Articles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff filed suit against her coworker and her employer, LIRR, and others asserting violations of the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and 42 U.S.C. 1983; state law claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and violations of state and city human rights laws. On appeal, the coworker challenged the district court's award of damages to plaintiff on her claim of malicious prosecution. The incident leading up to the suit concerned the coworker's accusation that plaintiff touched her breast in the workplace parking lot. The court affirmed the district court's denial of the coworker's motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial on liability. The court concluded, however, that the jury's award of damages exceeded limits reasonably allowable in the district court's discretion. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of the coworker's motion seeking a new trial on damages unless plaintiff accepted remittitur reducing the amount of the judgment. View "Stampf v. Trigg" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, cleaning workers who purportedly were exposed to toxic contaminants while working in buildings on the periphery of the World Trade Center site following the September 11, 2001, attacks, filed suit against defendants, owners of various buildings in lower Manhattan that were damaged or destroyed in the attacks. At issue on appeal are two district court orders: 1) the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing the claims of 211 plaintiffs who answered "none" to an interrogatory asking plaintiffs to identify "diagnosed" conditions, injuries, and diseases for which they were seeking recovery; and 2) the district court's dismissal of the claims of another 31 plaintiffs for failure to prosecute because they did not certify their interrogatory responses by a court ordered deadline. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to plaintiffs based solely on their answer "none" to the "diagnosed" condition interrogatory without considering the record as a whole. However, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the claims of the 31 plaintiffs for failure to prosecute. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "In Re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, representatives of hundreds of Americans killed in multiple Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks, have billions of dollars of unpaid compensatory damages judgments against Iran stemming from these attacks. The district court awarded turnover of $1.75 billion in assets under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA), 28 U.S.C. 1610, and a statute enacted specifically to address the assets at issue in this case, 22 U.S.C. 8772. Because Iran concedes that the statutory elements for turnover of the assets under section 8772 have been satisfied, the court rejected Iran's arguments that section 8772 conflicts with the Treaty of Amity, 8 U.S.T. 899, between the United States and Iran, violates separation of powers, and effects an unconstitutional taking. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing an anti-suit injunction to protect its judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that New York City officers used excessive force when arresting her. On appeal, plaintiff primarily seeks a new trial on damages and challenges portions of the district court's order awarding attorney's fees and costs incurred prior to the date of defendants' Rule 68 Offer. The court concluded that the district court did not err in refusing to give a separate charge as to future damages and plaintiff failed to establish that any potentially improper conduct by defense counsel prejudiced the jury's award of punitive damages. The district court properly applied Rule 68 and did not abuse its discretion by reducing the reasonable hourly rate of plaintiff's lead counsel. The court held that Rule 68 offers need not, as a per se rule, expressly apportion damages among multiple defendants. With respect to apportionment, a Rule 68 offer is operative so long as it is capable of being compared to the prevailing plaintiff's ultimate recovery. Because the Offer meets this standard, the court affirmed the district court's decision. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that the district court erred in reducing the amount of her awardable attorney's fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and order of the district court. View "Stanczyk v. City of New York, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioners filed a petition for limitation on liability after visitors of their powerboat were involved in a fistfight on a floating dock operated by Claimant. At issue was whether federal admiralty jurisdiction extended to tort claims arising from a physical altercation among recreational visitors on and around a permanent dock surrounded by navigable water. The court held that federal admiralty jurisdiction did not reach the claims at issue because this type of incident did not have a potentially disruptive effect on maritime commerce. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Tandon v. Ulbrick" on Justia Law

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The European Community filed suit against RJR, alleging that RJR directed, managed, and controlled a global money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., laundered money through New York-based financial institutions and repatriated the profits of the scheme to the United States, and committed various common law torts in violation of New York state law. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the federal and state law claims; the court disagreed with the district court's conclusion that RICO cannot apply to a foreign enterprise or to extraterritorial conduct; the court concluded that, with respect to a number of offenses that constitute predicates for RICO liability and were alleged in this case, Congress had clearly manifested an intent that they apply extraterritorially; and, as to the other alleged offenses, the Complaint alleged sufficiently important domestic activity to come within RICO's coverage. The court also concluded that the district court erred in ruling that the European Community's participation as a plaintiff in this lawsuit destroyed complete diversity; the European Community is an "agency or instrumentality of a foreign state" under 28 U.S.C. 1603(b) and therefore, qualified as a "foreign state" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(4); and its suit against "citizens of a State or of different States" came within the diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "European Community v. RJR Nabisco, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Citibank defendants engaged in tortious conduct and breached contractual obligations owed to him in connection with private equity investments in Brazil. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of the complaint. The court held that the district court had jurisdiction to hear the case under the Edge Act, 12 U.S.C. 632, because plaintiff's claims arose out of a foreign financial operation. The court also concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's tort and contract claims against the Citibank defendants under Rule 12(b)(6). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Wilson v. Dantas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal of her state-law tort claims as time-barred, arguing that the statute of limitations applicable to her tort claims was tolled by her filing of a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The court joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding as a matter of federal law that filing an EEOC charge did not toll the limitations period of state-law tort claims, even if those claims arose out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC charge. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's tort claims. View "Castagna v. Luceno" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, injured while working on the Motor Vessel Liberty Sun, filed suit against his employer and others asserting claims for damages under a negligence theory and an admiralty cause of action against the owners of "unseaworthy" vessels. The court declined to adopt the maritime rescue doctrine and held that the correct standard of care in maritime injury cases is that of a reasonable mariner under the circumstances. Since evidence supported the conclusion that abnormal forces were acting on the Liberty Sun at the time, she was not unseaworthy as a matter of law. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Barlow, Jr. v. Liberty Maritime, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former business associates, alleging that they directed a paramilitary unit of the Bangladeshi national police to detain and torture him in order to force him to turn over his ownership interest in a telecommunications company. Defendants were found liable for violations under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA), 106 Stat. 73, note following 28 U.S.C. 1350. The court held that the conduct giving rise to this action occurred within the territory of another sovereign and, therefore, under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, Co., could not form the basis of an action under the ATS; the general verdict rule did not require that the judgment against defendants be vacated with respect to plaintiff's claim under the TVPA because the jury necessarily found Defendant Khan liable under that statute in returning a general verdict in favor of plaintiff; plaintiff's claim under the TVPA was based on actionable torture, and permissibly predicated on agency theories of liability; and the district court did not err in allowing plaintiff to testify regarding certain statements made to him by foreign police agents, who were agents or coconspirators. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and affirmed in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "Chowdhury v. Worldtel Bangladesh Holding, Ltd." on Justia Law