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Petitions to Watch | Conference of 2.27.09

This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conference on February 27. As always, the list contains the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted. To access previous editions of Petitions to Watch, visit our archives on SCOTUSwiki.

Docket: 08-461
Title: Stephenson, et al. v. Dow Chemical Company, et al.
Issue:  Whether the government contractor defense protects manufacturers of military defoliants — “Agent Orange” — against tort claims from injured veterans, when the defective product was ordered and assessed for health risks by the government.


Docket: 08-558
Title: Bourseau, et al. v. United States
Issue:  Whether petitioners who submitted fraudulent Medicare reimbursement reports may be held liable under the “reverse false claims” provision of the False Claims Act and if the government sustained damages from these reports for which it should be rewarded treble damages.


Docket: 08-803, 08-810, 08-826
Title: Frommert v. Conkright; Conkright v. Frommert; Pietrowski v. Conkright
Issue: Whether the statutory requirements for releases of claims under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act are applicable to ERISA claims; whether Firestone deference applies to a plan administrator’s interpretation of benefits when issued outside of the administrative claims process; and whether a totality-of-the-circumstances test should be used to determine if an employee has “knowingly and voluntarily” waived pension benefits by signing a boilerplate release.


Cases involving lawyers from Akin Gump or Howe & Russell (listed without regard to likelihood of being granted):

Docket: 08-514
Title: Mitchell  v. Rees
Issue:  May a federal court ever grant a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) in a case involving legal error?
(Howe & Russell represents the petitioner.)