Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
Conn. State Police Union v. Rovella
Connecticut State Police Union (“CSPU”) brought suit against the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (the “Commissioner”), alleging that the FOIA-related portions of the state law violated the Contracts Clause and moved for a preliminary injunction. The law at issue is Public Act 20–1: An Act Concerning Police Accountability (“the Act”). Section 8 of the Act took aim at FOIA exemptions under Connecticut law. The district court denied the motion primarily on the ground that the CSPU was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claim since the law was reasonable and necessary to promote transparency and accountability for law enforcement. The Second Circuit affirmed concluding that the law served a legitimate public purpose and that the legislature, in passing it, acted not self-servingly but in the public interest. The court explained that determine whether a law violates the Contracts Clause, it asks (1) whether the contractual impairment is substantial, (2) whether the law serves “a legitimate public purpose such as remedying a general social or economic problem,” and (3) whether the means chosen to accomplish that purpose are reasonable and necessary. Here, the Act served two legitimate public purposes: ensuring the transparency and accountability of law enforcement and promoting “FOIA’s strong legislative policy in favor of the open conduct of government and free public access to government records.” Moreover, because the district court did not err in concluding that the CSPU could not succeed on the merits of its claim, the court did not need to address the remaining prongs of the preliminary injunction test. View "Conn. State Police Union v. Rovella" on Justia Law
A&B Alternative Mktg. Inc. v. Int’l Quality Fruit Inc., et al.
Plaintiff A&B Alternative Marketing Inc. (“A&B”) filed a Complaint against Defendants, International Quality Fruit Inc. (“IQF”), H&A International Fruit 14 Corp. (“H&A”), and others alleging violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (“PACA”) stemming from Defendants’ failure to pay A&B for produce purchased on credit. The District Court entered an order denying Defendants’ 12(b)(1) motion and granting A&B’s motion for default judgment. Defendants challenged the District Court’s order only on the grounds that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate A&B’s claims. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court reasoned that neither of the two statutory requirements Defendants relies on is jurisdictional. Defendants asserted that A&B failed to show that Defendants engaged in the business of selling in wholesale or jobbing quantities and that the invoice cost of their purchases of perishable agricultural commodities in any calendar year was in excess of $230,000. But A&B alleges that both IQF and H&A “purchased perishable agricultural commodities exceeding $230,000.00 annually and/or purchas[ed] at least 2,000.00 lbs. of perishable agricultural commodities on any one day.” Accordingly, A&B has sufficiently shown that Defendants meet the relevant statutory requirements. Second Defendants claimed that A&B failed to provide evidence that the alleged transactions were carried out in “interstate or foreign commerce.” However, A&B submitted evidence that it purchased the produce in question from Pennsylvania growers or merchants for resale in New York. View "A&B Alternative Mktg. Inc. v. Int'l Quality Fruit Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Knight v. USCIS et al.
Defendants-Appellants the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), the United States Department of State (“DOS”), and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) appealed from three orders of the district court for the Southern District of New York requiring they produce certain documents in response to FOIA requests filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University (“Knight”). The court reasoned that FOIA is premised on “a policy strongly favoring public disclosure of information in the possession of federal agencies.” Halpern v. F.B.I., 181 F.3d 279 (2d Cir. 1999). However, in some circumstances, Congress determined that other interests outweigh the need for transparency. These circumstances are embodied by a limited set of four statutory exemptions from FOIA’s disclosure requirements.Here, the court found that DOS established that the document includes specific guidance to DOS employees on detecting ties to terrorism. Thus, DOS and USCIS properly withheld the first two sets of documents under FOIA Exemption 7(E). However, the court remanded on the ICE issue because the record was unclear regarding whether ICE complied fully with the district court’s order. View "Knight v. USCIS et al." on Justia Law
Springfield Hospital, Inc. v. Guzman
Springfield, debtors in bankruptcy who applied for and were denied Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds pursuant to the CARES Act solely due to their bankruptcy status, initiated this adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court against the Administrator of the SBA, in her official capacity. Springfield challenges the SBA's administration of PPP funds and asks that the bankruptcy court enjoin the SBA from denying its PPP application on the basis of its bankruptcy status.The Second Circuit held that, based upon the plain language of Section 525(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, that the PPP is a loan guaranty program and not an "other similar grant," and Section 525(a) does not apply to the PPP. Therefore, the bankruptcy court incorrectly ruled that Springfield was entitled to summary judgment and a permanent injunction. Rather, the court concluded, as a matter of law, that summary judgment in the SBA's favor is warranted on the Section 525(a) claim, reversing the judgment and vacating the permanent injunction. The court remanded to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings. View "Springfield Hospital, Inc. v. Guzman" on Justia Law
N.J. Carpenters Health Fund v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc.
Objectors challenged the district court's judgment approving a class action settlement that includes Freddie Mac, with FHFA as its conservator, as a member of the plaintiff settlement class and enjoins FHFA from further pursuing Freddie Mac claims that were at issue in the action. The Second Circuit rejected FHFA's contention that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) deprived the district court of subject matter jurisdiction to treat FHFA or Freddie Mac as a member of the settlement class or to rule that conservatorship assets were within the scope of the settlement.However, the court concluded for other reasons that the district court's March 8, 2019 prejudgment ruling that FHFA is a member of the settlement class was erroneous. The court explained that the Settlement Class, as certified by the district court, consists of persons and entities who purchased or otherwise acquired interests in the NovaStar bonds "prior to May 21, 2008." However, because FHFA did not succeed to the interests of Freddie Mac until September 6, 2008, it acquired no interest in Freddie Mac's NovaStar bonds until that date. Therefore, FHFA is not a member of the Settlement Class and the court modified the judgment to reflect the court's ruling. View "N.J. Carpenters Health Fund v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law
American Civil Liberties Union v. Central Intelligence Agency
The CIA appealed the district court's amended judgment ordering it to make public certain information contained in a draft summary of the CIA's former detention and interrogation program, as well as the transcript of certain ex parte proceedings before the district court. In a partially redacted opinion, the Second Circuit agreed with the CIA that certain information was properly withheld under Exemption 1 of the Freedom of Information Act. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Civil Liberties Union v. Central Intelligence Agency" on Justia Law
Posted in: Government & Administrative Law
Barrows v. Becerra
Class members are Medicare Part A beneficiaries who are formally admitted to a hospital as "inpatients" before their subsequent reclassification as outpatients receiving "observation services." Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Secretary violated their due process rights by declining to provide them with an administrative review process for the reclassification decision. The district court entered an injunction ordering the creation of such a process.The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that the named plaintiff had standing by demonstrating that they suffered a financial injury as a result of being reclassified as receiving observations services; the failure of the Secretary to provide an appeals process for the reclassification decision implicates the same set of concerns—namely, a loss of Part A coverage—for both the named plaintiffs and the absent class members; and the litigation incentives are sufficiently aligned so that the named plaintiffs can properly assert claims on behalf of those class members who will be hospitalized in the future. The court also concluded that the district court properly certified the plaintiff class and that the class satisfies the commonality and typicality requirements. Furthermore, the plaintiff class was properly certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2).The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err by finding that plaintiffs' due process rights are violated by the current administrative procedures available to Medicare beneficiaries. In this case, plaintiffs have demonstrated that the Secretary violates their due process rights when utilization review committees reclassify them from inpatients to those receiving observation services without providing a mechanism to appeal that decision. View "Barrows v. Becerra" on Justia Law
Colgan v. Kijakazi
Colgan, a teacher at a special education high school, attempted to break up a fight between students but either fell or was pushed into a wall, leading to serious injuries. Colgan’s injuries and symptoms persisted despite treatment from several medical sources. Her treating physician, Dr. Ward, a concussion specialist, found that Colgan satisfied the medical criteria for mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome with persistent cognitive defects and fatigue, chronic post-traumatic headaches, sleep disturbance, and dizziness; Colgan's debilitating headaches severely hampered her ability to carry out activities of daily living and basic job-related functions.Colgan successfully applied for workers’ compensation benefits. In 2016, Colgan sought social security disability insurance benefits. An ALJ denied Colgan’s claim, concluding that she had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work, subject to physical and cognitive limitations (42 U.S.C. 423(d)(1)(A)). The district court affirmed. The Second Circuit vacated. The ALJ’s factual determination with respect to Colgan’s RFC was not supported by substantial evidence. The ALJ misapplied the treating physician rule to Dr. Ward’s “check-box” medical opinion, which was supported by voluminous treatment notes gathered over almost three years of clinical treatment View "Colgan v. Kijakazi" on Justia Law
Borley v. United States
After a shopper tripped over a metal rod at a military commissary store and sustained injuries, she filed suit against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the store's negligence. The district court found that under New York law, no reasonable jury could have found the store liable for the shopper's injuries.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of the government's motion for summary judgment, concluding that plaintiff has established a triable issue of fact as to whether the commissary had sufficient notice (constructive or actual) of the hazard posed by the existence of an open emergency door that had an ankle-high metal bar in front of it. If she has, then the district court should have let her negligence claim reach a jury. In this case, the government, notwithstanding its spot-check policy, may still be charged with constructive notice of the hazard created by the metal bar because, as the record shows, it lacked any meaningful procedure that would have reliably and promptly notified employees of an open emergency door, and because the metal bar served no clear purpose and could have been removed altogether. Furthermore, plaintiff's evidence was not mere speculation or a general awareness of danger. Rather, the evidence showed that the commissary's manager specifically knew that these doors came open daily. The court explained that, when confronted with comparable facts, New York courts have readily found evidence of constructive or actual landowner notice sufficient to permit slip-and-fall cases to go to trial. View "Borley v. United States" on Justia Law
Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission
The Second Circuit denied a petition for review challenging an FCC order removing the Solicited Fax Rule from the Code of Federal Regulations. The order was issued in response to the D.C. Circuit's decision holding that the Solicited Fax Rule was unlawful, and vacating a 2014 order of the FCC that affirmed the validity of the Rule. The court concluded that it is bound by the D.C. Circuit's decision and that the agency did not err by repealing the Rule following the D.C. Circuit's ruling. Pursuant to the Hobbs Act's channeling mechanism, the court explained that the D.C. Circuit became the sole forum for addressing the validity of the Rule. Therefore, once the D.C. Circuit invalidated the 2014 Order and the Rule, that holding became binding in effect on every circuit in which the regulation's validity is challenged. Accordingly, the FCC was bound to comply with the D.C. Circuit's mandate and could not pursue a policy of nonacquiescence. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission" on Justia Law