Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Appellant CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A. (“Ferrominera”), appealed from the district court’s judgment confirming a foreign arbitral award and granting attorney’s fees and costs in favor of Petitioner Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. (“CME”). Ferrominera challenges the judgment on three grounds. First, it argues that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction because CME never served a summons on Ferrominera in connection with its motion to confirm the arbitral award. Second, Ferrominera contends that the district court erred in confirming the arbitral award based on purported lack of jurisdiction by the arbitral panel, issues with the scope of the award, and conflicts with United States public policy. Third, it argues that the district court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees and costs in favor of CME.   The Second Circuit held that a party is not required to serve a summons in order to confirm a foreign arbitral award under the New York Convention. The court concluded that the district court properly enforced the arbitral award, but that it erred in awarding attorney’s fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and vacated in part. The court wrote that CME complied with the service of notice requirements of the New York Convention and the FAA, and the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over Ferrominera. Further, the court explained that Ferrominera has not borne its burden to show that the arbitration agreement is invalid where, as here, it has put forth no arguments whatsoever under the applicable law. View "Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. v. CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A." on Justia Law

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International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (“IFF”), a U.S.-based seller of flavoring and fragrance products, acquired Frutarom Industries Ltd. (“Frutarom”), an Israeli firm in the same industry. Leading up to the merger, Frutarom allegedly made material misstatements about its compliance with anti-bribery laws and the source of its business growth. Plaintiffs, who bought stock in IFF, sued Frutarom, alleging that those misstatements violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint. The court concluded that Plaintiffs lack statutory standing to sue. Under the purchaser-seller rule, standing to bring a claim under Section 10(b) is limited to purchasers or sellers of securities issued by the company about which a misstatement was made. Plaintiffs here lack standing to sue based on alleged misstatements that Frutarom made about itself because they never bought or sold shares of Frutarom. View "Menora Mivtachim Ins. Ltd. v. Frutarom Indus. Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued individuals and entities affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia ("ROCOR" and, collectively, "Defendants") -- for defamation, contending that they defamed him when they publicly accused him of forging a series of letters relating to his appointment as the Bishop of Miami. Defendants moved to dismiss based on the "church autonomy doctrine," arguing that Plaintiff's suit would impermissibly involve the courts in matters of faith, doctrine, and internal church government. The district court denied the motion. Defendants then filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion to limit discovery to the issue of whether the church autonomy doctrine applied or otherwise to stay proceedings. The district court denied those motions as well   The Second Circuit held that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the collateral order doctrine does not apply in the circumstances here. Accordingly, the court granted Plaintiff’s July 15, 2021, motion to dismiss. Dismissed the appeal, and vacated the temporary stay granted on September 2, 2021. The court explained that the district court's orders lack the conclusiveness required for appellate jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine. Likewise, the court concluded that the district court's orders do not involve a claim of right separable from the merits of the action. View "Belya v. Kapral, et al." on Justia Law

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A group of public servants who had contacted Navient for help repaying their loans (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a putative class action lawsuit, alleging that Navient had not “lived up to its obligation to help vulnerable borrowers get on the best possible repayment plan and qualify for PSLF.”   Navient moved to dismiss the amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, which the district court granted in part, dismissing all claims except “the claim brought under New York’s General Business Law Section 349”. The district court certified a class for settlement purposes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and approved the settlement as “fair, reasonable, adequate,” and “in the best interest of the Settlement Class as a whole.”   Two objectors now appeal that judgment, arguing that the district court erred in certifying the class, approving the settlement, and approving service awards of $15,000 to the named Plaintiffs. The Second Circuit affirmed concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in making any of these determinations. The court explained that here, the amended complaint plausibly alleged that the named Plaintiffs were likely to suffer future harm because they continued to rely on Navient for information about repaying their student loans. At least six of the named Plaintiffs continue to have a relationship with Navient. That is enough to confer standing on the entire class. Further, the court explained individual class members [in fact] retain their right to bring individual lawsuits,” and the settlement does not prevent absent class members from pursuing monetary claims. View "Hyland v. Navient Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs suing individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, appealed from an August 2020 judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on the ground of forum non conveniens, their amended complaint against defendants E‐Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (ʺDangdangʺ), its controlling shareholders, and others, alleging negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and violations of Sections 10(b), 13(e), and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (ʺExchange Actʺ) and rules promulgated thereunder, in connection with Dangdangʹs 2016 ʺgoing‐privateʺ merger and the purchase by its controlling shareholders of its outstanding publicly‐traded shares, listed as American Depositary Shares (or ʺADSsʺ) on the New York Stock Exchange (or ʺNYSEʺ).On appeal, plaintiffs argue principally that the district court erred in concluding that the forum selection clause was not applicable to all of the defendants and to all of plaintiffsʹ claims, and in according unwarranted weight to public‐interest factors pointing toward dismissal.The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s judgment concluding that the forum selection clause was not applicable to all of defendants and to all of plaintiffsʹ claims. The court held the district court principally misinterpreted the scope of the forum selection clause. View "Fasano v. Guoqing Li" on Justia Law

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Art dealer Inigo Philbrick sold V&A Collection, LLC an ownership interest in artwork by Wade Guyton (the “Guyton”). In a second transaction, made without V&A’s knowledge or participation, Guzzini Properties Ltd. purchased the Guyton, an artwork by Rudolf Stingel (the “Stingel”), and a third painting. Guzzini removed the second action to federal court and then moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. V&A argued that by suing to quiet title to the Stingel in New York state court, Guzzini consented to submit to the jurisdiction of New York courts for all claims arising out of the same agreement.  The district court found that because the two lawsuits did not arise out of the same transaction, Guzzini did not implicitly consent to litigate the dispute over the Guyton in New York.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the two key elements of conversion are (1) plaintiff’s possessory right or interest in the property and (2) defendant’s dominion over the property or interference with it, in derogation of plaintiff’s rights. Here, the court explained that V&A’s conversion claim is premised on its assertion that it has “a possessory right to and at least a 50% ownership interest in the Guyton”. These assertions, if satisfactorily established, could allow V&A to prevail on its conversion claim regardless of the outcome of the state court action. Even if the state court declares the June 2017 Agreement void, that would not settle the question of whether V&A had a “possessory right or interest in the property.” Thus, to bring its claim, V&A must find a court able to exercise jurisdiction over Guzzini. View "V&A Collection, LLC v. Guzzini Properties Ltd" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)  lawsuit seeking to compel Defendants to produce notes and memoranda memorializing interviews conducted by federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents in the course of a criminal investigation. On the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled in favor of Defendants, holding that the documents at issue were attorney work product, shielded from production by FOIA Exemption 5.   Plaintiff argues that the district court erred in holding that the requested documents are “attorney work product” shielded from production by FOIA Exemption 5. The Second Circuit affirmed holding that Plaintiff misperceives both the work-product privilege and what constitutes waiver by disclosure in the circumstances of this case. The court explained that Defendants have carried their burden to show that memoranda and notes created by prosecutors and agents in memorializing interviews they conducted during a criminal investigation are attorney work product shielded from ordinary civil discovery by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 and, therefore, from production under FOIA Exemption 5. Further, the court wrote that Plaintiff has failed to show that Defendants waived this protection by disclosing to investigation “targets” and “subjects” during their interviews the contents of these yet-to-be-created documents. View "American Oversight v. U.S. Dep't of Just." on Justia Law

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Appellees hold a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Based on that judgment, Appellees moved for a writ of execution against the assets of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Malaysia in district court. The district court granted the writ before making any findings as to whether KFH Malaysia is an “agency or instrumentality” of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” The primary issue on appeal is whether the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) permits those assets to be executed prior to such findings.   The Second Circuit denied Appellees’ motion to dismiss the appeal, denied KFH Malaysia’s petition for a writ of mandamus, vacated the order granting the writ of execution, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The court explained to be entitled to attachment or execution under the TRIA a plaintiff must first establish defendant’s status as an agency or instrumentality. Here, these procedures were not followed. Article 52 permits parties to commence turnover proceedings to enforce money judgments. Below, that turnover proceeding commenced, but the district court granted the relief sought in that proceeding—a writ of execution—before it considered the antecedent issue of whether KFH Malaysia is an agency or instrumentality of Iran or whether the assets at issue are “blocked.” Without such findings, there has been no showing that KFH Malaysia is in possession of property. Accordingly, Appellees failed to meet the statutory and, and consequently, they failed to establish that they were entitled to a writ of execution. View "Christine Levinson et al. v. Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad" on Justia Law

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Village Green at Sayville, LLC sued the Town of Islip, its Town Board, its Planning Board, and the members of the Town and Planning Boards, alleging that a pattern of racial, ethnic, and national origin discrimination by Defendants stifled Village Green’s effort to build an affordable apartment complex in Sayville, a hamlet in Islip. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Village Green’s land-use claims were not ripe under the framework established by Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172 (1985).The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s ruling. In addressing only the narrow issue of ripeness, the court explained that federal suits in the land-use context, like this one, are generally not ripe for adjudication until a landowner receives a final, definitive decision on a land-use application. The court wrote that it need not speculate why the Town Board would decide to deny the application without a formal vote and forswear further public proceedings. However, taking as true the material factual allegations in the complaint such a decision was made. If a dispute can ripen when a municipal entity uses “repetitive and unfair procedures” to avoid a final decision, it surely ripens when, as here, the entity makes plain that it has reached a decision that, by all accounts, it intends to be final. The court concluded that Village Green’s claims are ripe because the rejection of Village Green’s application inflicted a concrete and particularized injury, not one that is merely speculative and may never occur. View "Village Green at Sayville, LLC v. Town of Islip et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs submitted a petition to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that contained information related to the September 11, 2001 attacks and requested that the Office present the petition to a grand jury. Over a year later, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, requesting (1) disclosure of grand jury records related to the petition and (2) a court order compelling defendants to present their petition to a grand jury if they have not yet done so. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim. On appeal, Plaintiffs challenge those findings.The Second Circuit affirmed finding no merit to Plaintiffs’ challenges. The court explained that fail to establish standing to pursue an order compelling Defendants to deliver their Petition to a grand jury under the Federal Mandamus Statute or the APA. Further, the court wrote that the First Amendment does not encompass the right to force a U.S. Attorney to present whatever materials a member of the public chooses to a grand jury. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have failed to show a cognizable injury under the First Amendment to establish standing to pursue Count 2. View "Lawyers' Committee v. Garland" on Justia Law