Ninth Circuit Upholds Portions of AB 51 (California Law Prohibiting Use of Mandatory Arbitration Agreements)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cast doubt on employers’ ability to implement mandatory arbitration agreements with their employees in a split 2-1 decision that likely raises more questions than it answers. The Ninth Circuit upheld portions of California Labor Code section 432.6, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign arbitration agreements and imposes severe criminal and civil penalties for violations. According to the Ninth Circuit, arbitration agreements signed by parties remain enforceable (even if they violate section 432.6), while parties who refuse to sign an arbitration agreement may still pursue a remedy against the employer under the statute. Additionally, the Court stated that employers may face criminal and civil penalties in such instances. This is, undoubtedly, perplexing. As a result, employers may want to review their practices for implementing employee arbitration agreements, at least until the Ninth Circuit decides whether to en banc hear the case or the United States Supreme Court rules.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas must pay $6.8 million in legal fees to parties who challenged the voter identification law.

Texas is still liable for over $6.8 million in legal fees and penalties owed to the parties that sued over the state’s voter ID law.

Though the state won the long-running legal battle to keep the voter ID law in place, a panel of the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that found the state liable for that amount — the final vestige of the legal battle over the state’s 2011 restrictions on what forms of photo identification are accepted at the polls.

The Texas attorney general’s office had appealed a lower court ruling that found the plaintiffs in the case were the “prevailing parties,” including Democratic U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, individual voters, voting and civil rights organizations, the NAACP-Texas, and the Texas House’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus, among others.

On Friday, the 5th Circuit judges stated, “It becomes evident that they are.” “Plaintiffs prevailed in an en banc court challenge to the Texas picture ID requirement, and leveraged that victory to get a court order permanently prohibiting its enforcement for the 2016 and 2017 elections.”

The voter ID case swung back and forth between federal courts for nearly seven years and several elections, with federal District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi ruling in 2014 that lawmakers discriminated against Hispanic and Black voters when enacting one of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws.

In 2017, lawmakers altered the voter ID statute to match temporary rules put in place by Ramos for the 2016 election in an attempt to alleviate the state’s requirements as the dispute progressed.

The 5th Circuit judges said in their Friday judgment that “the State of Texas plainly cannot go back in time and re-run the 2016 and 2017 elections under a photo ID requirement.”

The 5th Circuit finally maintained Texas’ new statute after the state suffered repeated legal defeats.

Findings that the original statute had a discriminatory effect were preserved.

Ramos had previously argued that the 2011 law disproportionately burdened voters of color who are less likely to have one of the seven forms of identification the state required people to show at the polls. A three-judge 5th Circuit panel and then the 5th Circuit’s full court — which is considered to be among the country’s most conservative appellate courts — had previously agreed with Ramos that the 2011 law disproportionately burdened voters of color who are less likely to have one of the seven forms

Ramos cited those findings — as well as her temporary regulations, which the state consented to — in determining that the plaintiffs who sued the state were the “prevailing parties” and were entitled to the granted sum to compensate legal fees and expenses paid during the case.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

A federal appeals court has ruled that Los Angeles cannot collect and dump the large belongings of homeless individuals.

On Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld an injunction prohibiting the city of Los Angeles from seizing and destroying bulky objects left on public property by homeless persons, such as beds and carts.
The Los Angeles municipal law violates the 4th Amendment, which protects persons from unreasonable government seizure of private property, “even when that stuff is stored in public locations,” according to a 2-1 judgment by the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“In the presence of their respective owners, city employees have discarded a crate that a person used to secure his pet dog at night, carts that a person used to transport his possessions, wooden pallets and a cushion on which a person slept, and bins that a person used to keep her clothing dry,” wrote 9th Circuit Judge Michelle T. Friedland, an Obama appointee.

Previous court judgments, Friedland wrote for the majority, have made it plain that the government cannot destroy unabandoned personal items left in parks, on sidewalks, or on roadways. She wrote, “The city is free to construct a lawful version” of the ordinance.

A Trump appointee, Judge Mark J. Bennett, dissented. Los Angeles, he claimed, had all but admitted that destroying the property without warning was unconstitutional. He believes that section of the ordinance should be removed, and that a district judge should decide whether the component that simply permits the city to confiscate property is constitutional.

He added, “The section of the ordinance that enables seizure of the property without notice may well pass constitutional scrutiny.”

Bennett said the homeless situation was having a toll on the public, citing written arguments from the League of California Cities, which backed Los Angeles in the lawsuit.

“Every day, city residents complain to the city about losing access to public spaces, risks to their safety, and a general decline in their quality of life,” he stated. Boats, tubs, jacuzzis, sofas, industrial waste, automotive components, bed frames, mattresses, and various household appliances are among the items regularly found on public property, he said.

Most things too large to fit inside a 60-gallon container, the most common size of residential garbage bins chosen by the city, were allowed to be removed under the Los Angeles ordinance considered by the court. However, city workers were not allowed to seize completely built tents, bicycles, walkers, crutches, or wheelchairs.

Within the city limits of Los Angeles, the most recent official count, conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak, revealed approximately 41,000 homeless persons.

The ruling comes after an appeal of a preliminary injunction issued in April by former President George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer. She stated that things that were blocking sidewalks or constituting a threat to public health and safety might still be seized by the city.

The lawsuit was filed by a collection of homeless people and advocacy groups after the Los Angeles City Council passed the ordinance by a 13-1 vote in 2016.

The city has the option of appealing the decision to a 9th Circuit panel with a larger panel.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

SCOTUS refuses to enjoin Texas’ Restrictive Anti-Abortion Law

The Supreme Court has permitted a sweeping Texas abortion law to take effect on Wednesday, which prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and casts doubt on the future of the historic Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling from 1972.

The justices might make a decision as soon as Wednesday.

“Our emergency plea to stop Texas’ radical new 6-week abortion ban, SB8, has been denied by the Supreme Court. The law is now in effect. Millions of people have just lost access to practically all forms of abortion. The consequences will be quick and severe “The ACLU sent out a tweet. “The legislation prohibits abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when many women are unaware that they are pregnant. As a result, many Texans will be forced to carry pregnancies they do not want.”

Senate Bill 8, which would be one of the most stringent in the country, also allows private persons to sue anyone who assists a woman in obtaining abortion services and get at least $10,000 in damages.

On Monday, abortion providers asked the court for an emergency order to stop the law from taking effect while legal challenges are being pursued. They believe that the Texas regulations will “immediately and tragically” restrict abortion access for 85 percent of patients and cause numerous clinics across the state to close.

The state has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to set out its rationale for rejecting the motion, according to Justice Samuel Alito, who handles matters coming out of federal courts for the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas. He has the option of making his own decision or referring the case to the full court for a vote.

“Texas lawmakers will effectively overturn Roe v. Wade in less than two days,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is leading the legal challenges to the state’s law.

“Patients will have to travel out of state to receive constitutionally guaranteed healthcare in the midst of a pandemic. Many others will be unable to do so. It’s inhumane, unconscionable, and illegal “she stated

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

Nike counterfeiting case: Chinese banks spared $150 million in punishment by the 2nd Circuit

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Monday that six Chinese banks were not liable for a potential $150 million in sanctions for failing to freeze the assets of hundreds of Nike counterfeiters.

U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Park wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that Next Investments LLC, which bought the rights to the $1.8 billion default award from Nike Inc, had failed to seek enforcement of the freeze against the banks for nearly six years before asking the court to hold them in contempt.

A request for comment from Next Investments and its attorney, Robert Weigel of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, was not immediately returned.

Five of the banks were delighted with the verdict, according to Sandy Weisburst of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who represented them.
In 2015, Nike and its Converse Inc subsidiary obtained a default judgment in federal court in Manhattan against over 600 Chinese businesses and people. Judge Shira Scheindlin of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia also issued orders prohibiting the defendants and “any people working in concert or in cooperation” with them from moving their assets.

In 2017, Nike sold their portion of the judgment to Next Investments LLC, a Houston-based subsidiary of litigation finance firm Tenor Capital Management LP. The government then subpoenaed six Chinese banks with New York offices where the counterfeiters allegedly maintained accounts, and launched a contempt action against them in 2019, asking $150 million in compensatory damages for failing to comply with the asset restraining orders.

Next’s application was denied by Senior U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in 2020, in part because to New York’s distinct entity law, which recognizes U.S. branches of foreign banks as independent legal entities and prevents the court from enforcing the hold on assets in China.

On appeal, Next contended that the separate entity rule shouldn’t be used as a “get-out-of-jail free card” for counterfeiting and other illegal activities.
Park declined to hold the banks in contempt or implement the injunction, joined by Senior Circuit Judge Jon Newman and Circuit Judge Steven Menashi.

Nike and Next had “explicitly disclaimed” that they were seeking to enforce the orders against four of the banks, Park noted, in addition to not seeking to compel the banks to comply with the orders for over six years.

The court was unable to rule on the banks’ suggested arguments that the orders did not apply as a result of the delay, and Park said that the contempt motion was a “improper vehicle for addressing the banks’ important legal defenses” for the first time.

Park also declined to hold the banks in contempt, citing a “reasonable basis for dispute” about whether the directives applied to them under the separate entity rule.

“We don’t have to decide whether the separate entity rule precludes enforcement,” Park explained. “It’s enough that Next has failed to define a legal theory that clearly binds the Chinese subsidiaries to asset limitations.”

The ruling “reaffirmed our conviction that our client had done nothing unlawful and the case against it should have never been brought,” said Adam Hoffinger of Greenberg Traurig, who represented the Agricultural Bank of China.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

Ex-U.S. citizens cannot be deported because of a drug conviction, according to the 3rd Circuit.

A US appeals court ruled on Tuesday that an Indian man cannot be deported because of a drug conviction that occurred before he was stripped of his US citizenship for making false claims on his naturalization application.

Baljinder Singh was not a “alien” eligible for deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act while still a U.S. citizen, according to a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and his fraudulent application did not nullify his citizenship retroactively.

Singh’s appeal for judicial review of a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling ordering his deportation was granted, and the board was ordered to revisit his case.

Singh’s lawyer, John Leschak of Leschak & Associates, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the United States Department of Justice.

Singh landed from India without documents at San Francisco International Airport in 1991, according to the verdict. He was released on bond after telling officials his identity was Davinder Singh.

According to the judgement, Singh failed to appear for a hearing in 1992 and was ordered deported. He subsequently applied for asylum under the name Baljinder Singh and married a U.S. citizen while his case was pending.

Singh fraudulently claimed in an application for lawful permanent resident status that he had entered the United States without inspection in 1991 and neglected to reveal that he had used a different name.

According to the ruling, he was granted lawful resident status in 1998 and became a naturalized citizen in 2006. In 2018, the authorities found his lies and cancelled his naturalization.
Meanwhile, Singh pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiring to distribute heroin, MDMA, and marijuana.

The Department of Homeland Security charged Singh with removability after he lost his citizenship due to his narcotics conviction. Any alien convicted of an aggravated felony is subject to deportation, according to the INA, which defines “alien” as “any individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States.”

Singh was ordered deported by an immigration judge, and the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the decision last year.

Singh filed an appeal, and the 3rd Circuit ruled on Tuesday that he was not a “alien” at the time of his conviction in 2011, and thus could not be deported for his drug-related felony.
The court agreed with Singh that his case was similar to Costello v. INS, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1964 that a provision identical to the INA did not apply to a naturalized citizen who was convicted of a crime.

The government said that Costello did not apply because it concerned a legal remedy known as “court advice against deportation,” which Congress has since repealed and which Singh never had access to. The court, on the other hand, was not convinced.

Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote, “The government’s position needs considerable suspension of disbelief.” “After all, the statute is specifically directed at ‘aliens,’ and a citizen is not an alien by definition.”

Circuit Judge Paul Matey of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and U.S. District Judge Marilyn Horan of the Western District of Pennsylvania sat on the panel by designation.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

The Michigan mask restrictions did not infringe on religious schools’ constitutional rights, according to the 6th Circuit.

Statewide mask mandates, according to parents of children at a private Catholic school in Michigan, violate their constitutional rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit disagrees.

Attorneys for the Lansing-based Resurrection School and its parents filed a complaint in October, requesting that a federal judge impose a temporary restraining order prohibiting the applicability of the mask rule to private schools. One of their reasons was that requiring religious school kids to wear masks infringes on their religious liberty. However, anyone “engaging in a religious service” was exempt from the mask requirement.
The restraining order motion was denied, then appealed to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was denied a second time last week.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) mask mandate was found to be “connected to a legitimate compelling governmental purpose” and was applied to all students for the benefit of public health, according to the Court of Appeals majority ruling.

Judge Karen N. Moore wrote in the majority court judgment, “We conclude that the MDHHS Orders do not violate the Free Exercise Clause because the MDHHS Orders are impartial and of universal applicability and satisfy rational-basis analysis.”

Former MDHHS Health Director Robert Gordon, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, state Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Simeon are all named in the complaint.

“This judgement supports our position that MDHHS was fully within its authority to implement a mask mandate as children returned to school last school year to help restrict the spread of COVID-19,” Nessel stated. “Enacting a mask mandate in the manner in which MDHHS did so does not violate one’s rights-it is a measure through which we can better protect public health,” says the Sixth Circuit.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

2nd Circuit: Harassment claims against Fox News belong in federal court

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros’ claim that her bid to keep sexual harassment allegations against the network out of arbitration belongs in state court was rejected by a federal appeals court on Friday, saying that a federal judge must first decide whether the claims can be arbitrated under federal law.

Tantaros’ harassment allegations against late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and other persons are brought under New York state law, according to a 2-1 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, a 2019 New York law prohibits mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination cases, “save where federal law prohibits it.” According to the 2nd Circuit majority, this compels federal courts to evaluate whether a dispute must be arbitrated under the FAA from the start.

According to Tantaros’ lawyer, Bruce Fein, the ruling effectively prevents New York state courts from implementing a 2019 statute intended to assist discrimination victims.

In an email, Fein said that employers accused of harassment and retaliation “will be able to remove cases involving all forms of discrimination to federal court as a tactic to forum shop, causing costly delay and undue burden on victims and denying plaintiffs their rightful choice of forum to have their claims heard.”

“After five years of litigation and seven different sets of lawyers, Andrea Tantaros has yet to progress her bogus claims,” Fox News said in a statement. We are going to file a motion to dismiss her case.” Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day represent the New York-based network.

Tantaros alleged in a 2016 state court lawsuit that she was fired from Fox News in punishment for rejecting Ailes’ advances and complaining to top executives at the network, including former co-president William Shine. She claimed that Ailes had made repeated comments about her beauty and that the network “runs like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-type cult.”

Fox News and Roger Ailes, who died in 2017, have both denied wrongdoing.

The complaint was transferred to arbitration by a state judge in 2017, citing an arbitration agreement Tantaros had signed with the network.

Tantaros filed a petition in state court in 2019 after New York’s mandatory arbitration prohibition went into force, seeking an injunction to prevent her claims from being arbitrated further.

The lawsuit was taken to federal court by Fox News.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

Fifth Circuit upholds Texas abortion ban

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2017 Texas statute prohibiting D&E (dilation and evacuation) or dismemberment abortions in the second trimester.

With bipartisan backing, the Texas legislature passed the Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban in 2017, making D&Es a felony and prohibiting them from being done unless in an emergency. Whole Women’s Health, several Planned Parenthood groups, several doctors, and others sued in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas after the bill was approved but before it went into effect.

The district court decided in their favor, halting the law’s implementation. The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal, and in October, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision.

Paxton then requested that the matter be reviewed by the entire 17-member court, which they agreed to do in January. Nine judges on the New Orleans-based appeals court ruled in favor of the Texas Act, five against it, and three recused themselves eight months later in an en banc review.

Download the FREE Audible Lawyer app and start listening today!

Appeals Court Affirms MSNBC Win in “Russian Propaganda” Suit

Rachel Maddow’s statement regarding Trump-friendly One America News isn’t actionable, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Herring Networks, the owner of One America News Network, filed a libel complaint against MSNBC and Rachel Maddow (OAN). The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s decision that Maddow’s comments about the Trump-friendly network aren’t actionable on Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed after The Daily Beast published an article titled “Trump’s New Favorite Channel Employs Kremlin-Paid Journalist” on July 22, 2019. “We literally found today that that publication the president is supporting shares staff with the Kremlin,” Maddow said later that night. What do you mean?… In this scenario, America’s most slavishly pro-Trump right-wing news organization is literally funded Russian propaganda. The Russian government pays their on-air U.S. politics correspondent to produce propaganda for that government.”