Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Plaintiffs brought medical malpractice claims in Ohio state court against a doctor who operated on them and against several hospitals where he worked. The plaintiffs allege that the judge presiding over their case, Judge Schweikert, and Chief Justice O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court were biased against their claims. In accordance with Ohio law, they filed affidavits of disqualification against Judge Schweikert, and requested that Chief Justice O’Connor recuse herself from deciding Judge Schweikert’s disqualification. They then requested that a federal court enjoin Chief Justice O’Connor from ruling on the affidavit of disqualification pertaining to Judge Schweikert and enjoin Judge Schweikert from taking any action in their cases before the affidavit of disqualification was ruled upon. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims. The Younger abstention doctrine applies. The ability of Ohio courts to determine when recusal of a judge or justice is appropriate and to administer the recusal decision process in accordance with state law operates “uniquely in furtherance of the state courts’ ability to perform their judicial functions.” View "Aaron v. O'Connor" on Justia Law

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In 2000, Ann Arbor passed an ordinance requiring certain homeowners to undergo structural renovations to their homes to alleviate stormwater drainage problems affecting the city and surrounding areas. The city paid or reimbursed the homeowners for the renovations. In 2014, homeowners affected by the ordinance sued in Michigan state courts, alleging that the city’s actions amounted to a taking without just compensation under the Michigan Constitution; they filed an “England Reservation” in an attempt to preserve federal takings claims for subsequent adjudication. The homeowners lost in state court and then filed suit in federal court, citing the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed the Fifth Amendment claim as issue precluded and the section 1983 action as claim precluded. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The court did not address whether Michigan law is coextensive with federal law. If the takings jurisprudence of the two constitutions is coextensive, then issue preclusion bars subsequent litigation of the federal takings claims after litigation of the state takings claims. If the takings jurisprudence of the two constitutions is not coextensive, then claim preclusion bars subsequent litigation of the federal takings claim because it should have been brought with the state claim in the first instance in the Michigan court. View "Lumbard v. Ann Arbor" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Iraqi nationals, were ordered removed years ago because of criminal offenses they committed in the U.S. Iraq refused to repatriate them, so Petitioners remained under orders of supervision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2017, Iraq began to cooperate and removal of Iraqi nationals resumed. In April 2017 ICE conducted a removal by charter flight to Iraq, scheduling a second charter for June and arresting more than 200 Iraqi nationals. Iraq declined to issue requisite travel documents and would accept only Iraqi nationals who had unexpired passports and were returning on commercial flights. Petitioners filed a putative class action habeas petition on behalf of all Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal, who have been, or will be, arrested and detained as a result of Iraq’s recent decision,” seeking a TRO or stay of removal, pending arguments on allegedly changed country conditions. Under 8 U.S.C. 1252(g), immigration courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over removal proceedings. The district court stayed the final removal orders and concluded that it had jurisdiction to hear Petitioners’ claims as an as-applied constitutional violation of the Suspension Clause. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court lacked the jurisdiction. Rejecting Petitioners’ argument the petition-for-review process is constitutionally inadequate as an alternative to habeas review, the court noted that Petitioners had years to file motions to reopen and the administrative scheme provides multiple avenues to stay removal while pursuing relief. The court was not merely interpreting a statute: it “created out of thin air a requirement for bond hearings that does not exist in the statute; and adopted new standards that the government must meet.” View "Hamama v. Adducci" on Justia Law

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Olagues is a self-proclaimed stock options expert, traveling the country to file pro se claims under section 16(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, which permits a shareholder to bring an insider trading action to disgorge “short-swing” profits that an insider obtained improperly. Any recovery goes only to the company. In one such suit, the district court granted a motion to strike Olagues’ complaint and dismiss the action, stating Olagues, as a pro se litigant, could not pursue a section 16(b) claim on behalf of TimkenSteel because he would be representing the interests of the company. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that Olagues cannot proceed pro se but remanded to give Olagues the opportunity to retain counsel and file an amended complaint with counsel. View "Olagues v. Timken" on Justia Law

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Robert died in July 2015, owing a mortgage amount of $113,358.12 on his Detroit home; the monthly mortgage payments. For five months following his death, the mortgage went unpaid. Bayview Loan Servicing sent a delinquency notice to the home in December 2015, showing an unpaid balance of $5,813.95. In November 2016, Bayview foreclosed and purchased the home by sheriff’s deed at public auction. Bayview sold the home to Tran. In May 2017, Robert’s estate filed a complaint, alleging four causes of action against Bayview, including lack of standing to foreclose under the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, 12 U.S.C. 1701j-3 and MICH. COMP. LAWS 445.1626. The district court held that the Garn-St. Germain Act does not authorize a private right of action and did not apply to the’ claims. The Sixth Circuit vacated, concluding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because the federal statute does not create a cause of action, and the federal issue nested inside the state law cause of action is not substantial. View "Estate of Cornell v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Tony Gunter injured his shoulder on the job. After Gunter had surgery to repair the injury, his doctor imposed work restrictions. Thinking the restrictions prevented him from performing his job, his employer, Bemis Company, fired Gunter. Gunter sued, alleging Bemis violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. A jury ruled in favor of Gunter and awarded him damages, some of which the district court reduced. The parties cross-appealed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. The Sixth Circuit determined the district court erred in giving the jury the option of awarding front pay rather than reinstating Gunter, and vacated the front-pay award. The Court affirmed the district court's judgment in all other respects. View "Gunter v. Bemis Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Evendale property owners who wanted to rent their properties had to obtain a permit by allowing the building commissioner to inspect the property or sign a sworn affirmation that the property complied with the code. The commissioner also could inspect structures if he suspected a violation. If the building was occupied, the commissioner was to present credentials and request entry. For unoccupied structures, the commissioner was to make a reasonable effort to locate the owner and ask to inspect. Should someone refuse entry, the commissioner could use “remedies provided by law.” Vonderhaar owns 13 rental properties, over half of Evendale's rental homes. Vonderhaar filed a purported class action under the Fourth Amendment, claiming the code authorized warrantless searches, and the Fifth Amendment, claiming the code required permit applicants to attest to compliance. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, concluding that the inspection procedures facially violated the Fourth Amendment. Evendale subsequently amended its code to allow owners applying for rental permits to “[p]rovide a written certification” from an architect or engineer attesting that a building meets Village standards and adding that when a commissioner suspects a violation, the commissioner may “seek a search warrant based on probable cause.” The Sixth Circuit vacated the injunction for lack of standing. The Village never relied on the code to conduct a warrantless search and the plaintiffs have no risk of impending injury. View "Vonderhaar v. Village of Evendale" on Justia Law

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Henderson, a patient with Alzheimer’s disease at Watermark’s nursing home, wandered from her room unattended and died after drinking detergent that she found in a kitchen cabinet. Henderson’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Watermark. Morrison provided kitchen services at the facility and its employees had been in the kitchen shortly before Henderson discovered the detergent, but Watermark did not implead Morrison and argued that Morrison’s employees had properly locked the cabinet before leaving. A jury awarded $5.08 million. Watermark did not appeal but settled with Henderson’s estate for $3.65 million. On a joint motion, the court dismissed the action with prejudice. Months later, Watermark sued Morrison for contractual indemnification and breach of contract. The district court dismissed, finding that issue preclusion barred both claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. While a judgment that is set aside upon settlement can be used for collateral-estoppel purposes in future litigation, only the contractual indemnification issue is barred. Under the parties’ contract, Watermark can prevail on its indemnification claim only by showing that the damages it seeks were not the result of its own negligence. It cannot do so; the jury determined that the damages were the result of Watermark’s negligence. The jury’s finding of negligence does not, however, preclude Watermark from going forward with its breach-of-contract claim, which does not rely on the indemnity provision of the parties’ contract. View "Watermark Senior Living Communities, Inc. v. Morrison Management Specialists, Inc." on Justia Law

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In September 2016, the Governor of Tennessee convened a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly, concerning federal highway funding. During the session, a member of the House of Representatives moved to expel Durham. The House approved the motion 70 votes to two. It immediately expelled Durham. Durham may have qualified for lifetime health insurance if he had retired but because the House expelled him, the administrators stated that his government-health insurance would expire at the end of September. He also lost certain state-pension benefits. Durham sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging procedural due process violations, and requesting an order that the administrators pay his alleged benefits. The district court dismissed for lack of standing because the complaint alleged that the denial of his benefits was caused by the legislature’s expelling him, rather than by any act by the administrators. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Durham’s injury is fairly traceable to the administrators’ conduct: Durham alleges that he is not receiving benefits that the administrators should pay. That is sufficient to show standing. View "Durham v. Martin" on Justia Law

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DEA ordered Miami-Luken, a registered controlled substances pharmaceutical wholesaler, to show cause why its registration should not be revoked, for failing to maintain effective controls against the diversion of oxycodone and hydrocodone and failing to disclose suspicious orders. At the company’s request, an ALJ issued a subpoena requiring DEA to produce various investigative records. DEA filed a notice declaring that it would not comply. Miami-Luken filed an emergency motion and the district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation to enforce the subpoena in part, eliminating one category of subpoenaed documents, narrowing another, and permitting DEA to provide “reasonably redacted versions.” DEA's Acting Administrator determined that the enforcement order, permitting the DEA to make reasonable redactions, also permitted DEA to review the validity of the subpoena itself, and found that the requested categories of documents were not “necessary to conduct” the hearing as would be required for disclosure under 21 C.F.R. 1316.52(d) and ordered the subpoena quashed. DEA obtained a stay of the order enforcing the subpoena pending further judicial review and moved for relief from judgment. Miami-Luken then petitioned the Sixth Circuit to review directly DEA’s order quashing the subpoena. Meanwhile, the district court denied DEA’s motion for relief from judgment, stating: Nothing in this Court’s Order permitted the DEA Administrator to set aside the subpoena. The Sixth Circuit denied Miami-Luken’s petition for lack of jurisdiction. The Administrator’s order was not a “final decision” under 21 U.S.C. 877. View "Miami-Luken, Inc. v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration" on Justia Law