Category Archives: Litigation

Decisions, March 2019, Volume 5, Issue 2

Christopher P. Ferragamo, a Director in Jackson & Campbell, P.C.'s Insurance Coverage Practice Group, prepares a bi-monthly newsletter that addresses healthcare issues and healthcare coverage issues called Decisions. Read the latest issue here. Please see below for prior issues of Decisions: January 2019 - Volume 5, Issue 1 November 2018 - Volume 4, Issue 6 September 2018 - Volume... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Manufacturers Have Duty To Warn Sailors Of Products That Require Asbestos Parts

In Air & Liquid System Corp. v. DeVries, a company manufactured equipment for three Navy ships that, as shipped, contained no asbestos, but required asbestos insulation or parts to work as intended. The Navy added the asbestos parts later when the equipment was installed on the ships. The equipment was put into use, releasing asbestos into the... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects Narrow Reading Of Immigration Detention Statute

Federal immigration law provides that certain criminal aliens may be detained by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and not released until a determination on deportation is made. The statute in question, 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)(1), directs the Secretary to arrest the alien “when the alien is released” from jail, and Section 1226(c)(2) mandates that the Secretary keep... Read More >

Court Upholds Validity of Foreclosure Sale in Light of Debtor’s Failure to Seek a Stay Pending Appeal

A recent decision issued by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia underscores the importance for both debtors and creditors to be especially cognizant of procedural rules when dealing with a property subject to foreclosure. In re: Bobbie Upasna Vardan involved a property that had been affected by four bankruptcies filed by the debtor or members of her... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: No Copyright Infringement Suit Until A Copyright Is Registered

In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, Fourth Estate licensed works to a news website. The parties cancelled the licensing agreement, but the website did not remove the works. Fourth Estate sued for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, but its lawsuit was dismissed because Fourth Estate had only applied to register the works—the Register of... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Lost Wages Awarded Under Railroad Retirement Tax Act Are Compensation Subject To IRS Taxation

Michael Loos was injured while working for BNSF Railway Company. He sued his employer, and after trial was awarded $85,000 in pain and suffering, $11,212.78 in medical expenses, and $30,000 in lost wages as a result of him not being able to work from the injury. BNSF then argued that the lost wages award was “compensation . . . for... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Copyright Act’s Award Of Costs Limited To Those Available Under Typical Bill Of Costs

Oracle accused Rimini Street, Inc. of violating various copyrights, and won at trial. Under the Copyright Act, the district court awarded Oracle $12.8 million in litigation expenses under the Act. The district court acknowledged that it was awarding Oracle costs that were not within the six designated categories set forth under 28 U.S.C. secs. 1821 and 1920,... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Limits Immunity Afforded Under The International Organizations Immunity Act Of 1945

Originally, the International Organizations Immunity Act of 1945 (IOIA) granted foreign corporations virtually absolute immunity from suit. In 1952, the State Department adopted a more restrictive view, carving out commercial acts from that immunity. Congress then passed the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) in 1976, which specifically excepted commercial activity with a sufficient nexus in the United States... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Failure To File Appeal Is Constitutionally Deficient Even After Defendant Signs Appeal Waiver

In Garza v. Idaho, Garza signed two plea agreements for state crimes, each of which included a waiver of his appeal rights. After he was sentenced, Garza told his counsel that he wanted to appeal. His counsel did not file any appeal, telling Garza that his waivers made any such appeal “problematic.” After the deadline to appeal passed, Garza... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Deadline To Appeal Class Decertification Not Subject To Equitable Tolling

Under Rule 23(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party has 14 days to file with the federal circuit appeals court a petition for permission to appeal an order certifying or decertifying a class action. In Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert, when the district court decertified his class action, Troy Lambert chose to file a motion for... Read More >

SCOTUS Opinion: Judges Cannot Vote On Cases After Death

In Yovino v. Rizo, the Ninth Circuit heard the case en banc (with 11 then-sitting judges) to restate that circuit’s interpretation of the Equal Pay Act. Judge Stephen Reinhardt authored the majority opinion that was joined by six of the judges, including Reinhardt himself. The other five judges filed concurrences that reached a similar result but under different... Read More >

Tax Treaty Interpretation: Nonjusticiable Political Question?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed and remanded the lower court’s decision in a case involving the interpretation of the US-Switzerland tax treaty. In Starr International Company, Inc. v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-01593  (D.C. Cir. Dec. 7, 2019), Starr sought a tax refund for a portion of the 30 percent withholding taxes automatically... Read More >

Burglary Includes Structures Or Vehicles Adapted To Overnight Accommodation

The criminal defendants in United States v. Sims and United States v. Stitt were both sentenced under the mandatory minimum 15-year prison term provided by the Armed Career Criminal Act, which applies where a defendant had three prior convictions for certain crimes, including “burglary.” Sims and Stitt had each been previously convicted of burglary under state laws, which... Read More >

Court Rejects Overly Strict Standard Used By Special Master In State Dispute Over Water Rights

In an original proceeding brought by Florida against Georgia in a dispute over water apportionment from an interstate river basin, the Court referred the matter to a Special Master for evidentiary proceedings. Florida, as the downstream state, argued that Georgia was using more than its fair share of the water from the basin, thereby harming wildlife in Florida. Ultimately the... Read More >

First Amendment Forbids Mandatory Union Fees From Public Sector Unions

Illinois permits public employees to unionize, and Mark Janus was a state employee whose unit was represented by a public-sector union that engaged in collective bargaining on behalf of its members. The union required that Janus pay a union fee, but he objected since he opposed many of the collective bargaining positions the union took. In the previous case of... Read More >

Court Upholds President Trump’s Travel Ban

In 2017, President Trump issued a proclamation restricting entry of people from eight countries, with exemptions for lawful permanent residents and case-by-case waivers under certain circumstances. The stated basis of the travel ban was that the named countries failed to provide the U.S. with sufficient information about the entrants, creating a security threat, although challengers to the ban (except as... Read More >

Court Strikes Down Abortion Notices Under First Amendment

A number of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers mounted a First Amendment challenge to a California law that required licensed medical providers to provide a notice to its patients of the availability of free or low-cost services, including abortions, and required each unlicensed pro-life medical provider to notify patients that it was not licensed. The centers requested a preliminary injunction, which... Read More >

American Express’s “Antisteering” Provisions Survive Antitrust Scrutiny

Like other credit card companies, American Express (AMEX) permits cardholders to purchase things on credit. However, AMEX encourages cardholder spending by providing more benefits to its members, and that results in higher fees charged to merchants. Merchants, in response, sometimes encouraged customers to use other cards, called “steering.” AMEX in turn put antisteering provisions into its merchant contracts. The government... Read More >

Narrow Majority Largely Upholds Texas Redistricting Plan Against Gerrymandering Challenge

Abbott v. Perez presented the third opportunity for the Court to address gerrymandering claims under the Voter Rights Act, this time examining plans approved by the Texas legislature in 2013 that were largely in accordance with interim plans created by a three-judge Texas court. The 2013 plans evolved from earlier 2011 plans that did not meet with any court’s... Read More >

Supreme Court Has Appellate Jurisdiction To Hear Appeals From The Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces

There are a separate series of trial and appellate military courts that address criminal charges against service members, capped by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). After Keanu Ortiz was convicted of possession and distributing child pornography, he appealed to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). Colonel Martin Mitchell was part of the panel of... Read More >

Defendant Who Consents To Separate Trials Not Subject To Double Jeopardy

After Michael Currier was indicted for burglary, grand larceny, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, he opted for separate trials, doing burglary and grand larceny first, unlawful possession second. He was concerned that his prior convictions for burglary and larceny, which would help prove the unlawful possession charge, would prejudice the jury’s consideration of his current... Read More >

Government Needs A Warrant To Obtain Cell-Site Records To Track Suspect’s Movements

When the FBI suspected that Timothy Carpenter was involved in several robberies, it identified his cell phone number and obtained cell-site information from his wireless carriers without a warrant, which could be used to track the movement of his phone, and thus Carpenter himself. Carpenter moved to suppress the information as violating the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for a warrant supported... Read More >

Patent Act Permits Recovery Of Lost Profits From Foreign Patent Infringement

In WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., WesternGeco sued ION for patent infringement under the Patent Act for creating an identical ocean floor surveying system that ION assembled overseas from parts made in America. A jury awarded WesternGeco damages and lost profits. ION moved to set aside the lost profits since it argued the Patent Act did not... Read More >

Removal Notice Must Specify Time And Place Of Proceeding To Stop Ten-Year Period To Cancel Removal Proceedings

Once a nonpermanent resident has been in the U.S. for a ten-year continuous period, they can cancel removal proceedings under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. That period is stayed if the resident receives a written notice to appear that specifies a time and place for the removal proceedings during the ten year period. A... Read More >

Securities And Exchange Commission Administrative Law Judges Are “Officers Of The United States” Under Appointments Clause

The Constitution’s Appointments Clause sets forth certain requirements for appointing “Officers of the United States,” who are more than mere employees of the federal government. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) utilizes Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) to adjudicate administrative proceedings involving violations of securities laws. Those ALJs are not appointed in accordance with the Appointments Clause. When Raymond Lucia was... Read More >

Stock Options Are Not Money Remuneration Under The Railroad Retirement Tax Act Of 1937

To support the nation’s ailing railroad systems, Congress passed the Railroad Retirement Tax Act in 1937 to bolster railroad employee pensions based on their “compensation,” which was defined as “any form of money remuneration.” Previously, the exception was used to exclude traditional perks like food, lodging, and tickets, but railroads recently began offering stock options. The lower courts split... Read More >

Court Permits States To Impose Sales Taxes On Online Retailers Under The Commerce Clause

In prior cases going back to 1992, the Court had ruled that the Commerce Clause precluded States from imposing sales taxes on sellers who did not maintain a physical presence in the State. But then the Internet exploded, and online retailers like Amazon regularly sell products in the various States while eluding sales taxes. In South Dakota v. Wayfair,... Read More >

Court Upholds District Court Judge’s Explanation For A Sentencing Modification

A criminal drug offender was originally sentenced to 135 months’ imprisonment after the Sentencing Guidelines provided a range of 135 to 168 months. The U.S. Sentencing Commission thereafter revised the range for the same crime to 108 to 135 months. The defendant moved the district court to modify his sentence accordingly. The judge lowered the sentence to 114 months, not... Read More >

Courts Of Appeals Are Obligated To Correct Plain Sentencing Guideline Errors Under Federal Rule Of Criminal Procedure 52(b)

Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b), a court of appeals “should exercise its discretion to correct”  an error in the district court’s application of the Sentencing Guidelines if the error “seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” In Rosales-Mireles v. United States, after the defendant was sentenced under a miscalculation under the Sentencing Guidelines... Read More >

Court Denies Injunctive Relief In Maryland Gerrymandering Case

In Benisek v. Lamone, several Republican voters filed suit in 2017 challenging Maryland’s 2011 redrawing of its Sixth District as being gerrymandered against their constitutional rights. Those voters moved for a preliminary injunction in the district court, to allow the creation of a new districting map. The district court denied that relief and stayed the proceedings pending the decision... Read More >