Bennett v. CMH Homes, Inc.

In 2004, the plaintiffs’ Rockvale, Tennessee home burned down. They replaced it with a 2180-square-foot, “triple-wide” manufactured home purchased from the defendant for $160,230. Defendant was responsible for “normal delivery and installation” on the plaintiffs’ land and warranted that, “[f]or new homes, installation at the initial homesite will be completed in accordance with applicable governmental requirements.” Defendant delivered and installed the home in March 2005, but only one member of the installation crew was identified. He was not licensed to install manufactured homes as required by T.C. 68-126-404(a). Plaintiffs immediately began noticing defects that suggested the home was not level when installed and notified the defendant before they closed the purchase. Defendant assured plaintiffs that it would repair and level the home. After several years of inspections and repair efforts, defendant never levelled or repaired the home to the plaintiffs’ satisfaction. Plaintiffs sued, claiming breach of contract and federal breach of warranty under15 U.S.C.A. 2304, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, “and/or other applicable law.” The district court held that an arbitration clause was invalid and awarded $39,238.29. The Sixth Circuit remanded, concluding that federal jurisdiction did not exist because the home is not a “consumer product” under the Magnuson-Moss Act.View "Bennett v. CMH Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

Fair Elections OH v. Husted

Ohio voters can cast a ballot in person on Election Day, or by using absent voter’s ballot procedures, Ohio Rev. Code 3509.01. One can vote by mail or early, in person, at a designated location if a request is timely received. Overseas uniformed military, those subject to disability or confinement, those in unforeseen hospitalization and those confined for a misdemeanor or awaiting trial can submit ballot applications up to 90 days before an election. Boards of elections send teams to obtain the ballots from confined voters. While teams visit nursing homes up to a month before the election, they wait until Election Day to visit the jails: persons jailed after 6:00 P.M. on the Friday before Election Day who are not released in time to vote on Election Day and who have not already voted are unable to vote. If a voter or the voter’s minor child is “confined in a hospital as a result of an accident or unforeseeable medical emergency” an absentee ballot application can be delivered to the board by 3:00 P.M. on Election Day and the ballot can be entrusted to a family member or to a team for delivery. No corresponding provision exists for persons in jail on Election Day. Plaintiffs alleged violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, the Voting Rights Act, and the Seventeenth Amendment. The Sixth Circuit instructed the district court to dismiss. The organizational plaintiff did not establish concrete and particularized injury to itself or its members. Even if it could demonstrate Article III standing, it asserts the rights of third parties. Its relationship with the persons whom it seeks to help—unidentified, future late-jailed voters—does not resemble the close relationship of the lawyer-client or doctor-patient relationships recognized by the Supreme Court.View "Fair Elections OH v. Husted" on Justia Law

Frieder v. Morehead St. Univ.

Frieder joined Morehead State University in 2006 as an assistant professor of art history. During his time in probation, Frieder excelled in professional achievement and service but had difficulty teaching. The reviews of his introductory art history class were consistently abysmal. Frieder’s evaluators suggested improvements, asking Frieder to observe other teachers or visit the “Center for Teaching & Learning,” but after four years of renewing Frieder’s contract, the evaluators voted against tenure and the provost and president agreed. Frieder sued, alleging violation of the First Amendment and a Kentucky statute that prohibits disability-based discrimination, KRS 344.040. Frieder argued that his evaluators retaliated against his “idiosyncratic teaching methods,” which allegedly involved context-appropriate uses of the middle finger and that the tenure decision stemmed from his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which he admitted his evaluators knew nothing about. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. No evidence showed that anything other than his poor student ratings and disorganization motivated the tenure decision.View "Frieder v. Morehead St. Univ." on Justia Law

Stratton v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC

After Stratton stopped making payments on her credit card, GE “charged off” Stratton’s $2,630.95 debt, as uncollectible. GE stopped charging Stratton interest. By charging off the debt and ceasing to charge interest GE could take a bad-debt tax deduction, I.R.C. 166(a)(2), and avoid the cost of sending Stratton statements. A year later, GE assigned Stratton’s charged-off debt to PRA, a “debt buyer.” Two years later, PRA filed suit in state court, alleging that Stratton owed interest during the 10 months after GE charged off her debt, before GE sold that debt, and that Stratton owed 8% interest rather than the 21.99% rate established in her contract with GE. The 8% rate is the default rate under Kentucky’s usury statute, KRS 360.010. Stratton filed a putative class action, alleging that PRA’s attempt to collect 8% interest for the 10-month period violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692, in that the 8% interest was not “expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law,” that PRA had falsely represented the “character” of Stratton’s debt and the “amount” owed, and that PRA’s suit was a “threat” to take “action that cannot legally be taken.” The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Under Kentucky law a party has no right to statutory interest if it has waived the right to collect contractual interest; any attempt to collect statutory interest when it is “not permitted by law” violates the FDCPA.View "Stratton v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC" on Justia Law

Saab Automobile AB v. General Motors Co.

In 2010, GM sold its subsidiary Saab to Spyker: Spyker acquired a majority interest in Saab, and GM retained a minority interest through preferred shares. The parties entered into an agreement under which GM granted Saab a license to make certain Saab models using GM intellectual property. It prohibited Saab from assigning or transferring its rights without GM’s prior written consent until 2024. In 2010-2011, Saab faced financial hardship and attempted to enter into investment arrangements with Youngman, a Chinese automobile manufacturer. GM refused to approve any agreements that involved Chinese ownership or control of its licensed technology. Saab filed for voluntary reorganization under Swedish law. Saab and Youngman negotiated an agreement and circulated an unexecuted copy: Youngman would provide Saab an immediate cash infusion as a loan, which would be converted into an equity interest in Saab after Saab ceased using GM technology. A GM spokesperson made statements indicating that the agreement was not materially different than what was previously proposed. Based on GM’s position, Youngman backed out; Saab went into bankruptcy. Saab sued for tortious interference with economic expectancy. The district court dismissed, finding that Plaintiffs failed to establish a valid business expectancy and intentional interference by GM. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.View "Saab Automobile AB v. General Motors Co." on Justia Law

Gonzalez-Garcia v. Holder

Gonzalez entered the U.S. with a temporary-visitor visa in 1999. Three months short of 10 years later, police arrested him in Mississippi for driving without a license. He was served with notice of removal proceedings. The notice to appear contained all of the requisite information, except the date and time of the initial hearing. Gonzalez entered the U.S. with a temporary-visitor visa in 1999. The immigration judge denied his request for “cancellation of removal,” a discretionary form of relief available to aliens who have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1). The Board of Immigration Appeals has held that the 10-year clock stops running upon service of the notice to appear, even if it fails to tell the immigrant when the hearing will occur. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal, stating that the BIA’s reasonable interpretation of the relevant statutes is entitled to Chevron deference and that it makes no difference that the government later amended the charge to account for the reality that Gonzalez entered the country legally but stayed longer than his visa allowed.View "Gonzalez-Garcia v. Holder" on Justia Law

United States v. Grubbs

In 2001, Kentucky State Police officers executed a search warrant at the home of Grubbs’s mother, relating to an investigation into stolen automobiles and operation of a “chop shop” by Grubbs and his brother, Paul. At the time Grubbs was living in South Carolina but made periodic visits to his mother’s house. Paul was living at their mother’s house full time. The officers recovered the handgun. Grubbs pleaded guilty to counts related to the stolen vehicle allegations and went to trial on two firearms charges and one count of possessing ammunition as a felon. He was convicted only of possessing the handgun. The conviction was overturned by the Sixth Circuit in 2007 for lack of sufficient evidence. Grubbs sought a certificate of innocence (28 U.S.C. 2513), which was denied by the district court. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Although the failed to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it does not preclude the court from finding that the Grubbs failed to establish that he did not commit the offense charged in the indictment.View "United States v. Grubbs" on Justia Law

Frazier v. Jenkins

Following the 2004 murder of Mary Stevenson, an Ohio state-court jury convicted Frazier, of aggravated murder (with two death-penalty specifications), aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery, and recommended the death penalty. The judge sentenced him to die by lethal injection. After exhausting his state appeals, Frazier unsuccessfully sought federal habeas corpus relief, arguing that he was ineligible for the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia (2002), due to his intellectual disability; that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance; and that Ohio’s lethal-injection regime is unconstitutional. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that the state courts’ decisions were not contrary to, nor an objectively unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as defined by the United States Supreme Court. Frazier’s substantive Atkins claim remains procedurally defaulted because he did not show by clear and convincing evidence that he is mentally retarded. Under applicable law, the Ohio courts were not objectively unreasonable in rejecting his ineffective-assistance claims, and Frazier’s constitutional challenge to Ohio’s lethal-injection protocol requires the accumulation of evidence in another court.View "Frazier v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

United States v. Jenkins

Jenkins pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g). The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) imposes a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence on anyone previously convicted of three or more violent felonies that occurred “on occasions different from one another,” 18 U.S.C. 924(e). In 1990 Kentucky had convicted him of robbing nine different homes during an alcohol-and-drug-induced crime spree that lasted one day or four days. The district court determined that Jenkins’ nine robberies, involving homes separated by one to two miles apiece, amounted to distinct violent felonies even if they occurred on a single day. The Sixth Circuit affirmed his 15-year sentence.View "United States v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

Acosta v. City of Memphis

Memphis’s promotional processes have caused controversy for nearly 40 years, prompting numerous lawsuits alleging racial and gender discrimination by such parties including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Afro-American Police Association, and white and minority officers. The city instituted a process in 1996 designed by an industrial and organizational psychologist, and overseen by a Department of Justice consultant and adjusted the process in 2000. After the city discovered that leaked answers compromised the results, it readjusted and ultimately consented to the invalidation of the 2000 process. The city hired outside consultants to design replacement tests that would become the 2002 process. The district court dismissed a negligence claim concerning the already-invalidated 2000 process under Tennessee’s governmental-immunity statute, Tenn. Code 29-20-205; invalidated the 2002 process for violating Title VII’s disparate-impact prohibition, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(k)(1); and awarded back pay and interest to plaintiffs and more than $1 million in fees and expenses to their attorneys. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the immunity-based dismissal, reversed the Title VII judgment invalidating the 2002 process, vacated the fees award and remanded. The court noted that plaintiffs failed to present evidence establishing a genuine issue of fact regarding the availability of equally valid, less discriminatory alternative testing.View "Acosta v. City of Memphis" on Justia Law