Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
Pier Sixty challenged the determination that it violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1) and (3), by discharging an employee in retaliation for protected activity. The court held that Pier Sixty has not shown the existence of an "extraordinary circumstance" that requires the court to waive the ordinary rule against considering arguments not presented to the Board as required by 29 U.S.C. 160(e). Therefore, the court did not reach the merits of the challenge to Acting General Counsel Solomon's appointment. The court also affirmed the Board's determination that Pier Sixty violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) by discharging Hernan Perez since Perez's conduct was not so "opprobrious" as to lose the protection of the NLRA. The court's decision rests heavily on the deference afforded to the Boards factual findings, made following a six‐day bench trial informed by the specific social and cultural context in this case. However, the court noted that Perez's conduct sits at the outer‐bounds of protected, union‐related comments. Accordingly, the court granted the Board's application for enforcement and denied Pier Sixty's cross-petition for review. View "NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC" on Justia Law

By
Avoca Plaintiffs filed suits against New Kerr-McGee, alleging toxic tort claims. The suits were stayed when the owners/operators of the Avoca Plant, Tronox debtors, filed for bankruptcy. In this appeal, Avoca challenged the district court's order enforcing a permanent anti‐suit injunction issued after the bankruptcy settlement. New Kerr‐McGee had moved in the district court for an order enforcing the Injunction and for sanctions, asserting that the Injunction forecloses claims that arise from liabilities derived from or through the Tronox debtors that are also generalized and common to all creditors. The district court concluded that the claims are barred by the Injunction and, without imposing sanctions or finding contempt, ordered the Avoca Plaintiffs to dismiss with prejudice their state‐court complaints. The court rejected the Avoca Plaintiffs' assertions of appellate jurisdiction, concluding that the district court's order is not "final" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1291, because it neither found contempt nor imposed sanctions; the order is not a decision by the district court on review of a bankruptcy court order, as required by 28 U.S.C. 158(d); and the court lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) because the district court properly construed (and neither modified nor continued) the Injunction. The court held that the Avoca Plaintiffs' personal injury claims based on conduct of the Tronox debtors, and asserted against New Kerr‐McGee on a variety of state‐law indirect‐liability theories, are generalized "derivative" claims that fall within the property of the bankruptcy estate. Accordingly, the court lifted the stay and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "In re Tronox Inc." on Justia Law

By
Defendant was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon. At issue was whether the district court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress the gun on Fourth Amendment grounds. The court concluded that the district court did not err by suppressing the motion because the officer had probable cause to arrest defendant inasmuch as she had a reasonable belief that an apartment‐building stairwell is a public place for purposes of the open‐container law and that defendant was violating that law.  Therefore, the warrantless search was a lawful search incident to arrest, even though the officer testified that before finding the gun she intended only to issue a summons, not to make an arrest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Diaz" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiff, a skydiver, filed suit against his former employer, Altitude Express, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and New York law, alleging that he was terminated from his position as a skydiving instructor based on his sexual orientation. The district court found a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation in violation of New York law, but otherwise granted summary judgment for the employer. Specifically, the district court held that defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII claim because Second Circuit precedent holds that Title VII does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. A jury found for defendants on the state-law claims. The court declined plaintiff's request that it reconsider its interpretation of Title VII in order to hold that Title VII's prohibition on discrimination based on "sex" encompasses discrimination based on "sexual orientation" because a three-judge panel lacks the power to overturn Circuit precedent. See Simonton v. Runyon. The court also concluded that plaintiff's assertions that he is entitled to a new trial on his state-law, sexual-orientation discrimination claim have no merit. The court rejected plaintiff's claims of evidentiary errors and unfair discovery practices, and defense counsel did not improperly influence the jury by appealing to prejudice of homosexuals. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Zarda v. Altitude Express" on Justia Law

By
Defendant Key was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and several drug- and firearm-related offenses. On appeal, defendant principally challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for participating in the murder-for-hire conspiracy and the admission of evidence seized during a car stop and search of his apartment. The court concluded that the evidence offered at trial to prove the pecuniary value element of defendantʹs conviction for conspiracy to commit murder‐for‐hire was sufficient to support the guilty verdict, and that the challenged searches and seizures did not violate the Fourth Amendment. In this case, the officers had probable cause to believe that the vehicle contained contraband. After defendant's arrest, officers were entitled to conduct an inventory search, and thus the discovery of the evidence in the back of the car was inevitable. Furthermore, defendant's cell phones, iPad, and address book where in plain view in the apartment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Babilonia" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Defendant was convicted of one count of possession of child pornography and one count of transportation of child pornography. The government proved at trial that defendant owned a collection of child pornography and brought it across the U.S.-Canada border on the way to a family vacation for his personal viewing. The district court imposed concurrent 120 months for the possession count and 225 months for the transportation count, as well as 25 years of supervised release. The court concluded that the factors upon which the district court relied— retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation, and the attributes of defendants and his crimes—cannot bear the weight of the sentence the district court imposed. The court also explained that its conclusion that the sentence was excessive was reinforced by the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities and by the need to avoid excessively severe conditions of supervised release. Therefore, defendant's sentence was substantively unreasonable. The court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Jenkins" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiffs, unsuccessful bidders in a bankruptcy proceeding, appealed the district court's dismissal of their suit alleging claims for breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, and common law fraud against the law firm K&L Gates, LLP and two of its former partners. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants used their prior representation of plaintiffs to undermine plaintiffs' attempt to acquire assets in a bankruptcy sale.  The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss based on res judicata. The court agreed with plaintiffs that they could not have brought their claims during the bankruptcy proceedings, and that this present action would not disturb the orders of the bankruptcy court. The court explained that the circumstances in this case did not demand that plaintiffs raise their claim in the bankruptcy proceeding, and noted that the relevant issues were not litigated through an adversary proceeding or otherwise. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated, remanding for further proceedings. View "Brown Media Corp. v. K&L Gates, LLP" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiffs, black-car drivers in the greater New York City area, filed suit alleging that defendants, owners of black-car "base licenses" and affiliated entities, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the New York State Labor Law (NYLL), N.Y. Lab. Law 650 et seq. The district court conditionally certified the action and then granted summary judgment for defendants. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs constitute independent contractors for FLSA purposes as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiffs determined the manner and extent of their affiliation; whether to work exclusively for certain accounts or provide rides for rival accounts; the degree to which they would invest in their driving businesses; and when, where, and how regularly to provide rides for clients. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Saleem v. Corporate Transportation Group, Ltd." on Justia Law

By
Defendant appealed two rulings by the district court vacating its order dated December 26, 2007, which had granted him more than $1.1 million in credits towards his restitution obligations pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3664(j)(2). The district court, recognizing nearly eight years after the fact that its December 2007 order had been prematurely entered, vacated the order sua sponte, drawing on its "inherent power to correct mistakes made in its handling of a case" and "power to grant relief from erroneous interlocutory orders." The court concluded that appeal of an 18 U.S.C. 3664(j)(2) order need not wait until a defendant's restitution obligations are fully satisfied and may be brought where the order conclusively determines a defendant's entitlement to credit under section 3664(j)(2) for particular funds. In this case, because the December 2007 order conclusively determined defendant's entitlement to particular funds recovered in two bankruptcy proceedings and was thus a final order, the district court lacked the authority to later vacate that order. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Yalincak" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., against numerous insurance and trucking companies. On appeal, relator challenged the district court's dismissal with prejudice as a sanction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. The court joined the D.C. Circuit in holding that the first‐to‐file rule of the FCA is not jurisdictional. Because the court concluded in the summary order accompanying this opinion that the district court did not err by imposing the sanction of dismissal, the court need not consider the non‐FedEx defendants' argument that relator's action did not satisfy the first‐to‐file rule. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States, ex rel. Hayes v. Allstate Ins. Co." on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: