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Case Summaries

Latest News

Civil Rights

Jul 18, 2017

Affirming a district court order declining to evaluate the plaintiff’s competency in a prisoner civil rights action and declining to award a guardian ad litem because they had no interest in the case that could have been protected by the appointment of a guardian ad litem, that the plaintiff had already incurred at least three strikes from prior cases and was subject to limitations, but declining to impose a strike for the dismissal of this lawsuit since it was not meritless.

Jul 17, 2017

Affirming a district court ruling denying petitions brought by electronic communications service providers to set aside information requests and nondisclosure requirements in National Security Letters issued to them by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Affirming the district court’s dismissal of employment discrimination claims filed by a former principal of a Roman Catholic school because, despite the secular appearance of her position, she held herself out as a spiritual leader and performed many religious functions, qualifying her employment for the ‘ministerial exception.’

Reversing and remanding a case involving contract workers fired by a staffing placement agency who alleged racial discrimination and cited various examples including remarks made at the workplace and unfair work treatment, clarifying that the standard for determining harassment is ‘severe or pervasive’ rather than the ‘severe and pervasive’ standard applied by the lower court.

Affirming the decision for the defense in the case of an Americans with Disabilities Act claim raised by a former employee who suffered from sleep apnea against their former employer, the town of Brookline because the judge was not required to outline all of the evidence with respect to reasonable accommodation in their jury instructions and the instructions as given were not an abuse of discretion.

Reversing a district court dismissal of a claim that the defendant automobile dealership violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to install temporary vehicle hand controls for test-drives of a car offered for sale.

Jul 7, 2017

Affirming the dismissal of Free Speech claim and summary judgment for the defense of an Establishment Clause claim against the Radiation Therapy Program at the Community College of Baltimore County in a case where the plaintiff received a penalty in admissions scoring following an interview where they mentioned their religiousness and, the court held that the Free Speech Clause had no application in such a context and the Establishment Clause was not triggered by the exchange or the school’s determination that the applicant lacked interpersonal skills.

Jul 7, 2017

Affirming the convictions of three Orthodox Jewish rabbis charged with kidnapping offenses in a scheme to help Orthodox Jewish women obtain divorces from recalcitrant husbands, rejecting many motions, including those to exclude cellphone data on privacy grounds, arguments that the prosecution created a substantial burden on their exercise of religion, and a motion to introduce evidence about their religious belief and Orthodox Jewish law.

Affirming the grant of class action certification in a case involving the disclosure of inmates’ personal information in which the District Court’s grant of partial summary judgment on liability prior to class certification was not an error.

Affirming the grant of summary judgment on the ground of qualified immunity to defendant police officers in an excessive force claim.

Jun 28, 2017

Affirming the district court’s dismissal of a taxpayer claim against a North Carolina bill allowing state magistrates to recuse themselves from performing marriages on account of religious objections due to the narrow scope of taxpayer standing.

Jun 27, 2017

In an action by an African American seeking to establish disparate-impact discrimination in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s policy of excluding anyone with a felony conviction from coaching at NCAA-certified youth athletic tournaments, the district court’s summary judgment in favor of defendants is affirmed where even if disparate-impact claims were recognizable under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the plaintiff had not shown that an equally effective, less discriminatory alternative theory to the NCAA’s felon-exclusion policy existed, as was required under the three-step analysis for disparate-impact claims set forth in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989).

In a suit alleging interference with the plaintiff’s exercise of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the district court’s order granting summary judgment on account of mootness to the defendant is reversed where the district court has the power to award only equitable remedies.

In a case where a preschool and daycare center operated by a church sought a state grant for playground renovations and were denied because of a state policy against providing such funds to any religious organization, it was determined that the refusal of this benefit constituted a violation of the organization’s First Amendment rights.

Jun 26, 2017

In a case arising from an incident in which a US Border Patrol officer standing in the United States shot and killed a Mexican national standing in Mexico, the court determined that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity for the shooting because they had no knowledge at the time of the incident as to whether the Mexican national had any ties to the United States.

Jun 26, 2017

In a case relating to same-sex marriage, Arkansas state officials refused to issue birth certificates listing the spouse when a mother in a same-sex marriage gives birth, but the court held that the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. ___ (2015) proscribes this differential treatment.

Jun 26, 2017

In a sex discrimination suit by an unsuccessful applicant for two teaching positions at an elementary school run by the Department of Defense (DOD), the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant is affirmed.

An order of protection prohibiting the petitioner from contacting the victim of her harassment did not place her ‘in custody’ because the order did not subject the petitioner to a sufficient level of restraint.

Jun 21, 2017

In the case of a Toyota executive manager who alleged that they were terminated on account of his employer’s sexual orientation and statements about the company’s commitment to diversity, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant is: 1) reversed where sufficient evidence had been submitted to establish that prejudice was a substantial motivating factor in the termination; but 2) affirmed where plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of material fact to support his retaliation and common law tort claim.

Jun 21, 2017

In an action alleging that the LAPD violated the Fourth Amendment when they refused to release the plaintiff’s vehicle from impound until a standard 30-day holding period had elapsed following its seizure when she lent it to her unlicensed brother, the district court’s dismissal of the case is reversed where no valid reason existed for the continued impound.

Jun 19, 2017

In a putative class action against two classes of federal officials brought by men of Arab or South Asian descent who, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, were detained for periods of three to six months in a federal facility in Brooklyn and later removed from the U.S., alleging violations of Bivens, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. section1985(3), which forbids certain conspiracies to violate equal protection rights, the Second Circuit’s judgment affirming in most respects the District Court’s decision to allow claims to proceed against the Warden-defendants but reversal as to allow claims to proceed against the Executive Official-defendants is reversed in part and vacated and remanded in part, where: 1) the limited reach of the Bivens action informs the decision whether an implied damages remedy should be recognized here; 2) a Bivens-type remedy should not be extended to the claims challenging the confinement conditions imposed on respondents pursuant to the formal policy adopted by the Executive Officials in the wake of the September 11 attacks; 3) the Second Circuit erred in allowing the prisoner abuse claim against Warden Hasty to go forward without conducting the required special factors analysis; and 4) petitioners are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to respondents’ claims under 42 U. S. C. section1985(3).

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