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Vera sued the Republic of Cuba for the extrajudicial killing of his father in 1976. In 2008, Vera obtained a default judgment against Cuba in Florida state court, relying on the “terrorism exception” to sovereign immunity, 28 U.S.C. 1605A(a)(1). Vera then secured a default judgment against Cuba in a U.S. District Court in New York, which granted full faith and credit to the Florida judgment. Vera served information subpoenas on the New York branches of various foreign banks, including BBVA, which refused to comply with the subpoena’s request for information regarding Cuban assets located outside the U.S. BBVA moved to quash the subpoena, contending that Vera’s judgment was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602. The Second Circuit reversed in favor of BBVA. The district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Vera’s action against Cuba because Cuba was not designated a state sponsor of terrorism at the time Vera’s father was killed. Vera failed to establish that Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of his father’s death. The FSIA’s terrorism exception to sovereign immunity—the only potential basis for subject matter jurisdiction— did not apply. Cuba was immune from Vera’s action. View "Vera v. Republic of Cuba" on Justia Law

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In 2015, Swain was fired from his job with Hermès managing the company’s New Jersey boutique at the Mall at Short Hills. Swain, a New Jersey resident, sued Hermès in New Jersey state court, asserting claims under New Jersey state law for discrimination and hostile work environment on the basis of sexual orientation, retaliation, and breach of contract. Swain named Hermès, and Bautista, who worked with Swain at the Short Hills Hermès store, as defendants. Asserting federal jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, Hermès filed a petition in federal district court to compel arbitration under Federal Arbitration Act section 4, naming Swain as the only respondent and citing a dispute resolution protocol that he had allegedly signed. The Second Circuit affirmed, in favor of Hermès. Swain did not contest the arbitrability of his dispute or that Swain and Hermès were citizens of different states. The court rejected Swain’s argument that it should “look through” the petition to the underlying dispute, as defined in Swain’s New Jersey lawsuit, and conclude that complete diversity is lacking because Swain and Bautista, who is adverse to Swain in his state court litigation in New Jersey, are both citizens of that state. View "Hermès of Paris, Inc. v. Swain" on Justia Law

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A mother appealed the termination of her parental rights to two children: D.H. (born 2004) and S.C. (born 2006). She argued the family court improperly withheld its discretion by refusing to grant a thirty-minute continuance so that she could attend the termination hearing. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court determined that although mother’s absence was her mistake in light of the proper notice she was given, her attorney had spoken with her and represented to the court that mother could be there in a short time. Delaying the hearing for a brief time to allow mother to appear would not have disrupted the court’s calendar or prejudiced the children, DCF, or other litigants. The Court found that denying the request had a harsh effect on mother because it resulted in the case being decided based on the exhibits and testimony presented by DCF, but without mother’s testimony. This deprived mother of the opportunity to testify regarding her participation in treatment, her progress toward the case plan goals, and her strong relationship with the children. The trial court explicitly relied on mother’s absence as evidence supporting termination, even though mother’s attorney had informed the court that she was in touch with mother and requested the continuance while the hearing was still in progress. Furthermore, the record showed mother was actively involved throughout the proceedings below. For these reasons, the Supreme Court reversed the court’s decision to terminate mother’s parental rights, and remanded the matter to the family court for the evidence to be reopened so that mother may have an opportunity to participate. View "In re D.H. & S.C." on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota certified questions of North Dakota law to the North Dakota Supreme Court involving Dawn Vail's right to bring a common law tort action against S/L Services, Inc., for personal injuries she sustained while working for S/L Services. The certified questions and the parties' arguments involved issues about employer immunity and an employee's exclusive or dual remedy for injuries occurring during the course of employment under North Dakota’s statutory provisions for workforce safety and insurance. The Supreme Court concluded the exclusive remedy provisions of North Dakota’s workers' compensation laws did not preclude Vail's tort action against S/L Services under provisions authorizing the action for willfully misrepresenting to Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") the amount of payroll upon which a premium is based, or for willfully failing to secure workers' compensation coverage for employees. View "Vail v. S/L Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Alaska professional licensing division brought an accusation of professional misconduct against doctor David Odom, M.D., alleging that he acted incompetently when he prescribed phentermine and thyroid hormone for one of his patients. The division sought disciplinary sanctions against the doctor. Following a hearing, an administrative law judge issued a proposed decision concluding that the division had failed to show that the doctor’s conduct fell below the standard of care in his field of practice and that no disciplinary sanctions were warranted. But the Medical Board instead adopted as its decision the proposal for action submitted by the division and revoked the doctor’s medical license. On appeal to the superior court, the case was remanded to the Board for consideration of the doctor’s own late-filed proposal for action. The Board reaffirmed its decision to revoke the doctor’s medical license, and the superior court affirmed that decision. The doctor appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court. Because the Medical Board’s decision to revoke the doctor’s medical license was not supported by substantial evidence, the Court reversed the superior court’s affirmance of that decision. View "Odom v. Alaska Div. of Corporations, Bus. & Prof. Licensing" on Justia Law

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In 1990, Stan and Bara Jurcevic opened an account at the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union (SPCFU). The National Credit Union Administration Board (NCUAB) charters and insures credit unions, 12 U.S.C. 1766, and can place a credit union into conservatorship or liquidation. From 1996-2010, Stan obtained $1.5 million in share-secured loans from SPCFU. Federal auditors discovered that SPCFU’s COO had been accepting bribes in exchange for issuing loans and disguising unpaid balances. SPCFU had $200 million in unpaid debts. NCUAB placed SPCFU into conservatorship and eventually liquidated its assets. NCUAB alleged that Jurcevic failed to disclose a $2,500,000 loan from PNC and an impending decrease in his income; and that he planned to use the loan funds to save his company, Stack. PNC obtained a $2,000,000 judgment against Jurcevic and Stack. NCUAB sued the Jurcevics and Stack and obtained an injunction, freezing the Jurcevics’ and Stack’s assets, except for living expenses. The district court dismissed claims of fraud, conspiracy, and conversion as time-barred and dismissed claims against Bara and Stack as a matter of law. Jurcevic appealed and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Board cross-appealed and intervened in the Chapter 7 proceedings. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the asset freeze; the court properly employed the preliminary injunction factors. The court reversed the dismissals because the court did not consider the date of the NCUAB’s appointment and the date of discovery as possible accrual dates for the limitations statute. View "National Credit Union Administration Board v. Jurcevic" on Justia Law

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From 1978-1997, Mathias worked for Caterpillar in York, Pennsylvania. In 1997 he experienced serious health issues; the Social Security Administration declared him disabled. Caterpillar covered his health insurance as an employee on long-term disability, billing him for his portion of the premium. In 2012 Mathias retired retroactively, effective October 2009. Caterpillar failed to change Mathias’s status and did not realize its mistake until 2013 when it notified Mathias that he owed $9,500 in past-due premiums, the difference between the rate for a long-term disabled employee and the rate for a retired employee. When Mathias did not pay, Caterpillar terminated his benefits. Mathias sued in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plan documents require suit in the Central District of Illinois, so Caterpillar moved to transfer the case under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). Mathias argued that the forum-selection clause was invalid in light of ERISA’s venue provision, 29 U.S.C. 1132(e)(2). The district court rejected that argument, relying primarily on Sixth Circuit precedent, holding that forum-selection clauses in ERISA plans are enforceable and not inconsistent with the text of ERISA’s venue provision. The case was transferred. Mathias petitioned for mandamus relief in the Seventh Circuit, which affirmed, holding that ERISA’s venue provision does not invalidate a forum-selection clause contained in plan documents. View "Mathias v. Mihm" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned a limited liability company, JPB Investments LLC (JPBI), created and operated by respondent James Baldwin, a real estate developer. Appellant Curci Investments, LLC (Curci) sought to add JPBI as a judgment debtor on a multi-million dollar judgment it had against Baldwin personally. Curci asserted Baldwin held virtually all the interest in JPBI and controlled its actions, and Baldwin appeared to be using JPBI as a personal bank account. Curci argued, under these circumstances, it would be in the interest of justice to disregard the separate nature of JPBI and allow Curci to access JPBI’s assets to satisfy the judgment against Baldwin. Citing Postal Instant Press, Inc. v. Kaswa Corp. 162 Cal.App.4th 1510 (2008), the court denied Curci’s motion based on its belief the “reverse veil piercing,” was not available in California. On appeal, Curci asserted Postal Instant Press was distinguishable, and urged the Court of Appeal to conclude reverse veil piercing was available in California and appropriate in this case. The Court agreed Postal Instant Press was distinguishable, and concluded reverse veil piercing is possible under these circumstances. The Court reversed and remanded for the court to make a factual determination as to whether JPBI’s veil should be pierced. View "Curci Investments v. Baldwin" on Justia Law

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Under 42 U.S.C. 1485, the USDA's Rural Housing Service (RHS) makes loans for construction of affordable rental housing. From 1972-1982, each of 10 limited partnerships (with a common general partner, Olsen) entered into a 50-year loan agreement that stated that each borrower could pay off the loan and convert its properties to conventional housing after 15 or 20 years. The 1987 Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 1472(c)), provided that before accepting prepayment, the USDA must attempt to enter into an agreement with the borrower. In 2002, Olsen was negotiating to sell to a nonprofit organization. He notified the RHS of “intent . . . to convert [some] units into conventional housing” and sought approval to pay off the mortgages. RHS responded with a checklist. Olsen did not proceed; the potential acquirer decided against purchasing the properties. In 2011, Olsen submitted more definite prepayment requests. RHS responded with an incentive offer concerning four properties, which Olsen accepted, remaining in the program. For three other properties, RHS informed Olsen that prepayment was not an option. Olsen purportedly believed that pursuing prepayment on any properties was futile. He did not submit additional applications. In 2013, the partnerships sued, alleging that the government, through the 1987 enactment or the 2011 correspondence, violated their prepayment rights. The Federal Circuit reversed the Claims Court's dismissal. The 2002 correspondence did not trigger the RHS’s duty to accept prepayment; RHS did not take any steps inconsistent with prepayment. The government did not breach its contractual obligation in 2002. Because the alleged breaches occurred no earlier than 2011, the contract claims are not barred by the six-year limitations period. The Claims Court implicitly premised the dismissal of takings claims on the same erroneous rationale. View "Airport Road Associates, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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AIA sued Avid for infringement of patents directed to research technologies stemming from the discovery of a genetic mutation that is associated with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Mullan is named as the sole inventor of both patents. Avid responded that AIA lacked standing to assert the patents and that Sexton, AIA’s founder, and Mullan orchestrated a scheme to appropriate for themselves inventions from Imperial College in London and the University of South Florida. AIA claimed that Dr. Mullan was properly named as sole inventor and that his employer, USF, waived any ownership rights. The district court held a jury trial on standing, in which 12 witnesses testified and over 200 exhibits were introduced. The jury determined that USF did not knowingly and intentionally waive its ownership rights and that Dr. Hardy was a co-inventor; the court found AIA lacked standing and entered judgment for Avid. The Federal Circuit summarily affirmed. Avid sought attorney’s fees. The district court allowed the parties to submit briefing, evidence, and declarations and held a hearing, then awarded Avid $3,943,317.70 in fees. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting AIA’s argument that the Seventh Amendment requires a jury trial to decide the facts forming the basis to award attorney’s fees under Patent Act section 285. The district court did not err by making factual findings not foreclosed by the jury’s verdict on standing; AIA’s due process rights were not violated. View "AIA America, Inc. v. Avid Radiopharmaceuticals" on Justia Law