Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland v. Town of Clarkstoawn
In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland (ABY) sued the Town of Clarkstown, George Hoehmann, CUPON Inc., and Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods of Greater Nanuet Inc. ABY, a religious educational institution, planned to purchase property in Clarkstown, New York, to establish an Orthodox Jewish school. It alleged that the Defendants manipulated an ostensibly neutral building permit application and zoning appeals process to block this construction. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that ABY's religious discrimination and civil rights claims were not ripe as it had not received a final decision from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and that the lost-contract injury underpinning ABY’s tortious interference claim was not traceable to the Town Defendants.In this appeal, the Second Circuit disagreed with the district court. The Second Circuit found that the ZBA's refusal to adjudicate ABY's appeal of its permit application constituted a final decision for ripeness purposes. The court also determined that ABY had plausibly alleged a causal connection between the Town Defendants’ actions and the injuries resulting from ABY's lost contract with Grace Church. Therefore, the Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland v. Town of Clarkstoawn" on Justia Law
Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc.
In a class action suit brought by George Mandala and Charles Barnett against NTT Data, Inc., the plaintiffs argued that NTT's policy of not hiring individuals with a felony conviction disproportionately impacted Black applicants, constituting disparate impact discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint, and that decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The plaintiffs then filed a motion to vacate the dismissal judgment and sought leave to file a first amended complaint, which the district court denied as untimely under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1).On appeal, the Second Circuit reversed the district court's decision, holding that the plaintiffs' motion should have been evaluated under Rule 60(b)(6) rather than Rule 60(b)(1). Rule 60(b)(6) allows for relief from a judgment under "extraordinary circumstances," which the court found to be present in this case. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs had not previously had a chance to amend their complaint, and that their decision to stand by their initial complaint was not unreasonable given that its sufficiency had been a point of dispute. Additionally, the court found that the proposed amendments to the complaint were not futile. Consequently, the Second Circuit ordered the case to be remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Mandala v. NTT Data, Inc." on Justia Law
Antonyuk v. Chiumento
In a consolidated case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, plaintiffs Ivan Antonyuk, Corey Johnson, Alfred Terrille, Joseph Mann, Leslie Leman, Lawrence Sloane, Jimmie Hardaway Jr., Larry A. Boyd, Firearms Policy Coalition Inc., Second Amendment Foundation Inc., Brett Christian, Micheal Spencer, and His Tabernacle Family Church Inc., sought to challenge certain provisions of New York's Concealed Carry Improvement Act ("CCIA"). The CCIA regulates the public carriage of firearms and includes licensing requirements and prohibitions on carrying firearms in "sensitive" and "restricted" locations. The plaintiffs argued that the provisions violated their First and Second Amendment rights.The court affirmed the preliminary injunction against the enforcement of certain provisions of the CCIA, but vacated the injunction in other respects. Specifically, the court upheld district court's injunctions with respect to the social media disclosure requirement, the application of restricted locations provision to private property open to the general public, and the application of the same provision to Pastor Spencer, the Tabernacle Family Church, its members, or their agents and licensees.However, the court vacated the injunctions in all other respects, concluding that either the district court lacked jurisdiction or that the challenged laws do not violate the Constitution on their face. The court rejected the plaintiffs' challenges to the CCIA's licensing requirements and sensitive locations provisions, holding that the laws did not infringe on the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights.The court also held that the CCIA's restricted locations provision, which makes it a crime to possess firearms in a "restricted location", did not violate the plaintiffs' First and Second Amendment rights. Instead, the court found the provision to be a reasonable regulation consistent with the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms.The court's decision affirms in part, vacates in part, and remands the case for further proceedings. View "Antonyuk v. Chiumento" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Weiner et al. v. Siemens AG et al.
The False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. Sections 3729–32, provides that when a private person brings an action under the FCA on behalf of the federal government, the “complaint shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least 60 days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders.” Alleging violations of the FCA, Relator Clifford Weiner brought a complaint in district court, which the district court dismissed for untimely service of process. Relator argued that because the district court never expressly ordered him to serve Defendants in accordance with Section 3730, the clock for service of process never began to run, and dismissal for untimely service was improper. The Second Circuit agreed with Relator and vacated. The court explained that Defendants have not identified an error of law or an erroneous factual finding embedded in the district court’s decision denying Rule 41(b) dismissal. Nor have they shown that the district court’s conclusion fell outside of the range of permissible decisions. Specifically, as the district court noted, Relator was not given express notice that his delays could result in dismissal, and the court had not devoted substantial resources to the action. View "United States ex rel. Weiner et al. v. Siemens AG et al." on Justia Law
In re: Décor Holdings, Inc., et al.
Plaintiff, in his capacity as Litigation Administrator of the post-confirmation estates (the “Litigation Administrator”) of Post-Confirmation Debtor Décor Holdings, Inc. (“Décor Holdings”), appeals the district court’s order, vacating the bankruptcy court’s entry of default judgment against Defendant Sumec Textile Company Limited (“Sumec”) and remanding the case for further proceedings. The district court’s order re-opened an adversary proceeding that the Litigation Administrator initiated against Sumec to avoid preferential payments of $694,048.84 that Décor Holdings and its affiliated debtors (collectively, the “debtors”) made to Sumec in the ninety-day period before it filed for bankruptcy. The Second Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The court explained that notwithstanding the Litigation Administrator’s practical concerns regarding his ability to effectuate service on Sumec and ultimately collect on any judgment, the court sees no basis to apply the collateral order doctrine to hear an appeal challenging the vacatur of a default judgment which can be reviewed, if necessary, upon the entry of a final judgment in the adversary proceeding. Further, the court explained that this is not a situation where the only remaining questions involve relief and enforcement of the holding; rather, the adversary proceeding is at its infancy, with issues of service of process and the actual merits of the action (assuming service is effectuated) still to be resolved on remand. Thus, the dicta in Stone regarding the general rules of appealability has no application to the circumstances in this appeal. View "In re: Décor Holdings, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Jones et al. v. Goodrich Pump & Engine Control Systems, Inc. et al.
After two United States Army pilots tragically perished in a helicopter crash, their surviving family members sued various companies responsible for the making of the helicopter. The family members alleged that manufacturing and/or defective operating instructions and warnings caused the pilots’ deaths. The companies countered that the family members’ asserted state law claims were barred by a number of preemption doctrines. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the companies, finding that there was implied field preemption under the Federal Aviation Act (the “FAAct” or “Act”). The Second Circuit vacated. The court explained that it believes that field preemption is always a matter of congressional intent, and Congress’s removal of military aircraft from the FAAct’s reach indicates that it did not wish to include them in the FAAct’s preempted field. Rather, Congress intended for the Department of Defense (“DoD”) to have autonomy over its own aircraft. While it is possible that the family members’ claims may be barred by the military contractor defense, another preemption doctrine, see generally Boyle v. United Techs. Corp., 487 U.S. 500 (1988)—this determination requires a fact-intensive analysis to be handled by the district court in the first instance. Further, the court wrote that aside from any issues of preemption by the military contractor defense, the family members offered sufficient evidence under Georgia law for their strict liability manufacturing defect claim to survive summary judgment. View "Jones et al. v. Goodrich Pump & Engine Control Systems, Inc. et al." on Justia Law
Rosa v. Doe
Plaintiff brought an action alleging that he received constitutionally inadequate medical care as an inmate in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. But before the district court could proceed with his case, Plaintiff, like all civil litigants in federal court, was required to pay a filing fee of $402. Plaintiff believed he could not pay the fee while also paying for the necessities of life. So, he moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 23 U.S.C. Section 1915, which would allow Plaintiff to bring his suit without having to prepay the full filing fee. The Second Circuit denied Plaintiff’s motion, finding that the prison provided Plaintiff’s necessities of life. Plaintiff moved for reconsideration, and the district court again denied his motion. On reconsideration, the district court found that Plaintiff had the resources to pay for both the necessities of life and the filing fee but had instead chosen to prioritize contributions to his family members for their necessities. Plaintiff argued that both conclusions are the result of legal error. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded for consideration of the rest of Section 1915’s requirements. The court concluded that Plaintiff demonstrated that he lacks the resources to pay the costs of the lawsuit and for his own necessities of life and those of his dependents. The court explained that Plaintiff would not be immediately destitute if required to pay the $402 filing fee; he has nonetheless established that he cannot pay the costs associated with this suit and still provide the necessities of life for himself and his dependents. View "Rosa v. Doe" on Justia Law
Wiggins v. Griffin, et al.
Plaintiff a practicing Baptist, was incarcerated in the Green Haven Correctional Facility from 2002 until 2018. After prison officials failed to update the Protestant services “call-out list,” Wiggins was excluded from all religious services for over five months. He sued Green Haven officials Thomas Griffin, M. Kopp, D. Howard, and Dr. G. Jebamani under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, reasoning that (1) Defendants did not substantially burden Plaintiff’s free exercise of religion, (2) Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, and (3) if there were a constitutional violation, Kopp was not personally involved in it. The Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. First, the court concluded that Defendants’ failure to update the Protestant services call-out list, which prevented Plaintiff from attending worship services for over five months, substantially burdened his religious exercise. Second, because disputed issues of material fact remain, qualified immunity cannot shield Defendants from liability at this juncture. Third, Plaintiff sufficiently alleged Kopp’s personal involvement in a First Amendment violation by pleading that Kopp took no action even after she was informed that Plaintiff’s rights were being infringed. Finally, the court held that a Section 1983 free exercise claim requires a plaintiff to demonstrate the defendant’s deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s rights. View "Wiggins v. Griffin, et al." on Justia Law
Eisenhauer v. Culinary Institute of America
This case presents the questions of what Defendant must prove to establish affirmative defenses to pay-discrimination claims under federal and state laws: the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) and New York Labor Law Section 194(1). Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Culinary Institute of America, violated these equal-pay laws by compensating her less than a male colleague. The Culinary Institute responded that a “factor other than sex”—its sex-neutral compensation plan, which incorporates a collective bargaining agreement—justifies the pay disparity. Plaintiff argued that the compensation plan cannot qualify as a “factor other than sex” because it creates a pay disparity unconnected to differences between her job and her colleague’s job. The district court did not consider the divergent requirements imposed by the EPA and Section 194(1) when assessing Plaintiff’s claims and the Culinary Institute’s defense. The Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded insofar as the district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on the Section 194(1) claim. The court explained that Plaintiff’s position that a “factor other than sex” must be job-related is incorrect as to the EPA. The plain meaning of the EPA indicates the opposite. The court held that to establish the EPA’s “factor other than sex” defense, a defendant must prove only that the pay disparity in question results from a differential based on any factor except for sex. But Plaintiff’s position is correct as to New York Labor Law Section 194(1). A recent amendment to Section 194(1) explicitly added a job-relatedness requirement. View "Eisenhauer v. Culinary Institute of America" on Justia Law
Dooley v. United States
While riding a bicycle, Plaintiff ran into an open car door being operated by a recruiter for the U.S. Marines. Plaintiff brought a claim for negligence against the United States, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court found the United States liable but concluded Plaintiff was also negligent and, therefore, partially liable.On appeal, the Second Circuit found that the evidence of Plaintiff's negligence was "dubious," and, even if Plaintiff was negligent, the district court failed to make the findings necessary to any holding that the plaintiff’s negligent conduct sufficiently caused the collision so as to make Plaintiff 40% responsible for the damages. View "Dooley v. United States" on Justia Law