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

by
Appellant seeks damages from WMATA for an assault he suffered while working, unsatisfied with a workers' compensation order to which he previously stipulated. Another employee at WMATA pinned appellant to the ground and punched him until he was unconscious. After appellant gained consciousness, the employee attacked him again. Appellant sustained severe injuries and required hospitalization.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act barred appellant's claim because his assault arose out of his employment. In this case, the manner in which appellant carried out his duties -- trying to help a customer -- motivated the employee's assault and thus his assault arose out of his employment. View "Workagegnehu v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" on Justia Law

by
Bob's Tire petitioned for review of the Board's order concluding that Bob's violated the National Labor Relations Act. Bob's argued, among other things, that subcontracted work was not bargaining unit work and that, even if it was, the unit employees are owed no remedy because the subcontracting did not cause the loss of any jobs or hours of employment. The Board and the union cross-petitioned for enforcement of the order.The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, agreeing with the Board that there is substantial evidence in the record supporting its findings that petitioner failed to bargain with the union before subcontracting bargaining unit work. The court also agreed that an employer's duty to bargain over subcontracting "is not limited to situations in which employees are laid off or replaced." The court expressed no view as to whether the employees affected by Bob's unfair labor practices are due any backpay. The court also rejected petitioner's "joint-employer" argument as specious, and found that it was without jurisdiction to consider petitioner's arguments regarding the performance-based bonus program where petitioner failed to present the issue before the Board. The court granted the cross-motion for enforcement of the Board's order. View "Bob's Tire Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
In July 2019, the Department of Justice announced a revised protocol for execution by lethal injection using a single drug, pentobarbital. Plaintiffs, federal death row inmates, sought expedited review of three of the district court's rulings, and two plaintiffs with upcoming execution dates moved for stays of execution pending appeal.The DC Circuit held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for the government on plaintiffs' Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA) claim. In this case, plaintiffs had pointed to several alleged discrepancies between the 2019 Protocol and state statutes dictating different methods of execution or aspects of the execution process. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that there was no conflict, either because the government had committed to complying with the state statutes at issue or because no plaintiff had requested to be executed in accordance with them.However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment challenge for failure to state a claim. The court held that, by pleading that the federal government's execution protocol involves a "virtual medical certainty" of severe and torturous pain that is unnecessary to the death process and could readily be avoided by administering a widely available analgesic first, plaintiffs' complaint properly and plausibly states an Eighth Amendment claim. The court denied Plaintiffs Hall and Bernard's request for a stay of execution based on the Eighth Amendment claim. The court also held that the district court should have ordered the 2019 Protocol to be set aside to the extent that it permits the use of unprescribed pentobarbital in a manner that violates the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of a permanent injunction to remedy the FDCA violation. View "Roane v. Barr" on Justia Law

by
Hospitals, in calculating their Medicaid fractions -- the proportion of treatment a hospital provided to Medicaid patients -- sought to include days of care funded by Florida's Low Income Pool, an approved Medicaid demonstration project. The Secretary refused to allow the Hospitals to include these patients in their Medicaid fraction, on the ground that the patients were treated out of charity rather than as designated beneficiaries of a demonstration project.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the Hospitals, and agreed with the district court that the Secretary's own regulation states that, for the purposes of calculating the Medicaid fraction, "hospitals may include all days attributable to populations eligible for [Medicaid] matching payments through a [demonstration project]" so long as the services provided under the demonstration project include "inpatient hospital services." In this case, it was "obvious to the [c]ourt that uninsured and underinsured patients received inpatient hospital services" through the Low Income Pool, because (1) the Secretary authorized federal matching funds to reimburse hospitals for these services, and (2) the hospitals rigorously documented the services provided using funds from the Pool. Furthermore, the Fifth Circuit's opinion in Forrest Gen. Hosp. v. Azar, 926 F.3d 221 (2019), supported this conclusion. View "Bethesda Health, Inc. v. Azar" on Justia Law

by
Statewide filed three actions alleging that certain aspects of DHS's current administration of the immigration-bond system violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Statewide's right to due process under the United States Constitution. The district court dismissed Statewide I for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction, Statewide II on DHS's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Statewide III for failure to state a claim.In Statewide I, plaintiffs sued DHS to prevent its collection on breached immigration bonds before the resolution of Statewide's pending untimely appeals; in Statewide II, plaintiffs sued DHS to prevent collection on breached immigration bonds because DHS provided allegedly defective Notices to Appear and Notices to Produce Alien before issuing bond breach determinations; and in Statewide III, plaintiffs sued DHS for rejecting appeals of bond breach determinations that Statewide alleges were timely filed.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the APA claims in Statewide I and III because the challenged DHS actions are consistent with the pertinent regulations. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of the due process claims in Statewide I, II, and III because the multiple means DHS provides to contest final bond breach determinations afford Statewide constitutionally sufficient process. View "Statewide Bonding, Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, a broker-dealer, twice misappropriated his employer's funds and then unsuccessfully tried to cover his tracks by falsifying documents. FINRA permanently barred him from membership and from associating with any FINRA member firm.The DC Circuit held that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kokesh v. SEC, 137 S. Ct. 1635 (2017), which held that SEC disgorgement constitutes a penalty within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. 2462, does not have any bearing in petitioner's case. The court explained that binding circuit precedent establishes that the Commission may approve expulsion not as a penalty but as a means of protecting investors. In this case, the Commission did precisely that. Because this court has already held that the Commission appropriately concluded that petitioner's bar was not excessive or oppressive in any other respect, that ends the court's inquiry. View "Saad v. Securities and Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

by
After the FCC determined that incumbents no longer dominated the telecommunications market because of the plethora of competitor modes of voice transmission, the FCC exercised its statutory authority to forbear from enforcing the wholesale pricing requirement and one element of the unbundling requirement.The DC Circuit denied petitions for review challenging the propriety of the FCC's forbearance of the wholesale price requirements and challenging the forbearance of the unbundling requirement. The court concluded that the Commission looked reasonably at the whole national market for voice transmission and how the incumbents' share of that market is declining rapidly; the Commission was reasonable to focus on the national market when making national policy; and, while the Commission's order did not explicitly address the availability of broadband in rural areas, it clearly stated that it only granted forbearance as to "price cap" incumbents. The court noted that the Commission justified its forbearance policy by stating that it would induce incumbents and insurgents to develop more advanced networks. In regard to the forbearance of the unbundling requirement, the Commission's reasoning largely coincides with its justification for forbearing from enforcing the wholesale requirement. Given that CPUC effectively conceded that greater consideration of public safety would not change the outcome, the court did not think that a remand on this issue was necessary. Finally, the court rejected the remaining administrative law challenges. View "COMPTEL v. Federal Communications Commission" on Justia Law

by
The district court correctly concluded that loan proceeds qualify as cash, not indebtedness, under the EB-5 visa program. The DC Circuit held that the text, structure, and regulatory context show that the term "cash," as used in 8 C.F.R. 204.6(e), unambiguously includes the proceeds of third-party loans. Because the loan proceeds qualify as cash, the court affirmed the district court's decision affording relief to a class of foreign investors denied visas under a contrary interpretation adopted and announced by the government in 2015.The court need not consider whether USCIS's interpretation of its own regulations in an April 2015 conference call amounted to an improperly promulgated legislative rule or something less binding. Furthermore, the court need not consider whether those statements amounted to an interpretive rule or to non-final agency action. Regardless of how the comments are characterized, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that they are inconsistent with the regulation and thus can have no legal effect. Finally, the court held that the district court did not improperly sweep into the class investors whose challenges to their visa denials are time-barred. View "Huashan Zhang v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The DC Circuit granted Davidson's petition for review of the Board's decision determining that Davidson committed unfair labor practices by refusing to bargain with a union in two Board-certified units. The court concluded that neither the Regional Director nor the Board distinguished contrary Board precedents or the Regional Director’s first decision in this case.The court explained that the previous unit decision by the same Regional Director was sufficiently analogous that it should have been distinguished or otherwise addressed – at least when the Regional Director and Board were presented with the argument that the first decision required rejection of the union's later petitions. However, the Regional Director never mentioned the prior decision beyond incorporating the record and stating that "the petitioned-for unit in the instant case is different[.]" Furthermore, the Board must explain why the balance of factors differed from the factors considered in the Regional Director's first decision, and the Board failed to cite – let alone distinguish – a single contrary precedent even though Davidson cited several Board precedents that rejected separate units of hotel employees under similar circumstances. View "Davidson Hotel Co., LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
On April 22, 2019, the district court denied petitioner's first three claims for habeas relief, but reserved his 18 U.S.C. 924(c) claim for later resolution because, at the time, United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319, 2324 (2019), had not been decided. The district judge explained that his opinion resolves three of petitioner's claims but leaves the 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion open until the court is able to resolve petitioner's fourth claim. In order for petitioner to appeal the final order in a section 2255 habeas case, section 2253(c)(1) requires him to obtain a certificate of appealability. Petitioner moved for a certificate of appealability a week after the district court issued its order and the district judge granted the certificate solely on petitioner's recantation claim without commenting on the finality of the underlying order— which, of course, left one claim pending.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the district court's judgment was not final. The court rejected petitioner's claims under Gillespie v. United States Steel Corp., 379 U.S. 148 (1964), which he claims "opens the door a little bit" and allows ostensibly nonfinal orders to be regarded as "practically" final. The court also concluded that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 do not facilitate jurisdiction here. View "United States v. Clark" on Justia Law