Justia U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Under a consent decree in a lawsuit relating to employee retirement benefits, Navistar contributes to a Supplemental Benefit Trust managed by SBC. The size of its contributions is determined by a formula based on Navistar’s economic performance. Navistar must regularly provide data to the SBC to permit it to evaluate whether Navistar is applying the formula correctly. The agreement provides for arbitration before an accounting firm if SBC disputes the “information or calculations” Navistar provides. SBC claimed that Navistar was improperly classifying aspects of its business activities and structuring its business to evade its profit-sharing obligations under the agreement. Navistar claimed that under the accountant arbitration mechanism, which applies to disputes over the “information or calculations” provided by Navistar, SBC’s claims were subject to arbitration. The district court held that the claims were subject to arbitration, but that Navistar’s conduct before and during litigation waived its right to arbitrate the claims. The Sixth Circuit held that the claims were subject to arbitration and that Navistar had not waived its right. While Navistar may bear some responsibility for the long duration of its dispute with the SBC, its behavior with regard to arbitration does not satisfy the particular elements of waiver. View "Supplemental Benefit Comm. v. Navistar, Inc." on Justia Law

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Miri is a satellite-internet-dish installation company. Keller installed satellite internet dishes for Miri’s customers six days each week. Keller alleges that Miri did not compensate him adequately as an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207, by failing to pay him overtime compensation. Miri contends that Keller was an independent contractor, not entitled to overtime pay. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Miri. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The FLSA’s definition of “employee” is strikingly broad and “stretches the meaning of ‘employee’ to cover some parties who might not qualify as such under a strict application of traditional agency law principles.” Keller offered sufficient evidence that he was an employee and that he worked more than 40 hours each week to survive summary judgment. View "Keller v. Miri Microsystems LLC" on Justia Law

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St. Marys makes portland cement at a plant in Charlevoix. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment deemed the plant’s pollution controls sufficient and excused St. Marys from the retrofitting requirement under the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule, 40 C.F.R. 51.308–.309, which requires the states to determine which facilities within their borders create visibility-impairing pollutants that may “be emitted and transported downwind” to a federal park or wilderness area. States then must decide which of those sources are eligible for “Best Available Retrofit Technology.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagreed with the state and required the plant to add more stringent pollution controls. The Second Circuit upheld the EPA decision, rejecting challenges to EPA’s scientific and technological assertions concerning the plant’s nitrous oxide emissions, and a claim that St. Marys was exempt from the retrofitting requirement. View "St. Marys Cement Inc. v. Envtl. Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a Mexican citizen, entered the U.S. in 1992, and, in 1993, married Cruz, a U.S. citizen. Defendant and Cruz have two children, but are divorced. Defendant has been removed three times. He pled guilty to domestic violence on three different occasions. Under Michigan law, his third offense was a felony. His 2001 application to adjust his status on the basis of his marriage was denied. Before his last removal in 2007, Defendant was informed that he was barred from entering the U.S. for 20 years. In 2013, Grand Rapids immigration authorities learned of Defendant’s unlawful presence from a tip line. Defendant was taken into custody and charged under 8 U.S.C. 1326(a) and (b)(1). He pled guilty. The district court applied a four-level enhancement under USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(D) for a prior felony conviction; determined that an upward variance was warranted; and imposed a custodial sentence of 18 months, citing Defendant’s record of domestic violence and illegal reentries. Defense counsel stated that Defendant had no legal objections to the sentence. Defendant appealed, but due to delays resulting from his attorney’s withdrawal, he completed his term of imprisonment and was removed to Mexico in September, 2014. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the sentence. View "United States v. Solano-Rosales" on Justia Law

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The district court revoked Burch’s supervised release on August 21. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure gives a criminal defendant 14 days to file a notice of appeal and permits a district court to extend the time to file a notice for up to 30 additional days. On September 26, Burch filed notice of appeal. On October 9, the court granted a requested extension, to render the notice of appeal timely. The government moved to dismiss the appeal, but did not file an appeal (or cross-appeal) of the October 9 order. The Sixth Circuit rejected the motion. The government should have appealed from the district court’s order if it thought the court abused its discretion in granting Burch’s motion for an extension of time to file an appeal; the requirement is mandatory and consistently followed. View "United States v. Burch" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Criminal Law
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Painesville Police Department Officers, initially responding to a noise issue, entered the Nall apartment and tasered Mr. Nall for a total of 26 seconds. During the tasering, Nall began foaming at the mouth, stopped breathing, and went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to a hospital, where he remained for two weeks. As a result of his cardiac arrest, Nall suffers from anoxic brain injury—injury to the brain due to lack of oxygen—and his mental functioning remains greatly impaired. Both Nalls were charged with disorderly conduct as a result of the incident, though charges were later dropped. The Nalls sued, alleging several constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and several state law claims against the Officers. The Officers unsuccessfully sought summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity for the federal claims and immunity under Ohio state law for the state law claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Warrantless entries based on the emergency aid exception require both the potential for injury to the officers or others and the need for swift action. Whether the facts of this case meet those criteria cannot be answered on summary judgment because the pertinent facts are in dispute. View "Goodwin v. City of Painesville" on Justia Law

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Naser was the founder, 20 % co-owner, and chief executive of Michigan Orthopedic Services. The other co-owner was MOS, a private equity firm. In 2009, new Medicare regulations required the company to obtain surety bonds. The co-owners applied to Lexon, which responded with an indemnity agreement: “I agree to indemnify Lexon. . . in connection with any bond executed on behalf of the person or entity named as ‘applicant’ below.” There were three signature blocks. The first appeared under the named “applicant”: “Michigan Orthopedic Services.” The last two appeared under: “In consideration of the execution by the Surety of the bond herein applied for, the undersigned owners, jointly and severally, join the foregoing indemnity agreement. MUST BE SIGNED BY A CORPORATE OFFICER.” One was for the “Authorized Corporate Officer” of “MOS.” The other was for Naser. Naser signed the first and third blocks under the “applicant” and “undersigned owners” sections. Higgins signed the other on behalf of MOS. Lexon issued the bonds. Michigan Orthopedic Services filed for bankruptcy. Lexon turned to the “undersigned owners” for indemnification when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued claims against its bonds. The district court found Naser liable for breaching the agreement. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Naser’s denial of personal liability. View "Lexon Ins. Co. v. Naser" on Justia Law
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Posted in: Insurance Law
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In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the Cincinnati-Hamilton metropolitan area had attained national air quality standards for particulate matter (Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7409), largely because of regional cap-and-trade programs that had reduced the flow of interstate pollution. EPA redesignated the area to “attainment” status even though the three states that administer its pollution controls had never implemented particular provisions, known as “reasonably available control measures” (RACM) applicable to nonattainment areas. Sierra Club challenged both actions. The Sixth Circuit vacated redesignation of the Ohio and Indiana portions of the Cincinnati area, first holding that the Club had standing. A State seeking redesignation “shall provide for the implementation” of RACM/RACT, even if those measures are not strictly necessary to demonstrate attainment, 42 U.S.C. 7502(c)(1). If the state has not done so, EPA cannot fully approve the area’s SIP, and redesignation to attainment status is improper. View "Sierra Club v. Envtl. Protection Agency" on Justia Law
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Colosi lost a wrongful termination suit against her former employer, JLL. As the prevailing party, JLL filed a $6,369.55 bill of costs that the court clerk approved without modification, Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). Colosi objected to most of the charges and moved to reduce the bill to $253.50. The district court denied the motion, finding each cost reasonable, necessary to the litigation, and properly taxable under statute, 28 U.S.C. 1920. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Most of the costs Colosi challenged related to witness depositions. Necessity is determined as of the time of taking, and the fact that a deposition is not actually used at trial is not controlling. View "Colosi v. Jones Lang LaSalle Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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Singer, a Muskegon, Michigan landlord who claimed insurance proceeds for nine rental units that were burned, was convicted of 12 counts of mail fraud, use of fire to commit mail fraud, arson, tax fraud, and obstruction of the administration of the internal revenue laws, and was sentenced to a total term of 55 years in prison. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that: the mail-fraud count of his indictment was duplicitous; the district court should have severed the tax-fraud counts from the other charged offenses; certain counts in the indictment were outside of the relevant statute of limitations or brought within an improper venue; and the district court erred by imposing consecutive sentences under 18 U.S.C. 844(h). View "United States v. Singer" on Justia Law