Girl Scouts of Middle TN, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S.A.

In 2005, Girl Scouts of the United States (GSUSA) chartered 312 councils until it combined them into 112 councils. It merged councils that did not participate in the National Girl Scout Councils Retirement Plan with participating councils and made about 1,850 nonparticipating employees eligible for a lifetime pension benefit without having previously contributed to the Plan. In 2006, GSUSA added the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Plan, enabling participants to subsidize and accelerate eligibility for their pensions. Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee (GSMT) sued, claiming that the realignment and the early retirement amendment caused GSMT to incur massive new liabilities. As of 2007, the Plan had a surplus of over $150 million, but by 2011, it had a deficit close to $340 million. GSUSA implemented an increase of its councils’ contribution rates. GSMT wanted to withdraw from the Plan and form its own retirement plan. GSUSA would not grant GSMT permission to withdraw. GSMT sued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, federal and state common law, and Tennessee Code 48-53-104. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. GSMT has no claim under ERISA and the court declined to create federal common law. GSMT failed to properly plead its state law claim, which would fail as preempted by ERISA.View "Girl Scouts of Middle TN, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S.A." on Justia Law

United States v. Tucker

In 2009, two masked men entered the credit union waving guns. The taller was a light-skinned African American wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. The shorter man, fully masked, wore a gray sweatshirt. A teller included with the money a “dye pack” that exploded as the robbers sped away in their Pontiac, spewing red smoke into the air. Kortas witnessed the robbery through a drive-through window. After dialing 911, he pursued the Pontiac, noting its plate number. He saw the robbers pitch a bag out the window, red dye “coming out like smoke.” Kortas chased them to Toledo, where they ditched the car, eluding Kortas and the police. In 2011, they were indicted for bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a), and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). There was evidence that the Pontiac was stolen the night before the robbery. The FBI recovered Tucker’s DNA from its steering wheel. Investigators discovered clothing near the abandoned Pontiac. DNA on items matched both men. Tucker stands 5'7'' and is a light-skinned African American, Sherer stands 5'3'' and is left-handedness, like the man in gray. Sherer and Tucker lived blocks from each other and from the home of the Pontiac’s owner. During 10 days before the robbery, they called each other 27 times. Convicted, Tucker received a 147-month sentence; Sherer, a 540-month sentence. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges under the Speedy Trial Act, to the sufficiency of the evidence, and to the sentences.View "United States v. Tucker" on Justia Law

Roberson v. Torres

Roberson was incarcerated at a Michigan correctional facility. Corrections officer Torres went to Roberson’s cell and ordered Roberson to back up to the cell door to be placed in restraints. When Roberson did not comply, Torres sprayed a chemical agent into the cell. Torres issued Roberson a major-misconduct ticket for his failure to comply with the order. At a subsequent hearing, Roberson claimed that he did not understand Torres’s order because he was asleep when it was given and did not awaken until after Torres deployed gas into his cell. Roberson claimed that, although he had been awake and had refused to come out of his cell earlier, he had subsequently fallen asleep. Roberson ceased to reasonably cooperate with the review process and the hearing officer stated that he was “unconvinced” that the sergeant gave the order to a sleeping prisoner. In Roberson’s civil rights suit, the district court denied Torres qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that a genuine issue exists as to whether Roberson was sleeping at the time he was sprayed and, if so, whether Torres’s actions constituted excessive force, given Roberson’s admission that he was covered from head to toe in his blanket.View "Roberson v. Torres" on Justia Law

Decker v. GE Healthcare Inc.

In 2005, in connection with a magnetic resonance imaging procedure (MRI), Decker received a dose of Omniscan, a gadoliniumbased contrast agent manufactured by GEHC. After taking Omniscan, Decker developed Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF). In 2012, the Deckers sued GEHC, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Before the Deckers’ case, hundreds of similar cases in the MDL involving GEHC had been settled. The Decker case was the first case in the MDL to go to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Deckers on a failure-to-warn claim, awarding $5 million in damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the district court judge should have recused himself from the trial and a motion for a new trial; made several erroneous evidentiary rulings, which were applicable to all MDL cases; erroneously denied GEHC’s motion for a new trial because insufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict regarding the causation element of the Deckers’ failure-to-warn claim; and erroneously failed to issue two proposed jury instructions.View "Decker v. GE Healthcare Inc." on Justia Law

Cass v. City of Dayton

After a “buy-bust” operation orchestrated by Dayton police, based on information from a confidential informant, Detective House shot and killed Jordan. Jordan, not the intended target of the bullet, sat in the front passenger seat of a vehicle that, moments before the shot was fired, had been driven into two officers in an attempt to escape. Jordan’s estate sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that House used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that the city failed to train and supervise its employees adequately. The district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants on all claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding House’s actions objectively reasonable. The “calculus of reasonableness” allows for the fact that police officers must often “make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving,” An officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment where, although ultimately wrong in his or her assessment of the circumstances, “a dangerous situation evolved quickly to a safe one before the police officer had a chance to realize the change.”View "Cass v. City of Dayton" on Justia Law

Suarez-Diaz v. Holder

Suarez, a citizen of Cuba, was paroled into the U.S. in 1980, under 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5). In 1984, he was convicted of robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, and receiving stolen property in New Jersey state court and received a combined sentence of 10 years. Citing the convictions and his lack of an immigrant visa or other valid entry document, the government initiated removal proceedings. After obtaining a second continuance, to apply for deferral of removal and to seek separate relief under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Suarez failed to file an application to defer his removal within the 60 days. The IJ denied a third continuance, noting that the removal proceedings already had been delayed for over a year. Suarez then filed an application to defer his removal, relying on the United Nations Convention Against Torture and alleged that he had filed an application to change his citizenship status under the Cuban Adjustment Act. The IJ again denied a continuance. After his sixth request to postpone the proceedings was denied, Suarez appealed. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review, finding no denial of due process.View "Suarez-Diaz v. Holder" on Justia Law

Roger Smith v. Aegon Companies Pension Plan

Smith was an employee CGC, which offered some employees, including Smith, enhanced compensation if they would remain with CGC through its merger with AEGON. Under the Voluntary Employee Retention and Retirement Program (VERRP) Smith would retire in 2000. Smith elected to receive $1,066.54 under the qualified plan and $1,122.97 under the non-qualified plan, through the “AEGON USA Pension Plan: Election for Distribution and Explanation of Benefits.” An attachment informed Smith that “you will be entitled to receive additional benefits from the [CGC] Retirement Plan.” The two plans subsequently merged. Smith retired and the Plan paid him a lump sum plus $2,189.51 per month. In 2007, AEGON amended the Plan to add a “Restriction on Venue. A participant or Beneficiary shall only bring an action in connection with the Plan in Federal District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.” In 2011, the Plan told Smith that it had overpaid him by $1,122.97 per month for 11 years and eliminated Smith’s entire monthly payment to obtain recoupment. Smith exhausted administrative remedies then filed suit against CGC in state court, asserting breach of contract, wage and hour statutory violations, estoppel, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. CGC removed the action to federal court, which dismissed, finding that that the VERRP was regulated by ERISA, that Smith was suing to recover benefits under this ERISA plan, and that only the Pension Committee, not CGC, was a proper defendant. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Smith filed suit against the AEGON Plan in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The district court dismissed based on the venue selection clause. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, upholding the venue selection clause as applying to all actions brought by a participant or beneficiary, not just claims for benefits.View "Roger Smith v. Aegon Companies Pension Plan" on Justia Law

Ansfield v. Omnicare, Inc.

KBC Asset Management sued Omnicare (a pharmaceutical company) and affiliated individuals, on behalf of Ansfield and other similarly situated shareholders, alleging that the defendants had committed securities fraud in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b) and 78t(a), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 10b-5. KBC charged the defendants with making various material misrepresentations and omissions between January 10, 2007 and August 5, 2010 in public and in SEC filings regarding Omnicare’s compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, based on the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 15 U.S.C. 78u-4, which created heightened pleading standards for securities-fraud cases and requires that plaintiffs identify each misleading or false statement and explain how it is misleading. Plaintiffs also must “state with particularity facts giving rise to a strong inference that the defendant[s] acted with the required state of mind.” KCB did not meet those requirements.View "Ansfield v. Omnicare, Inc." on Justia Law

Platt v. Bd. of Comm’rs of Grievances & Discipline

Aspiring Ohio state court judges must run for office and must follow the Code of Judicial Conduct, promulgated by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Code limits candidates’ campaign-related speech to help maintain an “independent, fair, and impartial judiciary,” free of “impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.” After the Sixth Circuit struck parts of the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct, Ohio narrowed its Code. As amended, all judicial candidates—incumbents and challengers—are subject to restrictions on direct, personal monetary solicitation; bans on public political party speeches and endorsements of other candidates; and a prohibition on receiving campaign money earlier than 120-days before the primary. Platt, an attorney who wishes to run for Ohio judicial office, wanted to publicly endorse other candidates, directly solicit campaign funds in person, and to receive campaign contributions without the time limitations. Platt sued to preliminarily enjoin enforcement of the rules as applied to non-sitting judicial candidates. The district court denied Platt’s request, holding that Platt failed to show a strong likelihood of success on the merits of his First Amendment claims and that the requested injunction would cause substantial harm to sitting judicial candidates who would still be subject to the restrictions. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.View "Platt v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Grievances & Discipline" on Justia Law

Occupy Nashville v. Haslam

In 2011, a group of protesters calling themselves “Occupy Nashville” established an around-the-clock presence on the Nashville War Memorial Plaza, with the aim of bringing attention to disparities in wealth and power in the United States. After several weeks of occupying the Plaza, representatives of the protesters sought a meeting with state officials to discuss safety and health concerns that had developed. The state agreed and adopted a new policy that imposed a curfew for the Plaza. Those policies may have been promulgated in derogation of Tennessee’s version of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Six protesters were later arrested for violating that curfew and brought claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against state officials, alleging violations of rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Two officials appealed the district court’s ruling that that they were not entitled to qualified immunity and were personally liable for damages. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the state officials are protected by qualified immunity because, regardless of the specifics of Tennessee’s administrative law, the protesters’ claimed First Amendment right to unrestricted 24-hour access to the Plaza is not a clearly established constitutional right.View "Occupy Nashville v. Haslam" on Justia Law