Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 principally for false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, violation of his rights to free speech and equal protection, and use of excessive force. Plaintiff's claims arose from his arrest during a demonstration organized by an affiliate of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff adequately stated claims against the defendant who signed the summonses against him and the city, agreeing with plaintiff that the district court erred by failing to accept the factual allegations of the amended complaint as true and failing to draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in his favor. However, the court held that the complaint was insufficient to state claims against all other defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Lynch v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Attorney General was statutorily authorized to impose all three challenged immigration-related conditions on Byrne Criminal Justice Assistance grant applications. The conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal immigration authorities; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens. The Second Circuit held that the Certification Condition (1) is statutorily authorized by 34 U.S.C. 10153(a)(5)(D)'s requirement that applicants comply with "all other applicable Federal laws," and (2) does not violate the Tenth Amendment's anticommandeering principle; the Notice Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(4)'s reporting requirement, section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority; and the Access Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority. The court also held that the Attorney General did not overlook important detrimental effects of the challenged conditions so as to make their imposition arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's award of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs; vacated the district court's mandate ordering defendants to release withheld 2017 Byrne funds, as well as its injunction barring defendants from imposing the three challenged immigration‐related conditions on such grants; and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related state and municipal laws. Plaintiff also filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the same alleged violations of the Rehabilitation Act. The court held that an employee cannot make a prima facie case against his employer for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented here. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants knew or should reasonably have known he was disabled; defendants were under no obligation to initiate the interactive process, and plaintiff's failure to affirmatively request an accommodation was a sound basis for dismissal of his claim. The court also held that the rights established by the Rehabilitation Act were not enforceable under section 1983. View "Costabile v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's summary judgment award in favor of his former employer in an action alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), impairment and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At issue on appeal was plaintiff's ADA claim. The Second Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 did not alter or erode its well‐settled understanding that the inability to perform a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working. In this case, because plaintiff did not attempt to show that his work-induced impairment substantially limited his ability to work in a class or broad range of jobs, the court held that no reasonable factfinder could conclude that plaintiff has a "disability" within the meaning of the ADA. View "Woolf v. Strada" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Officer May and the city, alleging excessive force, giving rise to a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and various state law claims. A jury found in favor of plaintiff, awarding him compensatory and punitive damages. The district court granted the city's motion with respect to the punitive damages award but denied the motion with respect to the compensatory damages award. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court should have granted the city's motion with respect to all damages. The court agreed with the city that the district court misapplied CONN. GEN. STAT. 7‐465 because, in awarding punitive damages, the jury found that Officer May's actions in causing plaintiff's injuries were wilful or wanton, triggering an exception to section 7‐465's assumption of liability requirement for all damages attributable to Officer May's conduct. View "Edwards v. Hartford" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging four amendments to the Village of Pomona's zoning law as violations of federal and New York law. The district court dismissed Tartikov's complaint in part and later resolved certain claims in defendants' favor. The remaining claims concluded with a verdict in favor of Tartikov. Defendants appealed the final judgment and Tartikov appealed the earlier orders dismissing certain claims. The Second Circuit held that Tartikov lacked Article III standing to pursue its free exercise, free speech,and free association claims under the federal and New York constitutions, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) substantial burden and exclusion and limits claims, Fair Housing Act (FHA) claims, and common law claims related to the Berenson doctrine claims. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment with respect to those claims, remanding for instructions for dismissal. In regard to the remaining claims that went to trial, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the extent the claims invoke two of the challenged laws and affirmed insofar as the claims invoked the remaining two. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the as-applied challenges and challenges to the RLUIPA equal terms and total exclusion provisions. View "Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Defendants Eric and Bryan VanBramer violated his constitutional rights by, inter alia, subjecting him to a visual body cavity search incident to arrest. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit vacated in part, holding that visual body cavity searches must be justified by specific, articulable facts supporting reasonable suspicion that an arrestee is secreting contraband inside the body cavity to be searched. In this case, because this requirement was established by sufficiently persuasive authority, it was "clearly established" for purposes of a qualified immunity defense by New York state police officers at the time Eric searched plaintiff. The court also held that disputed facts precluded a finding of reasonable suspicion on a motion for summary judgment, and remanded for trial on the merits of plaintiff's claim and the issue of whether Eric was entitled to qualified immunity. The court affirmed in part, holding that plaintiff failed to present evidence indicating that Bryan was aware that Eric was conducting, or was going to conduct, the visual body cavity search. View "Sloley v. VanBramer" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an Eighth Amendment claim by a state prisoner that state corrections officers were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm, which resulted in an assault to the prisoner by another prisoner. The court held that the district court incorrectly stated the summary judgment standard applicable to plaintiff's claim and that factual issues precluded entry of summary judgment for the officers. In this case, the district court failed to view the evidence of the threat "in the light most favorable" to plaintiff, and there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether defendants failed to take reasonable steps to avoid harm to plaintiff and to protect him from harm. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lewis v. Swicki" on Justia Law

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The Second Court clarified that, to establish a prima facie pay discrimination claim under Title VII, a plaintiff need not first establish an Equal Pay Act violation—that is, that she performed equal work but received unequal pay. Rather, all Title VII requires a plaintiff to prove is that her employer discriminated against her with respect to her compensation because of her sex. The court adopted the framework applicable to Sarbanes‐Oxley Act of 2002 whistleblower retaliation claims to Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act whistleblower retaliation claims. In this case, plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendants paid her less than they would have if she were a man, retaliated against her when she raised concerns about her disparate pay and possible Consumer Product Safety Act violations, and fired her because she was pregnant. The district court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for each of her claims. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to support a prima facie case for plaintiff's Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title VII claims, but insufficient evidence to support her Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act whistleblower retaliation claim. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lenzi v. Systemax, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that a landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for intentionally discriminating against a tenant who complains about a racially hostile housing environment that is created by and leads to the arrest and conviction of another tenant. In this case, the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non‐race related issues. In holding that a landlord may be liable in those limited circumstances, the court adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope. The court also held that post-acquisition claims that arise from intentional discrimination are cognizable under section 3604 of the FHA. Accordingly, 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 82. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law