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Plaintiff Elizabeth Lawson alleged she incurred damages as the result of an emergency room nurse informing a police officer that she was intoxicated, had driven to the hospital, and was intending to drive home. The trial court granted defendant Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) summary judgment based on its determination that nothing in the record supported an inference that the nurse’s disclosure of the information was for any reason other than her good-faith concern for plaintiff’s and the public’s safety. In this opinion, the Vermont Supreme Court recognized a common-law private right of action for damages based on a medical provider’s unjustified disclosure to third persons of information obtained during treatment. Like the trial court, however, the Supreme Court concluded CVMC was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because, viewing the material facts most favorably to plaintiff and applying the relevant law adopted here, no reasonable factfinder could have determined the disclosure was for any purpose other than to mitigate the threat of imminent and serious harm to plaintiff and the public. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Lawson v. Central Vermont Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged the district court's denial of his petition for habeas relief relating to his alleged incompetence to stand trial on capital sentencing. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erroneously granted a hearing on the merits of petitioner's claims and denied relief. The court denied a certificate of appealability (COA) because petitioner's claims were procedurally barred. In the alternative, petitioner's claims lacked merit because all of the evidence brought to bear in the district court on the issue of petitioner's competency in 1995 supported the conclusion that reasonable jurists cannot debate the denial of the Pate claim; reasonable jurists could not debate the district court's decision to reject the claim that counsel provided ineffective assistance; and the claim involving the district court's retrospective competency hearing was waived. View "Gonzales v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1981. The panel followed the reasoning in its en banc decision EEOC v. Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, 345 F.3d 742 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc), and held that Title VII does not bar compulsory arbitration agreements and section 1981 claims are arbitrable. Therefore, the district court correctly determined that plaintiff's section 1981 claims can be subjected to compulsory arbitration. View "Lambert v. Tesla, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was eliminated as part of a reorganization from his job of nearly 30 years, he filed suit against DC Water, alleging claims under various federal and D.C. civil rights statutes. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DC Water, holding that petitioner's Americans with Disabilities Act and DC Human Rights Act claims were time-barred; plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to bringing his Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment Act claims; it was within the district court's discretion to conclude that further discovery on plaintiff's only potentially viable claim—the one brought under 42 U.S.C. 1981—was unwarranted, given the lack of detail in plaintiff's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) declaration; and summary judgment on plaintiff's section 1981 claim was appropriate given the record before the district court. View "Haynes v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that the government's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy (and its changes to policies governing the use of information provided by DACA applicants) violates the Fifth Amendment, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and common law principles of estoppel. The Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiffs' challenges were subject to judicial review and that the government's decision to rescind DACA did not require notice and comment under the APA. However, the court held that the decision violated the APA because—on the administrative record before the court—it was not adequately explained and thus was arbitrary and capricious. The court also held that the district court erred in ordering the government to comply with its policies promulgated in 2012 on the use of information provided by DACA applicants and enjoining it from altering those policies. The court declined, under the doctrine of constitutional avoidance, to decide whether plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment rights were violated. The court also declined to address plaintiffs' remaining arguments. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, dismissed in part, and remanded. View "Casa De Maryland v. DHS" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for postconviction relief, holding that trial counsel's failure to consult with Petitioner about an appeal deprived Petitioner of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. This appeal required the First Circuit to apply the presumption of prejudice set forth in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), in circumstances in which a defense attorney violates his or her duty to consult with a client about an appeal when the defendant reasonably demonstrated that he or she was interested in appealing or when a rational defendant would want to appeal. In the instant case, Petitioner previously executed a plea agreement containing a waiver-of-appeal provision. Petitioner filed a pro se petition to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal. The district court held that Flores-Ortega's presumption of prejudice was inapposite because Petitioner had executed an appeal waiver. The First Circuit reversed, holding that trial counsel did not properly discharge his duty to consult and that counsel's constitutionally deficient performance prejudiced Petitioner by depriving him of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken. View "Rojas-Medina v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their national origin discrimination claims under Title VII against the University. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' disparate treatment claims, holding that plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to state a plausible claim that the University's various actions taken against them were motivated by anti-Italian bias. In this case, the district court erred by holding plaintiffs to a heightened pleading standard. The court affirmed as to the district court's disparate impact and hostile work environment claims and remanded in part for further proceedings. View "Cicalese v. University of Texas Medical Branch" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 to petitioner, who was convicted of four counts of capital murder and sentenced to death on each count. The court held that trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective for failing to adequately investigate and present mitigating evidence related to petitioner's childhood abuse, fetal-alcohol exposure, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In this case, counsel satisfied his obligation under Strickland v. Washington and his decision not to interview distant family members was reasonable. Counsel conducted a thorough investigation and reasonably decided to pursue a theory of imperfect self-defense. Furthermore, counsel's decision to hire an expert to evaluate the effect of petitioner's abusive childhood on his mental health was reasonable in the circumstances and counsel did not fail to act while potentially powerful mitigating evidence stared him in the face. View "Kemp v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court terminating Mother's parental rights to her son, holding that the circuit court did not commit reversible error by denying Mother's counsel's motion to withdraw. The Arkansas Department of Human Services opposed the motion to withdraw, arguing that Mother had been served under Ark. R. Civ. P. 5 and that she had over a month to fire her attorney and hire a new one. The circuit court denied the motion. On appeal, Mother argued that, by denying the motion, the circuit court violated her Sixth Amendment right to counsel of one's choosing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the denial of the motion to withdraw was not an issue preserved on appeal and that, even if this Court were to consider the merits of Mother's constitutional claims, her argument would still fail. View "Langston v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the magistrate judge's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a vehicle stop, holding the magistrate judge did not err by concluding that the stop was justified under the community caretaker exception. Defendant was convicted in magistrate court of driving under the influence. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress all evidence and statements obtained during the traffic stop, arguing that the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the officer was acting in his community caretaking role when he stopped Defendant's vehicle in the parking lot, and the officer provided specific and articulable facts supporting his decision to stop Defendant's vehicle. View "State v. Short Bull" on Justia Law