Monday, January 10, 2022

SCOTUS Cert Grant on FRCP 60(b): Kemp v. United States

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Kemp v. United States. Here is the question presented, as laid out in the petition:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) authorizes relief from final judgment based on “mistake,” as well as inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.

The question presented is:

Whether Rule 60(b)(1) authorizes relief based on a district court’s error of law.

You can find the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

January 10, 2022 in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grants: Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety; Viking River Cruises v. Moriana

The Supreme Court granted certiorari yesterday in two interesting cases.

Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety involves the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). It presents the question “whether Congress has the power to authorize suits against nonconsenting states pursuant to its War Powers.”

You can find the Torres cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana involves the effect of the Federal Arbitration Act on the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). It presents the question: “Whether the Federal Arbitration Act requires enforcement of a bilateral arbitration agreement providing that an employee cannot raise representative claims, including under PAGA.”

You can find the Viking River Cruises cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 10, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grants on Arbitration

The Supreme Court followed up today’s decisions in the Texas abortion cases with some interesting grants of certiorari on arbitration.

Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon presents the question: “Whether workers who load or unload goods from vehicles that travel in interstate commerce, but do not physically transport such goods themselves, are interstate ‘transportation workers’ exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act.” You can find the cert-stage briefing in Southwest—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

The Court also granted certiorari in two cases—which it proceeded to consolidate—that raise an issue regarding the relationship between 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) and arbitration. (The Court had already granted certiorari on this issue in an earlier case, but that case was taken off the calendar back in September). The two new cases are:

ZF Automotive US, Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd., which presents the question: “Whether 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a), which permits litigants to invoke the authority of United States courts to render assistance in gathering evidence for use in ‘a foreign or international tribunal,’ encompasses private commercial arbitral tribunals, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held, or excludes such tribunals, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits have held.”

AlixPartners, LLC v. Fund for Protection of Investor Rights in Foreign States, which presents the question: “Whether an ad hoc arbitration to resolve a commercial dispute between two parties is a ‘foreign or international tribunal’ under 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) when the arbitral panel does not exercise any governmental or quasi-governmental authority.”

Here are the SCOTUSblog links for ZF Automotive and AlixPartners.

And here are the Supreme Court website links for ZF Automotive and AlixPartners.

 

 

 

 

 

December 10, 2021 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Decisions in Texas Abortion Cases: United States v. Texas and Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson

Today the Supreme Court issued its decisions in two cases involving Texas’s abortion law, S.B. 8 (covered earlier here).

In United States v. Texas, the Court issued a one-page per curiam order dismissing the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted and denying the application to vacate the stay. Justice Sotomayor dissents.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, the Court issued a fractured decision that does permit some of the abortion providers’ claims to go forward. Here’s the headcount for the various opinions:

GORSUCH, J., announced the judgment of the Court, and delivered the opinion of the Court except as to Part II–C. ALITO, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined that opinion in full, and THOMAS, J., joined except for Part II–C. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. ROBERTS, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined.

Part IV of Justice Gorsuch’s opinion provides this summary:

The petitioners’ theories for relief face serious challenges but also present some opportunities. To summarize: (1) The Court unanimously rejects the petitioners’ theory for relief against state-court judges and agrees Judge Jackson should be dismissed from this suit. (2) A majority reaches the same conclusion with respect to the petitioners’ parallel theory for relief against state-court clerks. (3) With respect to the back-up theory of relief the petitioners present against Attorney General Paxton, a majority concludes that he must be dismissed. (4) At the same time, eight Justices hold this case may proceed past the motion to dismiss stage against Mr. Carlton, Ms. Thomas, Ms. Benz, and Ms. Young, defendants with specific disciplinary authority over medical licensees, including the petitioners. (5) Every Member of the Court accepts that the only named private-individual defendant, Mr. Dickson, should be dismissed.

 

 

December 10, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 26, 2021

Another SCOTUS Cert Grant on Intervention: Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP

This week the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, which presents the following questions:

  1. Whether a state agent authorized by state law to defend the State’s interest in litigation must overcome a presumption of adequate representation to intervene as of right in a case in which a state official is a defendant.
  1. Whether a district court’s determination of adequate representation in ruling on a motion to intervene as of right is reviewed de novo or for abuse of discretion.
  1. Whether Petitioners are entitled to intervene as of right in this litigation.

You can find the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2021 in Federal Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Arbitration: Morgan v. Sundance

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., which presents the following question:

Waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right and, in the context of contracts, occurs when one party to a contract either explicitly repudiates its rights under the contract or acts in a manner inconsistent with an intention of exercising them. In the opinion below, the Eighth Circuit joined eight other federal courts of appeals and most state supreme courts in grafting an additional requirement onto the waiver analysis when the contract at issue happens to involve arbitration-requiring the party asserting waiver to show that the waiving party's inconsistent acts caused prejudice. Three other federal courts of appeal, and the supreme courts of at least four states, do not include prejudice as an essential element of proving waiver of the right to arbitrate.

The question presented is: Does the arbitration-specific requirement that the proponent of a contractual waiver defense prove prejudice violate this Court's instruction that lower courts must "place arbitration agreements on an equal footing with other contracts?" AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 339 (2011).

You can find the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 5, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Bivens: Egbert v. Boule

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Egbert v. Boule, which presents the following questions:

  1. Whether a cause of action exists under Bivens for First Amendment retaliation claims.
  2. Whether a cause of action exists under Bivens for claims against federal officers engaged in immigration-related functions for allegedly violating a plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights.

(The Court did not grant cert on the third question presented, which asked the Court to “reconsider Bivens”).

You can find the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

November 5, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 29, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Intervention

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Arizona v. San Francisco. The case involves the Trump administration’s regulations on the “public charge” provision of the Immigration & Nationality Act.

The grant is limited to Question 1 of the petition, which involves Arizona’s and other states’ attempt to intervene in litigation challenging the regulations: “Whether States with interests should be permitted to intervene to defend a rule when the United States ceases to defend.”

You can find the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2021 in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 22, 2021

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Texas Abortion Cases

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases relating to the Texas abortion law, S.B. 8 (covered earlier here and here).

One case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, presents the question “whether a State can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil actions.”

In United States v. Texas, the grant is limited to the following question: “May the United States bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the State, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced?”

The Court has set an exceptionally expedited schedule, with oral argument occurring on Monday, November 1. However, the Court has left the statute in effect while it considers the case.

Here is the order granting cert in Whole Woman’s Health. Here is the order granting cert in United States v. Texas, which is accompanied by a partial dissent from Justice Sotomayor.

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 1, 2021

New SCOTUS Cert Grants: Boechler & Cassirer

Yesterday the Supreme Court granted certiorari in several cases—two of which may be of particular interest…

Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue presents the following question:

Section 6330(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code establishes a 30-day time limit to file a petition for review in the Tax Court of a notice of determination from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. 26 U.S.C. § 6330(d)(1). The question presented is: Whether the time limit in Section 6330(d)(1) is a jurisdictional requirement or a claim-processing rule subject to equitable tolling.

You can find the Boechler cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation presents the following question:

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602–1611 (“FSIA”), provides that where a foreign nation is not immune from jurisdiction in the courts of the United States or of any State, it “shall be liable in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances.” Id. § 1606. In four circuits, the courts of appeals have held that this statutory requirement of parity with private litigation means that a federal court hearing an FSIA case must apply the choice-of-law rules of the State in which it is sitting. But the Ninth Circuit has held—repeatedly and without meaningful analysis, including in the decision below—that choice of law in FSIA cases is determined by application of federal common law.

The choice of law issue is critical in this case, in which the family of a Holocaust survivor seeks the return of a painting stolen by the Nazis. Under California law, a holder of stolen property (such as the Spanish state museum here) can never acquire good title, while under Spanish law, an adverse possession rule protects the museum’s title.

The question presented is: Whether a federal court hearing state law claims brought under the FSIA must apply the forum state’s choice-of-law rules to determine what substantive law governs the claims at issue, or whether it may apply federal common law.

You can find the Cassirer cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

SCOTUS Case on Section 1782 Discovery and Arbitration Is off the Argument Calendar

The Supreme Court has removed Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC, from its oral argument calendar. As covered earlier here, the case would have addressed “[w]hether the discretion granted to district courts in 28 U.S.C. §1782(a) to render assistance in gathering evidence for use in ‘a foreign or international tribunal’ encompasses private commercial arbitral tribunals.”

Today, petitioner’s counsel filed a letter indicating that it will be filing a Rule 46 dismissal motion.

 

 

 

September 8, 2021 in Discovery, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 2, 2021

SCOTUS Order in Texas Abortion Case

Late last night, the Supreme Court issued its order in Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson, denying by a 5-4 vote the application for injunctive relief or, in the alternative, to vacate the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the district court proceedings.

The ruling is supported by one long, unsigned paragraph, followed by four dissenting opinions: one by Chief Justice Roberts (joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan); one by Justice Breyer (joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan); one by Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan); and one by Justice Kagan (joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor).

 

 

 

September 2, 2021 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 2, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grant on PSLRA Discovery Stays in State Court

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Pivotal Software, Inc. v. Superior Court. Here is the question presented: 

Section 77z-1(b)(1) of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (“Reform Act”) provides:

In any private action arising under [the Securities Act of 1933], all discovery and other proceedings shall be stayed during the pendency of any motion to dismiss, unless the court finds, upon the motion of any party, that particularized discovery is necessary to preserve evidence or to prevent undue prejudice to that party.

15 U.S.C. § 77z-1(b)(1) (emphasis added).

The question presented is:

Whether the Reform Act’s discovery-stay provision applies to a private action under the Securities Act in state or federal court, or solely to a private action in federal court.

 

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2021 in Discovery, Recent Decisions, State Courts, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 25, 2021

SCOTUS Decision on Article III Standing: TransUnion v. Ramirez

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez (covered earlier here). It’s 5-4, with Justice Kavanaugh writing the majority opinion joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett. Justice Thomas writes one dissent, which is joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. And Justice Kagan writes another dissent, which is joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.

The case is a class action bringing claims under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the key issue in the case is Article III standing. The majority finds that Article III was satisfied for some class members and claims, but was not satisfied for others. From the majority’s introduction:

In this case, a class of 8,185 individuals sued TransUnion, a credit reporting agency, in federal court under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The plaintiffs claimed that TransUnion failed to use reasonable procedures to ensure the accuracy of their credit files, as maintained internally by TransUnion. For 1,853 of the class members, TransUnion provided misleading credit reports to third-party businesses. We conclude that those 1,853 class members have demonstrated concrete reputational harm and thus have Article III standing to sue on the reasonable-procedures claim. The internal credit files of the other 6,332 class members were not provided to third-party businesses during the relevant time period. We conclude that those 6,332 class members have not demonstrated concrete harm and thus lack Article III standing to sue on the reasonable-procedures claim.

In two other claims, all 8,185 class members complained about formatting defects in certain mailings sent to them by TransUnion. But the class members other than the named plaintiff Sergio Ramirez have not demonstrated that the alleged formatting errors caused them any concrete harm. Therefore, except for Ramirez, the class members do not have standing as to those two claims.

This was not the result that we urged in this legal scholars amicus brief, which was joined by myself, Tommy Bennett, Erwin Chemerinsky, Heather Elliott, Steve Vladeck, and Howard Wasserman. We had argued in favor of Article III standing for the entire class as to all of the claims they proved at trial. One point that we made, however, found some purchase in Justice Thomas’s dissenting opinion—that rejecting Article III standing in federal court would not necessarily stop these same federal claims from being pursued by these same plaintiffs in state court. Here’s footnote 9 from the Thomas dissent:

Today’s decision might actually be a pyrrhic victory for TransUnion. The Court does not prohibit Congress from creating statutory rights for consumers; it simply holds that federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear some of these cases. That combination may leave state courts—which “are not bound by the limitations of a case or controversy or other federal rules of justiciability even when they address issues of federal law,” ASARCO Inc. v. Kadish, 490 U. S. 605, 617 (1989)—as the sole forum for such cases, with defendants unable to seek removal to federal court. See also Bennett, The Paradox of Exclusive State-Court Jurisdiction Over Federal Claims, 105 Minn. L. Rev. 1211 (2021). By declaring that federal courts lack jurisdiction, the Court has thus ensured that state courts will exercise exclusive jurisdiction over these sorts of class actions.

As to Article III standing generally, Justice Thomas’s final paragraph is notable:

Ultimately, the majority seems to pose to the reader a single rhetorical question: Who could possibly think that a person is harmed when he requests and is sent an incomplete credit report, or is sent a suspicious notice informing him that he may be a designated drug trafficker or terrorist, or is not sent anything informing him of how to remove this inaccurate red flag? The answer is, of course, legion: Congress, the President, the jury, the District Court, the Ninth Circuit, and four Members of this Court.

In addition to Article III standing, TransUnion presented a question regarding whether the class action satisfied Rule 23(a)’s typicality requirement. The Court did not address that question, however: “In light of our conclusion about Article III standing, we need not decide whether Ramirez’s claims were typical of the claims of the class under Rule 23. On remand, the Ninth Circuit may consider in the first instance whether class certification is appropriate in light of our conclusion about standing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2021 in Class Actions, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Standing, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 21, 2021

SCOTUS Decision in Goldman Sachs: Class Certification in Securities-Fraud Cases

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. Justice Barrett writes the opinion, which is unanimous as to some parts and a majority opinion as to the rest. Here’s the full breakdown:

BARRETT, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, KAGAN, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined in full; in which THOMAS, ALITO, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined as to Parts I and II–A; and in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined as to Parts I, II–A–1, and II–B. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. GORSUCH, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined.

The case involves a securities-fraud class action against Goldman Sachs. The district court certified the class and the Second Circuit affirmed class certification. Here’s how Justice Barrett summarizes the decision:

In this Court, Goldman argues that the Second Circuit erred twice: first, by holding that the generic nature of its alleged misrepresentations is irrelevant to the price impact inquiry; and second, by assigning Goldman the burden of persuasion to prove a lack of price impact.

On the first question, the parties now agree, as do we, that the generic nature of a misrepresentation often is important evidence of price impact that courts should consider at class certification. Because we conclude that the Second Circuit may not have properly considered the generic nature of Goldman’s alleged misrepresentations, we vacate and remand for the Court of Appeals to reassess the District Court’s price impact determination. On the second question, we agree with the Second Circuit that our precedents require defendants to bear the burden of persuasion to prove a lack of price impact by a preponderance of the evidence. We emphasize, though, that the burden of persuasion should rarely be outcome determinative.

 

 

 

June 21, 2021 in Class Actions, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

SCOTUS Decision in Nestle v. Doe: More on the Alien Tort Statute

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe (covered earlier here). The plaintiffs brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) against two American companies—Nestlé USA and Cargill—that “purchase, process, and sell cocoa. They did not own or operate farms in Ivory Coast. But they did buy cocoa from farms located there. They also provided those farms with technical and financial resources—such as training, fertilizer, tools, and cash—in exchange for the exclusive right to purchase cocoa.” The plaintiffs “are six individuals from Mali who allege that they were trafficked into Ivory Coast as child slaves to produce cocoa” and that the defendants’ arrangements with those cocoa farms aided and abetted child slavery. 

The Supreme Court concludes that the plaintiffs “improperly seek extraterritorial application of the ATS.” It’s quite a fractured opinion, however:

THOMAS, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I and II, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which GORSUCH and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined as to Part I, and in which KAVANAUGH, J., joined as to Part II. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

A majority of the Court joins Part II of Justice Thomas’s opinion, which recognizes based on the Court’s earlier case law that courts “cannot give ‘extraterritorial reach’ to any cause of action judicially created under the ATS.” Therefore, ATS plaintiffs “must establish that ‘conduct relevant to the statute’s focus occurred in the United States.’” The plaintiffs here did not satisfy this requirement:

Nearly all the conduct that they say aided and abetted forced labor—providing training, fertilizer, tools, and cash to overseas farms—occurred in Ivory Coast. The Ninth Circuit nonetheless let this suit proceed because respondents pleaded as a general matter that “every major operational decision by both companies is made in or approved in the U. S.” App. 314. But allegations of general corporate activity—like decisionmaking—cannot alone establish domestic application of the ATS.

As we made clear in Kiobel, a plaintiff does not plead facts sufficient to support domestic application of the ATS simply by alleging “mere corporate presence” of a defendant. 569 U. S., at 125. Pleading general corporate activity is no better. Because making “operational decisions” is an activity common to most corporations, generic allegations of this sort do not draw a sufficient connection between the cause of action respondents seek—aiding and abetting forced labor overseas—and domestic conduct.

Beyond this holding, here’s a quick headcount on where the justices come out on other issues relating to the ATS:

Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh argue that the federal judiciary lacks the authority even to recognize a cause of action for the kind of claim asserted here. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan argue against this position.

Justices Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh all agree that domestic corporations are not categorically immune from suit under the ATS.

Justice Alito indicates some sympathy with the Thomas/Gorsuch/Kavanaugh view about the judiciary’s authority to recognize new ATS claims (“To be sure, Part III of JUSTICE THOMAS’s opinion and Part II of JUSTICE GORSUCH’s opinion make strong arguments that federal courts should never recognize new claims under the ATS”), but he states that “this issue was not raised by petitioners’ counsel, and I would not reach it here.” Justice Alito also disagrees with the Court deciding the case on extraterritoriality grounds, stating instead that he would “reject petitioners’ argument on the question of corporate immunity, vacate the judgment below, and remand these cases for further proceedings.”

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 28, 2021

SCOTUS Decision on District Court Discretion to Deny or Reduce Costs under FRAP 39

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in San Antonio v. Hotels.com, L. P. Justice Alito’s opinion for the Court begins:

Civil litigation in the federal courts is often an expensive affair, and each party, win or lose, generally bears many of its own litigation expenses, including attorney’s fees that are subject to the so-called American Rule. Baker Botts L. L. P. v. ASARCO LLC, 576 U. S. 121, 126 (2015). But certain “costs” are treated differently. Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 39 governs the taxation of appellate “costs,” and the question in this case is whether a district court has the discretion to deny or reduce those costs. We hold that it does not and therefore affirm the judgment below.

Although the Court concludes that “Rule 39 does not permit a district court to alter a court of appeals’ allocation of the costs listed in subdivision (e) of that Rule,” it does let the appellate court delegate the cost-allocation question to the district court:

In all events, if a court of appeals thinks that a district court is better suited to allocate the appellate costs listed in Rule 39(e), the court of appeals may delegate that responsibility to the district court, as several Courts of Appeals have done in the past. See, e.g., Emmenegger v. Bull Moose Tube Co., 324 F. 3d 616, 626 (CA8 2003); Guse v. J. C. Penney Co., 570 F. 2d 679, 681–682 (CA7 1978). The parties agree that this pragmatic approach is permitted. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 15, 44. And nothing we say here should be read to cast doubt on it. See Rule 39(a) (imposing no direct limitations on the court’s ability to “orde[r] otherwise”); Rule 41(a) (the mandate includes “any direction about costs”).

And Justice Alito’s opinion also encourages litigants to make their arguments about cost allocation to the appellate court before it makes its cost-allocation decision. Although he recognizes that “the current Rules and the relevant statutes could specify more clearly the procedure that such a party should follow to bring their arguments to the court of appeals,” he writes:

Rule 27 sets forth a generally applicable procedure for seeking relief in a court of appeals, and a simple motion “for an order” under Rule 27 should suffice to seek an order under Rule 39(a). Compare Fed. Rule App. Proc. 39(a) (“The following rules apply unless . . . the court orders otherwise”) with Rule 27(a) (“An application for an order . . . is made by motion unless these rules prescribe another form”). The OTCs also identify instances where parties have raised their arguments through other procedural vehicles, including merits briefing, see Rule 28, objections to a bill of costs, see Rule 39(d)(2), and petitions for rehearing, see Rule 40. Brief for Respondents 42, nn. 9–11. We do not foreclose litigants from raising their arguments in any manner consistent with the relevant federal and local Rules.

And finally, Justice Alito flags but does not resolve an issue raised by the Solicitor General about the relationship between FRAP 39 and 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Here’s footnote 4:

As the United States points out, see Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 19, n. 4, we have interpreted Rule 54(d) to provide for taxing only the costs already made taxable by statute, namely, 28 U. S. C. §1920. See Crawford Fitting Co. v. J. T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U. S. 437, 441–442 (1987). Supersedeas bond premiums, despite being referenced in Appellate Rule 39(e)(3), are not listed as taxable costs in §1920. San Antonio has not raised any argument that Rule 39 is inconsistent with §1920 in this respect. We accordingly do not consider this issue.

 

 

 

 

May 28, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Subject Matter Jurisdiction over Applications to Confirm or Vacate Arbitration Awards

This week the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Badgerow v. Walters, which involves whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over applications to confirm or vacate arbitration awards. Here’s the question presented (with the usual wind-up):

This case presents a clear and intractable conflict regarding an important jurisdictional question under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1-16.

As this Court has repeatedly confirmed, the FAA does not itself confer federal-question jurisdiction; federal courts must have an independent jurisdictional basis to entertain matters under the Act. In Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49 (2009), this Court held that a federal court, in reviewing a petition to compel arbitration under Section 4 of the Act, may “look through” the petition to decide whether the parties’ underlying dispute gives rise to federal-question jurisdiction. In so holding, the Court focused on the particular language of Section 4, which is not repeated elsewhere in the Act.

After Vaden, the circuits have squarely divided over whether the same “look-through” approach also applies to motions to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10. In Quezada v. Bechtel OG & C Constr. Servs., Inc., 946 F.3d 837 (5th Cir. 2020), the Fifth Circuit acknowledged the 3-2 “circuit split,” and a divided panel held that the “look-through” approach applies under Sections 9 and 10. In the proceedings below, the Fifth Circuit declared itself “bound” by that earlier decision, and applied the “look-through” approach to establish jurisdiction. That holding was outcome-determinative, and this case is a perfect vehicle for resolving the widespread disagreement over this important threshold question.

The question presented is:

Whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the FAA where the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question.

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the Supreme Court website.

 

 

 

May 19, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 17, 2021

SCOTUS Decision on Appellate Review of Remand Orders: BP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore

Today the Supreme Court issued a 7-1 decision in BP P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (covered earlier here). Justice Gorsuch writes the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Breyer, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Justice Sotomayor dissents, and Justice Alito did not participate.

At issue in the case is 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d), which forbids appellate review of a district court’s remand order “except that an order remanding a case to the State court from which it was removed pursuant to section 1442 or 1443 of this title shall be reviewable by appeal or otherwise.” Justice Gorsuch’s opinion begins:

This case began when Baltimore’s mayor and city council sued various energy companies for promoting fossil fuels while allegedly concealing their environmental impacts. But the merits of that claim have nothing to do with this appeal. The only question before us is one of civil procedure: Does 28 U. S. C. §1447(d) permit a court of appeals to review any issue in a district court order remanding a case to state court where the defendant premised removal in part on the federal officer removal statute, §1442, or the civil rights removal statute, §1443?

The answer to that question is: Yes. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion emphasizes in particular the use of the word “order” in § 1447(d): “[W]hen a district court’s removal order rejects all of the defendants’ grounds for removal, §1447(d) authorizes a court of appeals to review each and every one of them. After all, the statute allows courts of appeals to examine the whole of a district court’s ‘order,’ not just some of its parts or pieces.”

The majority does not, however, consider the merits of the defendants’ arguments in favor of removal:

The Fourth Circuit erred in holding that it was powerless to consider all of the defendants’ grounds for removal under §1447(d). In light of that error, the defendants ask us to consider some of those additional grounds ourselves. That task, however, does not implicate the circuit split that we took this case to resolve and we believe the wiser course is to leave these matters for the Fourth Circuit to resolve in the first instance.

Justice Sotomayor dissents. Her opinion concludes:

Section 1447(d) places “broad restrictions on the power of federal appellate courts to review district court orders remanding removed cases to state court.” Things Remembered, Inc. v. Petrarca, 516 U. S. 124, 127 (1995). After today’s decision, defendants can sidestep these restrictions by making near-frivolous arguments for removal under §1442 or §1443. Congress, of course, can amend §1447(d) to make even clearer that appellate review of a district court remand order extends to only §1442 or §1443. Because I believe §1447 already bears that meaning, I respectfully dissent.

 

 

 

May 17, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Decision on Habeas Retroactivity: Edwards v. Vannoy

Today the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in Edwards v. Vannoy (covered earlier here). Justice Kavanaugh’s majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett, begins:

Last Term in Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U. S. ___ (2020), this Court held that a state jury must be unanimous to convict a criminal defendant of a serious offense. Ramos repudiated this Court’s 1972 decision in Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U. S. 404, which had allowed non-unanimous juries in state criminal trials. The question in this case is whether the new rule of criminal procedure announced in Ramos applies retroactively to overturn final convictions on federal collateral review. Under this Court’s retroactivity precedents, the answer is no.

This Court has repeatedly stated that a decision announcing a new rule of criminal procedure ordinarily does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. See Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288, 310 (1989) (plurality opinion); see also Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U. S. 618, 639–640, and n. 20 (1965). Indeed, in the 32 years since Teague underscored that principle, this Court has announced many important new rules of criminal procedure. But the Court has not applied any of those new rules retroactively on federal collateral review. See, e.g., Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U. S. 406, 421 (2007) (Confrontation Clause rule recognized in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U. S. 36 (2004), does not apply retroactively). And for decades before Teague, the Court also regularly declined to apply new rules retroactively, including on federal collateral review. See, e.g., DeStefano v. Woods, 392 U. S. 631, 635 (1968) (per curiam) (jury-trial rule recognized in Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145 (1968), does not apply retroactively).

Later in the opinion, Justice Kavanaugh overrules Teague v. Lane’s principle that “watershed” rules of criminal procedure may apply retroactively on habeas review:

If landmark and historic criminal procedure decisions—including Mapp, Miranda, Duncan, Crawford, Batson, and now Ramos—do not apply retroactively on federal collateral review, how can any additional new rules of criminal procedure apply retroactively on federal collateral review? At this point, some 32 years after Teague, we think the only candid answer is that none can—that is, no new rules of criminal procedure can satisfy the watershed exception. We cannot responsibly continue to suggest otherwise to litigants and courts. In Teague itself, the Court recognized that the purported exception was unlikely to apply in practice, because it was “unlikely” that such watershed “components of basic due process have yet to emerge.” 489 U. S., at 313 (plurality opinion). The Court has often repeated that “it is unlikely that any of these watershed rules has yet to emerge.” Tyler, 533 U. S., at 667, n. 7 (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted); see also, e.g., Whorton, 549 U. S., at 417; Summerlin, 542 U. S., at 352. And for decades, the Court has rejected watershed status for new procedural rule after new procedural rule, amply demonstrating that the purported exception has become an empty promise. Continuing to articulate a theoretical exception that never actually applies in practice offers false hope to defendants, distorts the law, misleads judges, and wastes the resources of defense counsel, prosecutors, and courts. Moreover, no one can reasonably rely on an exception that is non-existent in practice, so no reliance interests can be affected by forthrightly acknowledging reality. It is time— probably long past time—to make explicit what has become increasingly apparent to bench and bar over the last 32 years: New procedural rules do not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. The watershed exception is moribund. It must “be regarded as retaining no vitality.” Herrera v. Wyoming, 587 U. S. ___, ___ (2019) (slip op., at 11) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Justice Thomas writes a concurring opinion joined by Justice Gorsuch. And Justice Gorsuch writes a concurring opinion joined by Justice Thomas.

Justice Kagan writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor. The dissenters take particular aim at the majority’s overruling of Teague. From Justice Kagan’s introduction:

So everything rests on the majority’s last move—the overturning of Teague’s watershed exception. If there can never be any watershed rules—as the majority here asserts out of the blue—then, yes, jury unanimity cannot be one. The result follows trippingly from the premise. But adopting the premise requires departing from judicial practice and principle. In overruling a critical aspect of Teague, the majority follows none of the usual rules of stare decisis. It discards precedent without a party requesting that action. And it does so with barely a reason given, much less the “special justification” our law demands. Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., 573 U. S. 258, 266 (2014). The majority in that way compounds its initial error: Not content to misapply Teague’s watershed provision here, see ante, at 10–14, the majority forecloses any future application, see ante, at 14–15. It prevents any procedural rule ever—no matter how integral to adjudicative fairness—from benefiting a defendant on habeas review. Thus does a settled principle of retroactivity law die, in an effort to support an insupportable ruling.

 

 

 

May 17, 2021 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)