Samuel T. Wolf
In an opinion filed on December 29, 2015, Rich v. United States, No. 14-7204, the Fourth Circuit partially reversed a trial court's decision that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by a federal prisoner. In doing so, the court explained how to analyze a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the discretionary function exemption under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Inmate Joshua Rich was attacked by several other inmates at a federal prison in West Virginia. He was beaten and stabbed several times with a 9-inch homemade knife in the prison’s recreation cage. After undergoing several surgeries to repair his injuries, Rich sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, “alleging that prison officials were negligent in failing to protect him from the attack” by (a) failing to separate him from his attackers; and (b) failing to properly search his attackers before allowing them in the recreation cage.
The government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the “discretionary function exception to the FTCA applied both to the prison officials’ decision not to separate Rich from his attackers, as well as to the manner in which the officials searched other inmates prior to placing them with Rich in the recreation cage.” The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia granted the government’s motion to dismiss.
The Fourth Circuit first addressed basic principles of the Federal Tort Claims Act and the discretionary function exemption. The United States “typically is . . . Read More.
Supreme Court Clarifies When a District Judge Must Convene a Three-Judge District Court In Redistricting Cases
Samuel T. Wolf
When a person files a lawsuit in federal court “challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body,” the person may request that the case be heard by a three-judge district court. 28 U.S.C. § 2284(a). Another subsection of the same statute provides, “Upon the filing of a request for three judges, the judge to whom the request is presented shall, unless he determines that three judges are not required, immediately notify the chief judge of the circuit, who shall designate two other judges” for the three-judge court. § 2284(b)(1).
After Maryland enacted a 2011 statute establishing congressional districts based on the 2010 Census, several people filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. They alleged that the congressional redistricting burdens their right of political association under the First Amendment, and the plaintiffs requested that a three-judge district court decide the case...
Delta Fuel, Inc. and Others Ordered to Pay DC Firm
D.C. law firm Bode & Grenier, LLP and some long-time clients became embroiled in a lengthy dispute over unpaid legal fees. At trial in federal court, the firm won an award of $70,000 in unpaid legal fees and $269,585.19 in attorneys' fees spent litigating over the unpaid legal fees. The clients appealed, and, last Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision. The case is Bode & Grenier, LLP v. Knight,_F.3d, No. 14-7104 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 24, 2015).
Carroll Knight owns and manages three Michigan-based companies [including Delta Fuel] "offer[ing] petroleum fueling products and services, ranging from service stations to large-scale petroleum storage." Bode & Grenier represented the companies from 1994 to 2008, providing advice "on taxation, gasoline contracts, petroleum futures and various regulatory enforcement and litigation matters." In November 2005, 100,000 gallons of petroleum leaked from holding tanks the companies owned in Ohio, and the firm agreed to represent the companies in regulatory proceedings and a federal lawsuit. As with their previous dealings, the firm undertook the representation without a formal contract between the parties. . .