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

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment holding that an insurance company was not obligated under an insurance policy to defend the insureds in underlying copyright infringement suits. At issue is whether the insureds were subject to the policy exclusion for injury purportedly caused by an insured in the business of "broadcasting" or "telecasting."The court concluded that the insurance company does not owe the insureds a duty to defend under the policy because "broadcasting," as used in its Media Exclusion is not ambiguous and applies to the insureds' business. Furthermore, the insureds' argument that the plain and ordinary meaning of "broadcasting" does not apply here fails. In this case, the language of the policy does not suggest an intention to adopt a specialized definition of "broadcasting." Therefore, the court rejected the insureds' invitation to discard the plain and ordinary meaning of the term "broadcasting" in favor of its preferred definitions. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the insurance company. View "Dish Network Corp. v. Ace American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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When a district court denies a defendant's motion under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A) in sole reliance on the applicable 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, it need not also determine whether the defendant has shown extraordinary and compelling reasons that might (in other circumstances) justify a sentence reduction.Defendant moved to reduce his 60-month sentence to time served under section 3582(c)(1)(A), but the district court denied the motion. In considering defendant's motion, the district court recognized the health challenges he might face from the COVID-19 pandemic while incarcerated. The district court also relied on the applicable factors listed in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), including the seriousness of defendant's offense, the harm it had caused his community, and the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among similarly situated criminal defendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "United States v. Keitt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Petitioner sought review of the BIA's decisions affirming the IJ's decision to allow petitioner to withdraw his application for admission to the United States, denying his motion to reopen, and affirming the IJ's finding that he was inadmissible. Petitioner, a Polish citizen, was a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States, but he effectively abandoned his LPR status and was inadmissible after he stayed overseas too long to take care of his ailing grandfather.The Second Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review both the agency's decision to allow petitioner to withdraw his application and to deny his motion to reopen. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petitions insofar as they challenge those decisions. However, the court concluded that its jurisdiction to review the IJ's inadmissibility finding depends on whether that finding survives the withdrawal of petitioner's application for admission and therefore qualifies as a final order of removal, and this appears to be a question of first impression in this circuit that also has not been resolved by the agency. Therefore, the court granted the petition for review in 19-3001 in part and remanded for the BIA to clarify what, if any preclusive effect the IJ's inadmissibility finding, affirmed by the Board, would be given in subsequent immigration proceedings. View "Juras v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of Hain's motion to dismiss a class action alleging securities fraud for failure to state a claim. Plaintiffs alleged that Hain violated Section 10(b) and section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by asserting in public statements that Hain's favorable sales figures were attributable to strong consumer demand for its products while failing to disclose that demand for its products was declining and that a significant percentage of sales was in fact attributable to the practice of channel stuffing.The court held that the district court erred in granting Hain's motion because the district court relied on the erroneous assumption that plaintiffs' Rule 10b-5(b) claim was contingent on plaintiffs successfully pleading a fraudulent business scheme or practice in violation of Rules 10b-5(a) or (c). The court also concluded that the district court erred in failing to consider the cumulative weight of all of plaintiffs' scienter allegations. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "In re: The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. Securities Litigation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims for damages for violation of section 18(2)(e) of the New York Public Health Law, which provides that health care providers may impose only a "reasonable charge," not to exceed "seventy-five cents per page," for copies of medical records. In its answer to a certified question of law from the Second Circuit, the New York Court of Appeals concluded that no private right of action lies for violations of section 18(2)(e). Accordingly, dismissal was proper. View "Ortiz v. Ciox Health LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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Defendant appealed his 42 year sentence imposed after his conviction by a jury of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and murder through the use of a firearm during a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime. Defendant also appealed his convictions on the racketeering and firearm charges.The Second Circuit agreed with defendant that, under binding precedent from the Supreme Court, RICO conspiracy is not a crime of violence for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 924(j). The court explained that, because it is unclear whether the jury based its decision to convict defendant of the firearm-murder offense on the erroneous belief, in light of the trial court's instruction, that RICO conspiracy is such a crime, defendant's conviction of that offense must be vacated. The court otherwise affirmed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Capers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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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

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In this Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) dispute, the Employer Trustees filed suit alleging that the Union Trustees breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA when they passed, by simple majority, two amendments to the trust agreements governing the Funds (the Trust Agreements). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Employer Trustees and concluded that the Union Trustees had breached their fiduciary duties under Section 404(a)(1)(D), because – under the terms of the Trust Agreements – the amendments were required to be passed by a unanimous vote of the Trustees.Although the Second Circuit agreed with the district court that, under the terms of the trust agreements, the Union Trustees' amendments were required to be passed by a unanimous vote, the court nevertheless concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the Employer Trustees because the Union Trustees were not acting in a fiduciary capacity when they passed those amendments. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment; dismissed the Employer Trustees' cross-appeal and appeals as moot; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Massaro v. Palladino" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
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The EPA appeals the district court's order requiring EPA to disclose twenty-eight records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the NRDC. At issue is whether records reflecting an agency's discussions about how to communicate its policies to people outside the agency qualify for the deliberative process privilege and whether an agency must connect a record to a specific contemplated agency decision to claim the privilege.The Second Circuit concluded that the deliberative process privilege protects otherwise deliberative records that relate to and precede an agency's communications decision about a policy. The court explained that, in the context of a communications decision, a record is deliberative if it reflects discussions about how to communicate the agency's policies to the public or to other stakeholders. The court also held that an agency may invoke the deliberative process privilege by connecting a record either to a specific decision or to a specific decisionmaking process. In this case, the EPA's Vaughn submissions establish that eleven of the "messaging records" subject to the EPA's appeal meet these standards. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Natural Resource Defense Council v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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Teachers and school administrators challenge the denial of motions to preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of an order issued by the New York City Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene mandating that individuals who work in New York City schools be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.The Second Circuit concluded that the Vaccine Mandate does not violate the First Amendment on its face. However, the court concluded that plaintiffs have established their entitlement to preliminary relief on the narrow ground that the procedures employed to assess their religious accommodation claims were likely constitutionally infirm as applied to them. The court explained that the Accommodation Standards as applied here were neither neutral nor generally applicable to plaintiffs, and thus the court applied a strict scrutiny analysis at this stage of the proceeding. The court concluded that these procedures cannot survive strict scrutiny because denying religious accommodations based on the criteria outlined in the Accommodation Standards, such as whether an applicant can produce a letter from a religious official, is not narrowly tailored to serve the government's interest in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's orders denying preliminary relief and concurred with and continued the interim relief granted by the motions panel as to these fifteen individual plaintiffs. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Kane v. De Blasio" on Justia Law