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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Respondents appeal the district court's grant of an application for discovery in aid of a foreign proceeding under 28 U.S.C. 1782 brought by petitioner. The application relates to complex litigation stemming from the sinking of an oil tanker captained by petitioner off the coast of Spain. Petitioner cross-appeals, arguing that the district court should have refrained from entering final judgment and instead maintained the case on its active docket to facilitate further uses of the discovery materials.The Second Circuit concluded that petitioner's cross-appeal, unlike respondents' appeal, no longer presents a live case or controversy and is therefore moot. The court also concluded that the district court erred by failing to conduct a choice-of-law analysis with respect to applicable privileges and in analyzing whether one of the proceedings cited by petitioner as a basis for his application was within reasonable contemplation. Therefore, the court dismissed the cross-appeal and vacated the district court's judgment. The court remanded for further proceedings and ordered respondents to refrain from destroying or altering any records, materials, or documents that may reasonably be considered to be subject to discovery pursuant to the section 1782 applications at issue in this case until July 30, 2021, unless otherwise directed by an order of a United States court. View "Mangouras v. Boggs" on Justia Law

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President Trump filed suit against the District Attorney of the County of New York, alleging that a grand jury subpoena issued on August 29, 2019 by the District Attorney to Mazars USA, LLP, the President's accounting firm, is overbroad and was issued in bad faith. The subpoena directed Mazars to produce financial documents—including tax returns—relating to the President, the Trump Organization, and affiliated entities, dating back to 2011. The district court granted the District Attorney's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint based on failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).The Second Circuit affirmed, finding that the claim of overbreadth is not plausibly alleged for two interrelated reasons. First, the court concluded that the President's bare assertion that the scope of the grand jury's investigation is limited only to certain payments made by Michael Cohen in 2016 amounts to nothing more than implausible speculation. Second, the court concluded that, without the benefit of this linchpin assumption, all other allegations of overbreadth—based on the types of documents sought, the types of entities covered, and the time period covered by the subpoena, as well as the subpoena's near identity to a prior Congressional subpoena—fall short of meeting the plausibility standard. Finally, the court concluded that the President's allegations of bad faith fail to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued out of malice or intent to harass. The court considered the President's remaining contentions on appeal and found no basis for reversal. The court ordered an interim stay of enforcement of the subpoena under the terms agreed to by the parties. View "Trump v. Vance" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action on behalf of members and descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama indigenous peoples against the Federal Republic of Germany, seeking damages for the enslavement and genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama peoples in what is now Namibia, as well as for property they alleged Germany expropriated from the land and peoples.The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Germany is a foreign sovereign; the only path for the exercise of jurisdiction is if a FISA exception applies. FSIA’s takings exception, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), provides that a foreign state is not immune from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in cases "in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state; or that property or any property exchanged for such property is owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in commercial activity in the United States.” The plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to trace the proceeds from property expropriated more than a century ago to present‐day property owned by Germany in New York. View "Rukoro v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

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After the government removed petitioner from the United Stated, the removal mooted the government's appeal of the district court's order directing the government to release petitioner from immigration detention. The government now moves to dismiss the appeal as moot and requests vacatur of the district court's decisions related to 8 C.F.R. 241.14(d), a regulation that the government had invoked to detain petitioner. Petitioner opposes the government's request for vacatur and separately requests vacatur of the Second Circuit's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal.The Second Circuit held that because the district court's decisions related to 8 C.F.R. 241.14(d) could have legal consequences in future litigation between the parties, those decisions should be vacated so that "the rights of all parties are preserved." However, this court's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal does not warrant vacatur because it does not have legal consequences for the parties. The court held that a decision concerning a stay is not a final adjudication on the merits of an appeal and lacks preclusive effect. Therefore, the court denied petitioner's motion to vacate this court's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal, granted the government's motion to vacate the district court's decisions related to section 241.14(d), dismissed the appeal as moot, and remanded with instructions to dismiss petitioner's challenge to his detention as moot. View "Hassoun v. Searls" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the Unions' request for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the implementation of three Executive Orders relating to federal labor-management relations. The Orders and Guidances issued by President Trump address collective bargaining, work time for representational activities, and discipline and discharge.After an independent review of the record and relevant case law, the court affirmed for substantially the reasons set forth by the district court in its carefully reasoned December 10, 2019 decision and order. The district court held that (1) it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Unions' substantive Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim; and (2) the Unions' procedural APA claim was unlikely to succeed on the merits because the Guidances were not subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking as the Orders were "presumptively legally binding" and the Guidances "did nothing more than summarize the legally binding . . . Orders." View "Service Employees International Union Local 200 v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's order adopting the Magistrate Judge's sua sponte order administratively closing plaintiff's civil rights suit against defendants and denying his motion to reconsider. The district court concluded that, because plaintiff had been deported to the Dominican Republic, plaintiff would be unavailable in the United States for depositions, further medical examinations, and trial testimony, and the case should be closed.The Second Circuit held that an administrative closure in such circumstances is a last resort that is appropriate only when all other alternatives are virtually impossible or so impractical as to significantly interfere with the operations of the district court or impose an unreasonable burden on the party opposing the plaintiff's claim. In this case, the court held that numerous alternatives to the issues identified by the district court exist, and none seems virtually impossible or so impractical as to significantly interfere with the operations of the district court or impose an unreasonable burden on the party opposing plaintiff's claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rodriguez v. Gusman" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a motion brought by unions representing uniformed New York City officers to stay, pending appeal the district court's July 29, 2020 order modifying the district court's July 22, 2020 order such that the order no longer applies to non-party NYCLU. This dispute arose out of the action of the New York legislature repealing section 50-a of the State's Civil Rights Law, which had shielded from public disclosure personnel records of various uniformed officers including police officers. The court stated that the effect of the modification is to permit the NYCLU publicly to disclose information concerning disciplinary records of approximately 81,000 New York City police officers, records alleged to contain unsubstantiated and nonfinal allegations.The court held that the district court properly excluded the NYCLU from the disclosure prohibition under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2)(C) because it was not "in active concert" with a party bound by a TRO or a preliminary injunction. The court explained that the NYCLU could not be "in active concert" with such a party because it lawfully gained access to the information at issue before the July 22 disclosure prohibition was issued against it and obviously could not have known of a prohibition that did not then exist. Therefore, because appellants had no probability of success on the appeal from the July 29 order, the court denied the motion for a stay pending appeal, thereby terminating the emergency stay that a judge of this court had entered pending consideration of the stay motion by a three-judge panel. View "Uniformed Fire Officers Ass'n v. DeBlasio" on Justia Law

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After the district court granted defendants' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss with prejudice plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleging violations of the federal securities laws and entered judgment for defendants, plaintiffs brought a motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b) for relief from the judgment and for leave to file a third amended complaint.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the motion and held that plaintiffs are not entitled to relief under Rules 59(e) and 60(b). The court held that the district court applied the correct legal standard to plaintiffs' post-judgment motion by considering whether plaintiffs were entitled to relief under Rules 59(e) or 60(b), and committed no abuse of discretion in denying the motion on the grounds that plaintiffs had failed to identify an adequate basis for relief pursuant to those rules. In this case, plaintiffs failed to proffer any newly discovered evidence that would entitle them to relief under Rules 59(e) or 60(b) and, even if the purported newly discovered evidence was indeed new, the result would be the same because amendment would be futile. View "Metzler Investment GmbH v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), seeking discovery from four investment banks related to their work as underwriters in the Tencent Music IPO. Petitioner alleged that he intended to use the documents in his pending CIETAC arbitration against the Ocean Entities and its founder.28 U.S.C. 1782(a) authorizes federal courts to compel the production of materials "for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal" upon "the application of any interested person." In In National Broadcasting Co. v. Bear Stearns & Co., 165 F.3d 184 (2d Cir. 1999) ("NBC"), the court held that the phrase "foreign or international tribunal" does not encompass "arbitral bod[ies] established by private parties."The court held that nothing in the Supreme Court's decision in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241 (2004), alters its prior conclusion in NBC that section 1782(a) does not extend to private international commercial arbitrations. Furthermore, the arbitration at issue here is a non-covered, private, international commercial arbitration. View "In re: Application and Petition of Hanwei Guo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit first addressed this matter by affirming in part, vacating in part, and remanding. Defendants then filed petitions for rehearing, which the court denied, and Defendant Bank Markazi filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General ultimately recommended that the petitions for writs of certiorari be denied because both Houses of Congress had passed separate bills that could substantially affect the proper disposition of the case. Congress then enacted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 and the Supreme Court subsequently granted the petitions for certiorari, vacated the prior decision in Peterson II, and remanded to the Second Circuit.The Second Circuit readopted that portion of its now vacated decision in Part B and Part C.1 of the "Discussion" section of Peterson II as the decision of this court. In regard to subpart C.2, the court reinstated only its judgment that the district court prematurely dismissed the amended complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and remanded for the district court to reconsider that question. However, the court did not reinstate its analysis as to whether the common law and Koehler provide the district court with jurisdiction over the extraterritorial asset, directing the district court to address these issues. Finally, the court respectfully directed the Clerk of this Court to return the matter to this panel for further review and adjudication. View "Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law