In litigation concerning certain promissory notes issued by the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, Judge Failla today issued an order granting a request by the trustee and collateral agent for the noteholders to keep under seal the identity of their expert on Venezuelan law.

Since last year, there has been dispute as to whether the rightful President of Venezuela is Nicolás Maduro or Juan Guaidó, and the noteholders argued that allies of Guaidó would retaliate against anyone supporting enforcement of the notes.

Judge Failla reviewed certain evidence ex parte and concluded that “that there is sufficient evidence of potential harm to [the] expert that protection of the expert’s identity is warranted.”

In an opinion Monday, Judge Vyskocil denied a motion to force a partnership dispute over a medical practice to be arbitrated in a Jewish court (referred to in the opinion as either a “beis din” or “beth din”).  The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that the plaintiffs were “religiously bound to bring their dispute in the first instance to a Beis Din” but were only pursing their claims in the district court “until such time as Defendants comply with the hazmanah,” the equivalent of a summons.

The defendants agreed that the parties were bound to bring their case before a Jewish court, but what has kept the case in the Southern District was the parties’ inability to agree as to which Jewish court should hear the case.  Absent consensus on that point, Judge Vyskocil ruled, there was no binding arbitration agreement under New York law: Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: New York Law, Not Jewish Law, Governs Whether Parties Agreed to Resolve Their Dispute Before Jewish Court

The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the conclusion of both Judge Marrero and the Second Circuit (see our coverage here) that President Trump was not immune from a grand jury subpoena issued by the Manhattan District Attorney. Writing for a 7-2 majority, Chief Justice Roberts concluded that the immunity sought ran “against 200 years of precedent”: Continue Reading Case Over DA Subpoena to Trump Returns from Supreme Court to Judge Marrero

In an opinion today, Chief Judge McMahon upheld a New York executive order that allowed tenants to apply their security deposits towards rent and that temporarily suspended evictions.

She ruled that the executive order did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause because landlords necessarily have entered into a heavily regulated area of the economy, and because the executive order was consistent with the type of ordinary ebb and flow of that regulation — as opposed to an impermissible destruction of landlords’ property investment: Continue Reading Chief Judge McMahon Upholds New York’s COVID-19 Eviction Suspension

On Wednesday, Judge Rakoff granted summary judgment in favor of New York State and the Kings County District Attorney in their challenge to a decision by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”) to greatly increase civil immigration arrests in and around courthouses. Plaintiffs had alleged that the directive exceeded ICE’s statutory authority and had been adopted in an arbitrary and capricious manner. See our previous coverage here.

Judge Rakoff agreed, finding that the Immigration and Nationality Act incorporated the “centuries-old common law privilege against courthouse civil arrest.”  He also found that ICE had “offered no rationale other than its misguided reliance” on an Executive Order, which had directed the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize immigration enforcement against broader categories of aliens but was not addressed to courthouse arrests. Judge Rakoff’s ruling also emphasized the that ICE’s policy was compounding the challenges already presented by COVID-19: Continue Reading Judge Rakoff: ICE Policy of Making Immigration Arrests at Courthouses is Illegal

Last week, Chief Judge McMahon scheduled what appears to be the first remote trial to be held in the Southern District during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The trial will commence on July 6, 2020 in Ferring Pharmaceuticals v. Serenity Pharmaceuticals, a patent dispute involving drugs used to treat the condition nocturia (a form of waking during the night).

Judge McMahon considered several issues that counseled in favor of a remote trial: Continue Reading Judge McMahon: Holding Bench Trial in July via Remote Platform is a “No-Brainer”

In an opinion yesterday, the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Torres’s decision (covered here), to reinstate the Democratic Primary on June 23.

The Board of Elections argued that the cancellation was necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the Second Circuit concluded that this “justification is overstated for at least two reasons”: Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds Reinstatement of Democratic Primary

In an opinion today, Judge Furman granted a motion for sanctions against the Department of Justice for failing to review and produce hundreds of relevant documents in the litigation over when a citizenship question could be included in the 2020 Census (see our previous coverage here).  The case centered on whether the inclusion of the citizenship question was a proper exercise of executive authority. The withheld documents provided evidence that the question was included to assist in political redistricting efforts, and that the stated justification (that the question was added to help enforce the Voting Rights Act) was pretextual.

While Judge Furman agreed that the conduct was sanctionable, he noted that the most appropriate remedy – judgment in favor of the plaintiffs – had already occurred: Continue Reading Judge Furman Sanctions DOJ in Census Citizenship Question Case

In an opinion this morning, Judge Vyskocil denied an application for a TRO by a Queens Republican who sought to have her name on the ballot for the June 23 primary.  The plaintiff’s complaint was focused on the fact that, due to the spread of COVID-19, New York had reduced the number of days available to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

Judge Vyskocil denied the application because (among other reasons) she found that the State’s interest in controlling COVID-19 met the standard of “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” necessary to justify the shorter time period, particularly given that the State also correspondingly reduced the number of signatures required: Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil Denies Congressional Candidate TRO Arising from Reduction in Number of Days to Gather Signatures to Appear on Ballot

Last fall, hundreds of lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York alleging that retailers and restaurants that failed to offer gift cards with Braille lettering for sale violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (see a Steptoe summary of this wave of complaints here).

Judge Woods recently decided the first two of these cases:  Dominguez v. Banana Republic and Murphy v. Kohl’s Department Stores.  In both cases, Judge Woods dismissed the complaints for lack of standing and failure to state a claim.  Judge Woods held that a Braille gift card is a specialty good that merchants are not required to stock under the ADA’s implementing regulations.  He further held that the ADA empowers retailers to choose which auxiliary aids they offer, rather than allowing customers to demand a particular aid.

The opinions also take issue with the duplicative “copy and paste” nature of these complaints, which lacked specific allegations sufficient to create standing.  In the Murphy opinion, Judge Woods found that the plaintiff had failed to allege an intent to return to the store where he was denied service.  The opinion notes that: Continue Reading Judge Woods Tosses First Suits Claiming that ADA Requires Braille Gift Cards (Steptoe Success)