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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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In 1974, when Sarkees was 19, he worked for Goodyear for seven months. Sarkees believed he was exposed to the chemical ortho-toluidine (OT). He took chemical samples and unloaded railroad tank cars, the majority of which contained OT, he drove a forklift to load Nailax2 (made with OT), and he manually cleaned Nailax reactors and packaged Nailax. While conducting many of these tasks, Sarkees recognized the smell of OT and experienced chemicals splashing on his skin. He often cleaned the inside of Nailax reactors, wearing “the same contaminated coveralls for the entire work shift.” Sarkees approximated that he cleaned the filters “more than 80 times,” inhaling a “strong chemical smell” and fumes without a respirator. A 2014 Department of Health and Human Services report states, “Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between exposure to o-toluidine and urinary-bladder cancer in humans.” Beginning in 1998, Sarkees participated in a bladder cancer screening program offered by Goodyear to former employees. In 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.The district court dismissed his suit for negligence and strict products liability, after excluding expert testimony that OT was the specific cause of his cancer. The Second Circuit vacated. In excluding the expert’s opinion, the district court improperly relied on a state court evidence ruling instead of the applicable federal evidence rule. The evidence is admissible under Federal Rule 702 and “Daubert.” View "Sarkees v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Co." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand to state court and grant of defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court concluded that a properly served defendant cannot cure a failure to timely consent to removal by opposing a motion for remand when the opposition is filed after the thirty-day statutory period for removal lapsed. The court explained that, even if it were to assume that Covidien LP eventually consented to removal when it opposed the motion for remand, that consent, which came seventeen days after the thirty-day statutory period for removal lapsed, may not undo or fix the timeliness problem. Nor is the court free to create an exception to the statute's mandatory language requiring timely consent. In this case, the court found remand appropriate and vacated the district court's dismissal of the complaint. View "Taylor v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Landlords challenged Part A of New York’s residential eviction moratorium statute, the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (CEEFPA), and attempted to challenge the new residential eviction moratorium, (Subpart C(A) 2021), enacted in Sept. 2021, after several provisions of the old moratorium statute expired. The Supreme Court enjoined enforcement of Part A 2020 on August 12, 2021, based on due process defects.The Landlords argued that Subpart C(A) 2021 did not remedy the defect but is merely a continuation of the previous statute. State officials sought dismissal of the appeal as moot, arguing that the challenged provisions of the old statute have expired, Subpart C(A) 2021 does remedy the defect identified by the Supreme Court, and any challenge to the 2021 provisions must be brought in a new lawsuit.The Second Circuit concluded that the due process claims are moot, dismissed them, and remanded the case. With the appeal remanded, the court concluded it lacked jurisdiction to enjoin enforcement of Subpart C(A) 2021. The “mootness is attributable to a change in the legal framework,” so the Landlords “may wish to amend their complaint so as to demonstrate that the repealed statute retains some continuing force or to attack the newly enacted legislation.” View "Chrysafis v. Marks" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims as time-barred under the two year statute of limitations set forth in the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention), and denial of plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. Plaintiff filed suit against American and others, alleging that, while boarding a flight from Paris, France, to Dallas, Texas, on December 28, 2015, a flight attendant struck him, causing injury.The court concluded that, because plaintiff alleged that he was injured while boarding an international flight, his claims fall under the Montreal Convention, a multilateral treaty that "applies to all international carriage of persons, baggage or cargo performed by aircraft." Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Cohen v. American Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2013, Nike and its subsidiary, Converse, brought a trademark infringement action under the Lanham Act against hundreds of participants in Chinese counterfeiting networks. The district court entered five prejudgment orders, a default judgment, and one postjudgment order against defendants, who never appeared in court. Each order enjoined defendants and all persons acting in concert or in participation with any of them from transferring, withdrawing or disposing of any money or other assets into or out of defendants' accounts regardless of whether such money or assets are held in the U.S. or abroad. In 2019, Nike's successor-in-interest, Next, moved to hold appellees—six nonparty Chinese banks—in contempt for failure to implement the asset restraints and for failure to produce certain documents sought in discovery.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Next's motion for contempt sanctions against the Banks because (1) until the contempt motion, Nike and Next never sought to enforce the asset restraints against the Banks; (2) there is a fair ground of doubt as to whether, in light of New York's separate entity rule and principles of international comity, the orders could reach assets held at foreign bank branches; (3) there is a fair ground of doubt as to whether the Banks' activities amounted to "active concert or participation" in defendants' violation of the asset restraints that could be enjoined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d); and (4) Next failed to provide clear and convincing proof of a discovery violation. View "Next Investments, LLC v. Bank of China" on Justia Law

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FASORP brought suit against the NYU Defendants, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In an Amended Complaint, FASORP pleads that its members have standing to challenge the Law Review's article-selection and editor-selection processes, as well as the Law School's faculty-hiring processes, all of which FASORP alleges violated Title VI and Title IX by impermissibly considering sex and race in its selection and hiring decisions.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint without prejudice and held that FASORP does not have standing to sue NYU because it has failed to demonstrate injuries to its members. In this case, even if FASORP's pleadings were found to sufficiently identify members who have suffered the requisite harm, FASORP fails to demonstrate that those members have experienced an invasion of a legally protected interest that is certainly impending or that there is a substantial risk that the harm will occur. The court explained that, without any "description of concrete plans" to apply for employment, submit an article, or of having submitted an article, that will or has been accepted for publication, FASORP's allegations exhibit the kind of "some day intentions" that cannot "support a finding of [] actual or imminent injury." View "Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences v. New York University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se medical malpractice action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that he suffered dental injuries during several appointments while incarcerated by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at Federal Correctional Institution Danbury. Plaintiff initially filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which sua sponte transferred the case to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. That court dismissed the action for insufficient service of process because plaintiff failed to include a certificate stating that after a reasonable inquiry a good faith belief exists that there had been negligence, as required by Connecticut General Statutes 52-190a.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the action for insufficient service of process, concluding that Connecticut General Statutes 52-190a a is a procedural rather than substantive rule and is therefore inapplicable in civil actions in federal court. The court explained that there is no reason to overturn the transfer order. To the extent that plaintiff seeks to have this case transferred back to the Southern District of New York based on his current residence and potential witnesses located in New York, the court stated that he must move for such a transfer in the district court. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Corley v. United States" on Justia Law

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Racer, which was created and funded to clean up polluted locations connected to the former General Motors Corporation during that company's bankruptcy, appealed the district court's dismissal of their federal claims for violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and related state law claims. Racer alleges cost and recovery and contribution claims under CERCLA sections 107 and 113 against dozens of defendants, which RACER alleges contributed to pollution at one of the New York sites it has been tasked with cleaning up.The Second Circuit concluded that the district court was correct to require RACER Trust to substitute its trustee as plaintiff, because the trust lacks capacity to sue. On the merits, the court held that the district court erred in dismissing RACER's complaint at this early stage. In this case, RACER's section 107 claim is ripe because it is based on costs RACER has already incurred for which it may not receive repayment through the EPA investigation, and because further delay in adjudicating the claim would cause RACER hardship. Furthermore, the district court erred in dismissing RACER's section 113 claim where, to the extent that the district court concluded that it too was prudentially unripe, the court disagreed for the same reasons that apply to the section 107 claim. To the extent the district court's dismissal rested on other grounds, the court concluded that the district court failed to adequately explain its reasoning and the court remanded for further analysis.The court declined to address the other issues raised by the parties, which should be addressed by the district court in the first instance. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded the district court's dismissal of RACER's CERCLA claims, and vacated and remanded the district court's dismissal of RACER's state law claims so that the district court may reconsider its ruling. View "Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust v. National Grid USA" on Justia Law

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Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the state's Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection James Rovella appeal from the district court's order granting a preliminary injunction ordering that the Governor repeal, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a provision to suspend collection of fingerprints in connection with applications for authorization to obtain firearms. The injunction also ordered that the Governor repeal that provision of the executive order and that the DESPP Commissioner resume fingerprinting services at that agency.The Second Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and concluded that: (1) with respect to the individual plaintiffs, the preliminary injunction motion became moot in the district court; and (2) CCDL lacked organizational standing. Because the motion was moot and CCDL lacked standing, the district court had no jurisdiction to issue the preliminary injunction. View "Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Inc. v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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Gater sought to renew a default judgment, which the district court entered in 2000, that enforced a Russian arbitration award in favor of Lloyd's Underwriters against appellants. Lloyd's assigned its default judgment to Gater in 2012. The district court entered a renewal judgment in Gater's favor after concluding that it had personal jurisdiction over appellants as well as subject-matter jurisdiction over the renewal claims.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in Gater's renewal action, concluding that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Moldovagaz. The court explained that the Due Process Clause prohibits federal courts from exercising personal jurisdiction over Moldovagaz because Moldovagaz has no contacts with the United States. Furthermore, Moldovagaz is not an alter ego of the Republic of Moldova.The court also concluded that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over Gater's claim for renewal against the Republic of Moldova. The court explained that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) provides that federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over claims brought against foreign states unless one of the FSIA's immunity exceptions applies. In this case, the Republic of Moldova is a foreign state and no immunity exception applies to Gater's claims against it. Furthermore, the Republic of Moldova was not a party to the underlying arbitration agreement and no equitable theory, even assuming such theories apply under 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(6), supports abrogating the Republic's sovereign immunity here. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to dismiss the renewal action for lack of jurisdiction. The court nevertheless affirmed the district court's refusal to vacate its original default judgment because appellants have failed to demonstrate that the district court had no arguable basis to exercise jurisdiction to enter that judgment. View "Gater Assets Ltd. v. AO Moldovagaz" on Justia Law