Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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While district courts generally have discretion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) to adjust the terms of an existing consent decree in light of changed circumstances, the issuance of a new injunction must meet the strict preconditions for such exceptional relief set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. This case stemmed from a putative class action brought by a broad group of Medicaid applicants and recipients against the District. The parties eventually reached a settlement and a consent decree was issued. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and renewals under the Affordable Care Act. About a week after briefing on the preliminary injunction concluded, plaintiffs filed a motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) and (b)(6) to "modify" the Consent Decree to achieve precisely the same relief as the pending motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted the motion to modify and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction as moot. The DC Circuit held that the district court's order provided brand new relief based on brand new facts alleging violations of a new law without the requisite findings for an injunction, and thus it crossed the line from permissibly modifying into impermissibly enjoining. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment, vacated the new injunctive relief, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Salazar v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, seeking compensatory and punitive damages after a thirteen-year delay in receiving a jury award against the RNC. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's sua sponte dismissal of the complaint for want of federal jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The court held that, to the extent the complaint called for appeal of a District of Columbia court order issued in plaintiff's suit against the RNC, any such claim was barred by Rooker-Feldman. However, Rooker-Feldman did not bar those portions of the complaint against the Joint Committee that did not seek to appeal orders in his Superior Court suit against the RNC. In this case, neither plaintiff's claim that Superior Court administrative personnel violated his property rights by misleading him and mishandling his award, nor his claim that court administrators neglected their legal duty to make the courts accessible to persons with disabilities like his, necessarily called for the federal courts to review any state court judgment. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Croley v. Joint Committee on Judicial Administration" on Justia Law

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Liquidators petitioned for writ of mandamus to compel the DC district court's compliance with a Second Circuit mandate in an action involving claims to $6.8 million of alleged illegal proceeds from a New York bank account in the name of Kesten Development Corporation. The Second Circuit held that enforcement of Brazil's criminal forfeiture order violated the penal law rule barring United States courts from enforcing the penal laws of foreign countries. The court held that the proper standard of review in this case was the same as all mandamus cases and applied the Cheney factors. Applying the first Cheney factor, the court held that Liquidators have no right to relief and thus failed to satisfy the legal standard for obtaining mandamus. View "In Re: Trade and Commerce Bank" on Justia Law

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Commercial truck drivers and their industry association filed suit claiming that they were injured by the Department's violation of its statutory obligation to ensure the accuracy of a database containing driver-safety information. In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), the Supreme Court held that Article III standing requires a concrete injury even in the context of a statutory violation. The DC Circuit held that, under Spokeo, the asserted injury was, by itself, insufficiently concrete to confer Article III standing to plaintiffs. However, the court reversed with respect to two drivers whose information was released to prospective employers because dissemination of inaccurate driver-safety data inflicts an injury sufficiently concrete to confer standing to seek damages. View "Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association v. DOT" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff's employer failed to respond to his suit for wage underpayment, plaintiff obtained a default judgment for himself and two other employees. The district court subsequently vacated its default judgment as to the two employees because they failed to opt-in to the lawsuit, concluding that it had lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter the judgment. The DC Circuit held that the opt-in omission did not oust the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. The court held, nonetheless, that the judgment may be void for a different reason. In this case, two defendants claimed they were never served with the complaint and thus the district court must hold an evidentiary hearing on remand. View "Montes v. Janitorial Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant after it attempted to collect debt from plaintiff, alleging that the company violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the District of Columbia Consumer Protections Procedures Act (CPPA), and the District of Columbia Debt Collection Law (DCDCL). Plaintiff eventually accepted defendant's offer of judgment regarding the FDCPA claim and the district court determined the attorney's fees to which she was entitled for this success. The DC Circuit held that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(D) and 72(b)(3) foreclose the district court from using a "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard when evaluating a magistrate judge's proposed disposition of an attorney's fee request. The correct standard of review is de novo. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded to allow the trial judge to reconsider this matter in the first instance applying de novo review. The court affirmed as to the remaining orders challenged on appeal. View "Baylor v. Mitchell Rubenstein & Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Army unlawfully relieved him of command in retaliation for whistleblowing, in violation of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988, 10 U.S.C. 1034. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the decision of the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The DC Circuit ordered this action to be transferred to district court, holding that nothing in section 1034 or any other provision of the Act provides for direct review in the courts of appeal. View "Rodriguez v. Penrod" on Justia Law

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Appellant challenged two district court orders directing him to produce various documents in response to a subpoena issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. While the appeal was pending, appellant turned over some of the documents and the Subcommittee completed its investigation, issuing a final report. The DC Circuit held that the case was moot because the relief appellant seeks is barred by the separation of powers. The court explained that the separation of powers, including the Speech or Debate Clause, barred the court from ordering a congressional committee to return, destroy, or refrain from publishing the subpoenaed documents. Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation that the Subcommittee, having completed its work and issued its final report, will nonetheless reopen its investigation and again issue a subpoena to appellant. Accordingly, the DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgments and dismissed the case as moot. View "Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations v. Ferrer" on Justia Law

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NARUC challenged the FCC's order authorizing interconnected Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service providers (I-VoIPs) to obtain North American Numbering Plan telephone numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators rather than through intermediary local phone service numbering partners. NARUC argued that the Commission has effectively classified I-VoIP service as a Title II telecommunications service, or acted arbitrarily by delaying a classification decision or by extending Title II rights and obligations to I-VoIPs in the absence of classification. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the petition, concluding that NARUC failed to demonstrate an injury-in-fact, and thus failed to establish Article III standing to challenge the Order. View "National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. FCC" on Justia Law

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In 1963, the Republic of Guinea entered into an agreement with Halco establishing the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) for the purpose of developing Guinea's rich bauxite mines. Nanko filed suit against Alcoa, alleging breach of the CBG Agreement, asserting that it was a third-party beneficiary thereof, and another for racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C.1981. Nanko later added Halco as a defendant and asserted an additional claim against Alcoa for tortious interference with contractual relations. The district court dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(7) for failure to join Guinea as a required Rule 19 party. The court concluded that the district court's Rule 19 holding failed to fully grapple with Nanko's allegations and that those allegations, accepted as true, state a claim for racial discrimination under section 1981. The court reasoned that, insofar as the existing parties' interests are concerned, evidence of Guinea's actions, views, or prerogatives can be discovered and introduced where relevant to the parties' claims and defenses even if Guinea remained a nonparty. At this stage in the pleadings, the court did not believe that the allegations could be reasonably read to show that Guinea was a necessary party. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Nanko Shipping, USA v. Alcoa" on Justia Law