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

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Fahs, a general contractor, filed suit against defendant, a construction supervisor with DOT, alleging First Amendment and Equal Protection claims. On appeal, Fahs challenged the district court dismissal of its claims. The court affirmed the dismissal of the First Amendment claim where Fahs's speech was not on a matter of public concern but rather on matters of purely personal significance, and affirmed the dismissal of the Equal Protection claim where the only differential treatment alleged in the complaint took place outside the limitations period. The court considered Fahs's remaining arguments and found them unpersuasive. View "Fahs Construction Group, Inc. v. Gray" on Justia Law

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The County appealed from a judgment of the district court finding that the County was in violation of its duty to promote source-of-income legislation under a Stipulation and Order of Settlement and Dismissal (consent decree) entered into by the County with the United States to resolve a qui tam action initially brought by relator, ADC, under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-33, alleging the submission of false claims by the County to HUD in order to obtain federal grant monies for fair housing. As a preliminary matter, the court held that the district court had jurisdiction to review the decision of the reviewing magistrate judge under the consent decree. On the merits, the court held that the County violated the terms of the consent decree. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Westchester County, New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are motorists who use the Grand Island Bridge but, because they are not residents of Grand Island, did not qualify for the lowest toll rate. Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that the toll discount policies violated the dormant Commerce Clause as well as the constitutional right to travel that courts have located in the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, both in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the November 28, 2011 Memorandum Decision and Order of the district court, among other things, that granted judgment in favor of defendants. The court held that plaintiffs have standing under Article III, the toll policy at issue was a minor restriction on travel and did not involve "invidious distinctions" that would require strict scrutiny analysis pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment; the district court correctly used, in the alternative, the three-part test set forth in Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. County of Kent, to evaluate both plaintiffs' right-to-travel and dormant Commerce Clause claims; and the Grand Island Bridge toll scheme was based on "some fair approximation of use" of the bridges; was not "excessive in relation to the benefits" it conferred; and did not "discriminate against interstate commerce." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Selevan, et al. v. New York Thruway Authority, et al." on Justia Law

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MES claimed that the Corps unfairly terminated three of its construction/renovation contracts. On appeal, MES and its President contended that the district court erred as a matter of law in ruling that their Bivens action was precluded by the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA), 41 U.S.C. 7101 et seq. The court held as a preliminary matter that it lacked jurisdiction to review MES's President's claim because the text and caption of the original timely notice of appeal failed to identify MES's President as a party appealing from the judgment. Accordingly, the court dismissed MES's President's appeal and only address MES's challenge to the judgment of dismissal. The court concluded that, in enacting the CDA, Congress created a comprehensive scheme for securing relief from the United States for any disputes pertaining to federal courts. The existence of that statutory scheme precluded MES from pursuing Bivens claims against federal employees in their individual capacities for alleged violations of due process or the First Amendment in terminating MES's federal construction contracts with the Corps. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "M.E.S., Inc. v. Snell" on Justia Law

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This case involved an alleged bid-rigging scheme that sought to defraud various New York State and City government agencies in connection with the purchase by those agencies of a particular brand of mobile radio. Gatt, an admitted past participant in the purported scheme, sought to recover damages from alleged co-conspirators for losses arising from the termination of Gatt's at-will distribution contract for those radios. Gatt raised federal and state antitrust claims arising under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; the Donnelly Act, N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 340; and New York common law. The court concluded that Gatt lacked antitrust standing to pursue its antitrust claims and that its common law claims were properly dismissed as a matter of law. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Gatt's complaint. View "Gatt Communications, Inc. v. PMC Associates, L.L.C." on Justia Law

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Defendant threatened to reveal office gossip that the General Counsel of the New York State Comptroller's Office was having an affair unless the General Counsel recanted a recommendation to the State Comptroller to reject a proposal by defendant's company. He was convicted of attempted extortion of the office under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a), and interstate transmission of extortionate threats in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(d). The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting his argument that his conduct did not come within the statutory definition of extortion because he did not "attempt to obtain property" from the General Counsel. View "United States v. Sekhar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their complaint challenging a number of agreements entered into by the City of New York with respect to labor conditions on certain City construction projects. Plaintiffs argued that the agreements regulated the labor market and were therefore preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151-169. The court found the project labor agreements in this case materially indistinguishable from agreements the Supreme Court found permissible under the market participation exception to preemption in Building and Construction Trades Council of Metropolitan District v. Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts/Rhode Island Inc. Because the City acted as a market participant and not a regulator in entering the agreements, its actions fell outside the scope of NLRA preemption. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "The Building Industry Electric Contractors Assoc., et al. v. City of New York et al." on Justia Law

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Claimant appealed from a judgment of the district court ordering the forfeiture to plaintiff United States, pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 401(a), of certain communication-jamming devices, to wit, the defendant-in-rem Jammers, owned by claimant and a company of which he was the majority shareholder and CEO. On appeal, claimant contended that the district court erred in dismissing his claim, arguing principally that the stipulation he signed was void on the grounds that it was signed under duress and without consideration. The court held that, as a matter of New York law, no consideration for claimant's agreement to the release was needed; and thus, if consideration was absent, its absence did not make the stipulation invalid. The court also held that claimant's assertions did not meet any part of the test of duress. The court further held that the district court correctly granted the government's motion to strike or for summary judgment on the ground of claimant's lack of Article III standing. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "United States v. Twenty MilJam-350 IED Jammers" on Justia Law