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

Articles Posted in Civil Rights
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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was violently assaulted by a fellow inmate while imprisoned, and that defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff adduced sufficient evidence to raise a question of material fact -- as to whether a substantial risk of inmate attacks was longstanding, pervasive well-documented, or expressly noted by prison officials in the past -- against the Captain and the Warden. In this case, the Inmate Request Forms the Captain and the Warden received were detailed and explicit regarding the threat plaintiff believed another inmate posed. Furthermore, plaintiff orally conveyed his concerns regarding the threat to both the Captain and the Warden. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Captain and the Warden. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to all other defendants, remanding for further proceedings. View "Morgan v. Dzurenda" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The district court dismissed the petition based on the grounds that it became moot when petitioner was conditionally released from confinement in a state psychiatric institution as a person with a "dangerous mental disorder." The court held that the conditional release did not render the petition moot, because petitioner remains subject to an "order of conditions" that leaves him vulnerable to recommitment, and the imposition of this order was a mandatory consequence of the confinement orders that his petition challenges. View "Janakievski v. Executive Director, Rochester Psychiatric Center" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion as untimely. The district court held that petitioner could not show that his motion was timely under section 2255(f)(3) because the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), did not recognize a retroactive right not to be sentenced based upon the residual clause in the Career Offender Guideline of the pre-Booker Sentencing Guidelines. The court held that Johnson did not itself render the residual clause of the pre-Booker Career Offender Guideline unconstitutionally vague and thus did not recognize the right petitioner asserted. Therefore, the district court properly denied the petition. View "Nunez v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against the BOP and Warden Quay in an action alleging that defendants' curtailment of inmate-attorney visits at the MDC in early 2019 violated the Administrative Procedure Act, and the constitutional right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment. The court held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's APA claim by failing to consider applicable BOP regulations in its zone-of-interests analysis. Furthermore, the district court misconstrued plaintiff's Sixth Amendment claim. Plaintiff brought this claim under the federal courts' inherent equitable powers, but the district court treated the claim as purporting to arise directly under the Sixth Amendment. The court thought it was prudent to defer ruling on the merits of the Sixth Amendment claim because plaintiff raised novel questions of constitutional law. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings and directed the district court to consider appointing a master to mediate the parties' differences at the earliest possible time to ensure that plaintiff has meaningful, continuous access to clients. View "Federal Defenders of New York, Inc. v. Federal Bureau of Prisons" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 principally for false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, violation of his rights to free speech and equal protection, and use of excessive force. Plaintiff's claims arose from his arrest during a demonstration organized by an affiliate of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff adequately stated claims against the defendant who signed the summonses against him and the city, agreeing with plaintiff that the district court erred by failing to accept the factual allegations of the amended complaint as true and failing to draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in his favor. However, the court held that the complaint was insufficient to state claims against all other defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Lynch v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act. The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's summary judgment award in favor of his former employer in an action alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), impairment and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At issue on appeal was plaintiff's ADA claim. The Second Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 did not alter or erode its well‐settled understanding that the inability to perform a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working. In this case, because plaintiff did not attempt to show that his work-induced impairment substantially limited his ability to work in a class or broad range of jobs, the court held that no reasonable factfinder could conclude that plaintiff has a "disability" within the meaning of the ADA. View "Woolf v. Strada" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Officer May and the city, alleging excessive force, giving rise to a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and various state law claims. A jury found in favor of plaintiff, awarding him compensatory and punitive damages. The district court granted the city's motion with respect to the punitive damages award but denied the motion with respect to the compensatory damages award. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court should have granted the city's motion with respect to all damages. The court agreed with the city that the district court misapplied CONN. GEN. STAT. 7‐465 because, in awarding punitive damages, the jury found that Officer May's actions in causing plaintiff's injuries were wilful or wanton, triggering an exception to section 7‐465's assumption of liability requirement for all damages attributable to Officer May's conduct. View "Edwards v. Hartford" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging four amendments to the Village of Pomona's zoning law as violations of federal and New York law. The district court dismissed Tartikov's complaint in part and later resolved certain claims in defendants' favor. The remaining claims concluded with a verdict in favor of Tartikov. Defendants appealed the final judgment and Tartikov appealed the earlier orders dismissing certain claims. The Second Circuit held that Tartikov lacked Article III standing to pursue its free exercise, free speech,and free association claims under the federal and New York constitutions, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) substantial burden and exclusion and limits claims, Fair Housing Act (FHA) claims, and common law claims related to the Berenson doctrine claims. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment with respect to those claims, remanding for instructions for dismissal. In regard to the remaining claims that went to trial, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the extent the claims invoke two of the challenged laws and affirmed insofar as the claims invoked the remaining two. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the as-applied challenges and challenges to the RLUIPA equal terms and total exclusion provisions. View "Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Defendants Eric and Bryan VanBramer violated his constitutional rights by, inter alia, subjecting him to a visual body cavity search incident to arrest. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit vacated in part, holding that visual body cavity searches must be justified by specific, articulable facts supporting reasonable suspicion that an arrestee is secreting contraband inside the body cavity to be searched. In this case, because this requirement was established by sufficiently persuasive authority, it was "clearly established" for purposes of a qualified immunity defense by New York state police officers at the time Eric searched plaintiff. The court also held that disputed facts precluded a finding of reasonable suspicion on a motion for summary judgment, and remanded for trial on the merits of plaintiff's claim and the issue of whether Eric was entitled to qualified immunity. The court affirmed in part, holding that plaintiff failed to present evidence indicating that Bryan was aware that Eric was conducting, or was going to conduct, the visual body cavity search. View "Sloley v. VanBramer" on Justia Law