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Decisions In Immigration, Contract, Criminal, Bankruptcy & Civil Rights Matters

By FindLaw Staff on September 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Vanchurina v. Holder, 10-1309, concerned a couple's petition for review of a final order of removal of the BIA.  In denying the petition, the court held that substantial evidence supports the BIA's finding that the nature and context of the petitioners' claim - one that entails criminal extortion and threats - did not establish grounds for asylum.  Also, substantial evidence supports the finding that the wife was not subjected to extortion on account of a protected ground.


US v. Santana-Perez, 09-1101, concerned a challenge to defendants' convictions for violating 18 U.S.C. section 2237(a)(1), which makes it a crime for the master, operator, or person in charge of vessel of the United States, or a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly fail to obey an order by an authorize Federal law enforcement officer to heave to that vessel.  The court affirmed the convictions where: 1) district court did not err in denying a motion for acquittal as there was sufficient evidence that the defendants heard and understood the Coast Guard's order to heave-to; 2) defendant's challenge to the district court's ruling that evidence relating to a prior conviction could be admitted to impeach defendant if he testified at trial is rejected; 3) the government did not improperly vouch for its own witnesses during closing argument; 4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give a missing evidence instruction; and 5) the district court did not engage in improper questioning during defendant's testimony.

U.S. ex rel. Poteet v. Bahler Med., Inc., 09-1728, involved a plaintiff's qui tam action against 120 spine surgeons and eighteen medical device distributors claiming that defendants defrauded the federal government by unlawfully promoting the medical products of plaintiff's former employer and its parent company.  In affirming the dismissal of the action, the court held that the district court did not err in holding that the False Claims Act's (FCA) public disclosure provision barred her claims against the doctor defendants.  Also, as used in the statute, "hearing" is synonymous with "proceeding," and because a disclosure in a civil complaint is a disclosure in a civil proceeding, the disclosures emanate from a statutorily listed source.  The court also held that plaintiff's qui tam action is "based upon" the prior disclosures of fraud, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the action with prejudice, nor in denying plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint.

Rafael Rodriguez Barril, Inc. v. Conbraco Indus., Inc., 09-2163, concerned a contract dispute, where the district court concluded that a forum selection clause in the contract was not displaced by Puerto Rico's Sales Representatives Act of 1990, in dismissing the suit.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the substantive issues as to choice of law, as well as the merits of the contract termination controversy, are to be resolved in the forum chosen by the parties.  Here, the forum selection clause in the agreement fixes North Carolina, and the forum selection clause is not forbidden by Law 21.

In re: Paolo, 09-2083, concerned a debtor's appeal of a district court's decision to abstain from deciding a tax dispute with the government as an adjunct to the debtor's personal bankruptcy proceeding.  The court dismissed the appeal as barred by section 1334(d) .

Alvarado-Santos v. Dep't of Health of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 08-2027, involved a plaintiff's suit against her former employer, claiming national origin and gender discrimination under Title VII.  In reversing the jury's verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the court held that defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because, based on the evidence presented at trial, no reasonable jury could find that the nonrenewal of plaintiff's contract was based on her gender and/or national origin.

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