Monday’s decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett resolves a dispute about the vesting of health-care benefits under a collective bargaining agreement. Neither the Employee Retirement Income Security Act nor the National Labor Relations Act obligates employers to provide health-care benefits, but of course employers often do, and their commitments to provide those benefits often appear in collective-bargaining agreements. As so many companies struggle to deal with the overhang of providing employee benefits to long-retired employees, it should be no surprise that employers are pressing harder and harder to limit those obligations. Hence the litigation at hand.

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FURTHER UPDATE Monday 4:52 p.m.  The generic companies have now filed their reply brief, arguing that Teva has not actually taken any significant step — and may not be able to do so — in the trial court, so the Supreme Court should go ahead and send down its ruling.

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UPDATE: This new dispute will be submitted initially to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, instead of to the Chief Justice.  Breyer was the author of the Court’s Teva decision.

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The high-dollar feud between drug companies over the rights to sell a hugely profitable drug for treating multiple sclerosis patients has reopened in the Supreme Court, just days after the Justices ruled in favor of the brand-name company.  The new dispute centers on the timing of lower-court actions that are to follow the Justices’ decision last Tuesday in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., v. Sandoz.

Sandoz, Inc., and other makers of generic versions of Teva’s brand-name Copaxone drug want the Justices to quickly release the formal document implementing last week’s ruling so that a federal appeals court can move ahead quickly on a new round, but Teva is seeking to protect its existing monopoly to continue selling the drug without generic competition while additional proceedings unfold. Continue reading »

FURTHER UPDATED Monday 5:23 p.m.   The three inmates’ lawyers have now filed a response, urging the Court to delay the execution until after it decides the case on the merits; they do not support cutting off a stay if Oklahoma adopts a new protocol.

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UPDATED Monday 2:46 p.m.  The application to delay the executions (docket 14A796) is here.  The state said it is continuing to search for a supply of drugs previously approved for lethal injections and, if it locates them, would then ask the Court for permission to go ahead with the executions.  Otherwise, it sought a delay until after the Supreme Court rules on the pending case, which will be heard in late April.

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The state of Oklahoma will ask the Supreme Court on Monday to delay three executions by lethal drugs while the Justices weigh a new test case, but it will also seek the option of resuming executions if the officials put together a new drug protocol, lawyers for the state said.  The application for postponement is expected to be filed at the Court shortly.

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We are live blogging this morning as orders and opinions are issued. The live blog is here.

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Monday round-up

By on Jan 26, 2015 at 7:56 am

On Friday afternoon the Court issued grants from its January 23 Conference.  Its announcement that it would review a challenge by a group of Oklahoma death-row inmates to the state’s lethal-injection protocol drew the most attention.  Lyle Denniston covered the grant for this blog; other coverage comes from Nina Totenberg of NPR, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), and Adam Liptak and Erik Eckholm of The New York Times.  In another story for The New York Times, Adam Liptak notes that the Court’s announcement on Friday “brought fresh attention to the life-or-death importance of a single vote.”   The Court also granted review in OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, a lawsuit arising from an accident in Austria in which a California woman was seriously injured on a government-owned railroad.  Ingrid Wuerth discusses the grant at Lawfare, concluding that “the case is likely to be of broad significance for FSIA litigation in part because it has been more than two decades since the Court directly addressed the statute’s commercial activity exception” and because it will “contribute to the Roberts Court’s growing legacy of significant foreign relations-related cases.” Continue reading »

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This week at the Court

By on Jan 25, 2015 at 12:01 am

On Friday the Court granted two new cases from its January 23 Conference. Lyle covered those orders here. On Monday at 9:30 a.m. we expect additional orders from the January 23 Conference, as well as one or more opinions in argued cases at 10:00. We will be live-blogging here.

 
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Petition of the day

By on Jan 23, 2015 at 10:10 pm

The petition of the day is:

14-354

Issue: (1) Whether a government policy expressly excluding “religious worship services” from a broadly open forum violates the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause; and (2) whether a government policy expressly excluding “religious worship services” from a broadly open forum violates the Free Speech Clause.

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday afternoon to hear the appeal of three Oklahoma death-row inmates who are challenging the three-drug protocol the state now uses for executions.  The Court on January 15 had refused, by a five-to-four vote, to grant delays of four inmates’ executions, and one of them was put to death that night. The other three remain in the case.

Even while agreeing to hear the case, the Justices took no action — at least not immediately — to put off any of the execution dates for the three still involved.  The next such date is next Thursday.

The Court, in a separate order, agreed to clarify when an agent of a foreign government may be sued in U.S. courts for an overseas incident involving an official agency of the foreign state.  That case is OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, involving a California woman who was injured in an accident in Austria involving the railroad owned by the Austrian government.  The woman lost both legs in the accident. Continue reading »

This week’s argument audio

By on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Oyez has posted audio recordings of this week’s oral arguments.

The Court heard arguments this week in:

Posted in Merits Cases
 
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