Court Opinions- Oct 15, 2018

Vreeland v. Zupart

Delmart Vreeland II sought relief in federal district court alleging that the state trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and his 14th Amendment right to due process. 

The district court rejected both claims and declined to issue a certificate of appealability.

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He later obtained a certificate of appealability to appeal the district court’s resolution of his Sixth Amendment claim. 

He argued on appeal that the district court erred in denying him relief on that claim. He also asked the court for a certificate of appealability so he could appeal the district court’s denial of his due-process claim. 

The appellate court agreed with the district court that Vreeland failed to show that the state appellate court’s decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law” or “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.”

The 10th Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s order to the extent it denied Vreeland relief on his Sixth Amendment claim. And because it concluded that reasonable jurists wouldn’t find the district court’s resolution of Vreeland’s due-process claim debatable or wrong, it denied his request for a certificate of appealability on that claim and dismissed that portion of his appeal.

Exby-Stolley v. Weld County Board of Commissioners

Plaintiff Laurie Exby-Stolley sued her former employer, the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, Colorado, under the Americans with Disabilities Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

She alleged that the county had failed to accommodate her disability, resulting in the loss of her job. The jury returned a verdict for the county. 

She appealed, claiming three errors in her trial: the district court improperly instructed the jury that she needed to prove she had suffered an adverse employment action; the district court refused to instruct the jury on a claim of constructive discharge or allow her to argue constructive discharge in closing argument; and the district court misallocated the burden of proof in its undue-hardship jury instruction.

The appellate court affirmed. First, an adverse employment action — that is, a materially adverse decision regarding “application procedures, … hiring, advancement, … discharge, … compensation, … training [or] other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment,” — is an element of all discrimination claims under the ADA, including those based on the failure to accommodate a disability. Second, the plaintiff’s request for a constructive-discharge instruction was untimely. 

And finally, any error in the undue-hardship instruction was harmless because the jury instruction was irrelevant to the ground on which the jury rejected her claim, the panel held.

Dish Network v. Ghosh

Sujit Ghosh, appearing pro se, appealed the district court’s judgment granting DISH Network’s amended motion to confirm an arbitration award on his personal guaranty of defendant Open Orbit Corporation’s performance under an agreement with DISH, even though he was not a party to the arbitration. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Roselle v. Berger & Montague

Three attorney-employees of the now-defunct law firm Waite Schneider Bayless & Chesley seek personal compensation for legal services they rendered during the 27-year class action litigation in Cook v. Rockwell International Corp. Louise Roselle, Paul De Marco, and Jean Geoppinger McCoy objected to lead class counsel’s allocation of the common fund attorneys’ fee award because, among other things, they believed they should have received “personal bonuses” separate and apart from he fees allocated for their hourly work to WSBC. 

The district court overruled the WSBC Attorneys’ objections and approved the fee allocation. 

The WSBC Attorneys asked the 10th Circuit court to reverse that approval and to remand with instructions to grant them a portion of the common fund consistent with their contribution. 

The court concluded that the WSBC attorneys lacked standing to challenge the fee allocation, dismissed their appeal and vacated the portions of the district court’s orders addressing their objections 

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