Articles Posted in Construction Law

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Keepers appealed, and the City cross-appealed, from partial summary judgment awards. At issue are two questions related to Chapter 2.3 of Milford’s municipal code, which regulates “adult‐oriented establishments.” First, whether the district court improperly considered the affidavit of the police chief in granting partial summary judgment to the City. The court concluded that the district court did not “abuse its discretion” in considering the affidavit and therefore affirmed as to this issue. Second, whether the City’s requirement that sexually oriented businesses publicly post the names of their operators, officers, and significant owners violates the First Amendment. The court concluded that the district court should not have reached the merits of that issue, nor does this Court do so, because Keepers’ First Amendment challenge does not present a justiciable case or controversy under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Even if Keepers originally had standing to challenge the public‐posting requirement based on its asserted right against compelled speech, the case has become moot on appeal. Therefore, the court vacated as to this issue and remanded with directions. View "Keepers Inc. v. City of Milford" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the disputed assignment of certain construction work on the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project. UBC appealed the district court's conclusion that a May 4th arbitration award was not final and that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority by issuing a May 12th arbitration award. Under a heightened standard of deference, the court concluded that it must defer to the arbitrator’s interpretation of Article 10, Section 3(D) of the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) as allowing him to alter the short‐form award when rendering his written opinion. The PLA does not define the term “short‐form,” nor does it specifically require that the second decision echo the result of the first.  The court concluded that, absent any such definitions or provisions, the arbitrator had the authority to interpret Article 10, Section 3(D) as allowing him to change or alter the first award in order to ensure full consideration of the three criteria required under Article 5, Section 8 of the National Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes in the Construction Industry. Accordingly, the court confirmed the May 13th Award and vacated the May 4th Award. View "United Brotherhood of Carpenters v. Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC" on Justia Law

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Chabad and Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach filed suit against defendants, alleging that defendants violated their rights by denying an application to expand an existing property to accommodate Chabad's religious mission. Chabad filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, 1985, and 1986; the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq.; and Connecticut state law, seeking damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, attorneys' fees, and the appointment of a federal monitor. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing Rabbi Eisenbach's RLUIPA claims for lack of standing; vacated the district court's ruling insofar as it concerned the Rabbi and remanded for consideration, instead, whether the Rabbi failed to state a claim under RLUIPA; affirmed the remainder of the judgment due to the Rabbi's failure to brief his remaining claims; concluded that the HDC's review of the Chabad's application was an "individual assessment" subject to RLUIPA's substantial burden provision and that the Chabad need not cite an "identical" comparator to establish a claim under RLUIPA's nondiscrimination provision; vacated the district court's judgment insofar as it concerned these RLUIPA claims and remanded for consideration whether these claims survive summary judgment; and affirmed the remainder of the district court's February 2012 judgment largely due to the Chabad's failure to brief most of its remaining claims. View "Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield v. Litchfield Historic District Commission" on Justia Law

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Continental issued claims-made liability policies to the architectural firm responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of a building for the DASNY. In this declaratory judgment action, the insurer appealed from the district court's ruling on summary judgment that the two design flaws in the same structure were not "related." The court concluded that the 2002 Demand Letter could not be fairly read to concern the Ice Control Issue; and, focuses entirely on the Steel Girt Tolerance Issue, it could not be fairly read as an omnibus claim concerning all architectural defects in the Baruch College building; the court agreed with the district court that the Steel Girt Tolerance Issue and the Ice Control Issue arose from two unrelated wrongful acts; and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's declaration that the two issues were unrelated. However, the court concluded that the district court abused its discretion by awarding prejudgment interest from the date of the settlement agreement itself. Accordingly, the court vacated the award and remanded for further proceedings. View "Dormitory Authority v. Continental Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The Steel institute appealed the district court's grant of the City's motion for summary judgment and dismissal of its complaint, which alleged that the City's regulation of cranes and other hoisting equipment was preempted by federal law. The court granted some weight to OSHA's view in reaching its conclusion that local regulatory schemes such as the City's crane regulations have the aim and primary effect of regulating conduct to secure the safety of the general public, rather than the safety of workers in the workplace. Therefore, the City's crane regulations were saved from preemption as laws of general applicability and the court affirmed the judgment. View "Steel Institute of New York v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Scholz Design created technical drawings for three homes and submitted them to the Copyright Office in 1988 and 1989 with front elevation drawings showing the front of the houses surrounded by lawn, bushes, and trees. Scholz obtained copyrights. In 1992 Scholz entered an agreement permitting Sart to build homes using the plans, for a fee of $1 per square foot of each house built. The agreement required that Sard not "copy or duplicate any of the [Scholz] materials nor . . . [use them] in any manner to advertise or build a [Scholz Design] or derivative except under the terms and conditions of the agreement." Scholz claimed that after termination of the agreement, Sard and real estate companies posted copies of the drawings on advertising websites and sued for violation of copyrights, 15 U.S.C. 1051, breach of contract, and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 1201. The district court dismissed, finding that the copied images did not fulfill the intrinsic function of an architectural plan. The Second Circuit reversed. Architectural technical drawings might be subject to copyright protection even if they are not sufficiently detailed to allow for construction. View "Scholz Design, Inc. v. Sard Custom Homes, LLC" on Justia Law

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement obtained a report from German federal police indicating that the user of a particular IP address had child pornography on their computer. American officials traced the IP address, obtained the name and address of the customer whose account was associated with the address, verified the address (but not the apartment number) with post office and drivers’ records, and obtained a warrant. Neither the warrant nor any accompanying information mentioned Voustianiouk’s name. About a week later, agents arrived at the building and rang both buzzers because neither was marked. They saw a light from the second floor; a man came to the front door and confirmed that he was Voustianiouk. Officials did not explain that the warrant did not mention Voustianiouk’s name or that it clearly referred to the downstairs apartment, not the second floor. Officials discovered thousands of files containing child pornography on Voustianiouk’s computers. He admitted to viewing child pornography for more than one year. The district court imposed a five-year sentence. The Second Circuit vacated the conviction, holding that the search violated the Fourth Amendment and that the government should have been prohibited from introducing evidence seized as a result of that search. View "United States v. Voustianiouk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their complaint challenging a number of agreements entered into by the City of New York with respect to labor conditions on certain City construction projects. Plaintiffs argued that the agreements regulated the labor market and were therefore preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151-169. The court found the project labor agreements in this case materially indistinguishable from agreements the Supreme Court found permissible under the market participation exception to preemption in Building and Construction Trades Council of Metropolitan District v. Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts/Rhode Island Inc. Because the City acted as a market participant and not a regulator in entering the agreements, its actions fell outside the scope of NLRA preemption. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "The Building Industry Electric Contractors Assoc., et al. v. City of New York et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a pro se action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendants, alleging excessive force and other Eighth Amendment and due process violations in connection with a prison yard altercation. At issue was whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a), was entitled to a jury trial on disputed factual issues relating to his exhaustion of administrative remedies. The court held that the Seventh Amendment did not guarantee a jury trial on factual disputes regarding administrative exhaustion under the PLRA. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was affirmed.