Justia Civil Rights Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
In re: Apple Inc.
Core Wireless sued Apple for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas. Core, a Luxembourg company with one employee, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MOSAID, a Canadian corporation. Core Wireless shares office space with a division MOSAID in Plano, Texas. Apple is a California corporation with a principal place of business in Cupertino, California. The heart of the patent dispute involves baseband processing chips installed in the accused product, which are supplied by California companies, Qualcomm and Intel. Apple moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California. The district court denied the motion, emphasizing the lack of specificity in Apple’s assertions as to why the transfer factors favored California. Apple then sought to supplement the record. The district court denied the motion, noting that “[t]here is no indication that all of this relevant information was not accessible at the time Apple had filed its transfer motion.” Apple sought a writ of mandamus instructing the district court to vacate its orders. The Federal Circuit denied the petition, finding no abuse of discretion. View "In re: Apple Inc." on Justia Law
Gargiulo v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec.
Based on misconduct that he allegedly committed in his previous positions as a police officer and deputy sheriff, the Transportation Security Administration suspended and ultimately revoked Gargiulo’s security clearance, which was necessary for his job as a Federal Air Marshall. The Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed. On appeal, Gargiulo argued that the agency deprived him of constitutional due process by not timely providing him with documentary materials relied upon in deciding to suspend his security clearance. Although he was given notice of the reasons for the suspension of his security clearance as early as August 2008, he was not provided with copies of the documentary materials until May 2009, three months after he was suspended from his job. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that security clearance decisions do not implicate any due process rights. View "Gargiulo v. Dep't of Homeland Sec." on Justia Law
Smith v. United States
Smith was disbarred by the Tenth Circuit in 1996, followed by reciprocal disbarments by the Fifth Circuit, the U.S. District of Colorado and Northern District of Texas, and the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2007, the Tenth Circuit granted reinstatement, provided that Smith met conditions. The conditions were satisfied, and Smith was reinstated. The other courts then readmitted him to their bars, except the Colorado Supreme Court. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado then reversed itself and denied reinstatement, because Smith remained disbarred by the Colorado Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit affirmed. Smith filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims, seeking compensation and equitable relief, alleging violations substantive and procedural due process and of equal protection, and judicial takings of his private property right to practice law and make a living. The Claims Court dismissed, reasoning that absent a money-mandating statute providing for compensation for such government action, it had no jurisdiction and that because the revocation actions became final no later than 1999, suit under the Tucker Act was barred by the six-year limitations period, 28 U.S.C. 2501.. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law
Young v. Dep’t of Housing & Urban Dev.
Young served as a Public Housing Revitalization Specialist in the Office of Public Housing in the Cleveland office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for 10 years. Young was representing himself at an arbitration hearing, appealing his five-day suspension for disruptive behavior, misrepresentation of authority, and use of insulting language to and about other employees. One of the witnesses testifying against him was Darr, Executive Director of the Coschocton Metropolitan Housing Authority and a HUD client. Following Darr’s testimony, there was a recess; Darr claims that while he was walking down the hallway, about 25-30 feet away from Young, Young shouted from immediately outside the door of the hearing room, “[y]ou are a racist. You are a member of the KKK, and you should be shot.” Young was later placed on administrative leave; notice of proposed removal issued. Interviews were conducted after Young submitted his oral and written statements, so that Young was unaware of the content and substance of the interviews and was unable to respond to anything unearthed during those interviews. An arbitrator rejected a challenge to Young’s termination. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the agency violated Young’s due process rights and its own procedures.View "Young v. Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev." on Justia Law
Semper v. United States
Semper worked as a probation officer for the District Court of the Virgin Islands until he was removed from his position on August 6, 2010. The reason given for his termination was that he was negligent in supervision of a convicted defendant who was killed while on release pending sentencing. . Semper filed a complaint in the Claims Court against the United States, the Chief Judge, and the court’s Chief Probation Officer. The Claims Court dismissed, holding that it lacked jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. 7501-7543, applied to Semper, regardless of which governmental branch employed him. He was classified as a member of the “excepted service,” not the “competitive service,” and was not among those excepted service employees whom the statute makes eligible for judicial or administrative review of adverse agency action. View "Semper v. United States" on Justia Law
Whitmore v. Dep’t of Labor
Whitmore began his federal government career in 1972. In 1990 his group transferred to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Prior to 2005, Whitmore regularly received better than satisfactory performance reviews, bonuses, and awards, and was never subject to discipline. In 2005, Whitmore began making public disclosures that OSHA was failing to enforce its recordkeeping requirements and acquiescing in industry reports of impossibly low numbers of injuries and illnesses. He provided comments to newspapers. Also in 2005, Whitmore provided an affidavit supporting a co-worker in her Equal Employment Opportunity complaint for alleged discrimination and retaliation by her managers at OSHA. Due to various medical and personal matters, Whitmore took significant leave from work. Following a number of additional incidents, he was removed from his position. The Merit Systems Protection Board upheld the termination. The Federal Circuit reversed. In analyzing whether the DOL had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Whitmore would have been removed regard-less of his whistleblowing disclosures (5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)), the MSPB excluded or ignored evidence offered by Whitmore necessary to adjudicate Whitmore’s retaliation claim, and otherwise applied the law incorrectly.
Bledsoe v. U.S. Postal Svc.
Plaintiff, a mail processing clerk, was injured on-duty in 2005 and received workers' compensation. She partially recovered and, in 2008, the Postal Service provided a modified light duty assignment. In June 2010, pursuant to the National Reassessment Process, the Postal Service informed plaintiff that work within her medical restrictions was no longer available in her commuting area. The Merit Systems Protection Board dismissed her claim under 5 C.F.R. 353.304(c)) of wrongful denial of restoration following partial recovery from a compensable injury. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board applied the correct standard in determining its jurisdiction, and its factual determinations were supported by substantial evidence. Plaintiff did not identify any vacant position available within her commuting area that she was able to perform. Plaintiff did not make a non-frivolous allegation that the Service acted arbitrarily in not restoring her, even after the Board ordered her make such a showing and afforded her time to do so.
Singleton v. Shinseki
A veteran of the Vietnam War, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, applied for disability benefits in 1981 but his claim was rejected. Years later, the Veterans Court concluded that he was entitled to benefits stemming from the initial claim. The veteran challenged the procedures of the Board of Veterans Appeals in retrospectively assessing his level of disability during the years 1980 to 2007. The Federal Circuit upheld the determination, stating that the legal process was sufficient to satisfy Fifth Amendment rights. The veteran has had his day in court concerning the staged rating assessment, which included a total disability period exceeding five years and reduction of the rating during subsequent periods.
Camilo v. United States
The petitioner joined the Air Force in 1979 and, after being denied promotion twice, was discharged from active duty in 1989. The Deputy for Air Force Review Boards eventually agreed to void a substandard officer effectiveness report in her record. After the petitioner's separation from active service, the Special Selection Board reconsidered the record and did not recommend promotion. After several requests, the Air Force reinstated the petitioner to active duty in 1995 and promoted her to major, with a date of rank of 1988. After again being denied promotion twice, she applied for direct promotion in 2002, arguing that one of her evaluations was prepared by an officer she had reported for misconduct and that the break in service deprived her of an opportunity to develop a record to support promotion. Relief was denied. The petitioner was involuntarily retired in 2003. The Court of Claims rejected her suit. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that the Corrections Board thoroughly reviewed the claims and that the decision was not arbitrary.