Law News Digest – Week of April 5, 2015

4/10

Oklahoma legislature passed bill to allow for execution by nitrogen gas. If governor signs the bill, the state would be the first in the country to allow the method. The bill is in anticipation of a possible ruling by the Supreme Court that lethal injection is unconstitutional for being “cruel and unusual punishment,” based on recent botched executions with the drugs in which inmates appeared to writhe in pain for hours before dying.

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp fined $1.6 billion for natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California in 2010 that killed 8 people. It is the largest fine ever imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Georgia agrees to provide hormone therapy to transgender inmates, in response to lawsuit arguing denial is “cruel and unusual punishment.” The move comes after last week’s decision by a federal judge in California that denial of such treatment is indeed unconstitutional.

4/9

Amazon is suing 3 websites and an individual for allegedly creating fake product reviews and for infringing Amazon’s trademark. This is the first time Amazon has sued to protect its review system.

Two major U.S. labs have agreed to pay $48.5 million to government to settle claim that they paid kickbacks to doctors for referring patients for unnecessary tests.

4/8

Boston Marathon Bombing: Jury finds Dzhokar Tsarnaev guilty of 30 criminal counts related to bombing of 2013 Boston Marathon.

Video shows South Carolina police officer shooting apparently unarmed black man as he is fleeing. The police officer is being charged with murder.

Kansas becomes 1st state in country to ban a common 2nd trimester abortion procedure. Many believe the law is unconstitutional, since the government may not place significant restrictions on abortions before “viability of the fetus” (usually meaning 3rd trimester).

Greenpeace activists climbed aboard an oil rig on Monday to protest oil drilling in Alaska. Shell has asked a court to kick them off.

4/6

University of Virginia frat is suing Rolling Stone magazine for defamation due to its allegedly “reckless” reporting in the story “A Rape on Campus.” The magazine had reported that the frat hosted a gang rape, but later retracted the story.

Divorce via Facebook: In what is believed to be a first in the U.S., a judge in NY is allowing a woman to send divorce papers to her husband via facebook message.

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