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

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The DC Circuit reversed the denial of summary judgment to BNA and remanded with directions that the district court grant summary judgment to BNA on plaintiff's defamation claims. Plaintiff was convicted of murdering two U.S. Marshalls, and BNA subsequently summarized plaintiff's mandamus petition in one of its publications. Plaintiff filed suit against BNA for falsely reporting that the sentencing judge had said that plaintiff lacked contrition and believed the murders were justified. The DC Circuit held that the inaccuracy of the report alone does not constitute sufficient evidence of actual malice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment, and the remaining evidence in the record does not suffice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment. View "Kahl v. Bureau of National Affairs" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the Bureau's withholding of water well location and depth information under Exemption 9 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(9), holding that Exemption 9 permits the government to withhold information and maps disclosing the locations and depth of certain water wells. The depth and location of wells straightforwardly qualifies as "geological and geophysical information," and providing the well-depth and location information to AquAlliance would thus necessarily disclose geological or geophysical information. View "AquAlliance v. United States Bureau of Reclamation" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction related to involvement in an attempted robbery. The DC Circuit held that the district court remedied what little prejudice an emergency room nurse's testimony might have produced by giving a curative instruction to the jury, and that the district court did not plainly err by striking the entirety of defendant's witness' testimony because she asserted a blanket constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. View "United States v. Crews" on Justia Law
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When Oak Harbor stopped making contributions to four health benefit and pension trusts, the Union filed unfair labor practice charges. The Board properly concluded that the Union waived its statutory rights to receive and bargain over continued contributions to three of the trusts, because the subscription agreements for those trusts "clearly and unmistakably" authorized Oak Harbor to cease trust contributions upon expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after five days' notice; the Board properly concluded that considering the Union's additional evidence would not have changed its analysis or outcome; there is no merit to the Union's view that a ministerial subscription agreement cannot constitute a valid waiver; the Board reasonably concluded that, at most, there was speculation based on an asserted usual practice to have a subscription agreement that one existed for the fourth trust, but no evidence specific to that trust; the Board properly found there was no evidence that a "mutual mistake" prevented the Union from challenging the cessation of contributions to the fourth trust; and, as to the unilateral act of imposing its medical plan on employees after the strike ended, in some cases economic exigency may justify an employer's unilateral change, but this case was not one of them. Accordingly, the DC Circuit denied the petitions for review and granted the Board's cross-application to enforce its order. View "Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the issuance of a permanent injunction enjoining the merger of Anthem and Cigna under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining the merger based on Anthem's failure to show the kind of extraordinary efficiencies necessary to offset the conceded anticompetitive effect of the merger in the fourteen Anthem states: the loss of Cigna, an innovative competitor in a highly concentrated market. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining the merger based on its separate and independent determination that the merger would have a substantial anticompetitive effect in the Richmond, Virginia large group employer market. View "United States v. Anthem" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed vacatur of an arbitrator's ruling that Amtrak must reinstate an employee Amtrak fired for misconduct, holding that contractual provisions could not "add to nor subtract from" an Inspector General's investigative authority under the Inspector General Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 3 section 8G. In this case, Rule 50 of the collective bargaining agreement stated that the police department had established procedures to govern the conduct and control of interrogatories. The court explained that a federal court, reviewing an arbitration award, may refuse to enforce contracts that violate law or public policy. Rule 50, as applied to the Amtrak Inspector General, was such a contractual provision and the district court was right in refusing to enforce the arbitrator’s award based on that provision. View "National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Fraternal Order of Police" on Justia Law

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The court denied Minteq's petition for review and affirmed the Board's finding that the company violated section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), (5), by failing to afford the employees' union notice or an opportunity to bargain over Minteq's unilateral implementation of the requirement that new employees sign a Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreement (NCCA). The court upheld the Board's determination that the implementation of the NCCA was a mandatory subject of bargaining, and that it was unlawful for Minteq to unilaterally implement the entire NCCA. The court also concluded that Minteq may not implement the Interference with Relationships or At-Will Employee provisions— regardless of whether they are covered by the collective bargaining agreement—because those provisions independently violated section 8(a)(1) of the Act. View "Minteq International v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), 16 U.S.C. 824a-3, seeks to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the number of energy-efficient cogeneration and small power-production facilities. Oregon implements its PURPA responsibilities largely through its Public Utility Commission (OPUC), which has directed utilities subject to its jurisdiction to draft off-the-shelf, standard-form power-purchase agreements that OPUC then reviews for compliance with PURPA. OPUC has approved two standard-form power-purchase agreements submitted by petitioner Portland General Electric. Petitioner PáTu Wind Farm, a six-turbine, nine-megawatt generator in rural Oregon, is classified under PURPA as a small power producer. This appeal stems from the parties' dispute over the nature of Portland General's purchase obligation. The Commission ruled that under PURPA, Portland General must purchase all of PáTu’s power, though it rejected PáTu’s insistence that Portland General do so by utilizing a technology known as dynamic scheduling. The court concluded that PáTu’s petition dealing exclusively with Portland's refusal to utilize dynamic scheduling is without merit. Accordingly, the court denied PáTu’s petition. The court dismissed Portland's petition challenging the Commission's ruling that it must purchase all of PáTu’s power for lack of jurisdiction because FERC's orders were advisory. View "Portland General Electric Comp v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Bellagio challenged the Board's decision and order determining that Bellagio violated section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 158(a)(1), when it interfered with employee Gabor Garner's right to have a union representative present during an investigatory meeting; retaliated against him for invoking that right by placing him on "Suspension Pending Investigation" (SPI); unlawfully surveilled Garner after placing him on SPI; and then coercively prevented him from discussing his suspension with other employees. The court concluded that Bellagio did not violate Garner's Weingarten right to Union representation when a supervisor asked Garner to fill out a written statement after the employee had requested a Union representative; Bellagio did not unlawfully retaliate against Garner; Bellagio did not engage in unlawful surveillance; and the finding of unlawful coercion cannot stand. Accordingly, the court granted Bellagio's petition for review and denied the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "Bellagio, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' dispute over the precise language used in "corrective statements" cigarette manufacturers were ordered to disseminate. The district court's remedy requiring the manufacturers to issue corrective statements complied with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(a), because the manufacturers would be impaired in making false and misleading assurances about cigarettes if simultaneously required to tell the truth. In this case, the court held that the modified preambles satisfy RICO. Therefore, the court rejected the manufacturers' argument that the only reason to prefer the government's proposal is to taint manufacturers with implications of past wrongdoing. In regard to the manufacturers' First Amendment challenge, the court concluded that the preamble requirements are reasonably related to the government's interest in preventing deception of consumers. Here, the preambles are confined to purely factual and uncontroversial information, geared toward thwarting prospective efforts by manufacturers to either directly mislead consumers or capitalize on their prior deceptions by continuing to advertise in a manner that builds on consumers' existing misperceptions. In regard to the manufacturers' challenge to the topic descriptions in the preambles to Statements C and D, the court concluded that the manufacturers waived its argument as to Statement D, but the language in Statement C was not previously considered and is indeed backward-looking, because it implies that the manufacturers previously sold and advertised cigarettes in such a way. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law