The Week Ahead in the Supreme Court — October 31, 2016

On Monday the Court will hear arguments in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools and Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. In Fry, the court will decide if those seeking damages by suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act, must exhaust administrative remedies before bringing a lawsuit. Stacy and Brent Fry brought a monetary damages suit against their daughter’s school after the school refused to allow their daughter, who has cerebral palsy, to bring her service dog to school with her. A federal district court dismissed their claim because the Frys had not pursued alternative remedies; a federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision. The Frys are represented by the ACLU and are supported by the Obama administration. Check out US News for more on the case.

In Star Athletica, also being argued on Monday, the court will decide if certain patterns on cheerleading uniforms are copyrightable. Varsity Brands, the leader manufacturer of cheerleading apparel, has copyrights on various designs that identify cheerleading outfits. Star Athletica is contesting Varsity’s ownership of the designs, arguing that that the designs are generic in nature and do not fit this criteria. The New York Times breaks down the case, here. And Bloomberg discusses the legal issues—and the coincidence of this case being argued on Halloween.

On Tuesday, the Court will hear arguments in a case involving insurance giant, State Farm. In State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. United States, ex rel. Rigsby, the Court decides whether a case brought under the False Claims Act should be dismissed if the party bringing the suit discloses it before it is served on the defendant. The lower court decided that State Farm violated the False Claims Act when it submitted as flood claims damage that in fact resulted from wind damage (federal insurance policy covered flood damage, but not wind damage). State Farm argues that the whistleblower who brought the claim violated the act’s “seal” requirement by disclosing the complaint before the court ordered it served on State Farm. Ronald Mann of Scotusblog discusses this case, breaking down the False Claims Act and what to expect for argument come Tuesday.

The Court will also hear arguments in a patent infringement lawsuit this week. In SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products, the Court will have to decide if laches (unreasonable delay in bringing a lawsuit) can bar a patent infringement claim occurring in the six-year statute of limitations period. Martha Neil of the ABA Journal discusses the history of this case in the Federal Circuit, here.

The final case the Court will hear this week is Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne. Venezuela has asked the Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit’s decision reversing the grant of summary judgment for Venezuela. The country was accused of illegally taking control of Helmerich & Payne’s oil drilling rigs after they did not renew their contract with the country. Venezuela is arguing that they are protected from being sued in U.S. court by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Amy Howe of Scotusblog details the arguments on either side of this debate, here.

(To stay on top of the latest Supreme Court happenings, follow @ISCOTUS on Twitter.)

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