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The families live close to the Willow Grove Naval Air and Air Reserve Station in Horsham Township and the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster Township, which are contaminated with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), including perfluorooctanoic acid. The families filed suits under the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. 6020.101-.1305, seeking orders requiring the Navy to pay for medical monitoring and to conduct a health assessment or health effects study that would include blood testing for themselves and others exposed to the hazardous substances released at the contaminated facilities. The district court concluded that the claims fell within the ambit of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601- 9675, and were challenges under that Act to ongoing cleanup efforts at the facilities. The court decided that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the cases. The Third Circuit affirmed in part; the claim for a health assessment or health effects study is barred because it challenges ongoing cleanup efforts. The court vacated in part, finding that the medical monitoring claim is not a challenge under CERCLA and is not barred by sovereign immunity. View "Giovanni v. United States Department of Navy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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Abdullah pled guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court concluded that he was subject to a sentencing enhancement for being a career offender under USSG 4B1.1, based in part on Abdullah’s 2015 conviction for third-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon under New Jersey Statutes 2C:12- 1(b)(2). Abdullah argued that the conviction was not for a “crime of violence.” The Third Circuit affirmed his 176-month sentence. New Jersey’s aggravated assault statute is divisible and it is possible to identify the specific subsection under which Abdullah was convicted; that specific aggravated assault offense categorically qualify as a predicate crime of violence under the guidelines. View "United States v. Abdullah" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Saravia is a citizen of El Salvador. When Saravia was five, his mother left for the U.S. for economic reasons. In 2005, members of MS-13 began trying to recruit Saravia. He refused; they beat and threatened him with the murder of his family if his father reported the gang to the police. His father to send Saravia and Saravia’s younger sister to live with their mother in New Jersey. They entered without inspection in 2006. Saravia claims that MS-13 subsequently killed two of his cousins and attacked his father. In 2015, Saravia was arrested for aggravated assault, simple assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest by physical force or violence, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Saravia testified that, while he was in police custody, MS-13 called his mother and threatened to kill him if he returned to El Salvador. During his probation, Saravia was arrested for driving under the influence. Saravia was denied asylum and withholding of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(A), and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ found Saravia credible but determined that Saravia failed to corroborate his claim. The Board affirmed. The Third Circuit vacated, based on the Board’s failure to follow precedent holding that an IJ must “give the applicant notice of what corroboration will be expected and an opportunity to present an explanation if the applicant cannot produce such corroboration.” View "Saravia v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Biear, a federal prisoner, mailed Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(A), requests to eight components of the Department of Justice, seeking: “Any and all documents and electronic media assembled during any investigation (or review) containing the name James S. Biear (aka J. Steven Biear and James C. Biear), DOB [REDACTED], SSN: [REDACTED].” The Criminal Division replied by requiring him to certify his identity and submit additional information regarding the records. Biear completed the certification of his identity but did not further detail his request. The Criminal Division then denied Biear’s request; the Office of Information Policy affirmed. The FBI initially denied Biear’s request because the records were in an active investigative file, exempt from disclosure. After Biear filed suit, the FBI produced some documents in full and some with redactions; others were withheld as duplicative or containing exempt information that could not be reasonably segregated from nonexempt information. The Third Circuit reversed the district court, concluding that Biear exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to his Criminal Division request; Biear’s request was sufficiently specific. His challenge to the FBI’s response was not mooted by the FBI’s subsequent production of documents. The court should have continued to exercise jurisdiction over Biear’s claim regarding the sufficiency of the FBI’s response. View "Biear v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The contracts between the Drivers and Joseph Cory, a motor carrier business, purported to establish that the Drivers would work as independent contractors. The Drivers claim the realities of the relationship made them employees under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), 820 ILCS 115/1–115/15. The contracts expressly permitted Joseph Cory to take “chargebacks” for any expense or liability that the Drivers had agreed to bear, including costs for “insurance, any related insurance claims, truck rentals, . . . uniforms,” and “damaged goods,” from the Drivers’ paychecks without obtaining contemporaneous consent. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of Joseph Cory’s motion to dismiss the Drivers’ suit. The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), 49 U.S.C. 14501–06, does not preempt the IWPCA. Wage laws like the IWPCA are traditional state regulations and part of the backdrop that all business owners must face. IWPCA does not single out trucking firms and its impact is too tenuous, remote, and peripheral to fall within the scope of the FAAAA preemption clause. IWPCA’s limited regulation of ministerial aspects of the manner in which employees are paid does not have a significant impact on carrier rates, routes, or services of a motor carrier and does not frustrate the FAAAA’s deregulatory objectives. View "Lupian v. Joseph Cory Holdings LLC" on Justia Law

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Personnel at a Virgin Islands airport smuggled cocaine onto flights bound for the U.S. mainland. Noel, a ground services supervisor at St. Thomas’s Airport, and three other employees were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and related possession offenses. The jury convicted Noel on all charges. The court sentenced him to 151 months’ imprisonment. More than a year later, Noel moved for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence of juror misconduct. The district court denied the motion without a hearing. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting Noel’s arguments that the district court’s limitation on the cross-examination of his codefendants violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause; that the district court abused its discretion in denying his new trial motion without an evidentiary hearing; and that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. Even assuming the limitation “significantly inhibited” Noel’s exercise of his right to probe the codefendants’ “motivation in testifying,” it is not clear that the barred line of inquiry might have given the jury a “significantly different impression of credibility.” Before his trial began, Noel was aware that the court had impaneled a security officer working on a contract basis for the U.S. Marshals Service; he produced no evidence that a specific, nonspeculative impropriety occurred to justify a new trial. View "United States v. Noel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Guerrero-Sanchez attempted to unlawfully enter the U.S.in 1998. He was removed back to Mexico. Guerrero-Sanchez reentered the U.S. without inspection. In 2012, he was arrested for his role in an Idaho-based drug trafficking organization. Guerrero-Sanchez pled guilty and was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment. ICE reinstated his 1998 order of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(5). The Third Circuit denied his petition for review and motion for stay of the reinstated removal order. Guerrero-Sanchez completed his sentence and was transferred to ICE custody pending removal. An asylum officer concluded that Guerrero-Sanchez's claim that he would be tortured by a drug cartel if removed to Mexico was reasonable and referred the matter to an immigration judge. The IJ found that he was ineligible for withholding relief under section 1231(b)(3) because he committed a particularly serious crime and that he did not qualify for Convention Against Torture relief because he did not establish that the Mexican Government would consent to or be willfully blind to torture. While his case remained pending before the BIA, Guerrero-Sanchez sought habeas relief, challenging his detention while he awaits a determination on whether he will be afforded country-specific protection from removal. The district court granted the petition. The Third Circuit affirmed. The detention of an alien, who has a reinstated order of removal but is also pursuing withholding-only relief is governed by the post-removal law, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a) rather than section 1226(a), the pre-removal statute; section 1231(a)(6) compels an implicit bond hearing requirement after prolonged detention. View "Guerrero-Sanchez v. Warden York County Prison" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs founded ChinaWhys, which assists foreign companies doing business in China with American anti-bribery regulations compliance. Plaintiffs allege that the GSK Defendants engaged in bribery in China, with the approval of Reilly, the CEO of GSK China. In 2011, a whistleblower sent Chinese regulators correspondence accusing GSK of bribery. Defendants tried to uncover the whistleblower’s identity. Plaintiffs met with Reilly. According to Plaintiffs, GSK China representatives stated they believed Shi, a GSK China employee who had been fired, was orchestrating a “smear campaign.” ChinaWhys agreed to investigate Shi under an agreement to be governed by Chinese law, with all disputes subject to arbitration in China. Plaintiffs were arrested, convicted, imprisoned, and deported from China. Reilly was convicted of bribing physicians and was also imprisoned and deported. The Chinese government fined GSK $492 million for its bribery practices; GSK entered a settlement agreement with the U.S. SEC. Plaintiffs sued under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961–1968, contending that their business was “destroyed and their prospective business ventures eviscerated” as a result of Defendants’ misconduct. RICO creates a private right of action for a plaintiff injured in his business or property as a result of prohibited conduct; for racketeering activity committed abroad, section 1964(c)’s private right of action requires that the plaintiff “allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” The Third Circuit held that Plaintiffs did not plead sufficient facts to establish that they suffered a domestic injury under section 1964(c). View "Humphrey v. GlaxoSmithKline PLC" on Justia Law

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Pollick represented students in civil rights claims against a school district and a teacher. After the first trial, the jury returned a verdict for Pollick’s clients. The Third Circuit affirmed an order requiring a new trial based upon Pollick’s misconduct. The second trial, only against the school district, resulted in a complete defense verdict. Before a third trial, the teacher tendered a Rule 68 offer of judgment for $25,000, which Pollick’s clients accepted; it allowed for “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs as to the claims against [the teacher] only.” Pollick submitted a petition requesting $733,002 in fees and costs incurred while representing her clients against both the district and the teacher, including fees and costs for the second trial in which Pollick’s clients were not the prevailing party. The court ordered Pollick to show cause why she should not be sanctioned for seeking “fees and costs for portions of the litigation that were necessitated by her own vexatious conduct, as against defendants that she ultimately did not prevail, for certain expenses previously held unrecoverable ... and relative to the total settlement of $25,000[.]” Pollick proffered the “utterly ridiculous argument” that it was the job of opposing counsel and the court to ferret out entries that were invalid. Noting that the fee petition was single-spaced, in 6- or 8-point font that consumed 44 pages and included hundreds of inappropriate, unethical entries, the court denied Pollick’s petition in its entirety, issued concurrent $25,000 sanctions (FRCP 11; 28 U.S.C. 1927), and referred Pollick to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board. The Third Circuit affirmed, concluding that the “drastic” measures were justified. View "Young v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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L.T., 15 years old, was designated by the Virgin Islands Superior Court a “Person in Need of Supervision” who “habitually disobeys the reasonable demands of the person responsible for the child’s care and is beyond their control.” V.I. Code tit. 5, 2502(23). L.T. was subject to a court order to “follow the reasonable rules of his mother while living with her.” His mother (Russell) continued having problems with his behavior. One day, Russell contacted the Superior Court and “requested that [L.T.] be brought before the judge to answer for his behavior.” Superior Court Marshals, including Deputy Richardson, arrived at Russell’s home later that day. L.T. was “relaxing in his room, in his underwear and unarmed.” According to Russell, “Richardson shot [L.T.] under circumstances that were unjustified and an excessive use of force since [L.T.] was unarmed and did not threaten bodily harm to the marshals or third parties as he was attempting to run past the marshals.” L.T. was airlifted to Puerto Rico for medical treatment, but the shooting rendered him a quadriplegic. Russell sued, 42 U.S.C. 1983. On interlocutory appeal, the Third Circuit held that judicial immunity does not extend to protect an officer from a suit challenging the manner in which he executed a court order but held that a claim for gross negligence, for which the Virgin Islands has not waived sovereign immunity, should be dismissed. View "Russell v. Superior Court of the Virgin Islands" on Justia Law