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

Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Petitioners sought review of FERC's final rule governing what FERC calls "demand response resources in the wholesale energy market." The rule sought to incentivize retail customers to reduce electricity consumption when economically efficient. The court concluded that, because FERC's rule entails direct regulation of the retail market - a matter exclusively within state control - it exceeds the Commission's authority. Alternatively, even if the court assumed that FERC had statutory authority to execute the final rule, Order 745 would still fail because it was arbitrary and capricious. Given Order 745's regulation of the retail market, the court vacated the rule in its entirety as ultra vires agency action. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded the rulings. View "Electric Power Supply Assoc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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National filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 et seq., seeking the CIA's draft of Volume V concerning the Bay of Pigs invasion in the spring of 1961. The CIA claims that the draft of Volume V is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 5 of FOIA. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the CIA, applying the reasoning in Russell v. Department of the Air Force and Dudman Communications Corp. v. Department of the Air Force and concluding that in this case, which involves a draft agency history, the district court correctly concluded that the draft of Volume V is exempt in its entirety under Exemption 5. View "National Security Archive v. CIA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, former Carlyle Capital investors, filed suit alleging that Carlyle Capital made material misstatements and omissions in its June 2007 sale of securities and thereby violated the federal securities laws. Plaintiffs also alleged violations of Dutch law. The court concluded that, given the accurate disclosure in the initial June 19 Offering Memorandum and the additional accurate disclosure in the June 29 Supplemental Memorandum, plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged any material misstatements or omission. Carlyle Capital had no duty under federal securities laws to make further disclosures in the Offering Memorandum or to the press release accompanying the Supplemental Memorandum. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' federal claims. Applying the choice-of-law rules for the District of Columbia, not Dutch law, the court concluded that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege common-law fraud or misrepresentation. View "Wu, et al. v. Stomber, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Broadcasting Board of Governors, sought review of the Board's decision to uphold an arbitrator's finding that the petitioner violated both a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and federal labor laws when it laid off sixteen employees. The court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Congress has barred the courts from hearing challenges to FLRA orders that involve an award by an arbitrator, unless the order involves an unfair labor practice, and there was no unfair labor practice in this case. View "Broadcasting Board of Governors of Cuba v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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Guardians and other environmental groups petitioned the EPA to add coal mines to the regulated list of statutory source categories under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7411(b)(1)(A). EPA denied the petition, explaining that it must prioritize its actions in light of limited resources and ongoing budget uncertainties. The court found that the EPA's action easily passed muster under the "extremely limited" and "highly deferential" standard that governed the court's review of an agency's denial of a rulemaking petition. The reasons given were consistent with the agency's delegated authority and supported by the record. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "WildEarth Guardians v. EPA, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Department under Title VII after the Department refused to certify him under the Human Reliability Program. Plaintiff claimed that, in denying him certification, the Department relied on the psychological evaluation of a Department psychologist who allegedly recommended against certification because of plaintiff's race. The court concluded that the Department's decision to certify an applicant under the Human Reliability Program was the kind of judgment covered under Department of the Navy v. Egan. The court also concluded that the individual who performed the psychological evaluation of plaintiff was in the category of officials within the Department authorized and trained to make a judgment about plaintiff's suitability for certification. Therefore, the Department's decision not to certify plaintiff was unreviewable and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Foote v. Moniz" on Justia Law

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Raymone Bain and her firm filed suit against Michael Jackson and his production company, MJJ Productions, Inc., claiming to be owed substantial sums for various services rendered. Defendants moved to dismiss, relying principally on a December 2007 release agreement where Bain broadly relinquished any claims against Jackson and his business entities. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of MJJ, holding that the release agreement precluded Bain's claims. Bain moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(2) five months later. The "newly discovered evidence" cited by Bain was an April 2008 letter from Jackson to Bain, in which Jackson stated that he had no awareness of, and had never signed, the release agreement on which the district court had grounded its grant of summary judgment. The district court held that a movant's awareness of evidence automatically precludes relief under Rule 60(b)(2), regardless of the evidence's availability. The court found that to be an unduly constricted understanding of "newly discovered evidence" for purposes of Rule 60(b)(2). The court concluded, however, that the district court committed no abuse of discretion by looking beyond Bain's efforts in searching her own files and considering whether she mentioned the letter to the court or sought its assistance in locating the evidence. Because Bain failed to exercise reasonable diligence in seeking out the letter, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Bain, et al. v. MJJ Productions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a coal mine operator, filed suit against the Secretary, challenging a Department of the Interior regulation requiring mine operators to pay a reclamation fee when the coal is ultimately sold or used, rather than immediately after the coal is removed from the ground. Appellant argued that the regulation could not be constitutionally applied to coal sold for export because the Export Clause of the Constitution states that "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any state." U.S. Const. Art. I. 9, cl.5. Section 1276 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, 30 U.S.C. 1276(a)(1) explicitly provides that all challenges to regulations promulgated under the Act must be brought within sixty days of a rule's promulgation. The court concluded that section 1276 was applicable in this case and the court agreed with the district court that appellant's challenge was untimely. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Coal River Energy, LLC v. Jewell, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's Final Rule regarding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter under Section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7607(b)(1), 7607(d)(9). The court concluded that the EPA did not fail to request comment on whether to revise the NAAQS where the preamble to the EPA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requested comments on "all issues" related to the agency's proposal to lower the level of the particulate matter NAAQS; the EPA offered reasoned explanations for how it approached and weighed the evidence, and why the scientific evidence supported revision of the NAAQS; and the court rejected petitioners' contention that the EPA did not respond when petitioners' comments cited certain studies that supported retention of the existing particulate matter NAAQS because the EPA acted within its discretion by addressing the more significant comments. The court also concluded that the EPA fulfilled its obligation to reasonably explain its decision not to employ spatial averaging. The court rejected petitioners' challenge to the EPA's new requirement that States place monitors near heavily trafficked roads in large metropolitan areas where the statutory scheme granted the EPA substantial discretion and the EPA's decision and explanation were at least reasonable. Finally, the court rejected petitioners' argument that the EPA should not have issued, or at least should not require compliance with, the 2013 NAAQS without first providing States and regulated certain implementation guidance. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Nat'l Assoc. of Manufacturers v. EPA, et al." on Justia Law

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26 U.S.C. 4251 imposes an excise tax on amounts paid for toll telephone service. Technological advances changed cost structures and, as a result, telephone companies began charging only by elapsed transmission time. The IRS, however, continued to collect the tax. Five courts of appeals, including this court, held that section 4251 did not permit the Service to tax telephone service with distance-invariant pricing. Around the same time, plaintiffs (Cohen, Sloan, and Gurrola) filed separate putative class-action suits challenging the tax. After Cohen and Sloan filed their complaint, the Service issued without notice and comment Notice 2006-50, declaring that the Service would no longer tax telephone service priced without regard to distance and established a procedure to refund illegally collected excise taxes. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's refusal to direct the Service on remand to issue a refund rule and from its denial of their interim request for fees. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that the district court erred in vacating Notice 2006-50 and remanding, without specifically instructing the Service to promulgate a new refund procedure. Here, the only statutory failure was of notice and comment. Absent a statutory duty to promulgate a new rule, a court cannot order it. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying fees. The district court found the government's position to be substantially justified because several circuit judges agreed with the government and dissented from the Cohen I and Cohen II opinions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "In re: Long-distance Telephone Service Federal Excise Tax Refund" on Justia Law