Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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In 1990, an Ohio state court ordered Jacobs to pay Collin $13,800 in child-support payments. Jacobs subsequently began to receive social security benefits, but, by January 2014, Jacobs’s arrearage totaled $45,356. The state court directed the Commissioner to garnish Jacobs’s social-security payments, 42 U.S.C. 659. In October 2015, the Commissioner mistakenly terminated the garnishment. A year later Collin asked the court to order the Commissioner to resume the garnishment and to pay a lump sum equal to the amount the Commissioner had failed to garnish. The Commissioner voluntarily resumed the garnishment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, holding that Collin’s demand was for “money damages,” so the United States was immune from suit. Section 659(a) provides that moneys payable by[] the United States . . . to any individual . . . shall be subject, in like manner and to the same extent as if the United States . . . were a private person, to withholding . . . to enforce the legal obligation ... to provide child support"; but 5 C.F.R. 581.305(e)(2) states “Neither the United States ... nor any governmental entity shall be liable ... to pay money damages for failure to comply with legal process.” The relief Collin seeks is not enforcement of “the statutory mandate itself” but instead damages for the failure to withhold, for which the government has not waived its immunity. View "Collin v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Crabbs, acquitted of voluntary manslaughter but subjected to a DNA swab before his release, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim alleging that the local police violated his Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable searches. He died before the case could be resolved. Crabbs’s mother and the personal representative of his estate moved to substitute as a party. The district court found that Crabbs’s death extinguished his claim and dismissed the case. The Sixth Circuit reversed. No federal statute or rule says anything about the survivorship of section 1983 claims, but Crabbs’s action qualifies as a “cause[] of action for . . . injuries to the person” under the Ohio survivorship statute and, therefore, outlasts his death. . View "Crabbs v. Scott" on Justia Law

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Crabbs, acquitted of voluntary manslaughter but subjected to a DNA swab before his release, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim alleging that the local police violated his Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable searches. He died before the case could be resolved. Crabbs’s mother and the personal representative of his estate moved to substitute as a party. The district court found that Crabbs’s death extinguished his claim and dismissed the case. The Sixth Circuit reversed. No federal statute or rule says anything about the survivorship of section 1983 claims, but Crabbs’s action qualifies as a “cause[] of action for . . . injuries to the person” under the Ohio survivorship statute and, therefore, outlasts his death. . View "Crabbs v. Scott" on Justia Law

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Insane Clown Posse, a Michigan music group, performs songs with “harsh language and themes.” Its fans, “Juggalos,” wear distinctive tattoos, clothing, and insignia, including clown face paint and the “hatchetman” logo. The Attorney General’s National Gang Intelligence Center's (34 U.S.C. 41507) 2011 gang-activity report, described Juggalos as “a loosely-organized hybrid gang.” “Juggalo[] subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.” Although “Most crimes ... are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic,” and minor, “a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.” Four states recognize Juggalos as a gang. Juggalos who allege that they do not knowingly affiliate with any criminal gang, but have suffered violations of their Fifth Amendment due-process rights and a chill in the exercise of their First Amendment expression and association rights due to the designation, sued under the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 701(b). Some alleged that they had been detained; an Army Corporal with Juggalo tattoos alleges that he is “in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge.” Local law enforcement caused a musical event to be canceled. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal; the designation was not reviewable because it was not a final agency action and was committed to agency discretion by law. View "Parsons v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Anwar, a U.S. citizen, was hired to work for MEG International in Dubai. Anwar alleges that, following her promotion, her supervisor, Ramachandran, began harassing her about working when she had young children; openly made comments about not needing highly-paid female employees; and expressed his disapproval of Anwar’s divorce, going so far as to meet with her husband. Anwar alleges that this culminated in her termination, one day after she initiated her divorce. Anwar sued in a Dubai court and obtained severance pay. She argues that Dubai’s courts could not provide a sufficient remedy for sex and marital status discrimination. Anwar filed a complaint in Michigan, alleging that she was impermissibly terminated because of her gender, religion, national origin, and marital status, citing Title VII; the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act; and breach contract. The district court dismissed claims against Ramachandran for lack of personal jurisdiction and opened discovery for limited purposes: Investigating Anwar’s allegations that MEG International does business as MEG America and that the MEGlobal subsidiaries act as a single entity and Anwar’s allegation that Ramachandran and other MEG managers are employed by Dow. Dow obtained a protective order to prohibit depositions. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of all claims. Anwar did not allege facts, aside from those demonstrating possible macromanagement, that MEG International is the alter ego of MEG Americas. Under Michigan law, the separate entities will be respected unless “a contrary determination would be inequitable.” View "Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law

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Debtor filed several unsuccessful lawsuits to invalidate Sandlin Farm's Deutsche Bank mortgage. Debtor, d/b/a Sandlin Farms sought Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief but did not propose to pay that mortgage nor a BoA mortgage on other property. Debtor filed adversary complaints to avoid the liens. The Trustee moved to dismiss the case due to inaccurate monthly reports and Debtor’s inability to generate sufficient income to implement his plan if the liens were valid. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed the Deutsche Bank adversary proceeding, citing res judicata. Debtor voluntarily dismissed the BoA proceeding but did not re-notice the confirmation hearing or amend the plan. The court denied Debtor’s motion to stay pending appeal of the Deutsche Bank dismissal and set a hearing on the Trustee's motion. Debtor resisted scheduling depositions and requested time to find new counsel. The Trustee then sought Dismissal as a Sanction for Failure to Cooperate with Discovery. Debtor did not appear at the hearing. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed (11 U.S.C. 1208(c)) based on inability to present a timely confirmable plan; unreasonable delay; and a continuing loss to the estate without reasonable likelihood of rehabilitation. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. Although Debtor had actual notice of the hearing, it was not reasonably calculated to give him sufficient notice of exactly what issues would be addressed nor an opportunity to be heard. Nonetheless, Debtor failed to refute that cause existed to dismiss the case, so the error was not prejudicial. View "In re: Haffey" on Justia Law

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Robinson is a stockholder in the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (the Companies), for-profit corporations organized by the government under 12 U.S.C. 1716-1723 and 1451-1459. During the economic recession in 2007–2008, Congress enacted the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA), which created the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and authorized FHFA to place the Companies in conservatorship. The Companies, through FHFA, entered into agreements with the Department of the Treasury that allowed the Companies to draw funds from Treasury in exchange for dividend payments and other financial benefits. An Amendment to those agreements modified the dividend payment structure and required the Companies to pay to Treasury, as a quarterly dividend, an amount just short of their net worth. The Amendment effectively transferred the Companies’ capital to Treasury and prevented dividend payments to junior stockholders, such as Robinson. Robinson brought suit. The district court found and the Sixth Circuit affirmed that Robinson’s claims under the Administrative Procedures Act were barred by HERA’s limitation on court action and that Robinson had failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Robinson failed to demonstrate that FHFA or Treasury exceeded the statutory authority granted by HERA. View "Robinson v. Federal Housing Finance Agency" on Justia Law

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Martin, proceeding pro se, filed a late notice of appeal. In response to a show cause order, he claims that he did not receive timely notice of the underlying judgment. Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6) requires Martin to seek relief in the district court. He did not. The Sixth Circuit dismissed, concluding it lacked jurisdiction over his appeal. The timely filing of a notice of appeal in a civil case is a jurisdictional requirement. The losing party has 30 days to file a notice of appeal after entry of an adverse judgment, 28 U.S.C. 2107(a), but can move the district court for an extension based on “excludable neglect or good cause” or can move to reopen the time to file an appeal if it did not receive proper notice of the underlying judgment. Both options require a “motion” in which the losing party asks the district court for more time. The “motion” is not the same thing as the “notice” a party must file to appeal and the rules do not vest the district court with power to extend time without a motion in civil cases. View "Martin v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Mokdad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, sought injunctive relief against the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) based on alleged instances where he was denied boarding on commercial airline flights between the U.S. and his native country, Lebanon. Claiming that his application for redress under the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) was not adequately resolved, he requested that the court order his removal from the No Fly List and any other such list. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction On remand, TSC re-examined Mokdad’s DHS TRIP request, notified him that he was not on the No Fly List, and issued a declaration that Mokdad is not on the No Fly List and will not be placed back on the list based on the currently available information. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Mokdad’s case is moot in light TSC’s declaration. Even if Mokdad has been placed on another watch list, or is experiencing delays as he alleged, Mokdad did not identify any other lists or defendants, precluding effectual relief. If Mokdad believes that he is on another government list, the remedy is to file a new action. View "Mokdad v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Worldwide Equipment, a Mack Truck dealer, remitted a 12% federal excise tax collected from purchasers of its heavy-duty trucks, and sought a refund, claiming that the trucks, designed for use in the Appalachian coalfields, qualified as exempted, “off-highway” vehicles under 26 U.S.C. 7701(a)(48). The statute, 26 U.S.C. 6416(a), requires a refund claimant to show that it has made arrangement to avoid double payments and unjust enrichment by submitting written customer consent forms. Worldwide did not supply such consents to the IRS. In its denial, the IRS did not refer to the failure to supply consents. The district court, relying on long-standing Supreme Court and Sixth Circuit precedents applying predecessor statutory provisions, dismissed Worldwide’s refund claims on nonwaivable sovereign immunity grounds because the consent forms were statutorily required as part of a “duly filed” claim under 26 U.S.C. 7422(a). The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Worldwide’s failure to file its customer consent forms at the administrative stage violated section 6416(a); therefore, the claims had not been “duly filed with the Secretary, according to the provisions of law in that regard,” violating section 7422(a), so that federal courts are without jurisdiction to consider Worldwide’s refund claims. View "Worldwide Equipment of Tennessee, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law