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ATC, a Michigan manufacturer, outsources orders, including to YiFeng, a Chinese company. ATC pays vendors in four separate payments, based on manufacturing progress. YiFeng emails ATC invoices. On March 18, 2015, ATC’s vice-president, Gizinski, emailed YiFeng employee Chen requesting all outstanding invoices. An unidentified third party intercepted this email, and impersonating Chen, began corresponding with Gizinski. On March 27, the impersonator emailed Gizinski that, due to an audit, ATC should wire its payments to a different account from usual. YiFeng had previously, legitimately informed ATC it had changed its banking details; ATC had no process for verifying the information. Gizinski wired the money to the new account. On April 3, the impersonator emailed Gizinski, stating that “due to some new bank rules,” the previous transfer was not credited to its account so it would return the payment. The impersonator requested that Gizinski wire the money to a different bank account. Gizinski wired the money to this new account. The impersonator ran this scam twice more. Gizinski wired additional payments of $1575 and $482,640.41. When the real YiFeng demanded payment, ATC paid YiFeng approximately 50% of the outstanding debt; the remaining 50% was contingent on ATC’s insurance claim. ATC sought recovery from Travelers, under the Policy’s “Computer Fraud” provision. Travelers denied the claim. ATC sued for breach of contract. The court granted Travelers summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Computer fraud “directly caused” ATC’s “direct loss” and no exclusion applied. View "American Tooling Center, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty & Surety Co." on Justia Law

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In November 2010, Hayes engaged Cybriwsky to represent him related to the denial of Hayes’s application for Social Security disability benefits. In February 2011, the case was remanded for further administrative hearings (42 U.S.C. 405(g)) because faulty recordings of the hearings rendered the record inaudible. On remand, the Administrative Law Judge entered a fully favorable decision for Hayes in August 2011. The district court affirmed in April 2012. The next month Cybriwsky sought attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2414. The court granted attorney’s fees of $2,225 in August 2012. In April 2017, Cybriwsky moved, under 42 U.S.C. 406(b), seeking more than $11,000. in fees. He subsequently provided documentation of the fee arrangement, benefits paid to Hayes, and an itemized description of the work performed. By the time Cybriwsky filed his 2017 motion, the SSA had released the 25% of past-due benefits normally reserved to pay attorney’s fees; $5,300 was awarded to Hayes’s attorney at the administrative level and the remainder was released to Hayes. Any fees awarded to Cybriwsky would have to be recovered from Hayes, either directly or by having fees taken from Hayes’s monthly disability payments. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of the motion as untimely and determined that the circumstances did not merit the exercise of equitable tolling. View "Hayes v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Barry, a judicial administrative assistant, alleged that Franklin County Municipal Judge O’Grady created a hostile work environment with vulgar comments about women, either coming from O’Grady directly, encouraged by him, or tolerated by him. After overhearing the judge and bailiffs discussing the sex life of a female lawyer, Barry posted about the conversation on Facebook and told the female lawyer about it. When O’Grady learned that Barry had reported the conversation to the female lawyer, O’Grady retaliated. Barry brought O’Grady’s behavior to the attention of the court administration. She was moved out of O’Grady’s chambers, and accepted a transfer to a less-desirable position as her only real option. Her work life continued to devolve; she suffered from mental-health issues. Barry sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming retaliation in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. O’Grady argued qualified immunity. The district court disagreed, finding disputed issues of material fact and concluding that a reasonable jury could find in Barry’s favor. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal because O’Grady’s argument relied on disagreements with the district court’s weighing of facts and factual inferences, not questions of law. View "Barry v. O'Grady" on Justia Law

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Slusser pleaded guilty in 2011 as a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), waiving his right to “file any motions or pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255 or to collaterally attack [his] conviction[] and/or resulting sentence,” except challenges involving ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct. The court determined that he had at least three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses and sentenced him to 180 months under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), noting a 1994 burglary, 2011 delivery of cocaine, and 1999 aggravated assault and burglary. Slusser did not appeal. In 2012, Slusser filed an unsuccessful section 2255 motion, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel and that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct. The Seventh Circuit declined to issue a certificate of appealability. Slusser filed an application in 2016 for authorization to file a second or successive section 2255 motion, citing the Supreme Court's invalidation of ACCA's residual clause in Johnson v. United States (2015). The Seventh Circuit allowed the filing. The district court denied his motion and certified that an appeal would not be taken in good faith. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. In his negotiated plea agreement, Slusser waived his right to argued that his 1999 Tennessee conviction for Class C aggravated assault no longer qualifies as a “violent felony.” View "Slusser v. United States" on Justia Law

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The VA determined that West, a Viet Nam veteran, was eligible for a disability pension. Two days later West died. Four days later—without knowing that West had died—the government sent West a check for $8,660--his pension benefit retroactive to June 2013. In March 2014, a Kentucky probate court appointed West’s ex-wife, Brenda, as the Estate's executor. Brenda endorsed the VA check, the estate’s only cash asset, and deposited it into an escrow account. After three months, the VA determined that West’s estate was not entitled to the money, 38 U.S.C. 5121(a), and directed the bank to wire the $8,660 back to the U.S. Treasury. The bank complied. The Estate did not learn until later that its account had been drained of funds. More than 18 months later, the Estate obtained a Kentucky probate court order requiring the government to return the funds. The government removed the matter to the district court, which remanded the matter back because the $8,660 was already subject to the probate court’s jurisdiction. The Estate unsuccessfully sought attorneys’ fees. The Sixth Circuit reversed the remand order; the dispute can be litigated only under the procedure set forth in the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act, 102 Stat 4105. The court noted “concerns about the government’s expropriation of the Estate’s funds without any advance notice or process.” View "Estate of West v. United States Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Lossia used a Flagstar Bank checking account to initiate Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions--electronic payments made from one bank account to another. Common ACH transactions include online bill pay and an employee’s direct deposit. The account agreement states: Our policy is to process wire transfers, phone transfers, online banking transfers, in branch transactions, ATM transactions, debit card transactions, ACH transactions, bill pay transactions and items we are required to pay, such as returned deposited items, first—as they occur on their effective date for the business day on which they are processed.” National Automated Clearing House Association Operating Rules and Guidelines define an ACH transaction's effective date as “the date specified by the Originator on which it intends a batch of Entries to be settled.” In practice, this date is whatever date the merchant or bank submits the transaction to the Federal Reserve, which includes this settlement date in the batch records that it submits to the receiving institution (Flagstar), which processes the transactions in the order that they were presented by the Federal Reserve in the batch files. Lossia asserted that the order in which Flagstar processed his transactions caused him to incur multiple overdrafts rather than just one. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Flagstar; the plain language of the agreement does not require Flagstar to process transactions in the order that the customer initiated them. View "Lossia v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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Debtor filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, seeking the discharge of his student loan debt as an “undue hardship,” 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(8). Debtor graduated with an architectural drafting certification in 2008 and, since then, the loan has been in forbearance, deferment or an income-driven repayment plan. The U.S. Department of Education intervened as a Party-Defendant and sought dismissal or summary judgment. Debtor filed an objection, not refuting the facts alleged in the motion, but arguing undue delay. The bankruptcy court allowed Debtor to amend his complaint, which did not state sufficient facts to meet the second prong of the Brunner test: “that additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans.” Debtor filed an amended complaint with exhibits showing proof of the Debtor’s status as a parolee, but did not otherwise correct the deficiencies. The court dismissed, finding that Debtor “only [made] conclusory statements about his inability to pay, without offering facts that may support these conclusions” and that status as a parolee, alone, was not “beyond the debtor’s control” as required under the third prong of the Brunner test. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed, concluding that Debtor did not plead sufficient facts to support a discharge of his student loan debt notwithstanding the exception to discharge that would otherwise apply. View "In re Chenault" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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Williams, a CPA, was manager or co-owner of Sexton’s Kentucky companies. Flynn was the office manager. From 2006-2010, they secured loans by misrepresenting the businesses’ assets and the identity of the true borrowers. The total amount disbursed from the banks was $8,160,400. Sexton and Williams submitted applications for higher loan amounts ($13,600,000 and $13,800,000) toward the end of the time period involved, but those funds were never disbursed. In 2016, the three and a bank loan officer were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349 and 18 U.S.C. 1344(1) (Count 1) and bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1344(1) and 18 U.S.C. 2. The indictment also alleged forfeiture to the U.S. under 18 U.S.C. 981(a)(1)(C), 982(a)(2)(A), and 28 U.S.C. 2461(c). Sexton pleaded guilty to Count 1. The government moved to dismiss Counts 2–24. Sexton’s PSR gave Sexton a four-level increase for being an organizer or leader under USSG 3B1.1(a); one criminal history point under USSG 4A1.1(c), 4A1.2(m), and 4A1.2(f) for a 2005 California sentence for willful infliction of corporal injury to which Sexton pleaded nolo contendere; and two criminal history points under USSG 4A1.1(d) for committing the instant offense while on probation for the California sentence. Sexton’s guideline imprisonment range was 97–121 months. The court sentenced Sexton to 109 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that sentence and orders that he pay $2,637,058.32 in restitution and forfeit property to the government, including a money judgment of $2,534,912. View "United States v. Sexton" on Justia Law

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The IRS issued two “John Doe” summonses to Chase Bank without first obtaining approval in a federal district court as required by Internal Revenue Code section 7609(f), to obtain financial records relating to two limited liability companies. Those LLCs alleged that the IRS’s use of the John Doe summonses to obtain their financial records violated the Right to Financial Privacy Act, 12 U.S.C. 3401-3422. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after determining that sovereign immunity barred the LLC’s claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, first holding that Congress intended to provide a remedy for violations in the collection of tax, but not in the assessment and determination of tax, so the LLCs do not have a monetary remedy under the Internal Revenue Code. An LLC does not fall under the Privacy Act’s waiver of sovereign immunity and the district court correctly held that it lacked jurisdiction over the claims. View "Hohman v. Eadie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law

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Maynard and others stole over 700 pounds of blasting agent from a Revelation Energy job site. He pled guilty to possessing an explosive as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 842(i)(1). Relying on Maynard’s prior convictions for second-degree assault under extreme emotional disturbance in Kentucky and assault during the commission of a felony in West Virginia, the Presentence Report calculated his base offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines as 24. Maynard argued that neither of the two underlying convictions was a “crime of violence.” The court sustained Maynard’s objection to the West Virginia offense but rejected his objection regarding the Kentucky offense and sentenced him to a below-Guidelines 108 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Guidelines label as a “crime of violence” any federal or state law offense punishable by more than one year’s imprisonment that “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another,” U.S.S.G. 4B1.2(a)(1). The court applied a categorical approach and examined Kentucky’s assault under extreme emotional disturbance statute, which requires that the defendant intentionally cause a physical injury in committing the underlying assault. Extreme emotional disturbance does not negate the intent elements of first or second-degree assault under Kentucky law. View "United States v. Maynard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law