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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court allowing Alarm Protection Technology (APT) to substitute itself as the plaintiff in this case and extinguishing Ryan Bradburn's claims against it, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting APT's substitution as plaintiff. After Bradburn's employment with APT as a sales representative ended he sued APT for alleged unpaid commissions. Executing on a confession of judgment it had previously obtained from Bradburn, APT initiated a constable sale and purchased Bradburn's legal right to sue APT. APT then substituted itself into this case for Bradburn and dismissed all claims against itself. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing complete substitution because Utah law permits the tactic used by APT in this case. View "Bradburn v. Alarm Protection Technology, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an indigent state prisoner, filed three pro se civil rights actions in the district court against various employees of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the City of Allendale. The Fourth Circuit joined the Ninth and Tenth Circuits to reaffirm that a district court's dismissal of a prisoner's complaint does not, in an appeal of that dismissal, qualify as a "prior" dismissal. Accordingly, plaintiff's motions to proceed in forma pauperis under the Prison Litigation Reform Act are granted. View "Taylor v. Grubbs" on Justia Law

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The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) creates a cause of action for “borrower[s],” 12 U.S.C. 2605(f). Tara and Nathan Keen got a loan and took out a mortgage when they bought their house. Both of them signed the mortgage; only Nathan signed the loan. The pair later divorced. Nathan gave Keen full title to the house. He died shortly afterward. Although Tara was not legally obligated to make payments on the loan after Nathan died, she made payments anyway so she could keep the house. She later ran into financial trouble, fell behind on those payments, and contacted the loan servicer, Ocwen. After unsuccessful negotiations, Ocwen proceeded with foreclosure. The house was sold to a third-party buyer, Helson. Soon after foreclosure, Tara sued both Ocwen and Helson, alleging that Ocwen violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601, which requires that loan servicers take certain steps when a borrower asks for options to avoid foreclosure. Tara alleged that Ocwen failed to properly review her requests before it foreclosed on her house. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Keen’s RESPA claims. RESPA’s cause of action extends only to “borrower[s].” Keen was not a “borrower” because she was never personally obligated under the loan agreement. View "Keen v. Helson" on Justia Law

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After being terminated by defendant Nike, Inc., plaintiff Douglas Ossanna sued his former employer. Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that Nike had unlawfully fired him in retaliation for his safety complaints and for whistleblowing. Based on his theory that his supervisors held a retaliatory bias against him, plaintiff requested a “cat’s paw” jury instruction informing the jury that, in considering his claims, it could impute a subordinate supervisor’s biased retaliatory motive to Nike’s formal decision-maker, an upper manager with firing authority, if the biased subordinate supervisor influenced, affected, or was involved in the decision to fire plaintiff. The trial court declined to give the instruction, and the jury returned a verdict for Nike. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court’s refusal to give the requested “cat’s paw” instruction was an instructional error that prejudiced plaintiff. The Oregon Supreme Court held the “cat’s paw” doctrine was a viable theory in Oregon. For an employer to be liable, however, a plaintiff relying on the imputed-bias theory also must establish a causal connection between the supervisor’s bias and the adverse employment action; the causation requirement for the claim at issue controls the degree of causation required to impose liability. The Court also concluded the trial court erred in declining to give plaintiff’s “cat’s paw” jury instruction, because the instruction was a correct and applicable statement of the law, and that the instructional error prejudiced plaintiff. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, reversed the trial court as to plaintiff’s retaliation claims, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Ossanna v. Nike, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Nancy Ortiz sued her former employer and former supervisor, Dameron Hospital Association (Dameron) and Doreen Alvarez (collectively defendants), alleging that she was discriminated against and subjected to harassment based on her national origin (Filipino) and age (over 40) at the hands of Alvarez, and that Dameron failed to take action to prevent it in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the FEHA). Ortiz claimed she was forced to resign due to the intolerable working conditions created by Alvarez in order to accomplish Alvarez’s goal of getting rid of older, Filipino employees, like Ortiz, who, in Alvarez’s words, “could not speak English,” had “been there too long,” and “ma[d]e too much money.” Defendants moved for summary judgment, or in the alternative summary adjudication. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that Ortiz could not make a prima facie showing of discrimination because she could not show that she suffered an adverse employment action, and could not make a prima facie showing of harassment because she cannot show that any of the complained of conduct was based on her national origin or age. The trial court determined that the remaining causes of action as well as the claims for injunctive relief and punitive damages were derivative of the discrimination and harassment causes of action and thus had no merit. Ortiz appealed, contending there were triable issues of material fact as to each of her causes of action, except retaliation, and her claims for injunctive relief and punitive damages. The Court of Appeal agreed in part, and reversed judgment. The trial court was directed to vacate its order granting summary judgment, and to enter a new order granting summary adjudication of Ortiz’s retaliation cause of action and request for punitive damages as to Dameron but denying summary adjudication of her discrimination, harassment, and failure to take necessary steps to prevent discrimination and harassment causes of action, her claim for injunctive relief, and her request for punitive damages as to Alvarez. View "Ortiz v. Dameron Hospital Assn." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Shirley Galvan sued her former employer and former supervisor, Dameron Hospital Association (Dameron) and Doreen Alvarez (collectively defendants), alleging that she was discriminated against and subjected to harassment based on her national origin (Filipino) and age (over 40) at the hands of Alvarez, and that Dameron failed to take action to prevent it in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the FEHA). Galvan claimed she was forced to resign due to the intolerable working conditions created by Alvarez in order to accomplish Alvarez’s goal of getting rid of older, Filipino employees, like Galvan, who, in Alvarez’s words, “could not speak English,” had “been there too long,” and “ma[d]e too much money.” Defendants moved for summary judgment, or in the alternative summary adjudication. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that Galvan could not make a prima facie showing of discrimination because she could not show that she suffered an adverse employment action, and could not make a prima facie showing of harassment because she cannot show that any of the complained of conduct was based on her national origin or age. The trial court determined that the remaining causes of action as well as the claims for injunctive relief and punitive damages were derivative of the discrimination and harassment causes of action and thus had no merit. Galvan appealed, contending there were triable issues of material fact as to each of her causes of action, except retaliation, and her claims for injunctive relief and punitive damages. The Court of Appeal agreed in part, and reversed judgment. The trial court was directed to vacate its order granting summary judgment, and to enter a new order granting summary adjudication of Galvan's retaliation cause of action and request for punitive damages as to Dameron, but denying summary adjudication of her discrimination, harassment, and failure to take necessary steps to prevent discrimination and harassment causes of action, her claim for injunctive relief, and her request for punitive damages as to Alvarez. View "Galvan v. Dameron Hospital Assn." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Wendell Brown sued his employer, the City of Sacramento (City), for racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). A jury returned a verdict in Brown’s favor. The City moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial. The trial court granted the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in part, finding that Brown failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to some of the acts found to be retaliatory. The trial court denied the motion with respect to other acts and effectively denied the motion for a new trial. The City appealed that part of the trial court's order partially denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing the remaining retaliation and discrimination claims were time-barred and barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The City also appealed that part of the order partially denying the motion for a new trial, arguing that juror misconduct deprived the City of a fair trial, and the trial court prejudicially erred in admitting evidence of the purportedly unexhausted and time-barred claims. Finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Brown v. City of Sacramento" on Justia Law

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A CTA bus passenger threatened Pickett, the driver. He took six months off from work while recovering. After his physician concluded that he could return to work (though not as a driver), Pickett requested a light-duty job. He was given one but four days later he was told that the CTA was not ready to permit his return to work. Pickett had been told that before returning to work he needed to complete a (provided) form and report to CTA’s Leave Management Services office, which would administer tests (including a drug screen). He ignored those directions until 2017. He was then approved for work and retired five days later. Before visiting Leave Management Services in 2017 he had filed an EEOC charge of age discrimination, claiming that during 2015 he saw persons younger than himself doing light-duty tasks. After receiving his right-to-sue letter, Pickett sued under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621–34. The district court granted the CTA summary judgment after denying Pickett’s request for appointed counsel without explanation. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court’s failure to explain its decision was harmless error. Pickett has not shown how a lawyer could have helped him overcome his biggest obstacle: he never took the steps that CTA told him were essential. View "Lawrence Pickett v. Chicago Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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After a valve assembly blew off a pump station pipe and injured plaintiff, he filed suit against Cal West on a theory of negligent design and construction. The jury returned a 9-3 special verdict that Cal West was not negligent. Plaintiff then moved for a new trial based on juror misconduct, and the trial court found that the juror misconduct did not prejudice plaintiff. The Court of Appeal held that the juror misconduct raised a presumption of prejudice, which was not rebutted by Cal West. The court held that jurors are not permitted to inject extraneous evidence, standards of care, or defense theories into deliberations. In this case, the juror at issue said that the Cal West design and construction met the "industry standard" and that anybody would have put the system together in the exact same way, and that anything that happened after the system was put together and tested was the vineyard's responsibility. However, there was no evidence of that, and the juror vouched for the design and construction based on his expertise as a pipefitter and farmer. But this case was tried on a negligent design and construction theory, and it did not matter whether ownership of the irrigation system transferred to the vineyard owner after Cal West built the system. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded. Finally, the court denied the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "Nodal v. Cal-West Rain, Inc." on Justia Law

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Alden and his ex-wife shared custody of their children. Alden’s ex-wife complained that Alden was trying to turn the children against her. The court-appointed psychologist, Gardner, evaluated the children, concluded that Alden was using “severe alienation tactics,” and recommended that the court limit Alden to supervised visitation and give full custody of the children to their mother. The court terminated Alden’s custody and ordered all of Alden’s visitation to be supervised. The Appellate Court affirmed. After three unsuccessful attempts to change the decision in state court, Alden filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Gardner, challenging the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as permitting state courts to take parents’ constitutionally-protected speech into consideration when deciding the best interests of the child and treating parents differently based on whether they are divorced. The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that Alden could challenge the Act in his state custody proceedings. The court stated: “This is abusive litigation. Alden, a lawyer representing himself, seems determined to continue the child-custody litigation in another forum even if that means exposing an innocent person such as Gardner to travail and expense. He concedes—indeed, he trumpets—that he has sued someone who he knows is not responsible for enforcing the state’s child-custody laws” and referred the matter to Illinois authorities for determination of whether Alden’s misuse of the legal process calls into question his fitness to practice law. View "E.A. v. Gardner" on Justia Law