Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
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
Pagel, et al. v. Weikum
Jeffrey Weikum appealed a district court order and judgment denying his motion to compel arbitration, and granting Rodney Pagel and Scott Hager's motion for summary judgment. The parties agreed to dissolve their law firm, Pagel Weikum, PLLP, and entered into a Release and Settlement Agreement. The Agreement included an arbitration clause. Pagel and Hager filed suit against Weikum for breach of contract and conversion. Weikum moved to dismiss and compel arbitration. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, finding the arbitration clause at issue in the Agreement was broad, and not limited by any exceptions. The Court concluded the district court misinterpreted the Agreement by finding the claims raised were not arbitrable, and by denying the motion to compel arbitration of those claims. View "Pagel, et al. v. Weikum" on Justia Law
Bravera Bank v. Craft, et al.
Michael Craft appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Bravera Bank’s (“Bravera”), denial of its motion for supplemental briefing, and the denial of its requests for continuances of both the summary judgment hearing and trial date. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion by issuing an order granting summary judgment before the scheduled hearing in the absence of a timely request, did not err in granting the summary judgment, and did not err in failing to rule on motions rendered moot by the summary judgment specifically. View "Bravera Bank v. Craft, et al." on Justia Law
Olson Family Limited Partnership v. Velva Parks, LLC
In Dencember 2022, Olson Family Limited Partnership (“Olson”) served a summons and complaint on Velva Parks, LLC through Velva Parks’ registered agent, Legalinc Corporate Services Inc. (“Legalinc”). Olson alleged it entered into a contract for deed with Velva Parks for the sale of its mobile home park to Velva Parks. Olson alleged Velva Parks breached their contract for deed by failing to pay the final balloon payment of $406,414 when it became due December 1, 2022. Olson sought to have the contract judicially terminated and canceled. Velva Parks appealed an order denying its motion to vacate the default judgment entered after Velva Parks failed to answer or otherwise appear withn 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Velva Parks’ motion to vacate. View "Olson Family Limited Partnership v. Velva Parks, LLC" on Justia Law
Z.V. v. Cheryl W.
J.W. was born in 2008. Father died in 2015. J.W.'s paternal Grandmother helped raise J.W. since birth. Mother had denied Grandmother contact with J.W. since Father’s death. The court awarded Mother sole custody and granted Grandmother visitation. In 2021, Mother sought to vacate the visitation order, indicating she had moved to Southern California. Grandmother sought temporary emergency orders to enforce visitation. The court set a long cause hearing. The court provided an oral statement of decision, at Mother's request, at the conclusion of the long cause hearing on April 5, 2022, the existing order to allow one visit every other month, plus summertime visits. On June 15, 2022, the court filed Findings and Orders, reducing its oral statement of decision to writing. Grandmother served Mother with notice of the order on June 23. On May 12, Mother filed a notice and motion to vacate and substitute a new judgment or for a new trial. She filed amended notices and motions on May 27 and June 2022. The written denial was served on the parties on September 6, 2022. On September 21, 2022, Mother filed her notice of appeal, stating the appeal was taken from a June 15, 2022 judgment. The court of appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Mother filed a notice of appeal beyond the 60-day deadline. View "Z.V. v. Cheryl W." on Justia Law
Baltrusaitis v. United Auto Workers
In 2011, the automaker FCA transferred the work that plaintiffs (engineers) had previously performed at FCA’s company headquarters to a new location. The plaintiffs filed a grievance with their union, UAW, in 2016. UAW failed to pursue it. In 2017, plaintiffs filed essentially the same grievance, but UAW again did not pursue it. By this time, plaintiffs had learned of a massive bribery scheme involving FCA and UAW; they believed that those bribes had affected the 2011 job-relocation process and UAW’s treatment of their grievances. In 2018, plaintiffs filed the same grievance again. Nearly two years later, UAW found the grievance meritorious.Plaintiffs sued FCA, UAW, and individual defendants in 2020, raising claims under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims as untimely under the LMRA’s six-month limitations period. Plaintiffs pursuing a hybrid LMRA claim must sue once they “reasonably should know that the union has abandoned” their claim. Plaintiffs learned of their RICO injuries as early as 2011 and learned of the bribery allegations in 2017 but waited until 2020 to file their complaint, with no explanation for the delay. View "Baltrusaitis v. United Auto Workers" on Justia Law
In re: Grand Jury 2021 Subpoenas
While representing a client, Jane Roe , Appellant attorney John Doe engaged in settlement negotiations with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). The negotiations between Doe and UMMS proceeded poorly. Among other things, Doe also made any settlement between Roe and UMMS contingent on his personal receipt of an additional $25 million that would effectuate his retention by UMMS as a private consultant of sorts. A grand jury indicted Doe, charging him with attempted extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1951 and 1952. Shortly thereafter—at the government’s request—the grand jury issued multiple subpoenas duces tecum to the lawyers and firms that assisted in Doe’s representation of Roe—and in the formation of the alleged extortion scheme. Doe and Roe moved to quash the subpoenas. That court then granted in part a subsequent motion filed by the government to compel production. Doe and Roe now appealed asking the court to reverse the district court’s orders first denying their motions to quash and then compelling production.The Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal as to Doe for lack of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed. The court held that it lacks jurisdiction to consider Doe’s arguments given the Supreme Court’s effective narrowing of the Perlman doctrine. The court otherwise affirmed discerning no reversible error and ordered the parties must proceed to comply with the disputed subpoenas duces tecum in accordance with the district court’s order compelling production and this opinion. View "In re: Grand Jury 2021 Subpoenas" on Justia Law
Placid Refining Company, L.L.C. v. EPA
Six small refineries1 (“petitioners”) challenge the EPA’s decision to deny their requested exemptions from their obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (“RFS”) program of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). The EPA denied petitioners’ years-old petitions using a novel CAA interpretation and economic theory that the agency published in December 2021.The Fifth Circuit granted the petitions for review, vacated the challenged adjudications, denied a change of venue, and remanded. The court concluded that the denial was (1) impermissibly retroactive; (2) contrary to law; and (3) counter to the record evidence. The court noted that the agency supports its assertion by dreaming up a hypothetical contract—filled with unsubstantiated speculation about terms such RIN clip sale prices and broker service fees—that TSAR might be able to negotiate. But EPA never explains why it believes small refineries can get contract terms like those. Unsubstantiated agency speculation does not overcome petitioners’ proven inability to purchase market-rate RINs ratably. The court explained that as a general matter, courts cannot compel agencies to act. Petitioners do not allege that the CAA expressly requires EPA to issue such guidance. An agency’s control over its timetables is entitled to considerable deference.That EPA has yet to make good on its promise to provide further guidance does not render the agency’s current (lack of) guidance arbitrary and capricious. View "Placid Refining Company, L.L.C. v. EPA" on Justia Law
Sabater v. Razmy
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing the underlying tort action for failure to timely effect service of process, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a request for enlargement of time to serve and dismissing the action.Appellants sued Respondent for personal injuries following a car collision. Because Appellants failed to serve the summons and complaint on Respondent within 120 days the district court issued an order to show cause, and the summons and complaint were served. Respondent moved to quash the service of process and to dismiss the complaint. The district court denied Appellants' untimely motion for an extension of time to serve process and granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly denied Appellants' untimely motion for an extension of time and properly dismissed the case under Nev. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(2). View "Sabater v. Razmy" on Justia Law
In re: Décor Holdings, Inc., et al.
Plaintiff, in his capacity as Litigation Administrator of the post-confirmation estates (the “Litigation Administrator”) of Post-Confirmation Debtor Décor Holdings, Inc. (“Décor Holdings”), appeals the district court’s order, vacating the bankruptcy court’s entry of default judgment against Defendant Sumec Textile Company Limited (“Sumec”) and remanding the case for further proceedings. The district court’s order re-opened an adversary proceeding that the Litigation Administrator initiated against Sumec to avoid preferential payments of $694,048.84 that Décor Holdings and its affiliated debtors (collectively, the “debtors”) made to Sumec in the ninety-day period before it filed for bankruptcy. The Second Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The court explained that notwithstanding the Litigation Administrator’s practical concerns regarding his ability to effectuate service on Sumec and ultimately collect on any judgment, the court sees no basis to apply the collateral order doctrine to hear an appeal challenging the vacatur of a default judgment which can be reviewed, if necessary, upon the entry of a final judgment in the adversary proceeding. Further, the court explained that this is not a situation where the only remaining questions involve relief and enforcement of the holding; rather, the adversary proceeding is at its infancy, with issues of service of process and the actual merits of the action (assuming service is effectuated) still to be resolved on remand. Thus, the dicta in Stone regarding the general rules of appealability has no application to the circumstances in this appeal. View "In re: Décor Holdings, Inc., et al." on Justia Law