Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
Tran v. Nguyen
Defendant Que Phung Thi Nguyen allegedly threatened to expose the existence of plaintiff Bruce Tran's child she birthed during his marriage. Between 2010 and 2011, the Trans separated. During their separation, Tran began a romantic relationship with Nguyen; a few weeks into the relationship, Nguyen informed Tran she was pregnant with his child. Shortly thereafter, in June 2011, Tran ended the relationship. According to the complaint filed in this case, Nguyen later “began to blackmail” Tran by demanding that he pay her thousands of dollars, or she would disclose their relationship and the child’s existence to his wife. In this case, the parties disputed whether California had a civil cause of action for extortion. The trial court agreed with defendant Nguyen’s contention plaintiff Bruce Tran’s extortion cause of action could only move forward if it arose out of a threat to initiate a false criminal or civil prosecution—and thus no such cause of action could be based on the facts in this case. The Court of Appeal disagreed: Civil Code sections 1566, 1567, and 1570 established a right to rescission in cases in which a person’s consent to a transaction was obtained by “menace”: threats of confinement, of unlawful violence to the person or his or her property, or of injury to a person’s character. "This is effectively the civil version of extortion." However, because the cause of action which sought rescission sounded in contract, rather than tort, no emotional distress damages were recoverable. Because the civil extortion/rescission cause of action did not give rise to emotional distress damages, the Court found no error in the portion of the court’s order sustaining Nguyen’s demurrer to Tran’s separate cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court consequently reversed the judgment entered against Tran, and remanded the case with directions to allow him leave to amend his cause of action for recovery of the funds he paid to Nguyen as a result of her threats to reveal their affair—and the existence of their child—to his wife. View "Tran v. Nguyen" on Justia Law
Marshall v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
At issue in this case is whether ORS 12.115(1) applied to actions in which plaintiffs allege their attorney negligently caused injury consisting solely of financial loss—here, the cost to plaintiffs of attempting to defend themselves against a claim for unpaid federal taxes and the anticipated cost of paying that tax liability. To this, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded the legislature intended the phrase “negligent injury to person or property” in ORS 12.115(1) to include negligence claims seeking to recover for the kind of injury to economic interests that plaintiffs have alleged. View "Marshall v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP" on Justia Law
BRANDON BRISKIN V. SHOPIFY, INC., ET AL
Plaintiff is a resident of California. While present in California, Plaintiff used his iPhone’s Safari browser to navigate to the website of California-based retailer IABMFG to purchase fitness apparel. Although Plaintiff claims he did not know it at the time, IABMFG’s website used software and code from Shopify, Inc. to process customer orders and payments. Shopify, Inc. is a Canadian corporation with its headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. Plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit in California alleging that Shopify violated various California privacy and unfair competition laws because it deliberately concealed its involvement in consumer transactions. The district court agreed, dismissing the second amended complaint without leave to amend. Plaintiff timely appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. For specific jurisdiction to exist over Shopify, Plaintiff’s claim must arise out of or relate to Shopify’s forum-related activities. The panel held that there was no causal relationship between Shopify’s broader business contacts in California and Plaintiff’s claims because these contacts did not cause Plaintiff’s harm. Nor did Plaintiff’s claims “relate to” Shopify’s broader business activities in California outside of its extraction and retention of plaintiff’s data. Because there was an insufficient relationship between plaintiff's claims and Shopify’s broader business contacts in California, the activities relevant to the specific jurisdiction analysis were those that caused Plaintiff’s injuries: Shopify’s collection, retention, and use of consumer data obtained from persons who made online purchases while in California. The panel held that Shopify, which provides nationwide web-based payment processing services to online merchants, did not expressly aim its conduct toward California. View "BRANDON BRISKIN V. SHOPIFY, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
Pinkham v. Plate, et al.
The issue this appeal raised concerned a default judgment awarded to Scott and Natalie Pinkham against appellants David Plate, Rebeccah Jensen, and their company, Three Peaks Homes, LLC. When Appellants’ attorney withdrew in the middle of the case, Appellants failed to timely designate new counsel as required by Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 11.3. Accordingly, a default was entered by the district court. Later, the district court, using a form prepared by the Pinkhams’ attorney, awarded the Pinkhams a default judgment of almost $650,000 without: (1) the amount of damages being specified in the Pinkhams’ complaint; or (2) the presentation of any proof of the amount of damages the Pinkhams were claiming. Appellants later retained an attorney and attempted to set aside the default and the default judgment, asserting that both had been improperly entered. The district court denied both requests. Appellants appealed the district court’s denial of their motion to set aside the entry of default and default judgment against them. Finding that Appellants established a right to relief because the district court erred in awarding damages without any proof, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed in this respect. The Court found the district court did not err in denying the motion to set aside the entry of a default judgment, but vacated the default judgment and remanded for a determination as to the proper amount of damages based on the proof submitted. View "Pinkham v. Plate, et al." on Justia Law
Hanks v. City of Boise
In December 2019, Paul Hanks slipped and fell on a patch of ice after exiting a vehicle in the passenger unloading zone at the Boise Airport. Hanks sued defendants the City of Boise, Republic Parking System, LLC, and United Components, Inc. for negligence. Hanks argued that Defendants had a duty to maintain the airport facilities in a safe condition and that Defendants failed in that duty by not keeping the passenger unloading zone free of ice. Respondents the City of Boise and Republic Parking System, LLC moved for summary judgment, arguing they had met all legal duties owed to Hanks. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment. Finding that the district court did not err in its grant of summary judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Hanks v. City of Boise" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Weiner et al. v. Siemens AG et al.
The False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. Sections 3729–32, provides that when a private person brings an action under the FCA on behalf of the federal government, the “complaint shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least 60 days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders.” Alleging violations of the FCA, Relator Clifford Weiner brought a complaint in district court, which the district court dismissed for untimely service of process. Relator argued that because the district court never expressly ordered him to serve Defendants in accordance with Section 3730, the clock for service of process never began to run, and dismissal for untimely service was improper. The Second Circuit agreed with Relator and vacated. The court explained that Defendants have not identified an error of law or an erroneous factual finding embedded in the district court’s decision denying Rule 41(b) dismissal. Nor have they shown that the district court’s conclusion fell outside of the range of permissible decisions. Specifically, as the district court noted, Relator was not given express notice that his delays could result in dismissal, and the court had not devoted substantial resources to the action. View "United States ex rel. Weiner et al. v. Siemens AG et al." on Justia Law
Johnson v. Chesapeake Louisiana, L.P.
Plaintiffs filed this action as unleased mineral owners whose interests are situated within forced drilling units formed by the Louisiana Office of Conservation and operated by Chesapeake. Plaintiffs have not made separate arrangements to dispose of their shares of production, so the unit operator can sell the shares but must pay the owners a pro rata share of the proceeds within one hundred eighty days of the sale. Chesapeake timely removed this action to the district court, based on diversity jurisdiction. The district court certified its ruling for interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(b). The Fifth Circuit explained that this case concerns the interplay between Louisiana’s relatively new conservation laws and its deeply rooted negotiorum gestio doctrine. The court wrote that because it cannot make a reliable Erie guess as to the applicability of Louisiana’s negotiorum gestio doctrine. Accordingly, the court certified the following determinative question of law to the Louisiana Supreme Court: 1) Does La. Civ. Code art. 2292 applies to unit operators selling production in accordance with La. R.S. 30:10(A)(3)? View "Johnson v. Chesapeake Louisiana, L.P." on Justia Law
Zarate v. McDaniel
This is the second appeal arising out of Defendant’s special motion to strike the complaint filed by Plaintiffs. In the first appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion, concluding that Defendant failed to show Plaintiffs’ claims arose out of protected activity because he filed only a “perfunctory antiSLAPP motion.” In this appeal, Defendant challenges the fee award. The Second Appellate District reversed and remanded the matter with directions for the court to enter a new order denying plaintiffs’ attorney fees motions. The court wrote that Plaintiffs don’t contend that it would have been impractical for them to provide Defendant safe harbor notice before filing their attorney fees motions. Indeed, Plaintiffs’ motions were not complex and include less than a single page of analysis explaining why Defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion was frivolous. Nor do Plaintiffs contend that Defendant could not have withdrawn or corrected his anti-SLAPP motion had they provided him timely notice of their attorney fees motions under section 128.5, subdivision (f). The court explained that the trial court should have denied Plaintiffs’ attorney fees motions because they failed to provide Defendant a 21-day safe harbor notice before filing their attorney fees motions. View "Zarate v. McDaniel" on Justia Law
Generation Capital I, LLC v. Fliss
Fliss, Wojciak, and Barr took out a $200,000 bank loan for their jointly owned companies. Each man personally guaranteed the loan. When the borrowers defaulted, the bank obtained a state court $208,639.95 consent judgment, holding the guarantors jointly and severally liable. Wojciak then entered into an agreement with the bank, through his company, Capital I, to purchase the promissory note and judgment debt for $240,000, then entered into a settlement agreement with the bank, agreeing to pay $240,000. Wojciak's other company, Capital II wired the bank $240,000. The state court substituted Capital I for the bank as the plaintiff. Wojciak moved to enforce the judgment: Capital I commenced a supplemental proceeding and sought property turnovers. Fliss and Barr unsuccessfully argued that the debt was extinguished when the Wojciaks paid $240,000 in exchange for settlement.Fliss filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Wojciak had Capital I file a secured claim, seeking to enforce the judgment–$359,967.69 including post-judgment interest. The bankruptcy court disallowed that claim, finding that Wojciak used Capital I as his alter ego and became both the creditor and debtor, which extinguished the debt. The district court and Seventh Circuit affirmed. The bankruptcy court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider the claim objection—the Rooker-Feldman doctrine posed no obstacle. Capital I failed to demonstrate the existence of a final judgment as required by res judicata and collateral estoppel. View "Generation Capital I, LLC v. Fliss" on Justia Law
Hardwick v. 3M Co.
Hardwick alleged that his bloodstream contains trace quantities of five chemicals (PFAS)—which are part of a family of thousands of chemicals used in medical devices, automotive interiors, waterproof clothing, food packaging, firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, ski and car waxes, batteries, semiconductors, aviation and aerospace construction, paints and varnishes, and building materials. Hardwick, who was exposed to firefighting foam, does not know what companies manufactured the particular chemicals in his bloodstream; nor does he know whether those chemicals might someday make him sick. Of the thousands of companies that have manufactured PFAS since the 1950s, Hardwick sued 10 defendants and sought to represent a class comprising nearly every person “residing in the United States.” The district court certified a class comprising every person residing in Ohio with trace amounts of certain PFAS in their blood.The Sixth Circuit remanded with instructions to dismiss the case. Even at the pleadings stage, the factual allegations, taken as true, “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” The element of traceability requires a showing that the plaintiff’s “injury was likely caused by the defendant.” The district court treated the defendants as a collective, but “standing is not dispensed in gross.” Even if Hardwick met the actual-injury requirement he must tie his injury to each defendant.” Hardwick’s conclusory allegations do not support a plausible inference that any of the defendants bear responsibility for the PFAS in Hardwick’s blood. View "Hardwick v. 3M Co." on Justia Law