U.S. Second Circuit - FindLaw

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

'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town' Rights Passed to Author's Family

Everyone knows the popular Christmas song, "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town." What's not so widely known is the story of the song's ownership. Currently, it's owned by Sony ... but not for much longer.

On Thursday, the Second Circuit ruled that the rights to the song will end in December of 2016 and will pass down to the descendants of John Frederick Coots, the original author.

2nd Circuit Revives ADA Case, Treats Student Like Employee

The Second Circuit revived a discrimination case that was originally brought in August of 2014 in which the former student accused his medical school of expelling him based on discrimination.

The University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (UBMED) dismissed Dean from the M.D. program after he failed to appear for his third administration of Step 1 of the United States medical Licensing Examination. In Dean's original suit, he alleged UBMED's dismissal of him from the school was based on disability and race; he pled violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1981, and 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983.

This case is notable because it marks possibly the first time the 2nd Circuit has been asked to analyze the ADA in the context of education discrimination. In doing so, the Court clarified the permissible use of the ADA as applied to former students.

Your credit is once again as good as gold in New York, thanks to a recent ruling by the Second Circuit. The state's ban on credit card surcharges is not unconstitutional, the court ruled Tuesday. Under the law, companies cannot impose a surcharge on a customer who chooses to pay by credit card rather than cash, check, or gold doubloons.

That law, in place since 1984, was invalidated two years ago when a district court found that it violated merchants First Amendment and due process rights. The Second Circuit disagreed, however, reviving the 31 year old law.

Andrew Hall was born in a coal cellar during the Warsaw Uprising against Nazi Germany. It was, perhaps, a foretelling birth: Hall has gone on to make his name as an attorney by fighting against terrorists and corrupt regimes. The goal? Make them pay for their crimes -- in cash.

So far, he's had incredible success, winning cases against state sponsors of terror such as Iraq and Libya. In 2012, he won a $315 million award against Sudan for its involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole. Hall's winning record held up again this Wednesday, as the Second Circuit affirmed the ruling against the Republic of Sudan.

Prosecutors who mislead grand juries aren't protected by qualified immunity and can be sued, the Second Circuit ruled last Friday. The case involved a former New York State Special Assistant Attorney General who submitted fraudulent and misleading evidence to a grand jury in order to indict a dentist accused of Medicaid fraud.

After the dentist, Dr. Leonard Morse, was acquitted, he returned to court to sue the prosecutors, alleging that their manipulation of evidence before the grand jury denied him his constitutional right to a fair trial. A district court jury, and now the Second Circuit, agreed.

The Second Circuit greatly expanded the right to bring retaliation suits against government employees last Thursday. In a unanimous three-judge ruling, the court found that claims of illegal retaliation based on a complaint of discrimination are allowed under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, which makes government employees liable for violating constitutional rights under the color of law.

The ruling represents a break from 19 years of precedent which largely found retaliation to be outside sec. 1983's scope.

You think it would go without saying: corrections officers cannot sexually abuse inmates without violating those inmates' rights. Apparently not. The Second Circuit felt the need to restate the obvious after a district court tossed two inmates' suit, which alleged that they were fondled by correctional officers in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Such abuse is clearly unconstitutional, the Second Circuit wrote. Further, it emphasized that the Circuit's Eighth Amendment precedents must be applied broadly to comport with evolving "societal standards of decency" regarding inmate sexual abuse.

Every first year law student is familiar with the pleading requirements established by Iqbal v. Ashcroft. Under Iqbal, a complaint must make facially plausible factual allegations that the defendant is liable for misconduct. For some, Iqbal is a betrayal of permissive pleading requirements; for others, it is a necessary protection against meritless litigation.

That holding has been in tension with previous Supreme Court rulings on employment discrimination. Under those precedents, only minimal evidence "suggesting an inference" of discrimination is needed in pleadings. The Second Circuit attempted to reconcile those precedents, holding that Iqbal applies to employment discrimination complaints but does not affect the benefits of the doubt given to plaintiffs by other precedent.

Dentists have a new reason to smile after the Second Circuit upheld Connecticut regulations requiring that certain teeth-whitening procedures be performed only by licensed dentists. The procedure in question involves shining a low-powered LED light into a customer's mouth for 20 minutes, so it's not exactly major surgery -- but it's risky enough to justify the restriction and survive rational basis review, the Court ruled.

The court's highly deferential ruling means that it will be a bit harder to get whiter teeth on the cheap in Connecticut. It also contrasts with a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down similar restrictions in North Carolina.

Unpaid internships are some of the most miserable, abusive, and exploitative forms of labor around -- and you can go ahead and take advantage of them again, so long as you meet the new standard announced this month by the Second Circuit.

The Second Circuit's ruling reverses a 2013 district court decision that unpaid interns could file a class action for back wages and overtime. That decision caused many companies to curtail or eliminate their unpaid internship programs. Now, however, the court has proposed seven non-exclusive considerations used to determine when an intern might be entitled to pay, potentially opening the door for a return to widespread unpaid internships.