[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, the Iowa Supreme Court today refused to address the ruling of a lower court that dissolved a Vermont civil union [VT statute text]. The Supreme Court did not judge the merits of the legal claim made by conservative challengers, but instead found that the Iowa Family Policy Center, a church and several state legislators had suffered no injury and did not have standing to challenge the lower court's decision. In its opinion [text], the Court said, "We fail to see how the district court's action in dissolving a civil union of another couple harmed in any specific way these plaintiffs' marriages and for this reason, they have shown no legally recognized interest or personal stake in the underlying action." District Court Judge Jeffrey Neary [biography] ruled to terminate the civil union after one partner petitioned for divorce. AP has more.
In other states news ...
- The state of Oregon has resumed its Medical Marijuana Program [official website]. State Attorney General Hardy Meyers issued an opinion [PDF text] Friday saying that the state program was not invalidated by last week's US Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich [PDF text]. In that decision [JURIST report], the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may prosecute people who smoked marijuana with a doctor's prescription. Patients will be warned that they may be subject to federal prosecution even though they are protected under state law. AP has more.
- The California Supreme Court [official website] has ruled that operators of roller coaster rides and similar attractions are legally liable for the same standards of care for passenger safety that apply to buses, trains and other modes of public transportation. The Supreme Court's decision in Gomez v. Superior Court [PDF text] found that thrill rides could be classified as "common carriers" and as such the operators must use "the utmost care and diligence." The court rejected the theme park's argument that they should be held to a "reasonable care" standard. The lawsuit was filed by the family of a tourist who died after riding a ride at Disneyland. AP has more.
- The Supreme Court of California has set guidelines for implementing the US Supreme Court decision in State Farm v. Campbell [PDF text] which placed constitutional limits on juries' ability to award damages that far exceed the actual losses incurred. In Simons v. San Paolo [PDF text], Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar said a punitive-to-compensation ratio greatly above 9-1 or 10-1 is unconstitutional unless there is a "special justification." In a second case [PDF text], the Supreme Court said that juries can still consider a defendant's wealth in deciding whether punitive damages are large enough to deter future wrongdoing as there is a need for a "meaningful deterrent." The San Francisco Chronicle has local coverage.