Supreme Court To Hear Case Over Religiously Affiliated Hospitals’ ‘Church Plan’ Exemptions
Employees of the three hospitals in the case have accused the systems of being big businesses posing as church organizations in order to avoid minimum funding and reporting requirements on employee pension plans.
Supreme Court Takes Christian-Affiliated Hospital Pension Case
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear appeals by Christian-affiliated hospital systems of lower court rulings that gave the green light to employee lawsuits accusing them of wrongly claiming a religious exemption from federal pension law. New Jersey-based St. Peter's Healthcare System, Illinois-based Advocate Health System and California-based Dignity Health each appealed separate federal appeals courts rulings that refused to throw out the employee lawsuits. The justices agreed to hear all three cases. (Pierson, 12/2)
In other news from the courts —
Oral Arguments In CRISPR Patent Case Expected To Be 'Fight To The Death'
On Tuesday morning, the CRISPR patent dispute reaches a much-awaited milestone: the case’s first and only oral arguments, slated to last less than an hour for a patent potentially worth billions of dollars. The hearing is open to the public, and it’s sure to attract the attendance of dozens of lawyers, company executives (Novartis has confirmed it’ll be represented), publicists, reporters, and even some genome-editing groupies. The nasty dispute pits the University of California against the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT for rights to key patents on CRISPR genome-editing. Since April 2014, the Broad has received 13 CRISPR patents, based on work led by its bioengineer Feng Zhang, but UC believes it deserves some of the most foundational ones, reflecting earlier work by its biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier. (Begley, 12/5)
Wal-Mart Settles Bias Suit Over Gay Couples’ Health Benefits
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against gay workers by failing to offer health insurance benefits to their spouses. The settlement covers employees who were affected by Wal-Mart’s conduct from January 2011 to December 2013, according to documents filed Friday in Boston federal court. A few thousand current and former workers were affected, Wal-Mart said in a statement without providing an exact number. The company employs 1.5 million people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. (Larson, 12/2)