Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Petitioner challenged the conditions of his confinement at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Alabama. The district court concluded that venue in the District of Columbia was improper and ordered the action transferred to the Northern District of Alabama. Petitioner and four fellow prisoners filed a mandamus petition seeking to vacate the transfer order and also compelling the district court clerk to accept certain rejected filings. The court denied petitioner's motion to proceed in forma pauperis because petitioner has run afoul of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's, 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), three strikes provision and has failed to demonstrate that he qualifies for the imminent danger exception; held that the remaining petitioners lacked standing to challenge either the transfer order or the clerk's rejection of the filings; and denied the motion to stay the collection of filing fees pending the payment of fees in other cases. View "Pinson, et al. v. Lappin, et al." on Justia Law

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Eight African-American Secret Service agents were certified by the district court to sue the Secretary on behalf of a class comprising of all similarly situated agents who were denied promotions to the GS-14 and GS-15 level. The government sought interlocutory review of the class certification order under Rule 23(f). The court concluded that none of the district court's rulings in support of its order certifying the plaintiff class is foreclosed by controlling precedent and the unsettled questions are not likely to evade end-of-the-case review. Accordingly, the court declined to review the district court's order. View "In re: Jeh Johnson" on Justia Law

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IPG challenged the distribution of royalties from a royalty fund managed by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, which provides payments to copyright holders when they are statutorily obligated to license their work to third parties. IPG's former president had signed a settlement agreement that fully disposed of IPG's interest in the royalties at issue concerning religious programming broadcasts on cable television in 1998. In this case, IPG seeks judicial review under an inapposite jurisdictional grant of a decade-old distribution based on the actions of IPG's then-president, on which the Royalty Judges reasonably relied, and indeed, the authority for which has never been challenged. Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked statutory jurisdiction over the dispute. View "Independent Producers Group, et al. v. Library of Congress, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellants filed a wrongful death action against Romarm, a foreign corporation and firearms manufacturer owned by the Romanian government and located in Bucharest. The district court granted Romarm's motion to dismiss based on failure to allege personal jurisdiction over Romarm. Supreme Court Justice Breyer's narrow concurrence in J.McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro concluded that a foreign corporation's sale to a distributor, without more, is insufficient to establish the minimum contacts necessary for a court to exert personal jurisdiction over the corporation, even if its product ultimately causes injury in the forum state. In light of Nicastro, the court concluded that appellants have failed to allege any conduct by Romarm that was purposely directed toward the District of Columbia; nor could their discovery requests supply the missing element; and the district court appropriately dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Williams, et al. v. Romarm, SA, et al." on Justia Law

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The city of Jersey City and a coalition of environmental groups filed separate petitions challenging FERC's order granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the construction of a natural gas pipeline connecting New York and New Jersey. The court concluded that it could not consider the merits of the petitions where the environmental petitioners lacked Article III standing as an association; the court did not have original jurisdiction over claims arising from the Budget Act, Pub.L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251; and the court rejected the City's remaining standing claims. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petitions for lack of jurisdiction. View "NO Gas Pipeline v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that aerial herbicide spraying of illegal coca crops had drifted across the border from Colombia and that planes themselves had actually crossed the border and sprayed in Ecuador. Plaintiffs asserted a wide variety of tort claims for alleged injuries to health, property, and financial interests. The court agreed with the district court that the Ecuadorian provinces lacked Article III standing; the court rejected the challenge brought by the 163 plaintiffs who were dismissed for failure to provide complete responses to the court-ordered questionnaires; because District of Columbia law requires expert testimony where the parties offer competing causal explanations for an injury that turns on scientific information, the district court appropriately dismissed individual plaintiffs' claims for crop damages; because expert testimony was not necessary to prove plaintiffs' claims for battery, nuisance, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the district court erred in dismissing these claims; and because expert testimony is necessary to determine whether plaintiffs were actually in the zone of physical danger, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further consideration. , battery, nuisance, iemd View "Arias, et al. v. Dyncorp, et al." on Justia Law

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AF Holdings, represented by Prenda Law, filed suit in district court against 1,058 unnamed John Does who it alleged had illegally downloaded and shared the pornographic film "Popular Demand" using a file-sharing service known as BitTorrent. Prenda Law's general approach was to identify certain unknown persons whose IP addresses were used to download pornographic films, sue them in gigantic multi-defendant suits that minimized filing fees, discover the identities of the persons to whom these IP addresses were assigned by serving subpoenas on the Internet service providers to which the addresses pertained, and then negotiate settlements with the underlying subscriber. The providers refused to comply with the district court's issuance of subpoenas compelling them to turn over information about the underlying subscribers, arguing that the subpoenas are unduly burdensome because venue is improper, personal jurisdiction over these Doe defendants is lacking, and defendants could not properly be joined together in one action. The court agreed, concluding that AF Holdings clearly abused the discovery process by not seeking information because of its relevance to the issues that might actually be litigated here. AF Holdings could not possibly have had a good faith belief that it could successfully sue the overwhelming majority of the John Doe defendants in this district. Although AF Holdings might possibly seek discovery regarding individual defendants in the judicial districts in which they are likely located, what it certainly may not do is improperly use court processes by attempting to gain information about hundreds of IP addresses located all over the country in a single action, especially when many of those addresses fall outside of the court's jurisdiction. Given AF Holdings' decision to name and seek discovery regarding a vast number of defendants who downloaded the film weeks and even months apart - defendants who could not possibly be joined in this litigation - one can easily infer that its purpose was to attain information that was not, and could not be, relevant to this particular suit. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings, including a determination of sanctions, if any, for AF Holdings' use of a possible forgery in support of its claim. View "AF Holdings, LLC v. Does 1-1058" on Justia Law

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Raymone Bain and her firm filed suit against Michael Jackson and his production company, MJJ Productions, Inc., claiming to be owed substantial sums for various services rendered. Defendants moved to dismiss, relying principally on a December 2007 release agreement where Bain broadly relinquished any claims against Jackson and his business entities. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of MJJ, holding that the release agreement precluded Bain's claims. Bain moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(2) five months later. The "newly discovered evidence" cited by Bain was an April 2008 letter from Jackson to Bain, in which Jackson stated that he had no awareness of, and had never signed, the release agreement on which the district court had grounded its grant of summary judgment. The district court held that a movant's awareness of evidence automatically precludes relief under Rule 60(b)(2), regardless of the evidence's availability. The court found that to be an unduly constricted understanding of "newly discovered evidence" for purposes of Rule 60(b)(2). The court concluded, however, that the district court committed no abuse of discretion by looking beyond Bain's efforts in searching her own files and considering whether she mentioned the letter to the court or sought its assistance in locating the evidence. Because Bain failed to exercise reasonable diligence in seeking out the letter, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Bain, et al. v. MJJ Productions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a Marine Corps. veteran who was honorably discharged, sought review of the BCNR's denial of an increase in appellant's disability rating. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal where the only claim ever properly placed at issue before the district court was rendered moot by a stipulated remand to the BCNR. The court did not reach the other issues briefed on appeal. View "Schmidt v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Board moved to transfer this petition for review of one of its orders to the Ninth Circuit where another petition for review of the same order has been filed. Although the Board conceded that it received the court-and-date-stamped copy of Remington's petition within 28 U.S.C. 2112(a)(1)'s ten-day time limit, it argued that it did not receive the copy from the persons instituting the proceedings. Because every petitioner seeking review of a Board order must comply with section 10(f) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 160(f), section 2112(a) could serve its separate notice function only if petitioners wishing to take advantage of that section's forum selection procedure comply with it separately. Requiring petitioners to comply personally with section 2112(a) alerted the agency that the petitioner cared about its chosen forum and, as the Board explained, imposed the burden of compliance on the party seeking to benefit from section 2112(a). Therefore, the court must transfer the petition to the Ninth Circuit. The court granted the motion to transfer. View "Remington Lodging & Hospitality v. NLRB" on Justia Law