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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Sentencing -- A federal prisoner who directly appeals a resentencing may not raise new arguments unrelated to errors corrected at resentencing, and errors that prisoner invited resentencing court to ignore when he invited the court to limit the scope of the resentencing to counts affected by collateral-review proceedings -- Even if prisoner had not invited the resentencing court to limit its review, a resentencing court has discretion to limit resentencing to the “appropriate” relief granted in order to vacate, set aside, or correct the prisoner's sentence pursuant to Section 2255(b)
VIEW OPINION

Maritime law -- Seamen -- Attachment of wages -- Seamen, who signed agreements assigning to maritime employment agencies the right to collect a portion of their first paychecks if they accepted jobs as a result of agencies' efforts, brought suit against agencies asserting claims for wages under general maritime law based on claim that wage assignments were invalid under 46 U.S.C. §11109(b) -- District court properly granted defendants summary judgment on seamen's claims -- Employment agencies' inclusion of word “irrevocable” in agreements was improper and contrary to seamen's clear statutory right under Section 11109(b), which provides that seamen were not bound by those agreements
VIEW OPINION

Real property -- Quiet title -- Mortgagor brought action to quiet title against mortgagee, mortgage assignee, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, alleging dismissal of earlier foreclosure action invalidated note and mortgage, barring subsequent foreclosure actions for defaults on subsequent payments -- Mortgagor failed to state a quiet title claim against mortgage assignee under Florida law, because note and mortgage remain a valid and enforceable lien against mortgagor's property, and do not, as a matter of law, constitute a cloud on mortgagor's property supporting a quiet title claim -- Mortgage assignee's earlier foreclosure action alleging default of note and mortgage payments running from July 2007 through February 2008, which was dismissed without prejudice, did not bar assignee from filing a second or consecutive foreclosure action based on subsequent default payments that are less than five years old -- Mortgagor failed to state a quiet title claim against MERS, where MERS had no interest in or claim to mortgagor's real property, and merely assigned the mortgage in its nominal capacity for mortgagee
VIEW OPINION

Consumer law -- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act -- Law firm hired by bank to collect on promissory note secured by plaintiff's primary residence was collecting on a debt, and not merely enforcing underlying security instrument, when it served upon plaintiffs a summons and complaint seeking to collect on debt memorialized in promissory note -- Law firm may not avoid FDCPA liability by claiming it was solely enforcing security instrument -- Notice attached to complaint constituted communication under FDCPA -- Florida litigation immunity does not apply to bar this action based on violations of FDCPA, as no state law claims are at issue -- FDCPA claim is not a compulsory counterclaim to state foreclosure action, as there is no logical relationship between two cases -- Foreclosure case was premised on alleged failure to pay on promissory note, FDCPA action is premised on actions of debt collector that occurred nearly five years after alleged nonpayment, and debt collector was not a party to foreclosure action
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Double jeopardy -- Mistrial -- Jury deadlock -- District court did not abuse its discretion by declaring mistrial after jury was unable to agree on unanimous verdict, with all but one juror in favor of finding defendant not guilty, and it was clear that further deliberations would not have proved helpful
VIEW OPINION

Aliens -- Removal -- Appeals -- Exhaustion of administrative remedies -- An alien must contest status as aggravated felon in an expedited removal proceeding before raising argument that she did not commit aggravated felony before a federal court of appeals -- Where notice of intent charged that alien was deportable because she was convicted of aggravated felony, and notice of intent advised alien of opportunity to respond to that charge within 10 days of receipt of notice of intent, alien had opportunity to submit documents rebutting removal decision, but failed to do so -- Court will not review findings by immigration judge that were not adopted by Board of Immigration Appeals -- REAL ID Act bars courts of appeals from reviewing final orders of removal against criminal aliens, with the exception of constitutional claims or questions of law -- Accordingly, court lacks jurisdiction to review errors of fact alleged in alien's brief -- Withholding of removal -- Board did not commit reversible error when it denied application for withholding of removal after finding that alien failed to establish that she would more likely than not face persecution by private action upon her return because of her membership in two social groups, including Congolese wives and homosexuals -- Convention Against Torture -- Board did not err as matter of law in denying request for protection under CAT, which was based on same set of facts thoroughly analyzed by Board in connection with its decision on alien's application for withholding of removal
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Murder -- Death penalty -- State supreme court did not act contrary to or unreasonably apply clearly established Supreme Court precedent when it denied relief on claim that trial court violated petitioner's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it excluded from penalty phase of capital trial testimony of corrections officer about general conditions in Florida prisons for those serving life sentences, including nature of custody and availability of illegal drugs -- Witness did not know petitioner, would have said nothing about his character, conduct, or individual qualities, and could only have guessed about petitioner's potential conditions of imprisonment -- Moreover, any error in deciding to exclude testimony would have been harmless given powerful aggravators present in case
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Mandatory minimum -- District court violated defendant's Sixth Amendment rights as interpreted in Alleyne v. United States when it sentenced defendant to 84-month mandatory minimum sentence on his firearm conviction based on its own finding that a firearm was brandished during underlying bank robbery; rather than defendant's admission or a jury's finding concerning that fact -- Error was harmless beyond reasonable doubt because government presented uncontroverted evidence that firearm was brandished during bank robbery in which defendant participated
VIEW OPINION

Antitrust -- Tying -- Hospital that performs myocardial perfusion imaging procedure using unpatented pharmaceutical product, Adenoscan, to test for coronary artery disease brought antitrust class action against drug manufacturer who holds patents for performing MPI procedure involving adenosine, alleging that defendant was able to overcharge the hospital for its Adenoscan product by unlawfully tying its patented right to perform the patented cardiac test to the purchase of unpatented drug -- Because direct purchaser rule precludes the hospital, as an indirect purchaser of Adenoscan, from recovering treble damages based on unlawful tying claim, district court did not abuse discretion in refusing hospital's request to certify a class seeking damages against drug manufacturer for unlawful tying, as hospital would not be an adequate representative for a class seeking damages for the alleged unlawful tying -- District court did not abuse discretion in refusing to certify class for purposes of seeking injunctive and declaratory relief where hospital failed to justify certification by identifying exactly what injunctive or declaratory relief it was seeking and by failing to prove that an injunction requiring defendant to offer healthcare providers a stand-alone license to perform MPIs involving adenosine would provide relief to each class member
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Conspiracy to dispense Oxycodone -- Distribution of Oxycodone -- Search and seizure -- Affidavit in support of warrant -- Misrepresentations or omissions -- No abuse of discretion in denying defendant's request for Franks hearing to address statements special agent allegedly omitted from affidavit in support of search warrant where defendant did not make substantial preliminary showing that statements or omissions were intentionally false or recklessly misleading and that statements or omissions altered probable cause showing -- Remaining arguments regarding supposed deficiencies in warrant application and affidavit are unpersuasive -- Judgment of acquittal -- No error in denying motion for judgment of acquittal in which defendant argued that indictment charged single conspiracy, but government proved multiple conspiracies at trial -- There was no material variance between indictment and proof at trial, as jury had evidentiary basis to find that defendant was key man or hub of a single conspiracy to illegally distribute Oxycodone during the time period specified in indictment -- District court did not err in denying motion to dismiss conspiracy charge as duplicitous -- Drug quantity -- Estimates of drug quantities involved were not clearly erroneous -- Severance -- No abuse of discretion in denying motion to sever trials on conspiracy and substantive counts -- Evidence -- No abuse of discretion in denying pretrial motion to exclude testimony of drug associate, which government offered under hearsay evidence applicable to statements of coconspirator -- Testimony was actually non-hearsay, based on witness's personal knowledge -- Mistrial -- No error in denying motion for mistrial based on prosecutor's remark that government had pretty squarely established a conspiracy -- Curative instruction eliminated any reasonable probability that result of trial could have been different -- New trial -- Newly discovered evidence -- District court did not err in denying motion for new trial on basis of new evidence purportedly gleaned by three inmates from conversations in prison with defendant's co-conspirators, after concluding that evidence was merely impeachment evidence or cumulative of other evidence presented at trial
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Involuntary petition -- Dismissal -- Bad faith filing -- Denial of motion -- Relief from judgment -- Bankruptcy court, in denying motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(2) based on newly discovered emails suggesting collusion in filing for involuntary bankruptcy, abused discretion by applying the wrong legal standard when court asked whether a new issue had been presented, instead of considering whether the movant had presented new evidence to support the Rule 60(b) motion -- Parties who request relief under Rule 60(b)(2) are not barred from it simply because they rely on issues that had been litigated earlier -- Even if bankruptcy court's statements can be construed as applying standards of Rule 60(b)(2), court committed clear errors of judgment and abused its discretion in applying those standards -- Movant was entitled to relief under Rule 60(b) on ground that he had discovered new evidence of bad-faith filing, where new evidence was discovered after judgment was entered, movant had exercised due diligence in discovering that evidence, evidence was not merely cumulative or impeaching, evidence was material, and evidence was likely to produce a different result on movant's motion to dismiss bankruptcy petition
VIEW OPINION

Administrative law -- Federal Mine Safety and Health Act -- Corporations -- Section 110(c) of Mine Act, which provides that when a corporate operator violates a mandatory health or safety standard, any agent of such corporation who knowingly authorized, ordered, or carried out such violation shall be subject to same civil penalties, permits assessment of civil penalties against agents of limited liability company that operates underground coal mine -- Undefined terms “corporation” and “corporate operator” as used in Section 110(c) are ambiguous and Secretary of Labor's interpretive bulletin, providing that “agents of LLCs may be held personally liable under Section 110(c) of Mine Act,” provides reasonable interpretation of those terms, which is entitled to Chevron deference -- Substantial evidence supported administrative law judge's decision holding agents of mine operator personally liable for operator's violation of requirement to seal a work area if it cannot be determined whether a ventilation system is working effectively -- Substantial evidence supports ALJ's finding that agents knew that ventilation system had not been evaluated as required and that its effectiveness could not be determined, and ALJ's conclusion that there was a threat of serious injuries to entire mining crew which arose from aggravated conduct that was more than mere negligence -- Duplication -- Order underlying agents' civil penalties is not duplicative of earlier citation against mine operator because duties imposed by regulations underlying those citations and orders were separate and distinct
VIEW OPINION

Marriage -- Same-sex marriage -- The right to marry is a fundamental right as that term is used in cases arising under Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and Florida's same-sex marriage provisions that ban entering same-sex marriages and prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere, when reviewed under strict scrutiny, are unconstitutional -- Proffered justifications for banning same-sex marriages, including state's moral disapproval of same-sex marriage and notion that procreation is essential element of marriage, are insufficient to withstand analysis -- Injunctions -- Plaintiffs are entitled to preliminary injunction where plaintiffs are likely to prevail on merits, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm from ongoing unconstitutional denial of a fundament right if injunction is not issued, threatened injury to plaintiffs outweighs any damage proposed injunction may cause state, and a preliminary injunction vindicating constitutional rights will not be adverse to public interest -- Stay -- Preliminary injunctions are properly stayed pending appeals and will not take effect until 91 days after stays have been lifted in pending circuit decisions striking down state bans on same-sex marriages in Fourth and Tenth Circuits -- Florida to issue a corrected death certificate for plaintiff, whose partner of 47 years passed away, showing that at time of her death she was married to her partner -- Claims against governor and attorney general are dismissed without prejudice as redundant
VIEW OPINION

Insurance -- Commercial automobile -- Coverage -- Indemnification -- Automobile insurer seeks declaratory judgment that there is no coverage for, and thus no duty to indemnify employee under employer's commercial automobile insurance policy for, claims presented in underlying state court tort actions arising from incident in which one person was killed and another injured when employee gave chase to them in employer's van while they were in the process of repossessing his car -- Employee was not an insured under employer's policy, and there can be no indemnity for him under policy for claims presented in underlying state court action, where there is no evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that employee had employer's permission to use company van to recover his vehicle or as a pursuit vehicle in furtherance of deadly criminal rampage -- Statutory presumption of consent under Rhode Island law that applies in cases in which registered owner of a vehicle is not the driver is unavailing where registered owner of vehicle in question is not named as a defendant
VIEW OPINION

Eminent domain -- Takings -- A hospital may not challenge, as an unconstitutional taking under Fifth Amendment, the reimbursement rate for emergency services rendered to federal detainees codified in 18 U.S.C. § 4006(b)(1), which imposes the Medicare payment rate as full compensation for such services -- Hospital's voluntary participation in Medicare and Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which commits the hospital to provide emergency services to federal detainees, precludes its as-applied, takings clause challenge to reimbursement rate -- Takings Clause of Fifth Amendment is not proper vehicle for altering financial difficulties and perceived inequity that may come with shortfalls in a small, rural hospital's reimbursement for costs associated with providing emergency treatment to federal detainees
VIEW OPINION

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