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The Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendants' charges of conspiracy to deal in "controlled substance analogues." The Second Circuit held that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, but that Defendants Snell and Gambuzza were prejudiced by improper jury instructions on the knowledge element of the Act. Furthermore, Gambuzza was prejudiced by the receipt of inadmissible hearsay evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed Defendant Demott's conviction on his guilty plea; vacated Snell and Gambuzza's convictions; and remanded for retrial. View "United States v. Demott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress physical evidence recovered during an investigatory stop. The court held that the district court correctly determined this case presented unusual circumstances that justified the use of handcuffs, because the officer's conduct was reasonable considering the late night investigatory stop in a remote wooded area where three suspects had appeared to meet, and the choice to handcuff defendant was a less intimidating and less dangerous means of ensuring the officer's safety than holding defendant at gunpoint. Finally, the court declined to rule on defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "United States v. Fiseku" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff brought a derivative action as a shareholder of Qlik, alleging that the Cadian Group owned more than ten percent of Qlik and engaged in short-term swing transactions in violation of Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act. While the action was stayed, Qlik was bought out, causing plaintiff to lose any financial interest in the litigation. The Cadian Group subsequently moved to dismiss the action for lack of standing. The district court found that plaintiff's lack of standing deprived it of jurisdiction and that Qlik could not be substituted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17. The Second Circuit reversed, holding that, when plaintiff lost her personal stake in the litigation, the only jurisdictional question was whether the case had become moot. The court held that a district court has jurisdiction to determine whether substituting a plaintiff would avoid mooting the action, and that Rule 17(a)(3) allows substitution of the real party in interest so long as doing so does not change the substance of the action and does not reflect bad faith from the plaintiffs or unfairness to the defendants. In this case, the district court should have substituted Qlik and denied Cadian Group's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. View "Klein v. Cadian Capital Management, LP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs, former employees of a Manhattan restaurant, filed suit against BLCH, the restaurant owner and operator, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL). Although the district court found in favor of plaintiffs, the court held that they were not entitled to a double recovery of liquidated damages and that a shareholder of the employer was not personally liable. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly declined to award cumulative liquidated damages. In this case, plaintiff's argument for double recovery was foreclosed by the court's recent decision in Rana v. Islam, 887 F.3d 118, 123 (2d Cir. 2018), which vacated a judgment under the FLSA in favor of a larger judgment under the NYLL on the ground that the FLSA did not allow duplicative liquidated damages. The court applied the Carter factors and held that the shareholder was not personally liable where only the fourth Carter factor -- maintaining of employment records -- was partially satisfied. View "Tapia v. Blch 3rd Ave LLC" on Justia Law

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A group of electrical generators and trade groups of electrical generators challenged the constitutionality of New York's Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) program. The ZEC program subsidizes qualifying nuclear power plants with ZECs: state‐created and state‐issued credits certifying the zero‐emission attributes of electricity produced by a participating nuclear plant. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal and held that the ZEC program was not field preempted because plaintiffs failed to identify an impermissible "tether" under Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC, 136 S. Ct. 1288, 1293 (2016), between the ZEC program and wholesale market participation; the ZEC program was not conflict preempted because plaintiffs have failed to identify any clear damage to federal goals; and plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to raise a dormant Commerce Clause claim. View "Coalition for Competitive Electricity v. Zibelman" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion and resentence to a lesser term of imprisonment than was initially imposed. The court held that defendant failed to meet his heavy burden of demonstrating a miscarriage of justice where frustration of a sentencing judge's subjective intent did not, by itself, render a sentence a miscarriage of justice to support a cognizable collateral challenge to that sentence. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing cocaine base, a schedule II controlled substance. In accordance with the plea agreement, defendant was sentenced to 112 months in prison. After defendant was sentenced, his conviction on a predicate offense was vacated and then became the basis of his section 2255 motion. View "United States v. Hoskins" on Justia Law

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Pangea challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part the company's motion for writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by appellees. The Second Circuit certified questions of New York law for which no controlling decisions of the New York Court of Appeals exist: (1) If an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to D.R.L. Section 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, is the spouse's interest subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property? (2) If the answer to Question (1) is "no," then: If a settlor creates a trust solely for the purpose of holding title to property for the benefit of himself and another beneficiary, and the settlor retains the unfettered right to revoke the trust, does the settlor remain the absolute owner of the trust property relative to his creditors, or is the trust property conveyed to the beneficiaries? View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the tax court's decision rejecting the Commissioner's claim that the Estate of Andrew J. McKelvey owed $41 million in taxes with respect to McKelvey's 2008 income tax return for omitting what the Commissioner alleged were short‐ and long‐term capital gains arising from the execution of new contracts extending the valuation dates of two variable prepaid forward contracts. The court remanded for determination of whether the termination of obligations that occurred when the new contracts were executed resulted in taxable short‐term capital gains, and calculation of the amount of long‐term capital gains that resulted from the constructive sales of the collaterized shares. View "Estate of Andrew J. McKelvey v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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Utica and Clearwater appealed from the district court's summary judgment orders regarding Clearwater's obligations to Utica under five facultative reinsurance policies. The Second Circuit held that Clearwater's liability was expense-supplemental because its obligations under the reinsurance contracts followed Utica's expense-supplemental obligations under the umbrella policies. The court vacated and remanded for the district court to determine whether this obligation encompasses certain expenses. The court vacated and remanded the cross-appeal because Utica failed to demonstrate its entitlement to a judgment that Clearwater was bound to indemnify Utica according to Utica's settlement with its insured. View "Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Clearwater Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 288 month sentence after he pleaded guilty for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute, and to import into the United States, five or more kilograms of cocaine. The court held principally that the district court did not err in applying the enhancement under USSG 2D1.1(b)(15)(C) to calculate defendant's Guidelines score, properly determining that defendant's drug‐related activity outside the United States constituted direct involvement in the importation of a controlled substance. In this case, the government presented sufficient evidence to show that defendant participated directly in transporting hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America through Honduras for Mexican drug cartels to smuggle into the United States. View "United States v. Lobo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law