Legal Briefs: What’s Happening in the Law

November 3, 2014

Each week, we bring you updates on the legal world.

Looking ahead…

The city of Ferguson, Missouri has been in upheaval since the August 9th shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. According to the Washington Post, calls from city residents for the Department of Justice to prosecute the officer on civil rights charges are likely to be unsuccessful. Expect a statement from the DOJ soon. (Washington Post)

Californians will soon vote on a proposition that could change how the state handles low-level crimes such as shoplifting, drug possession and small-scale check fraud. Next week, Proposition 47 will be on a statewide ballot, and, if passed, will amount to a sweeping reform of the state prisons, releasing thousands of inmates and keeping several thousands more out of prison moving forward. (New York Times)

The Supreme Court will consider a case in the coming months from a woman suing UPS, the shipping giant, for denying her accommodations while pregnant. She claims that the company unfairly put her on unpaid leave because she was no longer able lift the requisite twenty-pounds for her job, and when she asked for reassignment to another position, the company refused. This week, UPS announced that it would be changing its policy. Oral arguments aren’t scheduled for December. (Transport Topics)

And in case you missed it…

This week, the Federal Trade Commission fined a UK-based dating site for making fake profiles to encourage users to upgrade their accounts to more expensive offerings. The dating site supposedly used these fake profiles as bait for the users, hiding the information of the “matches” until users paid up. (CNN)

In May, the European Union ruled that individuals have a “right to be forgotten” online. In light of this ruling, a pianist in the EU asked the Washington Post to take down a critical review of one of his performances. The matter is raising important questions about identity, speech and permanence in the modern age. (Washington Post)

What happens when a former dictator sues a video game creator for damaging his reputation? This week, he loses. (CNN)

Would you like some proprietary pepperoni? In a case involving “pizza flavor trademark” this week, the plaintiff sought damages from a rivalry pizzeria for using a recipe too similar to its own. The judge ruled in favor of the defendant, explaining what we all already knew: You can’t copyright a pizza flavor. (Hollywood Reporter)

A judge ruled on Friday that the Maine nurse who has tested the limits of Ebola quarantine must be allowed to leave her home as she pleases as long as she informs authorities of her intentions to do so. In a press conference, the nurse expressed her frustration with the state and its apparent disregard for her civil rights. (NBC News)


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