U.S. Second Circuit - FindLaw

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


2nd Cir. Adopts NLRB Standard for Bargaining Units

The Second Circuit has adopted the National Labor Relations Board's organizational standards for proposed unions. In applying a two-part test, the court joined other federal jurisdictions to evaluate whether proposed collective bargaining units consist of employees who share a "community of interests" and do not "arbitrarily exclude other employees." The panel reached its decision in Constellation Brands v. National Labor Relations Board, a contest over the organization of a winery's operations department.

"We hold the Specialty Healthcare framework to be valid, as our sister circuits have, and to be consistent with this Court's precedent," the court said. While upholding the NLRB's framework, however, the court concluded the Board did not properly apply the standard.

When the Baltimore Orioles go into overtime, the workers in Camden Yards don't exactly celebrate. That's because the men and women who sell you your peanuts and crackerjacks don't get paid overtime.

Those workers sued in 2011, alleging that the lack of overtime ran afoul of federal labor laws. But the Second Circuit disagreed last Monday, ruling that the concession workers were exempt from overtime protection.

A company can be held responsible for the retaliatory actions taken by one co-worker against another, even when those workers are just low-level employees, the Second Circuit ruled on Monday.

The decision makes it easier for employers to be held liable under a "cat's paw" theory of liability. "A what?" you ask. A cat's paw. That is, the sort of obscure theory of liability coined by Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner and relating to an ancient Aesop fable. The gist: as a cat paws one toy, causing it to hit another, so to can employers be held responsible when one employee manipulates them into taking discriminatory or retaliatory action against another.

Federal Courts Have No Jurisdiction to Expunge Convictions

A federal district court in Brooklyn has no authority to expunge a valid conviction of a woman who said her arrest record had prevented her from securing a job as a health aide. The Second Circuit opinion did take sympathy on the woman and suggested that Congress should consider allowing federal judges to have the ability to erase old convictions.

Chevron Escapes $9.5 Billion 'Amazon Chernobyl' Judgment

Energy giant Chevron can breathe a little easier after the Second Circuit overruled a lower court award of $9.5 billion, finding that the judgment was "procured by corrupt means" and attorney fraud. It's a gigantic win for a gigantic company that has the potential to set the tone for international business litigation strategies.

The attorney who is at the center of this reversal-slash-scandal is Steven Donzinger whom Chevron accused of conducting a "shake-down" of the company. Donzinger's lawyer called the circuit's decision "unprecedented."

A male Columbia University student can go forward with his lawsuit accusing the college of gender bias in its sexual assault investigations, the Second Circuit ruled last Friday. "John Doe" alleges that the university demonstrated "sex bias in disciplining him for an alleged sexual assault," in violation of Title IX.

Doe had been disciplined and suspended for a year and a half, for coercing a female student to sleep with him, according to the court. He sued, claiming that Columbia's investigation was biased against him because he was a man. A federal district court initially rejected those claims, but the Second Circuit breathed new life into them last week, finding that Doe had alleged sufficient bias to survive a rule 12(b)(6) motion, even if his allegations are not the most plausible explanation for the university's behavior.

2nd Circuit Decertifies Class After Jury Returns $32M Verdict

A lesson of particular interest to class action civil procedure came out from a unanimous Second Circuit recently. That court of appeals affirmed a lower federal district court's decision to decertify a class of debtors on grounds of lack of commonality and typicality, even though the jury returned a $32 million verdict in favor of plaintiffs.

This ruling does not mean a free-for-all in courts, however. After all, the decertification took place before a final judgment in the case.

Microsoft Doesn't Have to Turn Over Emails on Foreign Servers

The U.S. government cannot not legally compel Microsoft to hand over customer emails stored in Irish servers under the Stored Communications Act, the Second Circuit ruled yesterday. It's a major win for both tech and for privacy advocates.

It is believed that Microsoft is the first company to challenge a domestic search warrant over data held in another country, according to Reuters.

A $7.25 billion antitrust settlement between credit card companies and 12 million merchants was nixed by the Second Circuit last week. For over ten years, merchants had pursued a class action antitrust suit against Visa and MasterCard, alleging that they abused their market power to force unfair fees on businesses that accepted credit cards.

The proposed settlement would have provided those merchants billions in relief, while also preventing those merchants from bringing future challenges to the credit card companies' policies in perpetuity, leading the Second Circuit rule that the settlement was unreasonable and inadequate and that many of the merchants had been inadequately represented.

'Pudgie's' Mark Back in the Hands of Original Family Company

A trademark dispute over Pudgie's pizza and pasta chain made its way up to the Second Circuit recently, as members of this "once-convivial family" fought over control of the Pudgie's franchise.

The dispute pit cousin against cousin in an almost-literal food fight over who had the rights to the Pudgie's mark, and whether one cousin had obtained those rights by fraud.