Tag Archives: Average Joe SCOTUS

Average Joe SCOTUS: TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez

Sergio Ramirez and his wife went to buy a car. And by buy, I mean, finance one. In order to get a loan, they of course, had to fill out a credit report. Problem for Sergio, was that his name was on a terrorist list from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Let me be clear, Sergio himself was innocent AF, but his NAME was on a list. Presumably, some other douchebag Sergio Ramirez was the problem, not this Sergio.

As such, the banks can’t loan him shit as a matter of law. So they ended up buying the car in the wife’s name, and going on about their lives.

A day later though, Sergio was like, “WTF, man? I need to look into this.” So he obtained a copy of the report from TransUnion. Ramirez being worried this might fuck some shit up, canceled a trip he had planned to Mexico, fearing he might not be able to return.

Eventually, he got Trans Union to fix the issue, so his name was no longer flagged. But he was still pretty pissed off about the whole thing, and decided to sue in federal court, and started a class action (where a bunch of people sue as a group), as he felt this whole thing was a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Here’s the thing. In a previous case,  Spokeo v. Robins, SCOTUS ruled that in order to sue, you have to show damages. You can’t just sue because you’re pissed off your rights were violated. You have to show that the violation harmed you in some way. So that’s sort of what’s at issue here. Maybe Sergio can show he was harmed because he couldn’t buy a car. But all the people in the class action may have had no harm at all. They were just wrongly on a list, and once removed off that list, would be perfectly fine.

So TransUnion is saying, “Hey look at Spokeo. A lot of these assholes didn’t have anything bad happen to them. It was just an honest mistake. We don’t owe them shit, and they shouldn’t even be able to sue us.” In TransUnion’s argument, they basically said a majority of these assholes were merely sent a letter telling them of their placement on the list, which gives them an opportunity to correct it, if it’s wrong. That’s not harm being done to them, and therefore they shouldn’t be able to sue.

Ramirez colorfully argues, “We all suffered the same injury. You motherfuckers called us terrorists, when we’re not.” He’s going for a defamation argument, basically.

The US government also argued in this case, from a somewhat middle ground. They agree Ramirez and company were ass-raped. But they think the lower courts failed to consider properly how Ramirez claimed his “injuries” were typical, and thus shouldn’t be part of a larger class action. They should sue individually, based on their individual damages, and if they weren’t harmed, then they should politely go fuck themselves.

In a narrow 5:4 ruling where Thomas, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented, SCOTUS ruled in favor of TransUnion. Only someone who can show real fucking damages, not some petty shit like their feelings were hurt, can sue for damages. Specifically, they have to show they suffered real harm, that the injury was traceable to WTF the plaintiff did, and that an award of damages can make fairly reward them.

Of the 8185 people in the class action, only 1853 were affected by it, and have standing to sue. The other people are in a “No harm no foul” situation, and go fly a kite.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-297

Average Joe SCOTUS: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

If SCOTUS has a snoozefest award, this case probably gets it. Goldman Sachs (GS), in their advertisements and statements have said things like, “Our clients’ interests always come first,” “Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business,” and “We are dedicated to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules, and ethical principles that govern us.”

The defendants at Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ATRS) say these statements are misleading, and caused the price of the securities GS sold them to be distorted, and thus they presumably lost money when investing with them.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine that such general marketing bullshit affects any stock price, so this seems like a total stretch to me, but still, here we are. Sometimes, I think SCOTUS takes a case because they lost a bet or something.

ATRS is alleging that they failed to disclose conflicts of interest in their dealings, which defies the statements above. So essentially, that’s their beef, that GS claimed all this integrity and honesty bullshit, while hiding their conflicts of interest.

At issue here is also whether a class action suit can be brought forth, or whether each individual who feels wronged by GS should have to file independently, and show that they invested wrongly, during a period between when GS made their general marketing bullshit statements, and when it was later discovered they failed to disclose their conflicts of interest.

In a 6:3 “who gives a fuck” decision, where Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented, SCOTUS ruled in favor for Goldman Sachs. Essentially telling these whiny little cunts to piss off with their Karenny bullshit. These claims were generic as fuck. There’s no way that you lost money, because you bought stock based on a bullshit marketing claim just about any company says about themselves.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-222

Average Joe SCOTUS: Caniglia v. Strom

This dude Edward Caniglia was a bit of a drama queen. One night, after a particularly heated argument with his wife, he grabbed his gun, and started acting like he wanted her to kill him, or he was going to kill himself.

His wife Kim was like, “This mother fucker’s crazy. I’m out!” She left, and found some other place to stay for the night, leaving him to marinate in his craziness all on his own.

The next morning, she was like, “I wonder if he really did kill himself?”

So she called the cops, and together, they headed to the house to see if “Schroedinger’s husband” was dead or alive. Not only was he alive, he was fairly chill, and nothing untoward happened when confronted by the fuzz.

He admitted to the incident, so he was taken to a hospital for a psych evaluation. In the meantime, Officer Strom, under approval from his boss, but NOT under approval by Caniglia, took Caniglia’s guns out of the home, until Caniglia’s mental health issues were squared away.

Caniglia argued that he only agreed to go to the hospital if the cops pinky-promised not to take his guns. Strom and company were like, “Dude, he never said anything like that.”

Caniglia was never admitted, and doctors essentially determined he wasn’t crazier than a shithouse rat, and let him go. But, the cops weren’t so convinced, and continued to hold the Caniglia’s guns for a few months, until they finally got sick of his bitching and moaning and gave them back.

Once returned, you’d think that would be the end of it. But oh no. Caniglia was like, “No American should suffer an injustice like I did. So I’ll do the most American thing I can do, and sue these motherfuckers for violating my constitutional rights, maybe even get a little scratch for my troubles.” And so he did.

While it might seem like a violation of the fourth amendment on the face of it, which is what he was arguing, there is a “community caretaking” exemption recognized currently, where if officers are just trying to help someone, they can’t be considered to be violating your rights. Like, let’s say they see a guy beating up his wife inside a house, they can bust in and raid her without a warrant. Or if they knock on your door, and see you lying on the floor as if you’ve passed out or died, they can come in to rescue you. Shit like that.

Well, Strom and company are essentially arguing that this is an extension of that.

Chief Justice Roberts came out asking straight forward, “Imagine some old biddy was supposed to go to her neighbor’s house for dinner, and doesn’t show up. So the neighbor calls the fuzz and asks them to check on her, because she’s more reliable than the IRS. So the cops go to the house, knock on the door and get no answer, but the door is open, so they walk the fuck on in to make sure she’s OK. But then, she’s not even home, but walks in on the officers looking for her and is like, ‘WTF are you assholes doing in my home?’ Is that a violation she can sue for?”

Fair question, that Justice Thomas also pressed on, both seemingly looking for the line that’s crossed to make community caretaking turn into something that is a violation of the person’s rights.

Counsel for Caniglia had a pretty solid argument that there was no emergency situation here, in response to Justice Kagan, who asked:

Elena Kagan

You said that the Respondents here had waived the argument that this was a true emergency. Putting the waiver question aside, why wasn’t this a true emergency?

Shay Dvoretzky

Justice Kagan, the only basis that the officers had for thinking that Mr. Caniglia was potentially suicidal was a statement that he made the night before.

But 12 hours had passed since that statement.

He was in the home with the guns during that time, nothing had happened, and the officers said that when they spoke with Mr. Caniglia, he seemed calm, normal, and polite. Those circumstances don’t make out an emergency that requires immediate action without involving a mental health professional, a neutral decision maker, and so forth, rather than just the officer’s discretion.

His argument being, if there was an emergency twelve hours ago, he had all that time to kill himself, and didn’t do it. While the officers may have just operated under the “better safe than sorry” principle, in this instance, that’s still a violation of his rights.

Counsel for Strom, takes a very liberal view of community caretaking. Take this hypothetical from Justice Barrett:

Amy Coney Barrett

Let’s talk about how far this exception might go because, obviously, there’s a lot of concern about it being an umbrella for a lot of sorts — lots of different things. Let’s say that in a town with a high rate of COVID infections, police look through the window and they can see a lot of people gathered together that are not wearing masks. Can they enter?

Marc Desisto

Yes.

As you can see, Strom’s side is more than willing to come into your home, if they think they can imagine just about any cause which involves enforcing the law to save lives, which is frankly, somewhat scary.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS sided with liberty. The “community caretaking” exception does not extend to the home. While they agreed, officers may assist someone by entering into their home sans warrant, they can’t seize shit while they’re there, though.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-157

and here

Average JOE SCOTUS: Cedar Point Nursery v Hassid

First things first, I fucking hate labor unions. They are the wart on America’s asshole. This case has done nothing to change my opinion of them. Nine years ago, I wrote about why I think they shouldn’t even be legal here. It’s a little dated, and I feel my writing and logical arguments are probably better know, so I should rewrite that shit. But anyway, moving on.

We all know those Californians loves them some fucking labor unions, and they have pretty favorable laws regarding those cunts (I use cunts in the British or Aussie way as a general pejorative, not the American way as a sexist attack on women. So back the fuck up off me with that noise). Well, Cedar Point Nursery owns a strawberry farm in California, and the United Farm Worker (UFW) cunts showed up on their land with bullhorns and shit, convincing some workers to come off their jobs and join protests, while most just kept on working. They are supposed to give notice ahead of the time, to let the site prepare for them, but they didn’t.

The issue here though, is that California law forces companies to allow such unions on to their property to talk to their employees, which is fucking bullshit, in a country that is supposed to have property rights, but I digress.

Cedar Point is challenging such laws under the fifth amendment, considering it an unlawful takings of property. Think of it this way, if the government can basically just tell the property owner they have no right to control who comes on their property, and can’t even charge the people money who come onto their property, the government is effectively taking control of their property.

Counsel for Cedar Point opened with:

Joshua P. Thompson

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: An access easement that takes the right to enter, occupy, and use another’s private property effects a per se physical taking under the Fifth Amendment.

Any time limitations placed on access go towards the just compensation due, not whether a taking has occurred. The access regulation at issue in this case authorizes an easement on the property of Petitioners for the benefit of union organizers. Under the terms of the Access Regulation, organizers may occupy the businesses’ property for three hours each day, 120 days each year. This Court should hold that the taking of this easement violates the Fifth Amendment because it effects a physical taking without compensation, and the Court should so hold for two reasons. First, the appropriation of a real property interest triggers a categorical duty to compensate.

The Access Regulation authorizes the taking of a real property interest in the form of a continual right to occupy and use Petitioners’ property. And, second, at a more fundamental level, the Access Regulation denies Petitioners the right to exclude union organizers from their property.

Such an infringement on the most fundamental property right merits per se treatment. The Ninth Circuit, however, took a different tack.

It demoted the right to exclude to just another stick in the bundle and would give per se treatment only to those rare easements that authorize 24/7 occupation. Not even the Board supports that extreme rule.

But the Board offers no basis, much less a principled one, on which to distinguish access easements that merit per se treatment from those that don’t. If the government wants to take an access easement over private property, it has to pay for it.

Failure to pay just compensation violates the Takings Clause. I welcome the Court’s questions.

The Cedar Point people acknowledge that historically, such workers lived on the land, and thus, were really never able to be exposed to unions and shit, since they would never leave the property.

But now we have shit like internet and cars, and it’s pretty fucking easy for people to get info like this. Plus, most of those workers don’t live on the property anymore, presumably because others laws about being a landlord are a pain in the ass these days.

Not that I give a fuck about the California Board’s rules that support the union, but their argument is like, “Hey, we only come before and after work, and during lunch. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Justice Barrett seemed to be willing to accept Cedar Point’s argument as absolute, when she opened this question at them.

So let me ask you this: What if California had a regulation that permitted union organizers to go onto the property of your clients one hour a day, one day a year.

Is that a taking subject to the per se rule?

Counsel agreed.

However, counsel had previously agreed that if people were living on the property, and didn’t have access to this info otherwise, he could see where such a rule allowing them onto the property could be an exception to a takings clause.  Barrett’s question was effectively saying, “I don’t even see how you allow that if you’re argument is true.”

Hard to tell if she believes in that absolutism, but if she does, I actually agree with her. Fuck those union pricks.

Once the California Board’s side stepped up, Justice Thomas had an interesting line of questioning.

Clarence Thomas

I’m quite interested in how related the inspection or the opportunity to be on private property has to do with the—how related does it have to be to the business operation. For example, could you have the exact same requirement, except during non-business hours for the property to be available for training of the — of the National Guard, for example, or the state police? Since it’s — since it’s open property, just simply say for three hours a day, not more than 120 days a year, but certainly not to interfere with the business, the state police could train there?

Counsel for California was of the opinion, this was very different, and would in fact be a violation of the property owner’s rights. But Thomas, seemingly unimpressed with that load of horse shit, pressed him that if the cops can’t come and train there after hours, why can the union come and agitate their workers after business hours.

Counsel salvaged himself by saying that the union workers are there on matters related to the work being done there, and to assist the workers, as opposed to the cops just using his land for their own personal gain.

In a 6:3 entirely partisan ruling, the conservative justices ruled in favor of Cedar Point Nursery, telling the labor unions to go eat a bag of dicks. This decision makes me want to cheer loudly. Fuck those labor union pricks in the ass. Government cannot force an employer to allow union assholes onto their property. Now fuck off with that noise.

I’m not even going to dignify the minority’s opinions with an explanation. Unions don’t deserve an ounce of such respect. It’s extortion and racketeering by any other name. Good riddance.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-107

Average JOE SCOTUS: Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc.

Ever heard of something called “Patent Assignor Estoppel (PAE)”? Well, neither have I. But that’s what this case is about. It goes like this.

Dr. Csaba Truckai invented procedures and devices called NovaSure to help women with abnormal bleeding during menstruation. He filed for a patent, so that means he argued at that time, that what he did was a valid patent claim. He owned a company called NovaCept when he filed for the patent, thus why it’s NovaSure.

Since then, he sold off NovaCept, presumably because he blew all his money on hookers and blow, and eventually founded Minerva Surgical. NovaCept is now owned by Hologic Inc.

Dr. Truckai, while at Minerva, basically came up with the same basic shit he had when he was at NovaCept, and so new owners Hologic were like, “Hey, we fucking own this patent. You can’t be doing that shit, pal. We paid good money for this.”

This is where it gets fun. According to long held SCOTUS precedent, “patent assignor estoppel” basically says, if you filed a patent years ago, you fucking argued in your heart of hearts, that it was a justifiable example of something deserving of a patent, and you were awarded one. So you can’t come back years later, when you no longer own the fucking patent, and act like it’s bullshit, since you were the same motherfucker who argued it was legit years ago.

But, Dr. Truckai, apparently incapable of any more original thoughts, really wants to do this procedure he invented years ago, so he’s trying to say the whole concept of Patent Assignor Estoppel is bullshit, because the patent act says, invalidity “shall be” a “defense in any action involving the validity or infringement of a patent.” As such, he thinks that means, the whole PAE thing is wrong, and he should be free to challenge that shit if he wants.

As you may recall, we also discussed “Stare decisis” (pronounced star-ay), which is also a SCOTUS top ten hit. It means,  “to stand by things decided.” This means that in order to maintain consistency in the law, SCOTUS tends to not do something one way, then do it different another day. So once they set a precedent, they stick to it, unless they REALLY think it’s wrong.

So that basically means Dr. Truckai is unlikely to win this shit.

Minerva also claims that back in 1969, case Lear, Inc. v. Adkins ended a similar precedent, patent licensee estoppel, which basically prevented a licensee to challenge a validity of something it licensed.

Third, they contend that Hologic broadened the scope of the patent, and therefore, he’s challenging that broader scope, not the original patent he filed.

Basically, he’s throwing the whole book at them, and hoping one of them sticks, because again, apparently, he’s a one hit wonder and he knows it.

In a surprisingly 5:4 decision, SCOTUS sided with Minerva Surgical. They argued that claims can be barred to estoppel, but don’t have to be. Basically, if this dipshit argues a wholly new reason for invalidating his own patent, that he couldn’t have or wouldn’t have known when he argued for the patent, he is OK to make that argument.

The dissenters basically were like, “You fence riding motherfuckers are rewriting this decision without invalidating the other precedents from before. Well done, you fucking cowards. If you want to invalidate the precedent, just fucking do it. Don’t dance around it like this.”

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-440

Average JOE SCOTUS: San Antonio v. Hotels.com, L.P.

So the history of this case, is that San Antonio loves their taxes. Online travel companies (OTCs) will help you book a hotel room, then charge you a small fee for arranging everything. San Antonio has a tax on occupancy fees, which basically means, that you have to pay a tax on the hotel’s fee if you stay in a hotel room.

However, San Antonio was also applying that tax to the OTCs fees. So the OTCs were like, “WTF, San Antonio?” Aren’t you part of Texas, the land of the free and lower taxes? Why you fucking us up the ass like this? Our fees are brokerage fees, not fees for them occupying a hotel room.”

So the OTCs sued, and won, and San Antonio was no longer taxing their fees.

In America, if you go to court, it’s generally assumed that you pay for your attorney, and I’ll pay for mine. Well, the OTCs were like, “We’re glad you sided in our favor and all, but we racked up millions of dollars in legal expenses fighting this shit, and we think you should have to pay that too.”

Within this framework is Federal Rule 39. As laid out by SCOTUSBLOG, it says:

Subsection (a) describes who should pay the costs, explaining in relevant part that “unless the law provides or the court orders otherwise … if a judgment is reversed, costs are taxed against the [losing party].” Subsection (e), in turn, provides that “[t]he following costs on appeal are taxable in the district court for the benefit of the party entitled to costs under this rule,” and then lists four types of costs that are available: costs of preparing the record, costs of preparing the transcript, the fee for filing the notice of appeal, and premiums associated with any bond pending appeal. Posting an appeal bond allows a defendant who loses in the district court to prevent the plaintiff from executing on the judgment while the appeal is pending.

The original costs and filing fees were $350k, and San Antonio agreed to pay that. But then, the OTCs dropped $2M in premiums on the appeals, and San Antonio was like, “Wait a fucking minute, we ain’t paying that.” Based on the rule above, even though the district court kinda saw San Antonio’s points as valid, as to why they shouldn’t be on the hook for that two million, they felt the rule dictated they had to award the OTCs. It does say “taxed against the losing party” after all.

These arguments are petty and procedural at best. San Antonio is arguing that “Hey, long ago, rule 39 had mandatory wording that said, “Shall be taxed” but now the wording is “taxable” which seems to indicate they meant to leave it up to the court’s discretion.

But the OTCs argue that this language merely means that the district court is where the tax should be applied.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Hotels.com. Let freedom fucking ring. Texas is on the hook for all these fees. Rule 39 allows appellate courts to determine the costs for appeals, and so they did. Which means that they were within their power to make Texas pay for the costs they determined were reasonable for Hotels.com to claim.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20-334

Average JOE SCOTUS: Greer v. United States

This case is enjoined to United States v. Gary, although being argued separately, regarding whether someone can be convicted of felony possession if they didn’t know they had been convicted of a felony, and whether they have a right to be retried if they plead, but didn’t know they were pleading guilty to a felony.

Gregory Greer was feeling especially horny one night, and so he went looking for a woman he could hire to be his girlfriend for a period of time. Greer, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, walked right up to cops running a prostitution sting, and it took him a second to realize these were not the droids he was looking for.

Once he figured out that these were the fuzz, and not girlfriends for hire, he bolted down the stairs, hoping he could outrun them and get away. It gets worse for Greer though, he had a stolen Colt .45 on his dumb ass (not the shitty ass beer, but a gun). It either fell, or he threw it as he was running the stairs. Cops saw it, and of course caught Greer, so they charged his dumb ass with felony possession, since he had like 73 million counts of burglary on his record.

Greer was convicted by a jury, but that jury was not asked to determine whether Greer would have known if he was a felon, and thus violating felony possession laws at the time. So even though it’s plainly obvious Greer knew he was a fucking felon, the jury wasn’t aware he had to know, and thus wouldn’t have taken it into account when convicting him.

So Greer’s counsel is colorfully trying to invalidate his verdict by arguing had the jury known they needed to prove he knew, they might not have convicted, and we’ll never know because they weren’t told. So the only remedy is a retrial. Fucking creative, I’ll give them that.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS told Greer, while his argument was creative, it was ultimately shit. They ruled that an appellate court reviewing a claim of “plain error” by a lower court, can consider any factors available to them, and not just the trial record in question. As such, they determined that while a plain error may have been made, the error didn’t alter his outcome, if you look at his case on the whole. Ultimately, it was on his dumb ass during the original trial, to present evidence then that he didn’t know he was a felon. Since he didn’t, he’s the one who fucked up here.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-8709