Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Nat’l Assoc. of Manufacturers, et al. v. SEC, et al.
In response to the Congo war, Congress created Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 78m(p), which requires the SEC to issue regulations requiring firms using "conflict minerals" to investigate and disclose the origin of those minerals. The Association challenged the SEC's final rule implementing the Act, raising claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq.; the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.; and the First Amendment. The district court rejected all of the Association's claims and granted summary judgment for the Commission and intervenor Amnesty International. The court concluded that the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by choosing not to include a de minimus exception for use of conflict materials; the Commission could use its delegated authority to fill in gaps where the statute was silent with respect to both a threshold for conducting due diligence and the obligations of uncertain issuers; the court rejected the Association's argument that the Commission's due diligence threshold was arbitrary and capricious; the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously and its interpretation of sections 78m(p)(2) and 78m(p)(1)(A)(i) was reasonable because it reconciled these provisions in an expansive fashion, applying the final rule not only to issuers that manufacture their own products, but also to those that only contract to manufacture; and the court rejected the Association's challenge to the final rule's temporary phase-in period, which allowed issuers to describe certain products as "DRC conflict undeterminable." The court also concluded that it did not see any problems with the Commission's cost-side analysis. The Commission determined that Congress intended the rule to achieve "compelling social benefits," but it was "unable to readily quantify" those benefits because it lacked data about the rule's effects. The court determined that this benefit-side analysis was reasonable. The court held that section 15 U.S.C. § 78m(p)(1)(A)(ii) & (E), and the Commission’s final rule violated the First Amendment to the extent the statute and rule required regulated entities to report to the Commission and to state on their website that any of their products have “not been found to be 'DRC conflict free.'" The label "conflict free" is a metaphor that conveys moral responsibility for the Congo war. By compelling an issuer to confess blood on its hands, the statute interferes with the exercise of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Nat'l Assoc. of Manufacturers, et al. v. SEC, et al." on Justia Law
Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis
In February 2010, a SeaWorld trainer was killed by Tilikum, a killer whale, during a performance before a live audience in a pool at Shamu Stadium in Orlando. OSHA found that SeaWorld violated the general duty clause, section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 654(a)(1), by exposing SeaWorld's trainers to recognized hazards when working in close contact with killer whales during performances and that the abatement procedures recommended by the Secretary of Labor were feasible. On appeal, SeaWorld challenged the second element (either the employer or the industry recognized the condition or activity as a hazard) and fourth element (a feasible means to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard existed) of the general duty citation. The court concluded that the evidence supported the ALJ's finding that a recognized hazard existed, even beyond the impact of SeaWorld's safety protocols; there was substantial evidence that SeaWorld recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable; the potential harm to SeaWorld's trainers existed in their workplace and involved conditions over which SeaWorld had control; SeaWorld's challenge to the ALJ's decision to credit the testimony of the Secretary's expert with regard to the aggressive behavior of killer whales failed; substantial evidence supported the ALJ's findings that it was feasible for SeaWorld to abate the hazard to its employees by using barriers or minimum distance between trainers and killer whales, most notably because SeaWorld has implemented many of these measures on its own; and the court rejected SeaWorld's contention that the general duty clause was unconstitutionally vague as applied. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Solis" on Justia Law
United States v. Cellco Partnership, et al.
Relator filed a qui tam complaint against Verizon under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3730(b)(5). On appeal, relator challenged the district court's dismissal of his qui tam complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The court held that the complaint sufficiently related to relator's earlier action, that the first-to-file bar applied to relator even though he brought the first action, and that the bar remained in effect even after the first action was no longer pending. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Cellco Partnership, et al." on Justia Law
Int’l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc.
The Union filed suit against WUSA-TV, a television station, alleging that the station breached its contractual obligations by laying off a technician. Because the grievance did not "arise under" the 2008 bargaining agreement, and the 2012 agreement was not yet in effect, the district court concluded that the station was not obligated to arbitrate. The court affirmed, concluding that seniority provisions in the 2008 agreement did not create vested or accrued rights and therefore, the grievance was not arbitrable under the 2008 agreement. Nor do the qualified seniority protections against layoffs contained in the 2008 agreement survive expiration under normal principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, the union's extrinsic evidence was itself ambiguous. Finally, the court rejected the Union's claim that the grievance was arbitrable under the 2012 agreement. View "Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc." on Justia Law
Communities for a Better Environment, et al. v. EPA
Petitioners, three non-profit environmental and wildlife organizations, filed suit challenging EPA's decisions concerning both the primary and secondary standards for carbon monoxide. The primary standards for carbon monoxide have remained the same since 1971 and there has not been a secondary standard for carbon monoxide since EPA revoked a secondary standard in 1985. In 2011, EPA decided to keep things as they were: to retain the same primary standards and to continue without a secondary standard. The court concluded that EPA acted reasonably in retaining the same primary standards for carbon monoxide, and that petitioners lacked Article III standing to challenge EPA's decision not to set a secondary standard for carbon monoxide. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the primary standards and dismissed the petition for review of the secondary standard for lack of standing. View "Communities for a Better Environment, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law
Catholic Healthcare West v. Sebelius
Plaintiff, CHW, was the surviving entity after a merger between Marian and the hospitals previously constituting CHW. Plaintiff's claim related to depreciation taken by Marian in the years before the merger. Plaintiff argued that the merger transaction revealed the inadequacy of that depreciation and that, under the statute and regulations applicable to the merger, the deficiency was subject to recoupment as part of Medicare providers' general entitlement to compensation for the "reasonable cost" of services rendered, 42 U.S.C. 1395f(b)(1). The Secretary rejected the claim, reasoning that the implicit selling price showed a transfer for much less than Marian's true worth, so that the merger did not present a "bona fide sale" between "unrelated parties," a prerequisite for use of the transaction as evidence that the prior depreciation had been inadequate. The court concluded that, under the valuation methods permitted prior to the Program Memorandum at issue and in fact championed by plaintiff here and in the administrative proceedings, there was a gross disparity between Marian's value and the implicit price paid. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the Secretary. View "Catholic Healthcare West v. Sebelius" on Justia Law
USPS v. Postal Regulatory Commission
The USPS sought review of three orders of the Commission implementing the court's mandate in GameFly, Inc. v. Postal Regulatory Commission (GameFly I). In GameFly I, the Commission found that USPS violated the proscription of undue or unreasonable discrimination in 39 U.S.C. 403(c) when it refused to provide to GameFly the same special manual processing service for first class round-trip letter DVD mailers that USPS provided to Netflix. The court upheld the Commission's finding of discrimination but rejected the remedy it adopted - reducing the DVD flat service rate - because it left in place unjustified residual discrimination in that GameFly was still forced to pay a higher rate than Netflix paid to obtain comparable DVD protection. The court remanded for the district court to justify the residual discrimination or eliminate it entirely. On remand, the Commission adopted a remedy which equalizes the cost of first class letter and flat DVD rates, enabling GameFly to use either service at the same cost. The court concluded that the Commission's decision was consistent with the court's decision in GameFly I and with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Pub. L. No. 109-435, 120 Stat. 3198. Accordingly, the court denied USPS's petition for review. View "USPS v. Postal Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law
Remington Lodging & Hospitality v. NLRB
The Board moved to transfer this petition for review of one of its orders to the Ninth Circuit where another petition for review of the same order has been filed. Although the Board conceded that it received the court-and-date-stamped copy of Remington's petition within 28 U.S.C. 2112(a)(1)'s ten-day time limit, it argued that it did not receive the copy from the persons instituting the proceedings. Because every petitioner seeking review of a Board order must comply with section 10(f) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 160(f), section 2112(a) could serve its separate notice function only if petitioners wishing to take advantage of that section's forum selection procedure comply with it separately. Requiring petitioners to comply personally with section 2112(a) alerted the agency that the petitioner cared about its chosen forum and, as the Board explained, imposed the burden of compliance on the party seeking to benefit from section 2112(a). Therefore, the court must transfer the petition to the Ninth Circuit. The court granted the motion to transfer. View "Remington Lodging & Hospitality v. NLRB" on Justia Law
Fisher-Cal Indus., Inc. v. United States, et al.
Fisher-Cal filed suit alleging that the Air Force violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., when the Air Force opted not to renew a contract for multimedia services with Fisher-Cal and decided to in-source the services. On appeal, Fisher-Cal challenged the district court's appeal of its suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court accepted the reasoning of the Federal Circuit in Distributed Solutions, Inc. v. United States, which held that lawsuits involving decisions whether to in-source or contract fell within the jurisdiction of the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. Accordingly, Fisher-Cal's challenge to the Air Force's decision to in-source was governed by the Tucker Act and therefore the U.S. Court of Federal Claims had jurisdiction over the challenge. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Fisher-Cal Indus., Inc. v. United States, et al." on Justia Law
United States v. Clark
Defendant appealed his conviction for bank and wire fraud. The court rejected defendant's challenges to his conviction, his aggravating role enhancement, and his restitution obligation. However, the court vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing because the government conceded that the district court's retroactive application of the Sentencing Guidelines violated the Ex Post Facto Clause where the district court sentenced defendant under the 2010 Guidelines for crimes he committed years earlier. View "United States v. Clark" on Justia Law