Findlaw Case Summaries: U.S. Supreme Court. May 24, 2010.

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May 24, 2010.

ANTITRUST & TRADE REGULATION, COMMERCIAL LAW, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, SPORTS LAW, TRADEMARK American Needle, Inc. v. Nat’l Football League, No. 08–661 In an antitrust action challenging the NFL’s grant to Reebok of an exclusive license to create apparel incorporating the NFL’s intellectual property, the Seventh Circuit’s affirmance of summary judgment for defendants is reversed where the alleged conduct related to licensing of intellectual property constituted concerted action that was not categorically beyond the coverage of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. ..

ATTORNEY’S FEES, CIVIL PROCEDURE, ERISA, HEALTH LAW, INSURANCE LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW Hardt v. Reliance Std. Life Ins. Co., No. 09–448 In an action alleging that defendant violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by wrongfully denying her benefits claim, the Fourth Circuit’s order vacating the district court’s award of attorney’s fees to plaintiff is reversed where: 1) a fee claimant need not be a “prevailing party” to be eligible for an attorney’s fees award under 29 U.S.C. section 1132(g)(1); and 2) a court may award fees and costs under section 1132(g)(1), as long as the fee claimant has achieved some degree of success on the merits.

CIVIL PROCEDURE, CIVIL RIGHTS, GOVERNMENT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW Lewis v. Chicago, No. 08–974 In a Title VII action challenging Chicago’s practice of selecting only applicants to firefighter positions who scored 89 or above on a written examination because of its disparate impact on African-Americans, the Seventh Circuit’s reversal of judgment for plaintiff is reversed where a plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of a practice may assert a disparate impact claim in a timely charge challenging the employer’s later application of that practice as long as he alleges each of the elements of a disparate impact claim. ..

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE, HABEAS CORPUS, PER CURIAM Jefferson v. Upton, No. 09–8852 In a capital habeas matter, the Eleventh Circuit’s affirmance of a denial of petitioner’s habeas petition is vacated and remanded where the court of appeals did not fully consider several remaining potentially applicable exceptions to the presumption of correctness given to state court factual findings under 28 U.S.C. sections 2254(d)(1)–(8).

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE, SENTENCING US v. O’Brien, No. 08–1569 The First Circuit’s decision affirming defendant’s sentence for using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence is affirmed where, contrary to the government’s arguments, the fact that a firearm was a machine gun is an element to be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, not a sentencing factor to be proved to the judge at sentencing. .

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE US v. Marcus, No. 08–1341 The Second Circuit’s reversal of defendant’s forced labor and sex trafficking conviction is reversed where the Second Circuit’s plain error standard, under which a retrial was necessary whenever there was any possibility, no matter how unlikely, that the jury could have convicted based exclusively on defendant’s conduct prior to the enactment of the statute under which he was charged, was inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s approach to plain error, under which: 1) the error must affect the appellant’s substantial rights, which in the ordinary case means it affected the outcome of the district court proceedings; and 2) the error must seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings.

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