States Bankruptcy Code contains such a mistake, as well, which could have significant ramifications on intellectual property licenses entered into between developers and publishers. Section 365 permits bankrupt companies to (i) assume contracts (meaning to retain the benefits and obligations as if the bankruptcy never occurred); (ii) assume and assign contracts to third parties or (iii) reject most types of contracts. The ability to pick and chose which contracts to keep, which to sell, and which to dismiss is a critical element of most successful reorganizations. A potential problem arises with Section 365 with respect to contracts that are not assignable under non-bankruptcy law (and one major category of such… Continue Reading