Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Raghvendra “Raj” Singh, representing himself, appealed a default judgment entered in favor of John Rios, Jr., and against Singh and other defendants and the orders denying Singh’s motions to set aside the default. Singh contended on appeal: (1) the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction because Rios did not properly serve the summons and complaint; (2) default was improperly entered because defendants filed an answer or reply; (3) the trial court erred in denying him relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473.5; (4) the trial court erred in awarding Rios damages where the complaint did not state the amount of damages; (5) Rios’s counsel should have disclosed to Singh during their communications that Rios had filed documents in support of a request for entry of judgment; and (6) there were a number of defenses to the complaint. After review, the Court of Appeal found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court. View "Rios v. Singh" on Justia Law

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A man’s condominium unit had the only access to a crawl space containing water pipes that served several other units. The condominium association’s president and a maintenance man entered the unit twice, with the owner’s permission, to address water-related maintenance issues in the crawl space, where they identified what they thought were serious problems of leaking and mold. But the unit owner denied their further requests for access to deal with these problems. The association brought suit against the unit owner, alleging that he had caused damage by concealing the leaking in the crawl space and making his own negligent repairs; it also asked for a declaratory judgment concerning its right of entry. The superior court, after an evidentiary hearing, granted a preliminary injunction allowing further inspections. After those inspections revealed that repairs were not needed after all, the association dropped its negligence claim. But it moved for summary judgment on its request for declaratory relief, which the superior court granted, deciding that the association’s declaration allowed reasonable entry for purposes of inspection and repair. The unit owner appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court did not abuse its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction or err in granting summary judgment on the claim for declaratory relief. Nor did the Court find any abuse of discretion in the superior court’s procedural rulings or its award of attorney’s fees to the association. View "Randle v. Bay Watch Condominium Association" on Justia Law

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The superior court dismissed a subcontractor’s claims against the contractor because a venue provision in the subcontract required that litigation be conducted in another state. The superior court also dismissed the subcontractor’s unjust enrichment claim against the project owner for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The subcontractor appealed the dismissals; finding no reversible error, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s decisions. View "Resqsoft, Inc. v. Protech Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Daredevil filed suit against ZTE for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. After the case went to arbitration in Florida, Daredevil sought to add ZTE Corp., the parent company of ZTE USA, to its arbitration claims. The arbitrator rejected the request to add ZTE Corp., ruling that Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. were outside the scope of arbitration. Daredevil then filed this suit against ZTE Corp., alleging breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with contract. The arbitrator ultimately denied each of Daredevil's claims against ZTE USA. The arbitration award was confirmed by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Daredevil subsequently reopened this case in the Eastern District of Missouri against ZTE Corp.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to apply Florida law, holding that Daredevil's claims met the requirements for claim preclusion and were therefore barred. The court explained that Daredevil's current and previous claims share identity of the parties and identity of the cause of action, and Daredevil does not dispute that Florida's other two requirements are satisfied. In this case, privity exists between ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA where ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA are parent and subsidiary. Furthermore, Daredevil's current claims are so closely related to its arbitration claims and thus the identity-of-cause-of-action requirement has been met. Accordingly, Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. are barred by the decision in its prior arbitration against ZTE USA. View "Daredevil, Inc. v. ZTE Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Singapore residents and citizens who invested in a now-defunct North Dakota company called North Dakota Developments, LLC (NDD), filed suit seeking damages from defendant for his role in convincing plaintiffs to buy fraudulent, unregistered securities.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that the district court did not err in determining that it had personal jurisdiction over defendant because his conduct and connection with North Dakota were such that he should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court there. The court also agreed with the district court that venue was proper where plaintiffs' claims arose from the sale or solicitation of unregistered, fraudulent North Dakota securities related to real property located in North Dakota. The court declined to consider the issue of forum non conveniens because defendant failed to raise the claim in the district court. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly granted summary judgment where defendant decided to stop participating in the district court litigation, including not responding to the motion for summary judgment. View "Panircelvan Kaliannan v. Ee Hoong Liang" on Justia Law

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Defendants own a building on a lot at 17 Main Street in Bristol, Vermont. They have fenced in a small parcel behind their building, which they use to store materials in service of their building. Plaintiff claims to own a driveway that runs to the rear of defendants’ building, which defendants use for deliveries, as well as a parking lot behind defendants’ building where the small fenced-in parcel is located. Plaintiff initially sued defendants in 2014, claiming title to the “driveway along the side of defendants’ commercial building” and the small parcel. Defendants counterclaimed, arguing that they had “a right to use the driveway and land behind their building for parking, access, delivery, storage, and other related commercial purposes” by virtue of a prescriptive easement for the driveway and through adverse possession with respect to the small parcel. In May 2018, plaintiff filed the complaint at issue here. He claimed to own the property south of defendants’ property line, and he argued that defendants were trespassing by storing items on his land. Plaintiff asserted that defendants knew that he wanted the items removed and, by refusing to do so, they were depriving him of the possession and use of his property. Plaintiff also asserted that defendants benefited from his ownership and maintenance of the driveway and they were required by 19 V.S.A. 2702 to contribute rateably to his maintenance costs. Finally, plaintiff sought punitive damages based on his allegation that defendants were acting in bad faith. When the trial court entered judgment in favor of defendants, plaintiff appealed, raising numerous arguments. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded the dismissal of plaintiff's claim for contribution under 19 V.S.A. 2702, and affirmed the remainder of the trial court's decision. View "Moyers v. Poon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for rape, criminal threat, sexual battery, and battery, holding that, even if Defendant was correct that rape is essentially a strict liability crime, he failed to establish that this would violate his due process rights.Before the Supreme Court, Defendant argued that the Kansas rape statute - and by extension the jury instruction mirroring the statute - effectively rendered rape a strict liability crime. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, even assuming Defendant was correct that Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5503(e) effectively rendered rape a strict liability crime in Kansas, he failed to show that this was a violation of his right to due process or outside the legislature's authority to draft criminal laws. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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Martin Burdette appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of Auburn-Opelika Investments, LLC ("AOI"), regarding a dispute involving a promissory note entered into by the parties. AOI cross-appealed the trial court's judgment denying its request for relief under the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act. In 2004, Martin Burdette and Susan Burdette, a married couple, formed AOI, with each owning 50% of the company. After its formation, AOI obtained a bank loan to purchase certain commercial property. In 2012, Martin and Susan sold property that they owned in Florida for $432,855. Martin and Susan agreed to use the proceeds from that sale, along with other funds, to make a loan to AOI so that it could pay off the bank loan. In May 2012, AOI executed a promissory note ("the 2012 note"). In 2014, Martin and Susan divorced. Neither the 2012 note nor ownership of AOI was addressed in the divorce proceedings. In 2016, Martin and Susan had a disagreement regarding the management and operation of AOI, and Martin sued Susan. In June 2017, as part of those proceedings, Martin and Susan entered into a mediated settlement agreement wherein Susan agreed to pay Martin in exchange for sole ownership of AOI ("the 2017 agreement"). That note was secured by a mortgage on the property owned by AOI. Susan later sold the property, and she paid the balance due on the note to Martin in full. In August 2019, Martin sued AOI, asserting claims of breach of contract and unjust enrichment, alleging AOI had failed to pay Martin the amount owed under the 2012 note. AOI argued Martin commenced the action against it without substantial justification because Martin was "fully aware that he has been paid in full for his interest in the 2012 Promissory Note and despite that fact, [he] initiated the groundless underlying lawsuit." The Alabama Supreme Court found that although the trial court found in favor of AOI on the substantive claims Martin asserted in his complaint, the trial court could have determined the issues of fact surrounding Martin's claim were reasonably in conflict. Accordingly, the trial court's factual determination that Martin's action was not frivolous or groundless in fact was supported by the evidence. Moreover, the Supreme Court's review of the record, lead it to conclude that Martin's claims against AOI were not groundless in law. Accordingly, the trial court's decision to not award attorney fees and costs to AOI under the ALAA was affirmed. View "Auburn-Opelika Investments, LLC v. Burdette" on Justia Law

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Nicholas Jay appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of United Services Automobile Association ("USAA") on his claim against USAA seeking uninsured-motorist ("UM") benefits. Nicholas was injured in an automobile accident when riding as a passenger in Ryen Gorman's automobile. Gorman did not have automobile insurance. Nicholas received $50,000 in UM benefits through a policy he had with Nationwide Insurance Company. Thereafter, Nicholas commenced an action against USAA, seeking UM benefits pursuant to a USAA policy owned by his father-in-law, George Brewer, and under which Nicholas's wife, Michelle Jay, had automobile-insurance coverage. Because Nicholas was not a "covered person" under the USAA policy, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Jay v. United Services Automobile Association" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court concluding that service on WWLC Investment, LP by Sorab Miraki was not defective, holding that WWLC met its burden to prove lack of proper service.After WWLC had Miraki evicted, Miraki sued for breach of lease, fraud, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code ch. 17. Miraki accomplished substituted service by attaching a copy of the petition and citation to the front door of the home of an WWLC employee. When WWLC did not answer, Miraki took a default judgment against it. The court of appeals concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that service on WWLC was not defective. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that WWLC demonstrated that it was not properly served. View "WWLC Investment, LP v. Miraki" on Justia Law