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    CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-FIRST AMENDMENT-RELIGION-REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION-US POSTAL SERVICE

    May 27th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

    Groff v. Dejoy, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 14195 (3rd Cir. May 25, 2022) (Shwartz, C.J.)  Plaintiff Gerald Groff is a Sunday Sabbath observer whose religious beliefs dictate that Sunday is meant for worship and rest. As a result, Groff informed his employer, the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), that he was unable to work on Sundays. USPS offered to find employees to swap shifts with him, but on more than twenty Sundays, no co-worker would swap, and Groff did not work. Groff was disciplined and ultimately left USPS. Groff sued USPS for violating Title VII by failing to reasonably accommodate his religion. Because the shift swaps USPS offered to Groff did not eliminate the conflict between his religious practice and his work obligations, USPS did not provide Groff a reasonable accommodation. The accommodation Groff sought (exemption from Sunday work), however, would cause an undue hardship on USPS. An employer is not required "to accommodate at all costs." Ansonia, 479 U.S. at 70. Where an employer's good-faith efforts to accommodate have been unsuccessful, the inquiry turns to whether the employer demonstrated that "such an accommodation would work an undue hardship upon…

    EVIDENCE-PRIVILEGE-ATTORNEY-CLIENT-TRUSTS

    May 24th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Evidence

    In re Trust Established, 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 227 (May 23, 2022) (Murray, J.)  A trustee cannot withhold from any beneficiary documents regarding the management of the trust, including opinions of counsel procured by the trustee to guide the trustee in the administration of the trust, because trust law imposes a duty to make these documents available to the beneficiaries. Consistent with the legal authority, a trustee is privileged from disclosing to beneficiaries or co-trustees' opinions obtained from, and other communications with, counsel retained for the trustees' personal protection in the course, or in anticipation, of litigation. See McAleer I, 194 A.3d at 597. The balancing of interests affords the greatest protection to beneficiaries, trustees and counsel. In so holding, we acknowledge the requested documents in this case pertain to the accounting period from March 22, 1994, through December 31, 2019.  Our review discloses no litigation pending against trustees during the accounting period.

    ARBITRATION-FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT-SPECIAL PROCEDURAL RULES

    May 24th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

    Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2514 (S. Ct. May 23, 2022) (Kagan, J.)  When a party who has agreed to arbitrate a dispute instead brings a lawsuit, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) entitles the defendant to file an application to stay the litigation. See 9 U. S. C. §3. But defendants do not always seek that relief right away. Sometimes, they engage in months, or even years, of litigation—filing motions to dismiss, answering complaints, and discussing settlement—before deciding they would fare better in arbitration. When that happens, the court faces a question: Has the defendant’s request to switch to arbitration come too late? Most Courts of Appeals have answered that question by applying a rule of waiver specific to the arbitration context. Usually, a federal court deciding whether a litigant has waived a right does not ask if its actions caused harm. But when the right concerns arbitration, courts have held, a finding of harm is essential: A party can waive its arbitration right by litigating only when its conduct has prejudiced the other side. That special rule, the courts say, derives from the FAA’s “policy favoring arbitration.”  We granted certiorari to…

    CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-FIRST AMENDMENT-SPEECH-POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS

    May 23rd, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

    FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2403 (S. Ct. May 16, 2022) (Roberts, C.J.)  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court.  In order to jumpstart a fledgling campaign or finish strong in a tight race, candidates for federal office often loan money to their campaign committees. A provision of federal law regulates the repayment of such loans. Among other things, it bars campaigns from using more than $250,000 of funds raised after election day to repay a candidate’s personal loans. This limit on the use of post-election funds increases the risk that candidate loans over $250,000 will not be repaid in full, inhibiting candidates from making such loans in the first place. The question is whether this restriction violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and their campaigns to engage in political speech.  The government has not shown that § 304 furthers their permissible anti-corruption goal, rather than the impermissible objective of simply limiting the amount of money in politics.  We conclude that Cruz and the Committee have standing to challenge the threatened enforcement of § 304 of BCRA.  We also conclude that this provision burdens core political…

    CIVIL RIGHTS-STATE ACTION

    May 23rd, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Civil Rights

    Matrix Distrib. v. N.A. of Boards of Pharm., 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 13517 (3rd Cir. May 19, 2022) (Ambro, C.J.)  Wholesale pharmaceutical distributors PriMed Pharmaceuticals, LLC and Oak Drugs, Inc. have sued two private entities, OptumRx and National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, under § 1983 for alleged violations of constitutional and federal law. Though they undoubtably have alleged real harm caused by OptumRx and NABP's conduct, their claims are missing an essential element: a state actor. Because they have failed to allege sufficiently that NABP or OptumRx were acting for a particular state, any wrong the plaintiffs suffered does not amount to a constitutional violation, nor can they sue under § 1983. The District Court was thus correct to dismiss those claims.  Here, to state a § 1983 claim, PriMed and Oak Drugs must allege sufficient facts to show that NABP is a state actor. Because NABP (like the NCAA in Tarkanian) is a nationwide membership organization—including not only the boards of pharmacy in each of the 50 states, but also the boards from the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and the provinces of Canada—any plaintiff would face…

    PROCEDURE-DISCOVERY-BAD FAITH

    May 16th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Procedure, Uncategorized

    Butler v. Scranton Manufacturing Company, Pa. No. 18 CV 5167 (C.P. Lackawanna January 28, 2022) (Nealon, J.)  A Dunmore Borough refuse collector, who was riding a garbage truck on its rear "riding step" that allegedly snapped and detached from the truck while moving and caused him to suffer serious head injuries, commenced this products liability action against the manufacturers and distributors of the garbage truck and riding step.  A defendant-manufacturer subpoenaed several borough employees for depositions, and pursuant to Pa.R.Civ.P. 234.1(b)(2), also demanded the production of eleven categories of documents.  Contending that the borough manager acted in bad faith by failing to produce the requested records at his deposition, the manufacturer has filed a motion to compel a second deposition of the borough manager and to impose monetary sanctions upon the borough under Pa.R.Civ.P. 234.5(b).  It also seeks to depose the borough counsel president who happens to be a member of the law firm that represents plaintiff in this matter. The record submitted by the parties reflects that (a) the borough council president contacted plaintiff’s father shortly after this incident to advise him of his son’s injury, and (b) certain…

    CONFLICTS OF LAW-CHOICE OF LAW-FOREIGN SOVEREIGN IMMUNITIES ACT

    May 16th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Sovereign Immunity

    Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Found., 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2097, (S. Ct. April 21, 2022) (Kagan, J.)  Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the Court. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), 28 U. S. C. §1602 et seq., a foreign state or instrumentality is amenable in specified circumstances to suit in an American court. In this case, the plaintiffs brought such a suit to recover expropriated property. The question presented is what choice-of-law rule the court should use to determine the applicable substantive law. The answer is: whatever choice-of-law rule the court would use if the defendant were not a foreign-state actor, but instead a private party. Here, that means applying the forum State’s choice-of-law rule, not a rule deriving from federal common law. At issue is the ownership of an Impressionist painting depicting a Paris streetscape: Camille Pissarro’s Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain. Pissarro’s agent sold the painting in 1900 to Paul Cassirer, a member of a prominent German Jewish family owning an art gallery and publishing house. Some quarter century later, Lilly Cassirer inherited the painting and displayed it in her Berlin home.…

    CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-FIRST AMENDMENT-SPEECH-OUTDOOR ADVERTISING

    May 16th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

    City of Austin v. Reagan Nat'l Adver. of Austin, LLC, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2098 (S. Ct. April 21, 2022) (Sotomayor, J.)  Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the Court. Like thousands of jurisdictions around the country, the City of Austin, Texas (City), regulates signs that advertise things that are not located on the same premises as the sign, as well as signs that direct people to offsite locations. These are known as off-premises signs, and they include, most notably, billboards. The question presented is whether, under this Court’s precedents interpreting the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the City’s regulation is subject to strict scrutiny. We hold that it is not. Respondents, Reagan National Advertising of Austin, LLC (Reagan), and Lamar Advantage Outdoor Company, L. P. (Lamar), are outdoor-advertising companies that own billboards in Austin. In April and June of 2017, Reagan sought permits from the City to digitize some of its off-premises billboards. The City denied the applications. Reagan filed suit against the City in state court alleging that the code’s prohibition against digitizing off-premises signs, but not on-premises signs, violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The City…

    TERRITORIES-FIFTH AMENDMENT-DUE PROCESS CLAUSE-SOCIAL SECURITY INCOME BENEFITS

    May 16th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

    United States v. Vaello-Madero, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2094 (S. Ct. April 21, 2022) (Kavanaugh, J.)  The United States includes five Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. This case involves Puerto Rico, which became a U. S. Territory in 1898 in the wake of the Spanish-American War. For various historical and policy reasons, including local autonomy, Congress has not required residents of Puerto Rico to pay most federal income, gift, estate, and excise taxes. Congress has likewise not extended certain federal benefits programs to residents of Puerto Rico. The question presented is whether the equal-protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause requires Congress to make Supplemental Security Income benefits available to residents of Puerto Rico to the same extent that Congress makes those benefits available to residents of the States. In light of the text of the Constitution, longstanding historical practice, and this Court’s precedents, the answer is no. The deferential rational-basis test applies. And Puerto Rico’s tax status—in particular, the fact that residents of Puerto Rico are typically exempt from most federal income, gift, estate, and excise taxes—supplies…

    IRS-FILING DATES-EQUITABLE TOLLING

    May 16th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

    Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2095 (S. Ct. April 21, 2022) (Barrett, J.)  The Internal Revenue Service can seize taxpayer property to collect tax debts. Before it does so, however, the taxpayer is typically entitled to a “collection due process hearing”—a proceeding at which the taxpayer can challenge the levy or offer collection alternatives like payment by installment. That hearing may have a happy (or at least relatively happy) ending from the taxpayer’s perspective. But if not, the taxpayer has 30 days to petition the Tax Court for review. Boechler, P.C., the petitioner in this case, missed the deadline by one day. According to the Commissioner of the IRS, this tardiness extinguished Boechler’s opportunity to seek review of the agency’s determination. The Commissioner insists that the deadline is jurisdictional, which means that the Tax Court has no authority to consider late-filed petitions. And even if it is not jurisdictional, the Commissioner argues, the Tax Court lacks the power to accept a tardy filing by applying the doctrine of equitable tolling. We disagree with the Commissioner on both scores. We are not convinced that the possibility…

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