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Suit Against 1-800 Contacts For Violation of FCRA, Plus, Immigration, Criminal, & Public Utilities Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on August 10, 2010 11:14 PM

Young v. Verizon's Bell Atlantic Cash Balance Plan, 09-3872, involved a plaintiff's class action suit under ERISA section 502(a) and U.S.C. section 1132(a) against Verizon and its Cash Balance Plan, claiming that defendant made two errors in calculating her opening cash balance, and hence her ultimate pension benefit under the plan.  In affirming the district court's grant of defendant's equitable reformation of its plan to correct a scrivener's error, the court held that, although ERISA's rules for written plans are strictly enforced, they are not so strict as to prevent equitable reformation of a plan that is shown, by clear and convincing evidence, to contain a scrivener's error that is inconsistent with participants' expected benefits.

US v. Robinson, 09-3955, concerned a challenge to the district court's refusal to suppress cocaine that officers pulled from defendant's person, in a prosecution of defendant for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. section 841(a)(1).  In affirming, the court held that the district court was entitled to conclude that the officer had handed off responsibility for defendant to his partner, and to reject the hypothesis that the officer had concluded his frisk and was satisfied that defendant had no weapon.  Also, whether an officer has a reasonable suspicion to support a Terry frisk is a "fact-specific" inquiry that looks at the "totality of the circumstances" in light of "common sense and practicality," and the proper way to view this encounter with the police is as a single event, not two or three different stages.

Shlahtichman v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc., 09-4073, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which  relief could be granted, in plaintiff's class action suit against 1-800 Contacts, claiming that defendant violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 (FCRA) as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) by including the expiration date of a purchaser's credit card in the order confirmations it sent by email.  In affirming, the court held that both the language and context of the truncated requirement make plain that Congress was regulating only those receipts physically printed by the vendor at the point of the sale or transaction, and to apply the statute to receipts that are emailed to the consumer would broaden the statute's reach beyond the words that Congress actually used.  Further, even if the court construed the statute too narrowly, dismissal of plaintiff's complaint was nevertheless appropriate because 1-800 Contacts did not willfully violate the statute.

Rock Energy Coop. v. Village of Rockton, 10-1106, involved a non-profit, consumer-owned utility company's suit against a village seeking a declaratory judgment, claiming that the village does not have proper authority to purchase or condemn assets used by natural gas and electric utilities in the area.  In affirming the district court's dismissal of the suit, the court held that the chance of future eminent domain proceedings in this case is too remote to support the claim that plaintiff is trying to litigate.  The court also affirmed the state court's conclusion that, in litigation between the same parties, that the MOU agreement is unenforceable is entitled to preclusive effect under Illinois law, and to the extent that the MOU has a role to play in this case, it includes a clear choice-of-forum clause directing all litigation to the state court.

Martinez-Buendia v. Holder, 09-3792, concerned a Colombian citizen's petition for review of a denial of her application for asylum and related relief.  In granting the petition, the court held that the record in this case demonstrates that petitioner was persecuted in the past, and therefore has a legitimate fear of future persecution on account of her political beliefs.  In addition, because the record compels the conclusion that petitioner was persecuted in the past on account of her political opinion, and therefore has a legitimate fear of future persecution on account of her political beliefs, the question of whether she also qualifies for asylum due to persecution on account of her membership in a social group need not be reached.

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