Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc. sent plaintiff-appellant Jason Tavernaro a letter attempting to collect a student loan debt. A district court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint filed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for failing to state a claim because the alleged facts were insufficient to establish Pioneer used materially misleading, unfair or unconscionable means to collect the debt. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed: violations of the FDCPA is determined through the perspective of a reasonable consumer, and Pioneer’s letter was not materially misleading. View "Tavernaro v. Pioneer Credit Recovery" on Justia Law

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The State petitioned to commit Nicholas Needham California under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA). Preparing for trial on the petition, the district attorney retained a psychological expert to evaluate Needham and testify at trial that he qualified as an SVP. Needham moved to exclude the expert’s testimony at trial, but the trial court denied his motion. Needham appealed, seeking a declaration that the SVPA did not permit the State to call a privately retained expert to testify at trial. The Court of Appeal granted relief: “[G]iven the obvious dangers to essential liberty interests inherent in the SVPA, it must be carefully implemented and applied only where there is a high degree of certainty that it is warranted.” The Court found the statutory scheme deliberately limited when an SVP petition could be filed and brought to trial, as well as the evidence available to the prosecution. In light of this system, the Court concluded the expert-witness provisions of the Civil Discovery Act did not apply and that the State had no right to retain an expert witness to testify at trial. View "Needham v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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The Sixth Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, a Canadian resident, in this lawsuit brought under 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(2), holding that remand was required for the district court to decide the issue of subject matter jurisdiction in the first place.Plaintiff, Akno 1010 Market Street St. Louis Missouri, LLC, sued Defendant in federal district court, asserting diversity jurisdiction but stating only that it was "organized under the laws of Michigan." Although Plaintiff did not adequately allege its own citizenship the district court decided the case on the merits. The Sixth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment, holding that further fact-finding was required on the issue of whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear this dispute. View "Akno 1010 Market Street St. Louis Missouri LLC v. Pourtaghi" on Justia Law

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The National Labor Relations Board petitioned the Fourth Circuit to enforce its order imposing obligations on an employer. The charged employer, Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC, consented in a stipulated settlement agreement to the enforcement of the order, skipping a process of agency prosecution and adjudication. Constellium agreed to a factual statement, waived any defenses, and now dutifully agrees that the Fourth Circuit should enter a judgment against it.The Fourth Circuit dismissed the petition. The court held that it lacks jurisdiction to exercise judicial power when it would have no real consequences for the parties and would only rubberstamp an agreement the parties memorialized in writing and consummated before ever arriving on a federal court’s doorstep. The court further explained that the parties agree on every relevant question potentially before the court. That agreement led the parties to resolve this dispute among themselves before ever coming to federal court, leaving nothing for the court to do that would have real consequences in the world. And the Board agrees that Constellium has complied with the order and continues to do so. View "NLRB v. Constellium Rolled Products" on Justia Law

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Twelve years after a trial court ordered defendant Randy Therrien to pay restitution, he moved to vacate the order. The trial court denied the motion as untimely. The Vermont Supreme Court agreed the motion was untimely, and affirmed that portion of the judgment. The Supreme Court remanded the case for the correction of a computational error in the order made pursuant to the parties’ stipulation. View "Vermont v. Therrien" on Justia Law

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The Alaska Department of Revenue audited a non-resident corporation doing business in Alaska. The Department issued a deficiency assessment based in part on an Alaska tax statute requiring an income tax return to include certain foreign corporations affiliated with the taxpaying corporation. The taxpayer exhausted its administrative remedies and then appealed to the superior court, arguing that the tax statute the Department applied was facially unconstitutional because: (1) it violated the dormant Commerce Clause by discriminating against foreign commerce based on countries’ corporate income tax rates; (2) it violated the Due Process Clause by being arbitrary and irrational; and (3) it violated the Due Process Clause by failing to provide notice of what affiliates a tax return must include, and therefore is void for vagueness. The superior court rejected the first two arguments but ruled in the taxpayer’s favor on the third argument. The Department appealed, claiming the superior court erred by concluding that the statute was void for vagueness in violation of the Due Process Clause. The taxpayer cross-appealed, asserting that the court erred by concluding that the statute did not violate the Commerce Clause and was not arbitrary. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed the superior court’s decision that the statute was facially unconstitutional on due process grounds, and affirmed the court’s decision that it otherwise was facially constitutional. View "Alaska Dept. of Revenue v. Nabors International Finance, Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoke a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.These cases raise the common threshold question of whether 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d(e)(10) empowers us to hear interlocutory appeals from decisions of out-of-circuit district courts rejecting assertions of PREP Act immunity.The DC Circuit concluded that the PREP Act confers interlocutory appellate jurisdiction on the court only from orders of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in willful misconduct cases—a distinct, limited cause of action that subsection 247d-6d(d) of the PREP Act excepts from its broad grant of immunity and channels to the federal district court here. Because PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center" on Justia Law

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs' estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied Defendant's motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoked a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeals, holding that the PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity. View "Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff believes that officials in the Department of Justice (and elsewhere) have persecuted him for supporting the Irish republican cause. So he sued the United States Attorney General and the Department of Justice Inspector General. On February 24, 2021, the district court dismissed his suit. At least seventy-five days later, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal in the district court. This Court noted that Plaintiff had filed his notice of appeal after the sixty-day deadline imposed by Congress in 28 U.S.C. Section 2107(b).On appeal, the DC Circuit was tasked with deciding whether Plaintiff’s response to the court’s show-cause order can be combined with his notice of appeal in the district court to serve as a substitute for a motion to extend or reopen the time to file a notice of appeal. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal holding that his appeal was untimely. The court explained that Plaintiff’s response to the court’s show-cause order was nothing more than a request to the court for an equitable exemption from the jurisdictional deadline. Accordingly, the court wrote it has no power to grant that equitable relief. View "Joseph Ladeairous v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Decedent was an unnamed class member in an action involving alleged misrepresentations made by Defendants while marketing, selling, administering, and servicing various life insurance and annuity products. After the class member died her Estate commenced an action asserting various contract, fraud, and elder abuse claims pertaining to Decedent’s 1989 purchase of a purported “single-premium universal life insurance policy.” The district court granted Defendants’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement and enjoined the Estate from pursuing the Oregon claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained to effectuate service under Rule 4, a party may either follow state law where service is made or fulfill one of the following: (a) deliver a copy to the individual personally; (b) leave a copy at the individual’s dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or (c) deliver a copy to an authorized agent. Here, the personal representative (a nonparty) was served with the motion to substitute in a manner provided by Rule 4, received notice in compliance with Rule 25(a), and was properly brought within the jurisdiction of the Minnesota district court.Further, beyond the Estate’s self-serving statements, there is no evidence suggesting Defendants did not follow the approved procedures. Finally, the court held that upon careful review of the record, the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the doctrines of laches and unclean hands were inapplicable under the facts and circumstances of this case. View "Marjory Thomas Osborn-Vincent v. American Express Financial" on Justia Law