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Briefly noted


The Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in Barnes vs. Gorman that government entities cannot, under most circumstances, be forced to pay punitive damages in cases involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a somewhat unusual ruling in which he was joined by five other members of the court while the remaining three justices filed a concurring opinion without signing the majority opinion, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the entities that receive federal grants aren't subject to punitive damages unless Congress specifically said so when it enacted the law under which the grants were made. The case involved a paraplegic who was injured after he was arrested outside a Kansas City, Mo., nightclub after a fight. Police put the man--Jeffrey Gorman--in a police van that wasn't equipped to transport wheelchairs, and Mr. Gorman suffered further injuries. Mr. Gorman sued police officials, claiming the city had violated both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by not accommodating him adequately. A district court judge voided a jury award of more than $1 million in punitive damages to Mr. Gorman, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it....Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced legislation Tuesday to require all employers with more than 100 employees to offer group health care coverage comparable to that the federal government provides to its employees. Employers, Sen. Kennedy said in a speech delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, have an obligation to contribute to the cost of health insurance for their employees....The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is scheduled to mark up a bill Wednesday that would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an ergonomics standard. Congress forced OSHA to rescind an earlier rule last year, and businesses are urging members of the committee to vote against the new ergonomics bill.