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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between a paleta company in Mexico (Prolacto) and a paleta company in northern California (PLM) over a phrase "La Michoacana" and an image of a girl in traditional dress holding a paleta ("Indian Girl"). At issue was whether Prolacto or PLM owned the contested phrase and image and which paleta company unfairly competed or otherwise infringed the other's trademark rights. The DC Circuit held that Prolacto's false-association claim failed because Prolacto failed to establish a right to the "La Michoacana" mark or injury from PLM's use sufficient to establish false association in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment for PLM on that claim. The court also affirmed the district court's conclusion that Prolacto failed to establish that PLM's use of the Tocumbo Statements and other advertising materials constituted false advertising in violation of Prolacto's rights under section 43(a)(1)(B). Finally, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that Prolacto infringed PLM's use of its registered marks. The court found no merit in Prolacto's remaining arguments. View "Paleteria La Michoacana, Inc. v. Productos Lacteos Tocumbo S.A" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for threatening to murder a federal law enforcement officer. The court held that the indictment fairly informed defendant of the charge against him so as to satisfy the Constitution and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c); the district court properly rejected defendant's entrapment defense as a matter of law; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by sentencing defendant to 96 months of imprisonment. Finally, defendant argued, and the government conceded that, the district court erred by denying him access to jury-commission records he was entitled to inspect under 28 U.S.C. 1867. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to allow defendant to access such records. View "United States v. Williamson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit denied the hospital's petition for review of the Board's determination that the hospital failed to make a showing that prohibiting the employees' picketing conduct was necessary to avoid disrupting patient care. In this case, the hospital tried to stop employees from displaying picket signs—without any chanting, marching, or obstructing of passage—informing visitors to the facility about an ongoing labor dispute. The court held that the Board's interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was reasonable; the Board's approach permissibly balanced employees' rights to organize against an employer's interests in controlling its property; and the Board was not compelled to adopt a categorical rule that picketing of any kind—including the stationary, nonobstructive holding of a picket sign at issue here—was necessarily more disruptive, and less entitled to the NLRA's protections, than distribution of union literature. View "Capital Medical Center v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Department of Defense in an action brought by plaintiff, a former instructor, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act against the National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs. The court held that the Department failed to provide a consistent and sufficient explanation for plaintiff's discharge, and plaintiff provided evidence that a supervisor directly involved in the decisionmaking process made repeated discriminatory remarks. In this case, a reasonable jury could credit plaintiff's version of events given, inter alia, the evidence that he used to support his prima facie case, the gaps and variations in the College's proffered explanation for the firing, his ultimate replacement by a younger employee, the hiring of several other younger faculty members within the same year as his budgetary termination, and the comments overtly hostile to older employees made by his front-line supervisor who was directly involved in discussions about his termination. View "Steele v. Mattis" on Justia Law

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Hospitals challenged the methodology that the Department used to calculate the "outlier payment" component of their Medicare reimbursements for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. At issue was whether the Department's decision to continue with its methodology after the 2007 fiscal year was arbitrary in light of accumulating data about the methodology's generally sub-par performance. The DC Circuit held in Banner Health v. Price, 867 F.3d 1323 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (per curiam), that the Department's decision to wait a bit longer before reevaluating its complex predictive model was reasonable, because the Department had, at best, only limited additional data for 2008 and 2009 and because the 2009 data suggested that hospitals were paid more than expected. In this appeal, the court held that Banner Health foreclosed the hospitals' challenges to the Department's failure to publish a proposed draft rule during the 2003 rulemaking process and the Department's failure to account for the possibility of reconciliation claw-backs in setting the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 thresholds. Finally, the court held that, while the hospitals' frustration with the Department's frequently off-target calculations was understandable, the methodology had not sunk to the level of arbitrary or capricious agency action. View "Billings Clinic v. Azar" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Venezuela and two of its agencies seized all assets of an American drilling company's Venezuelan subsidiary. Both parent and subsidiary filed suit claiming that the expropriation of the subsidiary's business and assets without compensation violated international law. On remand from the Supreme Court, at issue was whether either company had alleged facts that were sufficient, if true, to establish that it had in fact suffered a taking in violation of international law. The DC Circuit held that only the American parent, not its Venezuelan subsidiary, had done so. The court held that the domestic-takings rule barred the subsidiary's expropriation claim where the subsidiary was considered a Venezuelan national under international law. In this case, the subsidiary was incorporated in Venezuela and had a legal identity distinct from that of its parent shareholders under local law. The court further held that, given the subsidiary's Venezuelan nationality, its takings claim against Venezuela was a matter of domestic, not international, law under the domestic-takings rule. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the subsidiary's claims, as well as the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss the parent's claims. View "Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas corpus relief to Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. Al-Alwi was captured in December 2001 for his Taliban-related activities and has remained in United States custody ever since. The court rejected Al-Alwi's argument that the United States' authority to detain him has "unraveled" where, although hostilities have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time, they have not ended. The court held, in the alternative, that the government's authority to detain Al-Alwi pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has not expired. Finally, the court did not reach the merits of Al-Alwi's remaining arguments because he has forfeited them. View "Al-Alwi v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with OPR and other agencies, seeking to learn the results of investigations into the prosecutor in plaintiff's case. OPR categorically refused to acknowledge the existence of, let alone disclose, any potentially relevant documents outside of plaintiff's individual case. With respect to the prosecutor's conduct in plaintiff's case, OPR held back substantial amounts of material, asserting a sweeping breadth for its claimed exemptions. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for OPR with respect to its invocations of Exemption 7(C) and the district court's decision to deny a fee waiver to plaintiff, holding that circuit precedent foreclosed OPR's approach and OPR failed to justify multiple withholdings. The court also remanded with instructions for the district court to reconsider its decision with respect to the FBI's withholding of records under Exemption 3 in light of recent circuit precedent. The court affirmed in all other matters. View "Bartko v. DOJ" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit held that FERC did not adequately justify its approval of the tariff amendment at issue here, which prohibited cost sharing for a category of high-voltage projects conceded to have significant regional benefits, and which did so only because those projects reflected the planning criteria of individual utilities. The court granted the petitions for review, holding that the Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously in approving the tariff amendment and applying it to the Elmont-Cunningham and Cunningham-Dooms projects. The court set aside the orders under review to the extent that they approved the amendment and applied it to the two projects, and remand for further proceedings View "Old Dominion Electric Coop. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Defendants Lovo and Sorto were convicted of conspiring to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, and using, carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. The DC Circuit rejected defendants' claim that the residual clause of the statutory crime of violence definition that affects them was unconstitutionally vague. After the court issued its opinion, the Supreme Court held in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204, 1210 (2018), that 18 U.S.C. 16(b) -- the residual clause of section 16's crime of violence definition -- was unconstitutionally vague. In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Dimaya, the court granted rehearing for the limited purpose of vacating defendants' firearm convictions. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Eshetu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law