Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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American Cast Iron Pipe Company ("ACIPCO") petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court to review the Court of Civil Appeals' decision to reverse a circuit court's dismissal of a workers' compensation action. Suit was filed by Karene Stricklin against ACIPCO who alleged her ward and conservatee, John Gray, sustained injuries while an ACIPCO employee. The Supreme Court granted the petition to consider, as a matter of first impression, whether Article II of the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act ("the ombudsman-program article"), which encompassed § 25-5-290 through § 25-5-294, Ala. Code 1975, precluded an action seeking to have a benefit-review agreement declared void ab initio on the basis of a signatory's mental incompetency when that action was not commenced so as to comply with the 60-day period set forth in § 25-5-292(b), Ala. Code 1975. To this, the Court concluded that it did not, and, thus, affirmed the Court of Civil Appeals' decision. View "Ex parte American Cast Iron Pipe Company." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church, Inc., and Lee Riggins appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing their complaint against Donald Moulton, Sr., and Broken Vessel United Church ("the Broken Vessel defendants") pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P., on the basis that the claims asserted in the complaint against the Broken Vessel defendants are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the allegations of the complaint, when construed in plaintiffs' favor, were sufficient to sate a claim for a declaratory judgment. Further, the Court found the trial court erred in dismissing count one of the complaint against the Broken Vessel defendants on the basis that it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Watkins v. Matrix, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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A corporate shareholder alleged the corporation violated his statutory right to inspect certain records and documents. The superior court found that the shareholder did not assert a proper purpose in his request. The shareholder appealed, arguing the superior court erred by finding his inspection request stated an improper purpose, sanctioning him for failing to appear for his deposition, and violating his rights to due process and equal protection by being biased against him. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed the superior court’s order finding that the shareholder did not have a proper purpose when he requested the information at issue from the corporation, but it affirmed the superior court’s discovery sanctions. View "Pederson v. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation" on Justia Law

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Tarrar operated “a utility consultant business” in Contra Costa County. Associated issued Tarrar a comprehensive commercial liability and property insurance policy to “pay for direct physical loss of or damage to Covered Property,” and in particular to “pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain due to the necessary suspension of your operations during the period of restoration." The suspension must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property at the described premises. The loss or damage must be caused by or result from a Covered Cause of Loss.Based on the 2020 “shelter-in-place orders,” Tarrar made an unsuccessful claim for “business income loss.” The trial court dismissed Tarrar’s subsequent suit without leave to amend. While several California courts of appeal have resolved this issue against the insureds, one court held for the insured on the basis it had pled the element missing from earlier cases: it “adequately alleged direct physical loss or damage.” While Tarrar’s complaint did not allege the necessary “direct physical loss of or damage to property,” Tarrar should be permitted to amend. A plaintiff need not even request leave to amend an original complaint. Unless the complaint shows on its face that it is incapable of amendment, denial of leave to amend constitutes an abuse of discretion. View "Tarrar Enterprises, Inc. v. Associated Indemnity Corp." on Justia Law

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Respondent Neumiller & Beardslee filed a renewal request for a 2008 judgment and identified Estate Administrator Audrey Douglas as the judgment debtor without stating she was named in her role as the administrator of an estate as set forth in the original judgment. When it discovered this, respondent filed a motion to correct the error. The trial court granted that motion and corrected the judgment nunc pro tunc. Appellant Joanna Douglas-Dorsey, who was a beneficiary of the estate argued on appeal the trial court erred in correcting that error because it was not a clerical error. Remembering the “law respects form less than substance” the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Estate of Douglas" on Justia Law

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Crane filed a complaint for retaliatory discharge, alleging that his employment with Midwest was terminated after he reported numerous health and safety violations to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Crane was awarded $160,000 in compensatory damages and $625,000 in punitive damages. The appellate court affirmed. After losing the underlying action and paying damages to its former employee, Midwest filed a legal malpractice complaint against its attorneys and the Sandberg law firm, alleging that the attorneys failed to list all witnesses intended to be called at trial in compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(f), resulting in six defense witnesses being barred from testifying, and several other errors.The circuit court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss but certified a question for immediate appeal: Does Illinois’ public policy on punitive damages and/or the statutory prohibition on punitive damages [in legal malpractice actions, 735 ILCS 5/2-1115] bar recovery of incurred punitive damages in a legal malpractice case where the client alleges that, but for the attorney's negligence in the underlying case, the jury in the underlying case would have returned a verdict awarding either no punitive damages or punitive damages in a lesser sum?” The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court answered the question in the negative and affirmed the judgment. View "Midwest Sanitary Service, Inc. v. Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, P.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court in this appeal challenging a ruling of the circuit court concerning the constitutionality of House Bill 348 (HB 348) and remanded the matter with instructions to dismiss the action in its entirety without prejudice, holding that Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed for lack of standing.HB 348 partially adopted the Supreme Court's 2016 proposed judicial redistricting plan, including the recommendation of the Supreme Court that one of the divisions of general jurisdiction in the thirty-first judicial circuit be eliminated. Plaintiff initiated this action arguing that HB 348's elimination of one division of general jurisdiction violated section 112(3) of the Kentucky Constitution. In a mixed ruling, the circuit court concluded that HB 348 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's judgment, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege a concrete and particularized injury-in-fact to confer constitutional standing in her individual capacity. View "Bradley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The order dismissed his appeal of an Immigration Judge’s denials of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He presented several procedural and substantive challenges on appeal.   The Fifth Circuit dismissed the petition for review in part for lack of jurisdiction  and denied in part. The court explained that the BIA did not specifically discuss the IJ’s interpretation of the evidence, but it did reference the particular testimony on the severity of his attacks, the police involvement, and the affidavits that Petitioner alleged the IJ misconstrued. Even if the BIA did not agree with Petitioner’s contention about mischaracterizations, the BIA did mention the evidence that Petitioner alleges it failed to consider meaningfully. This is sufficient.    Finally, the court concluded, that it was reasonable for the BIA to conclude that the new evidence Petitioner presented would not change the outcome of his case. The medical evaluation Petitioner sought to submit would not have altered his case because the evaluation did not discuss symptoms and injuries related to the BJP attacks. Further, it was reasonable for the BIA to conclude Petitioner’s new declaration or affidavits would not have influenced his case, considering he already supplied a declaration and his testimony describing his injuries as minor could not be remedied with his additional evidence. View "Kumar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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In 2016, McLaughlin, the head of a business, was arrested based on an alleged domestic dispute with his former girlfriend, Olivia. In 2018, an Illinois court ordered all records in that case expunged, and the destruction of McLaughlin’s arrest records and photographs. McLaughlin sought an order of protection against Olivia. The terms of the parties’ subsequent settlement were incorporated in a judgment, which was sealed. Doe nonetheless posted multiple Twitter messages about McLaughlin’s arrest with McLaughlin’s mugshot, tagging McLaughlin’s business contacts and clients, and media outlets. Twitter suspended Doe’s accounts. The Illinois court issued a subpoena requiring the production of documents related to Doe’s Twitter accounts and issued “letters rogatory” to the San Francisco County Superior Court. Under the authority of that court, McLaughlin's subpoena was to be served on Twitter in San Francisco, requesting information personally identifying the account holders. In a motion to quash, Doe argued he had a First Amendment right to engage in anonymous speech and a right to privacy under the California Constitution. Doe sought attorney fees, (Code of Civil Procedure1987.2(c))The court of appeal affirmed orders in favor of McLaughlin. No sanctions were awarded. Doe failed to establish he prevailed on his motion to quash or that “the underlying action arises from [his] exercise of free speech rights on the Internet.” Doe presented no legally cognizable argument that McLaughlin failed to make a prima facie showing of breach of the settlement agreement. View "Doe v. McLaughlin" on Justia Law

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Petitioners were the proponents of Oklahoma Initiative Petition No. 434, State Question No. 820 ("SQ820"), which would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for recreational use. Petitioners asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction and to issue a writ of mandamus that would require Respondents to print SQ820 on the ballot for the November 8, 2022 general election. Before SQ820 could be placed on the ballot, it would still need to clear several other statutorily imposed hurdles set forth in the general provisions of title 34 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Chiefly, SQ820 would still need to survive any citizen protests challenging the sufficiency of the signatures or the rewritten ballot title. Because it was not clear whether any protests would be filed or, if some were filed, whether the protests could be disposed of prior to the deadlines for printing ballots and for mailing ballots to absentee voters, the Supreme Court decided on August 29th to assume original jurisdiction and hold this matter in abeyance so that the process could play out a little further. The Secretary of State took actions on August 31st that commenced a 10-business-day period to file protests. Prior to the September 15th deadline, citizens filed four protests. The Supreme Court denied two of the protests on September 16th. Once it became clear SQ820 could not be printed on ballots in time to comply with the deadline for mailing ballots to absentee voters that set forth in 26 O.S.2021, § 14-118(A) and 52 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(8)(A), the Supreme Court denied the requested writ of mandamus. View "Nichols v. Ziriax" on Justia Law