Hana Financial, Inc. v Hanna Bank

Financial sued bank for trademark infringement. Bank raised a tacking defense arguing it had two marks that were legal equivalents over time and thus it had priority of use. The 9th Circuit held tacking is a jury issue and the jury found for Bank. Resolving a circuit split on whether tacking is jury or judge issue, the Court unanimously affirmed. It held that because tacking involves a fact intensive analysis from the point of view of a reasonable consumer, a jury is the appropriate decision-maker as those kinds of decisions in tort, contract or criminal law are made by juries. The Court dismissed concerns this would make trademark law uncertain as judgment calls must be made in these act intensive cases and the only issue is who makes the call.

Gelboim v Bank of America Corp.

Gelboim brought an antitrust suit against bank. It was consolidated for pretrial motions and discovery with 60 other cases. The district court dismissed Gelboim’s claim. The 2nd Circuit held it had no jurisdiction over Gelboim’s appeal because the consolidated proceeding was one case and all the claims in the case were not decided by the order in Gelboim’s case. The Court unanimously reversed. It held that Under 28 USC 1407, the various civil actions consolidated for pretrial proceedings retain their individual identities and an order dismissing an individual action, like the order here, is final for purposes of 28 USC 291. The Court reasoned that treating 1407 proceedings as one civil action would create problems as no litigant could know which order triggers the 30 day appeal clock.

Department of Homeland Security v MacLean

MacLean was fired as an air marshal for disclosing department’s plan to cancel air marshal missions for budgetary reasons. He brought a whistleblower suit which was successful. The Court, 7-2, affirmed. The majority held that the whistleblower statute, 5 USC 2302(b)(8)(A) protects disclosures which meet the criteria set out there and are not prohibited by law. The majority held that “law” in the statute means statute given the repeated use of “law, rule or regulation” in the act, the authorization of executive orders and the structure and purpose of the act. It next held that the statute relied upon by Department, 49 USC 114(r)(1) does not prohibit disclosure. Instead, it merely authorizes Department to prohibit disclosure of sensitive information. The majority acknowledged the challenges this construction will place on Department, but, noted Congress or the President can prohibit disclosures and the Court will not do it for them. Justice Sotomayor, joined by Kennedy, argued 114(r)(1) does prohibit disclosures leaving only the task of identifying what disclosures are detrimental to transportation security.