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Court upholds order to unseal records in brazen lynching
Class Action News | 2019/02/11 05:45
A historian who has spent years looking into the unsolved lynching of two black couples in rural Georgia more than 70 years ago hopes some answers may finally be within his grasp.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed a monthslong investigation into the killings.

Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey were riding in a car that was stopped by a white mob at Moore's Ford Bridge, overlooking the Apalachee River, in July 1946. They were pulled from the car and shot multiple times along the banks of the river.

Amid a national outcry over the slayings, President Harry Truman sent the FBI to rural Walton County, just over 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Atlanta. Agents investigated for months and identified dozens of possible suspects, but a grand jury convened in December 1946 failed to indict anyone.

Anthony Pitch, who wrote a 2016 book on the lynching — "The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town" — has sought access to the grand jury proceedings, hoping they may shed some light on what happened.


Liberals eye 2020 takeover of Wisconsin Supreme Court
Class Action News | 2019/02/09 05:46
Wisconsin liberals hope to take a key step this spring toward breaking a long conservative stranglehold on the state's Supreme Court, in an election that could also serve as a barometer of the political mood in a key presidential swing state.

If the liberal-backed candidate wins the April 2 state Supreme Court race, liberals would be in prime position to take over the court when the next seat comes up in 2020 — during a presidential primary when Democrats expect to benefit from strong turnout.

The bitterly partisan court, which conservatives have controlled since 2008, has upheld several polarizing Republican-backed laws, none more so than former GOP Gov. Scott Walker's law that essentially eliminated collective bargaining for public workers.

If liberals can win in April and again in 2020, they would have the majority until at least 2025.

"It is absolutely critical we win this race," liberal attorney Tim Burns, who lost a Wisconsin Supreme Court race in 2018, said of the April election. "It does set us up for next year to get a court that's likely to look very differently on issues of the day like voters' rights and gerrymandering."

The court could face big decisions on several partisan issues in the coming years, including on the next round of redistricting that follows the 2020 Census, lawsuits challenging the massive Foxconn Technology Group project backed by President Donald Trump, and attempts to undo laws that Republicans passed during a recent lame-duck session to weaken the incoming Democratic governor before he took office.


Court: Illinois mom can sue Six Flags for fingerprinting son
Class Action News | 2019/01/27 02:49
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Friday that a woman can sue Six Flags Great America for fingerprinting her child without telling her how the data would be used in violation of the state's biometric law, which privacy advocates consider to be the nation's strongest biometric data safeguards.

Stacy Rosenbach sued the amusement park north of Chicago in 2016, about two years after her son was electronically fingerprinted while buying a season pass. He was 14 at the time.

The lawsuit alleges the park violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires businesses and other private entities to obtain consent from people before collecting or disclosing their biometric identifiers and to securely store biometric data they do collect. It also permits people to sue businesses they believe violated the act.

In its ruling for Six Flags, an appellate court determined in 2017 that Rosenbach never demonstrated a direct injury or adverse effect, such as stolen identity or a monetary loss.

The state Supreme Court, in overturning that decision, rejected the argument that individuals should have the right to sue if no real damage occurred after they handed over their biometric information. The court ruled that a violation of the law is damage enough.

"This is no mere 'technicality,'" as the appellate court suggested, Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in the opinion. "The injury is real and significant."

Biometric data, fingerprints, facial and iris scans, are increasingly used in tagging photos on social media and recording employee arrivals at the workplace.



Appeals court reopens case involving payment to law firm
Class Action News | 2019/01/27 02:48
An appeals court on Friday ordered more proceedings in a legal fight involving Kentucky's governor and two of his political rivals over a $4 million payment to a law firm for negotiating a settlement on behalf of the state with the maker of OxyContin.

A three-judge Kentucky Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously that a summary judgment previously granted in the case was "premature" because it didn't allow more information to be reviewed. The ruling returned the case to a lower court, where it could have implications in this year's governor's race.

"In this case, there was no opportunity to take discovery," Judge Christopher Shea Nickell said in writing for the appeals court panel.

"Since there was no discovery, obviously there was no 'ample opportunity to complete discovery.' ... Thus, we do not even reach the question of whether there were any material issues of fact precluding summary judgment," he added.

The ruling keeping the case alive drew quick praise from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration. Bevin's general counsel, Steve Pitt, said additional information could shed light on why Kentucky's lawsuit against a large pharmaceutical company was settled "for pennies on the dollar."

The case also involves Attorney General Andy Beshear, who already has declared himself a candidate for governor as a Democrat. Bevin and Beshear have been embroiled in several lawsuits since they took office. Bevin filed papers Friday to run for a second term.


Freed by court, Pakistani Christian woman still a prisoner
Class Action News | 2019/01/22 00:22
Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian acquitted of blasphemy, still lives the life of a prisoner, nearly three months after her release from death row, awaiting a final ruling on her fate.

She spends her days in seclusion for fear of being targeted by angry mobs clamoring for her death. In her hideout, she longs for her children who were taken to Canada for their safety.

Pakistani security forces guarding the 54-year-old Bibi prevent her from opening a window in her hiding place, let alone go outside, a friend said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is weighing a petition by Islamist extremists and right-wing religious parties that rallied against her acquittal and demand her execution.

Her case goes to the core of one of Pakistan's most controversial issues — the blasphemy law, often used to settle scores or intimidate followers of Pakistan's minority religions, including minority Shiite Muslims. A charge of insulting Islam can bring the death penalty.

Just making an accusation is sometimes enough to whip up vengeful mobs, even if the courts acquit defendants. A provincial governor who defended Bibi was shot and killed, as was a government minority minister who dared question the blasphemy law.

Bibi's ordeal began on a hot day in 2009, with a row with fellow farmworkers after two Muslim women refused to drink water from the same container as a Christian. They demanded she convert, and she refused. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.




No-cost birth control, now the norm, faces court challenges
Class Action News | 2019/01/18 08:21
Millions of American women are receiving birth control at no cost to them through workplace health plans, the result of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, which expanded access to contraception.

The Trump administration sought to allow more employers to opt out because of religious or moral objections. But its plans were put on hold by two federal judges, one in Pennsylvania and the other in California, in cases that could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

The judges blocked the Trump policy from going into effect while legal challenges from state attorneys general continue.

Here's a look at some of the issues behind the confrontation over birth control, politics and religious beliefs:

Well into the 1990s many states did not require health insurance plans to cover birth control for women.

"Plans were covering Viagra, and they weren't covering birth control," said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

By the time President Barack Obama's health law passed in 2010, employers and insurers largely began covering birth control as an important part of health care for women.

The ACA took that a couple of steps further. It required most insurance plans to cover a broad range of preventive services, including vaccinations and cancer screenings, but also women's health services. And it also required such preventive services to be offered at no charge


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