Articles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The 1977 Mine Act, 30 U.S.C. 801(c), authorizes the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to promulgate mandatory health or safety standards, conduct regular inspections of mines, and issue citations and orders for violations of the Act or regulations. If an operator has a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards and has been given required notice and an opportunity to comply, the Act authorizes issuance of an order requiring the operator to vacate the mine until the violation has been abated. The MSHA promulgated the first pattern of violations rule in 1990. The final rule issued in 2013, as 30 C.F.R. Part 104. Mining interests challenged the rule. The Sixth Circuit dismissed, concluding that the rule is not within the definition of a mandatory health or safety standard over which the Act grants appeals courts jurisdiction. View "Nat'l Mining Ass'n v. Sec'y of Labor" on Justia Law

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The employer implemented a force reduction in its Dayton, Ohio, office in 2008. Managers informed McCarthy that her position would be terminated the following month and provided McCarthy with two options. She could retire and receive a lump-sum termination payment. If she selected this option, she was allegedly told that she would not receive certain retirement benefits. She chose the other option, entering AT&T’s Employment Opportunity Pool to continue to receive healthcare benefits and a reduced wage until she reached age 65 in May 2009, when she retired with full benefits. In August 2010 McCarthy filed suit. During the litigation, McCarthy submitted several requests for admission (RFAs), but the employer refused to admit the veracity of the disputed facts. More than a year later, the employer turned over an email establishing that one of the disputed facts was true. McCarthy moved for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c)(2). The district court granted the request, awarding $15,313.11, a fraction of what she sought. The Sixth Circuit remanded for recalculation of the amount. View "McCarthy v. Ameritech Publ'g, Inc." on Justia Law

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Crugher, a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) employee working at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF), sued Prelesnik, the warden of the ICF, claiming that Crugher was retaliated against, subjected to harassment and intimidation, and ultimately terminated after he took time off under the self-care provision of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2612(a)(1)(D). Crugher sought reinstatement. The district court dismissed on the grounds that the claim is barred by sovereign immunity or, alternatively, was untimely under the two-year limitations period in the FMLA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that an action by a state employee seeking prospective injunctive relief (reinstatement) against a state official under the FMLA’s self-care provision is subject to the limitations period contained in the FMLA. In addition, Crugher failed to state a willful violation of the FMLA; allowing Crugher to amend his complaint to allege willfulness, to take advantage of an extended three-year limitations period, would be futile. View "Crugher v. Prelesnik" on Justia Law

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The Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. 107–107e, gives blind persons a priority in winning contracts to operate vending facilities on federal properties. Fort Campbell, Kentucky, operates a cafeteria for its soldiers. For about 20 years, Kentucky’s Office for the Blind (OFB) has helped blind vendors apply for and win the base’s contracts for various services. In 2012, the Army, the federal entity that operates Fort Campbell, published a solicitation, asking for bids to provide dining-facility-attendant services. Rather than doing so under the Act, as it had before, the Army issued this solicitation as a set aside for Small Business Administration Historically Underutilized Business Zones. OFB, representing its blind vendor, filed for arbitration under the Act, and, days later, filed suit, seeking to prevent the Army from awarding the contract. The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider a request for a preliminary injunction. The Sixth Circuit vacated. OFB’s failure to seek and complete arbitration does not deprive the federal courts of jurisdiction. View "Commonwealth of Kentucky v. United States" on Justia Law

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The district court entered summary judgment relieving Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance of its duty to defend Elk Glenn against certain breach of contract and related claims arising from the sale of a residential lot. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal. A certification to appeal under Rule 54(b) requires the district court to determine that there is no just reason for delay, which requires the district court to balance the needs of the parties against the interests of efficient case management. The district court’s only reason supporting immediate appeal was the “real prejudice” Kentucky Farm Bureau would suffer. That reference, without further explication, does not provide reasoning supporting the necessity of immediate review. Without proper certification for an interlocutory appeal under Rule 54(b), an order disposing of fewer than all claims in a civil action is not immediately appealable. The Sixth Circuit declined to order the district court to make the necessary findings supporting jurisdiction. View "Adler v. Elk Glenn, LLC" on Justia Law

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Hescott, a U.S. Army pilot, has been routinely deployed to the Middle East. He and his son own a rental property in Saginaw, Michigan. When the property became vacant and they were unable to sell it in 2008, they planned to remodel it. In 2009 Hescott found that the basement wall had given way. He hired contractors to repair the foundation and returned to his post. Before the contractors could begin work, a police officer noticed children playing at the house and contacted the Dangerous Buildings Inspector. The Inspector and the Fire Marshal, determined that the house should be demolished immediately due to the threat to public safety. The city did not notify Hescott before or after the demolition. The house was demolished and all fixtures and materials were taken to a landfill. The city did not take an inventory or consider whether any salvageable items remained. When Hescott returned to assist his contractors with purchasing supplies, he realized his house was gone. The Hescotts sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Partial summary judgment left a viable claim under the Fourth Amendment for unlawful seizure of aluminum siding following demolition. Before trial, the Hescotts rejected an FRCP rule 68 offer of judgment of $15,000. The jury rejected inverse-condemnation and punitive damages claims, based on exigent circumstances, but awarded $5,000 for the aluminum. The court awarded costs to the Hescotts as “prevailing parties” on their Fourth Amendment claim, but denied attorney fees based on “the degree of success obtained,” and denied the city sanctions under Rule 68. The Sixth circuit reversed in part, holding that no special circumstances warranted denial of the Hescotts’ attorneys’ fees, but that attorneys’ fees are not awardable to a losing party, even one otherwise entitled to post-settlement-offer costs under Rule 68. View "Hescott v. City of Saginaw" on Justia Law

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In 2001, ASC and Paragon entered into a contract to develop and support computer software for the Chicago Tribune. This software, called the “Single Copy Distribution System” (SCDS) would allow the Tribune to manage and track newspaper deliveries and subscriptions. Tensions emerged and Paragon terminated the contract in 2003. ASC successfully sued Paragon in Ohio state court, obtaining a declaration that ASC was the sole owner of the SCDS. In federal court, ASC alleged copyright infringement, trademark infringement, breach of contract, conversion, tortious interference with a business relationship, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition based on Paragon’s alleged copying of the SCDS software to use in its DRACI software, developed in 2004 for another newspaper. After eight years of litigation, the district court granted summary judgment to Paragon on all claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that ASC had never submitted any evidence identifying the unique protectable elements of SCDS, and that there was insufficient evidence to generate even an implication that DRACI is substantially similar to SCDS. View "Automated Solutions Corp. v. Paragon Data Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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A purported class action alleged that Beachwood Hair Clinic violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, by disseminating more than 37,000 unsolicited fax advertisements in 2005 and 2006. Facing more than $18 million in statutory damages, Beachwood and its insurer, Acuity, agreed to a $4-million class settlement with the Ohio-based class representative, Siding. The settlement stipulated that separate litigation between Acuity and Siding would resolve a $2-million coverage dispute under Beachwood’s policy. Siding sought a declaratory judgment under Beachwood’s policy. The district court granted summary judgment to Acuity denying coverage. The Sixth Circuit vacated, finding that Siding did not establish diversity jurisdiction, which requires an amount in controversy greater than $75,000, 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). Unable to identify a singular interest exceeding $75,000 in the remaining $2-million coverage dispute, Siding sought to aggregate its interest with putative class members to satisfy that requirement, or to have the court consider the value of the policy dispute from Acuity’s perspective: $2 million. Acuity suggested ancillary jurisdiction via the settlement judgment in the underlying class action. The court rejected all arguments. View "Siding & Insulation Co. v. Acuity Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The flea-and-tick “spot-on products” at issue claim that their active ingredient works by topical application to a pet’s skin rather than through the pet’s bloodstream. According to the manufacturers, after the product is applied to one area, it disperses over the rest of the pet’s body within one day because it collects in the oil glands and natural oils spread the product over the surface of the pet’s skin and “wick” the product over the hair. The plaintiffs alleged false advertising based on statements that the products are self-dispersing and cover the entire surface of the pet’s body when applied in a single spot; that they are effective for one month and require monthly applications to continue to work; that they do not enter the bloodstream; and that they are waterproof and effective after shampooing, swimming, and exposure to rain or sunlight. The district court repeatedly referred to a one-issue case: whether the product covers the pet’s entire body with a single application. The case management order stated that the manufacturers would bear the initial burden to produce studies that substantiated their claims; the plaintiffs would then have to refute the studies, “or these cases will be dismissed.” The manufacturers objected. The plaintiffs argued that the plan would save time, effort, and money. The manufacturers submitted studies. The plaintiffs’ response included information provided by one plaintiff and his adolescent son and an independent examination of whether translocation occurred that detected the product’s active ingredient in a dog’s bloodstream. The district court concluded that the manufacturers’ studies substantiated their claims and denied all of plaintiffs’ discovery requests, except a request for consumer complaints, then granted the manufacturers summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The doctrines of waiver and invited error precluded challenges to the case management plan. View "Simms v. Bayer Healthcare, LLC" on Justia Law

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Trusts established by James Cartwright before his death have resulted in litigation in several jurisdictions involving his adopted children and others. The cases involve spendthrift trusts, Crummey Trusts, limited partnerships, and other entities, and tort claims of conversion, conspiracy, self-dealing, and manipulation of trust fund assets. The federal district court held that it lacked jurisdiction, reasoning that both state and federal court actions alleged claims involving administration of the trusts and were quasi in rem and that the Tennessee state court first asserted jurisdiction over the property at issue. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "Cartwright v. Garner" on Justia Law