Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Petitioner, convicted of attempted criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree, petitioned for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, with the condition that she abide by a two-year order of protection. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition, holding that the order of protection did not place her "in custody" for purposes of section 2254(a). View "Vega v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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MGM filed suit claiming that Special Act 15‐7 of the Connecticut General Assembly placed it at a competitive disadvantage in the state's gaming industry. The Act creates a special registration pathway for the state's two federally recognized Indian tribes to apply to build commercial casinos on non‐Indian land. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that any competitive harms imposed by the Act were too speculative to support Article III standing. In this case, MGM failed to allege any specific plans to develop a casino in Connecticut. View "MGM Resorts International Global Gaming Development, LLC v. Malloy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant and the University, alleging a claim of retaliation based on his complaint of sexual harassment. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit applied the plausibility standard to plaintiff's retaliation claim and held that it was plausible that he was denied a teaching position after he declined sexual approaches from the man who was his teacher and the department chair. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further consideration of the retaliation claims. View "Irrera v. Humpherys" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant, the principal of Capital Prep, violated plaintiff's First Amendment right of freedom of assembly and his state-law right to be free from the intentional infliction of emotional distress in banning plaintiff from attending virtually all Capital Prep events, on or off school property, because of his opposition to defendant's bullying and harassing efforts to compel plaintiff's daughter to remain a member of the girls varsity basketball team. The district court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal insofar as it related to the claimed due process violation, holding that the claim was not properly before the court. As to the First Amendment claim, the court held that defendant's motion for summary judgment was properly denied to the extent that plaintiff complained of being banned from events beyond school property and from sports contests on school property to which the public was invited; but defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law to the extent that he banned plaintiff from school property otherwise. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and dismissed in part. View "Johnson v. Perry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action alleging that grocery stores in New York operated by Whole Foods systematically overstated the weights of pre‐packaged food products and overcharged customers as a result.  The district court dismissed the complaint based on plaintiff's lack of Article III standing. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court did not draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. In this case, plaintiff plausibly alleged a nontrivial economic injury sufficient to support standing. According to the DCA's investigation, Whole Foods packages of cheese and cupcakes were systematically and routinely mislabeled and overpriced, and plaintiff regularly purchased Whole Foods packages of cheese and cupcakes throughout the relevant period. Therefore, the complaint satisfied the low threshold required to plead injury in fact. View "John v. Whole Foods Market Group" on Justia Law

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A nolle prosequi constitutes a "favorable termination" for the purpose of determining when a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim accrues. In this case, plaintiff filed suit against defendant, a police officer, under section 1983, alleging malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court held that plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim accrued when the nolle prosequi was entered, and that as a result his suit was time‐ barred. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff's claim accrued when the charges against him were nolled. View "Spak v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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In this disability discrimination case, the Second Circuit certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: Do sections 8‐102(16)(c) and 8‐107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism? View "Makinen v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of murder and related-offenses, sought review of the district court's denial of habeas relief, arguing that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call a medical expert both to interpret the portion of his medical records documenting his blood alcohol level and to expound upon the effects of that level of intoxication. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the state trial court's determination that petitioner failed to establish prejudice was not unreasonable; it was not so lacking in justification as to be beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement; and thus the district court erred in second-guess that determination and substituting its own judgment. View "Waiters v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a skydiver, filed suit against his former employer, Altitude Express, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and New York law, alleging that he was terminated from his position as a skydiving instructor based on his sexual orientation. The district court found a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation in violation of New York law, but otherwise granted summary judgment for the employer. Specifically, the district court held that defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII claim because Second Circuit precedent holds that Title VII does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. A jury found for defendants on the state-law claims. The court declined plaintiff's request that it reconsider its interpretation of Title VII in order to hold that Title VII's prohibition on discrimination based on "sex" encompasses discrimination based on "sexual orientation" because a three-judge panel lacks the power to overturn Circuit precedent. See Simonton v. Runyon. The court also concluded that plaintiff's assertions that he is entitled to a new trial on his state-law, sexual-orientation discrimination claim have no merit. The court rejected plaintiff's claims of evidentiary errors and unfair discovery practices, and defense counsel did not improperly influence the jury by appealing to prejudice of homosexuals. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Zarda v. Altitude Express" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants under the Americans with Disabilities Education Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.; and state and local law. Plaintiff alleged that he was discriminated against at his workplace due to, inter alia, his HIV‐positive status and his failure to conform to gender stereotypes. The district court dismissed the federal claims for failure to state a claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state and local claims. The district court concluded that Simonton v. Runyon and Dawson v. Bumble & Bumble, holding that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, precluded plaintiff's Title VII claim. The court concluded that it lacked power to reconsider Simonton and Dawson. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred by determining that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege a Title VII claim based on the gender stereotyping theory of sex discrimination articulated in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. In this case, plaintiff's complaint identified multiple instances of gender stereotyping discrimination. The court clarified that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals do not have less protection under Price Waterhouse against traditional gender stereotype discrimination than do heterosexual individuals. Simonton and Dawson merely held that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, standing alone, does not constitute nonconformity with a gender stereotype that can give rise to a cognizable gender stereotyping claim. Accordingly, the court reversed the dismissal of the Title VII claim and remanded. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc." on Justia Law