Tag Archives: Court of Appeals

A Win For Medical Marijuana in California

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif., Aug. 30, 2011 — After a lengthy court battle, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two ruled against the city of Lake Elsinore in its efforts to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries within its boundaries.

In December of 2009, the City Council members of Lake Elsinore voted to ban medical marijuana operations in the city, which included the collective called R Side Medical among other names, owned by Luis “Carlos” Stahl and his son Eric. Because the state law conflicts with the federal law on the legality of marijuana, the constitutionality of such bans are being challenged across California. Many lawyers, such as the Stahls’ attorney, Christopher M. Glew of the Law Offices of Glew & Kim, contend that the ban presents a serious legal quandary that may eventually reach the Supreme Court.

The Stahls’ collective operated under a city-issued business license in Lake Elsinore, and Carlos Stahl insists that his license did not prohibit him from distributing marijuana to its members. In March, after a four-month investigation, the city formally disagreed, serving search warrants and arresting three people, including Carlos Stahl’s wife, Carol Stahl.

“The Stahls had been a victim of police harassment for months, which showed blatant bias against the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” explains Glew. “We are happy that the Court of Appeal saw the legality of our case and ruled in favor of our client, the Stahls. This is a victory for not just the Stahls, but for the people who depend on these dispensaries for relief from illnesses.”

The Stahls will waste no time in reopening their business at its most recent location on Casino Drive, yet will be required to strictly follow all city codes, according to Lake Elsinore Code Enforcement Manager Robin Chipman.

Texas Supreme Court Decision Strengthens State’s Workers’ Comp Law

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Supreme Court of Texas issued a decision today in Texas Mutual Insurance Company v. Timothy J. Ruttiger that strengthens a law affecting millions of Texans—the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Court reversed the Houston Court of Appeals and rendered judgment that Mr. Ruttiger take nothing on his Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act claims.

Justice Phil Johnson wrote in strong terms that a bad faith cause of action is inconsistent with the current workers’ compensation system.

“[If the plaintiff were to prevail, the precedent would build] additional costs into the system by increasing litigation expense to employees, insurers and employers,” Justice Johnson wrote. “The way the dispute was resolved after Ruttiger initiated the dispute resolution process is the way the Act is designed to function.”

Lawsuits claiming “bad faith” on the part of all insurance carriers, Texas Mutual included, were on the increase when the Ruttiger case first came to the courts. In 2004, Texas Mutual disputed Mr. Ruttiger’s claim for an on-the-job injury because his employer reported that he was hurt at a non-work related softball game. Texas Mutual ultimately entered into a compromise agreement with Mr. Ruttiger over the claim. In 2006, a trial court found that the company’s adjuster had acted in “bad faith” by believing the employer instead of Mr. Ruttiger. The court awarded money to Mr. Ruttiger in excess of the amounts Texas Mutual had already paid him to cover his medical costs and replace his wages. He was also awarded extra money for his “mental anguish over having his claim disputed.”

The First Court of Appeals in Houston upheld the original decision, and Texas Mutual appealed to the Supreme Court.

“The Texas Supreme Court has today given careful consideration to the many speedy remedies and protections that the Legislature has granted to injured workers,” Mary Barrow Nichols, General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Texas Mutual, said.  “It found that permitting an injured worker to additionally recover with a lawsuit of this kind is inconsistent with these remedies and protections. This decision is a significant victory for Texas employers.”

To see the full text of the decision, please visit www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/.

Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Company is the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance, with approximately 32 percent of the market. Since 1991, the company has provided a stable, competitively priced source of workers’ comp insurance for Texas employers. Helping employers prevent workplace accidents is a major part of Texas Mutual’s mission. For more information, visitwww.texasmutual.com.

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Christian
[email protected]
Kristin Marcum
[email protected]
Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations
(512) 472-9599

SOURCE Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Web Site: http://www.texasmutual.com

Another Federal Court Declares Obamacare Mandate Unconstitutional

The 11th Circuit court of appeals in Atlanta has dealt another blow to Obama’s health care law ruling it unconstitutional to require Americans to purchase health insurance.

The majority stated in its opinion that the mandate ” represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives”.

According to Betsy McCaughey of Defend Your Healthcare the effects of this ruling might be visible almost immediately.

The impact of the 11th circuit ruling is likely to be substantial and immediate:

  1. State governments will slow down or halt their preparations to implement state insurance exchanges as required under the law.
  2. Pressure will build on the administration to scale back or repeal its two costly new health entitlements, which have not gone into effect yet: (1) a costly expansion of Medicaid eligibility and Medicaid benefits and (2) subsidies for middle income people to pay for private health plans on state exchanges. The decision today blew a hole in a major source of revenue to pay for these new entitlements: the penalties on individuals who fail to enroll and employers who fail to provide it to their workers. Without this revenue, the remaining provisions of the law create a large budget deficit.
  3. This is good news for employers who have held off on hiring because of concerns about future mandatory health insurance requirements on employers. If this decision is confirmed by the United States Supreme Court next term, it will remove a barrier to job growth.

While dealing the controversial law a blow, the court also struck down a lower court’s ruling that the entire law is unconstitutional despite the lack of a severability clause.

This court marks the last stop before the Supreme Court for the law suit that was filed by the Attorney Generals of 26 states who want the law repealed. The highest court in the land is expected to take the case in October 2011 when they convene, but a decision may come as late as next Summer which would put it right in the middle of the 2012 Presidential election.

In an effort to downplay yet another negative ruling against the Affordable Care Act, a statement from an Obama aid said, “Today’s ruling is one of many decisions on the Affordable Care Act that we will see in the weeks and months ahead. In the end, we are confident the Act will ultimately be upheld as constitutional”.

The single dissenting opinion was held by a Clinton appointee on the panel and expresses the typical progressive stance that the commerce clause has grown to let Congress do just about anything and should continue to be interpreted that way. Judge Stanley Marcus said that this ruling ignores “the undeniable fact that Congress’ commerce power has grown exponentially over the past two centuries and is now generally accepted as having afforded Congress the authority to create rules regulating large areas of our national economy”.

Should the law be struck down by the Supreme Court, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may well see the only major accomplishment of their political careers erased.