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Heirs of several Jewish art dealers doing business in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1930s sought to recover a valuable art collection (Welfenschatz) allegedly taken by the Nazis. The DC Circuit largely affirmed the district court's denial of Germany's motion to dismiss, holding that Germany failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that the allegations did not bring the case within the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) as defined and applied in Simon v. Republic of Hungary, 812 F.3d 127 (D.C. Cir. 2016). On remand, the district court must grant the motion to dismiss with respect to the Federal Republic of Germany—but not the SPK, an instrumentality for which the commercial-nexus requirement can be satisfied without the presence of the Welfenschatz in the United States. The court rejected Germany's argument that the heirs must exhaust their remedies against Germany in its courts before pressing a claim against it elsewhere. Finally, the court rejected Germany's argument that the heirs' state law causes of action conflict with, and thus were preempted by, United States foreign policy. View "Philipp v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law

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The Board held in three separate orders that Chino violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Board's prior petitions to enforce the first two orders were granted by the DC Circuit and the Ninth Circuit. At issue in this appeal was whether, in the midst of Chino's repeated challenges to the Board's orders, and with the Union on the verge of securing its first contract, Chino could lawfully withdraw recognition from the Union—or whether, as the Board found, its refusal to bargain constituted another unfair labor practice. The court held that federal law did not permit Chino to withdraw recognition from the Union when it did, that the Board's remedies (except one) should be enforced, and that the would-be intervenor suffered neither prejudice nor a deprivation of his due process rights when the Board declined to expand this case to encompass his claim. Accordingly, the court denied Chino's petition for review as to all aspects of the Board's order except for its award of litigation costs and expenses. View "Veritas Health Services, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied Delaware's petition for review of the EPA's grant of an extension for a multistate region to comply with national ozone standards. After determining that Delaware may petition the court for review of the EPA's decision, the court held on the merits that the EPA had authority under 42 U.S.C. 7511(a)(5) to grant three states' requests to extend the Philadelphia Area's attainment date, even though Delaware was not among them. The court also held that the EPA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when requiring New Jersey to comply only with its EPA-approved state implementation plans (SIP). Finally, the court rejected Delaware's contention that Maryland and Pennsylvania could not submit certifications of compliance with their SIPs without evidence to substantiate the certifications. View "Delaware Department of Natural Resources v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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This litigation over attorney's fees stemmed from a Freedom of Information Act case. At issue was whether plaintiff was entitled to attorney's fees under the Freedom of Information Act attorney's fee statute. Applying a deferential standard, the DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its analysis of four factors: (i) the public benefit from the case; (ii) the commercial benefit to the plaintiff; (iii) the nature of the plaintiff's interest in the records; and (iv) the reasonableness of the agency's withholding of the requested documents. Furthermore, the district court acted within its discretion when it concluded that the fourth factor outweighed the other three. View "Morley v. CIA" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged FERC's grant of a 30 year license to continue power generation on a portion of the Coosa River. The DC Circuit held that the Commission's environmental review and a biological opinion it relied on were unreasoned and unsupported by substantial evidence, and thus its issuance of the license was arbitrary and capricious. In this case, a review of the licensed project's impact on the environment and endangered species documented that the project would cause a 100% take of multiple endangered species; the Commission concluded that licensing the generation project would have no substantial impact on either the River's ecological condition or endangered species; and thus the Commission declined to factor in the decades of environmental damage already wrought by exploitation of the waterway for power generation and that damage's continuing ecological effects. The court dismissed the first petition, granted the second petition, vacated the licensing decision, and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Rivers and Alabama Rivers Alliance v. FERC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's Small UAS Rule regulating certain unmanned aircraft (drones). Petitioner, a model aircraft hobbyist, contended that the rule exceeded the agency's statutory authority, was arbitrary and capricious, and had miscellaneous additional infirmities. The court held that because the challenged rule's only regulation of section 336 model aircraft was permitted by the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the FAA has honored the statutory safe harbor for these aircraft; section 333 of the Modernization Act permits the agency to apply the regulations of the Small UAS Rule to recreational model aircraft that do not fall within the section 336 safe harbor; the FAA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously and the court rejected plaintiff's five arguments to the contrary; and the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the FAA violated the Paperwork Reduction Act. View "Taylor v. FAA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Aviation

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The DC Circuit granted the employer's petitions for review of the Board's order holding it had committed an unfair labor practice by failing to bargain with the union before terminating five employees. The Board held that the employer was liable for a substantially longer period of back pay after the parties bargained over the effects of an impasse and the Board held the impasse was unlawful. The court held that the order was not supported by substantial evidence because there was no substantial evidence to support the Board's finding that the parties did not reach a lawful impasse on April 11. Therefore, the court vacated the Supplemental Order and remanded to the Board to assess more carefully whether the employer's offer to the union exceeded the Transmarine amount. On remand, the Board may find that the employer reached a lawful impasse on April 11 and therefore owed each employee only two weeks of back pay. View "Pennsylvania State Corrections Association v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's final rule entitled "NESHAP for Brick and Structural Clay Products Manufacturing; and NESHAP for Clay Ceramics Manufacturing" and the EPA's partial denial of reconsideration of the rule. Environmental petitioners contended that the EPA erred in its use of health-based standards for acid gas emissions, failed to properly explain its methodology in setting maximum achievable control technology-based (MACT) standards, and improperly allowed brick plants to meet alternative emissions floors. Industry petitioners contended that the EPA made multiple errors in its methodology in the rule. The DC Circuit denied the industry petitioners' petitions for review and granted the environmental petitioners' petition for review as to the EPA's use of a health threshold to set the emissions limit for acid gases; the EPA's ad hoc adjustments of upper prediction limit calculations; and the EPA's provision of alternative MACT floors for brick plants. The court denied the environmental petitioners' petition for review as to the general application of the upper prediction limit to limited datasets as defined by the EPA. The court remanded the rule for further proceedings. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" 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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EIG, an American investment fund, filed suit against Petrobras and others, alleging counts of fraud, aiding and abetting fraud and civil conspiracy to commit fraud. EIG's claims stemmed from its loss of a $221 million investment in an undersea oil-drilling project off the coast of Brazil. Petrobras moved for dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that Petrobras was an instrumentality of the Brazilian state and thus immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying dismissal, holding that Petrobras was not immune from EIG's suit. The court concluded that Petrobras's commercial activity in Brazil caused a direct effect in the United States, including a direct effect on EIG. View "EIG Energy Fund XIV, L.P. v. Petroleo Brasileiro, S.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: International Law