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Stimmel tried to purchase a firearm at a Walmart store in 2002. The store rejected Stimmel’s offer because a mandatory national background check revealed that he had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in 1997. Stimmel has not been convicted of another crime. Federal law prohibits domestic violence misdemeanants from possessing firearms, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9). He unsuccessfully appealed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and challenged the law in district court. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his complaint. The law survives intermediate scrutiny and does not unconstitutionally burden Stimmel’s Second Amendment rights. The court noted “the growing consensus of our sister circuits that have unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the domestic violence misdemeanant restriction to firearms possession.” The record contains sufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that disarming domestic violence misdemeanants is substantially related to the government’s compelling interest of preventing gun violence and, particularly, domestic gun violence. View "Stimmel v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Heimer, one year over the legal drinking age, drank alcohol with friends and then rode motorbikes in a field. Heimer and his friend collided. Heimer suffered extensive injuries, incurring more than $197,333.50 in medical bills. Heimer’s blood alcohol level shortly after the crash was 0.152, nearly twice the limit to legally use an off-road vehicle in Michigan. Heimer was insured. As required by his plan, he submitted a medical claim form shortly after the accident. The plan administrator denied coverage based on an exclusion for “[s]ervices, supplies, care or treatment of any injury or [s]ickness which occurred as a result of a Covered Person’s illegal use of alcohol.” After exhausting administrative appeals, Heimer filed suit. The district court held that the plan exclusion did not encompass Heimer’s injuries, reasoning that there is a difference between the illegal use of alcohol—such as drinking while under 21 or drinking in defiance of a court order—and illegal post-consumption conduct, such as the illegal use of a motor vehicle. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Reading “illegal use of alcohol” to disclaim coverage only for the illegal consumption of alcohol, and not for illegal post-consumption conduct is consistent with the ordinary meaning of “use” and best gives effect to the contract as a whole. View "Heimer v. Companion Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Ferndale Officer Jaklic stopped Latits for turning the wrong way onto a divided boulevard after midnight. Latits opened his glove box to retrieve his registration. Jaklic testified that he saw bags that he suspected to contain marijuana, which Latits attempted to move. A dashboard video shows that Jaklic pointed his gun at the ground for about 30 seconds, then pointed it, point-blank. Jaklic broadcast that he was pursuing a fleeing vehicle. Three officers joined the chase. Department policy prohibits more than two cars from pursuing a fleeing car without special permission. Latits can be seen steering away from Jaklic’s car in a vacant parking lot but Jaklic broadcast that Latits “tried to ram my vehicle,” Latits fled, entering a highway. The chase continued through two red lights in an uninhabited area. Officer Wurm twice collided with Latits’s car, causing Latits to lose control. Phillips rammed Latits’s car, which stopped, then slowly moved forward. Latits’s and Jaklic’s cars collided at low speed. Phillips ran toward Latits’s car from behind. Latits started reversing away with Phillips following; gunshots are heard on the recording. Phillips could see that no cars or persons were immediately behind Latits. Latits, struck by three bullets, died. Less than four minutes passed from Latits driving away from Jaklic until the shooting. Phillips violated multiple department procedures and was terminated. In a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, the court granted Phillips summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Phillips’s use of deadly force was objectively unreasonable and violated the Fourth Amendment, but then-existing precedent did not clearly establish the objective unreasonableness under these circumstances; Phillips is entitled to qualified immunity. View "Latits v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Palmer’s vacant Detroit apartment complex was covered by a Scottsdale fire insurance policy until November 2012. The property was vandalized in February 2012. Palmer reported the loss in October 2013. Scottsdale replied that it was investigating. In November, Palmer sent Scottsdale an itemized Proof of Loss. Scottsdale paid Palmer $150,000 in June 2014. Michigan law provides that losses under any fire insurance policy shall be paid within 30 days after receipt of proof of loss. Palmer requested an appraisal. Scottsdale agreed, noting the claim remained under investigation. Appraisers concluded that Palmer’s actual-cash-value loss was $1,642,796.76. The policy limit was $1,000,000. Scottsdale tendered checks over a period of several months that paid the balance. Palmer requested penalty interest for late payment. Michigan law states that if benefits are not paid on a timely basis, they bear simple interest from a date 60 days after satisfactory proof of loss was received by the insurer at the rate of 12% per annum. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that the penalty-interest claim arose “under the policy” and was barred by the policy’s two-year limitations provision. Palmer did not allege that Scottsdale breached the policy agreement. Scottsdale paid the insured loss and the policy had no time limit for paying a loss, Palmer has no unvindicated rights and no claim “under the policy” to assert. His claim is under the statute. View "Palmer Park Square, LLC v. Scottsdale Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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PMC, an “outlaw” motorcycle club that has existed since 1968, has chapters in Michigan, Ohio, and six other states. PMC has a hierarchical structure, with a national president, vice president, and enforcers. Members wear leather vests, known as “rags,” to display the member’s club and that club’s territory. PMC competes with rival outlaw clubs to be the dominant club within certain territories. Following a shooting during an altercation with a rival gang and after interrupting a plan for retaliation, the government charged Frazier, Odum, and 12 others in a 15-count indictment., Frazier and Odum were severed, and the case against them proceeded separately. A jury convicted Frazier of two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. 1959(a)(3), and one count of use and carry of a firearm during, and in relation to, a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Odum was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. 1959(a)(5). The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims of insufficient evidence to sustain their convictions, improper venue, improper admission of hearsay statements, and due process violations for failure to call a witness or provide certain evidence to the defense. View "United States v. Frazier" on Justia Law

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Akron police officers stopped Patterson’s car. They found an open container of alcohol and a stolen pistol inside it. In state court, Patterson pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and driving with a suspended license. In federal court, he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession. At his federal sentencing hearing, the court treated Patterson’s 2001 Ohio convictions for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon as crimes of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines but not under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The Sixth Circuit rejected Patterson’s double jeopardy argument under the separate-sovereigns doctrine, agreed that Patterson’s prior convictions were predicate crimes of violence under the Guidelines, but held that the court should have sentenced him as an armed career criminal, 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1)). On remand, Patterson argued that the the government had not shown that his prior offenses were three separate offenses. Rejecting the argument, the court sentenced him to the mandatory minimum of 180 months under the ACCA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that it had issued a limited remand “for resentencing,” which “was not an invitation to start from scratch” because it had already concluded that Patterson’s convictions stemmed from robberies at three different places. In addition, Patterson’s separate-occasions argument was ripe when he first appealed. View "United States v. Patterson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Since 2010, federal courts have been reviewing the punishments Michigan may impose on individuals convicted of first-degree murder for acts they committed as children. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has twice ruled that the unique characteristics of youth must factor into sentencing decisions for juvenile offenders facing life imprisonment. Michigan has amended its statutory scheme to implement these rulings. On remand, the district court considered a Second Amended Complaint (SAC), asserting that Michigan’s sentencing scheme and parole system deny youth offenders a meaningful opportunity for release. The court determined that jurisprudential concerns barred Plaintiffs’ claims and dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. The claim based on Michigan statutory law, which has been amended, is moot. Declining to apply “Younger” abstention, the court reasoned that finding that the filing of the SAC required reconsideration of jurisdiction “would both expand and warp an otherwise cabined and clear doctrine.” One claim was properly dismissed under the “Heck” doctrine: a declaration that sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional would necessarily implicate the duration of impending sentences and is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Claims that seek an examination of “policies and procedures governing access to prison programming and parole eligibility, consideration and release” and that the retroactive elimination of Plaintiffs’ accrued good time credits violates the Ex Post Facto Clause should not have been dismissed. View "Hill v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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Hall and Thompson built a significant client base as brokers of equipment rental insurance. They brought some of their clients to a specialty division they formed at Hylant. USI paid a substantial sum for Hylant’s assets and to keep Hall and Thompson on as employees to continue building their client base; Hall and Thompson gave up any ownership interest in their clients and promised that if they were terminated, they would refrain from soliciting those clients for two years. They agreed that USI could assign their employment contracts to a subsequent purchaser. Edgewood bought out USI’s entire equipment rental insurance business. Hall and Thompson could not work out an arrangement with Edgewood, so USI terminated them. They began contacting their old clients and sought a declaratory judgment permitting them to do so. Edgewood obtained a preliminary injunction barring Hall and Thompson from breaching their non-solicitation agreements. The Sixth Circuit remanded for factual findings as to which of Thompson’s clients he recruited and developed solely on his own accord, and which clients Hylant and USI expended their resources in recruiting and developing, with respect to which Edgewood is likely to succeed on the merits. Edgewood has no legitimate interest in barring Thompson from soliciting clients who came to Hylant and USI solely to avail themselves of Thompson’s services and only as a result of his own independent recruitment efforts. View "Hall v. Edgewood Partners Insurance Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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Welding inspectors for Gulf Interstate Field Services, who served on an Ohio pipeline-construction project in 2013-2014 and were paid on a “day-rate” basis, brought suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207, and the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act (OMFWSA), asserting that they were entitled to overtime pay for weeks in which they worked more than 40 hours. The district court held, on summary judgment, that the employees were exempt from the overtime requirements because they qualified as highly compensated employees under the governing regulations. The Sixth Circuit reversed. While the employees concede that they were paid in a manner and at a rate consistent with being exempt, it matters whether their salaries were guaranteed, and in turn, whether a rational trier of fact could have concluded that there was no such guarantee. The employees’ salary was calculated on a daily basis and there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they were guaranteed a weekly salary. View "Hughes v. Gulf Interstate Field Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Michigan National Guard terminated two “dual-status” technicians, who are military employees that must be members of the National Guard, hold a military grade, and wear an appropriate military uniform while performing military duties, 32 U.S.C. 709(b), but are also “Federal civilian employee[s]” who are “assigned to a civilian position,” 10 U.S.C. 10216(a). Dual-status technicians are “afforded the benefits and rights generally provided for federal employees in the civil service,” including rights under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS), 5 U.S.C. 7101–7135. The technicians appealed through the Guard’s internal administrative process, represented by their union. The Guard sent a letter to the union that could be read as temporarily forbidding all private communication between union representatives and Guard employees. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) found that this letter violated the FSLMRS. The Sixth Circuit enforced the order as modified. “Accepting the FLRA’s arguable but somewhat implausible interpretation of the letter under deferential substantial-evidence review, the letter did violate the FSLMRS and was within the purview of the FLRA." View "Federal Labor Relations Authority v. Michigan Army National Guard" on Justia Law