Paul W. Mollica Federal Courts Blog

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In United States v. Charley, No. 19-10133 (9th Cir. June 13, 2021), the Ninth Circuit vacates a defendant’s convictions on two counts of assault within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and remands for a new trial on the assault counts, holding that it was not harmless error to admit evidence of the defendant’s prior assaults under Fed. R. Evid. 404 during the government’s rebuttal case. In defense of a charge of assault…
In Butt v. United Brotherhood, No. 18-2272 (3d Cir. June 8, 2021), the First Circuit holds that the district court maintained subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate a fee dispute between a pair of lawyers who represented three women in an employment discrimination lawsuit. Attorney Paddick represented plaintiffs (the Clients) on a 40% contingency fee through an appeal and much of discovery. “In April 2015, the Clients terminated their relationship with Paddick and retained Thompson…
In North Carolina NAACP State Conf. v. Berger, No. 19-2273 (4th Cir. June 7, 2021), the en banc Fourth Circuit (splitting along party lines) holds 9-6 that a state legislature may only intervene to defend a state law under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) “if a federal court first finds that the Attorney General is inadequately representing that same interest, in dereliction of his statutory duties – a finding that would be ‘extraordinary.’” In…
In Don’t Look Media LLC v. Fly Victor Ltd., No. 20-10779 (11th Cir. June 4, 2021), the panel affirms dismissal of a case on personal jurisdiction grounds, holding that attempted service of a defendant in London did not satisfy RICO’s nationwide service-of-process rule, 18 U.S.C. § 1965. A contract to operate a commercial website unraveled. Plaintiff Don’t Look Media (DLM) claimed that defendants “collaborated prior to and during the drafting of the RSA [Revenue…
In Roy v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co., No.  17-1108 (1st Cir. June 2, 2021), the First Circuit decides an issue of first impression and holds that those cases proceeding in the district court as “related to” a pending bankruptcy proceeding, 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b), follow the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure rather than the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The decision is outcome-determinative here because the rules containing different deadlines for motions to reconsider,…
In Absolute Activist Value Master Fund Ltd. v. Devine, No. 20-10237 (11th Cir. May 28, 2021), the panel majority holds that the plaintiffs hedge funds’ (the Funds) filing of a Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i) “voluntary dismissal stripped the District Court of jurisdiction to consider [defendant] Devine’s post-dismissal motion to modify” a protective order. Defendant Devine and her husband Homm were allegedly engaged in a scheme from 2004 to 2007 to defraud Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited…
In Int’l Energy Ventures Mgt. v. United Energy Grp., No. 20-20221 (5th Cir. May 28, 2021), the Fifth Circuit reverses – on the case’s second appearance in that court – an order compelling arbitration, based on the plaintiff’s three-year “persistent pursuit of litigation.” “International Energy Ventures Management (‘IEVM’) sued United Energy Group (‘UEG’) more than seven years ago. Since then, the dispute has bounced back and forth between three courts and two arbitrations.” Despite…
In Cranor v. 5 Star Nutrition, No. 19-51173 (5th Cir. May 26, 2021), the panel holds that even a single robotext in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”) is analogous to a common-law public nuisance, and thus an injury to confers Article III standing. 5 Star Nutrition, an Austin-based nutritional supplement store, sent allegedly unwanted texts to plaintiff Cranor. At first the parties “entered into a pre-suit settlement agreement ……
In United States v. Montgomery, No. 20-1201 (6th Cir. May 24, 2021), a Sixth Circuit panel tries to bring clarity to the distinction between forfeiture and waiver in an appeal of a sentencing error. “The difference between waiver and forfeiture has long bedeviled lawyers and judges alike. Lawyers often split the difference, using the terms interchangeably or even offering a formulation like ‘my opponent waived and/or forfeited that argument.’ Sometimes they will also invoke…
A couple of weeks ago, Judge Newsom of the Eleventh Circuit made a splash with a long, scholarly concurring opinion suggesting a complete refurbishing of standing doctrine. (See May 6, 2021 entry.) Last Friday, in Markakos v. Medicredit, Inc., No. 20-2350 (7th Cir. May 14, 2021), two more judges of the Seventh Circuit express their unrest with the court’s recent authority under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016). At the end…