Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff
Merchants challenged 2010 N.J. Laws Chapter 25, amending the unclaimed property statute, N.J. Stat. 46:30B, to provide for escheat of stored value cards (gift cards). Chapter 25 presumes cards to be abandoned after two years of inactivity and requires issuers to transfer remaining value to the state. Issuers must obtain name and address of the purchaser or owner of each card. If the issuer's state exempts cards from its unclaimed property statute, unredeemed balances of cards previously-issued in New Jersey, where information was not recorded, must be reported to New Jersey. The address where the card issued or sold is presumed to be the owner's domicile. The district court enjoined retroactive application of Chapter 25 and prospective enforcement of the place-of-purchase presumption, but declined to enjoin data collection and two-year abandonment provisions. The Third Circuit affirmed. Chapter 25 substantially impaired contractual relationships by imposing unexpected obligations and did not reasonably accommodate the rights of the parties in light of the public purpose. The abandonment period is not preempted by the Credit CARD Act, 15 U.S.C. 1693l-1(c). The place-of-purchase presumption is preempted by federal common law, under which the first opportunity to escheat belongs to the state of the last known address of the creditor, shown by the debtor's records. If the primary rule does not apply, the right to escheat is with the state in which the debtor is incorporated.
Drs. Pass and Bertherman, Inc. v. Neighborhood Health Plan of R.I.
When Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHP), a not-for-profit corporation that operated a licensed health maintenance organization that provided health insurance coverage to its enrollees, began reimbursing ophthalmologists at a higher rate than the rate paid to optometrists for performing the same services, two optometrists brought an action on behalf of all optometrists who had entered into participating provider agreements with NHP during the period that the differential reimbursement policy was in effect, contending that this differential reimbursement violated state law. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of NHP, reasoning that the antidiscrimination provision in R.I. Gen. Laws 5-35-21.1(b) applied only to expenditures of public funds and that NHP did not violate the statute because NHP paid for the ophthalmologists' services using private money. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statute at issue was not ambiguous; and (2) the motion justice did not err in concluding that NHP is not an agency or department of the state and cannot otherwise be considered a state actor.
Trusted Integration, Inc. v. United States
The Information Security Management Act, 44 U.S.C. 3541â49, requires that federal agencies meet information security standards. Compliance is monitored by the Office of Management and Budget. The Department of Justice purchased a license for plaintiffâs compliance product. Plaintiff participated with DOJ in seeking designation as a "Center of Excellence." Without notifying plaintiff, DOJ developed an alternative product, accessing plaintiff's database to learn the systemâs architecture. OMB selected DOJ as a Center of Excellence and required agencies to purchase from COEs. DOJâs product substituted its alternative for plaintiff's software. Plaintiff filed, in district court, a Lanham Act claim; a common law unfair competition claim; and a breach of fiduciary duty claim. Months later, plaintiff filed, in the Court of Federal Claims, claims of: breach of oral or implied contract, breach of license agreement, and breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. The district court dismissed all but the Lanham Act claim. The Claims Court dismissed all claims, applying 28 U.S.C. 1500, which precludes it from exercising jurisdiction over "any claim for or in respect to which the plaintiff â¦ has pending in any other court any suit â¦ against the United States." The Federal Circuit reversed, in part, reasoning that the license agreement claim does not arise from substantially the same facts as the district court claim.
Wehrenberg, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue
Wehrenberg, Inc. operated a restaurant-style concession offering hotdogs, pizza, and similar items at four of its movie theaters. Wehrenberg charged its customers the four percent state sales tax imposed by Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.202. Wehrenberg then filed a sales tax refund claim with the Director of Revenue, asserting that the concession items should have been taxed at the one percent rate set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.014. The Director and the AHC denied the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the food for sale at Wehrenberg's concession stands was not intended for home consumption, the one percent state sales tax rate set forth in section 144.014 did not apply to Wehrenberg's food sales.
HVT, Inc. v. Law
Plaintiff HVC Inc. was a trustee of the Honda Lease Trust. During the audit period at issue, several car dealerships entered into thousands of leases with customers (lessees) pursuant to lease plan agreements between the dealerships, the trust, and the servicer of the trust. Under the leases, the lessees were responsible for submitting the vehicle registration renewal application and renewal fees to the department of motor vehicles on behalf of the trust. Upon receipt of the renewal application and fee, the department sent the vehicle registration card to the trust, and the trust forwarded the vehicle registration card to the appropriate lessee. After conducting a sales and use tax audit for the audit period from April 1, 2001 through October 31, 2004, Defendant Pamela Law, the then commissioner of revenue services, issued a deficiency assessment against Plaintiff, concluding that the renewal fees constituted taxable gross receipts of the trust and, therefore, were subject to the sales tax. The trial court rendered summary judgment partially in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the renewal fees paid by the lessess qualified as Plaintiff's gross receipts subject to sales tax under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-408(1).
Lake Carriers’ Assoc. v. EPA
Trade associations representing commercial ship owners and operators petitioned for review of a nationwide permit issued by the EPA for the discharge of pollutants incidental to the normal operation of vessels. Petitioners raised a number of procedural challenges, all related to the EPA's decision to incorporate into the permit conditions that states submitted to protect their own water quality. The court held that because petitioners had failed to establish that the EPA could alter or reject state certification conditions, the additional agency procedures they demanded would not have afforded them the relief they sought. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review.
Sahaviriya Steel Ind. Public Co.Ltd. v. United States
In November 2001, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued an anti-dumping duty order on certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from Thailand, found that the company was selling the subject merchandise at less than normal value and assigned a dumping margin of 3.86%. In 2006 the order was partially revoked, as to the company, but remained in effect with respect to other exporters and producers. Commerce received a complaint that dumping had resumed and initiated changed circumstances review (CCR), despite the company's assertion that it lacked authority to so. The Court of International Trade (CIT) dismissed the company's suit for an injunction in 2009. Commerce reinstated the order with respect to the company; CIT affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Commerce reasonably interpreted and acted on its revocation and CCR authority under 19 U.S.C. 1675(b, d) as permitting conditional revocation and reconsideration.
Samuel Watkins v. United States Bureau of Custom
Appellant appealed an order of summary judgment in favor of the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") in his eight Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. 552, requests for 19 C.F.R. 133.21(c) Notices of Seizures of Infringing Merchandise ("Notices") from certain United States ports. Appellant raised several issues of error on appeal. The court held that the district court's findings that the Notices contained plainly commercial information, which disclosed intimate aspects of an importers business such as supply chains and fluctuations of demand for merchandise, was well supported. The court also held that the district court was not clearly erroneous in its finding that the information at issue was confidential and privileged where the trade secret exemption of FOIA ("Exemption 4") was applicable. The court further held that when an agency freely disclosed to a third party confidential information covered by a FOIA exemption without limiting the third-party's ability to further disseminate the information then the agency waived the ability to claim an exemption to a FOIA request for the disclosed information. Therefore, the district court's ruling was affirmed in regards to FOIA Exemption 4 but the district court's conclusion as to the fees charged to appellant was reversed where CBP must follow the FOIA fee provisions under 19 C.F.R. 103.