Florida v. Jardines, United States Supreme Court (3/26/13)
Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Police took a drug-sniffing dog to Jardines’ front porch, where the dog gave a positive alert for narcotics. The officers then obtained a warrant for a search, which revealed marijuana plants. Jardines was charged with trafficking in cannabis. The Supreme Court of Florida approved the trial court’s suppression of the evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed. The investigation of Jardines’ home was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. When the Government obtains information by physically intruding on persons, houses, papers, or effects, a search within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment has “undoubtedly occurred.” The right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion is the “very core” of the Fourth Amendment. The area immediately surrounding and associated with the home, the curtilage, is part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes. The front porch is the classic exemplar of an area to which the activity of home life extends. The officers’ entry was not explicitly or implicitly invited. Officers need not “shield their eyes” when passing a home on public thoroughfares but “no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s close without his leave.” A police officer without a warrant may approach a home in hopes of speaking to occupants, because that is “no more than any private citizen might do” but the scope of a license is limited not only to a particular area but also to a specific purpose, and there is no customary invitation to enter the curtilage simply to conduct a search.
Johnson v. Priceline.com, Inc., US 2nd Cir. (3/27/13)
Consumer Law, Contracts
Plaintiffs initiated this putative class action against Priceline, seeking compensatory, punitive, and equitable relief for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and contract, as well as a violation of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110b. Plaintiffs’ claims arose from Priceline’s alleged failure to disclose to users of its “Name Your Own Price” booking service that a successful bid for a hotel room would generally exceed the amount Priceline itself compensated the hotel vendor, with Priceline retaining the difference as profit. Because plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to allege an agency relationship between Priceline and consumers who use its “Name Your Own Price” service to reserve hotel accommodations, they could not plausibly claim that Priceline breached an agent’s fiduciary duty in failing to apprise consumers that it might have procured the accommodations at costs lower than their bids, retaining the difference as profits. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims.