Articles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Grand Resort, which has operated in the Great Smoky Mountains since 1982, claims that TripAdvisor’s publication of a survey that concluded that Grand Resort was the dirtiest hotel in America caused irreparable damage to its business and that TripAdvisor used a flawed rating system that distorted actual performance and perspective. The district court dismissed, reasoning that the “dirtiest hotels” list is protected opinion; it reflects TripAdvisor’s users’ subjective opinions and is not capable of being defamatory. The court rejected a motion to amend to add claims of trade libel-injurious falsehood and tortious interference with prospective business relationships to the claims of false light-invasion of privacy and of defamation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting that amendment of the complaint would be futile. View "Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Michigan anti-begging statute, Mich. Comp. Laws 900, has existed since at least 1929 and provides that “[a] person is a disorderly person if the person is any of the following: ... (h) A person found begging in a public place.” A person convicted under section 750.167(1)(h) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. The Grand Rapids police recorded 409 incidents of police enforcing the anti-begging law from 2008–2011. Plaintiffs, two homeless adults, were arrested. One was holding signs saying: “Cold and Hungry, God Bless” and “Need Job, God Bless.” The other, a veteran, needed money for bus fare, and asked a person on the street: “Can you spare a little change?” The Sixth Circuit affirmed that the law was unconstitutional. Begging is a form of solicitation that the First Amendment protects and the statute cannot withstand facial attack because it prohibits a substantial amount of solicitation, but allows other solicitation based on content. View "Speet v. Schuette" on Justia Law

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The Contributor produces a street newspaper to educate people about homelessness and poverty and helps develop job skills for homeless and formerly homeless persons, employing them as street vendors. Two such vendors were cited for attempting to sell issues of the newspaper on the streets and sidewalks of Brentwood, Tennessee, under an ordinance that provided that no person could use or occupy any portion of the city street, alley, sidewalk or the public right-of-way to sell any goods or materials. The city then revised the ordinance to provide that it should not “be construed as prohibiting the sale or distribution of newspapers, magazines, periodicals, handbills, flyers or similar materials, except that: (1) Such activity shall be prohibited on any portion of any street within the city. (2) Such materials shall not be handed to the occupant of any motor vehicle that is on a street, nor shall any action be taken which is intended or reasonably calculated to cause the vehicle occupant to hand anything to the person selling or distributing the materials." The district court upheld the revised ordinance as leaving open adequate alternative channels of communication. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "The Contributor v. City of Brentwood" on Justia Law

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The Tennessee Adult-Oriented Establishment Registration Act of 1998 is a county-option state law to address deleterious secondary effects associated with adult-oriented businesses, including crime, spread of venereal disease, and decreased property values. Adult-oriented establishments that are subject to the Act, and their employees, must obtain licenses. The Act prohibits nudity, certain sexual activities, touching of certain anatomical areas, all physical contact during performances, sale or consumption of alcohol on the premises; it requires that all performances occur on a stage at least 18 inches above floor level with all performers at least six feet away from customers and other performers. Shelby County adopted the Act in 2007. Owners of adult establishments challenged the ordinance. Following denial of a preliminary injunction, the district court granted summary judgment upholding the law, except with respect to a claim of facial invalidity attacking the reasonableness of coverage of establishments featuring “briefly attired” dancers. The court then rejected that challenge. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting First Amendment challenges. View "Entm't Prods., Inc. v. Shelby Cnty." on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Michigan legislature enacted laws that barred sexually oriented businesses from displaying signs on the premises that contained more than “words or numbers,” Mich. Comp. Laws 125.2833; and imposed similar restrictions on off-site billboards, Mich. Comp. Laws 252.318a. In response to a First Amendment challenge, the district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement. The state stipulated to a final judgment declaring both laws facially unconstitutional and permanently enjoining enforcement. Two months later, Platinum, represented by the same attorney who had won the first lawsuits, sued the same defendants, challenging the same laws on the same free speech grounds. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The legal possibility that “this Governor or this Attorney General will enforce these laws in the face of these injunctions is: zero.” Platinum Sports has no cognizable theory of injury. View "Platinum Sports Ltd. v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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Michigan’s 2012 Public Act 53 provides: “A public school employer’s use of public school resources to assist a labor organization in collecting dues or service fees from wages of public school employees is a prohibited contribution to the administration of a labor organization,” so that unions must collect their own membership dues from public-school employees, rather than have the schools collect those dues via payroll deductions. The Act does not bar public employers other than schools from collecting membership dues for unions who represent their employees. Unions and union members challenged the Act under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court entered a preliminary injunction barring enforcement. The Sixth Circuit reversed, quoting the Supreme Court: “The First Amendment prohibits government from ‘abridging the freedom of speech’; it does not confer an affirmative right to use government payroll mechanisms for the purpose of obtaining funds for expression.” The court further reasoned that there is a legitimate interest in support of the Act’s classification; the legislature could have concluded that it is more important for the public schools to conserve their limited resources for their core mission than it is for other state and local employers. View "Bailey v. Callaghan" on Justia Law

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TracFone provides prepaid wireless phone service primarily through third-party retailers. The Commercial Mobile Radio Service Emergency Telecommunications Board, created by the Kentucky General Assembly to develop an emergency 911 system for wireless customers, sued to collect unpaid fees from TracFone. KRS § 65.7635 requires wireless providers to collect a fee from their customers and remit the money to the CRMS for the cost of maintaining the 911 system. The district court ruled in favor of the Board with respect to the interpretation of the statute but declined to award prejudgment interest on TracFone’s unpaid fees. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument concerning ambiguity in the statute. TracFone was required to remit fees from the effective date of the statute, regardless of what method it chose. View "KY Commercial Mobile Radio Serv. Emergency Telecommunications Bd. v. Tracfone Wireless, Inc." on Justia Law

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Cogent sued, alleging that Hyalogic was disseminating false information regarding Cogent’s product Baxyl, an “oral, liquid HA supplement that is sold into the human natural products market.” Shortly after the filing, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. Cogent moved to enforce the settlement agreement, claiming that Hyalogic caused false and misleading videos to be uploaded to You Tube and by statements made at a conference. The district court found no breach of the settlement agreement and denied the motion. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The contract unambiguously refers to a clear statement “about the other Party’s product.” Statements that refer to preservatives that can be found in a number of products, including Cogent’s products, are not statements “about the other Party’s products.” View "Cogent Solutions Grp, LLC v. Hyalogic, LLC" on Justia Law

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AT&T and Intrado, rival telecommunications carriers, submitted to an arbitration conducted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to determine how to interconnect their networks to service 9-1-1 calls. AT&T insisted that all points of interconnection be on its network, relying on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C 251(c), a provision only applicable to incumbent carriers like AT&T. The Commission rejected this request, relied on the general provisions of Section 251(a), and ordered the carriers to establish interconnection points on both AT&T’s and Intrado’s networks. The district court and Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Commission exceeded its arbitral authority by applying Section 251(a) because Intrado had petitioned for interconnection only under Section 251(c). The Commission properly interpreted an incumbent carrier’s interconnection duties under the Act. View "OH Bell Tel. Co. v. Pub. Utils Comm'n of OH" on Justia Law

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KDMC operates a regional medical center. SEIU is a labor union that represents health care and social service workers and has a collective bargaining agreement with KDMC. In 2010, concerned about the cost of health care for KDMC employees, SEIU launched a two-day robo-call campaign, targeting KDMC, to protest proposals that would shift a larger cost to employees. Residents within KDMC’s service area received calls from an automated system that played a prerecorded voice message criticizing KDMC’s plans in dramatic terms. The message did not disclose that the SEIU was responsible for the call. Call recipients who opted to press “1” during the call were patched through to the direct extension for KDMC CEO Jackson. KDMC alleges that Jackson’s extension received 536 live calls over the two-day period and that the high volume of calls overwhelmed its main trunk lines. KDMC filed suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U.S.C. 227. The district court dismissed, holding that the Act does not extend to purposeful calls made by individuals seeking to express an opinion, noting that the calls required a real person to “exercise independent judgment” in order to connect to Jackson. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "Ashland Hosp. Corp. v. Serv. Emps. Int'l Union" on Justia Law