[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the Washington Supreme Court ruled today that the Seattle Times [newspaper website] could count monetary losses it incurred during a 2000 strike in its effort to end its joint operating agreement with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer [Wikipedia profile; newspaper website]. In its opinion [text], the Supreme Court agreed with the Times that the monetary losses from the strike were "agency expenses" under the agreement and could be used to calculate "agency revenues." The Times is seeking to invoke a clause in the joint operating agreement that allows either paper to end the agreement if it suffers three consecutive years of losses. The Hearst Corporation [official website], the parent company of The Seattle P-I, argued that losses caused by extraordinary events should not be counted. Further litigation regarding the joint operating agreement is expected. AP has more.
In other state legal news ...
- Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch announced [RI Attorney General press release] today a $10 million settlement with DuPont Co. [corporate website] over a lawsuit in which the state claimed the company created a public health threat in the form of lead paint. Several million dollars of the settlement will go to the Children's Health Forum to remove lead paint and educate the public, and one million dollars will go the Brown University Medical School for research. The settlement is the result of a 1999 lawsuit by the state against seven manufacturers of lead-based paint. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, and a new trial involving the six remaining defendants is scheduled for September. AP has more.
- The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a state law providing an inherent characteristic defense does not bar all lawsuits against tobacco companies. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company [corporate website] argued a lawsuit against them should be dismissed in its entirety because of the law and a 2003 state Supreme Court decision which prohibited lawsuits for damages caused by manufactured commercial cigarettes. In the opinion [PDF text] Justice Mike Randolph said, the 2003 case concluded that the state law precludes tobacco cases based upon product liability, but not all tobacco cases "which could be based on other possible theories of recovery." An inherent characteristic under the Mississippi Products Liability Act [text] is a generic aspect that can not be eliminated without substantially compromising the product's usefulness or desirability and which is recognized by the ordinary person with ordinary knowledge common to the community. AP has more.
- Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski [official website] has signed legislation making public the disciplinary records of school employees convicted of sexually abusing students. The bill [text] also requires school boards to adopt policies about reporting child abuse and to place a school employee on paid administrative leave when there is "reasonable cause" to support a sex abuse report until the state Department of Human Services or the police decide to pursue or dismiss an investigation. Oregon's Statesman Journal has local coverage.