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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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False Claims Act -- Qui tam action -- Public disclosure bar -- District court correctly dismissed qui tam complaint upon holding that lawsuit was barred by public disclosure provision of False Claims Act -- Under prior or amended version of public disclosure provision of FCA, relator cannot overcome public disclosure bar, where allegations or transactions on which defendants rely in support of their motions to dismiss have been publicly disclosed, significant overlap between allegations in relator's complaint and publicly disclosed allegations or transactions is sufficient to show that disclosed information forms basis of relator's qui tam action and is substantially similar to allegations in relator's complaint, and relator is not original source of information in complaint as complaint, at most, adds background information that helps one understand the public disclosure but does not materially add to publicly disclosed allegations or transactions -- Disclosures made in Florida state court on which defendants rely are public for purposes of FCA only with respect to allegations in amended complaint based on conduct that occurred before effective date of amendments to public disclosure provision -- Newspaper advertisements and publicly available website, which are intended to disseminate information about programs, qualify as news media for purposes of public disclosure provision -- Retroactive application of amendments -- Relator waived argument that amendments to public disclosure provision of FCA should apply to all conduct alleged in amended complaint, regardless of when it occurred, by failing to raise it in district court -- Court of appeals would apply amended FCA provision only prospectively -- Amended public disclosure provision creates grounds for dismissal for failure to state a claim rather than for lack of jurisdiction -- Plain language of new provision instructs courts to dismiss an action when public disclosure provision applies, and Congress removed prior language that rendered public disclosure bar jurisdictional in nature and did not remove similar jurisdictional language from surrounding provisions, suggesting that amended public disclosure provision should operate differently than those provisions -- Motions to dismiss treated as motion made under Rule 12(b)(6) as to claims based on alleged conduct that occurred on or after effective date of amendments to public disclosure provision -- Evidence -- District court did not err in considering documents extrinsic to complaint, regardless of which Rule 12 standard applies -- Relator forfeited argument that district court should not have ruled on defendants' factual challenge without first allowing discovery and/or holding an evidentiary hearing because he failed to request an evidentiary hearing or further discovery in the district court
VIEW OPINION

Administrative law -- Federal Trade Commission -- District court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear claim that, because FTC has no authority to regulate and conduct enforcement proceedings in the area of healthcare data privacy, FTC's administrative action against plaintiff for failing to prevent unauthorized access to patient information is arbitrary and capricious in violation of Administrative Procedure Act -- Under Bennet standard for determining final agency action, FTC's administrative complaint alleging violation of FTC Act and order denying plaintiff's motion to dismiss the complaint for which plaintiff seeks review are not final agency actions, as is required of claims made under Administrative Procedure Act, where neither document is a consummation of agency's decision-making process, no direct and appreciable legal consequences flowed from either FTC action, and no rights or obligations have been determined because agency proceeding is ongoing -- FTC's administrative complaint and order are not sufficiently definitive, cleanly legal, or immediately burdensome so as to require review when administrative proceeding is ongoing -- District court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims that FTC's actions were ultra vires and unconstitutional because claims are intertwined with plaintiff's APA claim for relief and may only be heard at end of administrative proceeding, which is ongoing
VIEW OPINION



Patents -- Infringement -- Claim construction -- Appeals -- When reviewing a district court's resolution of subsidiary factual matters made in the course of its construction of a patent claim, the appellate court must apply a “clear error,” not a de novo, standard of review
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Habeas corpus -- Appointed counsel -- Substitution of appointed counsel who had missed AEDPA's deadline for filing federal habeas petition is warranted because substitution of counsel would serve interests of justice where counsel has a disabling conflict of interest -- While not every case in which a counseled habeas petitioner has missed AEDPA's statute of limitations will necessarily involve a conflict of interest, counsel's contentions in this case were directly and concededly contrary to their client's interest, and manifestly served their own professional and reputational interests -- Considerations relied upon by district court cannot justify decision to deny substitution, given the obvious conflict of interest
VIEW OPINION

Administrative law -- Transportation Security Administration -- Disclosure of sensitive security information -- Whistleblower -- Federal air marshal's public disclosure about TSA's decision to cut costs by removing air marshals from overnight mission flights was not “specifically prohibited by law” -- Disclosure regarding canceled missions was not prohibited by TSA's regulations on sensitive security information, because regulations do not qualify as “law” under Section 2302(b)(8)(A) of whistleblower statute, which creates an exception to whistleblower protections for disclosures that are “specifically prohibited by law” -- When Congress used the phrase “specifically prohibited by law,” instead of “specifically prohibited by law, rule, or regulation,” it meant to exclude rules and regulations -- Disclosure was not prohibited by 49 U.S.C. Section 114(r)(1) because, by its terms, statute authorizes TSA to “prescribe regulations,” and does not prohibit the disclosure at issue -- Concerns that providing whistleblower protection to individuals like this air marshal would “gravely endanger public safety” by making the confidentiality of sensitive security information depend on the idiosyncratic judgment of each of the TSA's employees must be addressed by Congress or the President, rather than by Supreme Court
VIEW OPINION

Trademarks -- Infringement -- Priority -- Tacking -- Whether two trademarks may be tacked for purposes of determining priority is a question for the jury, because the tacking inquiry operates from the perspective of an ordinary purchaser or consumer -- When the relevant question is how an ordinary person or community would make an assessment, the jury is generally the decision maker that ought to provide the fact-intensive answer
VIEW OPINION

Antitrust -- Appeals -- Final orders -- Right to appeal secured by 28 U.S.C. §1291 ripened when district court dismissed in its entirety petitioners' class-action, single-claim complaint which had been consolidated with other cases for multidistrict litigation pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, not upon eventual completion of multi-district proceedings in all of consolidated cases -- Petitioners' complaint retained its independent status for purposes of appellate jurisdiction under Section 1291 -- The order dismissing petitioners' case was a final decision and removed them from the consolidated proceeding, thereby triggering their right to appeal under Section 1291
VIEW OPINION

Fair Labor Standards Act -- Overtime -- If employer knew or had reason to know that its employee underreported his hours, employer cannot escape FLSA liability by asserting equitable defenses based on that underreporting -- District court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of employer which raised defenses of unclean hands and in pari delicto based on fact that employee violated employer's policy by underreporting hours and by working off the clock
VIEW OPINION

Religion -- Free exercise -- Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act -- Department of Correction's grooming policy, which prohibits inmates from growing beards unless they have a particular dermatological condition, violates RLUIPA as applied in this case, insofar as it prevents petitioner from grooming a 1/2-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs -- Department's policy substantially burdens the religious exercise of an institutionalized person without a showing that the policy is the least restrictive means of furthering the department's compelling interests in stopping the flow of contraband and facilitating prisoner identification
GREGORY HOUSTON HOLT, aka ABDUL MAALIK MUHAMMAD, Petitioner v. RAY HOBBS, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et al. U.S. Supreme Court.

Taxation -- State -- Real estate transfers -- Exemptions -- Federal instrumentalities -- District court properly found that Federal National Mortgage Association, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, and Federal Housing Finance Agency were exempt from paying transfer taxes when these entities transfer real property in various states -- Privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not preclude Congress from exempting them from state taxation where these entities continued to fulfill federal policy found in their charters -- District court properly found that statutory exemptions were not unconstitutional under Commerce, Necessary and Proper, and Supremacy Clauses
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSION, on behalf of themselves, and all others similarly situated, STEVEN L. REED, Judge of Probate for Montgomery County, Plaintiffs-Appellants, REESE MCKINNEY, JR., Judge of Probate for Montgomery County, Alabama, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, as conservator for Federal National Mortgage Association, and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, a federally chartered corporation, FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, a federally chartered corporation, Defendants-Appellees. 11th Circuit.

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