Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as state and city law. Plaintiff claimed that he experienced several adverse employment actions while he was employed at the DOI, because of his hearing disability. The district court held, among other things, that no reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff had experienced any adverse employment action "solely by reason of" his disability. The court affirmed on different grounds and held that a plaintiff alleging an employment discrimination claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act must show that the plaintiff's disability was a but‐for cause of the employer's action, not the sole cause. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to provide sufficient support for his claim that he was retaliated against for making complaints, he was demoted in retaliation for appealing a negative performance review, and that the DOI subjected him to a slew of retaliatory actions. View "Natofsky v. City of New York" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint with prejudice as a sanction for misrepresenting his litigation history. The court held that district courts may conduct limited inquiries into whether a litigant's fear of imminent danger under 28 U.S.C. 1915(g) is plausible. In this case, the district court did not err by concluding that plaintiff's claim of imminent danger was "without foundation" where plaintiff's explanation for why he was in imminent danger was both circular and completely conclusory. Furthermore, plaintiff unquestionably received adequate notice, and had an opportunity to be heard, before the district court dismissed his action. View "Shepherd v. Commissioner Annucci" on Justia Law

by
Defendants appealed the district court's order denying summary judgment based on qualified immunity in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that defendants, police officers, violated the United States Constitution and Connecticut state law in investigating and arresting plaintiff for assaulting a guest at a college New Year's Eve party. The Second Circuit reversed and held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. The court held that police did not need probable cause to arrest plaintiff because he was not under arrest when he was interviewed by the policy on January 2, 2013; there was probable cause to arrest plaintiff based on a non-defective eyewitness identification without regard to plaintiff's allegedly coerced statements; plaintiff's statements were not necessary to establish probable cause and thus he could not claim that their use was in violation of the Fifth Amendment; and the police procedures used at plaintiff's interview were not so egregious or shocking as to violate Fourteenth Amendment due process or to support a state claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Mara v. Rilling" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action alleging claims of retaliation and hostile work environment discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The court held that the district court erred in refusing to consider evidence of events that, though they preceded the actionable time period if viewed as discrete events, remain actionable as part of a hostile work environment and relevant as background for a claim of retaliation; that in assessing the claims of retaliation, the district court erroneously applied the standard applicable to claims of discrimination rather than claims of retaliation; and that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, sufficed to present triable issues of material fact as to the claims of hostile work environment and retaliation. View "Davis-Garett v. Urban Outfitters, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint, alleging malicious prosecution based on defendants falsely charging him with violating a condition of his probation. The court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, because it was objectively reasonable for them to believe that there was probable cause that plaintiff violated his condition of his probation. In this case, defendants' determination that plaintiff's interaction with a law enforcement officer was reportable, such that his failure to report violated a condition of his probation, was objectively reasonable, not having been clearly established as incorrect in state law by the identification of a stricter questioning requirement. The court refrained from deciding whether plaintiff failed to overcome a presumption of probable cause that arose from the facts underlying his subsequently vacated conviction. View "Dettelis v. Sharbaugh" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against the university and others, alleging in part that defendants violated his procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when they placed him on involuntary leave and later terminated his employment. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in denying summary judgment to the then-President of the University, John Schwaller, on the ground of qualified immunity. The court held that failure to comply with a state procedural requirement—such as the New York Civil Service Law—does not necessarily defeat a claim for qualified immunity under federal law. Because the district court based its holding almost exclusively on Schwaller's failure to comply with the New York State Civil Service Law, it legally erred by not accessing whether his conduct violated the procedural guarantees of the federal Due Process Clause. The court held that plaintiff's placement on involuntary leave was not a deprivation of a property interest sufficient to trigger due process requirements. Therefore, Schwaller's conduct did not violate clearly established federal law and he was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss the due process claim against Schwaller. View "Tooly v. Schwaller" on Justia Law

by
The town appealed the district court's grant of a permanent injunction barring it from enforcing an ordinance regulating hazardous substances and certain zoning bylaws against Vermont Railway in connection with the railway's road salt transloading facility. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the ordinance did not meet the "police powers" exception to preemption by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), because the ordinance imposed on rail activity restrictions that did not meaningfully protect public health and safety. Therefore, the ordinance was preempted by the ICCTA. The court held that, to the extent the town challenged the district court's ruling that the railway's activities did not constitute "transportation by rail carrier," the challenge was dismissed based on lack of jurisdiction. View "Vermont Railway, Inc. v. Town of Shelburne" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his complaint, alleging claims for hostile work environment, disparate treatment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation. Plaintiff suffered from Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive‐Compulsive Disorder since birth. The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's disparate treatment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation claims. However, the court held that plaintiff's hostile work environment claim was cognizable and that there were disputes as to material facts in this case. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the court held that plaintiff has raised an issue of fact as to whether the frequency and severity of mockery he received rose to the level of an objectively hostile work environment. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Fox v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

by
A landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) for failing to take prompt action to address a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, where the landlord knew of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it. The Second Circuit adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope, holding that the FHA reaches conduct that, as here, would constitute discrimination in the enjoyment of residence in a dwelling or in the provision of services associated with that dwelling after acquisition. Furthermore, HUD's 2016 Final Rule, HUD's other implementing regulations, and the views expressed in its amicus brief only reinforce the court's textual interpretation that a landlord may be liable under the FHA for failing to intervene in tenant-on-tenant racial harassment of which it knew or reasonably should have known and had the power to address. In this case, plaintiff alleged that defendants had actual knowledge of the tenant's criminal racial harassment of plaintiff but, because it involved race, intentionally allowed it to continue even though defendants had the power to end it. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1982. The panel remanded for further proceedings. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Chunn was sleeping in the Amtrak waiting area in Pennsylvania Station when he was roused by Amtrak Police Officer Coleman. An altercation ensued and Chunn was arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and resisting arrest. During a search incident to this arrest, officers discovered $10,400 cash in Chunn’s pocket, confiscated the cash. After an investigation by Amtrak’s Criminal Investigation Division and an Amtrak officer assigned to the Amtrak‐DEA joint task force, the DEA decided to seize the money for possible forfeiture as proceeds of drug sales. Amtrak transferred the cash to the DEA and gave Chunn a receipt. Chunn sued Amtrak and Amtrak officers, alleging that Amtrak’s transfer of his property without first offering him an opportunity to contest the transfer violated his due process rights, 42 U.S.C. 1983, and amounted to conversion under New York law. The Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants and denied Chunn’s motion to amend his complaint to add as a defendant the Amtrak officer responsible for turning over Chunn’s property to the DEA. Due process is afforded by the required post‐deprivation procedures and Chunn was not unlawfully deprived of his property. View "Chunn v. Amtrak" on Justia Law