Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Baylor v. Mitchell Rubenstein & Assoc.
Plaintiff filed suit against defendant after it attempted to collect debt from plaintiff, alleging that the company violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the District of Columbia Consumer Protections Procedures Act (CPPA), and the District of Columbia Debt Collection Law (DCDCL). Plaintiff eventually accepted defendant's offer of judgment regarding the FDCPA claim and the district court determined the attorney's fees to which she was entitled for this success. The DC Circuit held that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(D) and 72(b)(3) foreclose the district court from using a "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard when evaluating a magistrate judge's proposed disposition of an attorney's fee request. The correct standard of review is de novo. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded to allow the trial judge to reconsider this matter in the first instance applying de novo review. The court affirmed as to the remaining orders challenged on appeal. View "Baylor v. Mitchell Rubenstein & Assoc." on Justia Law
Rodriguez v. Penrod
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Army unlawfully relieved him of command in retaliation for whistleblowing, in violation of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988, 10 U.S.C. 1034. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the decision of the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The DC Circuit ordered this action to be transferred to district court, holding that nothing in section 1034 or any other provision of the Act provides for direct review in the courts of appeal. View "Rodriguez v. Penrod" on Justia Law
Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations v. Ferrer
Appellant challenged two district court orders directing him to produce various documents in response to a subpoena issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. While the appeal was pending, appellant turned over some of the documents and the Subcommittee completed its investigation, issuing a final report. The DC Circuit held that the case was moot because the relief appellant seeks is barred by the separation of powers. The court explained that the separation of powers, including the Speech or Debate Clause, barred the court from ordering a congressional committee to return, destroy, or refrain from publishing the subpoenaed documents. Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation that the Subcommittee, having completed its work and issued its final report, will nonetheless reopen its investigation and again issue a subpoena to appellant. Accordingly, the DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgments and dismissed the case as moot. View "Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations v. Ferrer" on Justia Law
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. FCC
NARUC challenged the FCC's order authorizing interconnected Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service providers (I-VoIPs) to obtain North American Numbering Plan telephone numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators rather than through intermediary local phone service numbering partners. NARUC argued that the Commission has effectively classified I-VoIP service as a Title II telecommunications service, or acted arbitrarily by delaying a classification decision or by extending Title II rights and obligations to I-VoIPs in the absence of classification. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the petition, concluding that NARUC failed to demonstrate an injury-in-fact, and thus failed to establish Article III standing to challenge the Order. View "National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. FCC" on Justia Law
Nanko Shipping, USA v. Alcoa
In 1963, the Republic of Guinea entered into an agreement with Halco establishing the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) for the purpose of developing Guinea's rich bauxite mines. Nanko filed suit against Alcoa, alleging breach of the CBG Agreement, asserting that it was a third-party beneficiary thereof, and another for racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C.1981. Nanko later added Halco as a defendant and asserted an additional claim against Alcoa for tortious interference with contractual relations. The district court dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(7) for failure to join Guinea as a required Rule 19 party. The court concluded that the district court's Rule 19 holding failed to fully grapple with Nanko's allegations and that those allegations, accepted as true, state a claim for racial discrimination under section 1981. The court reasoned that, insofar as the existing parties' interests are concerned, evidence of Guinea's actions, views, or prerogatives can be discovered and introduced where relevant to the parties' claims and defenses even if Guinea remained a nonparty. At this stage in the pleadings, the court did not believe that the allegations could be reasonably read to show that Guinea was a necessary party. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Nanko Shipping, USA v. Alcoa" on Justia Law
Hardaway v. District of Columbia Housing Authority
Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program, 42 U.S.C. 1437f, housing agencies use HUD funds to issue housing subsidy vouchers based on family size. The Montgomery County, Maryland Housing determined, based on a medical form, that Angelene has a disability and requires a live-in aide. HUD regulations mandate that any approved live-in aide must be counted in determining family size. The Commission issued Angelene a two-bedroom voucher. Angelene’s sister was Angelene’s live-in aide. Angelene decided to move to the District of Columbia. Program vouchers are portable. Angelene obtained a two-bedroom voucher from the D.C. Housing Authority. The sisters moved into a two-bedroom District apartment. Within weeks, they received a letter revoking Angelene’s right to a live-in aide and her legal entitlement to a two-bedroom voucher. They sued, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794, and Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(1). The court denied motions for a temporary restraining order and to seal their complaint, medical records, and “nondispositive materials.” While the case was pending, the Authority sent another letter reaffirming that Angelene’s request for a live-in aide was denied, but stating that the decision did not reverse the two-bedroom voucher. The court dismissed, finding no allegation of injury-in-fact. The D.C. Circuit reversed with respect to the motion to seal and the dismissal. At the pleadings stage, plaintiff’s allegation that the government denied or revoked a benefit suffices to show injury-in-fact. Angelene’s loss of a statutory entitlement traces directly to the Authority’s letter and would be redressed by a court order to approve her aide request. View "Hardaway v. District of Columbia Housing Authority" on Justia Law
Wang v. New Mighty U.S. Trust,
In 1935, Yueh-Lan married Y.C., who founded the Formosa Plastics Group in 1954. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Y.C. as the 178th wealthiest person in the world. Y.C. remained married to Yueh-Lan, but had children with other women. Yueh-Lan helped to rear at least one of those children, Winston. In 2005, allegedly to reduce Yueh-Lan’s share of the marital estate, Y.C. made transfers, including to the New Mighty U.S. Trust. Y.C. died in 2008. In 2010, Winston—a citizen of Taiwan, allegedly acting as Yueh-Lan’s attorney-in-fact—sued New Mighty, its trustee, and one of New Mighty’s beneficiaries. Ruling on a motion to dismiss, the district court concluded that a traditional trust is an artificial entity that “assumes the citizenship of all of its ‘members’ for purposes of diversity jurisdiction” under 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). Reasoning that New Mighty’s “members” included its beneficiaries, the court instructed the defendants to produce a list of all beneficiaries and their citizenship. The list included entities that were citizens of the British Virgin Islands, so that complete diversity did not exist. After the notice of appeal was filed, Yueh-Lan died. Winston and her Taiwanese executors moved to substitute the executors as Yueh-Lan’s personal representative. The D.C. Circuit reversed the dismissal and granted the motion to substitute, citing the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision, Americold Realty Trust, stating that a “traditional trust” carries the citizenship of its trustees. View "Wang v. New Mighty U.S. Trust," on Justia Law
Winston & Strawn, LLP v. James P. McLean, Jr.
In 2013, Winston & Strawn filed a lawsuit against McLean, and, weeks later, moved for summary judgment. The district court informed McLean that he was required to respond by August 18, 2014, and advised him that if he did not the court might treat the motion as conceded. He emailed his response to Winston & Strawn and mailed it to the court on August 18, but it did not arrive until August 20. On August 19, the court granted the motion, relying solely on Local Rule 7(b), under which the court has discretion to treat a motion “as conceded” if the nonmoving party fails to timely file an opposition. The court denied reconsideration. The D.C. Circuit reversed. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 56(a)), a motion for summary judgment cannot be “conceded” for want of opposition. “The burden is always on the movant to demonstrate why summary judgment is warranted.” There is nothing to indicate that the district court considered whether Winston’s assertions warranted judgment under Rule 56. A court must always engage in the analysis required by Rule 56 before acting on a motion for summary judgment. View "Winston & Strawn, LLP v. James P. McLean, Jr." on Justia Law
Kennedy v. Bowser
Kennedy, a D.C. fireman, had a beard. Department policy required him to shave it. Because of a medical condition, he could not do so without discomfort and infection. The Department refused to accommodate his condition. Kennedy sued, alleging 28 counts, including disability discrimination, arguing that his condition was a “disability” as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008. The district court dismissed eight counts resting on that definition. Kennedy appealed that order on an interlocutory basis under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b), which provides an appellate court with jurisdiction to review an interlocutory order “if application is made to it within ten days after the entry of the order.” Kennedy filed a notice of appeal in the district court two days after the court denied reconsideration but waited several weeks before filing his application in the D.C. Circuit. The Circuit Court dismissed, rejecting Kennedy’s argument that the notice of appeal and the order denying reconsideration, both of which were transmitted to the Circuit Court within the statutory period, served the same purpose as an application. Even assuming the “functional equivalent” of an application satisfies section 1292(b) and Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the notice and order here did not meet that description. View "Kennedy v. Bowser" on Justia Law
United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
This appeal stems from the government's long-running Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961–68, case against the nation’s major cigarette manufacturers. The government alleged a conspiracy to deceive the American public about the dangers of cigarettes. The district court issued a comprehensive remedial order ten years ago. RJR sought to dissolve the order as void under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) and unjust under Rule 60(b)(6), but the district court denied the motion. The court explained that the Supreme Court made clear in United States Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, that relief under Rule 60(b)(4) is available “only in the rare instance where a judgment is premised either on a certain type of jurisdictional error or on a violation of due process.” The court concluded that none of those defects exists in this case. The court also concluded that, although RJR could have challenged its remedial obligations under Rule 60(b)(6), it failed to do so. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of RJR's motion. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law