Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff filed claims for discrimination and retaliation against her former employer, defendant and real party in interest Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre West, LLC. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to stay litigation and compel the parties to proceed in arbitration. When Defendant failed to pay its arbitration fees by a statutory deadline, Plaintiff moved the trial court to lift the stay of litigation and allow her to proceed in court. The trial court denied the motion, and Plaintiff filed the instant petition for a writ of mandate directing the trial court to reverse that denial.   The Second Appellate District granted the petition for writ of mandate. The court directed g the trial court to (1) vacate its order denying Plaintiff’s motion under Code of Civil Procedure sections 1281.97 and 1281.99; (2) enter an order lifting the stay of litigation and allowing Plaintiff to bring her claims in court; and (3) conduct further proceedings on Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions under section 1281.99.   The court agreed with Plaintiff that, based on the plain language as well as the legislative history of section 1281.97, the Legislature intended courts to apply the statute’s payment deadline strictly. Thus, under section 1281.97, subdivision (a)(1), Defendant was in material breach of the arbitration agreement even though, as the trial court found, the delay in payment was inadvertent, brief, and did not prejudice Plaintiff. Further, the court rejected Defendant’s argument that the FAA preempts section 1281.97. View "Espinoza v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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After appellant Paul Laubach (father), and the appellee Maria Laubach (mother) divorced, the mother sought approval from the trial court to move across the state with their children. The father objected. Among the numerous orders issued by the trial court in this case was a minute order filed April 17, 2018. After the father's appeal culminated in two consolidated cases, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals dismissed a portion of the appeals when it held that the April 17, 2018, minute order was an appealable order which was appealed out of time. Consequently, it dismissed the portion of the father's appeals which transpired from that order. The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari for the limited purpose of addressing whether written instruments titled "court minute," "minute order," "minute," or "summary order," could ever serve as an appealable order, so as to trigger the time to appeal. To this, the Court held that they did not. Consequently, the Supreme Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals opinion, and remanded this case to the Court of Civil Appeals for further proceedings. View "Laubach v. Laubach" on Justia Law

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Rodriguez sued Parivar under California’s labor laws, alleging that Parivar misclassified her as an exempt employee, while she “spent the majority of her time performing the exact same duties as non-exempt employees” at Parivar's restaurant. As an affirmative defense, Parivar argued that under wage order 5-2001’s “executive exemption” Rodriguez was exempt from overtime, meal period, and rest period requirements. A jury rejected Parivar’s executive exemption defense; finding, by a 9-3 vote, Parivar failed to prove that, as the special verdict question put it, “Rodriguez performed exempt duties more than half of the time.” The jury found that Rodriguez was owed $26,786.54 in overtime pay. The court awarded $11,570.21 in prejudgment interest and $932,842.63 in attorney fees and litigation costs.The court of appeal reversed. The narrow framing of the special verdict question effectively barred Parivar from proving its executive exemption defense, allowing the jury to find liability without addressing Parivar’s realistic expectations for how Rodriguez should have allocated her time. Given the 9-3 vote that Parivar did not prove Rodriguez spent more than half of her time performing exempt duties and given the heavily-contested question of whether she spent that time performing duties that meet the test of the executive exemption, it is reasonably probable that the jury would have reached a result more favorable to Parivar absent the special verdict error. View "Rodriguez v. Parivar, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants were California residents who served in various capacities as officers or directors of JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”), an e-cigarette manufacturer, or its predecessor companies. The State of Colorado filed an amended complaint alleging that defendants in their individual capacities, along with JUUL as a corporation, violated several provisions of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”) and were subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. Defendants contended the district court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was improper because they lacked the requisite minimum contacts with Colorado and the exercise of personal jurisdiction over them was unreasonable under the circumstances. JUUL did not argue that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that because: (1) the district court based its determination on allegations directed against JUUL and the group of defendants as a whole, rather than on an individualized assessment of each defendant’s actions; and (2) the State did not allege sufficient facts to establish either that defendants were primary participants in wrongful conduct that they purposefully directed at Colorado, or that the injuries alleged in the amended complaint arose out of or related to defendants’ Colorado-directed activities, the district court erred in finding that the State had made a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction in this matter. View "In re State of Colorado v. Juul Labs, Inc." on Justia Law

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Christopher Luck, as legal guardian and conservator for Ethel Luck, appealed a district court’s dismissal of Ethel’s negligence claim against Sarah Rohel for injuries Ethel sustained in a car accident. On March 13, 2019, the last day before the applicable statute of limitations ran, Amy Clemmons, Ethel’s daughter, signed and filed a pro se Complaint against Rohel on Ethel’s behalf, alleging a single count of negligence. Ethel did not sign the Complaint. The same day, Ethel signed a durable power of attorney designating Clemmons as her attorney-in-fact. Clemmons was a licensed Washington attorney, who, at the time the Complaint was filed, was not licensed to practice law in Idaho. A little over a month later, Clemmons filed a pro se Amended Complaint, which continued to identify the same plaintiff, “AMY CLEMMONS, as Guardian for ETHEL LUCK.” Both Ethel and Clemmons signed the Amended Complaint. Rohel moved to strike the first complaint, arguing Clemmons, who was not licensed to practice law in Idaho, signed the Complaint. Rohel also moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing Clemmons had not been appointed as Ethel’s guardian, was not admitted to the Idaho State Bar and therefore, lacked authority to file the Complaint on Ethel’s behalf. Clemmons subsequently retained an attorney, who filed a notice of appearance on April 23, 2019. The notice of appearance failed to specify whether counsel appeared on behalf of Clemmons, Ethel or both. Counsel argued that Idaho law allowed Clemmons to act as a general guardian and as such, Clemmons was the real party in interest and could initiate a lawsuit pro se, on behalf of Ethel. Additionally, counsel argued that any deficiencies in the Complaint had been cured pursuant to Rule 11 because Ethel signed the Amended Complaint. The district court granted both of Rohel's motions, and Clemmons appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, finding it erred in applying the rule of nullity to strike Clemmons' Complaint. The Supreme Court determined the caselaw the trial court used as grounds for its judgment was no longer applicable in light of subsequent amendments to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 11. In light of this holding, the Supreme Court remanded this matter to allow the district court to exercise its discretion and determine whether to allow Plaintiff Luck to cure the improper signature. View "Luck v. Rohel" on Justia Law

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ICE has decided to rely almost exclusively on privately owned and operated facilities in California. Two such facilities are run by appellant The Geo Group, Inc. AB 32 would override the federal government’s decision, pursuant to discretion conferred by Congress, to use private contractors to run its immigration detention facilities.The Ninth Circuit en banc court vacated the district court’s denial of the United States and The Geo Group, Inc.’s motion for preliminary injunctive relief, and held that California enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 32, which states that a “person shall not operate a private detention facility within the state,” would give California a virtual power of review over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s detention decisions, in violation of the Supremacy Clause.The en banc court held that whether analyzed under intergovernmental immunity or preemption, California cannot exert this level of control over the federal government’s detention operations. The en banc court remanded for further proceedings. The en banc court held that AB 32 would breach the core promise of the Supremacy Clause. To comply with California law, ICE would have to cease its ongoing immigration detention operations in California and adopt an entirely new approach in the state. This foundational limit on state power cannot be squared with the dramatic changes that AB 32 would require ICE to make. The en banc court held that appellants are likely to prevail on their claim that AB 32 violates the Supremacy Clause as to ICE-contracted facilities. View "THE GEO GROUP, INC., ET AL V. GAVIN NEWSOM, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Don and Greg were the only shareholders of their family company, XPAC, a closely held corporation. Greg held all the nonvoting shares (99%). Don held the voting shares (1%). Under the terms of Don’s divorce from Greg’s late mother, Don could only transfer his voting shares to Greg. Don sought to increase his monthly salary by $10,000. Greg filed a motion in Illinois state court seeking a constructive trust over Don’s shares and an injunction preventing Don from voting his shares in a way that would adversely affect XPAC, including by increasing his salary. Greg filed his motion in the 2002 state court case involving Don’s divorce from Greg’s mother. Don removed the case to federal court Greg did not object. The parties were diverse, with Don domiciled in Florida and Greg in Iowa, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. The district court remanded the case to the state court because removal came more than a year after the initial divorce lawsuit, 28 U.S.C. 1446(c)(1).Don appealed. In April 2022—in the middle of the Seventh Circuit briefing schedule —Don died. The Seventh Circuit dismissed the case as moot. A constructive trust over Don’s voting shares or an injunction to stop Don from voting his shares in a way that would adversely affect XPAC would be meaningless. View "Ruggles v. Ruggles" on Justia Law

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Brandon and Brandi Kelly married on April 20, 2015, and had a child on June 9, 2015. Brandon filed for divorce on May 30, 2017. This appeal primarily concerned their disputes regarding the division of property and attorney fees. Prior to marriage, Brandon and Brandi entered into a prenuptial agreement (“the PNA”) seeking to establish their rights to various items of property. Brandi and Brandon were represented by separate counsel during the negotiation and execution of the PNA. Before signing the PNA, Brandi reviewed Brandon’s 2014 tax return. Brandi’s attorney requested changes to the PNA’s definitions of separate and community property, which were made. Brandi expressly waived her right to review other financial documentation concerning Brandon’s assets and signed the PNA. During the pendency of the divorce action, and relevant to this appeal, Brandon filed four motions for partial summary judgment and Brandi filed two motions for partial summary judgment, each of which required interpretation of various provisions of the PNA. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part, certain district court decisions with respect to the parties' PNA. The Supreme Court found the district court erred (1) in affirming the magistrate court’s decision that the PNA barred Brandi from requesting attorney fees for child custody, visitation and support matters; (2) in affirming the magistrate court’s summary judgment decision concluding that Brandon’s payments from EIRMC were his separate property; and (3) when it failed to vacate the award of attorney fees to Brandon for his contempt motions, but did not err when it affirmed the magistrate court’s other deductions from Brandi’s separate property award. View "Kelly v. Kelly" on Justia Law

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American Cast Iron Pipe Company ("ACIPCO") petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court to review the Court of Civil Appeals' decision to reverse a circuit court's dismissal of a workers' compensation action. Suit was filed by Karene Stricklin against ACIPCO who alleged her ward and conservatee, John Gray, sustained injuries while an ACIPCO employee. The Supreme Court granted the petition to consider, as a matter of first impression, whether Article II of the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act ("the ombudsman-program article"), which encompassed § 25-5-290 through § 25-5-294, Ala. Code 1975, precluded an action seeking to have a benefit-review agreement declared void ab initio on the basis of a signatory's mental incompetency when that action was not commenced so as to comply with the 60-day period set forth in § 25-5-292(b), Ala. Code 1975. To this, the Court concluded that it did not, and, thus, affirmed the Court of Civil Appeals' decision. View "Ex parte American Cast Iron Pipe Company." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church, Inc., and Lee Riggins appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing their complaint against Donald Moulton, Sr., and Broken Vessel United Church ("the Broken Vessel defendants") pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P., on the basis that the claims asserted in the complaint against the Broken Vessel defendants are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the allegations of the complaint, when construed in plaintiffs' favor, were sufficient to sate a claim for a declaratory judgment. Further, the Court found the trial court erred in dismissing count one of the complaint against the Broken Vessel defendants on the basis that it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Watkins v. Matrix, LLC, et al." on Justia Law