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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

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Defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, the drugs on board the Mistby, in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA) and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. The DC Circuit held that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over defendants' prosecutions, because Colombia's waiver of objection to U.S. jurisdiction over the Mistby covered defendants' MDLEA prosecutions. However, defendants' offenses were covered by the safety valve provision of 18 U.S.C. 3553(f), which exempts covered offenses from mandatory-minimum sentences such as the 10 year sentences imposed against defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated defendants' sentences and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Mosquera-Murillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 2005, Delta Airlines filed for bankruptcy and stopped contributing to its pilots' pension plan. Delta and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) terminated that Plan, which had insufficient assets to support promised benefit payments, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1301-1461. Under such circumstances, a trustee collects the remaining assets and makes promised payments according to statutory priorities. PBGC provides additional money from its own funds to make up the difference between those payments and guaranteed benefits. PBGC, the Plan's trustee, determined the Plan had a deficit of over $2.5 billion, almost $800 million of which PBGC guaranteed, and paid estimated benefits. It took six years to finalize benefit determinations. After administrative appeals by the pilots, nearly 1,700 beneficiaries sued to further challenge those determinations, citing the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 706, and seeking disgorgement, arguing that the Corporation breached its fiduciary duty and controlled Plan assets for a longer period to collect “massive investment returns” rather than timely paying the pilots. The D.C. Circuit reversed the denial of the Corporation’s motion to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty claim. Recovering the post-termination increase in the value of plan assets is not an available remedy; 29 U.S.C. 1344(c) prevents disgorgement, providing that “[a]ny increase or decrease in the value of the assets of a single-employer plan occurring after the date on which the plan is terminated shall be credited to, or suffered by, the [C]orporation.” View "Lewis v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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Coal residuals, “one of the largest industrial waste streams,” contain myriad carcinogens and neurotoxins. Power plants generally store it on site in aging piles or pools, risking protracted leakage and catastrophic structural failure. Regulations implementing the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901, were long delayed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), facing public outrage over catastrophic failures at toxic coal residual sites, and directed by a federal court to comply with its obligations under RCRA, promulgated its first Final Rule regulating coal residuals in 2015, 80 Fed. Reg. 21,302. Opponents challenged that Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act and RCRA, which requires EPA to promulgate criteria distinguishing permissible “sanitary landfills” from prohibited “open dumps.” Each claim relates to how coal residuals disposal sites qualify as sanitary landfills. EPA announced its intent to reconsider the Rule. The D.C. Circuit denied the EPA’s abeyance motion; remanded as to pile-size and beneficial-use issues; vacated 40 C.F.R. 257.101, which allows for the continued operation of unlined impoundments and a provision that treats “clay-lined” units as if they were lined; found the Rule’s “legacy ponds” exemption unreasoned and arbitrary; rejected claims by industry members that EPA may regulate only active impoundments; found that EPA provided sufficient notice of its intention to apply aquifer location criteria to existing impoundments; and held that EPA did not arbitrarily issue location requirements based on seismic impact zones nor arbitrarily impose temporary closure procedures. View "Utility Solid Waste Activities v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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AFDI filed suit against WMATA and its then-general manager, alleging that WMATA's refusal to display its advertisements violated its rights to free speech and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court granted summary judgment to WMATA. Determining that the case was justiciable, the DC Circuit held that WMATA's advertising space was a nonpublic forum and that its restrictions were viewpoint-neutral. In this case, the court rejected AFDI's as-applied challenge, AFDI's claim that the ban on issue-oriented advertising was facially unconstitutional; and AFDI's claim that Guideline 12 was an unconstitutional prohibition of religious and antireligious views. The court remanded to the district court to determine whether the restrictions were reasonable in light of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, 138 S. Ct. 1876 (2018). Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority" on Justia Law