Czyzewski v Jevic Holding Corp.

Czyzewski sought review of the 3rd Circuit ruling that bankruptcy courts have the power to order distributions that do not follow bankruptcy code priorities when dismissing a Chapter 11 case. The Court, 6-2, reversed the majority held that Czyzewski had standing as the case could settle now that the reason for excluding him from the settlement has disappeared and the claim has at least some value if only as a contingent lawsuit verdict. The majority held that the priority system is fundamental to the bankruptcy system, Congress did not indicate in any manner an intent to allow the priorities to be altered through a dismissal, the prison in 11 USC 1112 and 349 contemplate a restoration to prepetition status not altering priorities and there is no case law authority for the alteration of priorities at dismissal. Justice Thomas, joined by Alito, dissented arguing the case should be dismissed as the questioned answered by the majority was not raised by Czyzewski at certiorari stage and Jevic did not brief the issue as it was not the one the Court accepted for decision.

Star Athletica, L.L.C. v Varsity Brands, Inc.

Star sought review of the 6th Circuit decision upholding Varsity’s copyright in the design elements on cheerleader outfits. The Court, 6 (5 justice majority and Ginsberg concurring in judgment)-2 affirmed. The majority held that analysis under 17 USC 101 as to whether the design elements are protected pictorial, graphical or sculptural works is necessary as the text of the 101 applies to two dimension design elements as well as thee dimensional objects. It refused to consider a United States government argument as it was made of the first time at the Court. The majority held that consistent with the text of 101 and the history of copyright and design elements including Court precedent under a prior copyright act and the implementing regulations adopting the rule form that case, copyright for design elements on a useful item is available when the design can be identified separately form the item and can exist independently of the item such as being affixed to some other medium. Here, the design elements of chevrons, colors, shapes and stripes can be identified separately from the uniform and can be displayed on other mediums like painter’s canvas and thus Varsity’s design can be copyrighted. It rejected Star and the government’s counterarguments holding the test under 101 does not consider the useful item after the imagined removal of copyrightable design features and the removal involved is conceptual not physical and the offered considerations of artistic judgment and marketability are simply not part of the statutory test. Ginsberg concurred in judgment arguing the design features were copyrightable pictorial or graphical works under 17 USC 102(a)(5) that were reproduced on the useful item of cheerleader outfit and thus the majority’s analysis under 101 is unnecessary. Justice Breyer, joined by Kennedy, dissented arguing the design features cannot be separated form the useful item of cheerleader outfits and thus are not eligible for copyright protection.

Endrew F. through Joseph F. and Jennifer F. v Douglas County School District RE-1

Endrew F. sought review of the 10th Circuit decision that held the individuals With Disabilities Education Act only required more than de minimus improvement to satisfy the free appropriate public education standard. Resolving a circuit split on the correct standard to evaluate FAPE claims, the Court unanimously reversed. It rejected District’s argument that the 10th Circuit approach merely followed Court precedent holding the precedent dealt with a child making more progress than students without disabilities and explicitly stated no standard was being adopted. It held the case adopted the general approach of requiring and education plan reasonably calculated to allow the child in question to make progress appraise in light of the child’s circumstances, this approach is consistent with the purposes of Congress in passing the Act and focuses on individual needs as mandated by the Act. The Court further noted that typically, plans will aim for integration into normal classroom and advancement from grade to grade with appropriately ambitious alternate goals if normal curricular progress is not possible and thus the 10th Circuit standard is wrong and remand was necessary for analysis under the correct standard. The Court noted that Endrew F.’s proposed equality of opportunity standard was rejected in earlier Court precedent and the Act has not materially changed and thus it rejected the proposed equal opportunity standard.