Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Robert filed a petition, alleging that Dae violated a “no contest” clause in a family trust by filing a previous petition challenging Robert’s actions as trustee. Dae’s subsequently moved to strike Robert’s petition under the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute (Code Civ. Proc. 425.16.)The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the anti-SLAPP motion. Robert’s No Contest Petition arose from protected petitioning activity under Code of Civil Procedure 425.16(e)(1); to defeat Dae’s motion, Robert was required to show a probability that he would prevail on that Petition. Robert made such a showing. Dae’s petition broadly challenged Robert’s conduct in setting up a financial structure that Robert claimed was designed to avoid estate taxes. If Robert’s claim is true, Dae’s petition would implicate the no-contest provision by seeking to “impair” trust provisions giving Robert the authority to manage trust assets. Dae also challenged his own removal as a beneficiary. Whether that more specific challenge amounts to a “contest” for purposes of the no-contest clause depends upon the trustors’ intent. Robert provided sufficient evidence of the trustors’ intent to allow a change of beneficiary to make a prima facie showing of probability of prevailing on Robert’s contention that Dae’s claims are a “contest.” The court expressed no opinion on the outcome of Robert’s petition. View "Dae v. Traver" on Justia Law

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The Defendants, Ohana Military Communities, LLC and Forest City Residential Management, began a major housing construction project on Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) in 2006. MCBH was widely contaminated with pesticides potentially impacting human health. Defendants developed and implemented a Pesticide Soil Management Plan but allegedly never informed residential tenants of the Plan, the decade-long remediation efforts, or known pesticide contamination. Plaintiffs, military servicemember families, filed suit in Hawaii state court alleging 11 different claims under state law. Defendants removed the case to federal court.The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of the Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. Federal jurisdiction did not exist because, under the Hawaii Admission Act, 73 Stat. 4 (1959), Hawaii had concurrent legislative or political jurisdiction over MCBH, so state law had not been assimilated into federal law. The court rejected an argument that, regardless of any concurrent state jurisdiction, federal jurisdiction exists where federally owned or controlled land is involved, and a substantial federal interest exists. There was no federal officer or agency jurisdiction because there was no causal nexus between the Navy and Ohana under 28 U.S.C. 1442, and Ohana was not a federal agency for purposes of federal jurisdiction. Under the Gunn test, no federal issue was “necessarily raised.” View "Lake v. Ohana Military Communities, LLC" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review was one of first impression involving a magistrate court’s custody determination of an eight-year-old developmentally delayed and hearing-impaired child (Child) who was removed from his father’s (Father) care by law enforcement on an emergency basis. Child was found home alone by representatives of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW or the Department). After a shelter care hearing, the magistrate court determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that Child fell within the jurisdiction of the CPA based on a lack of a stable home environment. Father objected to the magistrate court’s exercise of jurisdiction, arguing that because Father had been granted joint custody of Child with Child’s mother (Mother) by a California court, the UCCJEA applied, which required the magistrate court to consult with the California court that had previously entered the custody order before the magistrate court could proceed in Idaho. After contacting and communicating with the California judge’s representative, the magistrate court conducted an adjudicatory hearing, ultimately vesting custody of Child with the Department. Finding no reversible error in this judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate court's decision. View "IDHW v. John Doe" on Justia Law

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In April 2018, Cavey filed a personal injury action for injuries sustained in a traffic accident involving a vehicle driven by a School District employee. Citing the six-month statute of limitations, Government Code 945.6,(a)(1), the trial court dismissed. The theory of untimeliness was based on the District’s July 19, 2017 notice rejecting a claim presented without Cavey’s authorization by a chiropractic firm that was treating her injuries, which, allegedly, started the statute of limitations.The court of appeal reversed. The claim submitted by the chiropractic firm was not presented “by a person acting on … her behalf” for purposes of section 910. The limitations period did not begin to run until the authorized claim submitted by Cavey’s lawyers was deemed rejected in November 2017. Using a November 2017 start date, the April 2018 complaint was timely under the six-month statute of limitations. In addition, the District’s notice of rejection was mailed to the wrong address, so the two-year statute of limitations in section 945.6(a)(2) applies. View "Cavey v. Tualla" on Justia Law

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The law firm of Sirote & Permutt, P.C., and attorney C. Randall Caldwell, Jr., each claimed they were entitled to one-third of the attorneys' fees that were owed for a BP oil spill settlement. Sirote and Caldwell litigated their dispute against each other, and, following a bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of Caldwell and awarded the funds to him. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the trial court had sufficient evidence to find the existence of a valid referral agreement between Caldwell and Cunningham Bounds as well as the existence of an attorney-client relationship between Caldwell and the Woerner entities. Sirote was not entitled to replace Caldwell as referring counsel merely because the Woerner entities terminated their attorney-client relationship with Caldwell. And the trial court's finding that Caldwell earned his referral fees at the time he referred the Woerner entities' BP claims did not require reversal. Finally, it is clear that the trial court did not award postjudgment interest. In all respects, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "Sirote & Permutt, P.C. v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

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Ben E. Keith Company, Inc. ("BEK"), appealed a circuit court order entering summary judgment in favor of Lyndon Southern Insurance Company ("Lyndon") on Lyndon's complaint for a declaratory judgment. On December 14, 2018, Felicia Edwards and Robert Allen Marak were involved in a motor-vehicle accident in Dadeville. Felicia was driving a 2009 Toyota Camry automobile that was owned by Annette Edwards and insured by Lyndon. Marak was driving a tractor-trailer that was owned by BEK. As a result of the accident, BEK incurred damage to its tractor-trailer. BEK sued Felicia and Annette claiming negligence and wantonness against both Felicia and Annette and a claim of negligent entrustment against Annette. BEK later amended the complaint to add a negligent-maintenance claim against Annette. Lyndon filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment against Felicia, Annette, and BEK, asserting the policy it issued to Annette excluded coverage for "[a]ny operator of a vehicle who is not listed as a driver on the Policy Applications, Declarations, and/or added by Endorsement who is under the age of twenty-five and is either a Family Member or resides in the same household as the Named Insured" and for "[a]n operator of a vehicle who is an unlicensed driver or whose driving privileges have been terminated or suspended." BEK argued the trial court erroneously granted Lyndon's motion for a summary judgment because Lyndon did not produce substantial admissible evidence to establish that Felicia was a noncovered person under the policy that insured Annette's vehicle at the time of the accident. Specifically, it contended Lyndon did not produce substantial admissible evidence to establish that Felicia did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the accident or to establish Felicia's age and residence at the time of the accident. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concurred Lyndon did not produce substantial evidence to establish that Felicia did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the accident and did not produce substantial evidence to establish that Felicia was under the age of 25 and resided in Annette's household at the time of the accident. Therefore, Lyndon did not shift the burden of proof to BEK. Accordingly, the trial court erred in granting Lyndon's motion for a summary judgment. Judgment was therefore reversed. View "Ben E. Keith Company, Inc. v. Lyndon Southern Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Norma Peinhardt and Larry Todd, who sought to sell real property and a divide of the sale proceeds, appealed a trial court's grant of summary judgment entered against them and in favor of Louise Peinhardt and Amelia Peinhardt. The property at issue was originally owned by Louis Peinhardt, who died in 1964. Louis had three children by his first wife Emma: Amelia, Herman ("Louis Jr.") and Louise; Louis had one daughter by his second wife, Marie: Linda Chambers. In 1965, Marie, Linda, and Linda's husband Leon executed a deed granting title to real property to Louis Jr., Amelia, and Louise. In 2006, Louis Jr. filed a complaint seeking a sale for division of the property. For reasons that not entirely clear from the record, the case remained idle at the circuit court for several years. However, on June 22, 2016, Louis Jr. executed a warranty deed in which he purported to convey his interest in the subject property to his wife, Norma Peinhardt ("Norma"), and his stepson, Larry Todd ("Larry"), "as joint tenants with a right of survivorship." In 2020, Amelia and Louise filed a summary-judgment motion in which they contended that a survivorship provision was part of the 1965 deed, and therefore Louis Jr.'s conveyance of his interest in the property to Norma and Larry was a nullity because Amelia and Louise had not granted consent to the conveyance. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the 1965 deed conveyed a joint tenancy in the portion of the subject property at issue rather than a tenancy in common with a right of survivorship. As a result, Louis Jr.'s conveyance of his interest in the portion of the subject property at issue was permissible. Accordingly, the circuit court's grant of summary judgment was issued in error. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Peinhardt v. Peinhardt" on Justia Law

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Something Extra Publishing, Inc., d/b/a Lagniappe Weekly ("Lagniappe") appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, and two members of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, Colonel Anthony Lowery and Lieutenant Michael Gaull ("the Sheriffs"), in this action alleging that the Sheriffs improperly denied Lagniappe's request for public records in violation of the Alabama Open Records Act ("the ORA"). Lagniappe made a request for records relating to the fatal shooting of Jonathan Victor in 2017. A grand jury declined to indict the deputy involved in the shooting. Lagniappe contended that under the balancing test announced by Stone v. Consolidated Publishing Co, 404 So. 2d 678 (Ala. 1981), "the public's interest in disclosure [in this case] far outweighs any interest surrounding the carrying out of government business." The Alabama Supreme Court found the balancing test in Stone was a Court-created exception to the ORA and was not an exception to section 12-21-3.1(b), which was enacted after Stone was decided. Accordingly, the Court found the trial court did not err in entering summary judgment in favor of the Sherrifs on investigative-privilege grounds. View "Something Extra Publishing, Inc., d/b/a Lagniappe Weekly v. Mack et al." on Justia Law

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Brazos filed lawsuits in the Western District of Texas charging Juniper, a Delaware corporation headquartered in California, with infringing patents that had been assigned to Brazos. Juniper moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California, 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). Juniper argued that Brazos “describes itself as a patent assertion entity” that “does not seem to conduct any business” from its recently-opened office in Waco other than filing patent lawsuits. The assignment agreement by which Brazos received much of its patent portfolio lists a California address for Brazos; only one of the officers listed on its website resides in Texas. Brazos’s CEO and its president reside in California. The accused products were primarily designed, developed, marketed, and sold from Juniper’s headquarters within the Northern District of California; potential witnesses who would be expected to testify as to the structure, function, marketing, and sales of the accused products are located in California. Juniper had a small office in Austin, Texas.The Federal Circuit vacated the denial of the motion to transfer and granted the petition. The “center of gravity of the action” was clearly in California: several of the most important factors strongly favor the transferee court. No factor favors retaining the case in Texas. View "In Re Juniper Networks, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Cheryl Thurston was blind and used screen reader software to access the Internet and read website content. Defendant-respondent Omni Hotels Management Corporation (Omni) operated hotels and resorts. In November 2016, Thurston initiated this action against Omni, alleging that its website was not fully accessible by the blind and the visually impaired, in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. By way of a special verdict, the jury rejected Thurston’s claim and found that she never intended to make a hotel reservation or ascertain Omni’s prices and accommodations for the purpose of making a hotel reservation. On appeal, Thurston contended the trial court erred as a matter of law: (1) by instructing the jury that her claim required a finding that she intended to make a hotel reservation; and (2) by including the word “purpose” in the special verdict form, which caused the jury to make a “factual finding as to [her] motivation for using or attempting to use [Omni’s] Website.” Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "Thurston v. Omni Hotels Management Corporation" on Justia Law