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

by
The DC Circuit granted Maryland's petition for review of the EPA's denial of its Clean Air Act section 126(b) petition requesting that the EPA impose additional limitations on certain upwind sources that were purportedly contributing to the state's nonattainment of the national ozone standards. The EPA applied the same four-step framework it developed in the implementation of section 110 and denied the section 126(b) petition at Step Three. The EPA concluded that Maryland failed to identify further cost-effective emission reductions at sources operating with catalytic controls. For the remaining sources named in Maryland's petition, the EPA explained that non-catalytic controls were not cost-effective in this context. The court held that the EPA's determination was inadequate with respect to non-catalytic controls and therefore granted Maryland's petition for review in part, remanding the issue to the EPA. The court denied all other petitions for review from Delaware and a coalition of environmental groups. The court rejected some of the EPA's Step One determinations, but found, with one exception, that it reasonably denied the petitions at Step Three. View "Maryland v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

by
Appellant, an Algerian national detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, asks the court to hold that the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause categorically applies in full to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that his ongoing detention violates both the procedural and substantive aspects of the Due Process Clause. The DC Circuit affirmed the denial of appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and held that appellant's arguments are foreclosed by circuit precedent. The court explained that the district court's decision that the Due Process Clause is categorically inapplicable to detainees at Guantanamo Bay was misplaced in light of Qassim v. Trump, 927 F.3d 522, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2019). Rather, the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), unequivocally held that Guantanamo Bay detainees must be afforded those procedures necessary to ensure "meaningful review" of the lawfulness of their detention. The court noted that whether and which particular aspects of the Due Process Clause apply to detainees at Guantanamo Bay largely remain open questions in this circuit, as well as what procedural protections the Suspension Clause requires. However, appellant has chosen not to ground any of his claims for procedural protections in the Suspension Clause. View "Ali v. Trump" on Justia Law

by
Kiewit contested its OSHA citation, arguing that the quick-drenching provision in 41 C.F.R. 50-204.6(c), which requires quick-drenching eyewash facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials, was invalidly applied to the construction industry without notice-and-comment rulemaking. The ALJ and Commission agreed with Kiewit. After determining that it had jurisdiction over the petition for review, the DC Circuit denied Kiewit's motion for leave to add rebuttal arguments. On the merits, the court held that the Occupational Health and Safety Act is ambiguous regarding the Secretary's authority to apply established Federal standards to new industries under section 6(a). The court also held that the Secretary's interpretation of his section 6(a) authority is permissible and therefore owed deference by the Commission. Considering, among other factors, the OSH Act's stated purpose of expanding workplace protections and section 6(a)'s instruction that, in the event of conflict among any such standards, the Secretary shall promulgate the standard which assures the greatest protection of the safety or health of the affected employees, the court found that the Secretary's interpretation is consistent with the OSH Act and is therefore entitled to Chevron deference. View "Kiewit Power Constructors Co. v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against George Washington University, alleging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation and discriminating against her because of her illness. Plaintiff also alleged retaliation and interference claims under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Less than a year after plaintiff underwent treatment for cancer while working as a psychiatry resident at the George Washington University Hospital, she was terminated based on documented instances of unprofessionalism and deficient performance. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the University on all claims. The court held that plaintiff failed to request an accommodation under the ADA, choosing to seek leave under the FMLA. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to identify evidence allowing a reasonable jury to conclude that her employer discriminated against her because of her disability. The court also held that plaintiff failed to rebut the University's legitimate justifications for its actions. Therefore, plaintiff's interference and retaliation claims under the FMLA likewise failed. View "Waggel v. George Washington University" on Justia Law

by
FlyersRights claimed that airlines were not giving passengers sufficient notice of their right to compensation for delays in flights and urged the Department to issue regulations requiring the airlines to print written summaries of passengers' rights on all international airline tickets, including information about how passengers suffering from flight delays might be compensated. The DC Circuit held that FlyersRights has at least one member with independent standing to sue the Department and therefore FlyersRights has associational standing to sue on behalf of its members. On the merits, the court denied FlyersRights' petition for review of the Department's denial of its request for rulemaking as arbitrary and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court held that the Department adequately explained why it denied the request for rulemaking, and the Department's finding that there was insufficient evidence of consumer confusion to warrant a rulemaking was also supported. View "Flyers Rights Education Fund v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

by
This case arose out of the FAA and NPS's efforts to regulate commercial sightseeing flights over national parks. The Air Tour Management Act of 2000 directs the FAA and NPS to "make every effort" to establish rules governing such flights within two years of the first application. After determining that it has jurisdiction over this mandamus petition under the All Writs Act, the DC Circuit held that petitioners had associational standing to seek relief. In this case, petitioners' members showed cognizable aesthetic and recreational injury that could be redressed by mandamus relief. On the merits, the court granted a writ of mandate compelling the FAA and NPS to regulate air tours at seven parks where they have injured members. The court analyzed the six TRAC factors and concluded that mandamus relief was warranted here where the agencies have failed to comply with their statutory mandate for the past nineteen years. The court ordered the agencies to produce a schedule within 120 days of the issuance of this opinion for bringing all twenty-three parks into compliance. View "In re: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility" on Justia Law

by
PMRS petitioned for review of the FDA's denial of PMRS's application to market a prescription opioid drug. The DC Circuit rejected PMRS's challenges under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and held that the FDA's decision to deny the application was reasonable and consistent with law. The court held that the FDA examined the material factors, considered the record as a whole, and provided a reasonable explanation for its decision to deny PMRS's application. In this case, the court had no basis to question the agency's conclusion that the operative version of PMRS's proposed label created the false and misleading impression that the drug possessed abuse deterrent physical and chemical properties. The court also held that the FDA's decision to deny PMRS's request for a hearing was not an abuse of discretion. View "Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Research Services, Inc. v. FDA" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, found liable for multiple securities fraud violations, petitioned for review in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is the wrong court. By the time petitioner realized his mistake and filed the petition in the DC Circuit, the 60 day deadline for filing had passed. The DC Circuit did not pass upon whether the statutory time limit to file a petition for review is jurisdictional and subject to equitable tolling. Instead, the court held that, even assuming it is a non-mandatory claims processing rule, petitioner has failed to demonstrate entitlement to equitable tolling. The court stated that filing a petition for review in a state court that clearly lacks jurisdiction over the petition does not toll the deadline for filing in the DC Circuit court. Furthermore, no extraordinary circumstance beyond petitioner's control prevented him from timely filing in this court and thus he is not entitled to equitable tolling. The court dismissed the petition. View "Young v. SEC" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit vacated defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, or crack, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(iii) (2006). The court held that the district court committed reversible error when it denied defendant's request to allocute before he was sentenced. In this case, defendant's attempt to speak up preserved his claim and, even if it did not, the district court's failure to invite defendant to allocute before it sentenced him is plain error calling for resentencing. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Abney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
When the EPA promulgated the emission standard for pulp mill combustion sources in 2001, EPA addressed some but not all the hazardous air pollutants they are known to emit. In 2017, EPA conducted its first section 112(d)(6) of the Clean Air Act review and revision of the 2001 standard, but decided only to review the standard's limits on emissions of the toxics the standard already controlled, leaving unlimited several other hazardous toxics that the sources are known to emit but that were left out of the 2001 Rule. Petitioners challenged the 2017 Rule's failure to correct the standard's acknowledged under-inclusiveness during the section 112(d)(6) review. The DC Circuit held that, because the Act necessitates section 112-compliant emission standards for each source category, and section 112(d)(6) requires EPA at least every eight years to review and revise emission standards "as necessary," EPA's section 112(d)(6) review of a source category's emission standard must address all listed air toxics the source category emits. Because the 2017 Rule failed to do this, the court granted the petition for review, remanding the rule without vacatur and directing the EPA to set limits on the listed air toxics that pulp mill combustion sources are known to emit but that EPA has yet to control. The court dismissed as moot the denial of the petition for reconsideration. View "Louisiana Environmental Action Network v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law