Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Western Surety Co. v. U.S. Engineering Construction, LLC
Western Surety filed suit against US Engineering, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief regarding its potential liability under a construction performance bond. Western Surety claimed that its obligations under the bond were discharged because U.S. Engineering failed to comply with a condition precedent, thereby relieving Western Surety of any liability. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Western Surety. Because the bond expressly provides the surety with the opportunity to participate in curing the subcontractor's default, the court held that it is a condition precedent to the surety's obligations under the bond that the owner must provide timely notice to the surety of any default and termination before it elects to remedy that default on its own terms. In this case, US Engineering failed to provide such timely notice, and thus Western Surety was not obligated to perform under the bond. The court also held that the bond is clear that Western Surety is not required to demonstrate actual prejudice to avoid liability under these circumstances. View "Western Surety Co. v. U.S. Engineering Construction, LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law
American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority
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
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Cooper Carry Inc.
Hensel Phelps filed suit alleging breach of contract and indemnification claims against Marriott for, among other things, failing to meet the applicable standard of care and by failing to design the Project in accordance with applicable fire codes. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Cooper Carry, holding that the statute of limitations has run on Hensel Phelp's breach of contract claim, and the terms of the indemnification clause did not cover first party claims. View "Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Cooper Carry Inc." on Justia Law
GSS Group Ltd. v. Republic of Liberia
GSS appealed the district court’s dismissal of its second attempt to confirm a $44 million arbitral award entered against the Port Authority for breach of a construction contract. GSS first tried to confirm the award, but the district court found that it had no personal jurisdiction over the Port Authority. Then GSS filed its second petition, also naming the Republic of Liberia, which owns the Port Authority, as respondents. The district court again dismissed GSS’s petition, finding that issue preclusion barred relitigating its personal jurisdiction over the Port Authority and that GSS failed to demonstrate that Liberia was liable for the Port Authority’s alleged breach. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the claims against Liberia for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330 et seq.; affirmed the district court's dismissal of GSS's petition against the Port Authority on sovereign immunities grounds; and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing GSS's petition before allowing jurisdictional discovery. View "GSS Group Ltd. v. Republic of Liberia" on Justia Law
Burley v. Nat’l Passenger Rail Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, Amtrak, alleging that it discriminated against him because of his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and District of Columbia law. The district court granted summary judgment to Amtrak. After the engine plaintiff was driving passed a stop signal at the rail yard and was forced off the rails by a safety derailer, Amtrak fired him and suspended his engineer certificate. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that no jury could reasonably conclude based on the evidence in the record that Amtrak was motivated by plaintiff's race to take the adverse actions of which he complains. View "Burley v. Nat'l Passenger Rail Corp." on Justia Law
Cutler v. HHS
Plaintiff filed suit challenging the religious exemption in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119, as an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Plaintiff also argued that the Administration’s decision to temporarily suspend enforcement of some of the Act’s requirements for a transitional period deprived him of the equal protection of the laws. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss and held that plaintiff lacked standing to bring either claim. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff lacks standing to assert his equal protection claim because nothing in the transitional policy requires him to buy insurance. In this case, plaintiff's inability to maintain his old plan was the independent choice of his insurer. The court concluded, however, that plaintiff did have standing to bring his Establishment Clause challenge. On the merits, the court concluded that the claim fails because the qualifications for exemption are not drawn on sectarian lines. Rather, they simply sort out which faiths have a proven track record of adequately meeting the statutory goals. Moreover, the exemption promotes the Establishment Clause’s concerns by ensuring that those without religious objections do not bear the financial risk and price of care for those who exempt themselves from the tax. As configured by this specific statutory framework, that is an objective, non-sectarian basis for cabining the exemption’s reach. View "Cutler v. HHS" on Justia Law
Nat’l Ass’n of Home Builders v. EPA
In 2008, the EPA issued a rule regulating renovation and remodeling activities that create health hazards arising from lead paint. The rule contained an "opt-out" provision, which exempted owner-occupied housing from the rule's requirements if the homeowner certified that no pregnant women or young children lived there. In 2010, EPA amended the rule to eliminate the opt-out provision. The National Association of Home Builders and other trade associations petitioned for review of the amended rule, arguing (1) the decision to abandon the opt-out provision was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the APA; and (2) EPA failed to convene a panel of representatives of small businesses before issuing the new rule, in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petition for review, holding (1) EPA's decision was not arbitrary or capricious; and (2) the Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petitioners' second challenge. View "Nat'l Ass'n of Home Builders v. EPA " on Justia Law