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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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In 2017, Swiss law enforcement officers seized more than a thousand pieces of ancient art owned by the plaintiffs as part of an ongoing investigation into the illegal trafficking of cultural property. The plaintiffs sued the Swiss government entities and instrumentalities in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the seizure was arbitrary and made without probable cause. The district court dismissed the cases, holding that it lacked jurisdiction over the defendants under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3).The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that jurisdiction was proper under the statute’s “expropriation exception,” which applies in cases involving property taken by a foreign state in violation of international law. A routine law enforcement seizure does not ordinarily constitute a taking at all, let alone a taking in violation of international law, because it falls within a state’s traditional police powers. Although there are a handful of narrow exceptions to that general rule, such as when the seizure is not rationally related to a public purpose and is a pretextual attempt to nationalize property without compensation, or (has continued for an unreasonable amount of time, none of those exceptions applies here. View "Beierwaltes v. L'Office Fédérale de la Culture de la Confederation Suisse" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's claims against CLA and its principal for lack of Article III standing. Plaintiff and two other non-appealing plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging state law claims against CLA and its principal based on an errant email sent to all of CLA's employees containing the sensitive personal identifiable information (PII) of approximately 130 current and former CLA workers. On appeal, plaintiff argues that, even though she did not allege that her PII had actually been misused as a result of CLA's errant email, she alleged an increased risk of identity theft sufficient to confer Article III standing.The court agreed that in the context of unauthorized data disclosures, plaintiffs may establish an Article III injury in fact based solely on a substantial risk of identity theft or fraud, even when those plaintiffs have not yet been the victims of such identity theft or fraud. Nevertheless, the court concluded that the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff failed to establish an injury in fact in this case. The court explained that plaintiff fails to allege that her PII was subject to a targeted data breach or alleges any facts suggesting that her PII (or that of any others) was misused. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "McMorris v. Carlos Lopez & Assocs., LLC" on Justia Law

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The City filed suit against five multinational oil companies under New York tort law seeking to recover damages for the harms caused by global warming. In this case, the City asserts that its taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden of financing the City's preparations to mitigate the effects of global warming. Rather, the City suggests that a group of large fossil fuel producers are primarily responsible for global warming and should bear the brunt of these costs.The Second Circuit held that municipalities may not utilize state tort law to hold multinational oil companies liable for the damages caused by global greenhouse gas emissions. The court explained that global warming is a uniquely international concern that touches upon issues of federalism and foreign policy. Consequently, it calls for the application of federal common law, not state law. The court also held that the Clean Air Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency – not federal courts – the authority to regulate domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, federal common law actions concerning such emissions are displaced. Finally, the court held that while the Clean Air Act has nothing to say about regulating foreign emissions, judicial caution and foreign policy concerns counsel against permitting such claims to proceed under federal common law absent congressional direction. Because no such permission exists, the court concluded that each of the City's claims is barred and the complaint must be dismissed. View "City of New York v. Chevron Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim as time-barred. The court held that plaintiff's disability discrimination claim arises under the Affordable Care Act for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1658(a), which grants a four-year catchall statute of limitations period for all Acts of Congress enacted after December 1, 1990, and thus the district court erred in applying a three-year statute of limitations period. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Vega-Ruiz v. Northwell Health" on Justia Law

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Article III is satisfied so long as a party with standing to prosecute the specific claim in question exists at the time the pleading is filed. If that party (the real party in interest) is not named in the complaint, then it must ratify, join, or be substituted into the action within a reasonable time. Only if the real party in interest either fails to materialize or lacks standing itself should the case be dismissed for want of subject-matter jurisdiction.Two Cayman Islands investment funds filed a class action in 2016, alleging that numerous banks had conspired to manipulate certain benchmark interest rates. A year later, the banks discovered that the two plaintiff funds had been dissolved years earlier, and that the case was actually being prosecuted by a separate entity, Fund Liquidation. Fund Liquidation maintains that it was assigned the dissolved entities' claims, but the district court dismissed the case with prejudice.The Second Circuit vacated, concluding that although the dissolved funds lacked standing at the time the case was commenced, Article III was nonetheless satisfied because Fund Liquidation, the real party in interest, has had standing at all relevant times and may step into the dissolved entities' shoes without initiating a new action from scratch. The court explained that its precedent and Article III does not require application of the nullity doctrine. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Fund Liquidation Holdings LLC v. Bank of America Corp." on Justia Law

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A court need not wait until it is defrauded before it may impose monetary sanctions on a party who knowingly prosecutes a frivolous claim in bad faith. That remains true even if the misbehaving litigant made only a single misrepresentation to the court.In this contract dispute, plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of its breach of contract claim and denial of its request for leave to file a fourth amended complaint. Defendant cross-appealed the denial of the district court's motion for sanctions related to plaintiff's misrepresentations to the district court during the litigation.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order denying sanctions and remanding for further proceedings. The court concluded that the district court misconstrued the court's precedent regarding the court's inherent power to impose sanctions – which makes clear that even a single bad-faith filing may warrant monetary sanctions, regardless of whether that conduct actually misled the court. The court affirmed in all other respects in a separately filed summary order. View "International Technologies Marketing, Inc. v. Verint Systems, Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against the New York Times. Plaintiff alleged defamation based on the Times's print and online articles about gender bias, favoritism, and groping at the Justice Department. The article details a Times investigation into a series of complaints, using records derived from an EEOC complaint and a sex discrimination and retaliation suit. One of the declarations described an incident between plaintiff and an intern. Plaintiff alleged that the language from this declaration was false and defamatory per se and that the fair report privilege did not apply.The court concluded that the district court performed the proper choice-of-law analysis, applying New York law to the conflict; correctly reasoned that New York was the state with the most significant interests in the litigation and applied New York's fair report privilege; and then properly dismissed plaintiff's complaint as barred by the fair report privilege because the alleged defamatory statement was attributed to an official proceeding. View "Kinsey v. New York Times Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Cho and Ulug, individual named plaintiffs in a putative securities class action, appeal the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings and dismissal of their claims against defendants. Plaintiffs argue that they should be permitted to rely on the successful appeal by the lead plaintiffs in this case, and that the district court erred in granting judgment on the pleadings and dismissing their claims.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and concluded that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 3 requires that individual named plaintiffs in a class actions – who, unlike absent class members, have chosen to litigate their claims personally – indicate individually their intent to appeal; Cho and Ulug's failure to appeal the district court's first dismissal of their claims rendered that decision final as to them, and the district court properly dismissed their attempt to renew their claims after the lead plaintiffs successfully appealed; Cho and Ulug's claims against the newly added defendant are barred by res judicata; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying reconsideration. View "Cho v. BlackBerry Ltd." on Justia Law

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In 2018 plaintiffs, the former and current tenants of a privately owned affordable housing project, filed suit challenging the regulatory approval of rent increases a decade earlier by HUD and the New York HPD. The district court dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6).The Second Circuit held that the tenants lack standing for their procedural violation claim against HUD under the Administrative Procedure Act based on the sequence of regulatory approval because the order of the approval process was not designed to protect the tenants' concrete interests in notice and participation; all of the tenants' APA claims are in any event untimely under 28 U.S.C. 2401(a) because they accrued in April 2011, which is more than six years before they filed their complaint; Section 2401(a) is a claims-processing rule rather than a jurisdictional bar, but the tenants are not entitled to equitable tolling; and the tenants' claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the City and its housing authority are untimely and the continuing violation doctrine does not save those claims because each arises from a discrete approval process. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "DeSuze v. Ammon" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's amended judgment awarding costs to Chevron under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), several interlocutory orders declining to dismiss civil contempt proceedings against him and ordering compliance with post-judgment discovery, and a judgment and order finding him in civil contempt.The Second Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in awarding costs to Chevron. The court also affirmed the district court's finding that defendant violated the Injunction in several respects and its judgment of civil contempt relating to those violations. However, the court held that the Injunction, previously affirmed by this Court and clear and far-reaching on its own terms, was insufficiently clear and unambiguous, when read alongside the district court's explanation of that Injunction in a subsequent opinion, in prohibiting defendant from raising funds by selling interests in the Ecuadorian Judgment. Thus, the court concluded that the district court erred in finding defendant in contempt for engaging in that conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's amended judgment awarding costs to Chevron; affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's contempt finding and vacated the supplemental judgment awarding Chevron $666,476.34 in compensatory sanctions; and vacated the supplemental judgment awarding attorneys' fees and remanded to the district court to determine the fees reasonably expended to secure the contempt findings affirmed on appeal. View "Chevron Corp. v. Donziger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure