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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The families of American victims of a 2002 bombing in the West Bank filed suit against the Palestinian Defendants, alleging that defendant are liable for the attack on the theory that they enabled the bombing through their provision of significant support to the Popular Front. After determining that the district court's ruling is an appealable final judgment, the DC Circuit held that the district court erred in rejecting the Palestinian Defendants' argument that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction. In this case, the families forfeited their interest in the cross-appeal rule, and exceptional circumstances excused the Palestinian Defendants' failure to cross-appeal the question of personal jurisdiction. The court held that the Palestinian Defendants did not forfeit their personal jurisdiction defense, and the district court abused its discretion in concluding otherwise. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for the district court to dismiss the case without prejudice. View "Shatsky v. Palestine Liberation Organization" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Appellant filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, alleging that KBR and various subcontractors defrauded the US Government by inflating costs and accepting kickbacks while administering military contracts in wartime Iraq. After the district court granted summary judgment to KBR, the company filed a bill of costs with the clerk of the district court, seeking over $100,000 in costs. In this appeal, the DC Circuit considered the costs awarded under 28 U.S.C. 1920 subsection (4), which covers the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case, and subsection (2), which covers fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case. The court held that the district court awarded costs in excess of those authorized by subsections (4) and (2). Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for the district court to retax costs. View "United States ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Appellant filed suit claiming damages under the Consent Decree created in the 1999 settlement between the Department of Agriculture and a class of African American farmers. After the arbitrator denied the claims, appellant petitioned the district court for "monitor review" of the arbitrator's decision. The district court denied the petition and appellant's two motions for reconsideration. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that monitor review of the arbitrator's decision would have been futile because there was no evidence of appellant's incompetency in the record before the arbitrator. In this case, appellant's actions could be interpreted as a product of irrationality or confusion or frustration but do not support an inference of incompetence. The court also affirmed the district court's decision declining to modify the consent decree under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5), because appellant's counsel failed to meet the arbitration deadlines. View "Pigford v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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At the motion-to-dismiss stage, dismissal on statute-of-limitations grounds is permissible only if a plaintiff's claims are conclusively time-barred on the face of the complaint. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's determination that Capitol Services' lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations because Capitol Services was on "inquiry notice" of defendant's alleged interference with its contract long before the limitations period expired. The record was inconclusive as to whether Capitol Services had knowledge of Vesta's role prior to August 28, 2014, three years before this suit against Vesta was filed. Therefore, when during that intervening period Capitol Services had inquiry notice of Vesta's potential role was an open factual question that could not be resolved at this time in the proceedings. Finally, Vesta's collateral estoppel claim failed because critical elements of collateral estoppel have not been established. View "Capitol Services Management v. Vesta Corp." on Justia Law

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After the Association filed suit alleging that the District's school funding practices inadequately fund charter schools, the district court rejected the Association's claims. The DC Circuit did not reach the merits of the Association's claims, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. In this case, none of the Association's claims under the School Reform Act, Home Rule Act, and Constitution arose under federal law within the meaning of the federal question statute. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for dismissal of the complaint for want of jurisdiction. View "D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's stay of proceedings in its federal complaint. The district court applied the Colorado River doctrine to grant the stay. The DC Circuit held that none of the Colorado River factors -- avoiding piecemeal litigation, which court first obtained jurisdiction over the case, and whether federal or state law controls -- alone or in combination, provide the "exceptional circumstances" required to suspend a federal court's "virtually unflagging obligation" to exercise its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed the order granting the motion to stay the federal proceedings. View "Edge Investment, LLC v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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These consolidated appeals stemmed from the cyberattack of multiple OPM databases that resulted in the data breach of sensitive personal information from more than 21 million people. Plaintiffs alleged that OPM's cybersecurity practices were inadequate, enabling the hackers to gain access to the agency's database of employee information, in turn exposing plaintiffs to heightened risks of identity theft and other injuries. The district court dismissed the complaints based on lack of Article III standing and failure to state a claim. The DC Circuit held that both sets of plaintiffs have alleged facts sufficient to satisfy Article III standing requirements; the Arnold Plaintiffs have stated a claim for damages under the Privacy Act, and have unlocked OPM's waiver of sovereign immunity, by alleging OPM's knowing refusal to establish appropriate information security safeguards; KeyPoint was not entitled to derivative sovereign immunity because it has not shown that its alleged security faults were directed by the government, and it is alleged to have violated the Privacy Act standards incorporated into its contract with OPM; and, assuming a constitutional right to informational privacy, NTEU Plaintiffs have not alleged any violation of such a right. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Data Security Breach Litigation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an international businessman who resides in Missouri, filed this suit against defendant, the investment and wealth fund of one of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), alleging that defendant violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and committed the common law torts of conversion and unfair competition when it hacked plaintiff's computers. Plaintiff and defendants previously entered into a broad settlement agreement where they agreed to litigate all future, related claims in England. The DC Circuit held that the forum selection clause was mandatory and applied to plaintiff's claims, and the parties did not dispute that the clause was valid and enforceable. The court also held that the public interest factors that plaintiff raised to support his claim that transferring the case to England was unwarranted, did not defeat the forum selection clause. The court explained that the public did not have an interest in keeping U.S.-based disputes that turn on U.S. law in our courts. In this case, the Settlement Agreement provides that English Law will govern all disputes subject to the forum selection clause. Furthermore, judicial economy and administrative convenience point towards resolving the parties' claims in the same forum. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's decision to the contrary. View "Azima v. Rak Investment Authority" on Justia Law

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After the Superior Court approved Chartered's reorganization plans, DC Healthcare Systems filed suit against the District and others, alleging that defendants' unlawful and unconstitutional actions manufactured Chartered's financial distress and forced it into the rehabilitation proceedings. The district court dismissed the action based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The DC Circuit reversed and held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not deprive the district court of jurisdiction to decide this case. The court held that Healthcare Systems' federal lawsuit did not invite district court review and rejection of the Superior Court's judgments. Rather, it presented claims that were independent of and distinct from those adjudicated by the Superior Court. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "D.C. Healthcare Systems, Inc. v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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After Esther Klieman was killed in a terrorist attack on an Israeli public bus, plaintiffs filed suit under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), among other laws. The district court dismissed the case against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) for want of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in agreeing, in light of the intervening Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), to reconsider its earlier ruling that the district court had general personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court held that Daimler, and circuit precedent, effectively foreclosed a ruling that the district court had general jurisdiction over the PA/PLO; plaintiffs' prima facie case for specific jurisdiction did not meet the Constitution's requirements; and plaintiffs have neither established the circumstances rendering section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 applicable nor facts justifying a remand for discovery on the issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision. View "Estate of Esther Klieman v. Palestinian Authority" on Justia Law