Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Appellants, the majority shareholder of Banca Privada d'Andorra S.A., filed suit claiming that FinCEN violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by issuing a Notice of Finding and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to cut off the Bank's ties to the United States' financial system. While the case was pending, FinCEN withdrew both Notices and the district court subsequently granted FinCEN's motion to dismiss on mootness grounds. The DC Circuit held that the case should be dismissed, but for different reasons than the district court. The DC Circuit explained that when FinCEN withdrew the Notices, appellants received full relief on their first claim. Therefore, the first claim of relief was moot. As for appellants' second claim, they no longer have standing to press this claim, because appellants have not met their burden of demonstrating that they still had standing to seek a declaratory order that the Notices were unlawful. Furthermore, even assuming that appellants do have the requisite injury and causation to support standing, they failed to show that a judicial order would effectively redress their alleged injuries. View "Cierco v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his 144 month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of distributing child pornography. The DC Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court met its procedural duty to offer specific reasons as to why it imposed an above-Guidelines sentence. In this case, the district court thought the Guidelines did not fully account for the egregiousness of defendant's pattern of abuse, and the Guidelines did not adequately reflect the seriousness and frequency of the sexual abuse, as well as the young age of the victims, and the abuse of trust by someone who was supposed to be protecting his own daughters and granddaughters. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law
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Riverkeeper petitioned for review of FERC's Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity conditionally approving the Leidy Project. The DC Circuit denied the petition and held that it had jurisdiction to consider Riverkeeper's challenge to the Certificate Order on the ground that FERC violated the sequencing requirement of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by issuing its Certificate Order before Pennsylvania issued its section 401 certification; the sequencing requirement of section 401 was not triggered because the Commission's conditional approval of the Leidy Project construction did not authorize any activity which might result in a discharge in navigable waters; the court need not decide whether the letter orders impermissibly approved activity that might have resulted in a discharge before Pennsylvania issued its section 401 certification; FERC did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by misclassifying wetlands; even if FERC technically erred in some of its classifications, Riverkeeper has not shown any prejudice; and FERC's NEPA review of the Leidy Project's proposed gas flow velocities appeared to be fully informed and well-considered. View "Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Section 309 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 825h, vests the Commission with broad remedial authority, including the authority to grant recoupment when it is justified; Section 201(f) does not limit the authority of the Commission to grant relief under Section 309 with respect to matters that are beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205; and an order of recoupment, as distinguished from an order to refund under Section 205, is beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205. In this case, Chehalis sought relief from the Commission by filing a Motion for an Order Requiring Recoupment of Payments, but the Commission concluded that it could not order recoupment because the Commission's refund authority does not extend to exempt public utilities such as the Intervenor Bonneville. The DC Circuit held that the Commission erred when it held that it lacked the authority to grant the Order Requiring Recoupment where the Commission clearly had jurisdiction over the subject of this dispute and the Commission retained the authority to order Bonneville to return the funds when the agency acknowledged that its initial order was mistaken. The court granted in part and denied in part Chehalis's petitions for review, and remanded for further proceedings. View "TNA Merchant Projects v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of the Board's decision and order finding that the Hospital violated section 8(a)(1) and (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5), by unilaterally ceasing the payment of longevity-based wage increases to its nurses after the expiration of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA). As a preliminary matter, the DC Circuit rejected the Hospital's claim that all the acts of Director Walsh were ultra vires and his appointment was invalid. On the merits, the court held that the Hospital violated section 8(a)(1) and (a)(5) by unilaterally ceasing the payment of longevity-based wage increases to nurses after the expiration of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. Accordingly, the court denied the Hospital's petition for review and granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "Wilkes-Barre Hospital v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The FAA's Registration Rule requires the owners of small unmanned aircraft operated for recreational purposes (model aircraft) to register with the FAA. Advisory Circular 91-57A announced that model aircraft would be subject to certain flight restrictions in the Washington, D.C., area. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review in this case, vacating the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft because Section 336(a) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, 49 U.S.C. 40101 note, states that the FAA "may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft." The DC Circuit held that petitioner's challenge to the Advisory Circular was untimely and petitioner did not have reasonable grounds for the late filing. View "Taylor v. Huerta" on Justia Law

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A district court has broad discretion to decide whether and when to grant an agency's request for a voluntary remand. But a voluntary remand is typically appropriate only when the agency intends to revisit the challenged agency decision on review. After the Department rejected Limnia's two loan applications, Limnia filed suit alleging that the Department's rejection of Limnia's applications was unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court then granted the Department's voluntary remand request. The DC Circuit held that the district court erred by granting the Department's request for a voluntary remand in this case because the Department did not intend to revisit the original application decisions under review. Therefore, the DC Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Limnia, Inc. v. DOE" on Justia Law

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Appellant challenged two district court orders directing him to produce various documents in response to a subpoena issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. While the appeal was pending, appellant turned over some of the documents and the Subcommittee completed its investigation, issuing a final report. The DC Circuit held that the case was moot because the relief appellant seeks is barred by the separation of powers. The court explained that the separation of powers, including the Speech or Debate Clause, barred the court from ordering a congressional committee to return, destroy, or refrain from publishing the subpoenaed documents. Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation that the Subcommittee, having completed its work and issued its final report, will nonetheless reopen its investigation and again issue a subpoena to appellant. Accordingly, the DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgments and dismissed the case as moot. View "Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations v. Ferrer" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the district court approved a Settlement Agreement that created a $680 million compensation fund for the benefit of class members consisting of Native American farmers and ranchers who participated in a non-judicial, administrative claims process. In this appeal, two class members challenged the district court's approval of an addendum to the Agreement. The DC Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, rejecting the claim that the modification clause requires Appellant Mandan's assent before the Agreement can be amended. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the addendum was fair, reasonable, and adequate; the court declined to reach the merits of Mandan's legal challenges to the cy-près provision because these claims were explicitly waived before the district court; the claims were also forfeited because Mandan never raised any legal challenges to the cy-près provision before the district court despite clear opportunities to do so; and there were no good reasons at this point in the litigation to entertain Mandan's legal challenges to the cy-près provisions in the first instance. Finally, the DC Circuit found no merit in Appellant Tingle's breach of fiduciary duty claims. View "Keepseagle v. Perdue" on Justia Law
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Petitioners filed suit contending that the Board erred in holding that the union did not violate its duty of fair representation when it declined to provide petitioners with the anniversary of the dates when they signed dues-checkoff authorizations over the telephone. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the Board reasonably concluded that the union's disputed policy was not arbitrary; the Board reasonably found that the union did not discriminate against petitioners nor acted in bad faith in requiring them to submit written requests in order to receive their authorization dates; and thus the Board did not err in concluding that the union did not breach its duty of fair representation. View "Ruisi v. NLRB" on Justia Law