Federal Court Bars DOJ from Prosecuting Participants in State Medical Marijuana Programs


On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, a federal appeals court in California barred the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases where no state laws were violated. Specifically, in the matter styled United States v. McIntosh, a three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in San Francisco ordered the Justice Department (“DOJ”) to show that individuals under indictment for violating the Controlled Substances Act violated medical marijuana laws of their respective states before continuing with prosecutions. The opinion addressed ten consolidated matters arising from three district courts in California and Washington State. More »


Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits cases are on the rise in Michigan. However, with the 2014 Michigan Court of Appeals decision in Bahri v. IDS Property Cas. Ins. Co., 308 Mich. App 402; 864 NW2d 609 (2014), defendants are finding these cases defensible. [1]

The effect of the Court’s ruling in Bahri and defense reliance on general fraud exclusions found in insurance policies continue to reveal themselves.  Most recently, in Thomas v. Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Co., COA No. 326744 (Unpublished July 12, 2016), the Court of Appeals upheld Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Sheila Ann Gibson’s dismissal of a matter on the basis of fraud.

In Thomas, the plaintiff received treatment following a July 6, 2013, motor vehicle accident. During his medical treatment, he was instructed not to drive from the date of the accident through January 21, 2014. During plaintiff’s deposition, he denied driving an automobile at any time during that period. However, surveillance revealed plaintiff driving a vehicle on two occasions, despite claiming a need for medical transportation on those dates as well.

The Court of Appeals, relying on and quoting the Bahri decision, noted that the plaintiff had the ability to explain why he was driving during his deposition. Instead, plaintiff continued to represent that he had not driven at all during the relevant time period. Plaintiff’s counsel attempted to sway the court by arguing that his client’s representations were simple mistakes. However, the court noted, “If they were not knowing misrepresentations, then they were certainly reckless ones, in the face of the proof that he drove his car at least twice on the same day he availed himself of transportation services.” Id at 3.

The Court’s recent decision in Thomas strengthens the argument that the Bahri ruling was deliberate and intentional and that its effects will continue to garner attention in the trial and appellate courts. Michigan courts continue to be increasingly weary of fraudulent representations and are willing to dismiss entire PIP claims as a result. Since incidents of fraud have been on the rise over the past several years, defense counsel finding themselves in similar actions should be willing and able to offer this defense at trial.

[1] In Bahri, Plaintiff was found to have fraudulently pursued PIP and Uninsured Motorist benefits in connection with a vehicle accident. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Disposition which sought dismissal pursuant to the general fraud exclusion in the insurance policy.  The Court stated, “[r]easonable minds could not differ in light of this clear evidence that plaintiff made fraudulent representations for purposes of recovering PIP benefits.”

Illinois Appellate Court Throws Out Jury Verdict Finding Plaintiff with Asymptomatic Asbestosis Did Not Prove Any Physical Harm

On June 20, 2016, the Fourth District of the Illinois Appellate Court held in Sondag v. Pneumo Abex Corp. (No.  4-14-0918) (4th Dist. Ill. App. Ct.) (June 20, 2016) that a plaintiff who was diagnosed with asbestosis but with a lack of any clinical symptoms suffered no physical harm and thus could not maintain a product liability claim against a defendant whose product had exposed him to asbestos.   More »

CLIENT ALERT: Dummitt/Suttner v. Crane Co. Decision May Expand Liability for Asbestos Defendants

The New York Court of Appeals held today that “the manufacturer of a product has a duty to warn of the danger arising from the known and reasonably foreseeable use of its products in combination with a third-party product which, as a matter of design, mechanics, or economic necessity, is necessity to enable the manufacturer’s product to function as intended.” More »

CLIENT ALERT: New York Court of Appeals Applies "All Sums" Allocation and Vertical Exhaustion Where Non-Cumulation Provisions Exist in Asbestos-Related Excess Coverage Dispute


Courts throughout the United States are frequently challenged with the question of how defense and indemnity payments are to be allocated in third-party liability coverage disputes arising out of long-tail bodily injury claims. Further complicating the issue is the typical situation where courts are confronted with the need to analyze multiple layers of disparate insurance coverage spanning several policy periods.

There are two allocation methods courts typically apply:  (i) pro rata allocation, in which costs are spread among the triggered insurers, and to the insured for uninsured periods, in a time-on-the-risk manner; and (ii) all sums allocation, in which a triggered insurer is liable for all costs associated with a claim, subject to a right of contribution among any other triggered insurers. More »

The Cybersecurity Act of 2015: A Brief Overview and What’s Next


On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law an omnibus spending package for 2016 that included the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (known in former versions as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act). After years of trying to pass similar measures, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 creates a framework designed to facilitate and encourage confidential sharing of information concerning cyber-threats between the federal government and the private sector.

Although it is effective immediately, the attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary must release written guidelines within 90 days. Below is brief summary of important aspects of the statute. More »

EMPLOYER ALERT: Landscaping Employers Are Targets of Employee Wage Litigation


It is no secret that the number of federal and state wage lawsuits filed against employers is on the rise. In 2015, 8,781 federal wage lawsuits were filed against employers. Plaintiffs’ firms have realized the large potential for damages and fees in these cases and are aggressively capitalizing by consistently filing suits. What is surprising is the increase in filings specifically against landscaping companies. For example, since January 1, 2016, a new lawsuit has been filed here in the local Illinois federal court each week against a different landscaping company. In fact, there are Plaintiffs’ law firms in Illinois focused solely on filing employment lawsuits on behalf of landscaping employees. More »

ALERT: Seventh Circuit Negates Need for a Certificate of Insurance Before Loss - CGL Coverage Exists for an Additional Insured if an Oral Agreement Prior to Covered Event


The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Vita Food Products, Inc., No. 15–1405 (7th Cir. Dec. 16, 2015), has issued an important decision with far-reaching impact on the interpretation of “additional insured” status under commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurance policies. With this decision, additional insureds should have an easier time seeking coverage. More »

ALERT for Illinois Employers: Equal Pay Act


Effective January 2, 2016, employers with fewer than four employees must comply with the Equal Pay Act. The Act prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to men and women for doing the same or substantially similar work, except if the wage difference is based upon a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender.  (820 ILCS 112/5)

Target Breach Highlights the Importance of Business Vendor Management


By now, most people have heard of the Target hack, which potentially compromised 40 million credit and debit card numbers as well as 70 million other records, including names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of Target shoppers.i However, what many people do not know is how the retail giant was breached in such spectacular fashion (and the answer may surprise you). This breach highlights the critical importance of business vendor management. More »

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