Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
by
Appellant was working as a bus ticketing agent in Washington, D.C. when a person attempted to sneak onto a bus headed to New York without a ticket. After Appellant ordered the person off the bus the two women got into a scuffle. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police officers arrived in response to the unticketed person’s call reporting Appellant for assault.   Officers grabbed Appellant, pressed her against the wall, and then forced her to the floor and handcuffed her. The police charged her with simple assault on the person attempting to get on the bus and with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest. Appellant subsequently sued the District of Columbia and the police officers, alleging civil rights violations during this arrest and a second arrest that occurred in April 2016. She appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and its officers.   The DC Circuit agreed in part and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the District and its officers on Appellant’s 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 wrongful arrest, common law false arrest, and respondeat superior claims. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Appellant’s other claims. The court explained that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the District on Appellant’s wrongful arrest and common law false arrest claims because there is a genuine dispute of material fact over whether probable cause for the simple assault arrest had dissipated and required the police officers to release Appellant. View "Xingru Lin v. DC (PUBLIC)" on Justia Law

by
An al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed nine people at Camp Chapman, a secret CIA base in Afghanistan. Plaintiff and other family members of the bombing victims sued HSBC Holdings PLC and several of its foreign and domestic affiliates under the Antiterrorism Act. Plaintiffs allege that HSBC helped foreign banks evade U.S. sanctions and thereby provided material support to al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities. Plaintiff claims that HSBC is liable for aiding and abetting and conspiring to bring about al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack on Camp Chapman. The district court dismissed the claims against the foreign HSBC defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction and dismissed Plaintiffs aiding and abetting and conspiracy claims for failure to state a claim.   The DC Circuit affirmed. The court explained that while the ATA creates liability for those who materially assist acts of terrorism, a successful claim requires a plausible connection between HSBC and al-Qaeda. The court explained that Plaintiffs allege no common objective between HSBC and al-Qaeda. The complaint states that HSBC was trying to make “substantial profits” by evading sanctions, whereas al-Qaeda sought to “terrorize the U.S. into retreating from the world stage”; “use long wars to financially bleed the U.S. while inflaming anti-American sentiment”; “defend the rights of Muslims”; and “obtain global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate.” These objectives are wholly orthogonal to one another. The court wrote it cannot infer from the complaint the necessary connection to maintain the ATA aiding and abetting and conspiracy claims. View "Dana Bernhardt v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

by
After Appellant, a ticketing agent ordered a non-ticketed individual off of the bus, the two women got into a physical altercation. When DC Metropolitan Police officers arrived, they grabbed Appellant, pressed her against the wall, and then forced her to the floor. The police charged her with simple assault on the non-ticketed individual and with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest.   Appellant sued the District of Columbia and the police officers, alleging civil rights violations during this arrest and a second arrest that occurred two months after the first. Appellant appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and its officers.   The DC Circuit agreed in part and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the District and its officers on Appellant’s Section 1983 wrongful arrest, common law false arrest, and respondeat superior claims. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Appellant’s other claims. The court explained that there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether probable cause for the simple assault charge dissipated before Appellant was handcuffed a second time and taken involuntarily to the police station. Second, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of probable cause to arrest Appellant for assaulting a police officer. View "Xingru Lin v. DC (REDACTED)" on Justia Law

by
Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoke a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.These cases raise the common threshold question of whether 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d(e)(10) empowers us to hear interlocutory appeals from decisions of out-of-circuit district courts rejecting assertions of PREP Act immunity.The DC Circuit concluded that the PREP Act confers interlocutory appellate jurisdiction on the court only from orders of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in willful misconduct cases—a distinct, limited cause of action that subsection 247d-6d(d) of the PREP Act excepts from its broad grant of immunity and channels to the federal district court here. Because PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center" on Justia Law

by
Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs' estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied Defendant's motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoked a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeals, holding that the PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity. View "Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that WMATA's negligence resulted in the death of their son, Okiemute Whiteru (Mr. Whiteru), a WMATA passenger who sustained grievous injuries after falling in the parapet area of the Judiciary Square Metro Station in Washington, D.C. Plaintiffs contend that under the common law of the District of Columbia, WMATA, as a common carrier, breached its duty to render aid to Mr. Whiteru, because WMATA had reason to know that he was injured and needed assistance, but failed to discover him.The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to WMATA as to whether Mr. Whiteru's contributory negligence bars the negligence claim, concluding that the record at summary judgment fails to demonstrate that WMATA is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court agreed with plaintiffs that there are genuine factual disputes regarding whether WMATA breached its duty to aid Mr. Whiteru after he negligently injured himself. The court explained that the District of Columbia unambiguously recognizes the special relationship between common carriers and passengers: a common carrier cannot evade liability for negligence if it knows or has reason to know that a passenger is injured, breaches its duty to render aid to the injured passenger, and the passenger’s original injuries are aggravated as a result. The court stated that the law provides that a common carrier is liable in this scenario even if the passenger's own negligence caused his initial injuries. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Whiteru v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, victims of Jaysh al-Mahdi terrorist attacks and the victims' family members, filed suit alleging that defendants, large medical supply and manufacturing companies, knowingly gave substantial support to the attacks against them in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), as amended by the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), and state law. Plaintiffs claim that defendants, aware of Jaysh al-Mahdi's command of the Ministry, secured lucrative medical-supply contracts with the Ministry by giving corrupt payments and valuable gifts to Jaysh al-Mahdi. The district court held that the complaint failed to state claims for either direct or secondary (aiding-and-abetting) liability under the ATA, and that it lacked personal jurisdiction over six foreign defendants.The DC Circuit reversed on three issues and remanded the balance of the issues to be addressed by the district court consistent with the court's opinion. First, the court concluded that plaintiffs plead facts that suffice to support their aiding-and-abetting claim at the motion-to-dismiss stage. Second, with respect to the direct liability claim, the court concluded that plaintiffs have adequately pleaded that defendants' payments to Jaysh al Mahdi proximately caused plaintiffs' injuries. Third, the court concluded that the district court's personal jurisdiction analysis was unduly restrictive. View "Atchley v. AstraZeneca UK Limited" on Justia Law

by
Klayman founded Judicial Watch in 1994 and served as its Chairman and General Counsel until 2003. Klayman claims he left voluntarily. Judicial Watch (JW) claims it forced Klayman to resign based on misconduct. During negotiations over Klayman’s departure, JW prepared its newsletter, which was mailed to donors with a letter signed by Klayman as “Chairman and General Counsel.” While the newsletter was at the printer, the parties executed a severance agreement. Klayman resigned; the parties were prohibited from disparaging each other. Klayman was prohibited from access to donor lists and agreed to pay outstanding personal expenses. JW paid Klayman $600,000. Klayman ran to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate. His campaign used the vendor that JW used for its mailings and use the names of JW’s donors for campaign solicitations. Klayman lost the election, then launched “Saving Judicial Watch,” with a fundraising effort directed at JW donors using names obtained for his Senate run. In promotional materials, Klayman asserted that he resigned to run for Senate, that the JW leadership team had mismanaged and the organization, and that Klayman should be reinstated.Klayman filed a complaint against JW, asserting violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1), by publishing a false endorsement when it sent the newsletter identifying him as “Chairman and General Counsel” after he had left JW. Klayman also alleged that JW breached the non-disparagement agreement by preventing him from making fair comments about JW and that JW defamed him. During the 15 years of ensuing litigation, Klayman lost several claims at summary judgment and lost the remaining claims at trial. The jury awarded JW $2.3 million. The D.C. Circuit rejected all of Klayman’s claims on appeal. View "Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc." on Justia Law

by
On May 16, 2017, Turkish security forces clashed with protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s Washington, D.C. residence. Injured protesters sued the Republic of Turkey, claiming that President Erdogan ordered the attack. They asserted various tort claims, violation of D.C. Code 22-3704, which creates a civil action for injuries that demonstrate an accused’s prejudice based on the victim’s race or national origin, and civil claims under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act and under the Alien Tort Statute.After reviewing the videotape of the incident, the district court stated: [T]he protesters remained standing on the designated sidewalk. Turkish security forces ... crossed a police line to attack the protesters. The protesters ... either fell to the ground, where Turkish security forces continued to kick and hit them or ran away."The D.C. Circuit affirmed the denial of Turkey's motion to dismiss. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602, a foreign state is “presumptively immune" from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts but a “tortious acts exception,” strips immunity if money damages are sought for personal injury or death, or damage to property, occurring in the U.S. and caused by the tortious act of a foreign state. The court rejected Turkey's argument that the “discretionary function” exception preserved its sovereign immunity. Although the Turkish security detail had a right to protect President Erdogan, Turkey did not have the discretion to commit criminal assaults. The decisions giving rise to the lawsuit were not “‘fraught with’ economic, political, or social judgments.” View "Usoyan v. Republic of Turkey" on Justia Law

by
Inna Khodorkovskaya sued the director and the playwright of Kleptocracy, a play that ran for a month in 2019 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. She alleged false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Inna, who was a character in Kleptocracy, alleges that the play falsely depicted her as a prostitute and murderer. Inna’s husband was persecuted because of his opposition to Vladimir Putin; the two obtained asylum in the U.K.The district court dismissed her complaint, reasoning that Kleptocracy is a fictional play, even if inspired by historical events, and that the play employed various dramatic devices underscoring its fictional character so that no reasonable audience member would understand the play to communicate that the real-life Inna was a prostitute or murderer. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. “Kleptocracy is not journalism; it is theater. It is, in particular, a theatrical production for a live audience, a genre in which drama and dramatic license are generally the coin of the realm.” The play’s use of a fictional and metaphorical tiger, of Vladimir Putin reciting poetry, and of a ghost reinforce to the reasonable audience member that the play’s contents cannot be taken literally. View "Khodorkovskaya v. Gay" on Justia Law