In what may prove to be one of the
most interesting cases the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this term, the High Court will decide the fate of interstate claims against
state governments. This case has been in the judicial system between federal
and state courts since 1991. Finally it will be resolved, but it will
also set an important precedent for future cases involving injuries by
one state against the citizens of another.
The precedent, no matter what it ends up being, will dictate what remedies
the citizen of one state has if another state’s government causes
them injury. This could impact fraud cases, tortious conduct, contract,
property and other claims.
For example, recently
the city of San Francisco sued the state of Nevada for giving homeless people a ticket out of the state to California. The
homeless people ended up in San Francisco and caused the city to spend
more money than they had planned. The case settled out of court, but the
precedent the Supreme Court is about to hand down would have directed
the outcome in that case.
Facts and Background of Case
This case involved an inventor who patented an important computer chip
in the early 90s. The facts of where he invented the chips are disputed,
but the man left the state of California and made millions of dollars
while in Nevada on his inventions. Of course Nevada does not have personal
income tax, so he did not face tax liability while living there.
Tax department officials heard about the man’s success, and opened
an investigation about whether he earned the money in Nevada or California.
In the course of their investigation it is reported and alleged by the
inventor that the California officials committed fraud, invasion of privacy,
and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Following a trial the
man won a verdict of $500,000,000 against the department.
Since then, both sides have been fighting about the amount of the damages
and whether Nevada courts could even have heard the case without the permission
of California as a sovereign state. This is the question that the Supreme
Court is going to answer in the near future.
If the court sides with the inventor states will be open to liability for
actions their employees committed against the citizens of other states.
Of course the danger in such a precedent it that a Nevada jury (or that
of any other state) would have little problem with handing down a very
damaging verdict against a foreign state.
Panama City Accident and Injury Attorney
No matter how the High Court rules in this case, at the Pittman Firm our
team of dedicated professionals fights on behalf of victims of personal
injury. Whether the negligent party is a state employee, private citizen,
or business, we fight to ensure that you receive just and fair compensation
for you injuries. If you have been injured in any way through the negligence
of another, contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you
and providing you with legal counsel.
See related blog posts:
Bugged Outside: A Case on Federal Eavesdropping;
Florida Supreme Court: Judicial Dress Code Requirements.