U.S. Second Circuit - FindLaw

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


More than 22 years ago, environmental advocates accused Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, of polluting the Amazonian rainforest homeland of 30,000 Ecuadorians. Since then, the controversy has produced reams of media coverage, a well-received documentary, and a judgment of nearly $9 billion against Chevron.

It also produced a three hundred page court opinion finding that the billion dollar judgment to be based on fraudulent evidence, bribery and deceit -- and preventing enforcement of the judgment under an anti-racketeering statute often used for mobsters, not environmental lawyers.

Okasana Baiul became famous after she beat both Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding to win the gold medal in figure skating at the infamous 1994 winter Olympic games. Then she fell into alcoholism, resulting in a 1997 car accident.

She revitalized herself, however, and joined season 13 of "The Apprentice." She's also the plaintiff in a defamation suit filed against Disson Skating and NBC, where she claimed Disson and NBC promoted her appearance at a skating event she was actually never supposed to appear at, then made statements creating the impression (she says) that she failed to show up for that appearance. The Second Circuit last week upheld a district court's dismissal of her claim, in which Brian Boitano makes a special guest appearance.

Arne Svenson, a visual artist, created a series of photographs, entitled "The Neighbors," by using a telephoto lens to photograph the residents of the building across the street from him. His photos capture people at mundane and intimate moments like napping on a couch or scrubbing a floor. The neighbors, who did not know they were being photographed in their homes and did not consent to having their images displayed, sued, alleging the works violated their privacy rights.

A New York appellate court sided with the artist last Friday, finding that the artistic expression is constitutionally protected and exempt from the state's privacy law.

In November, 2007, a state trooper named Ben Campbell began to harass a woman named Joanne Smith. When Smith's adult son, Tom, said he would call 911 and speak to Campbell's supervisor, Campbell left without issuing any tickets.

This incident sparked a series of harassing activities that eventually rose to the level of a civil rights complaint. On April 1, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed and vacated in part a district court's order dismissing the case.

Inside traders can breathe a sigh of relief today. The Second Circuit has refused to revisit a ruling which federal prosecutors had said would severely limit their ability to pursue insider trading cases.

Prosecutors had asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case of hedge fund managers Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson. The court had reversed the pair's convictions on insider trading charges last December.

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal contesting a New York City policy refusing to allow outside groups to hold religious services on school facilities. The denial of cert, issued Monday, leaves in place the Second Circuit's decision from last April, which held that the NYC Board of Ed.'s policy was a reasonable way to ensure that the City did not violate the separation of church and state.

This may be the last round in litigation which began over 14 years ago, when the City first denied the request by Bronx Household of Faith to use school facilities for church services. The case illustrates the fine line municipalities walk when attempting to balance free practice of religion with the separation of church and state.

Must nonresident attorneys keep a physical office in the State of New York in order to practice there? Ekaterina Schoenefeld, a lawyer licensed in both New York and New Jersey, was surprised to find out that was the case after attending a CLE class in New York City.

She was so outraged (for some reason) that she filed a federal lawsuit against the State of New York, alleging a violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution. After winning in district court, the State appealed to the Second Circuit, which asked the New York Court of Appeals to interpret the statute. Indeed, said the state's highest court, nonresident attorneys do have to maintain a "physical office" in the state.

Want to work for the federal judiciary? Now's your chance!

The Second Circuit is currently on the lookout for candidates for a Bankruptcy Judge in the Southern District of New York. The gig lasts for 14 years and starts at $180,012 annually. If that salary is too much for you, the circuit is also looking for lawyers willing to work completely for free! Applications for the circuit's pro bono panel are currently being accepted.

GoDaddy, the domain registrar and web hosting company, is immune from defamation claims based on the websites it hosts, the Second Circuit ruled last week. The inexplicably named company had been sued by two pro se litigants over allegedly false statements made against them on a Teamsters website.

Under the Communications Decency Act, web sites, apps, hosting companies and other "interactive computer services" are protected from claims of defamation, negligence, invasion of privacy and other torts based on the publication of information by their users.

A tipster who reported his firm's securities violations before the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act cannot collect a whistleblower's reward under that Act, the Second Circuit has ruled.

Over a period of five years, Larry Stryker repeatedly informed the SEC about questionable practices at his firm, Advanced Technologies Group, leading to an enforcement action in 2009 and an eventual $20 million settlement.

Under Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers can collect 10 to 30 percent of the money recouped from a successful SEC enforcement action based on their information. In 2011, Stryker filed for just such an award. The SEC refused, arguing that since he offered information before the passage of Dodd-Frank, he was not entitled to to the $2 to $6 million that would otherwise be his share under the Act.