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Virginians will elect members of the House of Delegates using a map seen as favorable to Democrats, according to ruling Monday by the Supreme Court.

The 5-4 decision was perhaps telegraphed by the fact that the justice previously allowed election planning to go forward with the new map. Virginia held its primary last week, and the November general election will be the last time the state uses this map because legislative districts will need to be redrawn to account for results from the 2020 census.

The political boundaries are important because Republicans currently control the House by a 51-49 margin.

The justices let stand a lower court decision putting in place the new map, saying Republicans in the state House did not have right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The state could have decided to bring the case but did not, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote.

“One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process,” she wrote. The four justices who joined her were Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch, a lineup that included conservatives and liberals. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Roberts and three other justices — Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh.

The case stemmed from a map drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011, after the last census, and used in the four elections since. Democratic voters sued in 2014, accusing Republicans of packing black voters into certain districts to make surrounding ones whiter and more Republican.

A lower court ruled 2-1 last year that the previous, legislative-crafted map improperly factored race into the drawing of 11 of the 100 House districts. After lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on a redistricting plan, the lower court chose a new map from a series of proposals submitted by a special master.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed a lower court to take another look at a lawsuit that involved Google and privacy concerns and ended in a class-action settlement.

The high court said in an unsigned opinion that a lower court should address whether those who sued had the right to do so. The Google users who sued argued that the search engine sends website operators potentially identifying information when someone clicks on a link produced by a search. They said the practice violates users’ privacy under federal law.

Google eventually agreed to include certain disclosures about its practices on three webpages and settle the class action for $8.5 million. Of that amount, $2.1 million went to lawyers, $1 million paid administrative costs and $5.3 million was set aside for six organizations that deal with internet privacy issues. The individuals who initially sued received $5,000 each, but the millions of Google users they represented received nothing. If all 129 million people had been paid, they would have gotten 4 cents each.

The justices had taken the case because it raised issues of fairness in the rare instances in which courts approve a “cy-pres” settlement, roughly translated as near as possible, and find it’s impractical to send money to the very large class of affected people.

But the court’s opinion Wednesday didn’t deal with that issue. The justices said a lower court needed to address whether the individuals who sued were entitled to do so. The justices said a federal trial court or the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should resolve that issue.


The tiny balloon was supposed to stretch open a blocked artery on Charles Riegel's diseased heart. Instead, when the doctor inflated the balloon, it burst.

The patient went on life support but survived. His lawsuit against the manufacturer of that arterial balloon did not.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Medtronic, among the world's largest makers of medical devices, setting a precedent that has killed lawsuits involving some of the most sophisticated devices on the market.

The device that harmed Riegel had cleared the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's most rigorous review, known as "pre-market approval." To reach consumers, Medtronic provided regulators with documentation that the Evergreen Balloon Catheter would be safe and effective.

In Riegel v. Medtronic Inc., the justices grappled with whether Medtronic had any liability. They ruled that devices that have received pre-market approval are effectively immune from product liability lawsuits in state courts, where juries can award huge sums. The reasoning: Congress wrote that states couldn't add safety requirements beyond what the FDA imposes.

Since the Supreme Court ruling in 2008, rare is the case when a manufacturer must pay suffering, lost wages and other compensation to patients who claim they were injured by a pre-market approved device. Patients who believe they've been harmed can still sue device makers in federal court.



A German newspaper reports that judges are considering jailing senior Bavarian officials for failing to take action against air pollution in Munich, home to automaker BMW.

Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Monday that the southern German state's administrative court believes jailing officials may be the most effective way of forcing the Bavarian government to enforce emissions-cutting measures.

Munich topped the ranks of 65 German cities that exceeded levels of harmful particles last year. Bavarian officials have refused to impose measures in the state capital — such as limited bans on driving diesel vehicles — despite heavy fines.

According to the report, Bavarian judges want to seek legal guidance from the European Court of Justice on whether jailing officials — including state Environment Minister Marcel Huber and Governor Markus Soeder — would be permissible.



The Supreme Court has dismissed a dispute between the Trump administration and Microsoft over emails the government wanted as part of a drug trafficking investigation.

The justices on Tuesday agreed with both the administration and Microsoft that last month's passage of the Cloud Act as part of a spending bill resolves the dispute and makes the court's intervention unnecessary.

The legislation updated a 32-year-old law that governs how authorities can get electronic communications held by technology companies. The issue was whether Microsoft had to turn over emails that were stored on its server in Ireland.

The Cloud Act makes clear that the government can obtain the emails. The court says in an unsigned opinion that "no live dispute remains between the parties."


Eye drop users everywhere have had it happen. Tilt your head back, drip a drop in your eye and part of that drop always seems to dribble down your cheek.

But what most people see as an annoyance, some prescription drop users say is grounds for a lawsuit. Drug companies' bottles dispense drops that are too large, leaving wasted medication running down their faces, they say.

Don't roll your eyes. Major players in Americans' medicine cabinets — including Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Merck and Pfizer — are asking the Supreme Court to get involved in the case.

On the other side are patients using the companies' drops to treat glaucoma and other eye conditions. Wasted medication affects their wallets, they say. They argue they would pay less for their treatment if their bottles of medication were designed to drip smaller drops. That would mean they could squeeze more doses out of every bottle. And they say companies could redesign the droppers on their bottles but have chosen not to.

The companies, for their part, have said the patients shouldn't be able to sue in federal court because their argument they would have paid less for treatment is based on a bottle that doesn't exist and speculation about how it would affect their costs if it did. They point out that the size of their drops was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and redesigned bottles would require FDA approval. The cost of changes could be passed on to patients, possibly resulting in treatment that costs more, they say.

Courts haven't seen eye to eye on whether patients should be able to sue. That's why the drugmakers are asking the Supreme Court to step in. A federal appeals court in Chicago threw out one lawsuit over drop size. But a federal appeals court in Philadelphia let the similar case now before the Supreme Court go forward. That kind of disagreement tends to get the Supreme Court's attention.

And if a drop-size lawsuit can go forward, so too could other packaging design lawsuits, like one by "toothpaste users whose tubes of toothpaste did not allow every bit of toothpaste to be used," wrote Kannon Shanmugam, a frequent advocate before the Supreme Court who is representing the drug companies in asking the high court to take the case.


A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

The verdict in the lawsuit brought by the California woman, Eva Echeverria, marks the largest sum awarded in a series of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in courts around the U.S.

Echeverria alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about talcum powder's potential cancer risks. She used the company's baby powder on a daily basis beginning in the 1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to court papers.

Echeverria developed ovarian cancer as a "proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder," she said in her lawsuit.

Echeverria's attorney, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while hospitalized and told him she hoped the verdict would lead Johnson & Johnson to put additional warnings on its products.

"Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years," Robinson said.

"She really didn't want sympathy," he added. "She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women."

The jury's award included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages, Robinson said. The evidence in the case included internal documents from several decades that "showed the jury that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer," Robinson said.

"Johnson & Johnson had many warning bells over a 30 year period but failed to warn the women who were buying its product," he said.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company will appeal the jury's decision. She says while the company sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer that scientific evidence supports the safety of Johnson's baby powder.

The verdict came after a St. Louis, Missouri jury in May awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.

She had blamed her illness on her use of the company's talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years.

Besides that case, three other trials in St. Louis had similar outcomes last year — with juries awarding damages of $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, for a combined total of $307.6 million.

Another St. Louis jury in March rejected the claims of a Tennessee woman with ovarian and uterine cancer who blamed talcum powder for her cancers.

Two similar cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said the plaintiffs' lawyers did not presented reliable evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.

More than 1,000 other people have filed similar lawsuits. Some who won their lawsuits won much lower amounts, illustrating how juries have wide latitude in awarding monetary damages.

Johnson & Johnson is preparing to defend itself and its baby powder at upcoming trials in the U.S., Goodrich said.


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