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Bar News - December 16, 2015


US District Court Decision Listing

November 2015

* Published

CLASS ACTION (CLASS CERTIFICATION, SETTLEMENT)

11/16/15
In re: Colgate-Palmolive Softsoap Antibacterial Hand Soap Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation
Case No. 12-md-2320-PB, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 211

Consumers of Softsoap Antibacterial hand soap filed a class action lawsuit against Colgate-Palmolive Company (“Colgate”), the manufacturer of Softsoap Antibacterial, alleging that Colgate wrongfully induced class members to purchase Softsoap Antibacterial by making false or misleading marketing claims. The parties successfully negotiated a proposed settlement, and (1) moved to certify the proposed class, (2) asked the court to approve the settlement, and (3) moved for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses incurred in prosecuting and settling the case. After considering the applicable Article III constitutional requirements and Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, the court certified the proposed class pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2). The court also approved the settlement, which provides injunctive relief to class members while preserving their right to seek damages. The court, however, denied without prejudice class counsels’ motion for fees and expenses because counsel had not yet given class members adequate notice of the fee motion. The court therefore ordered counsel to file a motion proposing a method by which they would notify the class. 41 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION

11/3/15
Maureen McPadden v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., and Jennifer Fonseca
Case No. 14-cv-475-SM, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 205

After she was terminated from her job as a pharmacist at a Wal-Mart store, plaintiff brought suit asserting claims of unlawful gender and disability discrimination, retaliation for having invoked her rights under the FMLA, wrongful termination, and invasion of privacy. Defendant moved for summary judgment. The court granted that motion in part, concluding that defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law with respect to plaintiff’s invasion of privacy claim. But, genuinely disputed material facts precluded the entry of summary judgment on plaintiff’s discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims. 26 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.


INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (PATENT, TRADE DRESS)

11/4/15
Gallagher, et al. v. Funeral Source One Supply and Equip. Co., et al.
Case No. 14-cv-115-PB, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 207

Robert Gallagher and his firm, Instrument Design and Manufacturing Co., sued Funeral Source One Supply and Equipment Co., Inc. and Affordable Funeral Supply, LLC for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of Gallagher’s patented funeral industry product. Plaintiffs brought claims for (1) patent infringement, (2) trade dress infringement, (3) violations of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act (CPA); and (4) unjust enrichment. Defendants moved for, and the court granted, summary judgment on all counts. The court granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ patent infringement claim because (1) defendants did not sell the allegedly offending product after they received actual notice of their infringement, and (2) plaintiffs failed to show the likelihood of future harm required for injunctive relief. The court granted summary judgment on the trade dress infringement claim because plaintiffs proffered insufficient evidence that their dress was protectable. The court granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ CPA claim because defendants lacked the scienter required for a CPA violation. Finally, the court granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claim because plaintiffs did not show that it would be unconscionable for defendants to retain their minimal profits from the relevant sales. 30 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


SOCIAL SECURITY

11/2/15
Sarah McQuaid v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration
Case No. 15-cv-8-SM, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 203

Claimant moved to reverse or vacate the Acting Commissioner’s decision denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Among other things, claimant asserted that the ALJ erred in concluding, at step two of the sequential analysis, that she did not suffer from a severe mental impairment. The court agreed, concluding that the ALJ erred in finding that claimant’s depression and anxiety — conditions that have been treated for several years with more than 10 different medications — were “slight abnormalities” that did not amount to a severe impairment. The court also noted that the ALJ failed to follow the Appeals Council’s instructions to “further evaluate” claimant’s physical impairments. 22 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.

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