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Case Summaries

Civil Rights

[06/21] Lamya Brewster v. Beck
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.

[06/21] Husman v. Toyota
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 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.

[06/19] Ziglar v. Abbasi
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).

[06/15] Irrera v. Humpherys
In a suit brought by a graduate student at a music school, alleging a claim of retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment by a teacher, the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), is vacated in part where, at this stage in the pleading, it was error to dismiss.

[06/15] Filler v. Kellett
In a civil action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 arising out of the alleged malicious prosecution of plaintiff for assault against his then-wife, the prosecuting attorney-defendant's appeal of her motion for absolute prosecutorial immunity is dismissed where there is a lack of jurisdiction.

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Class Actions

[06/19] Ziglar v. Abbasi
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).

[06/13] Plantier v. Ramona Municipal Water Dist.
In a class action against a Water District challenging the method used by District to calculate wastewater service 'fees or charges' between about 2012 and 2014, the trial court's judgment in favor of defendant, holding that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under article XIII D of the California Constitution, is reversed where: 1) plaintiffs' class action is not barred by their failure to exhaust the administrative remedies set forth in section 6 because plaintiffs' substantive challenge involving the method used by District to calculate its wastewater service fees or charges is outside the scope of the administrative remedies; and 2) under the facts of this case, those remedies are, in any event, inadequate.

[06/12] Microsoft Corp. v. Baker
In a putative class action alleging a design defect in defendant's Xbox 360 video game console, in which the District Court struck plaintiffs' class allegations from the complaint and denied permission to appeal that order under Rule 23(f), the Ninth Circuit's judgment, holding that it had jurisdiction and that the District Court's rationale for striking plaintiffs' class allegations was an impermissible one, is reversed where Federal courts of appeals lack jurisdiction under section 1291 to review an order denying class certification (or, as here, an order striking class allegations) after the named plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice.

[06/12] In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products Liability Litigation
In consolidated multi-district litigation arising from contamination of groundwater in Orange County, California from various oil companies' use of the gasoline additive MTBE, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on res judicata grounds as a consequence of earlier consent judgments entered in California state court resolving similar suits against defendants brought by the Orange County District Attorney, is vacated and remanded where the record does not sufficiently establish that the Orange County District Attorney and the Orange County Water District-plaintiff were in privity.

[06/08] Williams v. American Honda Finance
In a putative class action brought by a borrower-plaintiff against an auto loan financier that repossessed plaintiff's car after she defaulted on the loan and sent her two notices in connection with its efforts to sell the car and collect any deficiency owed on the loan--a pre-sale notice and a post-sale notice--alleging that each of the two notices violated the Uniform Commercial Code and Massachusetts consumer protection laws, three questions are certified to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:03.

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Labor & Employment Law

[06/21] Husman v. Toyota
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 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.

[06/19] Guido v. Mount Lemmon Fire Dist.
In an action brought by two firefighter captains under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, brought against a political subdivision, the district court's summary judgment in favor of defendants is reversed where a political subdivision of a State need not have twenty or more employees in order to qualify as an employer subject to the requirements of the ADEA.

[06/15] Kao v. Joy Holiday
In an employment action alleging breach of contract and violation of federal and state statutes regulating wages and overtime pay, the trial court's judgment against plaintiff is reversed where plaintiff is entitled to compensation under the wage statutes, making an equitable remedy unnecessary.

[06/12] US EEOC v. CONSOL Energy, Inc.
In an EEOC suit on behalf of an employee, alleging that employer-defendant violated Title VII by constructively discharging the employee instead of accommodating his devout Christian religious beliefs, the district court's award of compensatory damages and lost wages and benefits, but not punitive damages, is affirmed where: 1) defendant is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law: 2) the evidence presented at trial allowed the jury to conclude that defendant failed to make available to a sincere religious objector the same reasonable accommodation it offered other employees, in clear violation of Title VII; and 3) there is no error in the host of evidentiary rulings challenged by defendant in its motion for a new trial, nor in the district court's determinations regarding lost wages and punitive damages.

[06/07] Tartaglia v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs
In a petition appealing a final order of the Merit Systems Protection Board, which upheld his removal from employment with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Board's decision is vacated where it abused its discretion when it upheld petitioner's removal.

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