[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] added six cases [order list, PDF] to its docket on Monday, including a rare grant of certiorari in two pro se cases. In Levin v. United States [docket], the court will consider whether 10 USC § 1089 [text] properly immunizes government medical personnel against battery suits. The statute, also known as the Gonzalez Act, states that suits may only be brought against the US under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) [official website], rather than individual medical personnel employed by the government or military. However, the FTCA includes a waiver for those suits that include battery. After an unsuccessful cataract surgery, Levin attempted to sue for battery against his Navy surgeon and the US government. Levin has pursued the case pro se from the US District Court for the District of Guam to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled [opinion text] against Levin’s claim, saying, “while we concede that Levin’s reading of the Gonzalez Act is plausible, we hold that it is not the best reading of the statute.” Levin, who lives in Guam, where it was midnight when the certiorari grant was announced, does not own a telephone and will be notified by mail [AP report] that his case was accepted.
The second pro se grant, Millbrook v. United States [docket], also involves concerns of government immunity: whether 28 USC § 1346 [text] waives the immunity of prison guards who commit intentional torts, within the scope of their authority but not while committing a search, seizure or arrest. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a ruling for summary judgment [opinion text] against Kim Millbrook based on lack of evidence, and that he had no cause under 28 USC § 1346. Millbrook is an inmate at the US Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and alleged that several male correctional officers sexually assaulted him. He attempted to sue under the FTCA, but the Third Circuit upheld the State’s immunity because when Millbrook stated he was assaulted, it was not during a search, seizure or arrest. The court will only consider if a claim may proceed under that law and not the merits of Millbrook’s case. Millbrook filed in forma pauperis and hand wrote his certiorari petition.
In Missouri v. McNeely [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will consider whether the Fourth Amendment [text] allows a police officer to take a warrantless blood test to test for alcohol levels. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled [opinion text] that the exigency standard set in Schmerber v. California [opinion text] for warrantless intrusions of the body, “requires more than the mere dissipation of blood-alcohol evidence.”
In Gabelli v. Securities and Exchange Commission [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will consider the statute of limitations under 28 USC § 2462 [text] and if it begins tolling when the government can first bring an action against a penalty. The statute pertains to the ability of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] to bring penalties against perpetrators of securities fraud.
In Maracich v. Spears [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will rule on whether lawyers can use personal information from driver’s licenses to obtain clients and if they can delay a lawsuit until they have obtained these clients. The lawyers in the case used South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act to obtain driver information from South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This aided them in creating a client list to bring several group action suits against car dealerships. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled [opinion text] that the lawyers did not violate the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA) [text].
Finally, in Delia v. EMA [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will determine whether NC Gen. Stat. § 108A-57 is preempted by the Medicaid Act’s anti-lien provision, 42 USC §§ 1396a(a)(25), 1396k(a) [texts], as it was understood in Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services v. Ahlborn [opinion text]. There is a split between the North Carolina Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [opinion texts].
The court also ruled in Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission [opinion text]. In a per curiam opinion, the court reversed the ruling [JURIST report] of the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia [official website] on West Virginia’s potential redistricting maps. The District Court determined that the plan, which is nearly identical to the 1991 plan but for the movement of one county, focused too heavily on preserving old boundaries as opposed to equal population distribution. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying the District Court had misapplied the test in Karcher v. Daggett [text] by failing to give the State appropriate deference. They reversed on the US Constition claim and remanded, instructing the District Court to reconsider the claims under West Virginia’s state constitution.