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

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Plaintiff filed suit against Citigroup, alleging gender discrimination and whistleblower retaliation claims under several local, state, and federal statutes, including the Dodd‐Frank and Sarbanes‐Oxley Acts. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court appropriately compelled arbitration of all but plaintiffʹs Sarbanes‐Oxley claim, including her Dodd‐Frank whistleblower retaliation claim, because her claims fall within the scope of her employment arbitration agreement and because she failed to establish that they are precluded by law from arbitration. The court also held that plaintiff's Sarbanes‐Oxley claim was properly dismissed because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over it inasmuch as plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under the statute. View "Daly v. Citigroup Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's denial of defendant's motion to stay and vacate a writ of execution on his retirement account. The court held that the district court's reasons for denying defendant's motions were erroneous. In this case, the district court neither allowed discovery nor conducted an evidentiary hearing, and thus the record did not provide a basis for a complete understanding of what happened in the course of the plea negotiations and thereafter. The court held that the evidence was sufficient in these circumstances to require of the district court that it take evidence and make findings to determine such questions as whether the merger clause should be strictly enforced in accordance with its terms, whether the Office of the United States Attorney's undertaking to recommend restoration was fulfilled, whether its expression of optimism that its recommendation of restoration would be accepted was misleading, and whether defendant was entitled to any relief. View "United States v. Feldman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his claims alleging that he was wrongfully detained by local authorities pursuant to a federal immigration detainer. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred as to plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claim against the government, because no reasonable officer would have issued the detainer under the circumstances without conducting an inquiry. Furthermore, the complaint alleged facts from which a reasonable inquiry would have revealed that plaintiff was a citizen who could not have been subject to an immigration detainer. The court also held that the district court erred as to plaintiff's official policy claim against the city, because the complaint plausibly alleged that but for the detainer, plaintiff would have been released, and that the city confined him not for his failure to post bail but because of the detainer. Furthermore, the complaint plausibly alleged that the city refused to release plaintiff because of its policy, the city would have seen that plaintiff was not subject to an immigration detainer if it had checked, and the city policy caused plaintiff's deprivation of rights. Finally, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Hernandez v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of Pfizer's claim against the United States for overpayment interest on its delayed tax refund. The court held that jurisdiction of Pfizer's claim for overpayment lies exclusively with the United States Court of Federal Claims. The court explained that overpayment interest is a straightforward claim against the federal government that was covered by the Tucker Act. Accordingly, the court transferred the case to the Court of Federal Claims. View "Pfizer Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Owners and operators of businesses in the hospitality industry appealed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of their complaint, alleging that President Trump violated the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that they have been and will be injured because foreign and domestic government entities that patronize Washington, D.C. and New York hotels, restaurants, and event spaces patronize Trump establishments in the hope of enriching the President and earning a reward from him through official Presidential action favorable to their governments. The Second Circuit vacated and held that the district court did not apply the law correctly in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case, and that plaintiffs satisfied all three prongs of Article III standing. The court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged an injury in fact, their injury was fairly traceable to President Trump, and their injury was redressable by injunctive relief. The court noted that the Fourth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a closely analogous case, but found its arguments to be unpersuasive. The court noted that whether a lawsuit has political motivations was irrelevant to the determinative issues. The court also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint on the theory that plaintiffs' injuries fall outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. The court held that the zone of interests test does not, as the district court believed, implicate the district court's subject matter jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that plaintiffs' injuries were not outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. Finally, the court found the district court's prudential considerations unpersuasive, disagreeing with the district court's determination that the case was non-justiciable and not ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their state tort claims against defendants, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with contract, and negligent supervision or retention. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from the actions of Fox News employees after their son, Seth Rich, was murdered during a botched robbery. A Fox News Reporter, Malia Zimmerman, and a Fox News commentator, Ed Butowsky, recruited a contributor to infiltrate the Rich family in order to find information to give credence to a conspiracy theory that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks and was assassinated for doing so. Applying de novo review, the Second Circuit held that the allegations in the complaint sufficiently stated a claim for intentional or reckless "extreme and outrageous" conduct against the Riches on the part of defendants; the complaint plausibly alleged that defendants tortiously interfered with the contract between the Riches and the contributor, who the Riches hired as a private investigator to look into the circumstances of Seth's death; and an amended complaint could likely cure any defect in plaintiffs' claim of negligent supervision or retention regarding the employment relationship between Fox News and Zimmerman and Wheeler. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rich v. Fox News Network, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of Sallie Mae's motion to vacate an arbitration award based on the arbitrator's failure to apply a general release provision in a settlement agreement that barred all of plaintiff's claims. The Second Circuit held that the arbitrator ignored the unambiguous terms of the general release and concluded that the award of statutory damages for a subset of plaintiff's claims was irreconcilable with the arbitrator's determination that plaintiff was a member of the settlement class and that she received adequate notice of its terms; because the arbitrator failed to provide an explanation for these mutually exclusive determinations, the court was unable to ascertain whether the arbitrator adhered to applicable substantive law as required by the parties' arbitration agreement and whether the arbitral award was issued in manifest disregard of the law; and therefore the court vacated and remanded for clarification. View "Weiss v. Sallie Mae, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's pro se 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint under the three strikes provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The court held that the district court erred in determining that plaintiff had accrued three strikes under the PLRA, because one action was dismissed for a remedial procedural defect; the district court did not grant summary judgment against plaintiff in a second action based on the grounds enumerated in the PLRA; and the third action was dismissed on both PLRA and non-PLRA grounds. Therefore, three of the five cases at issue did not count as strikes. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Escalera v. Samaritan Village" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was terminated from his position as a substitute teacher, he filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging in relevant part procedural due process and stigma‐plus claims related to the termination of his employment. Plaintiff was terminated from his position after defendants instituted an investigation into sexual misconduct claims, but ultimately concluded that there were no grounds for an investigation. The Second Circuit held, with respect to plaintiff's due process claim, that he failed to establish a clearly established right to the meaningful opportunity to utilize his teaching license. The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that defendantsʹ conduct was sufficiently stigmatizing under clearly established law so as to give rise to a "stigma‐plusʺ claim. Therefore, the court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity and the district court erred by denying summary judgment as to both claims. The court remanded with instruction. View "Mudge v. Zugalla" on Justia Law

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Debtors appealed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's order deeming nondischargeable a prior default judgment against debtors in favor of plaintiffs in the Eastern District Judgment. The lower courts had relied in part on the preclusive effect of the Eastern District Judgment, which arose from a dispute between the families regarding two real estate projects. While a default judgment generally lacks preclusive effect because the underlying merits of the case are not actually litigated, the Second Circuit held that where, as here, the default judgment is entered as a sanction, it may be afforded preclusive effect. The court also held that the lower courts erred in treating the Eastern District Judgment as a whole, rather than analyzing each of the two underlying debts for nondischargeability separately. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded in part. View "In re: Stuart Scott Snyder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy