U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Retiree Benefits Case Goes Back to Trial Court for the 3rd Time

After what can only be called a meandering journey of legal issues through the courts, the Sixth Circuit remanded a collective bargaining agreement case back to the district court, again to re-evaluate the law consistent with SCOTUS's newly greenlit "ordinary principles of contract law."

Chief Judge Cole was quick to point out that the case of Tackett v. M&G Polymers had seen the inside of his courtroom before, and readers of his opinion could almost hear the weariness through his pen. This would have been the third time his court would be faced with making a substantive decision as to applicable law in this most ostensibly basic of CBA disputes.

A nursing home patient's agreement to arbitrate "any and all disputes" against the facility doesn't prevent his estate from bringing a wrongful death suit after he died in the home's care, the Sixth Circuit ruled last Friday.

The court rejected arguments that the Federal Arbitration Act gave the nursing home the right to compel arbitration, finding that the FAA did not change Kentucky state law on wrongful death suits.

A group of 194 employees fired by Vanderbilt University in the summer of 2013 can't pursue a class action -- and planned settlement -- against the university over Vanderbilt's violation of "mass layoff" laws, the Sixth Circuit ruled last week.

The canned employees alleged that Vanderbilt never provided them or 279 other employees 60-days notice as required by the mass layoff provisions of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. But, to fall under WARN, a layoff must effect at least 500 workers, the Sixth found, and the two groups of fired employees were let go too far apart to be combined for WARN purposes.

6th Circuit Affirms Tribal Version of 'State's Interest' Test

In a rather interesting jurisdiction case, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a lower court's decision which held that a tribe did not have jurisdiction over a member's off-reservation criminal conduct. The circuit rule that the tribe essentially held criminal jurisdiction over the defendant inasmuch as it was needed to protect the tribe's self-governance and internal relations.

The case represents a refreshing dip into civil procedure by breaking away from federal and state courts, and into the world of Native American law.

When Samantha Bachynski was arrested by Michigan police -- after being found in a stolen truck with the dead owner in the back -- the 19-year-old initially invoked her Miranda rights, refusing to speak until she had an attorney present. But when it came time to pick a lawyer, she changed her mind, confessing to murder, torture, and other crimes.

Bachynski later moved to suppress her confessions, arguing that they were coerced in violation of her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Her confessions were admitted anyway and she was convicted. The Sixth Circuit upheld that conviction last Wednesday, finding that Bachynski voluntarily waived her Miranda rights.

If Your Accountant Screws Up, You're on the Hook, Rules 6th Cir.

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower federal district court's ruling that Maurice Vaughn (former pro baseball "Mo" Vaughn) must be held accountable for fees and penalties arising out of his accountant's breach of fiduciary duties to him.

Does good faith selection of a financial manager shield you from the consequent fees and penalties assessed against you by the IRS? Surprise! No, you're still hosed.

Birth Control Patch Lawsuit Loses at 6th Circuit

Pharma can breathe a little easier knowing Sixth Circuit ruled against a 17-year-old girl injured by her birth control patch. It was the country's first ever appellate level expansion of the doctrine of " impossibility preemption."

If you're wondering what "impossibility preemption" is, we refer you back to the 2013 case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett.

The Fight Over Ohio's Election Laws Fizzles From Mootness

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit just granted the State of Ohio's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Libertarian Party of Ohio in what had become a "long struggle."

The Party had previously tasted defeat when the district court granted partial summary judgment to the State, ruling that Ohio's voting statutes did not violate the First Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment; and that Sovereign Immunity clothed the state in Teflon. This latest ruling basically just killed the Party's request to revisit those findings.

Wayne State University is not a 'person' for purposes of the False Claims Act, which imposes liability on individuals and businesses who defraud the federal government. Further, the school is entitled to sovereign immunity, and protected from FCA whistleblower lawsuits, as an "arm of the state" under the Eleventh Amendment.

Those are the holdings of a recent Sixth Circuit opinion which adopted the "arm of the state" test for FCA claims -- and tossed a Wayne State assistant professor's whistleblower suit in the process.

SCOTUS Refuses Cert. of Habeas Corpus Case, Scalia Dissents ... Calmly

The nation's highest court refused to intervene in a Confrontation Clause case in which a convicted murder pled for relief. This is the latest in Sixth Circuit Opinions where that court has taken its own path with regards to 'precedent.'

In an atypically calm dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia reasoned that the Sixth Circuit had built up an appetite and "taste for disregarding" the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and that the Supreme Court should have granted review to "discourage" such appetites.