Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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T.W., a Harvard Law School graduate with disabilities, sued the New York State Board of Law Examiners for denying her requested accommodations on the New York State bar exam in 2013 and 2014. She alleged violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. T.W. claimed that the Board's actions caused her to fail the bar exam twice, resulting in professional and financial harm.The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York initially denied the Board's motion to dismiss, finding that the Board had waived its sovereign immunity under the Rehabilitation Act. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed this decision, holding that the Board was immune from suit under Section 504. On remand, the district court granted the Board's motion to dismiss T.W.'s Title II claim, ruling that the Board was an "arm of the state" and entitled to sovereign immunity. The court also held that Title II did not abrogate the Board's sovereign immunity for money damages and that T.W. could not seek declaratory and injunctive relief under Ex parte Young.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court held that the Board is an arm of the state and thus entitled to sovereign immunity. It further concluded that Title II of the ADA does not validly abrogate sovereign immunity in the context of professional licensing. Additionally, the court found that the declaratory relief sought by T.W. was retrospective and therefore barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The court also ruled that the injunctive relief sought by T.W. was not sufficiently tied to an ongoing violation of federal law, making it unavailable under Ex parte Young. Consequently, the court affirmed the dismissal of T.W.'s claims for compensatory, declaratory, and injunctive relief. View "T.W. v. New York State Board of Law Examiners" on Justia Law

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Webuild S.P.A., an Italian investment company, formed a consortium with other companies to work on the Panama Canal expansion project. After the project's completion, Webuild initiated an arbitration against Panama under the ICSID, alleging that Panama breached its obligations under a bilateral investment treaty by providing incomplete information and making unfair financial demands. Webuild sought discovery from WSP USA, which had acquired the project's engineering consultant, Parsons Brinkerhoff.The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York initially granted Webuild's ex parte application for discovery under 28 U.S.C. § 1782. However, following the Supreme Court's decision in ZF Automotive US, Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd., which limited § 1782 to governmental or intergovernmental tribunals, the district court vacated its order and quashed the subpoena. The court concluded that the ICSID arbitration tribunal did not qualify as a governmental or intergovernmental entity under § 1782.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the district court's decision de novo. The appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling, agreeing that the ICSID tribunal did not exercise governmental authority as required by § 1782. The court noted that the tribunal was formed specifically for the arbitration, funded by the parties, and its members had no official governmental affiliation. Thus, the ICSID tribunal did not meet the criteria established by the Supreme Court in ZF Automotive for a "foreign or international tribunal" under § 1782. View "Webuild v. WSP USA Inc." on Justia Law

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Laura Henry filed a lawsuit against Olakunle Oluwole and their former employer, Bristol Hospital, alleging that Oluwole had sexually assaulted her. Shortly after the complaint was filed, Oluwole was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, which he claimed prevented him from receiving timely notice of the action. Oluwole did not initially appear in court, leading the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to enter a default judgment against him. Five years later, Oluwole appeared and moved to set aside the default judgment, but the district court denied his motion. The case against Bristol proceeded to a jury trial, which resulted in a verdict that Henry had failed to prove that Oluwole sexually assaulted, assaulted, or battered her. Following the jury verdict, the district court vacated the default judgment against Oluwole for the assault and battery claims but left it in place for other claims.The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut initially entered a default judgment against Oluwole due to his failure to appear. After Oluwole eventually appeared and moved to set aside the default judgment, the district court denied his motion, finding his default willful and that setting it aside would prejudice Henry. The jury trial against Bristol resulted in a verdict in favor of Bristol, finding no proof of sexual assault, assault, or battery by Oluwole. Consequently, the district court vacated the default judgment against Oluwole for the assault and battery claims but maintained it for other claims, including false imprisonment and emotional distress.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case and found that the district court erred in denying Oluwole’s motions to set aside the default judgment. The appellate court held that the district court should have set aside the default judgment based on the factors established in Enron Oil Corp. v. Diakuhara. Additionally, the appellate court determined that the entire default judgment should have been vacated following the jury verdict, as maintaining it was inconsistent with the jury’s findings, pursuant to the principle in Frow v. De La Vega. The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for Oluwole. View "Henry v. Oluwole" on Justia Law

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Emilee Carpenter, a wedding photographer, filed a preenforcement challenge against New York’s public accommodations laws, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Carpenter argued that these laws violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by compelling her to provide photography services for same-sex weddings, which she claimed conflicted with her religious beliefs. She sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the laws against her.The United States District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed all of Carpenter’s claims. The court found that Carpenter had not sufficiently pled that the public accommodations laws violated her rights to free speech, free association, free exercise of religion, or the Establishment Clause. The court also rejected her claims that the laws were unconstitutionally overbroad or vague. Consequently, the court denied her request for a preliminary injunction as moot.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the appellate court agreed that Carpenter had plausibly stated a free speech claim. However, the court denied her request for a preliminary injunction at this stage, remanding the case to the district court for further proceedings to develop a factual record. The appellate court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Carpenter’s other claims, including those related to free association, free exercise of religion, the Establishment Clause, and vagueness. The court concluded that the public accommodations laws were neutral, generally applicable, and did not provide for individualized exemptions that would undermine their general applicability. The court also found that Carpenter had waived her overbreadth claim due to inadequate pleading and briefing.The Second Circuit thus affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Carpenter v. James" on Justia Law

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Manoucheka Francois, a train conductor for Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company, was injured in a car crash while being transported by a taxi hired by her employer. The taxi driver, Michael Cellante, had consumed four to five shots of alcohol before picking her up. As a result, the taxi crashed, and Francois sustained injuries.Francois sued Metro-North under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging both direct liability for negligently hiring the impaired taxi driver and vicarious liability for the driver’s negligence. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in favor of Metro-North on both theories. The court found no evidence that Metro-North could have foreseen the driver’s intoxication, thus negating direct liability. It also concluded that the driver’s act of drinking removed him from the scope of his agency, precluding vicarious liability.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case. The court affirmed the district court’s decision regarding direct liability, agreeing that Metro-North had no reason to foresee the driver’s intoxication. However, the court vacated the summary judgment on vicarious liability. It held that whether the driver acted within the scope of his agency while driving Francois, despite being impaired, presented a triable issue of fact. The court emphasized that in FELA cases, plaintiffs enjoy a relaxed burden of proof, and issues of agency and foreseeability should generally be decided by a jury.The Second Circuit thus affirmed the district court’s ruling on direct liability, vacated the ruling on vicarious liability, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Francois v. Metro-North Commuter Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Brad Packer, a shareholder of 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc. (FLWS), who alleged that Raging Capital Management, LLC, Raging Capital Master Fund, Ltd., and William C. Martin (collectively, the Appellees) violated Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. This section requires owners of more than 10% of a company's stock to disgorge profits made from buying and selling the company's stock within a six-month window. Packer claimed that the Appellees, as 10% beneficial owners of FLWS, engaged in such "short-swing" trading and failed to disgorge their profits. After FLWS declined to sue the Appellees, Packer filed a shareholder derivative suit on behalf of FLWS.The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed Packer's suit, reasoning that he lacked constitutional standing because he did not allege a concrete injury. The District Court concluded that the Supreme Court's decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which elaborated on the "concrete injury" requirement of constitutional standing, abrogated the Second Circuit's previous decision in Donoghue v. Bulldog Investors General Partnership. In Donoghue, the Second Circuit held that a violation of Section 16(b) inflicts an injury that confers constitutional standing.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed with the District Court's interpretation. The Appeals Court held that TransUnion did not abrogate Donoghue, and the District Court erred in holding that it did. The Appeals Court emphasized that a District Court must follow controlling precedent, even if it believes that the precedent may eventually be overturned. The Appeals Court found that nothing in TransUnion undermines Donoghue, and thus, the District Court erred in dismissing Packer's Section 16(b) suit. The Appeals Court reversed the District Court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Packer v. Raging Capital Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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Nicole Costin, individually and on behalf of her minor son, filed a lawsuit against Glens Falls Hospital and several of its staff members. Costin alleged that the hospital discriminated against her due to her substance-abuse disorder, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. She also raised state-law claims. Costin's allegations included the hospital conducting drug tests without informed consent, reporting her to the New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register based on a false positive drug test, withholding pain relief, accelerating her labor without consent, and refusing to correct their actions.The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed Costin’s action, concluding that she failed to plausibly allege that she was discriminated against due to her disability. The district court also declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state-law claims.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court agreed with the lower court's dismissal of Costin’s claims related to the denial of an epidural, acceleration of labor, and treatment of her newborn. However, the court disagreed with the dismissal of Costin’s claims related to the hospital's instigation of a Child Protective Services investigation and its administration of a drug test. The court found that Costin had plausibly alleged that these actions were based on discriminatory policies, not medical decisions. The court also vacated the lower court's decision to decline supplemental jurisdiction over Costin’s state-law claims. View "Costin v. Glens Falls Hospital" on Justia Law

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The case involves Amazon.com Services LLC and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB alleged that Amazon committed an unfair labor practice by discharging an employee for engaging in protected concerted activity. While the charge was pending before the Board, the Board sought temporary injunctive relief, including the employee’s reinstatement. The district court found "reasonable cause" to believe Amazon committed an unfair labor practice in terminating the employee. However, it concluded that ordering Amazon to cease and desist from committing certain violations of the Act was "just and proper," but that ordering Amazon to reinstate the employee was not.The district court's decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The appellate court found that the district court did not adequately explain why the cease-and-desist order was just and proper, particularly in light of its conclusion that the employee’s reinstatement was not. Therefore, the injunction was vacated in part. The court noted that the district court's lack of explanation for granting the cease-and-desist order, coupled with its explicit, undisputed findings in rejecting the request to order the employee's reinstatement, cast serious doubt on the propriety of the cease-and-desist order. View "Poor v. Amazon.com Services LLC" on Justia Law

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Link Motion Inc., a Chinese company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, filed a legal malpractice action against the law firm DLA Piper LLP (US) and one of its attorneys in the New York State Supreme Court. The case was related to a previous lawsuit filed by a shareholder of Link Motion, Wayne Baliga, in which DLA Piper represented Link Motion. The law firm removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which dismissed Link Motion's complaint as time-barred and denied its motion to remand the case back to state court.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case and concluded that the district court lacked federal jurisdiction. The court found that the federal law standing question identified by the district court as embedded in Link Motion's malpractice claim did not fall within the narrow category of "disputed and substantial" questions of federal law permitting the exercise of federal jurisdiction over a state law claim. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's decision and remanded the case back to the state court. View "Link Motion Inc. v. DLA Piper LLP" on Justia Law

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The Trustees of the New York State Nurses Association Pension Plan (the Trustees) and White Oak Global Advisors, LLC (White Oak) entered into an investment management agreement, which included an arbitration clause. The Trustees later brought several fiduciary duty claims against White Oak under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which were resolved through arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of the Trustees, which the Trustees sought to confirm in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.White Oak appealed the confirmation, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction and that the court erroneously interpreted the award. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's jurisdiction, finding that the Trustees' petition to confirm the award was cognizable under ERISA § 502(a)(3). The court also affirmed the district court's interpretation of the award regarding the disgorgement of pre-award interest and the "Day One" fees. However, the court vacated and remanded the district court's confirmation of the disgorgement of White Oak's "profits," finding the award too ambiguous to enforce. The court also vacated and remanded the district court's order for White Oak to pay the Trustees' attorneys' fees and costs, finding the district court's findings insufficiently specific. View "Trustees of the NYSNAPP v. White Oak Glob. Adv." on Justia Law