The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in six cases. In Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether an Arizona statute imposing sanctions on employers that hire illegal immigrants is preempted by federal law. According to 8 USC § 1324(a)(h)(2) [text], federal law preempts any "[s]tate or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens," except in cases of state licensing laws. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] the Legal Arizona Workers Act [materials] on the basis that the state statute is a licensing law, which exempts it from being preempted by the federal law.
The court will also hear the case of Janus Capital Group v. First Derivative Traders [docket; cert. petition, PDF], where it will determine if a service provider can be held primarily liable in a private securities fraud suit for aiding and participating in another company's misstatements. Section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act [materials] prohibits any manipulation or deception in connection with the purchase or sale of securities, but it is unclear whether the liability associated with the act extends to service providers who aided in the selling of securities where misinformation was involved. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the district court decision [opinion, PDF] and allowed a class action against the petitioner to proceed, holding that a service provider may be liable for securities fraud. There is currently a circuit split on this issue.
In CIGNA Corp. v. Amara [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will determine what "showing" is required to entitle participants of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) [materials] to recover benefits where there has been an alleged inconsistency between the explanation of benefits and the terms of the plan. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit applied a "likely harm" standard when affirming the district court's ruling. The circuit courts are deeply divided over this issue, with some requiring a showing of prejudice or reliance in order to recover benefits and others only requiring a discrepancy between the explanation of benefits and the terms of the plan. The Second Circuit has been the only circuit to apply the "likely harm" standard.
The court denied certiorari in Philip Morris v. United States [cert. petition, PDF] and six other cases involving tobacco companies, where the tobacco companies were asking the court to overturn a 2006 district court ruling [JURIST reports] that held the tobacco industry [JURIST news archive] liable under civil racketeering laws for deceiving American consumers as to the health effects of their products. The tobacco companies had argued that the district court's decision did not properly consider issues involving the First Amendment [text] and that the government's application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) [18 USC §§ 19611968] was overbroad. The court declined to hear the cases without comment.
The court also denied certiorari in Holy See v. John Doe [cert. petition, PDF], where the Holy See [official website] was asking the court to consider whether it is entitled to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) [28 USC § 1602 et seq text]. The plaintiff filed a respondeat superior claim against the Vatican alleging that he was a victim of clergy sexual abuse [JURIST news archive] and that the church could be held responsible as the offending priest's employer. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the district court's ruling that the tort claim fell under the exemptions to FSIA and the Vatican, therefore, did not have immunity. The court declined to hear the case without comment.