Summaries of Selected Opinions, 0217 COBJ, Vol. 46 No. 2 Pg. 107


Summaries of Selected Opinions

Vol. 46, No. 2 [Page 107]

The Colorado Lawyer

February, 2017

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Summaries of selected Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Opinions appear on a space-available basis. The summaries are prepared for the Colorado Bar Association (CBA) by Katherine Campbell and Frank Gibbard, licensed Colorado attorneys. They are provided as a service by the CBA and are not the official language of this Court. The CBA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the summaries. Full copies of the Tenth Circuit decisions are accessible from the CBA website: (click on "Opinions/Rules/Statutes").

No. 15-6151. Mojsilovic v. State of Oklahoma ex rel. Board of Regents for University of Oklahoma. 11/17/2016. W.D.Okla. Judge McKay. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act—Forced Labor—Sovereign Immunity—Thirteenth Amendment—Commerce Clause.

Plaintiffs are Serbian citizens who were hired to work as scientists by the University of Oklahoma. They claimed that an agent of the University forced them to work for his private company by threatening to have them deported if they refused. As relevant to this appeal, plaintiffs sued the University under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which provides a civil remedy for victims of forced labor. The district court granted the University sovereign immunity and dismissed the claims.

On appeal, plaintiffs argued that the TVPRA was enacted under Congress's Thirteenth Amendment authority to abolish involuntary servitude and that the states surrendered sovereign immunity by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, which precluded the University's entitlement to sovereign immunity. The Tenth Circuit stated that Congress may abrogate the states' immunity only by making its intention unmistakably clear in the statute, an intention not made unmistakably clear in the TVPRA. Moreover, even if the Thirteenth Amendment gave Congress plenary authority to abolish involuntary servitude, the TVPRA was enacted under Congress's Commerce Clause powers. Congress has no authority to abrogate sovereign immunity under the Commerce Clause.

The judgment was affirmed.

No. 15-1444. Ragab v. Howard. 11/21/2016. D.Colo. Judge Kelly. Contract—Conflicting Arbitration Clauses—Meeting of the Minds—Summary Trial.

Plaintiff entered into a business relationship with defendants. The parties had six agreements, each of which had an arbitration clause, but the clauses were conflicting. After plaintiff sued defendants, defendants moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion.

On appeal, defendants argued that the court should compel arbitration based...

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