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Coal miners filed suit alleging that mine operators interfered with their rights under Section 103(g) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977 to raise anonymous complaints with the MSHA regarding health and safety issues. The Commission imposed various remedies, including a $20,000 penalty per violation and an order requiring Robert Murray, the President and CEO of Murray Energy, to personally hold a meeting at each mine and read a statement regarding the violations. The DC Circuit denied a petition for review and declined to decide whether the Commission applied the correct test of interference under Section 105(c)(1) because petitioners failed to raise and preserve the issue during the administrative proceedings before the ALJ and the Commission. The court also found that, even under the legal standard that petitioners would have the court adopt, substantial evidence in the record clearly supports the Commission's finding that petitioners interfered with miners' Section 103(g) rights. Furthermore, the court found no merit in petitioners' challenge to the assessment of monetary penalties. Finally, the court held that petitioners failed to properly raise and preserve, and thus forfeited, their claims challenging the order requiring Murray to read a statement. View "Marshall County Coal Co. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The State of Missouri filed suit alleging that the Bureau of Reclamation violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to consider adequately how diverting billions of gallons of Missouri River water pursuant to the Northwest Area Water Supply Project will affect downstream States. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint and held that, under Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 485–86 (1923), a state does not have standing as parens patriae to bring an action against the federal government. In this case, Missouri lacked Article III standing because it forfeited its direct injury theory of standing, and the Mellon bar has no exception that allows lawsuits against Reclamation to proceed. View "Government of the Province of Manitoba v. Bernhardt" on Justia Law

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An investment adviser and its principals petitioned for review of the SEC's determination that they violated Section 206(2) and Section 207 of the Investment Advisers Act. The SEC alleged that petitioners failed for many years to disclose its arrangement with Fidelity and the conflicts of interest arising from that compensation. The DC Circuit denied the petition in part, holding that the Commission's findings of negligent violations under section 206(2) were supported by substantial evidence. However, the court granted the petition in part, holding that the Commission's findings of willful violations under section 207 based on the same negligent conduct were erroneous as a matter of law where the repeated failures to adequately disclose conflicts of interest were no more than negligent. View "The Robare Group, Ltd. v. SEC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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CREW seeks to compel the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel to make available all of its formal written opinions, as well as indices of those opinions, under the so-called "reading-room" provision of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of CREW's complaint for failure to state a claim in light of the court's decision in Electronic Frontier Foundation v. United States Department of Justice (EFF), 739 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2014). In this case, there was no dispute that the formal written opinions the OLC has declined to publish were "withheld" "agency records." The court held that CREW has not plausibly alleged that the OLC's formal written notices have all been adopted by the agencies to which they were addressed, subjecting the opinions to disclosure under FOIA's reading room provision as the"working law" of those agencies. View "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. DOJ" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's 2017 rule establishing a process for updating the inventory of chemicals manufactured or processed in the United States under the Toxic Substances Control Act, alleging that the rule unlawfully shields information from public disclosure. The DC Circuit affirmed the petition for review in part and held that petitioner correctly determined that the EPA's elimination of questions pertaining to reverse engineering was arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court ordered a limited remand, without vacatur, for the EPA to address its arbitrary elimination of substantiation questions regarding reverse engineering. The court otherwise denied the petition. View "Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Commonwealth filed suit against two land surveyors, KCI and WMC, alleging breach of contract and negligence claims in connection with four allegedly defective surveys that the two entities delivered to ICG, a non-party to this litigation. Commonwealth alleged that KCI's and WMC's surveys failed to notice the full size of a twelve-inch encroachment, which ICG discovered on its property. The district court dismissed the complaint based on the three year statute of limitations. The DC Circuit reversed as to the first three counts of the complaint because the district court erred in dismissing them on statute of limitations grounds without applying the discovery rule. In this case, at the motion to dismiss stage, the court could not conclusively say that Commonwealth and ICG failed to exercise reasonable diligence in attempting to discover the encroachment's full size. Furthermore, it was premature to reject the possibility that Commonwealth's claims in counts one, two, and three did not accrue, at the earliest, until ICG discovered that the encroachment was twelve inches. View "Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. v. KCI Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The DC Circuit denied the States' petition for review of the EPA's decision to refuse to expand the Northeast Ozone Transport Region to include the upwind States of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the remaining portions of Virginia. The court held that EPA's denial of the States' petition complied with the Clean Air Act and was a reasonable exercise of the agency's discretion. The court held that many of the States' arguments against EPA's denial derive from a fundamental misunderstanding of the scope of EPA's discretion; even if the States were correct that EPA's other Clean Air Act tools will not on their own completely solve the interstate ozone transport problem, this would not make enlargement of the transport region mandatory; EPA adequately explained the facts and policy concerns it relied on, recounted its historical use of the good-neighbor provision and the ongoing downward trend in ozone pollution, and therefore had a sufficient basis in the record for predicting that improvement would continue under the current regulatory scheme; and, with respect to the Northeast Region, EPA did not find equity irrelevant, as the States contend, but rather determined that any equitable concerns could not alone dictate the disposition of the petition. View "State of New York v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Defendants Thompson and Knowles appealed their convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine (5 kilograms or more) on an aircraft registered in the United States or owned by a United States citizen. The DC Circuit held that conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute does not have an extraterritorial reach because the underlying crime is not extraterritorial. Therefore, the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute was defective, but the error was harmless because no possible prejudice could have arisen from the asserted error. The court also rejected defendants' challenges to the district court's rulings and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit denied petitions for review of the FAA's decision that payments of the Portland International Airport's utility charges for off-site stormwater drainage and Superfund remediation did not constitute diversion of airport revenues or violate the Anti-Head Tax Act. The court held that Congress expressly authorized the use of airport revenues for "operating costs . . . of the airport" and the FAA has properly determined that the general expenses of a utility are such "operating costs." Therefore, the court rejected petitioner's contention that the FAA's decision was based on erroneous statutory interpretations and that the FAAs findings were not supported by substantial evidence. View "Air Transport Association of America v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied UPS Ground's petition for review challenging the certification of a union at its Kutztown Pennsylvania distribution facility. The court held that UPS Ground failed to identify a defect in the Board's decision to certify the union where the Board certified an appropriate bargaining unit and reasonably determined that one of the drivers employed at the Kutztown center was an "employee" under the National Labor Relations Act and not a statutory "supervisor" who would be excluded from the Act's protections. The court held that UPS Ground's remaining objections to the application of the Board's rules and regulations all lacked merit. View "UPS Ground Freight, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law