Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Peggy Baltar’s home was destroyed by wildfire in 2014. She had a new house built on the same property. Her insurer, CSAA Insurance Exchange (CSAA), paid the full amount charged by her contractor for construction of the new house. Altar sued for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. According to Baltar, CSAA breached the policy by, among other things, failing to provide her with a complete and accurate estimate for replacing the original house, which would have provided her with a budget for the construction of the new house. Without such a budget, she claimed she was forced to build a cheaper house than the one destroyed by the fire. She claimed this, and other asserted breaches of the policy, amounted to bad faith and entitled her to punitive damages. The trial court granted CSAA’s motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of the company. Baltar appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Janney v. CSAA Insurance Exchange" on Justia Law

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The Travelers Indemnity Company of Connecticut (Travelers) appealed an order sustaining demurrers filed by Navigators Specialty Insurance Company (Navigators) and Mt. Hawley Insurance Company (Mt. Hawley) to the third amended complaint. Travelers sought to recover from other insurance carriers some or all of the amounts it paid to defend TF McGuckin, Inc. in an underlying construction defect litigation. Travelers contended the trial court incorrectly concluded that the causes of action for equitable contribution and equitable indemnity failed to state a claim. Travelers also argued that, in the event the Court of Appeal contends the trial court properly sustained the demurrers, the appellate court should order that Travelers be given leave to amend its complaint to plead a claim for equitable subrogation. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrers to both the equitable contribution and equitable indemnity causes of action. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "The Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Navigators Specialty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Railey clocked in and out of work at the Sunset Food Mart by placing her hand on a biometric scanner. She brought a class action in state court in 2019 alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Two years into litigation, Sunset removed the case to federal court, alleging that Railey’s claims were completely preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. Sunset explained the timing of the removal by pointing to an interrogatory response it received from Railey in October 2020 in which she confirmed her membership in a labor union.The district court found Sunset’s removal untimely. Citing the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the remand to state court. A Class Action Fairness Act exception for “home-state controversies” directs that district courts “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction” over a class action in which “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed,” 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(4)(B). Railey brought a putative class action on behalf of Illinois citizens against a small Illinois grocery chain under Illinois law. Sunset missed its preemption-based removal window. View "Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lakeside, a Michigan corporation, fabricates stone countertops in Michigan. Cambria a Minnesota LLC, is a nationwide manufacturer of countertop products. Lakeside buys “solid surface products” from manufacturers like Cambria. In 2011, the two companies executed a Business Partner Agreement (BPA) including a Credit Agreement, a Security Agreement, Order Terms and Conditions, Lifetime Limited Warranty, and a Business Operating Requirements Manual Acknowledgment Form. The BPA’s choice-of-law provision and forum-selection clause, in a single paragraph, state: This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Minnesota. Any proceeding involving this Agreement and/or any claims or disputes relating to the agreements and transactions between the parties shall be in the ... State of Minnesota. Pursuant to the BPA, Lakeside opened a fabrication facility in 2017. Discussions about Lakeside becoming Cambria’s sole Michigan fabricator led to Lakeside terminating the relationship.Lakeside filed suit in the Western District of Michigan, alleging breach of contract, violations of the Michigan Franchise Investment Law (MFIL), UCC violations, and promissory estoppel. The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit, finding the forum-selection clause unenforceable. MFIL’s prohibition on forum-selection clauses is a strong Michigan public policy and enforcing the forum-selection clause here would clearly contravene that policy. The MFIL claim is not Lakeside’s only claim, and the choice-of-law provision may be applied, as appropriate, to claims within its scope. View "Lakeside Surfaces, Inc. v. Cambria Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2019, Mallet learned that Bundy was its newest competitor in the sale of baking release agents, the lubricants that allow baked goods to readily separate from the containers in which they are made. Bundy was well-known for other commercial baking products when it launched a new subsidiary, Synova, to sell baking release agents. Synova hired two Mallet employees, both of whom had substantial access to Mallet’s proprietary information. That information from Mallet helped Synova rapidly develop, market, and sell release agents to Mallet’s customers.Mallet sued, asserting the misappropriation of its trade secrets. The district court issued a preliminary injunction. restraining Bundy, Synova, and those employees from competing with Mallet. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for further consideration of what, if any, equitable relief is warranted and what sum Mallet should be required to post in a bond as “security … proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” A preliminary injunction predicated on trade secret misappropriation must adequately identify the allegedly misappropriated trade secrets. If the district court decides that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted, the injunction must be sufficiently specific in its terms and narrowly tailored in its scope. View "Mallet & Co., Inc. v. Lacayo" on Justia Law

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Masiello Real Estate, Inc. appealed a superior court’s conclusions of law on its breach-of-contract, quantum-meruit, and negligent-misrepresentation claims following a bench trial. Masiello’s claims stemmed from seller Dow Williams’ refusal to pay it a real estate commission under their right-to-market agreement. Seller owned a 276-acre property in Halifax and Guilford, Vermont. In 2013, he executed a one-year, exclusive right-to-market agreement with Chris Long, a real estate broker who worked for Masiello. Seller and broker agreed on a $435,000 asking price and a fixed $25,000 broker commission. The agreement had a one-year “tail” that compelled seller to pay the commission if, within twelve months of the agreement’s expiration, seller sold the property and Masiello was the procuring cause. The listing agreement would be renewed several times after negotiations with prospective buyers failed. Michelle Matteo and Torre Nelson expressed an interest in the property. Nelson, having obtained seller’s contact information from seller’s neighbor, contacted seller directly and asked if he was still selling. Between August and September 2016, Nelson and seller discussed the fact that seller wanted $400,000 for the property and buyers wanted seller to consider a lower price. No offer was made at that time. The tail of a third right-to-market agreement expired on September 30, 2016. Between September and November of that year, Nelson and Matteo looked at other properties with the other realtor and made an unsuccessful offer on one of those other properties. Returning to seller, Nelson, Matteo and seller negotiated until they eventually agreed to terms. Believing that it was improperly cut out of the sale, Masiello sued seller and buyers. The superior court concluded that because the property was not sold during the tail period, and because Masiello was not the procuring cause, no commission was due under the contract. The court further held that there was no negligent misrepresentation and that Masiello was not entitled to recovery under quantum meruit. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Masiello Real Estate, Inc. v. Matteo, et al." on Justia Law

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The court of appeal consolidated appeals from three attorneys’ fees motions by a judgment creditor (Wertheim) seeking over $800,000 for its efforts to enforce a 2009 judgment entered after a jury awarded it approximately $39,000. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of fees as to the appeal bond fee motion but reversed, in part, the denial of fees as to post-judgment enforcement fees. The court noted that even standing alone, these fee claims are striking in relation to the amount of the underlying judgment and also must be considered in light of the more than 40 appeals occasioned by the parties’ competing businesses in the last 12 years. The court concluded that the motion for post-judgment enforcement fees was timely but characterized Wertheim’s litigation strategy as “unnecessary and objectively unreasonable.” View "Wertheim, LLC v. Currency Corp." on Justia Law

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Two juvenile dependency cases were consolidated for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review because they presented the same issue on review: whether the juvenile court’s dependency judgments establishing jurisdiction and wardship over each of parents’ two children exceeded the scope of the court’s temporary emergency jurisdiction under ORS 109.751, one of the statutes in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act as enacted in Oregon. Before issuing its decision in “J.S.II,” the trial court became concerned that these cases might have become moot, because the juvenile court had terminated its jurisdiction and the wardships during the pendency of the appeal. Having considered the parties’ supplemental briefs, the Supreme Court conclude that these cases were not moot. And, for the reasons discussed in J. S. II, the Supreme Court held the juvenile court had authority under ORS 109.751 to issue dependency judgments making the children wards of the court and placing them in foster care, but that it did not have authority to order parents to engage in specified activities to regain custody of the children. View "Dept. of Human Services v. P. D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, holding that it is not a departure from the essential requirements of law to permit discovery regarding the financial relationship between a defendant's nonparty insurer and an expert witness retained by the defense.This case involved a discovery dispute in an automobile negligence action. Plaintiff sought to discover from Defendant the financial relationship between Defendant's nonparty insurer and his expert witness. Defendant was ordered to provide the discovery. Defendant then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The Fourth District denied the writ but certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, thus approving the result reached by the Fourth District, and declined to readdress its holding or analysis adopted in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017). View "Dodgen v. Grijalva" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, holding that it is not a departure from the essential requirements of law to permit discovery regarding the financial relationship between a defendant's nonparty insurer and an expert witness retained by the defense.In this automobile negligence case, the district court passed upon a question that it certified to be of great public importance regarding whether the Supreme Court's decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 S. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017), forecloses discovery of the financial relationship between a personal injury defendant's nonparty law firm and the defendant's expert witnesses. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, thus approving the result reached by the Fourth District, and declined to readdress its holding or analysis adopted in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017). View "Younkin v. Blackwelder" on Justia Law