Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's stay of proceedings in its federal complaint. The district court applied the Colorado River doctrine to grant the stay. The DC Circuit held that none of the Colorado River factors -- avoiding piecemeal litigation, which court first obtained jurisdiction over the case, and whether federal or state law controls -- alone or in combination, provide the "exceptional circumstances" required to suspend a federal court's "virtually unflagging obligation" to exercise its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed the order granting the motion to stay the federal proceedings. View "Edge Investment, LLC v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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These consolidated appeals stemmed from the cyberattack of multiple OPM databases that resulted in the data breach of sensitive personal information from more than 21 million people. Plaintiffs alleged that OPM's cybersecurity practices were inadequate, enabling the hackers to gain access to the agency's database of employee information, in turn exposing plaintiffs to heightened risks of identity theft and other injuries. The district court dismissed the complaints based on lack of Article III standing and failure to state a claim. The DC Circuit held that both sets of plaintiffs have alleged facts sufficient to satisfy Article III standing requirements; the Arnold Plaintiffs have stated a claim for damages under the Privacy Act, and have unlocked OPM's waiver of sovereign immunity, by alleging OPM's knowing refusal to establish appropriate information security safeguards; KeyPoint was not entitled to derivative sovereign immunity because it has not shown that its alleged security faults were directed by the government, and it is alleged to have violated the Privacy Act standards incorporated into its contract with OPM; and, assuming a constitutional right to informational privacy, NTEU Plaintiffs have not alleged any violation of such a right. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Data Security Breach Litigation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an international businessman who resides in Missouri, filed this suit against defendant, the investment and wealth fund of one of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), alleging that defendant violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and committed the common law torts of conversion and unfair competition when it hacked plaintiff's computers. Plaintiff and defendants previously entered into a broad settlement agreement where they agreed to litigate all future, related claims in England. The DC Circuit held that the forum selection clause was mandatory and applied to plaintiff's claims, and the parties did not dispute that the clause was valid and enforceable. The court also held that the public interest factors that plaintiff raised to support his claim that transferring the case to England was unwarranted, did not defeat the forum selection clause. The court explained that the public did not have an interest in keeping U.S.-based disputes that turn on U.S. law in our courts. In this case, the Settlement Agreement provides that English Law will govern all disputes subject to the forum selection clause. Furthermore, judicial economy and administrative convenience point towards resolving the parties' claims in the same forum. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's decision to the contrary. View "Azima v. Rak Investment Authority" on Justia Law

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After the Superior Court approved Chartered's reorganization plans, DC Healthcare Systems filed suit against the District and others, alleging that defendants' unlawful and unconstitutional actions manufactured Chartered's financial distress and forced it into the rehabilitation proceedings. The district court dismissed the action based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The DC Circuit reversed and held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not deprive the district court of jurisdiction to decide this case. The court held that Healthcare Systems' federal lawsuit did not invite district court review and rejection of the Superior Court's judgments. Rather, it presented claims that were independent of and distinct from those adjudicated by the Superior Court. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "D.C. Healthcare Systems, Inc. v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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After Esther Klieman was killed in a terrorist attack on an Israeli public bus, plaintiffs filed suit under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), among other laws. The district court dismissed the case against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) for want of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in agreeing, in light of the intervening Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), to reconsider its earlier ruling that the district court had general personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court held that Daimler, and circuit precedent, effectively foreclosed a ruling that the district court had general jurisdiction over the PA/PLO; plaintiffs' prima facie case for specific jurisdiction did not meet the Constitution's requirements; and plaintiffs have neither established the circumstances rendering section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 applicable nor facts justifying a remand for discovery on the issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision. View "Estate of Esther Klieman v. Palestinian Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a historian, appealed the district court's order denying his petition to release grand jury records from the 1957 indictment of a former FBI agent. The court held that the district court has no authority outside Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) to disclose grand jury matter. In this case, plaintiff pointed to nothing in Rule 6(e)(3) that suggested that a district court has authority to order disclosure of grand jury matter outside the enumerated exceptions. Because the court held that the district court has no such authority, the court need not determine whether the district court abused its discretion denying plaintiff's petition as overbroad. View "McKeever v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the widow of a Taiwanese plastics magnate and billionaire filed suit against the trusts created before her husband's death, alleging that the transfer of a large portion of her husband's assets to the trusts unlawfully denied her the full marital estate to which she was entitled. The district court ultimately granted, subject to conditions, the trusts' motion to dismiss the complaint on forum non conveniens grounds. The DC Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court failed to give appropriate weight to the widow's legitimate choice of forum and erred in concluding that the private interest factors weighed slightly in favor of dismissal and in overemphasizing the public interest factors in deciding to dismiss this case on forum non conveniens grounds. In this case, the trusts failed to meet its heavy burden of showing that suit in the United States was so inconvenient as to be harassing, vexing, or oppressive. The court held that, the district court's errors, considered together, constituted a clear abuse of discretion. View "Shi v. New Mighty U.S. Trust" on Justia Law

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Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, candidates for certain offices, including the Presidency, must file financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission, 5 U.S.C. 103(e). A presidential candidate’s financial disclosure must include the “identity and category of the total liabilities owed to any creditor.” Reviewing officials determined that then-candidate Trump’s disclosures were “in apparent compliance.” Lovitky alleged that the disclosure included both personal and business liabilities, in violation of the Act, which “requires disclosure of only those liabilities for which candidates are themselves liable . . . or for which the spouse or dependent child of the candidate are liable.” Candidate Trump, Lovitky argued, “obscured his liabilities by commingling them with the liabilities of business entities.” Lovitky sought an order requiring amendment of the report. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The only possible basis of jurisdiction, the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. 1361, refers to actions “to compel an officer of the United States to perform his duty.” The Ethics Act obligation is not a “duty” under the Mandamus Act, which includes only those obligations that pertain to a defendant’s public office. Detaching the duty from the office could lead to serious incongruities. For example, where an officer is sued in his official capacity, FRCP 25(d) automatically substitutes as defendant the official’s successor in office, so that, under the Ethics Act, a public official could be compelled to perform the personal financial disclosure duties of his predecessor. View "Lovitky v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Palestinians who mostly reside in the disputed West Bank territory, sued pro-Israeli American citizens and entities, including a former U.S. deputy national security advisor, claiming that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to expel all non-Jews from the territory by providing financial and construction assistance to “settlements” and that the defendants knew their conduct would result in the mass killings of Palestinians. The claims cited the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350; American-citizen plaintiffs also brought claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 102-256. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the complaint raised nonjusticiable political questions. The D.C. Circuit reversed after holding that the court correctly treated the issue as jurisdictional. The court first identified two relevant questions: Who has sovereignty over the disputed territory Are Israeli settlers committing genocide? The court then applied the Supreme Court’s “Baker" factors, concluded that the only political question concerned who has sovereignty, and held that the question is extricable because a court could rule in the plaintiffs’ favor without addressing who has sovereignty if it concluded that Israeli settlers are committing genocide. If it becomes clear at a later stage that resolving any of the claims requires a sovereignty determination, those claims can be dismissed. View "Al-Tamimi v. Adelson" on Justia Law

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Assuming the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's immunity applies, the DC Circuit held that it leaves intact the district courts' subject-matter jurisdiction over federal criminal cases involving foreign sovereigns. The court affirmed the district court's order holding the subpoena's target, a corporation owned by a foreign sovereign, in contempt for failure to comply. In this case, the court held that there was a reasonable probability the information sought through the subpoena at issue concerned a commercial activity that caused a direct effect in the United States. The court held that the Act, even where it applies, allows courts to exercise jurisdiction over such activities and the ancillary challenges in this appeal lacked merit. View "In re: Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law