A Chorus Of 'No's

It's not every day a food fight comes before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The fight between Papa John's Pizza and Pizza Hut got there — just barely — but the justices Monday declined to actually hear the case.

That was a victory for Papa John's, the only winner in a long list of appeals cases that failed before the Supreme Court Monday, with the justices refusing to hear some of the cases, and outright rejecting other appeals after first hearing arguments.

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Pizza Hut was hoping the high court would hear its argument that Papa John's is guilty of false advertising for claiming that its pizza is better than Pizza Hut's because Papa John's uses better ingredients.

Pizza Hut earlier won a false advertising suit against its rival, with a jury ordering Papa John's to pay $467,610 in damages. But that verdict was later overturned by a federal appeals court, on the grounds that jurors were never asked to decide whether consumers actually relied on claims about taste in deciding which pizza to buy.

Pizza Hut is the nation's largest pizza chain; Papa John's is third largest but claims to be the fastest-growing. Both are international companies; Pizza Hut, along with Taco Bell and KFC, is owned by Tricon Global Restaurants.

In other action Monday, the Supreme Court:

  • Rejected appeals from four death row inmates: Abdullah Hameen in Delaware, convicted of the murders of two guards during an armored car robbery; Vernon Evans in Maryland, convicted of the murder-for-hire slayings of two motel clerks, one of whom was a potential witness in a federal drug case; David Dawson in Montana, convicted of killing an 11-year-old boy and his parents after kidnapping and robbing the entire family, including a teen-age daughter who survived; and Army Specialist Four Ronald Gray, who was court-martialed and sentenced to death for the murders of two women while he was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • Rejected an appeal by Lisa Michelle Lambert, sentenced to life in prison in Pennsylvania for the 1991 love triangle slaying of Laurie Snow. In 1997, a federal judge overturned the original guilty verdict and said Lambert's trial was "corrupted from start to finish by wholesale prosecutorial misconduct" and barred prosecutors from re-trying her. That was overturned by a federal appeals court later that same year. The Supreme Court made no comment Monday in rejecting Lambert's appeal.
  • Rejected, without comment, the appeal of a Marine who was court-martialed for refusing to be vaccinated against anthrax. Lance Corporal Matthew D. Perry is oe of a group of service members who claim the shots are not safe and have therefore refused them. The Pentagon claims the vaccine is safe and that severe allergic reactions happen less than once per 100,000 doses.
  • Rejected the appeal of a former Ohio high school student who claimed he had a free speech right to wear Marilyn Manson shock rock T-shirts to class. Nicholas Boroff was a senior when school officials told him he couldn't wear the shirts, one of which depicted a three-faced image of Jesus. Lower courts ruled in favor of the school district, saying it has the right to ban clothing it believes to be vulgar.
  • Rejected the appeal of a convicted bomber from Indianapolis who once claimed days before the 1988 presidential election that he had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle back in the 1970s, a claim refuted by both Quayle and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Brett Kimberlin was hoping to convince the Supreme Court that federal parole officials railroaded him when they canceled his scheduled release two years ago.
  • Rejected an argument by the state of Louisiana that insurance companies which have left the state or reduced their amount of business in the state should nonetheless have to comply with a new rule on contributing to the state workers compensation fund. The fund is intended to encourage companies to hire disabled workers by protecting employers against costs they may incur if a disabled worker becomes injured a second time.

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