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

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon. The district court applied a four-level sentencing enhancement for possessing a firearm with "an altered or obliterated serial number," under USSG 2K2.1(b)(4)(B). Consistent with its sister circuits, the court held that the enhancement applies if a single iteration of a serial number has been altered or obliterated, notwithstanding whether another may be legible. Moreover, the court held that "altered" means illegible to the naked eye. In this case, the court held that the district court did not err by applying the enhancement by assessing the iteration of the serial number that was most badly scored and finding as fact that it was illegible to the naked eye. View "United States v. St. Hilaire" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act for failure to state a claim. In this case, plaintiff alleged that John Doe was a member of a group with the IVA defendants and IVA's other clients, and that John Doe's investment management agreement with IVA qualified as an agreement to trade in the securities of an issuer under Section 13(d). Plaintiff further theorized that the IVA defendants’ filing of a Schedule 13D automatically caused John Doe to become a member of a group by "silent acquiescence." The court held that an investment management agreement delegating discretionary investment authority to an investment advisor is not an agreement to trade in the securities of an issuer and, therefore, is not a standalone basis for membership in an insider group. The court also held that such an investment advisor's client does not become an insider group member simply because the advisor has filed a Schedule 13D or deputized a director on an issuer's board. Therefore, the court concluded that clients who have not entered an issuer-specific trading agreement are not liable for disgorgement of short-swing profits solely by virtue of their investment advisor's insider status. View "Rubenstein v. International Value Advisers, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order of restitution, imposed after defendant pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud in 2018 for submitting false expense-reimbursement forms to the Department of Labor. The court held that the restitution order was proper under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act because all of the losses resulted from the same "scheme," even though some occurred outside the limitations period for the underlying crime. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by ordering defendant to pay $72,207.16 in restitution. View "United States v. Parnell" on Justia Law

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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. Plaintiff, a construction company operating in the Village and the property owner, filed suit alleging property damage resulting from defendants' negligence in using and disposing of PFOA. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of defendants' motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the claims that defendants' negligence caused the corporate plaintiff to lose revenues and caused the individual plaintiff to suffer devaluation of his land. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly denied the motion to dismiss the claim of the property owner but erred in denying the motion to dismiss the claim of the company. The court saw no error in the district court's conclusion that the principle of 532 Madison Ave. Gourmet Foods, Inc. v. Finlandia Center, Inc., 96 N.Y.2d 8 280, 727 N.Y.S.2d 49 (2001), is inapposite to the claim of the owner, because he alleged physical contamination of his property, and thus is entitled to seek damages not only for that intrusion but also for the diminution in value of the property. Therefore, the motion to dismiss the owner's negligence claim was properly denied. However, the company's negligence claim to recover its purely economic damages should have been dismissed. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the remaining claims lacked merit. View "R.M. Bacon, LLC v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Secret Service seeking visitor logs for the White House Complex and President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. After the Secret Service denied the request, the district court agreed and refused to compel production of the withheld records. The district court also dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction plaintiffs' claims that an agreement between the Secret Service and the Executive Office of the President that allegedly governed the maintenance of the visitor logs violated the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and the Federal Records Act (FRA). The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the visitor logs that plaintiffs seek are not agency records subject to FOIA. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the PRA or the FRA, because plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently to allege that the 2015 MOU prescribes recordkeeping practices that violate the FRA or PRA. Finally, plaintiffs' remaining arguments lack merit. The court denied plaintiffs' request to amend their complaint. View "Doyle v. US Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs, the parents of students with disabilities, chose to withdraw their children from one private school and to enroll them in a new private school, they challenged the adequacy of the students' individualized education programs (IEPs). Plaintiffs also filed suit against the city under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to obtain public funding for the new school's tuition and services during the pendency of the students' IEP disputes. The Second Circuit held, on de novo review, that parents who unilaterally enroll their child in a new private school and challenge the child's IEP are not entitled to public funding for the new school during the pendency of the IEP dispute, on the basis that the educational program being offered at the new school is substantially similar to the program that was last agreed upon by the parents and the school district and was offered at the previous school. The court held that it is generally up to the school district to determine how an agreed-upon program is to be provided during the pendency of the IEP dispute. In this case, regardless of whether iBRAIN's educational program is substantially similar to that offered previously at iHOPE, the court held that the IDEA does not require the city to fund the students' program at iBRAIN during the pendency of their IEP dispute. Accordingly, the court affirmed in No. 19-1662-cv and vacated in No. 19-1813-cv, remanding with instructions. View "Ventura de Paulino v. New York City Department of Education" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law
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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed in the Second Circuit's opinion issued on the same day in Benoit v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., Nos. 17-3941, etc., which was argued in tandem with the present appeal and involved the same issues, the court rejected defendants' contentions that the district court erred in denying their motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims of personal injury and requests for medical monitoring as relief for such injuries, and in denying their motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims of property damage. The court held that the district court's ruling that medical monitoring is available relief for claims solely of property damage is not an order that meets the criteria for immediate review under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Therefore, the court dismissed, as improvidently allowed, so much of the appeal as seeks reversal of that part of the district court's order. View "Baker v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's order denying their Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion, in 16 temporarily consolidated actions, to dismiss plaintiffs' claims. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly denied defendants' motion to dismiss the claims of injury to persons or property, and for medical monitoring with respect to personal injury. In regard to the district court's ruling that costs of medical monitoring can be awarded on the basis solely of injury to property, the court held that because plaintiffs request various types of relief in addition to medical monitoring, the ruling that medical monitoring is available relief for property damage is not one that meets the criteria for immediate review under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b). Therefore, the court dismissed, as improvidently allowed, so much of the appeal as seeks review of that part of the district court's order. View "Benoit v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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Unions representing Nassau County employees filed suit against NIFA after it instituted a year-long wage freeze for all county employees. The unions alleged that the wage freeze, because it was a legislative act that was not reasonable and necessary to achieve NIFA's purported goal of fiscal soundness, violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court held that NIFA's implementation of the wage freeze was administrative, rather than legislative, and granted summary judgment for defendants. The Second Circuit held that NIFA's wage freeze did not violate the Contracts Clause and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. The court assumed without deciding that NIFA's imposition of the wage freeze was legislative in nature, and held that the wage freeze was a reasonable and necessary means to achieve NIFA's asserted end of ensuring the continued fiscal health of the county. View "Sullivan v. Nassau County Interim Finance Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Visions of America filed suit against Scholastic, alleging copyright infringement on 89 photographs plaintiff had authored. The district court determined that Scholastic had infringed six of the photographs and dismissed the remaining claims. The DC Circuit held that the district court properly recited the elements of a copyright infringement claim and placed the burden of proof on plaintiff to demonstrate that Scholastic's use of his images was outside the scope of the license; Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 572 U.S. 663 (2014), did not abrogate this Circuit's adoption of the "discovery rule" for copyright infringement claim accrual in Psihoyos v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 748 F.3d 120 (2d Cir. 2014); the Copyright Act limits damages to the three years prior to when a copyright infringement action is filed; and the registration of a compilation of photographs under 17 U.S.C. 409 by an applicant who holds the rights to the component works is valid and effectively registers the underlying individual photos, even if the compilation does not list the individual authors of the individual photos. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "Sohm v. Scholastic Inc." on Justia Law