Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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Plaintiff filed a pro se action against Phillip Morris, alleging Connecticut state law liability claims on behalf of her late husband's estate. The district court dismissed some of plaintiff's claims based on its determination that Connecticut law would not allow her to represent the estate pro se. In this case, Connecticut law and federal law conflict on the issue of whether plaintiff can represent the estate pro se. The Second Circuit held that the district court misread both Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), and Guest v. Hansen, 603 F.3d 15 (2d Cir. 2010), in concluding that Connecticut's rule controlled the circumstances in which a party may appear pro se in federal court. The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1654, and federal rules interpreting it, are procedural in nature and therefore must be applied by federal courts in diversity cases. The court explained that, who may practice law before a federal court is a matter of procedure—which Congress and the federal courts have the power to regulate—notwithstanding contrary state law. In this case, Connecticut's substantive law will not be affected by permitting plaintiff to file motions, conduct depositions, or represent the estate at trial. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment insofar as it dismissed plaintiff's claims under Connecticut law and the derivative consortium claims. The court affirmed the dismissal of the remaining claims based on statute of limitation grounds. View "Pappas v. Philip Morris, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pangea challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part the company's motion for writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by appellees. The Second Circuit certified questions of New York law for which no controlling decisions of the New York Court of Appeals exist: (1) If an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to D.R.L. Section 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, is the spouse's interest subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property? (2) If the answer to Question (1) is "no," then: If a settlor creates a trust solely for the purpose of holding title to property for the benefit of himself and another beneficiary, and the settlor retains the unfettered right to revoke the trust, does the settlor remain the absolute owner of the trust property relative to his creditors, or is the trust property conveyed to the beneficiaries? View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), seeking to recover the loss of the inheritance she would have received from her mother's estate if not for her brother's fraudulent schemes, and the approximately $200,000 in legal expenses that she incurred in the course of Connecticut state court proceedings in which she sought to remove her brother as executor. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that plaintiff's claim for distribution of her inheritance and that of her mother's estate was not ripe under RICO because the Estate was not closed and the amount of the lost inheritance was too speculative; her claim under RICO for legal expenses incurred in pursuing her grievances against her brother and other defendants was ripe; she plausibly alleged that her legal expense injuries were proximately caused by defendants' RICO violations; she adequately pleaded that her brother, and Defendant Garvey, and Red Knot violated 18 U.S.C. 1962(b); and she adequately pleaded that all six defendants violated 18 U.S.C. 1962(c). View "D'Addario v. D'Addario" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an intra‐family dispute over who owns a residential house. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiffs' adverse possession claim where the affirmative complaint did not contain any affirmative facts that plaintiffs did anything that constituted a distinct assertion of a right hostile to defendants. However, with regard to the constructive trust claim, the court held that there may be a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether an implied promise was made and as to whether defendants' refusal to honor this promise unjustly enriched them. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jaffer v. Hirji" on Justia Law