Justia Civil Rights Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Singletary v. District of Columbia
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the District bore responsibility for the Board's unconstitutional parole revocation decision after the Board determined that plaintiff's parole was based primarily on unreliable multiple-hearsay testimony. The district court found the District liable and a jury awarded defendant damages. The District appealed. The court concluded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar the district court from having jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim; the court held that the District is not liable under section 1983 for the Board's decision and the District was entitled to summary judgment on the question of its liability; and, therefore, the court vacated and remanded. View "Singletary v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law
United Government Security, et al. v. United States Marshals, et al.
Plaintiffs, former officers who had been medically disqualified from serving as federal court security officers, filed suit against the Marshals Service alleging that the procedures culminating in their dismissals failed to satisfy the Due Process Clause, and that their dismissals had been motivated by discrimination in violation of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on the Due Process Clause claims where there was no need to give an officer an oral hearing where an officer was given the opportunity to supply additional medical information responding to specific concerns of the physician charged with making the final decision; the court affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings on the Rehabilitation Act claims where plaintiffs failed to exhaust their claims against the government; but the court reversed the district court's denial of leave to amend to add the discrimination claims where the district court abused its discretion when it denied leave to include the claims of twelve new plaintiffs in the fifth amended complaint. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United Government Security, et al. v. United States Marshals, et al." on Justia Law
Wesby, et al. v. DC, et al.
The District and two police officers appealed the district court's liability determinations resulting from the grant of partial summary judgment against them. The district court granted partial summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor because no reasonable officer in their shoes could have found probable cause to arrest any of the plaintiffs. The officers arrested everyone present at a party for unlawful entry because the host of the party had not finalized any rental agreement and so lacked the right to authorize the party. The court concluded that the officers lacked probable cause for the arrest because it was undisputed at the time that the arresting officers knew plaintiffs had been invited to the house by a woman that they reasonably believed to be its lawful occupant. The court also concluded that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest for disorderly conduct because the evidence failed to show any disturbance of sufficient magnitude to violate local law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs on the ground that the arrests violated their clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and District of Columbia law against false arrest. The court also affirmed the district court's holding that the District was liable for negligent supervision because the supervising police sergeant at the scene also overstepped clear law in directing the arrests. View "Wesby, et al. v. DC, et al." on Justia Law
Solomon v. Vilsack
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Department of Agriculture, after it denied her request for a flexible work schedule based on her depression. Plaintiff sought substantial flexibility in her working hours ("maxiflex" schedule) under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., as an accommodation for her disability. The district court granted summary judgment to the Department, concluding that the maxiflex work schedule is an unreasonable request. The court also rejected defendant's retaliation claims. The court concluded, however, that nothing in the Rehabilitation Act establishes, as a matter of law, that a maxiflex work schedule is unreasonable. Accordingly, the court reversed the entry of summary judgment on the accommodation claim; reversed the entry of summary judgment on plaintiff's claim that revoking her permission to work late was in retaliation for requesting accommodations; and remanded those claims for further proceedings. The court affirmed the remainder of the district court's decision. View "Solomon v. Vilsack" on Justia Law
Ward v. McDonald
Plaintiff, employed as an attorney advisor for the BVA, filed suit against the Secretary of the VA, claiming that the BVA had violated her rights under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., by failing to accommodate her disability. Plaintiff also claimed that she was constructively discharged because the failure to accommodate her disability left her no choice but to resign. In regards to the failure to accommodate claim, no reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's accommodation request was denied in light of the BVA's continuing good-faith dialogue with plaintiff to determine an appropriate accommodation, which dialogue was cut short by plaintiff's sudden resignation. Consequently, plaintiff's constructive discharge claim also failed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Secretary on both claims. View "Ward v. McDonald" on Justia Law
Schnitzler v. United States, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against the United States, contending that he wants to renounce his United States citizenship. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded, however, that plaintiff's complaint is not moot because the relief he seeks - an exception to the government's in-person interview requirement for renunciation, and official acknowledgement of his renunciation - has not been granted. Further, plaintiff has standing because he remains a citizen against his wishes and allegedly in violation of his constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Schnitzler v. United States, et al." on Justia Law
Mulrain v. Castro
Plaintiff appealed the district court's order of summary judgment rejecting her claim of workplace racial discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to identify evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that her non-promotion was racially discriminatory. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Mulrain v. Castro" on Justia Law
Mpoy v. Rhee, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that he was terminated from his position as a special education teacher because of an email he sent to the chancellor, which contained one sentence that constituted speech protected by the First Amendment. The court concluded that plaintiff was using the email as an internal channel through which he could, in his capacity as a teacher, report interference with his job responsibilities. Therefore, under Winder v. Erste, plaintiff's email constituted employee speech unprotected by the First Amendment. Further, it was not unreasonable for defendants to believe that it was not unlawful to fire plaintiff based on preexisting law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's First Amendment claim. View "Mpoy v. Rhee, et al." on Justia Law
Edwards, et al. v. DC
Appellants filed suit challenging the District's tour-guide licensing scheme as an unconstitutional, content-based restriction of their First Amendment rights. The court concluded that it need not determine whether strict scrutiny applied in this instance because, assuming the regulations are content-neutral, they failed even under the more lenient standard of intermediate scrutiny. The District failed to present any evidence the problems it sought to thwart actually exist; even assuming those harms are real, there is no evidence the exam requirement is an appropriately tailored antidote; the district court provided no explanation for abjuring the less restrictive but more effective means of accomplishing its objectives; because this lack of narrow tailoring is hardly unique to appellants, and the court sustained both their facial and as-applied challenges to the offending regulations. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and remanded with instructions to grant appellants' motion for summary judgment. View "Edwards, et al. v. DC" on Justia Law
Sorenson Communications Inc., et al. v. FCC, et al.
Sorenson is a purveyor of telephones for the hearing-impaired that have words scrolling on a screen during a call. Sorenson's technology uses the Internet to transmit and receive both the call itself and the derived captions (IP CTS). Sorenson gives its phones out for free, with the captioning feature turned on. On appeal, Sorenson challenged the FCC's promulgation of rules regarding IP CTS under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. The court concluded that the FCC's rule requiring all new users to register and self-certify their hearing loss, but only if the provider sold the IP CTS equipment for $75 or more, was arbitrary and capricious because the FCC failed to articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action. Further, the FCC's requirement that IP CTS phones "have a default setting of captions off, so that all IP CTS users must affirmatively turn on captioning," was unsupported by the evidence and, rather, contradicted by it. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions for review. View "Sorenson Communications Inc., et al. v. FCC, et al." on Justia Law