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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Sherman Act, RICO Act, and common-law claims against defendants for lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs are a group of investment funds and defendants are a collection of financial institutions. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from a scheme to fix the benchmark interest rates used to price financial derivatives in the Yen currency market. The court held that plaintiffs alleged an injury in fact sufficient for Article III standing, because plaintiffs plausibly alleged that defendants' conduct caused them to suffer economic injury. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that they entered into financial agreements on unfavorable terms because defendants manipulated benchmark rates in their own favor. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Sonterra Capital Master Fund Ltd. v. UBS AG" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleging that Dunkin Donuts deceptively marketed two of its trademarked products -- the Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich and the Angus Steak & Egg Wake-Up Wrap. Plaintiffs alleged that through representations made in labeling and television advertisements, Dunkin Donuts deceived consumers into believing that the Products contained an "intact" piece of meat when the Products actually contained a ground beef patty with multiple additives. The district court dismissed claims based on lack of general personal jurisdiction in New York and failure to state a claim. The court held that, under New York law, the act of registering to do business under section 1301 of the New York Business Corporation Law does not constitute consent to general personal jurisdiction in New York. The court rejected plaintiffs' arguments that Dunkin Donuts' contacts with New York were sufficient to subject it to general personal jurisdiction in the state, and agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to allege a plausible violation of sections 349 and 350. View "Chen v. Dunkin' Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to recover unpaid principal amounts of defaulted Argentine sovereign debt. Plaintiffs are subscribers to the Republic of Argentina's 1994 sovereign debt offering who enrolled their bonds in a governmental tax‐credit program just prior to Argentina's 2001 default on the bonds. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal of their complaint on multiple alternative grounds. The Second Circuit held that the relevant question is not whether plaintiffs "own" the bonds but whether they may sue to enforce them. Moreover, the court held that, although the court has discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 to decide the relevant question of Argentine law in the first instance, the court also has discretion to remand so that the district court — which is better situated in these circumstances to implement Rule 44.1's flexible procedures for determining foreign law — may do so. Furthermore, the court did not think that the district court's reliance on the doctrine of adjudicative international comity as an alternative ground for dismissal was appropriate in these circumstances. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' damages claim. However, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claim for injunctive relief. View "Bugliotti v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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In a case involving the sexual abuse of a minor by his religious leader, the Second Circuit reversed a post-trial ruling by the district court granting in part the request of Lawrence Dressler, a non‐party, for release of the video recording of the deposition of Aviad Hack, also a non‐party witness. Hack testified that he was a victim of sexual abuse by defendant and that he became aware of plaintiff's sexual abuse by defendant when he was an adult and plaintiff was a minor. The district court ruled that portions of the deposition video were judicial documents subject to a strong presumption of public access and that Hack's privacy interest in the deposition video was insufficient to rebut the presumption. The court held, however, that the district court erred by failing to take into account Dressler's motives in obtaining, and likely course of action with, the video recording. Dressler had written voluminously on his blog about the trial, disparaged both Hack and defendant, and sought to copy the video so that he could post it publicly on his internet blog. The court also held that the district court accorded insufficient weight to Hack's privacy interests as a minor victim. In this case, the district court undervalued the intense intrusion on Hack's privacy interests that the internet publication of the video excerpts would effect. View "Mirlis v. Greer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed suit against Strauss for various common law contract and tort claims, alleging that Strauss falsely brought legal action against him in Israel which caused him to be prohibited from leaving Israel. The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(2) does not confer diversity jurisdiction where a permanent resident alien sues a non‐resident alien, and that the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Israel does not otherwise confer federal jurisdiction in this lawsuit. The court concluded that plaintiff, a citizen of Israel who lives in Brooklyn as a lawful permanent resident, is an alien for the purpose of diversity jurisdiction and Strauss is an Israeli corporation with headquarters in Israel. View "Tagger v. Strauss Group Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that plaintiff did not "lose" in state court such that his federal complaint was an appeal from an adverse state-court judgment, and thus the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not apply. Plaintiff had filed suit against McMillen in Connecticut state court, filed two amended complaints, and then two substitute complaints. After the state court dismissed the second amended complaint and the first substitute complaint for failure to state a claim or as barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, it later dismissed the case for failure to prosecute. Plaintiff then filed this instant action in federal district court based on substantially the same facts as pleaded in the state proceedings and asserting the same claims as those in the second substitute complaint that was dismissed for failure to prosecute. Because the district court's decision was solely grounded in the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Edwards v. McMillen Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in a wage-and-hour practices and policies action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New York Labor Law, the New York Business General Business Law, and 26 U.S.C. 7434. The district court treated defendants' opposition to plaintiffs' motion for conditional collective certification as a cross‐motion for summary judgment as to plaintiffs, and as a motion to dismiss without prejudice as to putative opt-in plaintiffs. The court held that plaintiffs had reason to recognize the motion could be converted into one for summary judgment and that the district court appropriately applied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(B), dismissing the complaint based on plaintiffs' two prior voluntary dismissals in New York State court and in the Eastern District of New York. The court considered plaintiffs' remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Lin v. Shanghai City Corp." on Justia Law

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BBVA appealed the district court's judgment entered following the Second Circuit's mandate in Vera v. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., 729 Fed. App'x 106 (2d Cir. 2018). The judgment rendered final several of its previous orders requiring BBVA to turn over funds to petitioners from a blocked electronic fund transfer originated by the Cuban Import‐Export Corporation, an instrumentality of the Republic of Cuba. The turnover orders rested on the district court's grant of full faith and credit to default judgments that petitioners secured against Cuba in the Florida state courts. The Florida state courts had jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The court reversed the judgment, vacated the turnover orders, and remanded with instructions, holding that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the enforcement proceeding under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). In this case, petitioners failed to show under 28 U.S.C. 1605A either that (1) Cuba was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism "as a result" of the pre‐1982 acts underlying their judgments or that (2) the acts underlying their judgments occurred after 1982. Therefore, without either showing, the state-sponsored terrorism exception did not permit the district court to exercise jurisdiction over Cuba's assets under section 201(a) of TRIA. View "Vera v. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A." on Justia Law

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Conn. Genn. Stat. 4‐183(c) supplies an "explicit time limitation" of forty‐five days for appeals of final agency decisions under section 1415(i)(2)(B) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint under the IDEA as time-barred. In this case, plaintiffs waited ninety days to commence their action and thus the district court properly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case. View "P.M.B. v. Ridgefield Board of Education" on Justia Law

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Atlantic sought a declaratory judgment that the insurance policy it had issued to Coastal was void ab initio or, in the alternative, that there was no coverage for the loss of the barge or damage to an adjacent pier. District Court Judge Wexler passed away prior to issuing his findings of fact and conclusions of law. The case was transferred to Judge Azrack, who, after no party requested the recall of any witness under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 63, issued findings of fact and conclusions of law in her role as successor judge and entered judgment finding Atlantic liable to Coastal under the terms of the policy. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a)(6), factual findings of successor judges who have certified their familiarity with the record are subject to the "clearly erroneous" standard of review. The Second Circuit also held that, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 63, a successor judge is under no independent obligation to recall witnesses unless requested by one of the parties. In this case, the court found no reversible error in Judge Azrack's findings of fact and conclusions of law, including findings that Coastal did not breach its duty of uberrimae fidei, and thus the policy was not void; Atlantic failed to prove that the vessel was unseaworthy; the loss of the vessel was due to a "peril of the sea" and was covered by the policy; Coastal was entitled to damages for contractual payments withheld by its contractor for repairs to a pier; and Coastal proved its damages using only a summary spreadsheet of invoices, as evidence. View "Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co. v. Coastal Environmental Group Inc." on Justia Law