Power Fuels, LLC v. Federal Mine Safety & Health

Power Fuels, operator of a facility that receives, blends, stores, and delivers coals for a power plant located across the road, petitioned for review of the Commission's final order, challenging the Secretary's assignment of jurisdiction to the MSHA, rather than to the nonspecialized OSHA. The court held that the Secretary permissibly concluded that a facility that blends coal for a nearby power plant was subject to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. 802(h)(1)(C), (i). Therefore, the MSHA's assertion of jurisdiction was proper because the Mine Act covers this kind of activity. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Power Fuels, LLC v. Federal Mine Safety & Health" on Justia Law

Ilunga v. Holder, Jr.

Petitioner, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, appealed the denial of his application for asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner claimed past persecution based on his membership in a political party called the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo. The IJ found that petitioner was not credible and the BIA affirmed. The court held that the rejection of petitioner's asylum application, largely on the basis of an adverse credibility finding, was not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review insofar as it challenged the denial of the application for asylum; vacated the BIA and IJ's orders with regard thereto; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ilunga v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

Jones v. Southpeak Interactive Corp.

After SouthPeak, a video game publishing company, terminated its CFO after she raised concerns about a misstatement on one of the company's filings with the SEC, a jury found that the company and two of its top officers violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, 18 U.S.C. 1514A(a). The court affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the retaliatory discharge claims are subject to the four-year statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. 1658(a), and not the two-year limitations period under section 1658(b)(1); the administrative complaint in this case satisfies the exhaustion requirement; and emotional distress damages are available under the statute. The court rejected SouthPeak's claims regarding perceived inconsistencies in the verdict where the district court did not commit any error. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's decision as to attorneys' fees. View "Jones v. Southpeak Interactive Corp." on Justia Law

Covey v. Assessor of Ohio County

Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that government officials violated their Fourth Amendment rights by entering curtilage in search of marijuana. The curtilage at issue here is a walk-out basement patio area attached to plaintiffs' home. The court concluded that the district court failed to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiffs when it accepted defendants' claim that their searches were reasonable because they entered the curtilage only after viewing one of the plaintiffs from a proper vantage point beyond the home's curtilage. In this case, plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics that defendants violated clearly established law under the Fourth Amendment. On remand, the district court should consider whether Heck v. Humphrey is applicable in this case. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). View "Covey v. Assessor of Ohio County" on Justia Law

Wu Tien Li-Shou v. United States

Plaintiff, a citizen of Taiwan, filed suit against the United States, seeking damages for the accidental killing of her husband and the intentional sinking of her husband's fishing vessel during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) counter-piracy mission. Plaintiff's husband was one of three Chinese hostages captured by pirates. Because allowing this action to proceed would thrust courts into the middle of a sensitive multinational counter-piracy operation and force courts to second-guess the conduct of military engagement, the court agreed that the separation of powers prevents the judicial branch from hearing the case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action under the political question and discretionary function doctrines. View "Wu Tien Li-Shou v. United States" on Justia Law

United States v. Lemon

Defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and subsequently appealed her prison sentence for several violations of her supervised release. Defendant alleged that the district court erred in considering her rehabilitative needs in violation of Tapia v. United States. The court held that the district court did not plainly err when it discussed defendant's need for mental health counseling at sentencing because the district court never suggested that its concern for defendant's mental health was a factor in fixing the length of her twenty-four month sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Lemon" on Justia Law

United States v. Bran

Defendant was convicted of five criminal counts related to his involvement with a street gang (MS-13). On appeal, defendant principally challenged the district court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal on Count 3 (use of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death to another). The court concluded that the evidence is clearly sufficient to support defendant's conviction under 18 U.S.C. 924(j) where a jury was presented with substantial evidence from which to find that defendant aided and abetted a murder through the use of a firearm. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by treating his sentence for Count 3 as a mandatory consecutive sentence. The court held that the plain language of section 924(j) does not expressly answer the question of whether any term of imprisonment imposed thereunder must be consecutive. However, the language itself suggests that such a sentence must be consecutive, and to read section 924(j) otherwise would create an absurd result. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Bran" on Justia Law

Espinal-Andrades v. Holder

Petitioner, who had pled guilty to arson under Maryland's arson-in-the-first-degree statute, sought review of the BIA's dismissal of her appeal from the IJ's ruling that the arson conviction qualified as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(E), and order of removal. Applying Chevron deference, the court concluded that petitioner's state arson conviction unambiguously qualifies as an aggravated felony under section 1101(a)(43)(E), and even if an ambiguity existed, the BIA's interpretation was reasonable. The court rejected as meritless petitioner's alternative arguments that the BIA should have applied the rule of lenity and that the BIA's application of Matter of Bautista was impermissibly retroactive. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Espinal-Andrades v. Holder" on Justia Law

Demetres v. East West Construction, Inc.

Plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against East West after he was nearly killed in a bulldozer accident. Plaintiff's direct employer is Ashland and Ashland hired East West as a subcontractor. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) where plaintiff's action is barred by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act (VWCA), Va. Code Ann. 65.2-307, because plaintiff's injury occurred in Virginia and East West is a statutory co-employee under Virginia law. View "Demetres v. East West Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

Castillo v. Holder

Petitioner, a citizen of Honduras, sought review of the BIA's dismissal of his appeal of the IJ's order of removal. The BIA determined that petitioner was removable based on his past conviction under Virginia Code 18.2-102 for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The court concluded, however, that the Virginia offense did not constitute an "aggravated felony," where the full range of conduct covered by the Virginia crime of "unauthorized use" does not qualify as a "theft offense," as that term has been defined by the BIA. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and vacated the order of removal. View "Castillo v. Holder" on Justia Law