What is NFIB Small Business Legal Center Doing in Your State?

Date: December 07, 2018

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We frequently file amicus briefs in state and federal courts across the country—with the goal of establishing good case law for the small business community. Not surprisingly our work in federal court tends to garner more attention, especially our Supreme Court filings. But, our work on state law issues is also important.

Here is a sampling of our most recent work on issues of state law:

  • Wage & Hour Law – While we are always engaged on federal questions of wage and hour law, we are also fighting to keep state and local regulators at bay. For example, we’ve consistently opposed municipal minimum wage ordinances, and we’ve continued that fight with our recent filing in City of Miami Beach v. Florida Retail Federation. Likewise, in Pennsylvania we recently filed in Chevalier v. GNC, advocating for a more workable interpretation of state law concerning fluctuating workweek schedules.
  • Workers Compensation – We recently filed in Weaver v. City of Everett, arguing that workers compensation claimants should not be allowed to contest conclusions of law that were definitively decided in previous proceedings. As we argued to the Washington Supreme Court, claimants should not get second-bite at the apple when they’ve already lost in a prior filing.
  • Eminent Domain Compensation – We recently filed in Sabal Trail Transmission LLC v. 3.921 Acres of Land in Lake County, FL, a case in which a utility sought to take private property without paying full and fair compensation. Had the utility initiated eminent domain in Florida state court there would have been no question that Florida law would apply; however, the utility initiated eminent domain in federal court, where it maintains that it is not subject to Florida law. NFIB Small Business Legal Center disagrees. We argue that “just compensation” must be measured by background principles of state law—which includes greater protections in Florida than in many states.
  • Personal Injury Liability. Employers are generally liable for injuries their employees cause when on the clock. But, in Mississippi, we recently had to file to protect employers from liability for off-duty accidents in Mar-Jac Poultry v. Love. Meanwhile, in Wal-Mart v. Forfar, we urged the Colorado Supreme Court to limit recovery for plaintiff’s who have already had their medical expenses covered by Medicare—arguing that defendant businesses should not be required to pay for medical expenses that are improperly billed by a healthcare provider.

  • Lead Paint Lawsuits – In California (and most recently in Pennsylvania) we’ve seen local government initiating public nuisance lawsuits seeking to hold manufacturers liable for past conduct that was perfectly lawful at the time. If successful these lawsuits may open the door for future lawsuits against small business manufacturers selling other products. For this reason, we filed in ConAgra v. California. But these cases are all the more troubling because, in declaring lead paint a public nuisance, the courts may affect the rights of small business landlords, and ordinary homeowners, who have not had a chance to raise their objections.
  • Proposition 65 (California’s Product Labeling Requirements) – Proposition 65’s labeling requirements are not just a pain for manufacturers, distributors and retailers, but also a major driver for shake-down lawsuits—affecting both California businesses and out-of-state companies selling into the Golden State. Accordingly, we recently filed in the California Supreme Court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the state to continue adding Proposition 65 impositions on the basis of findings from the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations.
  • Consumer Protection and Privacy Lawsuits – We’ve argued before that small businesses should not be subject to lawsuits over technical regulatory violations if there has been no actual injury to anyone. In that vein, we recently filed an amicus brief in Rosenbach v. Six Flags, arguing that employers should not be subject to suit under Illinois law unless the company has actually hurt someone.

Meanwhile we will continue to monitor other cases percolating in state court across the country. For more information on what NFIB Small Business Legal Center is doing in the courts, and for helpful guidance on legal issues, visit us at https://www.nfib.com/foundations/legal-center/.

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