Ames Semi-Final Round
The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. The students participating in the Semi-Final Round started the competition in fall of this year, and rose to the final four spots through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy.
Semi-Final Round oral arguments will be held in the Ames Courtroom at 6:15pm on March 8th and 9th. Registration to view a livestream of the oral arguments can be found here. Teams competing in the Semi-Final Round are below, as well as the case record and the briefs submitted for the Semi-Final Round.
March 8 – Chen v. Harkness Sporting Goods, Inc. (March 8, 6:15pm)
It’s Article III standing day at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ames Circuit! The plaintiffs in this case allege violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act’s (FACTA) truncation requirement, which seeks to prevent identity theft by prohibiting merchants who accept credit and debit cards from printing too much of a customer’s card information on receipts. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681c(g)(1). Here, the plaintiffs accuse Harkness Sporting Goods of printing all sixteen digits of credit card numbers on receipts, and seek statutory damages on behalf of a putative class of Harkness customers. Harkness won in the district court that the case must be dismissed for lack of Article III jurisdiction. The plaintiffs’ appeal presents two questions.
- First, unbeknownst to her lawyers, plaintiff Mary Chen died before the complaint was filed, and so there was no plaintiff with Article III standing at the commencement of the case. When counsel learned of the issue, she found another plaintiff, Krishna Reddy, who moved to be substituted as the named plaintiff. The first question on appeal is whether, when the named plaintiff lacks Article III standing, a court can cure the defect by allowing a substitute plaintiff who has standing. Some federal courts say “yes,” while others say that the suit is a “nullity” that must be dismissed without prejudice.
- Second, whether the alleged violation of FACTA constitutes an Article III injury in fact. In a case arising under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that a mere statutory violation, standing alone, cannot create Article III standing; there must be some additional concrete harm to the plaintiff. See TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190, 2204-05 (2021). Federal courts are divided over whether and when violations of FACTA’s truncation requirement result in concrete harm. Some hold that the mere printing of extra credit card numbers is not enough. Others hold that a high enough risk of identity theft (e.g., when a receipt includes all the digits and the expiration date) is sufficient.
Hon. Michael Garcia, New York Court of Appeals
Hon. Nancy Gertner (Ret.), U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Hon. Patti Saris, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The Surjit Singh Memorial Team (Appellant)
Dylan Hosmer-Quint *
Annalise Wagner *
The Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Team (Appellee)
Sami Ilagan *
Niko Paladino *
* * *
Ames Homebuilder Ass’n v. Ames Farm Bureau (March 9, 6:15pm)
This case turns on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. The plaintiff in this case challenges the Department of Energy’s interpretation of a provision of the Boden Environmental Act, which caps the total energy a light fixture may consume. Since the Department of Energy issued its interpretative rule, President Boden has left office and has been replaced by President Trusk, who campaigned on rescinding Boden-era regulations and cast doubt on the legality of the Department of Energy’s interpretation. Although the Department of Energy is ostensibly defending its rule, the Ames Farm Bureau—an organization representing farmers in support of environmental regulation—has sought to intervene as of right under FRCP 24(a) in defense of the Department’s rule, fearing that under the new administration the Department will offer a less-than vigorous defense of its interpretation.
The district court denied the Farm Bureau’s motion to intervene by applying a presumption that the interests of a private party seeking to intervene on the same side as the government are already adequately represented by the government. By doing so, the district court took a position on a deep split among the federal circuit courts: Some circuits apply a presumption of adequate representation in this circumstance; others reject that any presumption applies. The Farm Bureau’s appeal from that ruling presents three questions:
- Whether a district court’s determination of adequate representation in ruling on a motion to intervene as of right is reviewed de novo or for abuse of discretion;
- Whether, under FRCP 24, a movant who seeks to intervene on the same side as the government must overcome a presumption of adequate representation; and
- Whether the Farm Bureau is entitled to intervene as of right in this litigation.
Hon. Dalila Argaez Wendlandt, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Hon. Thomas Lee, Utah Supreme Court
Hon. Victor Bolden, U.S. District Court of the District of Connecticut
The Robert Cover Memorial Team (Appellant)
Matthew Besman *
Steven Becker *
The Lani Guinier Memorial Team (Appellee)
Samantha Neal *
Sierra Polston *
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