A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

  • Plaintiffs: Amtrak began including an arbitration requirement as part of its terms and conditions for every ticket that it sold, in violation of Article III (say we), of the Constitution, all that is holy and good, and all things in between. D.C. Circuit: Do you think you can fight over all of this once Amtrak actually attempts to arbitrate? Case dismissed.
  • Three stray Supreme Court remarks have the Big Dicta Energy necessary to determine the result of the challenge of bond procedures to be used for detention of noncitizens in the pendency or removal proceedings. First Circuit, over a dissent: We are told that class relief cannot be granted.
  • You have a wonderful elder-care facility. You have a nice elder-care facility. Third Circuit: A reasonable jury could infer that union members—who went on strike the next day—were responsible for the vandalism, but the unions themselves can’t be held liable without clear evidence that they were directly involved. Dissenting: This jury could also find that “greater” and “more militant activity was encouraged by the unions immediately prior to the sabotage.
  • Pound, Va. Inmate fights with two guards and leaves all three hurt. Inmate (2015): Roll the video—it shows I was shackled on the floor while the officers injured each other. Prison officials: Not at all. The guards will be believed and you’ll lose nine months’ good-time credits. Fourth Circuit (2019); Inmates who face the loss or credit of their good time have the right to see the video. Fourth Circuit (2021), (over a dissention): This doesn’t apply retroactively so inmates are out of luck.
  • Internet troll Chuck Johnson—who once stated that he “agree[d]With [Holocaust denier]David Cole said that Auschwitz’s gas chambers and Auschwitz were “not real” and that they had been “do.”[es]Never, never![s] believed the six million figure” of Jews killed in the Holocaust—sues HuffPost for libel over an article calling him a Holocaust denier. True truth can be your absolute defense. Fifth Circuit: It doesn’t take long to reach this point. HuffPost has its headquarters in New York, and is also incorporated in Delaware. You can’t sue HuffPost in Texas because you’re reading the article there. Dissent: HuffPost was not accidentally discovered in Texas. It actively markets Texas to its readers and operates Texas-specific advertising. It’s sufficient to be considered for jurisdiction.
  • “The Wegbreits’ lengthy and rambling short spans 78 pages, yet it somehow manages to develop only two coherent arguments that are remotely connected with the decision of the tax court.” These arguments, however, are completely baseless. This is not a good start for either the Wegbreits nor their lawyer. The latter must explain to the Seventh Circuit why he should not be sanctioned for filing frivolous appeals (after being warned of this kind of thing).
  • The Seventh Circuit offers another life tip: Name your children after the victims if you plan to steal millions from someone you care about. Confirmed for a sentence of 200 months.
  • Workers who were allegedly exposed to COVID-19 in a Waterloo pork processing plant in Iowa in March 2020 and April 2020 died. Their families sued Tyson Foods for gross negligence and fraudulent misrepresentation. Tyson Foods: Because the federal government encouraged us to keep this plant open in order to ensure that grocery store shelves are stocked with fresh produce, we should have transferred this case to federal courts. Eighth Circuit says no, the case will be transferred to state court.
  • Google Street View allows you to see panoramic street views from around the world. It was created using special cameras from specially equipped cars. Google: Our cars took sensitive information, such as passwords and photos. These were transmitted via unencrypted WiFi. Much litigation ensues. A class action covering 60 million people settles for $13 mil, with the money going to attorneys’ fees, various costs, and an assortment of nonprofits that promise to use the money “to promote the protection of Internet privacy”—and not a penny to the people whose privacy was violated. Ninth Circuit agrees. Concurrence. We need to review our previous precedent, which allows for monetary awards to third party instead of damages to class members.
  • St. Petersburg, Fla. Oncology Practice knowingly Billed Medicare Incorrectly On 214 Occasions, Defrauding The Feds Of $755.54. A jury found the practice had committed fraud. Is it unconstitutionally high? Eleventh Circuit However, it isn’t excessive. Two-judge concurrence: It seems like our precedent on what counts as excessive is too deferential to Congress—”a bit like letting the driver set the speed limit.”
  • In en banc news, it was announced that the Tenth Circuit would not appeal its ruling that Americans born in American Samoa do not qualify for citizenship. Judge Bacharach dissented: “We have an obligation to interpret geographic scope of Citizenship Clause on the basis of its textual context and historical context. If we don’t, the only answer is that American Samoa’s Territory lies inside the United States.

Azael Sepulveda is required to add 23 parking spots outside of his business in order to meet Pasadena Texas’s minimum-parking ordinance. Azael runs an auto repair shop that is solely owned by him. This is a burden that Azael Sepulveda cannot afford and completely unnecessary. He has an excellent reputation for providing honest, high-quality services (don’t believe us) and his YouTube channel boasts over 73k subscribers. IJ joined Azael to fight the Texas Constitution law. For more information, click here