Supreme Court Notebook

Gorsuch has unanimous first opinion for Supreme Court


WASHINGTON (AP) - Justice Neil Gorsuch has issued his first Supreme Court opinion, a unanimous decision in favor of a company involved in a debt collection dispute.

The court ruled Monday that Santander Consumer USA does not fall under a federal law aimed at unscrupulous debt collectors. The company purchased defaulted car loans and sought to collect the money owed.

Gorsuch displayed his writing skills in an opinion that began with a lament about "disruptive dinnertime calls, downright deceit and more" that debt collectors sometimes employ.

But Gorsuch said for the court that the company does not qualify as a debt collector because it purchased the loans in question and was not trying to collect on someone else's behalf.


High court won't hear appeal from former Qwest CEO


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from former Qwest Communications International Inc. CEO Joseph Nacchio seeking an $18 million tax refund on money he gained from illegal stock sales.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said the money was not tax deductible.

Nacchio was convicted in 2007 of selling $52 million in stock of Denver-based Qwest based on inside information. He was ordered to forfeit $44 million and to pay a $19 million fine. He also was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison.

Nacchio claimed the $44 million he forfeited was deductible as a business expense or loss and that he should get a refund. A federal judge agreed, but a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., overturned that ruling.

Hawaii urges court to keep hold on Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawyers for Hawaii tell the Supreme Court that letting the Trump administration enforce a ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries would "thrust the country back into the chaos and confusion" that resulted when the policy was first announced in January.

The state urged the justices Monday to deny an administration plea to reinstate the policy after lower courts blocked it. The high court is considering the administration's request and could act before the justices wind up their work at the end of June.

The state says the policy is unconstitutional because it shows anti-Muslim bias. Hawaii points to comments President Donald Trump made last week on Twitter to underscore its argument that the policy is a "thinly veiled Muslim ban."


Justices side with Microsoft in Xbox 360 class action case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is giving Microsoft Corp. another chance to stop a class action lawsuit filed by owners of the Xbox 360 video-game system who claim the console has a design defect that scratches game discs.

The justices ruled on Monday that the game owners could not use a procedural tactic to appeal a lower court decision denying them class action status. Such appeals typically aren't allowed until a lower court makes a final ruling on the merits of the case.

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had urged the court to side with Microsoft. They say a ruling for the Xbox 360 owners would make defending against class action lawsuits more expensive and push businesses to settle claims.


High court ruling speeds up generic biotech drug approval

WASHINGTON (AP) - A unanimous Supreme Court is speeding up the time for generic biotech drugs to become available to the public in a ruling that means a loss of billions in sales to the makers of original versions.

The justices ruled Monday in favor of generic drug maker Sandoz in its dispute with rival Amgen over a near-copy of Amgen's cancer drug Neupogen.

The case involves biologics - drugs made from living cells instead of chemicals. The drugs have led to major advances in treating diseases, but come at steep prices.

A 2010 law allows cheaper generic versions known as biosimilars to be produced after a 12-year exclusive run for the original.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said the law does not require companies making biosimilars to wait an extra six months after gaining Food and Drug Administration approval before selling the drugs.

The extra time can add billions of dollars in additional sales to the original drug makers before biosimilars enter the market.

The dispute involves the drug Zarxio, a generic that Sandoz developed to compete with Neupogen that sells for about 15 percent less than the original product. The drugs help boost red blood cells in cancer patients.

California-based Amgen filed a patent infringement lawsuit claiming that Sandoz violated the 2010 Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act. That law requires biosimilar makers to give a six-month notice of sales to rivals.

A federal appeals court sided with Amgen in 2015, ruling that the notice can't take place until after biosimilar makers gain approval from federal regulators.

Sandoz, a unit of Swiss drug giant Novartis, argued that the appeals court had it wrong and was unfairly giving an additional six months of exclusive sales to the original drugmaker.

Published: Tue, Jun 13, 2017