The Supreme Court of the United States issued decisions in four cases today:

Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez, No. 14-857:  Respondent Jose Gomez received Navy recruitment text messages without his consent.  He filed a nationwide class action alleging this was a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits using any automatic dialing system to send a text message, absent the recipient’s prior express consent.  Gomez brought suit against petitioner Campbell-Ewald Company, which contracted with the Navy to develop a recruiting campaign, part of which included sending text messages to young adults that had opted in to receipt of Navy marketing solicitations.  Before the deadline for moving for class certification, Campbell offered to settle Gomez’s individual claim and made an offer of judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 68, which Gomez rejected.  Campbell then moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that its offer mooted Gomez’s individual claim, and that his failure to move for class certification before his individual claim was mooted, in turn mooted those putative class claims as well.  The District Court denied the motion and granted summary judgment in Campbell’s favor, on the basis that it was entitled to sovereign immunity as a federal contractor.  The Ninth Circuit reversed as to sovereign immunity.  Today, the Court affirmed, holding that an unaccepted settlement offer has no force and thus does not render a case moot and that Campbell’s status as a Government contractor does not entitle it to derivative sovereign immunity.

The Court's decision is available here.

Montanile v. Board of Trustees of Nat. Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 14-723:  Subrogation clauses are common in employee benefit plans regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  Under these clauses, if the plan paid a participant’s expenses for injuries caused by a third party, the participant is then required to reimburse the plan if he or she later recovers money from the third party for his injuries.  Here, petitioner Montanile was injured by a drunk driver and his plan paid $120,000 for his medical expenses.  After Montanile received a $500,000 settlement, the plan administrator, respondent Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan (Board), sought reimbursement.  By the time the Board brought a suit against Montanile in Federal District Court under ERISA §502(a)(3), which authorizes suit to obtain appropriate equitable relief to enforce the terms of the plan, Montanile claimed that he had already spent almost all of the settlement.  As a result, the Board also sought reimbursement from Montanile’s general assets.  The District Court and Eleventh Circuit rejected Montanile’s arguments, holding that even if the settlement fund was completely dissipated, the plan was entitled to reimbursement from Montanile’s general assets.  The Court today reversed, holding that when a participant dissipates the whole settlement on nontraceable items (i.e., services or consumable items), the fiduciary cannot bring a suit to attach the participant’s general assets under §502(a)(3) because the suit is not one for “appropriate equitable relief.”

The Court's decision is available here.

Kansas v. Carr, Nos. 14-449, 14-450, 14-452:  These consolidated cases involve the Kansas Supreme Court’s orders vacating the death sentences of Sidney Gleason and Reginald and Jonathan Carr, the latter two of which were sentenced together.  The Kansas Supreme Court found that the instructions used in each of these cases violated the Eighth Amendment because they “failed to affirmatively inform the jury that mitigating circumstances need only be proved to the satisfaction of the individual juror in that juror’s sentencing decision and not beyond a reasonable doubt.”  As for the Carrs, the Kansas Supreme Court further held that the trial court’s failure to sever their sentencing proceedings violated their Eighth Amendment right “to an individualized capital sentencing determination.”  Today, the Court reversed, holding that sentencing courts are not required to affirmatively inform the jury that mitigating circumstances need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the Constitution did not require severance of the Carrs’ joint sentencing proceedings.

The Court's decision is available here.

Duncan v. Owens, No. 14-1516:  The Court today dismissed the writ of certiorari in this case as improvidently granted.  This habeas case presented the question of whether the Seventh Circuit violated 28 U.S.C. §2254 and Court precedent by awarding habeas relief in the absence of clearly established precedent from this Court.

The Court's decision is available here.

Yesterday, the Court granted review in four cases:

Dietz v. Bouldin, No. 15-458:  Whether, after a judge has discharged a jury from service in a case and the jurors have left the judge’s presence, the judge may recall the jurors for further service in the same case.

Salman v. United States, No. 15-628:  Does the personal benefit to the insider that is necessary to establish insider trading under Dirks v. SEC, 463 U.S. 646 (1983), require proof of "an exchange that is objective, consequential, and represents at least a potential gain of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature," as the Second Circuit held in United States v. Newman, 773 F.3d 438 (2d Cir. 2014), cert. denied, No. 15-137 (U.S. Oct. 5, 2015), or is it enough that the insider and the tippee shared a close family relationship, as the Ninth Circuit held in this case?

United States v. Texas, No. 15-674:  The Court granted certiorari on the following questions, concerning the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance memorandum directing his subordinates to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens who have lived in the United States for five years and either came here as children or already have children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents:  1) Whether a State that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §500 et seq., to challenge the Guidance because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action.  2) Whether the Guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law.  3) Whether the Guidance was subject to the APA's notice-and-comment procedures.  4) Whether the Guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Art. II, §3.

Mathis v. United States, No. 15-6092:  Whether a predicate prior conviction under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. §924(e)(l), must qualify as such under the elements of the offense simpliciter, without extending the modified categorical approach to separate statutory definitional provisions that merely establish the means by which referenced elements may be satisfied rather than stating alternative elements or versions of the offense.