Order List

January 27, 2010 Supreme Court Update

Greetings, Court fans!

I'm back to bring you recent Court orders, including eight cert grants in:

Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms (09-475), in which Monsanto seeks to challenge the imposition of a nationwide injunction against further planting of its genetically engineered crop, presents multiple questions for review relating to the standard for obtaining injunctive relief under the National Environmental Policy Act and the scope of permissible injunctive relief (i.e., whether a nationwide injunction was appropriate given other options for reducing potential harm from the crop), as well as whether the district court must conduct an evidentiary hearing before determining the scope of the injunctive relief to be imposed.

Rent-a-Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson (09-497), which asks: "Is the district court required in all cases to determine claims that an arbitration agreement subject to the Federal Arbitration Act is unconscionable, even when the parties to the contract have clearly and unmistakably assigned this ‘gateway' issue to the arbitrator for decision?"

Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance (09-448), presents two questions for review: (1) "Whether the Fourth Circuit erred in holding that ERISA § 502(g)(1) provides a district court discretion to award reasonable attorney's fees only to a prevailing party?"; and (2) "Whether a party is entitled to attorney's fees pursuant to § 502(g)(1) when she persuades a district court that a violation of ERISA has occurred, successfully secures a judicially-ordered remand requiring a redetermination of entitlement to benefits and subsequently receives the benefits sought on remand?"

Krupski v. Costa Crociere, S.P.A. (09-337), raises a procedural question relevant to all federal court practitioners: Whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C) – which provides that (under certain circumstances) an amended complaint will relate back for statute of limitations purposes when the amendment corrects a mistake concerning the proper party's identity – applies where the "plaintiff had imputed knowledge of the identity of the added defendant prior to filing suit?"

Doe #1 v. Reed (09-559), which challenges a Ninth Circuit ruling requiring public disclosure of the identity of those who sign a petition to put a referendum on a ballot, presents two questions for review: (1) "Whether the First Amendment right to privacy in political speech, association, and belief requires strict scrutiny when a state compels public release of identifying information about petition signers."; and (2) "Whether compelled public disclosure of identifying information about petition signers is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and whether Petitioners met all the elements required for a preliminary injunction."

Dolan v. United States (09-367), where the Court will determine "[w]hether a district court may enter a restitution order beyond the time limit prescribed in 18 U.S.C. § 3664(d)(5)."

The Court also consolidated and granted cert in two cases Abbot v. United States (09-479) and Gould v. United States (09-7073), addressing 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), which provides for an additional, consecutive, five year mandatory minimum sentence where a person who, during or in relation to a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime, uses or carries a firearm or possesses a firearm in furtherance of the crime, "[e]xcept to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by . . . any other provision of law." The consolidated cases ask the Court to determine whether this "except clause" encompasses (1) sentences for drug trafficking crimes and crimes of violence that constitute the predicate acts that form the basis for the § 924(c)(1)(A) charge and (2) whether it applies to another firearm offense (during the same criminal episode) codified outside of § 924(c).

The Court asked the SG to express the views of the United States on the following cases:

Chase Bank USA, N.A. v. McCoy (09-329), in which the Court is asked to decide whether the credit card companies really need to tell you (again) when they intend to raise your interest rates, specifically: "When a creditor increases the periodic rate on a credit card account in response to a cardholder default, pursuant to a default rate term that was disclosed in the contract governing the account, does Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. § 226.9(c), require the creditor to provide the cardholder with a change-in-terms notice even though the contractual terms governing the account have not changed?"

Providence Hospital, et al. v. Moses (09-438), which presents the following issues: (1) "Whether the [Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act's ("EMTALA")] requirement that any individual who comes to a hospital's emergency department with an emergency medical condition be screened and stabilized should be expanded to continue indefinitely, after the individual has been admitted as an inpatient to the hospital for care or treatment?"; and (2) "Whether the [Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services's] regulation clarifying that EMTALA is inapplicable to hospital inpatients, 42 C.F.R. § 489.24(d)(2)(i), is valid and applies retroactively."

Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy v. Reinhard (09-529), which would address whether a "state agency may invoke the doctrine of Ex parte Young (1908) against state officials from the same state?"

Triple-S Management Corporation v. Municipal Revenue Collection Center (09-233), which asks whether the executive branch is free from due process constraints on retroactive government action, as long as it asserts that its earlier interpretation of law was "wrong"?

Janus Capital Group Inc., et al. v. First Derivative Traders et al. (09-525), where the Court may consider the standards for "control person liability" in a class action case involving allegedly improper market-timing practices.

The Court also dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction, the appeals in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, et al. (09-415) and California State Republican Legislator v. Plata (09-553), deferring for another day, deciding the validity of a three judge panel's order requiring California to reduce its prison population by tens of thousands of prisoners over a two year period due to health and safety concerns. The Court apparently deemed the order too preliminary to qualify for immediate appeal, but this story is not over as appellate jurisdiction is not discretionary over final injunctive orders by a three judge panel.

Finally, the Court denied Michigan's plea for a preliminary injunction to close certain Chicago area waterway locks in an effort to avoid stopping the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes in Wisconsin, et al. v. Illiniois (1, Orig.); Michigan v. Illinois (2, Orig.); and New York v. Illinois (3, Orig.).

That's it for now, but I will be back with summaries of yesterday's two decisions soon, as well as a fuller analysis of Citizens United. The Court is now on recess after its brief frenzy, so once we tackle those, I don't expect further decisions until February 22nd.


From the Appellate and Complex Legal Issues Practice Group at Wiggin and Dana
For more information, contact Kim Rinehart or any other member of the Practice Group at 203-498-4400