Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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In its 28 U.S.C. 1782(a) discovery application, ALJ sought a subpoena for documents from FedEx and deposition testimony of a FedEx corporate representative. ALJ alleged that FedEx Corp. was involved in contract negotiations and performance of two contracts between ALJ and FedEx International, a FedEx subsidiary. Each contract became the subject of commercial arbitration, one pending in Dubai, the other in Saudi Arabia. The arbitration in Saudi Arabia was dismissed. The district court denied ALJ’s application, holding that the phrase “foreign or international tribunal” in section 1782(a) did not encompass the arbitrations. The Sixth Circuit, reversed, noting that the Supreme Court provided guidance for interpretation of section 1782(a) in 2004. Considering the statutory text, the meaning of that text based on common definitions and usage of the language at issue, as well as the statutory context and history the court held that this provision permits discovery for use in the private commercial arbitration at issue. View "In re Application to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings" on Justia Law

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Carmichael was an employee of the Railroad, which contracted with PTI to transport its employees to and between job sites. Plaintiff was riding in a PTI van in the course of her employment when the van collided with another vehicle, causing plaintiff severe injuries. Plaintiff settled with the driver of the other vehicle, for the limits of his automobile insurance policy, $20,000. Plaintiff sought a declaration that the PTI was legally responsible for her damages due to a statutory violation: PTI’s vehicle insurance policy did not contain the minimum coverage required by the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/8- 101(c)). In both an affirmative defense and a counterclaim, PTI argued that section 8-101(c) was unconstitutional. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 19 requires a party challenging the constitutionality of a statute to provide notice to the Attorney General, to afford the appropriate state officer “the opportunity, but not the obligation, to intervene." PTI avoided that process. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the counterclaim. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed that the counterclaim was not under Illinois law and remanded. A purported counterclaim that fails to allege an independent, substantive cause of action against the plaintiff and fails to make a specific prayer for relief but only seeks to defeat the plaintiff’s claims is really an affirmative defense, not a counterclaim. View "Carmichael v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court order was final and its retention of jurisdiction to review the arbitrator's decision did not destroy the finality of the district court's ruling pertaining to the enforcement of the arbitral summonses. The court also held that the district court's determination that it had ancillary jurisdiction was appropriate. However, the magistrate judge improperly found jurisdiction on two additional grounds: (1) the district court appointed the arbitrator; and (2) the parties agreed to jurisdiction of the district court in their arbitration agreement. The court interpreted the plain meaning of Section 7 as (1) requiring summonsed non-parties to appear in the physical presence of the arbitrator as opposed to a video conference or teleconference; and (2) prohibiting pre-hearing discovery. In this case, the district court abused its discretion in enforcing the arbitral summonses because the court lacked power under Section 7 to order the witnesses to appear at the video conference and provide pre-hearing discovery. The court also held that the district court's order denying CIGNA's motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement and compel an accounting constitutes a post-judgment order that is final and appealable. The district court abused its discretion here by allowing the arbitrator to review the claims that have already been paid. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Managed Care Advisory Group, LLC v. Cigna Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner and his attorney filed an ex parte application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, which permits certain domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings. The district court quashed the subpoenas after concluding that not all the discovery sought was subject to the state secrets privilege. Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that certain information requested was not privileged because it was not a state secret that would pose an exceptionally grave risk to national security and that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege was valid over much of the information requested, the panel held that the district court erred in quashing the subpoenas in toto rather than attempting to disentangle nonprivileged from privileged information. In this case, the underlying proceeding was a limited discovery request that could be managed by the district court. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Husayn v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Andrijana Mackovska filed suit alleging that Viewcrest wrongfully removed their personal belongings and took possession of residential property Viewcrest had purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court held that plaintiff waived his right to a jury trial by failing to timely post jury fees. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for relief from the jury trial waiver, because Viewcrest did not make a showing of prejudice; plaintiff's failure to file a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court denied his motion for relief from jury trial waiver did not preclude review of that order on appeal from the judgment; plaintiff did not have to show prejudice; and the trial court's order imposing sanctions must be vacated. View "Mackovksa v. Viewcrest Road Properties LLC" on Justia Law

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Over the past eight years, the Hudson County family court has required Malhan to pay $300,000 in child and spousal support to his putative ex-wife, Myronova. Malhan claims that New Jersey officials violated his federal rights when they failed to reduce his support obligations after he was awarded custody of their two children and Myronova obtained a job that pays more than his own. The district court dismissed Malhan’s second amended complaint, holding that it lacked jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and that to the extent it had jurisdiction, it declined to exercise it under Younger v. Harris. The Third Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Malhan does not complain of injuries caused by a state court judgment; none of the interlocutory orders in Malhan’s state case are “judgments.” Rooker-Feldman does not apply when state proceedings have neither ended nor led to orders reviewable by the U.S. Supreme Court. With respect to “Younger abstention,” the court noted that Malhan’s wife, not the state, began the family court case. The case has not sought to sanction Malhan for wrongdoing, enforce a parallel criminal statute, or impose a quasi-criminal investigation. Malhan is not trying to “annul the results” of a past garnishment. View "Malhan v. Secretary United States Department of State" on Justia Law

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Inspired Development sued KidsEmbrace for breach of contract and other related state law claims in federal district court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). The dispute involved the purported breach of a patent-licensing agreement by failure to pay outstanding royalties. The district court granted summary judgment in KidsEmbrace’s favor on certain claims. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit discovered that diversity jurisdiction did not exist. The district court concluded on remand that it retained jurisdiction over the suit based on federal question jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit transferred the case to the Federal Circuit, which vacated and remanded for dismissal. The parties’ claims did not arise under the patent laws pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1338(a). No claims allege a cause of action created by federal patent law. This is a state law contract case for past due royalties. Inspired Development need not demonstrate that KidsEmbrace actually practiced the licensed patents, and the question of infringement is not a “necessary element” of the claim. Finding a federal question here merely because this contract implicates a run-of-the-mill question of infringement or validity would undoubtedly impact the wider balance between state and federal courts. View "Inspired Development Group v. Inspired Products Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Almost two years into active litigation, defendants moved to compel arbitration of this class action brought on behalf of persons who employed the services of PMZ to buy or sell a residence. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion. A motion to compel arbitration is properly denied when the moving party has waived its right to do so, Civ. Proc. Code, 1281.2(a). The California Supreme Court has identified relevant factors: whether the party’s actions are inconsistent with the right to arbitrate; whether the litigation machinery has been substantially invoked and the parties were well into preparation of a lawsuit before the party notified the opposing party of an intent to arbitrate; whether a party either requested arbitration close to the trial date or delayed for a long period before seeking a stay; whether a defendant seeking arbitration filed a counterclaim without asking for a stay; whether important intervening steps [e.g., taking advantage of judicial discovery procedures not available in arbitration] had taken place; and whether the delay affected, misled, or prejudiced the opposing party. The trial court properly applied the factors; its determination that defendants’ delay of nearly two years constituted an unreasonably long period of time, and defendants’ explanation for their delay was unavailing, is “copiously supported by the evidence.” View "Spracher v. Paul M. Zagaris, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Florida, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 28 C.F.R. 35.130(d). The Department alleged that Florida was failing to meet its obligations under Title II by unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities. The Department also alleged that Florida's Medicaid policies and practices placed other children who have "medically complex" conditions, or who are "medically fragile," at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Attorney General has a cause of action to enforce Title II of the ADA. The court held that when Congress chose to designate the "remedies, procedures, and rights" in section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act, which in turn adopted Title VI, as the enforcement provision for Title II of the ADA, Congress created a system of federal enforcement. The court also held that the express statutory language in Title II adopts federal statutes that use a remedial structure based on investigation of complaints, compliance reviews, negotiation to achieve voluntary compliance, and ultimately enforcement through "any other means authorized by law" in the event of noncompliance. Therefore, courts have routinely concluded that Congress's decision to utilize the same enforcement mechanism for Title II as the Rehabilitation Act, and therefore Title VI, demonstrates that the Attorney General has the authority to act "by any other means authorized by law" to enforce Title II, including initiating a civil action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded. View "United States v. State of Florida" on Justia Law

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In 1965, in Memphis, Tennessee, Plaintiffs wrote the song Ain’t That a Lot of Love and registered it with the U.S.Copyright Office. The following year, in London, England, brothers Mervyn and Steve Winwood, members of the Spencer Davis Group, wrote the song Gimme Some Lovin’, which was also registered with the Copyright Office. "Ain’t" fell flat. "Gimme" reached the second spot in the U.K. and the seventh spot in the U.S. Fifty-one years later, Plaintiffs sued the Winwoods for copyright infringement, 17 U.S.C. 504, claiming the Winwoods lifted the bass line from Ain’t That a Lot of Love. The defendants claimed no one in the Group had heard the song before writing Gimme Some Lovin’. Plaintiffs argued that the Group could have copied the bass line during a 21-day window between "Ain’t That’s" debut and the commercial release of Gimme. The court ruled that documents Plaintiffs sought to rely on to show direct evidence of copying were inadmissible under the rule against hearsay and that Mervyn did not have enough of a connection with Tennessee to exercise jurisdiction over him. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs presented no admissible evidence that created a genuine issue of material fact over whether Winwood copied "Ain’t That." Exercising jurisdiction over Mervyn would conflict with due process because he has not purposely availed himself of the privilege of acting in Tennessee. View "Parker v. Winwood" on Justia Law