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.