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9th Circ. upholds denial of Oregon domestic partnership
Court Watch | 2008/08/15 14:12
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Thursday that Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury did not violate the constitutional rights of voters who signed a petition to hold a referendum on a state law establishing same-sex domestic partnerships. Bradbury struck over 200 signatures from the petition after officials found that many of the signatures did not match those on voter registration cards. He then announced that the petition was approximately 100 signatures short of the required number. Voters were not permitted to contest the decision by introducing extrinsic evidence, and so signators brought suit, alleging violations of due process and equal protection guarantees. The Ninth Circuit held that any burden placed on the plaintiffs' fundamental right to vote was minimal and held that there had been no constitutional violations:
The Secretary’s procedures already allow chief petitioners and members of the public to observe the signature verification process and challenge decisions by county elections officials. The value of additional procedural safeguards therefore is negligible, and the burden on plaintiffs’ interests from the state’s failure to adopt their proposed procedures is slight at most.
Plaintiffs had unsuccessfully asserted that Oregon was required to provide them with an opportunity to "rehabilitate" the stricken signatures, and also argued that the lack of uniform statewide rules for verifying referendum signatures violated Bush v. Gore.

The US District Court for the District of Oregon ruled in February that the domestic partnership law should be allowed to take effect after it was suspended last December. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill into law last May after it was passed by the Oregon House and the Oregon Senate. The law would have taken effect on January 1 of this year had there been no lawsuit.


Truck Driver Sues For Bridge Collapse
Court Issues | 2008/08/14 14:18
A truck driver was crushed and trapped in his truck when a highway overpass collapsed, and his horrified wife watched his rescue on live television, Robert and Carol Sylvester claim in Butte County Court.

The Sylvesters sued FCI Constructors, of Vista, and Granite Construction Co., of Watsonville, who were working on State Route 149 between SR 99 and SR 70 before and during the July 31, 2007 collapse. The Sylvesters say the defendants "were put on notice of safety violations at the construction site of the freeway overpass" before July 31. And, they say, "several minutes prior to the eventual collapse of the overpass false work defendants were on notice or should have been on notice that the structure was unsafe, unstable, moving, and likely to collapse."

The complaint continues: "Carol Sylvester witnessed the event where her husband was trapped in the debris of the collapsed freeway overpass via live television. Plaintiff was aware that her husband was in fact injured in the ongoing event and was aware of reports of his injuries during the event."

The Sylvesters demand punitive damages. They are represented by James McKenna with Peters, Rush, Habib & McKenna.


Steve Wynn Sues Soft-Core Porn King
Topics | 2008/08/13 14:15
"Girls Gone Wild" mogul Joseph Francis faces another lawsuit, this time from billionaire Stephen Wynn, who claims that Francis defamed him with the false accusation that Wynn stiffs high rollers in his hotel casinos.

Wynn, owner of Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore, first sued Francis in July, claiming the soft-core porn king owed $2 million in gambling debts from February 2007.

Francis insisted he had already paid his debt through agreements and discounts.

Francis told The Associated Press, "The Wynn Hotel has chosen not to honor its agreement to apply certain discounts to balances they have already been paid for."

Francis also indicated that he planned on "exposing how exactly Mr. Wynn deceives his high-end customers."
Wynn responded with this defamation lawsuit in Clark County Court, claiming he has suffered injury to his reputation and "shame, mortification, hurt feelings and emotional distress."

In June, Francis pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion for allegedly deducting more than $20 million of bogus business expenses on his 2002 and 2003 returns. Trial is set for Sept. 16 in Los Angeles.

Francis claims that he never saw his tax returns before they were filed, and that his accountant contacted the IRS after quitting and reported the accounting mistakes to collect money through the Tax Whistleblower Program.

Wynn is represented by Frank Schreck with Brownstein Hyatt


DuPont Loses Bid to Enforce Supply Contract
Topics | 2008/08/12 14:09
A state judge denied E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.'s request to enforce a supply contract that Bayer CropScience canceled, threatening DuPont's supply of chemicals used in its Require and Resolve corn herbicides.

Vice Chancellor Stephen Lamb of the Delaware Chancery Court refused to grant an injunction requiring Bayer to carry through on its shipping commitment. Bayer claimed du Pont breached the contract by introducing a new product line that exceeds the scope of its license and violates the terms of the supply agreement.

But DuPont maintained that it never breached the contract, and asked the court to prevent Bayer from cutting off its chemical supply.

Concluding that the wording of the contract favors Bayer's interpretation, Vice Chancellor Lamb refused to issue the injunction.


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