Calendar of Cases

Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A.

Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A.

James Thole and Sherry Smith, participants in the U.S. Bancorp Pension Plan, brought a putative class action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) Section 502(a)(2), to enjoin plan fiduciaries from investing over 40 percent of plan assets in the bank’s proprietary mutual funds in violation of ERISA’s prohibited transaction rules, and from investing 100 percent of plan assets in high-risk equities in violation of ERISA’s diversification rule.

Kelly v. United States

Kelly v. United States

The defendants, two former New Jersey officials convicted in “Bridgegate,” challenge the scope of federal prosecutorial power under the generic wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1343. They argue that the government sidestepped the Court’s explicit prohibition on inquiries into an official’s real reasons for an official act, unless bribery or kickbacks are involved. The defendants urge the Court to foreclose the government from circumventing limitations on the honest-services fraud doctrine under McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350 (1987), and Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010). The government argues that the defendants’ actions met all statutory elements without the jury having to assess their underlying political motives.

Romag Fasteners v. Fossil

A District of Connecticut jury found that Fossil 1) infringed Romag Fasteners’ trademark; 2) infringed Romag Fasteners’ patent; and 3) falsely represented its products as being from Romag Fasteners. The jury did not find that Fossil willfully infringed, but awarded Romag Fasteners Fossil’s profits based upon a finding that Fossil acted with “callous disregard” for Romag Fasteners’ trademark rights. The Federal Circuit reversed because the Second Circuit required a willfulness finding for a profits award. The issue highlighted a circuit split. Six circuits require a willfulness finding to award profits—the First, Second, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits. Six other circuits—the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits—do not require willfulness.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

In 2015, the Montana legislature enacted a program that provided a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for taxpayers who made a donation to a Student Scholarship Organization. The Student Scholarship Organization, in turn, would provide scholarships to students to attend private schools, including private schools affiliated with a religion. The Montana Supreme Court ruled that the program violated a state constitutional provision that bans the use of public funds to support religious activities. The court struck the program, and this appeal followed.