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State Court Domestic Relations Order Was Qualified Domestic Relations Order Under ERISA, and

By FindLaw Staff on July 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Mack v. Kuckenmeister, No. 09-15290, concerned an action in federal court seeking to interplead $500,000 in retirement pension funds formerly owned by a murder victim.  The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the action on the ground that state courts had subject matter jurisdiction to decide that a state court issued domestic relations order was a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

State of Cal. v. Hearthside Resid. Corp., No. 09-55389, involved an action by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control seeking cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  The court of appeals affirmed partial summary judgment for plaintiff on the ground that the owner of the property at the time cleanup costs are incurred is the current owner for purposes of determining CERCLA liability.

In US v. Thomas, No. 08-10450, the court of appeals affirmed cyclist Tammy Thomas's convictions for three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, on the grounds that 1) the jury could reasonably have concluded from all this testimony that defendant's grand jury testimony that she never received any "other products" was not literally true; 2) a reasonable jury could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant understood the question in count three of the indictment as the government understood it and that she answered falsely based on this understanding; and 3) there was sufficient evidence for the jury reasonably to conclude that defendant did not offer literally true answers in the exchange charged in count four of the indictment.

Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Ent'mt., Inc., No. 09-55673, involved an action for copyright infringement and breach of an employment agreement arising out of defendant's sale of a toy doll idea to a competitor of plaintiff instead of disclosing and assigning it to plaintiff as required by the agreement.  The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's injunction in favor of plaintiff on the grounds that 1) the district court's imposition of a constructive trust forcing defendant-corporation to hand over its sweat equity was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated; 2) because the agreement's language was ambiguous and some extrinsic evidence supported each party's reading, the district court erred by granting summary judgment to plaintiff on this issue and holding that the agreement clearly assigned works made outside the scope of defendant's employment; and 3) the district court's error in construing the employment agreement was sufficient to vacate the copyright injunction.

Rubio v. Capital One Bank, No. 08-56544, concerned an action against a credit card provider based on its alleged violation of a "fixed" annual percentage rate condition in its solicitation materials.  The court of appeals affirmed in part the dismissal of the complaint, holding that could not assert unconscionability as an independent claim for relief.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that 1) the Schumer Box and the paragraph linked to it by an asterisk in the solicitation described the APR as "fixed" and listed only three events under which the APR could increase, and this disclosure was not clear and conspicuous; and 2) by properly alleging a Truth In Lending Act violation, Rubio has also alleged an Unfair Competition Law violation under the prong of the UCL that prohibits "unlawful" business acts or practices.

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