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The California Supreme Court has left intact a ruling that allows customers to sue Amazon.com for failing to warn buyers that some products it sells may contain hazardous substances such as mercury.

The court in its decision Wednesday denied a request by Amazon’s lawyers to review a lower court ruling that said Amazon violated the state’s Proposition 65, which requires companies to warn consumers about products they make or sell that contain chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or birth defects.

The case involved a lawsuit filed in Alameda County that said the online retail giant knowingly allowed skin-lightening creams to be sold on its website for years despite being aware of concerns about toxic mercury levels in such creams.

Mercury can harm pregnant women and their fetuses. The suit alleged that some of the products produced by third parties but sold on Amazon contained mercury levels that were thousands of times the U.S. federal legal limit.

Amazon said in a statement Thursday that safety is a top priority and that the products in question have long since been removed.

“We require that all products comply with applicable laws and regulations, and we have proactive measures in place to prevent suspicious or non-compliant products from being listed and we monitor the products sold in our stores for product safety concerns,” the statement said.

The Supreme Court’s action allows the previous court ruling to be used as precedent in state courts.

However, California has such a large market share that any actions Amazon takes to comply with Proposition 65 could have a much wider impact on consumers, said Rachel Doughty, a plaintiff’s attorney in the suit.


A man and two companies in Alaska have been sentenced to three years probation and a $35,000 fine for violating the Clean Air Act involving asbestos work at a shopping center more than five years ago, a judge said.

The work was performed at the Northern Lights Center in Anchorage, the former location of an REI store. Reports of potential asbestos exposure at the time closed the store for a day back in 2015, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred sentenced Tae Ryung Yoon, 64, on Friday to probation, fined him $35,000 and said he owes $30,000 in restitution for medical monitoring of the four workers who claimed they were exposed to asbestos, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The owners of Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corp. were also sentenced after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of violating the Clean Air Act’s Asbestos Work Practice Standards. Both companies are owned by Chun Yoo, who is in his 80s and has “serious medical conditions,” and his wife, attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said. The couple still owns the center.

The case centers on workers who said they were exposed to asbestos during improperly conducted renovations involving an old boiler room. The work was stopped when two of the workers raised concerns.

High levels of asbestos exposure can cause lung disease or cancer.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the building owners and manager relied on a contractor who was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor and “failed to inform the contractor of the possibility of asbestos in the old boiler room.”

Fitzgerald argued that an assessment indicated no evidence of asbestos when his clients bought the center in 2006. Yoon was the building’s property manager at the time.

Documents show the boilers were replaced by another company in 2012 and the old ones were removed in 2014 to make more room. Some of the workers took photos of what they thought was asbestos and emailed them to the property management company that employed Yoon.



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."

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