Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Appellant Sean Mocabee and Respondent Lindsey Wilson lived together, but were not married. In 2013, after receiving a large inheritance, Wilson fully funded the purchase of a home in Kootenai County, Idaho. Per Wilson’s instruction to the title company, Mocabee’s name was included on the deed. In 2017, Wilson and Mocabee split. Shortly thereafter, Wilson filed a complaint against Mocabee for quiet title, unlawful detainer and partition of the home. Mocabee answered and counterclaimed, seeking partition and for the district court to declare Mocabee owned a fifty percent interest in the home. Mocabee also moved for summary judgment arguing the statute of limitations barred Wilson’s quiet title action. The district court granted Mocabee’s motion for summary judgment as to the quiet title action. Then case then proceeded to trial on the partition action. Mocabee filed a motion in limine asking the district court to exclude evidence demonstrating Wilson did not intend to give Mocabee a fifty percent ownership interest in the home. The district court denied the motion. After a bench trial, the district court concluded Wilson had a one hundred percent ownership interest in the home because she had contributed one hundred percent of the purchase price and the evidence did not establish Wilson intended to give Mocabee any ownership interest. As a result, the district court held that a partitioning of the home was unnecessary. Mocabee timely appealed, arguing the district court erred in: (1) using partition statutes to deprive him of any interest in the home; (2) denying Mocabee’s motion in limine; and (3) concluding Mocabee did not own a fifty percent ownership interest in the home by way of a gift from Wilson. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Wilson v. Mocabee" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's final judgment compelling arbitration and dismissing the case, remanding with instructions that the case be remanded back to the state court. The court held that the claims between plaintiff and defendant do not derive from the same nucleus of fact as the federal claim that was the sole source of the district court's original jurisdiction, and thus the district court lacked supplemental jurisdiction over these state law claims. View "S J Associated Pathologists, PLLC v. Cigna Healthcare of Texas, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal seeking review of the district court's order remanding back to state court a partnership dissolution claim in an action that was originally filed in state court and removed to federal court. The panel held that 28 U.S.C. 1447, which governs procedure after removal and provides two separate authorizations for a district court's remand of a removed case, was applicable in this appeal. Furthermore, no matter whether the district court issued the remand pursuant to section 1447(c) or, as here, pursuant to section 1447(e), section 1447(d)'s bar applies; the accusation of legal error does not permit this court to sidestep the command of section 1447(d); and the panel rejected defendants' contention that section 1447(d) does not bar review because the district court remanded a single claim to state court while section 1447(d) prevents the review of orders "remanding a case." In holding that the joinder of a diversity-destroying party is not separable from a section 1447(e) remand order and is therefore unreviewable, the panel joined the Fourth Circuit. Finally, the panel need not decide whether section 1447(d) barred review of pre-remand decisions to sever claims, and mandamus relief was not warranted nor permissible. View "DeMartini v. DeMartini" on Justia Law

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Anthony Kapinski shot and killed two men for which he was arrested and prosecuted for murder. But at trial, the jury found him not guilty on the basis of self-defense. Trial evidence included video surveillance footage of the incident. Kapinski brought civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Detective Terra Juarez and the City of Albuquerque, alleging constitutional violations stemming from Detective Juarez’s failure to mention the video surveillance footage in her warrant affidavit for Kapinski’s arrest. He argued that if the court issuing the arrest warrant had been made aware of the video footage, it would not have found probable cause supporting the warrant. Detective Juarez moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, and the district court granted her motion. The court held Kapinski failed to show a constitutional violation because the video footage would not have negated probable cause for his arrest, and, even if Detective Juarez’s omission ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment, she was nonetheless entitled to summary judgment because the law on this issue was not clearly established. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed Kapinski failed to show a clearly established constitutional violation and therefore affirmed summary judgment. View "Kapinski v. City of Albuquerque" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue their claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiffs alleged that collection letters were misleading and unfair in falsely suggesting that they could be sued or that the debt could be reported to credit-rating agencies. The court wrote that plaintiffs seek to recover for representations that they contend were misleading or unfair, but without proving even that they relied on the representations, much less that the reliance caused them any damages. View "Trichell v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit's review involved an interpretation of an environmental regulation addressing the renewal of permits under Title V of the Clean Air Act. The statute and accompanying regulation allowed renewal of these permits only if they ensured “compliance with” all of the “applicable requirements.” The term “applicable requirements” was defined in the regulation, but not the statute. The Sierra Club interpreted the regulatory definition to require compliance with all existing statutory requirements; the EPA interpretd the regulatory definition more narrowly, arguing that the applicability of certain requirements was determined by the state permit issued under a separate part of the Clean Air Act (Title I). The Tenth Circuit agreed with the Sierra Club’s interpretation: the regulatory definition of “applicable requirements” included all requirements in the state’s implementation plan, and Utah’s implementation plan broadly required compliance with the Clean Air Act. So, the Court concluded, all of the Act’s requirements constituted “applicable requirements” under the regulation. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a stabbing that took place outside of an Idaho Falls bar. Steven and Audra Fell were patrons of the First Street Saloon, owned and operated by Fat Smitty’s L.L.C. (Fat Smitty’s). Towards the end of the evening, an altercation took place that resulted in Steven Fell being stabbed by another patron, LaDonna Hall. The Fells filed a complaint against Fat Smitty’s, alleging Fat Smitty’s breached its duty to: (1) warn the Fells, as invitees, of any hidden or concealed dangers in the bar; (2) keep the bar in a reasonably safe condition; and (3) protect the Fells from reasonably foreseeable injury at the hands of other patrons at the bar. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Fat Smitty’s, ruling that the Fells’ claims were barred by Idaho’s Dram Shop Act because the Fells failed to give Fat Smitty’s timely notice of their claims. The Fells appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fell v. Fat Smitty's" on Justia Law

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The Lorenzen Revocable Trust (“Lorenzen”) and David and Cynthia Pearson owned neighboring properties near Hayden Lake in Kootenai County, Idaho. The properties shared a common driveway. The properties were originally part of a 1,400 acre estate. Over the years, parcels were carved off the estate and frequently replatted. Two of those parcels included a cabin owned by Lorenzen and the “Red Barn” property owned by the Pearsons. The Pearsons purchased the Red Barn property in 2013 via quitclaim deed. Although the easement language was not in the Pearsons’ deed, the easements originally granted and reserved in a 1976 deed were recorded with the county and listed as exceptions from coverage in Pearsons’ title insurance policy. From 2013 onward, disputes over the shared driveway began. The disputes culminated in 2016 when Pearsons installed an electronic gate to control access to the shared driveway. In October 2016, Phyllis Lorenzen filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment to define the rights concerning the parties’ easement and access rights, as well as listing other causes of action. Four days later, Lorenzen filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Pearsons, seeking to enjoin them “from blocking or otherwise interfering with access” via the shared driveway. The district court granted the motion for a preliminary injunction, ordering Pearsons to provide an access code or remote control to the gate and restraining both parties “from blocking or otherwise interfering with access” to their respective properties via the shared driveway. The next month, Phyllis Lorenzen passed away. Pearsons later filed an answer and counterclaim, arguing that Phyllis Lorenzen’s death “ended the express easement” from the 1976 quitclaim deed. They also filed a motion to dissolve the court’s prior preliminary injunction. The district court denied Pearsons’ motions, and the case proceeded to trial with the injunction remaining in effect. In 2018 following a jury trial, the district court issued a decision finding that the easement language in the quitclaim deeds was ambiguous; both parties had express easements granted to them as well as their heirs, successors and assigns. The district court then denied Pearsons’ motion to reconsider from the bench. Pearsons argued on appeal that the district court erred in establishing a legal description of the easement from the Plaintiff’s land survey. They argued this matter required another hearing to present evidence to establish an accurate metes-and-bounds description. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, finding Pearsons failed to provide an alternative metes-and-bounds survey for the district court to consider despite having had months to do so. "Only after their counsel was repeatedly unavailable to the court when it tried to request information or schedule such a hearing, did the district court accept and utilize the only legal description admitted as evidence. Pearsons cannot complain over the results of their inaction now, especially when they failed to object to the admittance of the land survey as evidence at trial." View "Lorenzen v. Pearson" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review centered on a final order of the Oregon State Board of Nursing (the board) and the meaning of the term “time limitations” in ORS 183.645(1). That statute required the chief administrative law judge (ALJ) to assign a different ALJ to a contested case on written request from a party, subject to applicable “time limitations” that the chief ALJ has established by rule for submitting such requests. The chief ALJ established OAR 471-060-0005, under which the chief ALJ evaluated the timeliness of a request by determining whether a party had a “reasonable opportunity” to make an earlier request. Licensee Rebecca Pulito challenged a preliminary decision of the chief ALJ that denied her request for a different ALJ. In that decision, the chief ALJ determined that licensee had failed to take advantage of a “reasonable opportunity” to make an earlier request. The contested case proceeded on the merits, and the board issued a final order revoking licensee’s nursing license. The Court of Appeals affirmed without opinion. Licensee then petitioned the Oregon Supreme court for review. Licensee argued OAR 471-060-0005 was invalid because it did not impose a “time limitation” as authorized by ORS 183.645(1). Alternatively, she contended the chief ALJ erred in applying OAR 471-060-0005 because her request for a different ALJ was made within a reasonable time. The Supreme Court concluded OAR 471-060-0005 was invalid as written and that the error in denying licensee’s request for a different ALJ required reversal. Because that ruling was dispositive, the Supreme Court did not reach licensee’s alternative argument that the chief ALJ erred in applying the rule. The final order was reversed and the matter remanded for a new hearing. View "Pulito v. Board of Nursing" on Justia Law

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Joann Bashinsky petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for mandamus relief, seeking to direct the Jefferson Probate Court to vacate orders disqualifying her attorneys from representing her in the underlying proceedings and appointing a temporary guardian and conservator over her person and property. Bashinsky also sought dismissal of the "Emergency Petition for a Temporary Guardian and Conservator" that initiated the underlying proceedings and the petition for a permanent guardian and conservator filed simultaneously with the emergency petition in probate court, both of which were filed by John McKleroy and Patty Townsend. McKleroy had a professional relationship with Ms. Bashinsky that dated back to 1968, the year she and Sloan Bashinsky married. Townsend previously served the Bashinsky family as Mr. Bashinsky's executive assistant. She was the corporate secretary, controller, and chief financial officer at Golden Enterprises, and she served as Ms. Bashinsky's personal financial assistant beginning in 2017, often having daily contact with Ms. Bashinsky. At the time of the events in question, Ms. Bashinsky's personal estate was estimated to be worth $80 million, and her entire estate (including trusts and business assets) was valued at $218 million. Ms. Bashinsky's only blood relative was her daughter's only son, Landon Ash. The emergency petition, filed October 1, 2019, stated that loan amounts to Ash increased over time, and that Ash's total amount of indebtedness to Ms. Bashinsky at that time was approximately $23.5 million. Ash allegedly borrowed $13.4 million from Ms. Bashinsky in 2019 for his various business ventures. The emergency petition alleged that Ms. Bashinsky's financial transactions with Ash "are problematic in that, if the IRS were to review these loans, they might have tremendous tax consequences for Ms. Bashinsky." The petition stated McKleroy and Townsend witnessed a decline in Ms. Bashinsky's faculties in their discussions with her about financial matters. An evaluation from a geriatric physician at the University of Alabama opined Ms. Bashinsky suffered from dementia. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the permanent petition for appointing a guardian and conservator over the person and property of Ms. Bashinsky was not properly before the Supreme Court; mandamus relief with respect to that petition was denied. The Court determined an October 17, 2019 order appointing a temporary guardian and conservator for Ms. Bashinsky was void, as was the order disqualifying Ms. Bashinsky's counsel. The Supreme Court therefore granted the petition for the writ of mandamus as to those orders and directed the probate court to vacate its October 17, 2019, orders, to require the temporary guardian and conservator to account for all of Ms. Bashinsky's funds and property, and to dismiss the emergency petition. View "Ex parte Joann Bashinsky." on Justia Law