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

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Sanjay Tripathy, a former inmate in the New York correctional system, filed a lawsuit against state prison officials. He claimed that they forced him to enroll in a sex-offender program that required him to accept responsibility for his crimes, which he argued violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment. He also claimed that he was assigned to a more intensive tier of the program in violation of his due process rights, and that he was retaliated against after he challenged the program by filing grievances and this lawsuit.The United States District Court for the Western District of New York dismissed Tripathy's claims. The court ruled that his claim for damages under RLUIPA was barred by precedent that the statute does not permit individual-capacity damages. The court also found that his demands for injunctive and declaratory relief became moot when his state convictions were vacated and he was released from prison. Regarding his constitutional claims, the court concluded that Tripathy’s free exercise claim under the First Amendment was barred by qualified immunity, that he lacked standing to seek damages for his due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that he failed to state a claim for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court agreed that Tripathy's claim for damages under RLUIPA was barred by precedent, that his demands for injunctive and declaratory relief were moot due to his release from prison, and that his constitutional claims were properly dismissed by the district court. View "Tripathy v. McKoy" on Justia Law

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Quadri Garnes was charged with threatening to assault and murder employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and transmitting interstate communications containing threats to injure another person. These charges stemmed from a phone call Garnes made to the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) after his unemployment benefits claim was denied. During the call, Garnes made several statements referencing his criminal record. Before trial, Garnes moved to exclude these statements, arguing they were of limited probative value and could unfairly prejudice the jury. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted his motion, excluding the statements under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.The government appealed the district court's decision, arguing that the court had exceeded its discretion in excluding the statements. The government contended that the statements were highly probative as they were a significant part of the threat (the actus reus) and substantially indicative of Garnes's intent (the mens rea).The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with the government. The court found that the district court had incorrectly concluded that the statements were of limited probative value. The appellate court held that the statements were highly probative as they were both a significant part of the threat and substantially indicative of Garnes's intent. The court also found that the district court had overstated the risk of unfair prejudice. The court concluded that a jury instruction could mitigate any potential unfair prejudice. Consequently, the appellate court reversed the district court's order of exclusion and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "United States v. Garnes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Julius Williams, convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, appealed the denial of his motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). This law allows a court to reduce a defendant’s sentence if the original sentence was based on a Sentencing Guidelines range that the United States Sentencing Commission has subsequently lowered. Williams argued that the district court wrongly concluded that he was ineligible for a sentence reduction under the Commission’s 2014 revisions to the narcotics Guidelines because he participated in a narcotics-related murder that subjected him to a higher Guidelines range under the “murder cross-reference” provision of U.S.S.G § 2D1.1(d)(1).The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York had denied Williams's motion for a sentence reduction, concluding that he was ineligible for a sentence reduction under the Commission’s 2014 revisions to the narcotics Guidelines. The court also found that a sentence reduction was not warranted under the objectives of sentencing set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. The appellate court did not reach the issue of Williams’s eligibility for a sentence reduction under section 3582(c)(2), but instead affirmed the lower court's decision based on the independent ground that a sentence reduction was not warranted under the objectives of sentencing set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Williams’s motion for a sentence reduction. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Trustees of the New York State Nurses Association Pension Plan (the Trustees) and White Oak Global Advisors, LLC (White Oak) entered into an investment management agreement, which included an arbitration clause. The Trustees later brought several fiduciary duty claims against White Oak under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which were resolved through arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of the Trustees, which the Trustees sought to confirm in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.White Oak appealed the confirmation, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction and that the court erroneously interpreted the award. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's jurisdiction, finding that the Trustees' petition to confirm the award was cognizable under ERISA § 502(a)(3). The court also affirmed the district court's interpretation of the award regarding the disgorgement of pre-award interest and the "Day One" fees. However, the court vacated and remanded the district court's confirmation of the disgorgement of White Oak's "profits," finding the award too ambiguous to enforce. The court also vacated and remanded the district court's order for White Oak to pay the Trustees' attorneys' fees and costs, finding the district court's findings insufficiently specific. View "Trustees of the NYSNAPP v. White Oak Glob. Adv." on Justia Law

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The case involves Nano Dimension Ltd., an Israeli 3D printing and manufacturing company, and several defendants including Murchinson Ltd. and Anson Advisors Inc. Nano alleged that the defendants violated Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to disclose that they acted as a group when acquiring more than five percent of Nano’s American Depository Shares (ADSs). As a remedy, Nano sought an order directing the defendants to disclose their alleged group status on amended Schedule 13Ds and an injunction prohibiting them from acquiring additional ADSs or voting their existing ADSs pending completion of the amended filings.The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Nano's claims as moot. The court found that the defendants had cured the alleged Section 13(d) violations by amending their Schedule 13D filings to disclose Nano’s allegations and their position that the allegations were without merit.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court agreed that the defendants' amended filings satisfied Section 13(d)’s disclosure requirements. The court also rejected Nano's argument that it was entitled to retroactive injunctive relief, noting that such relief is not available under Section 13(d) when corrective disclosures have been made and the vote in question did not effect a change in control over the issuer. View "Nano Dimension Ltd. v. Murchinson Ltd." on Justia Law

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The case involves a Ukrainian couple, Yasamin Karimi and Roman Tereshchenko, who divorced and disputed custody of their two children. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Tereshchenko agreed to Karimi removing the children from Ukraine for safety reasons, but requested that she bring them to him in Dubai. Instead, Karimi took the children to undisclosed locations, including the United States. Tereshchenko filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of the children. The District Court granted Tereshchenko’s petition and ordered the children returned to him in France, where he was currently residing.Karimi appealed the decision, challenging the District Court's jurisdiction and arguing that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's jurisdiction and rejected Karimi's argument that Tereshchenko had consented to the children's removal. The Court of Appeals also found that the District Court had erred in determining that the children would not be exposed to a grave risk of harm if they were returned to western Ukraine. However, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court was permitted to order the return of the children to Tereshchenko in a third country, France, as a temporary measure due to the grave risk of harm in Ukraine. The case was remanded to the District Court to modify the order to maintain the Ukrainian courts’ authority over an ultimate custody determination. View "Tereshchenko v. Karimi" on Justia Law

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Carlos Esteras and Raphael Frias were convicted of fentanyl trafficking charges and appealed their sentences, arguing that the district court erred in calculating their respective Guidelines ranges. Esteras contended that the district court wrongly calculated his base offense level by applying a two-level increase for maintaining a premises for narcotics trafficking and declining to apply a two-level reduction for being a minor participant in the trafficking scheme. He also argued that the district court wrongly applied a two-point increase to his criminal history score after finding that he was on parole at the time of the offense. Frias argued that the district court erred in applying the two-level premises enhancement and a four-level increase for being an organizer or leader of the scheme, and failed to adequately consider his mitigating evidence in declining to vary downwards.The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York had sentenced Esteras to 84 months' imprisonment and Frias to 135 months' imprisonment. The court had applied several sentencing enhancements, including a two-level enhancement for maintaining a premises for narcotics trafficking and a four-level enhancement for being an organizer or leader of the scheme.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed each of the district court’s sentencing decisions except its application of the organizer or leader enhancement to Frias. The court affirmed Esteras’s sentence and vacated and remanded Frias’s sentence for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. The court found that Esteras's home qualified for the stash-house enhancement and that he was not a minor participant in the conspiracy. The court also found that Esteras was on parole when he committed his offenses, warranting a two-point increase to his criminal history score. However, the court found that Frias did not qualify as an organizer or leader under the Guidelines, warranting a remand for further proceedings. View "United States v. Frias" on Justia Law

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Chamma K. Brandon, an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, filed a lawsuit against three prison officials. Brandon alleged that the officials violated his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion by denying him a special meal in celebration of Eid al-Adha. He also claimed that one of the officials, Mark Royce, violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by ordering that his housing block be constantly illuminated.The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on Brandon's First Amendment claim and denied Brandon's request to reopen discovery for a second time to permit expert testimony on his Eighth Amendment claim. Following a trial, a jury found that Royce had not violated Brandon's Eighth Amendment right.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Brandon that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendants on his First Amendment claim. The court found that there was a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether Brandon had an alternative means of exercising his right to the free exercise of religion. The court also found that the penological concerns raised by the defendants did not support granting judgment as a matter of law in their favor. However, the court found no error in the district court's denial of Brandon's motion to reopen discovery. The court therefore vacated in part and affirmed in part the district court's decision. View "Brandon v. Royce" on Justia Law

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The defendant, Dwayne Barrett, was convicted on multiple counts of conspiratorial and substantive Hobbs Act robbery, the use of firearms during such robberies, and in one robbery, the murder of a robbery victim. On appeal, Barrett argued that his initial appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of his convictions. He also argued that his 50-year prison sentence was procedurally unreasonable based on the district court’s application of U.S.S.G. § 2A1.1 in calculating his Sentencing Guidelines range. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected all of Barrett’s arguments except for his consecutive sentence challenge, where it identified error by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Lora v. United States. The court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for resentencing consistent with Lora and its opinion. View "United States v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute over the antitrust implications of a settlement agreement between Forest Laboratories, a brand manufacturer of the high-blood pressure drug Bystolic, and seven manufacturers of generic versions of Bystolic. The settlement agreement was reached after Forest Laboratories initiated patent-infringement litigation against the generic manufacturers. As part of the settlement, Forest Laboratories entered into separate business transactions with each generic manufacturer, paying them for goods and services.The plaintiffs, purchasers of Bystolic and its generic equivalents, filed a lawsuit against Forest Laboratories and the generic manufacturers, alleging that the payments constituted unlawful “reverse” settlement payments intended to delay the market entry of generic Bystolic. The plaintiffs' claims were dismissed twice by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for failure to state a claim.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that any of Forest’s payments were unjustified or unexplained, instead of constituting fair value for goods and services obtained as a result of arms-length dealings. The court also held that the district court’s application of the pleading law was appropriate. The court concluded that the plaintiffs did not plausibly allege that Forest’s payments were a pretext for nefarious anticompetitive motives rather than payments that constituted fair value for goods and services obtained as a result of arms-length dealings. View "In re Bystolic Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law