Claims against bin Ladens, gay rehab for kids and other decisions Monday

Associated PressJune 30, 2014 

Court won’t weigh Sept 11 claims vs. bin Laden kin

The Supreme Court says lawsuits by victims’ families and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks can proceed, but without relatives of Osama bin Laden and businesses that allegedly supported al-Qaida before the terrorist attacks as defendants.

The justices declined Monday to review a lower court ruling that dismissed claims against 25 defendants. The lawsuits were filed by more than 3,000 Sept 11 survivors, relatives, victims’ representatives and insurance carriers. Among the defendants are al-Qaida, its members and associates, along with charities, banks, front organizations, terrorist organizations and financiers.

Among those dismissed were four bin Laden relatives who purportedly managed the Saudi Binladin Group, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the Arab world and a successor to a company founded by bin Laden’s father, and the company itself.

Court rejects challenge to law banning gay therapy

The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to California’s law that bars mental counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the state’s ban on so-called conversion therapy for minors doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that California lawmakers properly showed that efforts to change sexual orientation were outside the scientific mainstream and have been rejected for good reason.

Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group, had challenged the law along with other supporters of the therapy. They argue that lawmakers have no scientific proof the therapy does harm.

Court stays out of San Diego cross dispute

The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the long-running dispute over a war memorial cross in San Diego before a federal appeals court has its say.

Supporters of the 43-foot monument atop Mount Soledad wanted skip the appeals court and go straight to the Supreme Court because the legal fight has been going on for 25 years.

The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been hostile to the cross in earlier rulings.

The Obama administration disagrees with a lower court order for the cross to be removed, but said the case should go to the appeals court first.

The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting the association’s appeal.

The case is Mt. Soledad Memorial Association v. Trunk, 13-1061.

Court won’t hear dispute over Calif. fuel standard

The Supreme Court won’t hear a challenge to California’s first-in-the-nation mandate requiring fuel producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The justices on Monday turned away appeals from fuel makers that say the law discriminates against out-of-state producers.

The mandate requires petroleum refiners and fuel distributors to make cleaner-burning fuels for the California market.

Out-of-state oil refiners and ethanol companies say the law provides an unfair advantage to in-state producers by giving a higher “carbon-intensity score” to fuels transported from other states.

The state says the law simply offers incentives for companies that make cleaner-burning fuels.

A U.S. district judge agreed with the challengers. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying the law gives all fuel makers options to get their product to market.

Court rejects Arab Bank’s plea in terrorism suits

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to lift sanctions imposed by a judge on Arab Bank, PLC in lawsuits seeking to hold the bank partially responsible for terrorist acts in the Middle East.

The high court let stand a lower court ruling penalizing the Jordan-based bank for not turning over financial records. Survivors and relatives of victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza between 1995 and 2004 claim in lawsuits that the institution supported terror groups by providing financial services to them.

The bank said turning over the records would break the law in other countries.

But a judge imposed sanctions that would make it easier for the plaintiffs to prove their case and recover treble damages.

The case is Arab Bank v. Linde, 12-1485.

Court turns down California oyster farm

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a popular oyster farm in Northern California that is facing closure.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place lower court rulings against Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

The company operates in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to renew its lease when it expired in 2012. Salazar said the waters of Drakes Estero should be returned to wilderness status.

Lower courts have allowed the oyster farm to keep operating while the case was pending.

The case is Drakes Bay Oyster Co. v. Jewell, 13-1244.

Court won’t allow Madoff trustee to sue banks

The Supreme Court will not let the trustee working to recover money for Bernard Madoff’s investors sue major financial institutions for their role in Madoff’s massive fraud.

The court refused Monday to hear an appeal from trustee Irving Picard, who wants to pursue tens of billions of dollars from UBS AG, HSBC Bank PLC and other institutions.

Picard, as trustee for the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, has brought claims in bankruptcy court alleging that the institutions were complicit in Madoff’s vast Ponzi scheme because they provided him with financial services while ignoring obvious signs he was a con artist. A federal appeals court ruled that Picard doesn’t have legal standing to make claims against the financial institutions that Madoff’s burned customers could make themselves.

Court will consider government duty in bias claims

The Supreme Court will consider how hard government lawyers must negotiate with an employer to settle charges of job discrimination before filing a lawsuit.

The justices agreed Monday to hear an appeal from an Illinois company sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly failing to hire qualified female job applicants. Mach Mining LLC says the lawsuit should be thrown out because the EEOC didn’t put enough effort into settlement talks before going to court.

A federal judge agreed to review whether settlement attempts were sincere. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying it is up to the EEOC – not the courts – to decide what is acceptable.

The Supreme Court will reconsider that decision during its new term this fall.

Court will consider deadlines for suing government

The Supreme Court will consider how strict deadlines should be for people to sue the federal government for negligence.

The justices agreed Monday to hear two cases where lawsuits were filed too late. In both cases, a federal appeals court ruled it was fair to let them go forward anyway. The Obama administration says Congress intended the deadlines to be firm.

One case involves a Hong Kong citizen who sued the Immigration and Naturalization Service for detaining and deporting her. Her lawsuit was filed after a 6-month deadline because she was waiting for a federal court to issue an order.

The other case alleged the Federal Highway Administration improperly installed safety barriers that caused a fatal accident. The plaintiff claims he discovered new evidence after the 2-year deadline passed.

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