Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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In this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the plaintiffs were U.S. investors who purchased Mexican government bonds. They alleged that the defendants, Mexican branches of several multinational banks, conspired to fix the prices of the bonds. The defendants sold the bonds to the plaintiffs through non-party broker-dealers. The defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the District Court granted the motion, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction as the alleged misconduct, price-fixing of bonds, occurred solely in Mexico.Upon appeal, the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the case. The court found that the defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with New York as they had solicited and executed bond sales through their agents, the broker-dealers. The plaintiffs' claims arose from or were related to these contacts. The court rejected the defendants' argument that the alleged wrongdoing must occur in the jurisdiction for personal jurisdiction to exist, stating that the defendants' alleged active sales of price-fixed bonds through their agents in New York sufficed to establish personal jurisdiction. The court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "In re: Mexican Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled in a complex environmental case involving an entity known as the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust (RACER), which was created to manage the environmental cleanup of former General Motors (GM) properties. RACER sought recovery of costs related to environmental cleanup under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) from multiple defendants who had also contributed to the pollution. The district court had dismissed RACER's claims, concluding that a 2011 consent decree had resolved RACER's liability for the area in question. On appeal, the Second Circuit vacated the decision, ruling that the 2011 consent decree did not resolve RACER's liability for the entire area. The court held that the extent of RACER's liability under the 2011 consent decree is a factual question that could not be resolved at the pleading stage. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust v. National" on Justia Law

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The case involves an appeal by a plaintiff against the dismissal of his lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and some of its police officers. The plaintiff was arrested and charged with violating a city noise ordinance after he shouted at a police officer, who was driving without headlights, to turn his lights on. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit, asserting that his arrest violated his First Amendment right to free speech and amounted to false arrest and malicious prosecution.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the district court erred in ruling that the plaintiff's shout was not protected by the First Amendment, given that it was a warning about a public safety issue. The court further concluded that there were genuine issues of fact concerning whether there was probable cause to arrest the plaintiff, which should have been resolved by a jury rather than at summary judgment.The court vacated the part of the district court's judgment dismissing the plaintiff's claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and First Amendment retaliation, as well as his claims related to failure to intervene and respondeat superior. The court affirmed the part of the district court's dismissal of the plaintiff's claim that the noise ordinance was unconstitutional as applied to him. The case was remanded for trial on the reinstated claims. View "Rupp v. City of Buffalo" on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Minhye Park’s case against David Dennis Kim by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The District Court dismissed the case due to Park’s persistent and knowing violation of court orders, specifically regarding discovery. The Court of Appeals found that Park’s noncompliance amounted to "sustained and willful intransigence" despite repeated warnings that continued refusal to comply would result in dismissal.Additionally, the Court of Appeals addressed the conduct of Park's attorney, Jae S. Lee. Lee cited a non-existent court decision in her reply brief to the court, which she admitted she generated using an artificial intelligence tool, ChatGPT. The court deemed this action as falling below the basic obligations of counsel and referred Lee to the court’s Grievance Panel. The court also ordered Lee to provide a copy of the decision to her client. The court emphasized that attorneys must ensure that their submissions to the court are accurate and that they have conducted a reasonable inquiry to confirm the existence and validity of the legal authorities on which they rely. View "Park v. Kim" on Justia Law

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John Wilson, the plaintiff-appellant, made several requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the defendant-appellee, to release records concerning him. Dissatisfied with the FBI's response, Wilson filed a suit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the FBI failed to conduct an adequate search. The District Court ruled in favor of Wilson, partially granting his motion for summary judgment by ordering the FBI to conduct a search of an additional database. However, the search did not yield any new disclosures to Wilson. Subsequently, Wilson filed a motion seeking attorneys’ fees and costs under FOIA's fee-shifting provision, arguing that he was a substantially prevailing party. The District Court denied his motion, applying the criteria set by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a previous case, Pietrangelo v. United States Army. Wilson appealed this decision.On appeal, the Second Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the District Court, concluding that the District Court correctly applied the Pietrangelo factors and did not abuse its discretion in ruling that those factors weighed against an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. The Second Circuit Court found that the public benefit derived from Wilson's case was minimal, Wilson's interest in the records was personal rather than public, and the FBI had a reasonable basis for withholding the requested information. As such, it concluded that the District Court did not err in denying Wilson's motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. View "Wilson v. Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit addressed a dispute involving the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) and several plaintiffs who had been fined for failing to pay tolls at TBTA crossings. The plaintiffs claimed that the fines were unconstitutional under the Eight Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause and that TBTA was unjustly enriched under New York law. The court considered the case on appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which had granted summary judgment in favor of TBTA. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision.The plaintiffs had failed to pay their tolls for various reasons, such as receiving bills at old addresses or having malfunctioning transponders. They then received substantial fines, which they eventually paid at reduced amounts. The main issue was whether these fines were excessive in relation to the seriousness of the offenses. The court applied the four-factor test from United States v. Bajakajian, which considers the nature of the offense, whether the defendant fits into the class of persons the law was designed for, the maximum potential sentence and fine, and the harm caused by the defendant's conduct.The court found that the fines were not excessive. It pointed out that the plaintiffs' violations were not willful or fraudulent, and that the fines were in line with those for similar offenses in other states. The court also noted that the fines helped TBTA prevent the harms it would suffer if people did not pay their tolls.Regarding the unjust enrichment claim, the court concluded that the plaintiffs had not shown that it was inequitable for TBTA to retain the fines. The plaintiffs' non-payment of tolls had violated TBTA regulations, and it was not inequitable for such violations to result in fines. Therefore, the court affirmed the lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of TBTA on the unjust enrichment claims as well. View "Reese v. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, William Loomis, a truck driver who was injured in a car accident in New York, sought recovery from his employer's insurance company, ACE American Insurance Company, for his remaining damages after the underinsured driver's insurer paid out their policy limit. Loomis claimed that ACE failed to comply with both New York and Indiana laws requiring an insurer to provide underinsured motorist coverage.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had to determine whether New York's laws requiring insurers to offer optional supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could make an insurer liable when it fails to offer this coverage, and whether Indiana law requires an insurer to provide underinsured motorist coverage when the insured suffers damages in excess of the tortfeasor’s policy limit and has no other underinsured motorist coverage to cover damages up to a certain limit.The court concluded that under New York law, Loomis was not entitled to relief. While insurers are required to offer supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in New York, this coverage is optional. Even if ACE violated New York law by failing to offer this coverage, Loomis's claim seeking to reform the insurance contract to include this coverage was not supported by New York law. Therefore, the court affirmed the lower court's grant of summary judgment on this claim.In terms of the claim under Indiana law, the court could not confidently predict how the Indiana Supreme Court would interpret the relevant statute, and therefore, certified questions to the Indiana Supreme Court. View "Loomis v. ACE American Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has decided an appeal from The Resource Group International Limited, TRG Pakistan Limited, Mohammed Khaishgi, and Hasnain Aslam against Muhammad Ziaullah Khan Chishti. The appellants sought to avoid arbitration proceedings initiated by the appellee, arguing that a later-executed release agreement superseded the arbitration agreement in the original Stock Purchase Agreement. The appellants also sought a preliminary injunction to halt the ongoing arbitration, but the District Court denied their request, asserting that they failed to show a likelihood of success on their claims and that they would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction.On appeal, the Circuit Court held that it had jurisdiction over the case, finding that the parties had chosen New York law to govern the arbitration proceedings, thereby bypassing the restrictions on appellate review under the Federal Arbitration Act. The court also held that the District Court had relied on an erroneous view of the law in concluding that the appellants failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims and that they would suffer irreparable harm. The court found that the release agreement, which contained a forum selection clause, superseded the Stock Purchase Agreement's arbitration clause. The court also clarified that being forced to arbitrate a non-arbitrable claim could constitute irreparable harm, particularly where attorneys' fees and arbitration costs could not adequately compensate the harm.As a result, the court vacated the District Court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "The Resource Group International Limited v. Chishti" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Joseph Kasiotis filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other similarly situated New York consumers against the New York Black Car Operators’ Injury Compensation Fund, Inc. (the “Fund”). The lawsuit alleged that the Fund improperly collected a surcharge on noncash tips paid by passengers to drivers providing livery or “black car” services from January 2000 until February 1, 2021. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of Kasiotis and the class, granting summary judgment on the unjust enrichment claim. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Fund was statutorily permitted to collect a surcharge on noncash tips. The court's ruling was based on Article 6-F of the New York Executive Law, which unambiguously authorizes the Fund to impose a surcharge on noncash tips paid in connection with covered black car services. As such, the Second Circuit Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Kasiotis and the class, and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the unjust enrichment claim. View "Kasiotis v. N.Y. Black Car Operators' Inj. Comp. Fund, Inc." on Justia Law

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In the case of Veronica-May Clark, an incarcerated transgender woman, against corrections officers who allegedly sexually assaulted her, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The District Court had dismissed Clark's case as untimely, denying her claim for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations due to the effects of the abuse. The Court of Appeals found that the District Court did not err in holding an evidentiary hearing to resolve Clark’s equitable tolling claim and did not make any factual findings that infringed the Seventh Amendment. The court also found no abuse of discretion in the District Court's determination that Clark had failed to demonstrate circumstances that would warrant equitable tolling. In effect, the court ruled that Clark had not sufficiently proven that her trauma and fear of retaliation prevented her from filing the lawsuit within the required time frame. View "Clark v. Hanley" on Justia Law