Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order enjoining Reed Smith's action for tortious interference and unjust enrichment in New York state court against Wohl & Fruchter, in a dispute arising from the two firms' concurrent representation of the plaintiff class in the now-settled litigation. The court held that the district court had ancillary jurisdiction over the motion to stay the state court proceedings; the district court properly declined to abstain from exercising jurisdiction where all six factors in Woodford v. Cmty. Action Agency of Green Cty., Inc., 239 F.3d 517, 522 (2d Cir. 2001), favored retaining jurisdiction; the injunction was proper under the Anti-Injunction Act where the district court properly issued the injunction to prevent Reed Smith from relitigating the terms of the Fee Order; and Wohl & Fruchter's cross appeal was procedurally untenable. View "Kaplan v. Reed Smith LLP" on Justia Law

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Calmare appealed the district court's judgment requiring it to pay $10,352,170.41 to GEOMC after a bench trial of a contract dispute concerning sales of medical devices. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling striking two affirmative defenses and five counterclaims. The court held that the district court was within its discretion in striking the two affirmative defenses. In this case, striking the sixth defense lacked any indication of what conduct by GEOMC or others might have been a defense to the breach of contract claim added by the second amended complaint, and the seventh defense lacked any indication of which party needed to be joined or why. The district court was also within its discretion in striking the four counterclaims against Radiant on the ground of prejudice and one counterclaims because it was factually and legally deficient. View "GEOMC Co., Ltd. v. Calmare Therapeutics Inc." on Justia Law

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The mailbox rule is inapplicable to claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's amended complaint alleging tort claims under the FTCA after CBP wrongfully detained and assaulted her at a highway checkpoint stop. The district court held that plaintiff failed to administratively exhaust her claims, and the claims therefore were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Plaintiff argued that the common law mailbox rule applied. The court declined to reach the question of whether the requirements of the mailbox rule were met in this case and held that the mere mailing of a notice of claim did not satisfy the FTCA's presentment requirement. View "Cooke v. United States" on Justia Law

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The trustee for the Liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC alleged that Madoff Securities transferred property to foreign entities that subsequently transferred it to other foreign entities, including the hundreds of appellees. The trustee claimed that the Madoff Securities' transfers were avoidable as fraudulent under 11 U.S.C. 548(a)(1)(A), and sought to recover the property from appellees under section 550(a)(2). The district court dismissed the actions based on the presumption against extraterritoriality and international comity principles. The Second Circuit vacated and held that neither the presumption against extraterritoriality nor international comity principles barred recovery. In this case, the focus of section 550(a) was on debtor's fraudulent transfer of property to the initial transferee, and these actions involved domestic applications of the Bankruptcy Code because section 550(a) focused on regulating domestic conduct. Therefore, the lower courts erred by dismissing these actions under the presumption against extraterritoriality. The court also held that the district court erroneously dismissed these actions on international comity grounds where the United States' interest in applying its law to these disputes outweighed the interest of any foreign state and prescriptive comity posed no bar to recovery. View "In re: Picard" on Justia Law

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Ceara, a state inmate who claims that he was assaulted by a prison corrections officer, filed a pro se complaint raising claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, naming “John Doe” as the officer who allegedly assaulted him but also described and named that officer as “Officer Deagan.” After the statute of limitations had expired, Ceara amended his complaint to correctly name “C.O. Deagan” as “Officer Joseph Deacon.” The district court dismissed on the ground that an amended complaint identifying a defendant to replace a “John Doe” placeholder does not relate back to the original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C). The Second Circuit vacated and remanded. Ceara’s complaint was not a true John Doe complaint; his amendment to correct a misspelling related back under 15 Rule 15(c)(1)(C). View "Ceara v. Deacon" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's denial of U.S. Bank's motion to retransfer the action to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, where it was instituted, and grant of judgment on the pleadings to Bank of America. The court disagreed with the district court's conclusion that Bank of America was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Indiana court, and therefore necessarily concluded that the Indiana court's transfer to New York was not authorized under 28 U.S.C. 1631. Nonetheless, the court affirmed the New York district court's denial of U.S. Bank's motion to retransfer to Indiana, treated the original transfer as one made under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a), and vacated the judgment of dismissal rendered on the ground that the suit was untimely under the laws of New York. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Bank of America N.A." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissing the complaint, which alleged constitutional and other deficiencies in the manner in which guardianship proceedings are conducted in New York Surrogate's Court under Article 17A of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act. The district court did not reach the merits of the complaint, abstaining pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and OʹShea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974). In this case, the requested relief would effect a continuing, impermissible "audit" of New York Surrogate's Court proceedings, which would offend the principles of comity and federalism. The court held that it had no power to intervene in the internal procedures of the state courts, and could not legislate and engraft new procedures upon existing state practices. Therefore, the district court correctly abstained from exercising jurisdiction in this case. The court noted that abstention was supported by the availability of other revenues of relief where any aggrieved individuals would be able to obtain sufficient review in state court and, if needed, the Supreme Court of the United States. View "Disability Rights New York v. New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se action against Phillip Morris, alleging Connecticut state law liability claims on behalf of her late husband's estate. The district court dismissed some of plaintiff's claims based on its determination that Connecticut law would not allow her to represent the estate pro se. In this case, Connecticut law and federal law conflict on the issue of whether plaintiff can represent the estate pro se. The Second Circuit held that the district court misread both Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), and Guest v. Hansen, 603 F.3d 15 (2d Cir. 2010), in concluding that Connecticut's rule controlled the circumstances in which a party may appear pro se in federal court. The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1654, and federal rules interpreting it, are procedural in nature and therefore must be applied by federal courts in diversity cases. The court explained that, who may practice law before a federal court is a matter of procedure—which Congress and the federal courts have the power to regulate—notwithstanding contrary state law. In this case, Connecticut's substantive law will not be affected by permitting plaintiff to file motions, conduct depositions, or represent the estate at trial. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment insofar as it dismissed plaintiff's claims under Connecticut law and the derivative consortium claims. The court affirmed the dismissal of the remaining claims based on statute of limitation grounds. View "Pappas v. Philip Morris, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated when they were coerced by New York City officials into signing settlement agreements waiving various constitutional rights in order to avoid eviction from their businesses and residences. The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because the settlement agreements were "so-ordered" by judges in the state-court system. The court held that the district court's Rooker-Feldman ruling was erroneous because plaintiffs' alleged injuries were merely ratified by the state-court judgments rather than caused by them. In this case, plaintiffs were attempting to remedy an alleged injury caused when, prior to any judicial action, they were coerced to settle, not an injury that flowed from a state-court judgment. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Cho v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Geismann filed a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, class action complaint, alleging that it received unsolicited faxes from ZocDoc. After Geismann moved for class certification, ZocDoc made a settlement offer as to Geismann’s individual claims (FRCP 68), whichGeismann rejected. The court entered judgment in the amount and under the terms of the unaccepted offer and dismissed the action as moot. On remand, ZocDoc deposited $20,000 (FRCP 67) in "full settlement of Geismannʹs individual claims," in the courtʹs registry. The court again entered judgment in Geismannʹs favor and dismissed the action. The Second Circuit vacated. There is no material difference between a plaintiff rejecting a Rule 67 tender of payment and a Rule 68 offer of payment; the parties retained the same stake in the litigation they had at the outset. A claim becomes moot when a plaintiff actually receives all of the relief he could receive through litigation. The Rule 67 procedure provides for safekeeping of disputed funds pending the resolution of litigation, but it cannot alter the parties' contractual relationships and legal duties. Even if the court first entered judgment enjoining ZocDoc from further faxes and directing the clerk to send Geismann the $20,000, that would not have afforded Geismann complete relief. By rejecting the settlement offer, Geismann effectively stated that its suit “is about more than the statutory damages," it is also about the reward earned by serving as lead plaintiff. Nothing forces it to accept ZocDoc’s valuation of that part of the case. View "Radha Geismann, M.D., P.C. v. ZocDoc, Inc." on Justia Law