Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Commercial Law
by
Plaintiffs, licensed taxi and limousine operators, sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, challenging an agreement between Newark and Uber as violating their rights under the Takings, Due Process, and Equal Protection Clauses. In order to operate in Newark without taxi medallions or commercial driver’s licenses, setting its own rates, Uber agreed to pay the city $1 million per year for 10 years; to provide $1.5 million in liability insurance for each of its drivers; to have a third-party provider conduct background checks on its drivers. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The agreement places the plaintiffs in an “undoubtedly difficult position” but the situation cannot be remedied through constitutional claims. Even if plaintiffs have a legally cognizable property interest in the medallions themselves, they remain in possession of and able to use their taxi medallions to conduct business. The decrease in the market value of the medallions is not sufficient to constitute a cognizable property interest necessary to state a claim under the Takings Clause. The city controls the number of medallions in circulation and maintains the ability to flood the market with medallions. With respect to equal protection, it is rational for the city to determine that customers require greater protections before accepting a ride from a taxi on the street than before accepting a ride where they are given the relevant information in advance. View "Newark Cab Association v. City of Newark" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff, which operated commercial grain warehouses and elevators and owned trading businesses through Nebraska, filed a complaint alleging that several defendants engaged in a pattern of behavior with the intent to deprive it of information, an opportunity to be heard, and due process of law. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to immunity under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that Plaintiff’s claims of conspiracy and aiding and abetting required an underlying tort to be actionable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because Defendants were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and Plaintiff alleged only underlying statutory violations; and (2) any amendment to Plaintiff’s petition would be futile. View "Salem Grain Co. v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co." on Justia Law

by
Frey has owned the Peoria commercial property, which contains a shopping center, for more than 40 years, without prior incident. In 2009, a tenant, ShopRite, was found to be illegally selling Viagra without a licensed pharmacist. The city took legal action against Patel (the franchisee) personally, and the business, then revoked the liquor license for the store and “site approval for the retail sale of alcoholic liquors at the location.” Frey asserted due process violations. The district court and Seventh Circuit rejected the claims. Frey did not adequately explain a substantive due process claim and had no property right such that it was entitled to any process at all before revocation of its site approval, but Frey nonetheless received due process of law before the Peoria Liquor Commission. View "Frey Corp. v. City of Peoria" on Justia Law

by
A 1998 settlement (MSA), between states and large tobacco companies (OPMs) included incentives for non-parties to join, but OPMs retained the most favorable payment terms. The MSA permitted states to enact statutes requiring nonparticipants to make deposits into escrows to be held for 25 years, in case a state obtained a future judgment against that nonparticipant. The MSA ensured that OPMs retained favored treatment over other participants. Plaintiff entered the market in 2000, as a nonparticipant, paying into state escrow accounts. As escrow payments became more burdensome, Plaintiff joined the MSA after negotiating a back-payment and future payments. During negotiations, defendants denied Plaintiff information about payment reductions granted to grandfathered companies. Plaintiff, unhappy with the disparate treatment and unable to meet its obligations, was unable to negotiate better terms because of an MSA provision that would entitle other participants to more favorable terms if such terms were granted to a late-joiner. Plaintiff sued tobacco manufacturers and attorneys general, alleging antitrust (15 U.S.C. 1, 3 (a)) and constitutional violations. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Manufacturer defendants were immunized under the Noerr-Pennington and state-action doctrines. Plaintiff's waivers were knowing, intelligent, and voluntary, regardless of representations made during negotiations.

by
Appellant Angela O'Connell was involved in a theft scheme whereby Appellant's husband would steal property from a local business and sell the stolen goods for cash. Appellant pled guilty to accountability for theft pursuant to a plea agreement. Upon sentencing, Appellant was prohibited from entering bars and casinos and consuming alcohol, and was ordered to pay restitution to the business she stole from in the amount of $159,606. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) because the district court's determination of lost profits in this matter was based upon speculation and not supported by substantial evidence, the district court erred by ordering payment of lost profits, in addition to the replacement value of the stolen property, as part of Appellant's restitution obligation, and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by prohibiting Appellant from entering bars as a condition of her sentence because the restriction furthered Appellant's rehabilitation. Remanded for recalculation of restitution based upon the replacement value of the stolen property.

by
Plaintiff Kathy Lamarque executed a mortgage with defendant Centreville Savings Bank. After defaulting on another loan for a second mortgage on the same property, defendant disclosed the balance of plaintiff's mortgage to the purchaser of plaintiff's property at a foreclosure sale. Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant for negligence and a violation of plaintiff's privacy rights. At trial, defendant moved for a judgment on partial findings, which the trial court granted. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that her right to privacy was violated by defendant and that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and defendant's privacy policy created a legal duty to protect private information from disclosure. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under the facts of the case, plaintiff's privacy rights were not violated and defendant did not breach its duty to plaintiff.