The Supreme Court of the United States announced a decision in one case today:

M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, No. 13-975: Respondent retirees, through their union, had entered into a collective bargaining agreement and Pension, Insurance, and Service Award Agreement (P&I Agreement) in 2000 with petitioner M&G Polymers USA, LLC. That P&I Agreement provided that certain retirees would “receive a full Company contribution towards the cost of [health care] benefits,” which would be provided “for the duration of [the] Agreement,” and that the agreement would be subject to renegotiation in three years. When the agreements expired and M&G required retirees to contribute to the cost of their health care benefits, respondent retirees sued, alleging that the P&I Agreement created a vested right to lifetime contribution-free health care benefits. The District Court dismissed the complaint, but the Sixth Circuit reversed, relying upon its past conclusion in a 1983 case that retiree health care benefits are unlikely to be left up to future negotiations. Today, the Court vacated that decision, holding that the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning was incompatible with ordinary principles of contract law.

The Court's decision is available here.

On Friday, January 23, the Court granted review in the following cases:

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, No. 13-1067: The commercial activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act provides an exception to a foreign state’s sovereign immunity from suit when the claims are “based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state.” 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(2). The Court granted certiorari on the following questions: (1) Whether, for purposes of determining when an entity is an “agent” of a “foreign state” under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the FSIA, the express definition of “agency” in the FSIA, the factors set forth in First National City Bank v. Banco para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba (Bancec), 462 U.S. 611 (1983), or common law principles of agency, control. (2) Whether, under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the FSIA, a tort claim for personal injuries suffered in connection with travel outside of the United States is "based upon" the allegedly tortious conduct occurring outside of the United States or the preceding sale of the ticket in the United States for the travel entirely outside the United States.

Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and its attorneys Juan C. Basombrio, Steven J. Wells, and Timothy J. Droske, represent Petitioner OBB Personenverkehr AG in this matter.

Glossip v. Gross, No. 14-7955: (1) Is it constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol where (a) there is a well-established scientific consensus that the first drug has no pain relieving properties and cannot reliably produce deep, coma-like unconsciousness, and (b) it is undisputed that there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering from the administration of the second and third drugs when a prisoner is conscious? (2) Does the Baze-plurality stay standard, whereby a stay of execution challenging a lethal-injection protocol will not be granted absent a showing of a “demonstrated risk of severe pain” that was “substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives,” apply when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze? (3) Must a prisoner establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment?