A group of anti-maskers filed 6 petitions against Joe Biden’s mask mandate in federal circuit courts

A group of TSA agents in masks walk through John Wayne Airport in California
TSA agents walking trough a terminal.

  • A group of fliers challenged the Biden administration’s mask mandates with six court filings.
  • The federal court petitions sought an end to mask requirements for travelers.
  • “Wearing face masks has nothing whatsoever to do with transportation security,” they said.

A coordinated group of anti-mask travelers on Tuesday filed six petitions in federal appellate courts across the country, with each filing arguing that the Biden administration’s mask mandates were unconstitutional.

The petitions were the latest step in a months-long legal campaign led by Lucas Wall, the Washington, D.C., a frequent flier who is suing the Biden administration and seven airlines. Wall filed the petition in the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, but they each use his lawsuit as an exhibit.

The six petitions were filed by a combined 12 people, each of which said their medical conditions made it difficult or impossible to wear a face covering. Some said they suffered from anxiety disorders.

The legal arguments – and much of the individual wording – of each of the six petitions were identical. Each called for an end to the Biden administration’s “illegal and unconstitutional” mask mandates, which were extended for a second time through mid-January 2021.

Looking up at the stone facade of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta
On of Tuesday’s anti-mask petitions was filed in US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.

The petitions argued that mask mandates didn’t fall under the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) legal mandate, which they said was “limited by law to address security threats.” They said Congress hasn’t given the agency “power to regulate the public health and welfare.”

“Wearing face masks has nothing whatsoever to do with transportation security,” the petitioners said.

A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on pending litigation.

The petitions challenged four orders put in place by the TSA, each of which cited President Joe Biden’s January executive order requiring masks for all travelers. The TSA orders – three security directives and one emergency amendment – were re-upped in August, before the TSA’s mask mandate was extended.

“None of these give TSA authority to require passengers to wear masks to possibly prevent the spread of a communicable disease such as COVID-19,” the petitioners said.

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An attorney general wants to add Mark Zuckerberg to a lawsuit against Facebook that has a massive potential penalty of $1.7 billion

Mark Zuckerberg at a Congressional Hearing
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • A district attorney general wants to add Mark Zuckerberg to a Facebook privacy lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit was filed in 2018 on behalf of people affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
  • If added as a respondent, Zuckerberg could face potential financial penalties, The NYT reported.

The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, wants to add Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a respondent to a privacy lawsuit against the company.

Racine told The New York Times he planned to file an amendment adding Zuckerberg to an ongoing case first filed against Facebook in 2018 on behalf of DC residents whose data was compromised during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

A 2010 product change that ultimately facilitated the kind of data-scraping used by Cambridge Analytica was Zuckerberg’s “brain child,” Racine told The Times, citing evidence uncovered during a period of discovery on the case.

Facebook had tried to get the lawsuit dismissed, but a judge denied the request in January 2019, leading to a discovery period.

“Under these circumstances, adding Mr. Zuckerberg to our lawsuit is unquestionably warranted, and should send a message that corporate leaders, including the CEO, will be held accountable for their actions,” Racine told The Times in a statement.

If Zuckerberg was successfully added then he could be subject to financial penalties, The Times reported.

Per The Times, Racine can seek up to $5,000 for every resident who was affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In his original 2018 filing Racine said that more than 340,000 Washington DC residents were affected, although The Times reported that 300,000 residents were affected.

This could mean a maximum total penalty of up to $1.7 billion. It was not immediately clear how any financial penalty would be split between Facebook and Zuckerberg, should he be added as a respondent.

Insider emailed Racine’s office for clarification out of hours, and did not immediately receive a reply.

Facebook can try to get Racine’s amendment dismissed, The Times reported. Facebook did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider about whether it would seek to dismiss.

Facebook reached a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in July 2019 over its failure to protect user privacy in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Washington Post reported in July 2019 that the FTC had considered a much higher fine, as well as the possibility of holding Zuckerberg personally responsible.

Facebook shareholders filed a lawsuit against the company in September this year saying it overpaid the Federal Trade Commission by nearly $5 billion as part of a “quid pro quo” to protect Zuckerberg.

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Jan. 6 Committee chairs Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney call Trump’s subpoena lawsuit ‘an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe’

Bennie Thompson Liz Cheney
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), left, listens as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) speaks during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2021. Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone is at center.

  • Members of the Jan. 6 Committee insisted they have the authority to seek White House records.
  • Former President Donald Trump said he intends to use executive privilege to reject the subpoenas.
  • The committee is seeking Trump-related records, including his internal communications.

Jan. 6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) and Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) reiterated that they have the authority to seek White House records in light of a lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of former President Donald Trump in an attempt to block subpoenas related to the investigation into the insurrection.

“The former president’s clear objective is to stop the Select Committee from getting to the facts about Jan. 6, and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe. Precedent and law are on our side,” the statement from Thompson and Cheney said.

Thompson and Cheney added in their statement that President Biden has so far declined to invoke executive privilege and that it is not absolute.

“Additionally, there’s a long history of the White House accommodating congressional investigative requests when the public interest outweighs other concerns,” the statement from Thompson and Cheney said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.”

Trump’s lawyers alleged in the lawsuit that the subpoenas are “invalid and unenforceable through the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” and said Trump intends to use executive privilege to reject them.

The Jan. 6 Committee has asked for a trove of Trump’s records, including his internal communications with lawyers, campaign operatives, and senior officials, Politico reported.

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A protester shot by Kyle Rittenhouse accused police of ‘deputizing a roving militia’ and enabling ‘white nationalist vigilantes’ in new lawsuit

kenosha 11
Police in riot gear stand outside the Kenosha County Court House Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis.

  • Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and injuring a third on August 25, 2020, in Kenosha.
  • A surviving victim is suing the city and county of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and law enforcement officers.
  • The lawsuit alleges police strategized with and encouraged an armed militia.

A lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday by Gaige Grosskreutz, a protester who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, accuses Kenosha law enforcement of “deputizing a roving militia to ‘protect property’ and ‘assist in maintaining order.'”

“It was not a mistake that Kyle Rittenhouse would kill two people and maim a third on that evening. It was a natural consequence of the actions of the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha Sheriff’s office,” the lawsuit says.

Grosskreutz is one of three people who were shot by Rittenhouse on August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during the protests and riots that erupted over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, both died.

Rittenhouse, then 17, of Antioch, Illinois, crossed state lines with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to attend the riots. He has been charged on multiple homicide counts and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is set to begin on November 1 and his attorneys are expected to argue the shootings were in self-defense, according to The Washington Post.

The city and county of Kenosha are named as defendants in Grosskreutz’s lawsuit, along with specific members of law enforcement. The city, county, and Kenosha Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

The suit alleges Kenosha law enforcement officers encouraged and expressed thanks to “Kyle Rittenhouse and a band of white nationalist vigilantes” on the night of the shootings.

“Despite the fact that the armed individuals were in violation of the curfew order, the officers and deputies communicated their full support and appreciation for Rittenhouse and others,” the lawsuit said.

Among other accusations, the suit alleges Rittenhouse and others were prompted by Kevin Mathewson, a former Kenosha city alderman, who posted a call to action on Facebook on behalf of the Kenosha Guard, a militia group he formed, calling for “patriots willing to take up arms and defend our City tonight against the evil thugs.”

Mathewson also sent an email to KPD Chief Daniel Miskinis and KPD Public Information Officer Joseph Nosalik, according to the lawsuit.

“As you know, I am the Commander of the Kenosha Guard, a local militia. We are mobilizing tonight and have about 3,000 RSVP’s. We have volunteers that will be in Uptown, downtown, and at the entrances to other neighborhoods,” the email from Mathewson read.

Neither Miskinis nor Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, both of whom are listed as defendants in the complaint, made any attempt to dissuade the armed individuals from patrolling Kenosha, the lawsuit alleges.

Sam Hill, an attorney for Beth, said in a statement the claims in the lawsuit are false and that he will try to have the suit thrown out, The Washington Post reported. The other defendants named in the lawsuit could not be reached.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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A luxury car dealership is accused of firing an employee who warned others about a COVID-19 outbreak, telling him ‘his only job was to fix cars’

The Rolls-Royce Ghost.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost.

  • Hi Tech Motorcars is accused of firing a worker in December 2020 who warned others there was a COVID-19 case.
  • “I feel it is important to inform all employees of the current situation,” the man wrote in an email.
  • The company sells cars from Audi, Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus, and Rolls-Royce.

When a worker at a high-end car dealership in Austin, Texas, learned one of his colleagues had tested positive for COVID-19, he did what the company would not: tell others. He was fired within the hour, according to a lawsuit filed by the US Department of Labor, management telling him that “his only job was to fix cars.”

In the lawsuit, filed this month in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, the department says the whistleblower is due back pay and punitive damages, arguing that his only offense was warning others about a threat to their health at Hi Tech Motorcars in Austin, Texas – which is no crime at all.

“This employee acted out of real concern for their safety and that of their coworkers, and their actions are protected under federal law,” the Labor Department’s John Rainwater said in a statement.

According to the October 6 complaint, the employee was distressed to learn in December 2020 that there had been an outbreak at the car dealership, which sells high-end vehicles from Porsche, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce. Management did nothing to inform others of their potential exposure, according to the lawsuit, so the employee did it himself.

“It has come to my attention that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19,” the man wrote in an email to staff. “I feel it is important to inform all employees of the current situation.”

Within the hour, the employee was fired, the company maintaining that he had outed the employee who had tested positive – which, the Department of Labor says, he did not.

Defendants are accused of violating federal whistleblower protections enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which encourages workers to report potential health hazards at the workplace. If found guilty, the dealership could be forced to provide back pay and punitive damages.

An attorney for Hi Tech Motorcars did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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A federal judge in Texas said United must pause its vaccine mandate for employees seeking a medical or religious exemption

United employee with vaccination
  • A Texas judge told United it must pause its plan to put workers who requested an exemption on leave.
  • The temporary order follows a lawsuit filed by 6 United employees who say the mandate is discriminatory.
  • United defended its policy, saying vaccinations work and most of its US workforce has gotten one.

A federal judge in Texas ordered United Airlines to temporarily pause its plan to put unvaccinated workers on leave if they requested a medical or religious exemption from complying with the company’s strict vaccine mandate.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Mark Pittman blocked United’s vaccine mandate for workers who requested an exemption, effectively keeping them on the company payroll, reported CNN. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by six United employees in September who said the company’s plan to put employees who requested an exemption on temporary leave was not a reasonable accommodation, but rather a punitive action that could lead to termination.

The employees, which include two pilots and one flight attendant, accused the airline of discrimination against workers who requested accommodation, saying the policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, according to the lawsuit.

Pittman’s restraining order, which expires on October 26, is only a temporary halt to United’s policy while he hears more arguments on the case.

“The court is not currently ruling on the merits of the parties’ arguments on these points,” Pittman said in his order. “Rather the court seeks simply to avoid the risk of irreparable harm to the parties and to maintain the status quo while the court holds an evidentiary hearing.”

About 3% of United’s 67,000-strong US workforce, which is about 2,000 employees, requested a religious or medical accommodation in response to the company’s strict vaccine mandate. Last month, United created a new rule outlining how it would handle these cases once the deadline for getting vaccinated passed, which was September 27. According to the airline, employees with an approved exemption would be put on temporary leave until the airline established COVID safety protocols, while those whose request was denied would be fired. Worker pay would depend on their individual collective bargaining agreements.

While the order is temporary, Mark Paoletta, the attorney for the six employees, said he is pleased with the judge’s ruling.

“United Airlines’ refusal to provide reasonable accommodations to its vaccine mandate violates the federal civil rights protections of our clients, the hard working men and women at United,” said Paoletta. “We look forward to our clients’ rights be permanently protected.”

In response, United defended its mandate, emphasizing that vaccines work and only a small number of its employees are holding out on getting the shot.

“Vaccine requirements work and nearly all of United’s U.S. employees have chosen to get a shot. For a number of our employees who were approved for an accommodation, we’re working to put options in place that reduce the risk to their health and safety, including new testing regimens, temporary job reassignments and masking protocols,” United told Insider.

Over 99% of United’s US workforce has been inoculated since the company mandated the vaccine on August 6, with only 232 holding out on getting the shot. On Wednesday, United CEO Scott Kirby told CBS Mornings those unvaccinated employees are being fired for not complying with the policy.

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Apple is appealing its own ‘resounding victory’ over Epic Games. It wants to delay a judge’s order to change its App Store rules.

Tim Cook Tim Sweeney
Apple CEO Tim Cook (left) and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.

  • A judge ruled on Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple in September.
  • At the time, Apple said the judge’s verdict was a “resounding victory.”
  • Apple is now filing to appeal part of the verdict.

Apple filed for an appeal of a ruling handed down by a judge in its legal battle with “Fortnite” maker Epic Games on Friday.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled partly in favor of Apple in September, in a case that revolved around whether Apple should be allowed to ban developers from using their own payment systems in the App Store. Apple General counsel Kate Adams called the verdict a “resounding victory” at the time – but in a Friday filing, Apple asked for a delay on enacting one part of the judge’s order.

The judge had ordered the tech giant to change its App Store rules around “anti-steering,” which are rules that stop developers directing users away from an app to pay for services elsewhere, such as on a developer’s website.

Apple levies a tax of between 15% and 30% on all in-app payments. Epic sued Apple in August 2020 after it tried to introduce its own payment system inside “Fortnite,” and Apple booted the game off the App Store.

In its filing on Friday, Apple asked for a delay in getting rid of its anti-steering rule, as ordered in the judge’s ruling. Apple said the delay would “allow Apple to protect consumers and safeguard its platform while the company works through the complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological, and economic issues.”

Apple also argued in its filing that if it allowed developers to direct users elsewhere for payments, it would be less able to protect them from fraud.

Epic Games told Insider in September that it intended to appeal the ruling. Reacting to news of Apple’s appeal, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney posted an image of a “Fortnite” banana on twitter.

While Apple has filed for its appeal, there has been no judgement yet on whether the appeal will be granted.

Apple and Epic Games did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.

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US Postal Service hit with lawsuit over DeJoy’s plan to slow delivery of first-class mail

USPS mail
United States Postal Service workers load mail into delivery trucks outside a post office in Royal Oak, Michigan.

  • The lawsuit demands public hearings be held on proposed changes at USPS.
  • Beginning this month, USPS began slowing the delivery of first-class mail.
  • Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have signed on to a lawsuit.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have signed on to a lawsuit that accuses the US Postal Service of pursuing “significant and nationwide changes” without proper consultation, CBS News reported Friday.

Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, USPS has abandoned its commitment to delivering first-class mail in three days or less.

Beginning October 1, such mail can now take up to five days to be delivered, part of what DeJoy bills as a 10-year plan to cut costs. The change will delay an estimated 39% of first-class mail and periodicals.

In their complaint, the attorneys general for Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and other Democratic-led states argue that DeJoy’s plan should not have been adopted without first requesting the opinion of the Postal Regulatory Commission, an advisory body that would hold public hearings. The commission has previously expressed concern over the proposal to delay mail delivery.

Without such a consultative process, USPS is violating federal statute, the attorneys general argue, and diminishing “the Postal Service’s transparency and accountability.”

In January, 21 attorneys general issued a joint statement arguing that DeJoy’s proposed changes would harm rural communities and, in particular, threaten the timely delivery of mail-in ballots.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Rudy Giuliani testified that he represented Trump’s 2020 campaign for free because the former president ‘ordered me to do it’

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani.

  • Rudy Giuliani said former President Donald Trump ordered him to represent his campaign for free, according to court documents.
  • Giuliani had been called to testify in a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Dominion Voting Systems employee.
  • Giuliani said in the deposition that Trump told him to “go over and take over the campaign, tell them you’re in charge.”

Rudy Giuliani testified that he represented former President Donald Trump for free after the 2020 election because Trump “ordered me to do it,” newly released court documents show.

Giuliani had led the Trump campaign’s effort to contest the 2020 election results by filing dozens of lawsuits that claimed there was widespread election fraud, all of which were thrown out by federal judges. An executive for Dominion Voting Systems, Eric Coomer, subsequently brought defamation lawsuits against Giuliani, former federal prosecutor Sydney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, alleging that they knowingly spread false information about his involvement in election fraud.

In a newly released deposition transcript, Coomer’s attorney, Charles Cain, asked Giuliani if he was ever paid to represent the Trump campaign. Cain noted that Giuliani said in a sweaty, conspiracy-theory-filled November 19 press conference that he was representing both Trump personally and the Trump campaign.

Giuliani replied that he was not paid to represent the campaign and had only been reimbursed for his expenses, according to the transcript. Cain then asked Giuliani why he would represent the Trump campaign without compensation.

“The president – the president ordered me to do it,” Giuliani replied.

Trump had previously cut off Giuliani and was refusing to pay his legal bills, according to Michael Wolff’s book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency.” The amount that Trump may owe Giuliani is unclear, but Maria Ryan, a Giuliani associate, told The New York Times that Giuliani gave a rate of $20,000-per-day to the Trump campaign for his work on the election lawsuits.

In the deposition transcript, Giuliani told Cain that Trump called him into the Oval Office on “either the 4th or the 5th” of November 2020 – after the presidential election – and told him to “go over and take over the campaign, tell them you’re in charge.”

Giuliani’s attorney, Joe Sibley, immediately reminded the former New York City mayor not to disclose information about his conversation with Trump that could be protected by attorney-client privilege, according to the transcript.

“It doesn’t matter if he made the statement. Don’t disclose it if it’s attorney/client privilege,” Sibley said, to which Giuliani replied that he would be “very careful” not to disclose any privileged information.

“He said go over and tell them you’re in charge, it’s got to be straightened out,” Giuliani said, noting that he wasn’t sure if Trump wanted him to take over the entire campaign or only the campaign’s legal representation.

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Tesla says rival Rivian continued to steal trade secrets and poach staff even after Tesla filed a lawsuit 14 months ago, a report says

Tesla CEO Elon Musk points a finger upward while wearing a black bandana around his neck
Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Germany on Friday.

  • Tesla filed a lawsuit against Rivian in 2020, saying Rivian stole trade secrets via new recruits.
  • Tesla has now said Rivian also stole “highly proprietary” battery tech this summer, per Bloomberg.
  • Rivian said Tesla’s new claims were unsupported by facts, Bloomberg reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla has added new accusations to its legal case against rival electric-vehicle company Rivian, Bloomberg reported.

Tesla filed a lawsuit against Amazon-backed Rivian in July 2020, saying Rivian stole highly confidential trade secrets through newly hired employees who previously worked for Tesla.

In a filing last month, Tesla re-asserted those accusations, saying that Rivian has continued to poach staff and that it had stolen “highly proprietary” battery technology since the suit was filed, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“Now apparently under pressure from investors after nearly a dozen years without producing a single commercial vehicle, Rivian has intensified its unlawful efforts,” Tesla said in its new filing, per Bloomberg.

A California state judge allowed the new allegations to be added to the case, Bloomberg reported.

Rivian had objected to this, arguing that Tesla’s new claims were unsupported by the facts and could delay the case being resolved, Bloomberg reported. Rivian’s argument that Tesla’s battery claims were unsupported by evidence had “some appeal to it,” the judge wrote in a September ruling, as reported by Bloomberg.

Rivian said in its own filing that Tesla, in many cases, had not specified what trade secrets Rivian was supposed to have stolen, Bloomberg reported.

“For several of its trade secrets it has provided so little detail that Rivian is unable to ascertain what Tesla is claiming as its intellectual property, let alone whether what it is claiming is or could be secret,” Rivian wrote, per Bloomberg.

Rivian declined to comment on Tesla’s new filing when contacted by Insider.

Rivian has tried to have Tesla’s case against it dismissed, but in March a judge ruled the lawsuit could proceed.

Rivian is preparing for an IPO later this year, and Bloomberg reported in August that it was aiming for a valuation of $80 billion.

The company started building its R1T pickup truck – a direct rival to Tesla’s Cybertruck – in September. The company told Insider it would start deliveries of the R1T the same month.

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