Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
Wilson v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
John Wilson, the plaintiff-appellant, made several requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the defendant-appellee, to release records concerning him. Dissatisfied with the FBI's response, Wilson filed a suit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the FBI failed to conduct an adequate search. The District Court ruled in favor of Wilson, partially granting his motion for summary judgment by ordering the FBI to conduct a search of an additional database. However, the search did not yield any new disclosures to Wilson. Subsequently, Wilson filed a motion seeking attorneys’ fees and costs under FOIA's fee-shifting provision, arguing that he was a substantially prevailing party. The District Court denied his motion, applying the criteria set by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a previous case, Pietrangelo v. United States Army. Wilson appealed this decision.On appeal, the Second Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the District Court, concluding that the District Court correctly applied the Pietrangelo factors and did not abuse its discretion in ruling that those factors weighed against an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. The Second Circuit Court found that the public benefit derived from Wilson's case was minimal, Wilson's interest in the records was personal rather than public, and the FBI had a reasonable basis for withholding the requested information. As such, it concluded that the District Court did not err in denying Wilson's motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. View "Wilson v. Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Justia Law
Jones et al. v. Goodrich Pump & Engine Control Systems, Inc. et al.
After two United States Army pilots tragically perished in a helicopter crash, their surviving family members sued various companies responsible for the making of the helicopter. The family members alleged that manufacturing and/or defective operating instructions and warnings caused the pilots’ deaths. The companies countered that the family members’ asserted state law claims were barred by a number of preemption doctrines. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the companies, finding that there was implied field preemption under the Federal Aviation Act (the “FAAct” or “Act”). The Second Circuit vacated. The court explained that it believes that field preemption is always a matter of congressional intent, and Congress’s removal of military aircraft from the FAAct’s reach indicates that it did not wish to include them in the FAAct’s preempted field. Rather, Congress intended for the Department of Defense (“DoD”) to have autonomy over its own aircraft. While it is possible that the family members’ claims may be barred by the military contractor defense, another preemption doctrine, see generally Boyle v. United Techs. Corp., 487 U.S. 500 (1988)—this determination requires a fact-intensive analysis to be handled by the district court in the first instance. Further, the court wrote that aside from any issues of preemption by the military contractor defense, the family members offered sufficient evidence under Georgia law for their strict liability manufacturing defect claim to survive summary judgment. View "Jones et al. v. Goodrich Pump & Engine Control Systems, Inc. et al." on Justia Law
Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc.
Defendant Klarna, Inc. ("Klarna") provides a "buy now, pay later" service that allows shoppers to buy a product and pay for it in four equal installments over time without incurring any interest or fees. Plaintiff paid for two online purchases using Klarna. Plaintiff incurred $70 in overdraft fees. Plaintiff brought this action on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated consumers, alleging that Klarna misrepresents and conceals the risk of bank-overdraft fees that consumers face when using its pay-over-time service and asserting claims for common-law fraud and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act ("CUTPA"). Klarna moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied Klarna's motion. The Second Circuit reversed he district court's order and remanded with instructions to grant Klarna's motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that when Plaintiff arrived at the Klarna Widget, she knew well that purchasing the GameStop item with Klarna meant that she was entering into a continuing relationship with Klarna, one that would endure at least until she repaid all four installments. The Klarna Widget provided clear notice that there were terms that would govern this continuing relationship. A reasonable internet user, therefore, would understand that finalizing the GameStop transaction, entering into a forward-looking relationship with Klarna, and receiving the benefit of Klarna's service would constitute assent to those terms. The court explained that Plaintiff was on inquiry notice that her "agreement to the payment terms," necessarily encompassed more than the information provided on the Klarna Widget, and the burden was then on her to find out to what terms she was accepting. View "Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc." on Justia Law
U.S. ex rel. Quartararo v. Cath. Health Sys. of Long Island Inc.
Catholic Health System of Long Island (“CHS”) brings this interlocutory appeal challenging the denial of its motion to dismiss a qui tam action brought by a former employee (“Relator”) on behalf of the United States and the State of New York under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”), and the New York False Claims Act (“NYFCA”). According to Relator, CHS and certain of its affiliates falsely certified their compliance with federal law, in violation of the FCA and NYFCA, when they submitted Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement claims without disclosing their ongoing violations of 42 U.S.C. Section 1320a-7b(a)(4) (the “Benefits Conversion Statute”). After the Department of Justice and the New York Attorney General declined to intervene in the suit, the district court denied CHS’s motion to dismiss these claims but granted its motion to certify an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(b) on the grounds that the case presented an issue of first impression. The Second Circuit reversed. The court held that the Benefits Conversion Statute is not violated where, as here, the recipient of a reimbursement payment is under no obligation to utilize the funds in any particular way, Relator has failed to plead an FCA or NYFCA claim. The court explained that because the Medicare and Medicaid payments at issue here were reimbursements for services already provided, with no forward-looking conditions that they be used in any particular way, Defendants’ alleged conduct did not violate the Benefits Conversion Statute. Relator’s claims based on section 1320a-7b(a)(4) therefore fail as a matter of law. View "U.S. ex rel. Quartararo v. Cath. Health Sys. of Long Island Inc." on Justia Law
State of New York v. Raimondo
New York brought this action against the National Marine Fisheries Service—the federal agency responsible for the summer flounder fishery—and several related federal entities. New York argues the current quotas fail to account for the long-term movement of summer flounder northward, closer to New York’s shores. New York claims the quotas violate the Magnuson-Stevens Act as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court rejected that argument; it granted summary judgment to the Fisheries Service. The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that in setting each state’s summer flounder quotas, the Fisheries Service properly weighed the relevant statutory considerations. The court explained that the NMFS adopted a rule that sought to “balance preservation of historical state access and infrastructure at recent quota levels, with the intent to provide equitability among states when the stock and quota are at higher levels.” The court explained that it could not say that this adjustment to the previous rule—the result of balancing ten different national standards—lacked a rational basis articulated in the administrative record. The court therefore concluded that the NMFS did not violate the MSA or the APA when it set summer flounder quotas through the 2020 Allocation Rule. View "State of New York v. Raimondo" on Justia Law
Dooley v. United States
While riding a bicycle, Plaintiff ran into an open car door being operated by a recruiter for the U.S. Marines. Plaintiff brought a claim for negligence against the United States, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court found the United States liable but concluded Plaintiff was also negligent and, therefore, partially liable.On appeal, the Second Circuit found that the evidence of Plaintiff's negligence was "dubious," and, even if Plaintiff was negligent, the district court failed to make the findings necessary to any holding that the plaintiff’s negligent conduct sufficiently caused the collision so as to make Plaintiff 40% responsible for the damages. View "Dooley v. United States" on Justia Law
Elisa W. v. City of New York
Plaintiffs-appellants, nineteen children in New York City’s foster care system, filed suit alleging “systemic deficiencies” in the administration of the City’s foster care system in violation of federal and state law. The named Plaintiffs moved to represent a class of all children who are now or will be in the foster care custody of the Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services and two subclasses. As remedies, they sought injunctive and declaratory relief to redress alleged class-wide injuries caused by deficiencies in the City’s administration—and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ oversight—of foster care. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the district court erred in its analysis of the commonality and typicality requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying class certification and remanded. The court held that the district court erred in its analysis of commonality and typicality under Rule 23. The court explained that the district court did not determine whether commonality and typicality exist with respect to each of Plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, it concluded that commonality was lacking as to all alleged harms because “Plaintiffs’ allegations do not flow from unitary, non-discretionary policies.” The court held that this approach was legal error requiring remand. Further, the court wrote that here, the district court largely relied upon its commonality analysis to support its finding that typicality was not satisfied. Thus, the deficiencies identified in its commonality inquiry can also be found in its handling of typicality. View "Elisa W. v. City of New York" on Justia Law
DiMartile v. Hochul
Plaintiffs are two couples, both engaged to be married when they filed suit and a New York-based minister. Together, the individuals brought a constitutional challenge to state COVID-19 regulations that limited to fifty the number of attendees at social gatherings. After the expedited briefing, the district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction just forty-five minutes before the start time of the first of the two scheduled weddings. The first of the couples married in their planned ceremony and held their wedding celebration involving over 100 guests. A Second Circuit judge issued a temporary administrative stay of the district court’s order. A separate panel later dismissed the appeal as moot and vacated the district court’s order after the second couple announced that, regardless of the outcome of the appeal, they no longer planned to hold a wedding. All five Plaintiffs then sought an award of attorney’s fees in the district court. The district court denied their motion. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that here, Plaintiffs managed to secure a preliminary injunction with just forty-five minutes to spare after an abbreviated briefing schedule. The court further wrote that their initial success was fleeting: Defendants succeeded in obtaining a stay of the injunction from the court within two weeks of its issuance, and the district court’s order was later vacated after Plaintiffs intentionally mooted their claims during the pendency of Defendants’ appeal. The preliminary injunction in this case does not support a determination that Plaintiffs are prevailing parties eligible for attorney’s fees under Section 1988. View "DiMartile v. Hochul" on Justia Law
Fuld v. Palestine Liberation Organization
Plaintiffs, several family members of a United States citizen killed in an overseas terrorist attack, appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing their claims against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Government, as intervenor in accordance with 28 U.S.C. Section 2403(a) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.1(c), also appealed from that judgment. On appeal, both Plaintiffs and the Government argued that the district court erred in finding unconstitutional the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”), the statute on which Plaintiffs relied to allege personal jurisdiction over Defendants. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the PSJVTA specifically provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil action pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 2333, irrespective of “the date of the occurrence of the act of international terrorism” at issue, upon engaging in certain forms of post-enactment conduct, namely (1) making payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertaking any activities within the United States, subject to a handful of exceptions. Thus, the court concluded that the PSJVTA’s “deemed consent” provision is inconsistent with the dictates of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Fuld v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law
Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization
Plaintiffs, a group of United States citizens injured during terror attacks in Israel and the estates or survivors of United States citizens killed in such attacks, brought an action against the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”) and the Palestinian Authority (“PA”) pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”), seeking damages. The Second Circuit concluded on appeal that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the PLO and the PA and vacated the judgment entered against Defendants. Plaintiffs later moved to recall the mandate based on a new statute, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018. The Second Circuit denied that motion. Congress responded with the statute now at issue, the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (“PSJVTA”). The district court concluded that Defendants had engaged in jurisdiction-triggering conduct under the statute but that the PSJVTA violated constitutional due process requirements. Plaintiffs and the Government disputed the latter conclusion, and Plaintiffs argued generally that the PSJVTA justifies recalling the mandate. The Second Circuit denied Plaintiffs’ motion to call the mandate. The court explained that the PSJVTA provides that the PLO and the PA “shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction” in any civil ATA action if, after a specified time, those entities either (1) make payments, directly or indirectly, to the designees or families of incarcerated or deceased terrorists, respectively, whose acts of terror injured or killed a United States national, or (2) undertake any activities within the United States, subject to limited exceptions. The court concluded that the PSJVTA’s provision for “deemed consent” to personal jurisdiction is inconsistent with the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. View "Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law