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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff Bainbridge Fund Ltd. is the beneficial owner of bonds issued by the Republic of Argentina. Argentina defaulted on these bonds back in 2001, but Bainbridge didn’t sue to recover them until 2016. The district court dismissed Bainbridge’s claims as untimely under New York’s six-year statute of limitations for contract actions and the Second Circuit’s nonprecedential decisions. Bainbridge appealed, asking the Second Circuit to reconsider those decisions. Specifically, Bainbridge argues that (1) the twenty-year statute of limitations for recovery on certain bonds under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 34 Section 211(a) applies to its claims against Argentina; and (2) even if the six-year limitations period for contract actions applies, it was tolled under N.Y. Gen. Oblig Law Section 17-101 because Argentina “acknowledged” this debt when it publicly listed the bonds in its quarterly financial statements (the “Quarterly Reports”).   The Second Circuit rejected Plaintiff’s arguments. First, the twenty-year statute of limitations does not apply to claims on Argentine bonds because a foreign sovereign is not a “person” under N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 211(a). Second, tolling under N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law Section 17-101 is inapplicable because the Quarterly Reports did not “acknowledge” the debt at issue in a way that reflected an intention to pay or seek to influence the bondholders’ behavior. To the contrary, Argentina repeatedly stated that the bonds “may remain in default indefinitely.” Bainbridge’s claims are thus time-barred. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. The Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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The appeal involved involves five lawsuits in which visually impaired Plaintiffs sued Defendant stores under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for failing to carry braille gift cards. The complaints alleged that Plaintiffs live near Defendants’ stores, have been customers in the past, and intend to purchase gift cards when they become available in the future. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ ADA claims for lack of standing.   The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal and held that Plaintiffs’ conclusory, boilerplate allegations fail to establish standing. The court explained that missing from Plaintiffs’ allegations is any explanation of how Plaintiffs were injured by the unavailability of braille gift cards or any specificity about Plaintiffs’ prior visits to Defendants’ stores that would support an inference that Plaintiffs intended to return. In the ADA context a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief has suffered an injury in fact when: “(1) the plaintiff alleged past injury under the ADA; (2) it was reasonable to infer that the discriminatory treatment would continue; and (3) it was reasonable to infer, based on the past frequency of plaintiff’s visits and the proximity of defendants’ [businesses] to plaintiff’s home, that plaintiff intended to return to the subject location.” Here, the court reasoned that Plaintiffs have offered only “naked assertions” of intent to return to Defendants’ stores if they offer braille gift cards. This reliance on a mere “profession of an intent to return to the places” previously visited is “not enough” to establish standing for prospective relief. View "Calcano v. Swarovski N. Am. Ltd." on Justia Law

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A former faculty member appealed the district court’s judgment dismissing (A) claims against the university principally for violation of his right to due process, and for gender and national origin discrimination in violation of, respectively, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and (B) claims that documents issued by the United States Department of Education violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the  Spending Clause of the Constitution. The district court granted the university's motion for judgment on the pleadings finding that Title IX does not authorize a private right of action for discrimination in employment and that the complaint failed to state a claim for national-origin discrimination under Title VI. The court granted the United States Defendants' motion to dismiss the claims.   The Second Circuit vacated the judgment in part finding merit only in Plaintiff’s contention that Title IX allows a private right of action for a university's intentional gender-based discrimination against a faculty member. The court found that the complaint contained sufficient factual assertions to permit a plausible inference that Plaintiff was disciplined following irregular investigative procedures in circumstances permitting a plausible inference of bias on the basis of gender in violation of Title IX. Plaintiff’s Title VI claim, viewed within the same analytical framework as that applicable to his Title IX claim, lacks sufficient factual assertions to permit a plausible inference that Plaintiff was disciplined in whole or in part on the basis of his national origin in violation of Title VI. View "Vengalattore v. Cornell University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought suit against the Estate of her ex-husband and against his widow individually and as administratrix of the Estate, claiming that her ex-husband misrepresented the value of his real estate investments during divorce proceedings. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the ground that the discovery rule did not apply to Plaintiff’s claims and dismissed the claims as time-barred; the district court did not consider whether Plaintiff’s claims should be tolled.   On appeal, Plaintiff invoked the discovery rule and equitable estoppel to argue that this suit, initiated more than thirteen years later, is nevertheless timely. The Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The court further remanded for consideration the doctrine of equitable estoppel as to one of the contested investments.   The court reasoned that the discovery rule is not a tool to aid speculation or to validate a hunch. As Plaintiff has not shown that she had any “knowledge of facts” supporting the fraud within two years prior to initiating suit, she cannot invoke the discovery rule to save her claims. Further, Plaintiff failed to investigate her ex-husband’s assurances that his real estate investments were worth nothing, notwithstanding warning signs and ample opportunity to do so during the divorce proceedings. View "Koral v. Alsou Saunders, Est. of Gregg Saunders" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff A&B Alternative Marketing Inc. (“A&B”) filed a Complaint against Defendants, International Quality Fruit Inc. (“IQF”), H&A International Fruit 14 Corp. (“H&A”), and others alleging violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (“PACA”) stemming from Defendants’ failure to pay A&B for produce purchased on credit.   The District Court entered an order denying Defendants’ 12(b)(1) motion and granting A&B’s motion for default judgment. Defendants challenged the District Court’s order only on the grounds that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate A&B’s claims. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court reasoned that neither of the two statutory requirements Defendants relies on is jurisdictional.   Defendants asserted that A&B failed to show that Defendants engaged in the business of selling in wholesale or jobbing quantities and that the invoice cost of their purchases of perishable agricultural commodities in any calendar year was in excess of $230,000.  But A&B alleges that both IQF and H&A “purchased perishable agricultural commodities exceeding $230,000.00 annually and/or purchas[ed] at least 2,000.00 lbs. of perishable agricultural commodities on any one day.”  Accordingly, A&B has sufficiently shown that Defendants meet the relevant statutory requirements.   Second Defendants claimed that A&B failed to provide evidence that the alleged transactions were carried out in “interstate or foreign commerce.” However, A&B submitted evidence that it purchased the produce in question from Pennsylvania growers or merchants for resale in New York. View "A&B Alternative Mktg. Inc. v. Int'l Quality Fruit Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court's order entered dismissing his petition to vacate an arbitration award. The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") requires that notice of a motion to vacate an arbitration award be served within three months of the date the arbitration award is filed or delivered. Counsel sent notice of the petition to vacate the arbitration award to Respondent late on the last day of the three-month period, but counsel did so by email. The district court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, concluding that service was improper and untimely. On appeal, Petitioner contended that service was proper because Respondent had agreed to email service in the underlying arbitration and that the consent carried over to the judicial proceedings to vacate the award.     The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing the petition and held that email service of a notice of a petition to vacate was ineffective under 9 U.S.C. Section 12 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 5. The court reasoned that Section 12 contains no exception to the three-month limitations period. Further, under Rule 5, a party may serve papers by email only if the person being served has "consented" to service by email "in writing."  Here, Petitioner’s counsel had not asked Respondent’s counsel for consent to email service, and Respondent’s counsel had not provided consent to email service in writing, as required by Rule 5. Further, AAA Employment Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures 38(a)-(b) does not contemplate email service. View "Dalla-Longa v. Magnetar Capital LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Nassau County (the “County”) and five “John Doe” law enforcement officers (the County and the individuals together, “Defendants”) for alleged constitutional violations arising from their enforcement of New York Penal Law Section 400.00(11)(c). Plaintiff alleged that the County’s policy interpreting and applying Section 400.00(11)(c) is broader than the law itself and unconstitutional as it was applied to him. The district court disagreed finding that the County acted to enforce a mandatory provision of state law and as a result was not a proper defendant under Vives v. City of New York, 524 F.3d 346 (2d Cir. 2008). It granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s First, Second, and Fourth Amendment claims, related Monell claims, and Section 1983 conspiracy claim.   The Second Circuit affirmed in part, except to the extent that it failed to reach an adequate determination on the County’s longarms possession policy, the district court’s order granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The court reasoned that in requiring Plaintiff to surrender his longarms after his conviction, Nassau County was reasonably applying state law, not crafting its own independent firearm surrender policy untethered to the Penal Law.  Further, Plaintiff’s Fourth and Second Amendment claims fail because the County is not the proper defendant to Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claim and even if the County were the proper defendant to this challenge, it is uncertain that the County “seized” his longarms within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, much less unreasonably seized them. View "Juzumas v. Nassau County" on Justia Law

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Movant, IJK Palm LLC filed a motion in the district court seeking discovery under 28 U.S.C. Section 1782 from several companies and individuals for use in a suit it intended to file in the Cayman Islands. After IJK filed its request under Section 1782, the company on behalf of which IJK intended to sue, entered liquidation proceedings.   In the Cayman Islands, only a company’s official liquidator may ordinarily sue on the company’s behalf. IJK proposes three avenues through which it might nevertheless use the material it requests. The district court granted IJK’s discovery request. The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling granting Movant’s discovery request. The court held that Movant has not established that it is an “interested person” with respect to its first proposed suit and that it has not established that the material it requests is “for use” in any of its proposed suits within the meaning of Section 1782. View "IJK Palm LLC v. Anholt Services USA, Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Defendant Cable News Network, Inc. (“CNN”) for defamation and civil conspiracy in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was transferred to the Southern District of New York. Plaintiff argues that the Virginia Supreme Court would determine that New York is the “place of the wrong.” Alternatively, that he was primarily injured in either the District of Columbia or Virginia or at least that the choice-of-law determination cannot be made without discovery. Second, he argues that even if California law does apply, section 48a does not apply under Virginia’s choice-of-law rules; and that even if section 48a does apply, he should have been granted leave to further amend his complaint so he could plead special damages. Plaintiff also requests that the court certifies to the Virginia Supreme Court the question of how lex loci delicti applies to multistate defamation cases like Plaintiff’s.The court concluded that the Virginia Supreme Court would apply California law, including its retraction statute, to Plaintiff’s multistate defamation claim. The court reasoned that the Virginia Supreme Court would apply the substantive law of the state where the plaintiff incurred the greatest reputational injury, with a presumption that absent countervailing circumstances, a plaintiff suffers the most harm in his state of domicile. Further, the court did not err in failing to sua sponte grant Plainitff’s leave to amend. Thus, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint with prejudice. View "Nunes v. Cable News Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Aenergy, S.A., and Combined Cycle Power Plant Soyo, S.A. (together, “AE”), sued various Angolan Government entities (together, “Angola”), plus General Electric Co. and related entities (together, “GE”). AE alleges that Angola wrongfully cancelled AE’s Angolan power plant contracts and seized its related property in violation of state and international law and that GE interfered with its contracts and prospective business relations.The court found that the standard principles of forum non conveniens applies to AE’s lawsuit brought pursuant to exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1605. The court reasoned that forum non conveniens does not require a case-by-case consideration of comity, and therefore is consistent with the FSIA’s purpose in establishing a “comprehensive set of legal standards.”The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing AE’s complaint on forum non conveniens grounds. AE argues that the district court erred in applying the three-step forum non conveniens analysis. The court held that the district court reasonably found that AE’s forum choice was entitled to minimal deference; that Angola is an adequate alternative forum; and that the public and private Gilbert factors favor Angola. Thus the court affirmed the district court’s orders. View "Aenergy, S.A. v. Republic of Angola" on Justia Law