Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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American Semiconductor, Inc. sued to recover damages arising out of Zilog, Inc., contracting with Sage Silicon Solutions, LLC, to perform engineering services for it, where that entity was formed by, and the services were provided by, employees of American Semiconductor, Inc. American Semiconductor, Inc., obtained a jury verdict awarding damages against the engineers and the entity they had formed, but it did not recover against Zilog, Inc. American Semiconductor, Inc., appealed, challenging the dismissal of one of its claims against Zilog, Inc., and seeking a new trial on damages against the engineers and their entity. The Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the district court judgment. View "American Semiconductor v. Sage Silicon Solutions" on Justia Law

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The court vacated the dismissal of The Med's claim of alleged impairment of a hospital lien, concluding that the claim was not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The court explained that to apply Rooker-Feldman in this case to a non-party who had an opportunity to intervene in state-court proceedings would echo the pre- Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp. lower-court rulings that expanded the doctrine too far. Here, the Med did not seek to reverse the order of the Arkansas state court, and acknowledged that it could not seek a judgment directly against the proceeds of the personal injury settlement. The court also concluded that the district court erred by alternatively ruling that Arkansas law applied to the dispute between the parties. Rather, the court applied a choice-of-law analysis and concluded that Tennessee law applied in this case. View "Shelby County Health Care Corp. v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the denial of a motion to intervene in a False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, suit brought by the Government against Sprint because the movant did not meet the requirements in the four-part test set out in Sw. Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg. John C. Prather had filed an earlier qui tam suit against Sprint and others, alleging the companies were defrauding federal and state governments. The Government elected not to intervene and the district court later dismissed Prather's suit for lack of jurisdiction. The Government then filed its own FCA suit against Sprint and the district court denied Prather's motion to intervene based on lack of standing. As a preliminary matter, the court agreed with the Fourth Circuit that the parties' settlement and dismissal of a case after the denial of a motion to intervene does not as a rule moot a putative-intervenor's appeal. Here, the Government's settlement agreement with Sprint and the dismissal of the underlying action did not moot this appeal. On the merits, Prather lacked a significantly protectable interest in this case, the statute's qui tam recovery provisions in section 3730(d) did not apply to relators jurisdictionally barred under section 3730(e)(4); and Prather cannot obtain a monetary bounty under the FCA on his jurisdictionally barred claims. View "United States v. Sprint Communications" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit directed the district court to dismiss, as moot, a lawsuit by a Chicago-area family-owned firm, challenging the “contraception mandate” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, 124 Stat. 119. Ozinga regards certain of the contraceptives covered by the mandate as potential abortifacients, the use of which is proscribed by its owners’ and managers’ religious tenets, and sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb, in 2013. The government had established an accommodation for certain religious employers that provided for alternate means of ensuring employee access to the contraceptive services specified by the mandate without payment or direct involvement by an objecting employer; the accommodation was not then available to for-profit employers like Ozinga. In light of Seventh Circuit precedent, the district court granted Ozinga a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court subsequently decided, in “Hobby Lobby” (2014), that the contraception mandate, as applied to closely-held private firms whose owners objected on religious grounds to contraceptives covered by the mandate, substantially burdened the exercise of religion by those owners and their companies, in view of the fines to which they were subject for noncompliance. The government then extended the accommodation to private employers, including Ozinga, rendering its suit moot. View "Ozinga v. Price" on Justia Law

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Numerous issues of fact precluded the entry of a summary judgment in this case. Debra Foster introduced sufficient rebuttal evidence in support of her position that North American Bus Industries, Inc.'s ("NABI") stated reason for terminating Foster's employment was a pretext so as to create a genuine issue of material fact. NABI had what it referred to as a "no-fault, points-based attendance and absenteeism policy." Foster was injured on the job, diagnosed with a concussion. Foster continued to exhibit symptoms stemming from the diagnosis, and after having missed work due to ad hoc hospitalizations, NABI terminated Foster's employment, citing its absentee policy. The trial court entered an order granting NABI's motion for a summary judgment. The order offered no reasons for the decision, beyond stating that, "[a]fter reviewing all appropriate filings in this case and considering the oral arguments offered by each side at the hearing in this matter, the Court finds there exists no genuine issues of material fact." The Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Foster v. North American Bus Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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The superior court found no inconsistency in the jury verdict, and denied appellant Todeschi’s motion for a new trial. Finding no error in the superior court judgement, the Supreme Court affirmed. Appellee, a mine supervisor, suffered back injuries over the course of his career and required several surgeries. His employer terminated his employment following his request for an accommodation and his renewed pursuit of a three-year-old workers’ compensation claim. The supervisor sued, alleging breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unlawful discrimination based both on a disability and on his assertion of the workers’ compensation claim. The employer defended on grounds that the supervisor could no longer perform the essential functions of his job and had declined an offered accommodation; it also asserted that it was not liable for the workers’ compensation claim. A jury returned a special verdict finding the employer liable for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and awarding the supervisor $215,000 in past lost income, but finding in the employer’s favor on the supervisor’s other claims. The supervisor appealed, arguing the superior court erred when it: (1) denied his motion for a directed verdict on whether he has a disability; (2) denied his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict due to an inconsistency between the jury’s decisions of two of his claims; (3) declined to give a burden-shifting or adverse inference instruction based on alleged spoliation of evidence; and (4) raised a statute of limitations defense by way of a jury instruction. The employer cross-appealed, arguing that the superior court erred in excluding one of its witnesses. View "Todeschi v. Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Sixth Appellate District directed the superior court to reconsider its denial of a motion to dismiss or stay a personal injury lawsuit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The suit was filed by a Canadian citizen and resident of British Columbia against Fox, a California corporation that manufactures bicycle parts. The plaintiff was injured while mountain biking in Canada on a custom-built bicycle that included parts manufactured by Fox. The plaintiff filed another court action in Vancouver, naming other defendants. Fox argued that British Columbia, where the Canadian case was ongoing, was a suitable forum because plaintiff was a British Columbia resident, the accident took place in British Columbia, and all relevant evidence, medical personnel, and percipient witnesses were located there. Fox believed it was at an unfair disadvantage because it had no way to compel the appearance of crucial Canadian witnesses, and that the cases should be tried together to prevent piecemeal litigation. Fox stipulated that it would subject itself to jurisdiction in British Columbia. The superior court applied the “seriously inconvenient forum” standard in denying Fox’s motion. The court of appeal stated “a foreign, noncitizen plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled to less deference.” View "Fox Factory, Inc. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the doctor (Defendant) who twice performed surgery on Plaintiff to repair a fracture, alleging (1) Defendant made mistakes during the initial surgery that resulted in the failure of the fracture to heal, and (2) following the second surgery, the doctor failed to timely identify an infection, which necessitated two additional surgeries. A trial ensued. The judge declared a mistrial because Defendant had mentioned insurance several times in violation of a court order. After a second trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the doctor. The court entered an order granting Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions given Defendant’s “contemptuous conduct” in the first trial and the fact that Defendant compounded his conduct in the second trial. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial but affirmed the imposition of sanctions against Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and vacated the trial court’s order imposing sanctions on Defendant, holding (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial; and (2) the trial court erred in failing to notify Defendant that it was finding him in contempt and whether the contempt was civil or criminal. View "Jefferson v. Eggemeyer" on Justia Law

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The sole issue in this case was whether advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were per se disqualified from testifying on proximate cause in a medical negligence case. The Washington Supreme Court held that ARNPs may be qualified to testify regarding causation in a medical malpractice case if the trial court determines that the ARNP meets the threshold requirements of ER 702. The ability to independently diagnose and prescribe treatment for a particular malady was strong evidence that the expert might be qualified to discuss the cause of that same malady. The Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frausto v. Yakima HMA, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the State Defendants under the Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act (“CBECA”). This appeal arose from Russell Joki’s action challenging the constitutionality of: (1) fees charged to students of Meridian Joint District #21 ; and (2) the statewide system of funding Idaho’s public schools. Joki and sixteen other individuals (collectively referred to as “Joki”) initiated the suit against the State, the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”), all 114 Idaho public school districts, and one charter school. The district court granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Joki argued the CBECA did not apply here, but the Supreme Court disagreed, finding: (1) the CBECA was constitutional, “it is not unreasonable for the legislature to also declare that allegations that the required educational services are not being furnished should first be addressed to the local school districts which have been given the responsibility and authority to provide those services;” and (2) Joki’s claims relating to the fees levied by the school districts fell squarely within the definition of a constitutionally based educational claim because the legislature’s duty was to provide free common schools. View "Joki v. Idaho Bd of Education" on Justia Law