TIME Courts

Uber to Face Lawsuit Claiming Discrimination Against the Blind

Some blind passengers with guide dogs allege they have been refused service

A California court has ruled that ride-sharing service Uber must face a lawsuit that claims the company has discriminated against blind people by sometimes refusing service to passengers with guide dogs.

A magistrate judge in San Jose said in a decision last week that the plaintiffs could argue that Uber is a “travel service” subjected to the parameters of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Reuters reports, rejecting Uber’s position that the plaintiffs couldn’t sue under the ADA. The company issued a statement saying drivers are told it’s policy to comply with all laws related to the transportation of passengers with service animals.

The plaintiffs allege there were at least 40 instances when blind passengers with service animals had been refused service, with some drivers yelling “no dogs” to potential riders. In one case, the plaintiffs claim, one Uber driver was said to refuse a blind woman’s request to pull over after she learned her guide dog was locked in the vehicle’s trunk.

The company, which has faced global complaints about its drivers’ pay and passenger treatment, has two weeks to respond to the complaint.


TIME movies

Frozen Story Was Stolen, Author Claims

Walt Disney Pictures

An author says the story was taken from her book

A Kuwaiti author has filed a federal lawsuit claiming Frozen took parts of its narrative and characters from a story in her book.

Muneefa Abdullah says the popular Disney movie took plot points from her story “The Snow Princess,” which appeared in her book New Fairy Tales in 2007, according to the Detroit News. The suit names Disney as well as the screenwriter and co-director, Jennifer Lee.

Disney has previously promoted the film as being based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen,” originally published in the mid-19th century. All three stories feature ice, snow and a princess or queen with frosty powers. Disney has reportedly not yet commented.

[Detroit News]

TIME movies

Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard Sued Over The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon
Matt Sayles—Invision/AP Joss Whedon arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" at the Dolby Theatre on April 13, 2015.

An author alleges Whedon and Goddard ripped off his 2006 novel

An author is suing Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard for copyright infringement, alleging The Cabin in the Woods filmmakers stole the premise of his novel for their 2012 horror movie.

Whedon, the Avengers: Age of Ultron director and Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, produced and co-wrote the movie with Goddard, who directed it.

But author Peter Gallagher has accused the two of them of ripping him off his 2006 book, The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines, and is asking for $10 million in damages, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The suit, which also names Lionsgate and Whedon’s production company, claims the film unlawfully borrows the book’s plot (a group of young people encounters monsters at a cabin that’s secretly controlled), as well as certain key scenes and the personalities of Gallagher’s characters. Lionsgate declined to comment to THR, while Whedon and Goddard’s camps had yet to respond.


Read next: Watch a New Clip From Avengers: Age of Ultron

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

Fitness Guru Jillian Michaels Files $10 Million Lawsuit

The Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption's Kickball For A Home Celebrity Kickball Game
Getty Images

The trainer says she has not been compensated for videos used by Lionsgate

Fitness star and trainer Jillian Michaels has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Lionsgate over YouTube videos posted to its channel.

Michaels—a former The Biggest Loser host—claims Lionsgate has not compensated her for her workout videos that are used on the Lionsgate BeFit YouTube channel, Variety reports. Michaels says she was not consulted about Lionsgate’s use of her brand and image and that the amount of videos used by the studio has exceeded their contract so she should receive royalties.

Michaels says her videos make up nearly half of the 350 million views gained by the channel.

Michaels and Lionsgate did not respond to requests for comment at publication.

TIME cities

Los Angeles Will Spend $1.3 Billion to Fix Its Crumbling Sidewalks

The deal is a major win for disabled Angelenos

The City of Los Angeles said Wednesday that it will budget $1.3 billion over 30 years t0 repair broken sidewalks, resolving a lawsuit that claimed the walkways were in such poor condition they violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suit argued that the sidewalks relegated disabled Angelenos to second-class citizenship because they were so cracked as to be not traversable and thus interfered with the independence of disabled people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lillibeth Navarro, executive director of the group Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, called the deal a “major win” for people with disabilities.

Starting next fiscal year, the city will spend $31 million annually on the project, with the number rising to $63 million in future years. The first focus will be on parks and heavily trafficked walkways like those outside hospitals.

A federal judge still needs to approve the exact terms of the deal.

The reason sidewalks fell into a decrepit state is because when federal money the city relied on for maintenance dried up, property owners were unwilling to raise taxes to cover the expense.

It is estimated that 40% of sidewalks need repair in the City of Angels.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Courts

SeaWorld Faces Lawsuit Over Treatment of Whales

USA, California, San Diego, Sea World, Killer Whale (orca)
Wolfgang Kaehler—LightRocket/Getty Images A killer whale (orca) at SeaWorld in San Diego.

The suit says customers who were deceived about the parks' practices should be refunded

A class action lawsuit has been filed against SeaWorld claiming that customers were deceived about the parks’ harmful treatment of whales, and that they should be refunded for their tickets.

The plaintiff is Holly Hall, a California woman who lawyers say would not have taken her family to a SeaWorld park in 2011 if she had known about the way the whales were treated, citing powerful drugs, forced breeding and cramped quarters that are detrimental to their health, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The lawsuit says any visitors to the parks in the last four years should be refunded, alleging that SeaWorld deliberately misleads the public about its care for orca whales.

The lawsuit comes two years after the popular documentary Blackfish, which sought to expose abuses in the sea-park industry through the story of one whale. On Tuesday, former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove published his own exposé, Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish. The lawyers in the class action lawsuit had previously represented Hargrove.

SeaWorld is calling the suit “a publicity stunt intended to generate more news coverage of John Hargrove’s anti-SeaWorld book,” emphasizing that there is “no higher priority for SeaWorld than the health and well-being of its animals.”

[Orlando Sentinel]

TIME hockey

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss NHL Concussion Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson allowed the case launched by league players to proceed

A federal judge in Minnesota has thrown out the NHL’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the body inadequately informed players of the health risks caused by concussions despite having ample knowledge and resources.

The plaintiffs are seeking a financial settlement for the “pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained … during their professional careers,” according to court documents.

The NHL argued that the case was pre-empted by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which created a six-year statute of limitations on the case. They also argued additional jurisdiction claims. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson rejected those challenges.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that they may not have been aware that they had suffered an injury — or the possibility of injury — while they were playing in the NHL,” she wrote in her judgement.

In response, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement reported by the Associated Press. “While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses,” he said

As implied in the statement, the ruling does not mean the players have won the lawsuit, but rather that they can move forward with the litigation.

The players suing the NHL are Dan Lacouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larsen.

Read next: This NHL Player Got Traded After His Daughter Made a Written Plea

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TIME animals

Chinese Man Gets Attacked by a Wild Panda, Sues Government for $80,000

Panda resting in a tree
Jay Schipper—Flickr RF/Getty Images

It must have been sheer pandamonium

A man in China has been awarded more than $80,000 in compensation from the government after a wild panda bit him on the leg, his lawyer said Monday.

Local officials had tried to capture the panda after it wandered into Liziba village in China’s northwest Gansu province, but ended up chasing it onto Guan Quanzi’s land, reports Agence France-Presse.

“I saw a panda jump out in front of me, its body completely covered in mud,” he told local paper the Lanzhou Evening News.

Guan endured seven hours of surgery after the incident, which happened in March last year. The panda managed to escape.

Guan’s son sued local forestry officials who now have agreed to pay $83,000, which will cover the man’s ongoing medical bills.

Though pandas are known for being pretty easygoing bamboo eaters, they are part of the bear family and can deliver a fierce bite. They’ve also been known to attack humans.


TIME Companies

Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids

Social Networking Sites May Be Monitored By Security Services
Dan Kitwood—Getty Images In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen on March 25, 2009 in London, England.

The company has so far refused to refund purchases made by children without parental permission

Correction appended: 10:17 p.m. EST on Mar. 16

Facebook was ordered to face a nationwide class-action lawsuit in the U.S. on Tuesday, over its refusal to provide refunds to parents whose children spent money on the website.

A federal judge in San Jose, California ruled that hundreds of thousands of people across the country could legally claim refunds from the social network over its policy on online purchases by minors, Reuters reported.

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman also said parents could not pursue refunds as a group, because each case would be different, but could do so individually.

The suit was initiated in 2012 by two children and their parents, over purchases of the now discontinued virtual currency Facebook Credits made using the parents’ credit and debit cards. One child said his mother used her credit card to buy him a $20 game called Ninja Saga but was subsequently charged hundreds of dollars for what he thought were virtual currency purchases, while the other child racked up charges of $1,059 after taking his parents’ debit card without permission.

“The difference between Facebook and other businesses is that the company is on actual notice of a user’s age, but treats children the same as adult users when it comes to taking their money,” said J.R. Parker, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit says Facebook violated state laws by refusing refunds under its “all sales are final” policy, to which the company responded by saying the claims were too disparate. It also said the lawsuit lacks merit, and that it will defend itself vigorously.


Correction: The original version of this story misstated when the lawsuit against Facebook was filed. It was filed in 2012.

Read next: Why Facebook Is Really Excited About Slow Internet

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TIME Music

The ‘Blurred Lines’ Ruling Is the First of Its Kind

Blurred Lines Suit
Jamie McCarthy—2014 Getty Images Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke perform during the Walmart 2014 annual shareholders meeting on June 6, 2014 at Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

"It's never been based on a jury's opinion"

This article has been enhanced with interactive sound clips. To hear the sound clips, click the phrases highlighted in red.

A jury ruled Tuesday that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke copied Marvin Gaye on their 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” awarding the Gaye family nearly $7.4 million dollars in a verdict that could have a chilling effect on pop music.

You don’t have to be trained musician to spot the similarities between
content= “Blurred Lines”
and Gaye’s 1977 song
content= “Got to Give It Up.”
Listen for yourself: Both begin with skittering, light-on-their-feet drum beats punctuated by a few pulsing bass notes; both Gaye and Thicke begin the track showing off their falsettos, though Thicke drops the high notes shortly after. Williams argued that he had just been “channeling that feeling, that late-’70s feeling” (and you can’t copyright feelings), but Gaye’s copyright applied only to the sheet music version of the song—the jury didn’t even hear the official recording in court—which means the case came down to the actual nuts and bolts of the songwriting.

Historically, these kinds of legal disputes are settled by insiders who can analyze note-for-note the stretches of the song coming under scrutiny, the Los Angeles Times reports. But while the “Blurred Lines” case had plenty of expert testimony from musicologists and industry executives, they ultimately didn’t get to make the call—regular people did.

“It’s never been based on a jury’s opinion,” Irving Azoff, the chairman and CEO of Azaoff MSG Entertainment (which reps Williams) told the Los Angeles Times. “If we’re now entering into a gray area, that’s very scary.” By putting it to a jury, the debate was turned over to relatively untrained ears, which makes this ruling a particularly slippery slope for both songwriters and artists.

Read next: Here’s Exactly How Much Money ‘Blurred Lines’ Made

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