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US Supreme Court takes Title VII, drug labeling, "light" cigarette cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Friday granted certiorari in six cases [order list, PDF], including Crawford v. Nashville and Davidson Cty., TN (06-1595) [docket; cert. petition], in which the Supreme Court will consider whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act [text] protects a government employee against being fired for cooperating with an internal sexual harassment probe against a superior. A payroll employee in the Nashville school system was interviewed as part of an investigation into harassment claims against a high-ranking official in the system; she alleges that the official later fired her in retaliation for her statements against him. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the lawsuit [opinion, PDF], ruling that Title VII protections did not extend to the employee because she was not the originator of the sexual harassment claims being investigated. AP has more.

In Wyeth v. Levine (06-1249) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] approval of a drug's warning label protects its manufacturer from liability when a patient has a bad reaction to the drug that forces her arm to be amputated. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled [opinion] that FDA approval does not shield the maker from liability, because states can require additional warnings above and beyond those required by federal regulations. AP has more.

In Altria Group v. Good (07-562) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act bars state lawsuits based on allegedly deceptive cigarette advertising. A federal judge originally dismissed a suit brought by three Maine smokers who accused Philip Morris of presenting light cigarettes as less harmful than they really are, but the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reinstated the case [ruling]. AP has more.

In MetLife v. Glenn (06-923) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether an employee benefit plan administrator has an illegal conflict of interest under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act [text; US DOL backgrounder] if he has both the authority to pay benefits and to determine employees' eligibility for benefits. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled [PDF text] that the administrator did have a potential conflict of interest.

In Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab. (06-1505) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether a worker or an employer has the burden of proof in an age discrimination case where a worker says he was fired for no valid reason. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held [PDF text] that the burden of proof rests on the worker.

Finally, in Summers v. Earth Island Institute (07-463) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether a group of environmentalists can sue to have a Forest Service regulation struck down or if they are limited only to suing to end programs enacted under that regulation. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held [PDF text] that the environmentalists could sue against the regulation itself. SCOTUSblog has more on all six cases.

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