Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Stellar and Allied are American companies. Stellar sent Allied's Mexican distributors notice letters accusing them of infringing Stellar’s Mexican Patent. Allied manufactures the accused products in the U.S., which are then sold in Mexico by the distributors. Allied sells the same product in the U.S. under a different name. Allied’s U.S. counsel responded to Stellar’s notice letters on behalf of the distributors, arguing that the products did not infringe. Stellar did not respond but filed infringement actions in Mexico. Allied then sought a declaratory judgment against Stellar in the Southern District of Florida, of non-infringement, invalidity, unenforceability due to inequitable conduct, and tortious interference with business relationships. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, stating: “Stellar’s decision to enforce its Mexican patent under Mexican law against separate entities cannot, without further affirmative action by Stellar, create an actual controversy with Allied with regard to its U.S. Patent,” and that the complaint was “devoid of any allegations that Stellar has done anything to give Allied a reasonable belief that Stellar intends to enforce its 974 Patent in the United States.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. Stellar’s actions do not create a justiciable case or controversy. View "Allied Mineral Products, Inc. v. OSMI, Inc." on Justia Law

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Waymo sued Uber and Ottomotto for patent infringement and violations of trade secret laws, claiming that its former employee, Levandowski, improperly downloaded documents related to Waymo’s driverless vehicle technology, then left Waymo to found Ottomotto, which Uber subsequently acquired. Before that acquisition closed, counsel for Ottomotto and Uber retained Stroz to investigate Ottomotto employees previously employed by Waymo, including Levandowski. During discovery, Waymo successfully moved to compel the defendants to produce the Stroz Report. Waymo also subpoenaed Stroz to obtain the Report plus the communications, documents, and devices provided to Stroz. Levandowski, Ottomotto, and Uber unsuccessfully moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that the Report was subject to attorney-client privilege or work-product protection. The Federal Circuit denied Levandowski’s petition for mandamus relief. Levandowski failed to articulate any persuasive reasons why disclosure of the Report should be barred; the possibility of admissions against his interest is a valid function of civil discovery. The court rejected Levandowski’s “unsupported assertions” that the district court would be unable to “cleanse the trial of all taint from the improper disclosure,” noting that the court had examined the Report in camera and declined to exclude it. The district court properly determined that the common interest doctrine did not apply, found that Levandowski waived work-product protection, and rejected Levandowski’s claim of Fifth Amendment privilege. View "Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lt. Harris has been an officer in the Navy since 2005. He was arrested by civilian authorities in 2013 for sexual offenses involving minors and was held in confinement until his 2015 conviction and sentencing. Between his arrest and conviction, the Navy withheld Harris’s pay pending the outcome of his criminal proceedings. Based on his conviction, the Navy determined that, under the Military Pay Act, 37 U.S.C. 204, and Department of Defense regulations, Harris’s absence was unexcused and he was not entitled to any pay for his absence during confinement. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal of his suit, in which he sought back pay, challenged the civilian court’s jurisdiction to convict him, and claimed due process violations. Harris failed to state a claim under the Military Pay Act because he was convicted of his crimes, and was not entitled to pay during his unexcused absence. Harris failed to state a due process claim because he was not statutorily eligible to receive pay during his detention; the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments were not implicated. The Claims Court lacked jurisdiction to review the jurisdiction of civilian authorities to prosecute and convict him as a military service member. View "Harris v. United States" on Justia Law

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Miller worked as the Superintendent of Industries at the Beaumont, Texas Federal Correctional Complex, overseeing a prison factory that produced ballistic helmets primarily for military use. Miller occasionally served associate warden and was described by Warden Upton as “a fantastic employee.” In 2009, Miller disclosed to the government-owned corporation that ran the prison and to Upton what he perceived to be mismanagement of factory funds. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection. Upton asked Miller to not report to the factory that day. The next day, Miller reported that there had been “sabotage” at the factory, and urged that it be closed pending investigation. Hours later, Upton informed Miller that he was being reassigned. Upton later testified that OIG was concerned that Miller might compromise its investigation. Over the next four and a half years, Miller was assigned to low-level positions. Upton attributed his reassignments to unidentified OIG staff. Eventually, Upton reassigned Miller to sit on a couch in the lobby for eight months. Miller appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board, alleging violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8). The Administrative Judge found that the government had rebutted his case. The Federal Circuit reversed. The government did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would have reassigned Miller absent his protected disclosures. View "Miller v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Graviss has worked in education since 1978. In 2008, she became a pre-school special needs teacher at Kingsolver Elementary, part of Fort Knox Schools. Kingsolver’s principal, McClain, issued Graviss a reprimand based on an “inappropriate interaction with a student” and “failure to follow directives,” asserting that Graviss and her aide had physically carried a misbehaving pre-school student and Graviss had emailed concerns to the director of special education, although McClain had directed Graviss to “bring all issues directly to [her].” The union filed a grievance. Subsequently, one of Graviss’s students had an episode, repeatedly flailing his arms, kicking, and screaming. While the other students were out at recess, Graviss employed physical restraint to subdue the child. After an investigation, McClain submitted a Family Advocacy Program Department of Defense Education Activity Serious Incident Report and Alleged Child Abuse Report to the Family Advocacy Program (child protective services for the military). McClain forwarded the Report to her direct supervisor, who was later the decision-maker in Graviss’s termination. An arbitrator concluded that that Graviss's termination promoted the efficiency of the service and was reasonable. The Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that Graviss’s due process rights were violated by improper ex parte communication between a supervisor and the deciding official. That communication contained new information that the supervisor wanted Graviss terminated for insubordination. View "Federal Education Association v. Department of Defense" on Justia Law

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Crooker, who has a lengthy criminal history, pled guilty to charges of mailing a threatening communication and possession of a toxin without registration. He is serving a sentence of 15 years, having received credit toward that sentence for 2,273 days he spent imprisoned on a prior conviction for transportation of a firearm in interstate commerce by a convicted felon, which was overturned on appeal. Crooker filed suit under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act, 28 U.S.C. 1495, 2513, seeking damages for the time he spent in prison on overturned conviction, despite the sentencing credit. The Court of Federal Claims awarded him the statutory maximum for the first 1,259 days, $172,465.75. The Federal Circuit reversed: the entirety of Crooker’s “unjust” imprisonment has been applied to a “just” conviction and, as a result, he will spend no more time in prison than he is legally required. Crooker is not entitled to any damages under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act. View "Crooker v. United States" on Justia Law

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Apotex applied to the FDA, under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, for permission to begin marketing a product allegedly “biosimilar” to Amgen’s FDA-approved Neulasta®. Apotex and Amgen proceeded under the Act’s process for exchanging information and channeling litigation about patents relevant to the application. In this suit, Amgen alleged that Apotex’s proposed marketing would infringe an Amgen patent. On Amgen’s motion, the district court preliminarily enjoined Apotex from entering the market unless it has given Amgen notice after receiving the requested FDA license and then waited 180 days, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(8)(A). The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Act’s commercial-marketing provision is mandatory, with the 180-day period beginning only upon post-licensure notice, and an injunction was proper to enforce the provision against even a biosimilar product​ applicant that did engage in the statutory process for exchanging patent information and channeling patent litigation. View "Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc." on Justia Law

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From 2003-2008, Cahill did information-technology work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an independent contractor. In 2011, the agency hired him as an employee, “to support Data Management activities,” including studies for which field workers use hand-held devices called “Pocket PCs” to collect data. In 2014, Cahill filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(1)(A), alleging that agency officials had violated the whistleblower protections of 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)(A) by retaliating for his 2012 disclosures about agency practices, including that the Pocket PCs were outdated, had bad batteries, lost data, and presented data-entry problems. Cahill contended that he was treated differently after that meeting; that he was not invited to BCSB meetings, was discouraged from participating in projects to which he was assigned, was eventually placed on a Performance Action Plan; and that various supervisors treated him and evaluated him poorly. The Merit Systems Protection Board concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because Cahill had not presented nonfrivolous allegations that his March 2012 disclosure was known to at least one of the agency officials he charged with taking the challenged personnel actions. The Federal Circuit​ reversed, finding that Cahill adequately alleged that at least one supervisor knew of his statement. View "Cahill v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd." on Justia Law

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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

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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