U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Court: New York Pipeline May Go Forward

A federal appeals court turned back a New York agency's attempt to slow down a controversial natural gas pipeline, which has been tied to a state government scandal in the same courthouse.

In New York State Department of Environmental Conservation v. Federal Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said the department waited too long to challenge the pipeline over water issues. As a result, the 442-mile Millennium Pipeline will go forward.

Meanwhile in the same building, federal prosecutors closed in on a former state official in a bribery trial involving the same pipeline company. In New York, they say, one hand washes the other.

Martin Shkreli likely won't be remembered for committing securities fraud, even though he was just sentenced to seven years in a federal prison for exactly that. Not surprisingly, the public is celebrating his federal prison sentence. Naturally, he plans on appealing to the Second Circuit.

Shkreli rose to infamy when he, and his pharmaceutical company, made the decision to raise the price of a lifesaving drug by over 5,000 percent. Seemingly overnight Shkreli became the "pharma bro" and a household name to be hated. And Shkreli didn't seem to self-reflect or introspect, but rather doubled down on being obnoxious, and becoming more hated. However, despite the Shkreli persona we've all grown accustomed to hating, in court at his sentencing, he attempted to appear sympathetic without his characteristic smirk ... then he spoke.

'Ministerial Exception' Protects Hospital From Racial Discrimination Claims

The First Amendment comes before the Fourteenth Amendment, and sometimes trumps it.

At least that's what happened in Penn v. New York Methodist Hospital. A black chaplain sued the Methodist hospital for racial discrimination, but a federal court rejected his case.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said there is a "ministerial exception" against discrimination claims. In other words, religions can discriminate.

Long Island Water Contamination Suit Time-Barred

Time heals all injuries, except perhaps damages from contaminated water in Bethpage, Long Island.

It's a legal reality because the statute of limitations has ended claims in Bethpage Water District v. Northrup Grumman Corporation. A federal appeals court said the plaintiffs waited too long to sue for groundwater contamination caused by the company's industrial work.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said Bethpage waited until 2013 to sue, despite learning about groundwater contamination there between 2007 and 2009.

Further driving a divide in a circuit split, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Seventh Circuit in finding that Title VII does in fact protect employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

Sadly, the case involves a deceased skydiving instructor who was fired after a customer complained that the instructor was gay. The estate of the deceased kept the case alive even after the plaintiff died in a subsequent skydiving accident. Interestingly, the appellate court initially did not find in favor of the plaintiff, but after a rehearing en banc, the court changed their minds on the issue of whether sexual orientation discrimination was discrimination "because of sex."

According to one federal judge's reading of the law, if a website embeds another's copyright violation, that's a copyright violation. And while some folks who write on the internet might be up in arms about the recent decision holding such, as embedding is a common practice, there's more to it than most media outlets are letting on, and it's not the end of the internet.

For starters, the court decided a rather narrow issue. The parties basically asked the court to clarify whether it was a copyright violation to display another person's copyright violation via embedding. Not surprisingly, the court found that yes, republishing another person's copyright violation, even if you're not hosting the image and just creating a box where it is called forth from the bellows of the internet, it's still displaying the copyrighted content in violation of the law.

Upheld: NY Can Require Nonprofits to Report Major Donors

Over free speech arguments, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New York's law requiring registered charities to disclose their donors.

Citizens United had challenged the law, saying it violated the First Amendment by intimidating donors who want to remain anonymous. The free speech group also said the law was a prior restraint on the ability to solicit donations.

In Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation v. Schneiderman, the appeals court said the state has an important interest in stopping fraud and abuse by charities by requiring them to disclose donor information.

Poet May Sue Public Access Company for Free Speech Violation, 2nd Cir. Rules

If it were the battle of the poet against the public access channel, then the poet won.

In Halleck v. Manhattan Community Access Corporation, a federal appeals court said the plaintiffs may sue a public access company for violating their free speech rights. East Harlem poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez and an activist sued after the company stopped a television show that nearly caused a fist-fight.

But the case also caused a split in the U.S. Second Court of Appeal, and that had little to do with poetry.

A 15-year-old case has finally reached a final conclusion thanks to a Second Circuit ruling vacating judgment and remanding the matter. Due to a settlement agreement where the parties stipulated to not proceed with a retrial, the circuit court's order effectively ends the litigation related to three terrorist attacks that date back to before 2005.

The case against Arab Bank was filed under the Antiterrorism Act, which extended liability to any organization that provides support to terrorist organization. The bank is alleged to have turned a blind eye to terrorist organizations providing monetary incentives to attackers and their families. And while a federal jury found the bank liable, the appellate court found that the errors at the trial court level warranted the verdict being vacated and a remand.

Puzzle Maker Sues Over Rubik's Cube Trademark

Did you see the kid who did a Rubik's Cube in less than five seconds?

That's faster than most Corvettes can do zero-to-sixty. That's faster than a Wall Street crash.

And that's about how long it took -- give or take a week -- to sue the Rubik's company after it dismissed a lawsuit against a competitor. In Cubicle Enterprises, LLC v. Rubik's Brand Limited, the New York-based puzzle maker claims Rubik's patents have expired.