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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in an action brought under 33 U.S.C. 1904(h). In section 1904(h), Congress gave a ship unreasonably detained or delayed, on suspicion of intentionally discharging oil and other contaminants into the sea, a cause of action to recover any loss or damage suffered thereby. The court held that the Coast Guard acted reasonably in detaining a vessel for nearly six months pending a criminal trial after its owner and operator failed to meet the government's security bond demands. The court measured the reasonableness of the Coast Guard's actions by an objective standard and found that the Coast Guard set a reasonable monetary bond, and that the nonmonetary components of the bond demand contributed nothing to the owner's losses. View "Angelex, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the tax court's denial of a deduction on income earned by three foreign nationals who participated in the State Department's Summer Work Travel Program in 2012. The court held that appellants did not incur the travel and living expenses at issue in the pursuit of a trade or business, and therefore they may not deduct those expenses under 26 U.S.C. 162(a)(2). In this case, appellants' expenses were personal choices where they voluntarily chose to participate in the Summer Work Travel Program. The court noted that, allowing foreign students who travel to the United States on a "J visa" for temporary employment to deduct their travel expenses when students who are U.S. citizens traveling within the United States to seek temporary employment cannot, would be a peculiar and irrational result. View "Liljeberg v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment refusing to enforce an arbitral award against the Czech Republic Ministry of Health and in favor of Diag Human, S.E., a corporation organized under the laws of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The court held that the final award was not binding on the Czech Republic where, not only the termination of the review, but also the content of the arbitration review panel's "Resolution," prevented the final award from becoming binding. Pursuant to the agreement, the parties had recourse to another arbitration panel, which was sufficient to prevent the award from becoming binding at that time. View "Diag Human S.E. v. Czech Republic - Ministry of Health" on Justia Law

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Industry and environmental petitioners challenged EPA's determination that it could not, on the basis of "available information," classify three of the 61 areas under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for sulfur dioxide as meeting or not meeting the air quality standard, and that it must therefore designate them as "unclassifiable." The DC Circuit dismissed the Board's petition for review and held that the Board failed to demonstrate that EPA's "unclassifiable" designation, compared to the "attainment" designation the Board claimed to have been required, subjected it to any cognizable injury. The court denied Sierra Club's petition for review and held that Sierra Club's sole objection was not raised during the period for public comment and thus EPA's resolution of a petition for reconsideration was not before the court. Finally, the court denied Samuel Masias' petition and held that the EPA acted reasonably by issuing an "unclassifiable" designation for Colorado Springs. View "Masias v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his complaint, denial of his motion for leave to amend the complaint, and rejection of his motion to transfer the case to the United States Court of Federal Claims. After plaintiff served in the Marine Corps, he received an other-than-honorable discharge stemming from conduct. Plaintiff sought judicial review of the Correction Board's denial of his request to upgrade his discharge on the basis that his misconduct resulted from his mental and physical disabilities. The DC Circuit dismissed the action for want of jurisdiction because the Federal Circuit has exclusive rights over appeals from orders granting or denying the transfer of an action to the Court of Federal Claims. The court held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint, and it correctly determined that amendment to cure the jurisdictional defect would have been futile. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "Palacios v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit vacated its previous opinion and substituted the following opinion. Homeowners filed suit against their insurance company for breach of contract when the company refused to cover flood damage to homeowners' residence. Homeowners also filed suit against their cleaning-and-restoration company for failing to adequately remedy the damage and prevent mold. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurance company and transferred the remaining claim to the district court based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the transfer order. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, holding that homeowners' claim against the insurance company failed under Delaware law where there was no dispute that homeowners were away from their beach home for over 72 hours, which under the clear terms of the policy means the flooding occurred while the house was "unoccupied." View "Katopothis v. Windsor-Mount Joy Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted ANR's petition for review challenging FERC's decision refusing to allow ANR to charge market-based rates, as opposed to cost-based rates, for its natural gas storage services. The court held that FERC acted arbitrarily and capriciously because it did not provide any reasonable justification for allowing DTE affiliates but not ANR to charge market-based rates. Furthermore, FERC's market-power analysis was internally inconsistent. The court also held that ANR's remaining contentions lacked merit. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "ANR Storage Co. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the Copyright Royalty Board's most recent determination for rates noninteractive webcasters must pay to play recordings over the Internet under a statutory copyright license. The DC Circuit sustained the Board's determinations in all respects and held that the Board's acceptance of the Pandora and iHeart benchmark agreements was not arbitrary and capricious; the court applied Chevron deference to the Board's adjustment downward of SoundExchange's proposed benchmark; the Board adequately and reasonably explained its decision to set different rates for ad-based and subscription noninteractive webcasting services; and the court rejected SoundExchange's challenge concerning the Board's decision to amend a license term setting forth the requirements to qualify as an auditor that can verify royalty payments. Finally, the Board rejected a pro se appellant's challenge concerning the constitutionality of the Board's determination. View "SoundExchange, Inc. v. Copyright Royalty Board and Librarian of Congress" on Justia Law

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DC Code 24-409 generally requires the Commission to hold an offender’s first DC parole hearing at his DC parole eligibility date, and that rule also applies to offenders, like plaintiff, who become eligible for DC parole before their projected federal parole date. Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, filed suit against members of the U.S. Parole Commission, alleging that the Commissioners had unlawfully delayed his first hearing for parole from his DC sentence. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Commissioners, holding that plaintiff's first DC parole hearing was unlawfully delayed. In plaintiff's case, the projected federal parole date came after the single parole eligibility date. Therefore, under section 24-409, plaintiff should have received his first parole hearing as soon as he finished serving his DC minimum sentence. The court remanded for the Commission to reconsider each of its prior parole decisions and to hold a new parole hearing. View "Ford v. Massarone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the Board's decision affirming an ALJ's conclusion that the College violated the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to provide information requested by a union representing the College's secretarial and clerical employees. The court held that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that the union had adequate and objective evidence to support a reasonable belief that the requested information was relevant to its pending grievance. Court precedent foreclosed an implied claim that evidence satisfying more than a discovery-type standard was required. The court found the College's claims to the contrary unpersuasive. View "Teachers College, Columbia University v. NLRB" on Justia Law