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

Aldo Vera Jr. filed a lawsuit against the nation of Cuba due to the alleged assassination of his father in the late 1970s in Puerto Rico. After receiving a default judgment on his claims in 2008 in a Florida state court, which were presumed to be permissible under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act's terrorism exception, the court awarded him $45 million in damages.

Unfortunately for Mr. Vera, in attempting to enforce the judgment, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal has reversed the district court's decision holding Cuba liable at all. The Second Circuit found that the state court decision that the federal district court based its decision and order on was erroneous, thereby rendering the district court's decision erroneous as well.

Trump Emoluments Case Gets Closer: Arguments Begin Oct. 18

Pressure is mounting in the other Russia case against President Donald Trump.

A federal judge has set a hearing over whether Trump's businesses run afoul of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause. The clause prohibits public officials from accepting any emolument, i.e. money, of any kind from a foreign government.

It is not the same matter being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, but it involves some of the same concerns. How did the president benefit from his ties to Russia?

The case of Davino Watson vs. the U.S.A. is one that most citizens would probably have preferred losing. The case is one of true bureaucratic incompetence, insurmountable legal hurdles, and precedential tragedy.

Mr. Watson, while incarcerated on a drug charge, was investigated by ICE. The ICE case was mishandled so badly that Mr. Watson, a U.S. citizen, was held for three years after he finished serving his time on the drug charge. After his eventual release, he filed suit to recover for the time he was falsely imprisoned by the federal government due to bureaucratic incompetence. He won at the trial level, but had his damages limited. However, on appeal, the court reluctantly stripped Mr. Watson of that win.

Justice Dept. Seeks to Stop LGBT Ruling

The Trump Administration fired two shots across the bow of the LGBT community, aiming to set back Obama-era rulings that protected soldiers and workers.

The same day Trump announced that the U.S. military would not allow transgender people in the armed forces, the Justice Department told a federal court that anti-discrimination laws should not protect people at work based on their sexual orientation.

In Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., the Justice Department says that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers based on their sex -- not their sexual orientation.

Publishers Escape Liability in E-Book Antitrust Case

A federal appeals court said book publishers violated antitrust laws by conspiring to change prices for ebooks, but they did not injure the retailers who sued them over it.

In Diesel eBooks v. Simon & Schuster, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said the retailers could not prove by the publishers caused their losses. The decision also spared further embarrassment for Apple, which was forced to pay a record fine in a related matter.

"We have ruled that the publisher Defendants and Apple did indeed conspire
unlawfully to restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Act," the judges said, referencing
United States v. Apple. However, the court said the conspiracy did not cause the plaintiffs any damage in this case.

Foot Locker Loses Appeal of $180 Million Verdict for ERISA Violations

Foot Locker stepped on its employees, but didn't expect them to kick back.

In Osberg v. Foot Locker, Inc., the plaintiffs won a $180 million judgment against the company for misleading them about their pension plan. The company appealed, saying it was an unfair windfall to more than 10,000 employee claims that were time-barred.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the arguments, saying the claims were not barred because the workers could not reasonably determine when they had been wronged.

Silk Road Founder Loses Appeal of Life Sentence for Drug Trafficking

A federal appeals court affirmed the life sentence for a darknet criminal who was convicted of selling more than $180 million in illegal drugs on the internet.

Ross William Ulbricht, who created Silk Road and allegedly hired killers to protect his enterprise, was sentenced to life plus 40 years for his crimes. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence, rejecting Ulbricht's claims that the government's search warrant for his computer was too broad.

"Ulbricht used his laptop to commit the charged offenses by creating and continuing to operate Silk Road," the court said in United States v. Ulbricht. "Thus, a broad warrant allowing the government to search his laptop for potentially extensive evidence of those crimes does not offend the Fourth Amendment..."

Court Reverses Illegal Smuggling Conviction

A federal appeals court reversed the conviction of a man who smuggled a Pakistani man into the United States, then drove him to board a train to Canada with a fake British passport.

It was part of a scheme for the Pakistani to re-enter the United States (via the United Kingdom) and seek U.S. citizenship with the fake documents, but authorities arrested the men before they reached the Canadian border. Choudry Muhammad Khalil, the smuggler, was sentenced on multiple counts for his crimes.

But the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in United States of America v. Khalil, reversed one count -- for transporting an alien to further an illegal presence in the United States -- because Khalil was driving the man to Canada.

Union Worker's Profane Post on Facebook Is Protected

An employee's Facebook comments -- including the f-word directed at a supervisor's mother -- days before a union vote were protected by labor laws, a federal appeals court ruled.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Facebook post was "vulgar and inappropriate," but it was not beyond the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. The appeals court said in National Labor Relations Board v. Pier Sixty that the employee should not have been fired under the "totality of the circumstances."

"However, we note that this case seems to us to sit at the out-bounds of protected, union-related comments," the appeals court said.

New York City's 'Black Car' Drivers Are Independent Contractors

In New York City, the color of your car matters if you drive a taxi.

Yellow cars can pick up passengers anywhere and anytime they hail you. Green cars can pick up only in certain burroughs, but still get the same money. Hey, it's a city that never sleeps.

But black cars are different because you work by appointment and you get to pick your hours. So a judge in Saleem v. Corporate Transportation Group says you get no overtime.