Judge Kaplan: Plaintiff Who Live-Streamed Childbirth Must Pay News Networks’ Attorneys’ Fees for Dismissed Copyright Suit

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Kaplan awarded attorneys’ fees to news networks that broadcast brief excerpts of the plaintiff’s live-streaming on Facebook of his partner’s childbirth.  Alongside the broadcasts, the networks offered “social commentary about the phenomenon of someone publicly live-streaming a life event that traditionally is considered personal.”  Judge Kaplan dismissed the plaintiff’s copyright claims on fair use grounds, and in the ruling Wednesday, he found the case so meritless as to justify fee-shifting: Continue Reading

Judge Oetken:  Law Firm Partners Can Be “Employees” for Purposes of Sex Discrimination Suit, Based on Control by Management Committee

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Oetken denied the defendants’ pre-discovery summary judgment motion in a sex discrimination suit against the law firm Chadbourne & Parke and certain partners. The defendants argued that the named plaintiffs, as firm partners, did not qualify as “employees” of the firm for purposes of the relevant discrimination statutes because of their titles and because of the terms of the partnership agreement.

Judge Oetken concluded, however, that the plaintiffs were entitled to discovery to prove whether the various factors distinguishing employees and owners were present in the case, and focused in particular on whether the firm was really run by a centralized Management Committee, as opposed to the partners generally: Continue Reading

President Trump Moves to Dismiss Emoluments Clause Case

In a brief filed Friday, President Trump asked Judge Abrams to dismiss the suit seeking to enjoin his business dealings to the extent they violate the Emoluments Clause (see our post on the original complaint here, and see the current, second amended complaint here).

The brief argues (among other things) that, based on extensive historical evidence, the Emoluments Clause was never intended “to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power.” Continue Reading

Judge Pauley: Drake’s Sampling of Spoken Word Excerpt from Jazz Album is Fair Use

In an opinion last week, Judge Pauley granted Drake and his co-defendants summary judgment in a case accusing them of copyright infringement.  The case arose from the fact that Drake’s song “Pound Cake” opens with about 35 seconds of spoken words that are similar to a spoken word recording called “Jimmy Smith Rap,” by the jazz artist Jimmy Smith.

Judge Pauley found that Drake’s sampling was fair use because (among other reasons) it was “transformative” of the Smith track (referred to in the opinion as “JSR”): Continue Reading

Judge Forrest Awards Almost $250 Million to New York State and City in UPS Cigarette Tax Case

Judge Forrest awarded over $165 million to plaintiff New York State and over $81 million to plaintiff New York City for their claims that UPS failed to prevent the shipment of untaxed cigarettes using its parcel service (see our previous coverage here).  Judge Forrest awarded damages under both a previous Assurance of Discontinuance agreed to by UPS and New York State, as well as under Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act and Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA).

Judge Forrest noted that the facts of the case made “significant penalties” appropriate: Continue Reading

Peter Luger Brings Trademark Claims Against Similarly-Named Rival

Last week, iconic Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger filed an action against a similarly-named rival.  The defendant, Carl von Luger, operates a steakhouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with plans to expand to Florida.  Peter Luger, in business since 1887, claims that the defendant attempted to create a false association between the steakhouse brands.  The complaint includes claims for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and false advertising under the Lanham Act, as well as common law and state law claims.

The two marks are pictured here:Picture

The case is currently pending before Judge Nathan.

Judge Crotty:  No Customer Standing Where Receipts Wrongfully Printed Too Many Credit Card Digits

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Crotty dismissed a class action accusing a retailer of violating a law (referred to as “FACTA”) requiring that no more than the final five digits of credit cards be printed on receipts.  The plaintiff allegedly received receipts exposing 10 digits.  Judge Crotty found that the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Spokeo. Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016) made clear that a statutory violation, without more, was insufficient to confer standing: Continue Reading

Judge Seibel Nearly Sanctions Attorneys for “Sham” Responses to Rule 56.1 Opposition Statement

In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Seibel lambasted, but ultimately did not sanction, attorneys in an insurance dispute who made evasive and false assertions in a Rule 56.1 statement submitted in opposition to summary judgment.  She found the statements lacked a “factual basis,” and were a “sham,” and added that the attorneys’ conduct “was entirely unbecoming of members of our profession.”  She nonetheless concluded “in light of the high standard for bad faith, and the caution with which courts should approach the question of bad faith,” not to award sanctions, for two reasons: Continue Reading

Judge Swain Appointed to Oversee Puerto Rico Debt Litigation

Last week, the government of Puerto Rico filed a petition for relief under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).  PROMESA gave Chief Justice John Roberts authority to select a U.S. district court judge to preside over the case, and last week he selected SDNY’s Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Additional coverage of Judge Swain and the Puerto Rico litigation can be found here and here.

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