Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs, current and former members of the Navy and Marine Corps, filed suit against senior officials in the military and the Department of Defense, alleging that they were raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed by their fellow Sailors and Marines, only to suffer retaliation from their superiors for reporting their plight. The Supreme Court has held that military officials are not subject to personal liability under the Constitution for their management decisions, including the choices they make about the discipline, supervision, and control of servicemembers. The court joined the Fourth Circuit in concluding that no Bivens remedy is available in this instance. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit. View "Klay, et al. v. Panetta, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit against the District, the DOC, and several jail officials, seeking relief under federal law and D.C. common law for conspiracy, false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), deprivation of due process, aiding and abetting, and loss of consortium. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. Plaintiff, a Correctional Officer, was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a prison inmate. Plaintiff was arrested, criminally prosecuted, and fired from his employment. After being acquitted at his subsequent trial, where the inmate admitted to initiating the confrontation and assaulting plaintiff, and after prevailing in a contested administrative hearing, plaintiff was not reinstated until a D.C. Superior Court judge intervened. The court concluded that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding the false arrest, malicious prosecution, and IIED claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Amobi, et al. v. D.C. Dept. of Corrections, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Facebook and its founder, alleging that their delay in removing a page entitled "Third Palestinian Intifada," and related pages, which called for Muslims to rise up and kill the Jewish people, constituted intentional assault and negligence. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 230, shielded Facebook and its founder from suit where Facebook qualified as an interactive computer service; the complaint acknowledges that the objected-to information was provided by third party users, not Facebook itself; and the complaint seeks to hold Facebook liable as the "publisher or speaker" of that information. View "Klayman v. Zuckerberg, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that aerial herbicide spraying of illegal coca crops had drifted across the border from Colombia and that planes themselves had actually crossed the border and sprayed in Ecuador. Plaintiffs asserted a wide variety of tort claims for alleged injuries to health, property, and financial interests. The court agreed with the district court that the Ecuadorian provinces lacked Article III standing; the court rejected the challenge brought by the 163 plaintiffs who were dismissed for failure to provide complete responses to the court-ordered questionnaires; because District of Columbia law requires expert testimony where the parties offer competing causal explanations for an injury that turns on scientific information, the district court appropriately dismissed individual plaintiffs' claims for crop damages; because expert testimony was not necessary to prove plaintiffs' claims for battery, nuisance, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the district court erred in dismissing these claims; and because expert testimony is necessary to determine whether plaintiffs were actually in the zone of physical danger, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further consideration. , battery, nuisance, iemd View "Arias, et al. v. Dyncorp, et al." on Justia Law

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The Federal Election Commission opened an investigation into alleged discrepancies in ARMPAC's financial reporting. ARMPAC conceded that it had violated federal election laws and agreed to pay a civil penalty and terminate operations. Appellant, former treasurer of ARMPAC, was named in the Conciliation Agreement in his official capacity as treasurer. Appellant then filed suit against the law firm that represented ARMPAC and three lawyers, alleging that defendants failed to keep him informed about the Commission's investigation of ARMPAC, signed documents on his behalf without permission, and defamed him in the Agreement. The district court dismissed or granted summary judgment to defendants on each of appellant's claims. The district court concluded that appellant's defamation claim based on the signing of the Agreement was barred by the judicial privilege. The district court also concluded that appellant's remaining negligence claim was barred under D.C. law. The court concluded that appellant's defamation claim was based on statements contained within the Agreement reached between the Commission and ARMPAC, and therefore was encompassed within the judicial privilege. The court also concluded that no D.C. case holds that a plaintiff may maintain a negligence action based on the allegedly defamatory communication. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Teltschik v. Williams & Jensen, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are the writer and publisher of a book entitled "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to Be President." A journalist published an article on Esquire's Political Blog entitled "BREAKING: Jerome Corsi's Birther Book Pulled from Shelves!" Soon after the blog was published, Esquire published an update on the blog stating that "for those who didn't figure it out," the article was "satire." Plaintiffs filed suit against Esquire for, inter alia, violation of the D.C. Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Anti-SLAPP) Act, D.C. Code 16-5501 et seq., and the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(A) and (B). The court held that the complaint was properly dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because the blog post was fully protected political satire and the update and the journalist's statements were protected opinion. Further, the complaint failed to state a claim for violation of the Lanham Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint. View "Farah, et al. v. Esquire Magazine, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, victims and victims' families and estates, filed suit against Iran and others alleging their liability for the attack on the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Plaintiffs obtained a default judgment and attempted to collect. Plaintiffs had writs of attachment issued to Bank of America and Wells Fargo, seeking any asset held by the banks in which Iran had interest. The banks conceded that some accounts were potentially subject to attachment and these "uncontested accounts" were the subject of an interpleader action in the district court. The remaining "contested accounts" are the subject of this appeal. The court affirmed the order of the district court denying plaintiffs' motion for a turnover of the funds because plaintiffs could not attach the contested accounts under either section 201 of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-297, 116 Stat. 2322, 2337, or 28 U.S.C. 1610(g) without an Iranian ownership interest in the accounts and because Iran lacked an ownership interest in the accounts. View "Heiser, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an employee of the GSA, sued her supervisor for defamation and interference with her attempts to secure alternative employment. Under the Westfall Act, 28 U.S.C. 2679, the U.S. Attorney General certified that the supervisor's conduct was within the scope of his employment and removed the case to federal district court, substituting the United States as the defendant. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the supervisor acted within the scope of his employment and plaintiff's suit was jurisdictionally barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq. View "Jacobs v. Vrobel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit after the WMATA bus that she was riding in collided with a car, causing her a variety of injuries. At issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in instructing the jury that it must treat the bus driver's violations of two District of Columbia traffic regulations as negligence per se rather than as evidence of negligence. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court, concluding that it was error to give a negligence per se instruction, but that the error did not warrant reversal because it did not affect the outcome of the trial. Giving a negligence per se instruction with respect to a statute or regulation that merely restated the common law standard was redundant rather than harmful. View "Sibert-Dean v. WMATA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought civil claims against the sitting president of Sri Lanka under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), 28 U.S.C. 1350. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that the president was not immune from civil suit under the TVPA. Because, as a consequence of the State Department's suggestion of immunity, the president was entitled to head of state immunity under the common law while he remained in office, and because the TVPA did not abrogate that common law immunity, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint. View "Manoharan, et al v. Rajapaksa" on Justia Law