Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA

Petitioners challenged the EPA's 2013 Rule regarding the emission standards for the cement industry and the EPA's decision to create an affirmative defense for private civil suits in which plaintiffs sue sources of pollution and seek penalties for violations of emission standards. The court concluded that the emissions-related provisions of the EPA's 2013 Rule were permissible but that the affirmative defense for private civil suits exceeded the EPA's statutory authority. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions in part and vacated the portion of the Rule pertaining to the affirmative defenses. The court denied the petitions in all other respects. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA" on Justia Law

Teltschik v. Williams & Jensen, PLLC, et al.

The Federal Election Commission opened an investigation into alleged discrepancies in ARMPAC's financial reporting. ARMPAC conceded that it had violated federal election laws and agreed to pay a civil penalty and terminate operations. Appellant, former treasurer of ARMPAC, was named in the Conciliation Agreement in his official capacity as treasurer. Appellant then filed suit against the law firm that represented ARMPAC and three lawyers, alleging that defendants failed to keep him informed about the Commission's investigation of ARMPAC, signed documents on his behalf without permission, and defamed him in the Agreement. The district court dismissed or granted summary judgment to defendants on each of appellant's claims. The district court concluded that appellant's defamation claim based on the signing of the Agreement was barred by the judicial privilege. The district court also concluded that appellant's remaining negligence claim was barred under D.C. law. The court concluded that appellant's defamation claim was based on statements contained within the Agreement reached between the Commission and ARMPAC, and therefore was encompassed within the judicial privilege. The court also concluded that no D.C. case holds that a plaintiff may maintain a negligence action based on the allegedly defamatory communication. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Teltschik v. Williams & Jensen, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law

White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA

The EPA promulgated emission standards for a number of listed hazardous air pollutants emitted by coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units. In this complex case, the court addressed the challenges to the EPA's Final Rule by State, Industry, and Labor petitioners, by Industry petitioners to specific aspects of the Final Rule, by Environmental petitioners, and by Julander Energy Company. The court held that the EPA's finding in the Final Rule was substantively and procedurally valid, and consequently any purported defects in the 2000 finding have been cured, rendering petitioners' challenge to the December 2000 "appropriate and necessary," finding moot; because the EPA's approach was based on a permissible construction of section 112(n)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7412(n)(1)(A), it was entitled to deference and must be upheld; the EPA reasonably concluded it need not consider costs in making its "appropriate and necessary" determination; the EPA did not err in considering environmental effects alongside health effects for purposes of the "appropriate and necessary" determination; the EPA did find, as petitioners contended that it was required to do, that electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) emissions alone would cause health hazards; the EPA reasonably concluded that the framework set forth in section 112(c) and 112(d) provided the appropriate mechanism for regulating EGUs under section 112 after the "appropriate and necessary" determination was made; and the EPA's conclusion that it may regulate all hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) emissions from EGUs must be upheld. The court also concluded that the EPA's "appropriate and necessary" determination in 2000, and its reaffirmation of that determination in 2012, were amply supported by EPA's findings regarding the health effects of mercury exposure; the EPA reasonably declined to interpret section 112 as mandating classification of EGUs as major sources and area sources; the EPA's data-collection process when calculating the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) floor for mercury emissions from existing coal-fired EGUs was reasonable, even if it may not have resulted in a perfect dataset; the court rejected UARG's petition to remove coal-fired EGUs from the list of sources regulated under section 112; the EPA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in relying on the chromium emissions data to which petitioners objected; Industry petitioners' circulating fluidized bed EGUs-related arguments were unavailing; the court rejected Industry petitioners' arguments regarding lignite-fired EGUs; and the EPA's decision not to issue a blanket deadline extension was not arbitrary and capricious. Finally, the court rejected challenges by Environmental petitioners and Julander Energy Company. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions challenging the Final Rule. View "White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA" on Justia Law

Brooks v. Grundmann

Plaintiff, a Board employee, filed suit claiming that her supervisors engendered a hostile work environment, discriminating against her on the basis of her race and sex. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Board, concluding that, while the supervisors' actions may have been unprofessional, uncivil, and somewhat boorish, they did not constitute an adequate factual basis for the Title VII claims presented here. View "Brooks v. Grundmann" on Justia Law

Common Cause, et al. v. Biden, Jr., et al.

House members who voted for the DREAM and DISCLOSE bills, and others filed suit against the Vice President and others alleging that the effect of Rule XXII was to require sixty votes to get legislation through the Senate, that the rule prevented the passage of legislation that has the support of a majority of both houses of Congress, and that the rule therefore violated the Constitutional principle of majority rules. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded that plaintiffs' alleged injury was caused not by any of the defendants, but by an "absent third party" - the Senate itself. Accordingly, the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the case and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Common Cause, et al. v. Biden, Jr., et al." on Justia Law

Nat’l Assoc. of Manufacturers, et al. v. SEC, et al.

In response to the Congo war, Congress created Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 78m(p), which requires the SEC to issue regulations requiring firms using "conflict minerals" to investigate and disclose the origin of those minerals. The Association challenged the SEC's final rule implementing the Act, raising claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq.; the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.; and the First Amendment. The district court rejected all of the Association's claims and granted summary judgment for the Commission and intervenor Amnesty International. The court concluded that the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by choosing not to include a de minimus exception for use of conflict materials; the Commission could use its delegated authority to fill in gaps where the statute was silent with respect to both a threshold for conducting due diligence and the obligations of uncertain issuers; the court rejected the Association's argument that the Commission's due diligence threshold was arbitrary and capricious; the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously and its interpretation of sections 78m(p)(2) and 78m(p)(1)(A)(i) was reasonable because it reconciled these provisions in an expansive fashion, applying the final rule not only to issuers that manufacture their own products, but also to those that only contract to manufacture; and the court rejected the Association's challenge to the final rule's temporary phase-in period, which allowed issuers to describe certain products as "DRC conflict undeterminable." The court also concluded that it did not see any problems with the Commission's cost-side analysis. The Commission determined that Congress intended the rule to achieve "compelling social benefits," but it was "unable to readily quantify" those benefits because it lacked data about the rule's effects. The court determined that this benefit-side analysis was reasonable. The court held that section 15 U.S.C. § 78m(p)(1)(A)(ii) & (E), and the Commission’s final rule violated the First Amendment to the extent the statute and rule required regulated entities to report to the Commission and to state on their website that any of their products have “not been found to be 'DRC conflict free.'" The label "conflict free" is a metaphor that conveys moral responsibility for the Congo war. By compelling an issuer to confess blood on its hands, the statute interferes with the exercise of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Nat'l Assoc. of Manufacturers, et al. v. SEC, et al." on Justia Law

Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis

In February 2010, a SeaWorld trainer was killed by Tilikum, a killer whale, during a performance before a live audience in a pool at Shamu Stadium in Orlando. OSHA found that SeaWorld violated the general duty clause, section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 654(a)(1), by exposing SeaWorld's trainers to recognized hazards when working in close contact with killer whales during performances and that the abatement procedures recommended by the Secretary of Labor were feasible. On appeal, SeaWorld challenged the second element (either the employer or the industry recognized the condition or activity as a hazard) and fourth element (a feasible means to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard existed) of the general duty citation. The court concluded that the evidence supported the ALJ's finding that a recognized hazard existed, even beyond the impact of SeaWorld's safety protocols; there was substantial evidence that SeaWorld recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable; the potential harm to SeaWorld's trainers existed in their workplace and involved conditions over which SeaWorld had control; SeaWorld's challenge to the ALJ's decision to credit the testimony of the Secretary's expert with regard to the aggressive behavior of killer whales failed; substantial evidence supported the ALJ's findings that it was feasible for SeaWorld to abate the hazard to its employees by using barriers or minimum distance between trainers and killer whales, most notably because SeaWorld has implemented many of these measures on its own; and the court rejected SeaWorld's contention that the general duty clause was unconstitutionally vague as applied. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis" on Justia Law

United States v. Cellco Partnership, et al.

Relator filed a qui tam complaint against Verizon under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3730(b)(5). On appeal, relator challenged the district court's dismissal of his qui tam complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The court held that the complaint sufficiently related to relator's earlier action, that the first-to-file bar applied to relator even though he brought the first action, and that the bar remained in effect even after the first action was no longer pending. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Cellco Partnership, et al." on Justia Law

Int’l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc.

The Union filed suit against WUSA-TV, a television station, alleging that the station breached its contractual obligations by laying off a technician. Because the grievance did not "arise under" the 2008 bargaining agreement, and the 2012 agreement was not yet in effect, the district court concluded that the station was not obligated to arbitrate. The court affirmed, concluding that seniority provisions in the 2008 agreement did not create vested or accrued rights and therefore, the grievance was not arbitrable under the 2008 agreement. Nor do the qualified seniority protections against layoffs contained in the 2008 agreement survive expiration under normal principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, the union's extrinsic evidence was itself ambiguous. Finally, the court rejected the Union's claim that the grievance was arbitrable under the 2012 agreement. View "Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc." on Justia Law

Communities for a Better Environment, et al. v. EPA

Petitioners, three non-profit environmental and wildlife organizations, filed suit challenging EPA's decisions concerning both the primary and secondary standards for carbon monoxide. The primary standards for carbon monoxide have remained the same since 1971 and there has not been a secondary standard for carbon monoxide since EPA revoked a secondary standard in 1985. In 2011, EPA decided to keep things as they were: to retain the same primary standards and to continue without a secondary standard. The court concluded that EPA acted reasonably in retaining the same primary standards for carbon monoxide, and that petitioners lacked Article III standing to challenge EPA's decision not to set a secondary standard for carbon monoxide. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the primary standards and dismissed the petition for review of the secondary standard for lack of standing. View "Communities for a Better Environment, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law