Private Lawyer Advising Cities Has Immunity from Suit

On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a private attorney retained by the government to carry out its work is entitled to seek qualified immunity from suit under Section 1983.  (Section 1983 provides a cause of action against state actors who violate an individual's rights under federal law.  See 42 U.S.C. § 1983).  The full opinion, Filarsky v. Delia, 10-1018, 2012 WL 1288731 (U.S. Apr. 17, 2012), can be found here.


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Hertz Corp. v. Friend: Where Is A Nationwide Company's "Principal Place of Business" For Purposes of Diversity Jurisdiction?

This Tuesday, November 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Hertz Corp. v. Friend (08-1107), a case that will address how you determine where a nationwide company's "principal place of business" is located for purposes of diversity jurisdiction under 1332(c). 

The Court has not previously had an opportunity to address this issue because motions to remand granted by federal district courts are, generally, not subject to appellate review.  However, the Hertz case involves a class action filed in California.  Under the new 2005 Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), remand orders are subject to appellate review and the Court will have an opportunity to address an issue that could have a sgnificant impact on where lawsuits can be filed and maintained in the future. 

Hertz, a Delaware corporation with its corporate headquaters in New Jersey, argues its "principal place of business" is in New Jersery.  The Plaintiffs argue a "multi-factor approach" should be considered by federal courts and, when doing so, points to California as being Hertz' "principal place of business" because California is far and away the state where Hertz conducts most of its business.  The federal disctrict court and the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Plaintiffs.  The U.S. Supreme Court granted Hertz' petition for certiorari on June 8, 2009.

Sina Kina of the Stanford Law School has done a great job summarizing the case further, which can be reviewed by going here.

U.S. Supreme Court Clears Sale of Chrysler Assets to Fiat

Late yesterday, in a two-page order, the U.S. Supreme Court decliend to hear a challenge by three Indiana state funds and consumer groups regarding the sale of Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat.  In the order, the Supreme Court did not address the merits of the challenge by the Indiana funds. Rather, the order simply said that the Indiana funds "have not carried the bruden" of proving that intervention by the Supreme Court was necessary.

In another win for Chrysler on Tuesday, bankruptcy judge Aurthur J. Gonzalez approved Chrysler's request to terminate 789 dealer franchises immediately over the objections by scores of dealers.

As a result of the decisions by the U.S Supreme Court and Judge Gonzalez on Tuesday, there is a clear path for the sale of Chrysler's assets to Fiat and Chrysler is expected to emerge from bankruptcy very soon, possibly as early as today.

U.S. Supreme Court Disqualifies West Virginia Supreme Court Justice

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc. that elected judges must disqualify themselves from hearing cases involving people or companies who spent large amounts of money to help get them elected to the bench.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that the Due Process Clause requires disqualification when a party's campaign spending had a "disproportionate influence" in a case that was "pending or imminent". 

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