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October 18, 2017
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His champagne wishes were replaced with sparkling wine reality, and now, he's suing.

Daniel Macduff of Quebec booked a flight on Sunwing Airlines to Cuba, going with the airline because it advertised a complimentary champagne toast for passengers, BBC News reports. What he was served wasn't champagne from the French region it's named after, but rather sparkling wine, Macduff said, and even that was provided only on the outbound flight. Macduff's attorney, Sebastien Paquette, says this is a classic case of misleading marketing. "It's not about the pettiness of champagne versus sparkling wine," he told the BBC. "It's the consumer message behind it."

Sunwing's marketing materials clearly showed authentic champagne, Paquette said, but Sunwing, which calls the lawsuit "frivolous and without merit," argues the terms "champagne vacations" and "champagne service" were used to "denote a level of service in reference to the entire hospitality package," not to describe beverages passengers would receive. The company has made some changes, no longer referring to champagne in its marketing materials and clearly stating online to expect sparkling wine only on southern routes, but that hasn't stopped 1,600 other plaintiffs from joining the class action lawsuit, Paquette said. They are seeking compensation for the difference in price between a glass of champagne and a glass of sparkling wine, in addition to punitive damages. Catherine Garcia

July 10, 2017
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The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the commission broke federal law by not having its first meeting open to the public.

Led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission has only held one meeting so far, two months ago. It was done over the phone and not public, and since the law "applies to all meetings, even telephonic meetings, the commission has already violated" the Federal Advisory Committee Act, ACLU staff lawyer Theresa Lee told NPR. The commission's next meeting is scheduled for July 19, and will be done over video. That also doesn't count as "open," Lee said, "because it does not provide the opportunity for sufficient public oversight as required by law, and is notably inaccessible to any citizens without a computer and a broadband internet connection."

In June, the commission — formed after Trump made baseless allegations that millions of people managed to vote illegally in the last presidential election — sent letters to every state and the District of Columbia, requesting extensive voter data, including names, party affiliation, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Most states have flat out refused to hand over the information, either saying they can't because of state law or they won't because it's an invasion of privacy. The deadline for information was supposed to be Friday, but NPR reports Pence's office sent an email to secretaries of state Monday saying they can wait until a judge rules on a different lawsuit stemming from the collection of the data, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Catherine Garcia

July 7, 2017
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Accusing her of putting for-profit schools above students and their families, 18 Democratic attorneys general sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday over her decision to delay and rewrite rules that make schools responsible financially for fraud.

"Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. "Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office's responsibility and a violation of federal law."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., calls for the implementation of rules crafted during the Obama administration that were set to take effect July 1. On June 14, DeVos said the rules — which would also prevent schools from forcing students to resolve complaints outside of court — would be postponed and ultimately rewritten because they created a "muddled process that's unfair to students and schools and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs," The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2017
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Sarah Palin is suing The New York Times for defamation, claiming the paper "violated the law and its own policies" in a June 14 editorial that accused the former Alaska governor of "political incitement" before the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, the New York Post reports.

Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was severely injured, and six people were killed after Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Giffords event. The Times editorial, written after the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), mentions a Palin political action committee ad that put "Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs." Later, under fierce criticism, the paper issued a correction saying it was actually a "map distributed by a political action committee before the shooting. The map depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized crosshairs." The correction went on to say the editorial "incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established."

The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, and Palin is seeking damages in an amount to be determined by a jury at trial. A spokeswoman for the Times told the Post the paper has "not seen the claim yet, but will defend against any claim vigorously." Catherine Garcia

June 22, 2017

An Ohio-based coal company and its CEO are suing Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, HBO, and Time Warner for defamation, claiming on his June 18 show, Oliver executed a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Robert Murray and Murray Energy.

In a suit filed Wednesday in West Virginia, the company accused Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious, and false" attack on the coal industry as part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration." During the segment, Oliver discussed ways "people conflate coal, coal miners, and coal companies and imply that when you help one, you help them all. But they are not all in the same boat." Oliver mentioned Murray and his company fighting against safety regulations in the coal industry, and at one point called Murray a "geriatric Dr. Evil."

The suit says Murray, 77, needs a lung transplant, thinks he won't live long enough to see this case reach a conclusion, and believes the segment incited people to "do harm to Mr. Murray and his companies." He is asking for financial damages and a court order preventing the segment from being aired ever again. During the segment, Oliver noted that when the show contacted Murray Energy for comment, they responded with a letter threatening legal action if Last Week Tonight did not "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy." A representative for HBO told USA Today the company has "confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight" and doesn't believe "anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray or Murray energy's rights." Watch the segment causing all of this hullabaloo below. Catherine Garcia

April 20, 2017
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President Trump's campaign has spent about $4 million on legal fees and consulting bills, a Politico analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings finds, including more than $500,000 since Election Day. By the same time in 2009, former President Obama's campaign had spent less than half that amount.

The money has mostly gone to a single law firm tasked with defending the campaign against civil lawsuits alleging, among other things, that the campaign or Trump himself incited violence in rally crowds, violated copyright law, and sent illegal mass texting blasts. In at least one case — involving a photographer who sued claiming a tweet shared by Donald Trump Jr. used his photo without obtaining permission — what appears to be a $10,000 settlement to end the suit was listed in FEC documents as a "legal consulting" payment to the photographer's lawyer.

In that case and others, lack of transparency is a common theme. "Basically, the Trump campaign was run just like the Trump Organization," Brett Kappel, an election law lawyer, told Politico. "Lawsuits are met with bluster and invective and then ultimately settled quietly with everyone involved required to sign nondisclosure agreements so that the public would not know that Trump, in fact, does settle many of the lawsuits against him and his family members." Bonnie Kristian

April 6, 2017
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In response to a summons sent to Twitter by the Department of Homeland Security that demanded the company disclose the identity of the user behind the anti-President Trump @ALT_USCIS account, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the agency, saying the request violates the user's free speech.

"Alternative" accounts started popping up right after Trump's inauguration, when the National Park Service re-tweeted an image that showed the much larger crowd at President Obama's first inauguration compared to Trump's. Trump was reportedly angry about the tweet, and the park service apologized. This led users who claimed to be either current or former federal employees to launch accounts like @ALT_USCIS and @alt_labor, which tweet their often critical opinions on Trump's policies and actions, with @ALT_USCIS often condemning Trump's stance on immigration.

On March 14, Twitter received a faxed summons from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, who used a customs statute for the examination of books and witnesses to demand the company reveal the identity of the person behind @ALT_USCIS, Bloomberg reports. The letter threatened Twitter with legal action if they did not comply. Twitter says users can remain anonymous unless they violate the law, and the government did not show any evidence that this user committed a crime that would warrant the release of their personal information. Catherine Garcia

April 2, 2017
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A federal judge in Louisville, Kentucky, ruled Friday that President Trump cannot use a free speech defense to quash a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence at a campaign rally last year, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Saturday.

Trump was speaking in Louisville in March of 2016 when he pointed to protesters and repeatedly told his supporters, "get 'em out of here." Judge David J. Hale ruled the injuries three protesters suffered while being removed by event attendees are a "direct and proximate result" of Trump's comments, which can be plausibly interpreted as "an order, an instruction, a command" for use of force.

Protesters Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma, and Molly Shah are suing Trump, his campaign, and three audience members for unspecified monetary damages. The lawsuit will proceed. Bonnie Kristian

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