Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

Deadlines: unless Congress has “clearly stated” that a statutory limita­tion is jurisdictional, the restriction should be treated “as nonjuris­dictional.” Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U. S. 500, 515–516. “Context, including this Court’s interpretations of similar provisions in many years past,” is probative of whether Congress intended a particular provision to rank as jurisdictional. Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U. S. ___, ___. If §1395oo(a)(3) were jurisdictional, the 180-day time limit could not be enlarged by agency or court; 42 U. S. C. §1395oo(a)(3): Section 1395oo(a)(3) hardly reveals a design to preclude any regu­latory extension. The provision instructs that a provider “may obtain a hearing” by filing “a request . . . within 180 days after notice of the intermediary’s final determination.” It “does not speak in jurisdic­tional terms.” Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 U. S. 385, 394. This Court has repeatedly held that filing deadlines ordinarily are not jurisdictional; indeed, they have been described as “quintessen­tial claim-processing rules.” Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U. S. ___, ___; the Secretary’s regulation is a permissible interpretation of §1395oo(a)(3); Congress vested in the Secretary large rulemaking authority to administer Medicare. A court lacks authority to undermine the Secretary’s regime unless her regulation is “arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute.” Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 844. Here, the regula­tion survives inspection under that deferential standard (U.S. S. Ct., 22.01.13, Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center, J. Ginsburg, unanimous).

Délai : à moins que le Congrès fédéral n'ait clairement déclaré qu'un délai légal est juridictionnel, le délai doit être traité comme non juridictionnel. Le contexte, ainsi que l'interprétation par la Cour de céans de dispositions similaires sont relevant s'agissant de la question de savoir si le Congrès avait pour intention de conférer la qualité de juridictionnelle à une disposition particulière. Si une loi promulguée par le Congrès doit être qualifiée de juridictionnelle, un délai qu'elle fixerait ne pourrait pas être prolongé par une administration (dans le cadre d'une disposition d'application) ou un Tribunal. De manière générale, les délais administratifs ou judiciaires ne sont pas juridictionnels. En l'espèce, l'administration pouvait prolonger le délai. Une telle prolongation ne pourrait ainsi être annulée que si elle était arbitraire, capricieuse ou manifestement contraire à la loi. Tel n'est pas le cas ici (administration du régime de couverture des soins de santé Medicare).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lozman v. Riviera Beach

Admiralty: see maritime law: (U.S. S. Ct., 25.06.09, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, J. Thomas).

Admiralty: definition of a vessel: floating home: petitioner Lozman’s floating home was a house-like plywood structure with empty bilge space underneath the main floor to keep it afloat. He had it towed several times before deciding on a marina owned by the city of Riviera Beach (City). After various disputes with Lozman and unsuccessful efforts to evict him from the marina, the City brought a federal admiralty lawsuit in rem against the floating home, seeking a lien for dockage fees and damages for trespass; Dis­trict Court found the floating home to be a “vessel” under the Rules of Construction Act, which defines a “vessel” as including “every de­scription of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” 1 U. S. C. §3, concluded that admiralty jurisdiction was proper, and awarded the City dockage fees and nominal damages. The Eleventh Circuit af­firmed, agreeing that the home was a “vessel” since it was “capable” of movement over water despite petitioner’s subjective intent to re­main moored indefinitely.
Lozman’s floating home is not a §3 “vessel.”
The Eleventh Circuit found the home “capable of being used . . . as a means of transportation on water” because it could float and proceed under tow and its shore connections did not render it incapa­ble of transportation. This interpretation is too broad. The definition of “transportation,” the conveyance of persons or things from one place to another, must be applied in a practical way. Stewart v. Du­tra Constr. Co., 543 U. S. 481, 496. Consequently, a structure does not fall within the scope of the statutory phrase unless a reasonable observer, looking to the home’s physical characteristics and activities, would consider it designed to a practical degree for carrying people or things over water; but for the fact that it floats, nothing about Lozman’s home suggests that it was designed to any practical degree to transport persons or things over water. It had no steering mechanism, had an unraked hull and rectangular bottom 10 inches below the water, and had no capacity to generate or store electricity. It also lacked self­ propulsion, differing significantly from an ordinary houseboat; this view of the statute is consistent with its text, precedent, and relevant purposes. The statute’s language, read naturally, lends itself to that interpretation: the term “contrivance” refers to some­thing “employed in contriving to effect a purpose”; “craft” explains that purpose as “water carriage and transport”; the addition of “wa­ter” to “craft” emphasizes the point; and the words, “used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” drive the point home; further, the purposes of major federal maritime statutes—e.g., admiralty provisions provide special attachment procedures lest a vessel avoid liability by sailing away, recognize that sailors face spe­cial perils at sea, and encourage shipowners to engage in port-related commerce—reveal little reason to classify floating homes as “vessels.” (U.S. S. Ct., 15.01.13, Lozman v. Riviera Beach, J. Breyer).

Admiralty : définition d'un vaisseau : habitation flottante : application de la loi fédérale sur les règles d'interprétation : l'habitation flottante n'est en l'espèce pas un vaisseau au sens de la loi : une structure flottante ne sera pas qualifiée de vaisseau si un observateur raisonnable, regardant les caractéristiques physiques et les activités de la structure flottante, ne peut la considérer comme construite en pratique pour transporter sur l'eau des personnes ou des objets. L'habitation flottante n'est en l'espèce pas un vaisseau, s'agissant d'une structure dépourvue de gouvernail, de capacités électriques et de moyen de propulsion. De plus, le but des principales lois fédérales régissant le droit maritime prévoit des procédures de gage spéciales par crainte de voir le navire prendre la fuite, et reconnaît que les marins font face en mer à des périls spéciaux. Ce droit encourage les propriétaires de navires à entreprendre des activités commerciales liées à des infrastructures portuaires. Ainsi, de manière générale, il n'est guère envisageable de classifier les habitations flottantes dans la catégorie des vaisseaux.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Riverisland Cold Storage v. Fresno-Madera etc. Credit, S190581

Parol evidence rule (in California): the parol evidence rule protects the integrity of written contracts by making their terms the exclusive evidence of the parties’ agreement.  However, an established exception to the rule allows a party to present extrinsic evidence to show that the agreement was tainted by fraud.  Here, we consider the scope of the fraud exception to the parol evidence rule.
As we discuss below, the fraud exception is a longstanding one, and is usually stated in broad terms.  However, in 1935 this court adopted a limitation on the fraud exception:  evidence offered to prove fraud “must tend to establish some independent fact or representation, some fraud in the procurement of the instrument or some breach of confidence concerning its use, and not a promise directly at variance with the promise of the writing.”  (Bank of America etc. Assn. v. Pendergrass (1935) 4 Cal.2d 258, 263 (Pendergrass).)  The Pendergrass rule has been criticized but followed by California courts, for the most part, though some have narrowly construed it.  The Court of Appeal in this case adopted such a narrow construction, deciding that evidence of an alleged oral misrepresentation of the written terms themselves is not barred by the Pendergrass rule.
Plaintiffs, who prevailed below, not only defend the Court of Appeal’s holding but, alternatively, invite us to reconsider Pendergrass.  There are good reasons for doing so.  The Pendergrass limitation finds no support in the language of the statute codifying the parol evidence rule and the exception for evidence of fraud.  It is difficult to apply.  It conflicts with the doctrine of the Restatements, most treatises, and the majority of our sister-state jurisdictions.  Furthermore, while intended to prevent fraud, the rule established in Pendergrass may actually provide a shield for fraudulent conduct.  Finally, Pendergrass departed from established California law at the time it was decided, and neither acknowledged nor justified the abrogation.  We now conclude that Pendergrass was ill-considered, and should be overruled. (Cal. S. Ct., 14.01.13, Riverisland Cold Storage v. Fresno-Madera etc. Credit, S190581).

Parol evidence rule (en droit californien) : cette règle protège l'intégrité des contrats écrits en ce sens que leur contenu constitue l'unique moyen de preuve portant sur l'accord des parties. Une exception bien établie à cette règle permet à une partie de présenter des preuves extrinsèques pour démontrer que le contrat est entaché de fraude. Cette exception est établie depuis longtemps et elle est d'application large. Les limites que la cour avait placées à son application dans une jurisprudence de 1935, la décision Pendergrass, l'ont été à tort. Cette jurisprudence de 1935 est dès lors renversée. La présente décision constitue un revirement de jurisprudence. Les limitations introduites par Pendergrass ne trouvent aucun support dans le texte de la loi codifiant la « parol evidence rule » et codifiant l’exception pour preuve d’une fraude. En outre, Pendergrass s’est révélée difficile à appliquer. Par ailleurs, cette jurisprudence se trouve en conflit avec la doctrine des Restatements, avec la plupart des traités, et avec la majorité des Tribunaux des autres états.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Smith v. U.S.

Criminal procedure: defense: burden of proof: here conspiracy: a defendant bears the burden of proving a defense of withdrawal; allocating to the defendant the burden of proving withdrawal does not violate the Due Process Clause. Unless an affirmative de­fense negates an element of the crime, the Government has no consti­tutional duty to overcome the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. See Dixon v. United States, 548 U. S. 1, 6. Withdrawal does not ne­gate an element of the conspiracy crimes charged here, but instead presupposes that the defendant committed the offense. Withdrawal terminates a defendant’s liability for his co-conspirators’ postwith­drawal acts, but he remains guilty of conspiracy; although Congress may assign the Government the burden of proving the nonexistence of withdrawal, it did not do so here; common-law rule that affirmative defenses are for the defendant to prove. Dixon, supra, at 13–14. The analysis does not change when withdrawal is the basis for a statute-of-­limitations defense. In that circumstance, the Government need only prove that the conspiracy continued past the statute-of-limitations period. A conspiracy continues until it is terminated or, as to a par­ticular defendant, until that defendant withdraws. And the burden of establishing withdrawal rests upon the defendant (U.S. S. Ct., 09.01.13, Smith v. U.S., J. Scalia, unanimous).

Procédure pénale : moyen de défense : fardeau de la preuve : en l'espèce, conspiration : un accusé doit prouver qu'il s'est retiré de la conspiration. A moins qu'un moyen de défense revienne à nier l'un des éléments constitutifs de l'infraction, l'accusation n'est pas soumise à une obligation constitutionnelle de ne pouvoir renverser le moyen de défense qu'à l'aide d'arguments démontrés au-delà d'un doute raisonnable. Le législateur fédéral peut imposer à l'accusation le fardeau de prouver l'inexistence du retrait de la conspiration ; il ne l'a pas fait en l'espèce. Cette analyse s'applique également lorsqu’est en question la notion de prescription : l'accusation doit uniquement prouver que la conspiration s'est poursuivie au-delà de la date de prescription. Une conspiration continue jusqu'à ce qu'elle se termine ou jusqu'à ce que l'accusé se retire de dite conspiration. Le fardeau de l'établissement du retrait incombe à l'accusé.

Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc.

Mootness: this case is moot; a case becomes moot—and therefore no longer a “Case” or “Con­troversy” for Article III purposes—“when the issues presented are no longer ‘live’ or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome.” Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U. S. 478, 481. A defendant cannot, however, automatically moot a case simply by ending its unlawful conduct once sued. City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc., 455 U. S. 283, 289. Instead, “a defendant claiming that its voluntary compliance moots a case bears the formidable burden of showing that it is absolutely clear the allegedly wrongful behavior could not rea­sonably be expected to recur.” Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc., 528 U. S. 167, 190; application of the voluntary cessation doctrine shows that this case is moot; the breadth of the covenant suffices to meet the burden im­posed by the doctrine. The covenant is unconditional and irrevocable. It prohibits Nike from filing suit or making any claim or demand; protects both Already and Already’s distributors and customers; and covers not just current or previous designs, but also colorable imita­tions. Once Nike demonstrated that the covenant encompasses all of Already’s allegedly unlawful conduct, it became incumbent on Al­ready to indicate that it engages in or has sufficiently concrete plans to engage in activities that would arguably infringe Nike’s trademark yet not be covered by the covenant. But Already failed to do so in the courts below or in this Court. The case is thus moot because the chal­lenged conduct cannot reasonably be expected to recur. Cardinal Chemical Co. v. Morton Int’l, Inc., 508 U. S. 83, and Altvater v. Free­man, 319 U. S. 359, distinguished (U.S. S. Ct., 09.01.13, Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc., C.J. Roberts, unanimous).

Instance : absence d’instance (le cas d’espèce est éteint) : in casu, le cas est éteint. Un litige se périme, et cesse de pouvoir être qualifié de cas ou de controverse au sens de l'Art. III de la Constitution fédérale, lorsque les questions querellées ne le sont plus, ou lorsque les parties n'ont pas d'intérêt juridique quant au résultat du procès. Le défendeur ne peut cependant rendre un cas automatiquement moot simplement en cessant après ouverture d'action la conduite qui lui est reprochée. Tout au contraire, un défendeur qui soutient que son acquiescement aux prétentions adverses implique que son cas soit moot doit prouver qu'il est absolument clair que le comportement qui lui est reproché est insusceptible de se reproduire. En l'espèce, une des parties, par convention inconditionnelle et irrévocable, s'est engagée à ne pas procéder en justice, ni contre son adverse partie, ni contre ses clients et fournisseurs. L'engagement porte de manière complète sur l'objet du procès. Le comportement litigieux ne peut raisonnablement pas se reproduire.