Supreme Court hears arguments on jurisdiction, labor law

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Monday in two cases. In Walden v. Fiore [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on two questions of venue and jurisdiction [Cornell LII backgrounders]. Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson were traveling to Nevada. They were searched in a layover in Atlanta, Georgia, where their money was seized as evidence of drug transactions. The money was actually legal gambling winnings, but Fiore and Gipson sued the Georgia law enforcement agent in Nevada. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion] that there was personal jurisdiction in the case. Counsel for the petitioner, Anthony Walden, argued that the Ninth Circuit erred:

First, as to personal jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit held that it was sufficient that respondents have connections to Nevada, and that Officer Walden allegedly targeted his conduct at them, knowing of their contacts with Nevada. That plaintiff-centered approach is inconsistent with this Court's precedence which emphasize that the defendant himself must have meaningful contacts with the forum State. Second, as to venue, the Ninth Circuit relied on the fact that the respondents felt in Nevada the effects of Officer Walden's alleged conduct in Georgia. That similarly Plaintiff-centered approach is in conflict with the text of the venue statute, 1391(b)(2) which focuses on where the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, not where the impact of those events or omissions may be felt.
Counsel for the US government argued as amicus curiae on behalf of petitioner. Counsel for the respondents urged the court to uphold the Ninth Circuit's decision.

In Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp. [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on a limited question: What constitutes "changing clothes" within the meaning of Section 203(o) [text] of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) [materials]? The law, under the definition for "hours worked," states that employers should "exclude any time spent in changing clothes." A class action of 800 employees from US Steel argue that they should be compensated for the time they spend changing in and out of safety equipment, because that is not what was intended by "clothes" under the act. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled [opinion] that changing into work clothes is not excluded by the act. Counsel for the petitioners agreed with the government that "not everything an individual wears is clothes," but disagreed as to the standard for determining what is clothes. Counsel for the US government argued on behalf of respondent, who stated that "the term 'clothes' as used in the statute was intended to encompass the work outfit industrial workers were required to change into and out of to be ready for work."

 

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