Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiff's motion to remand his case to state court, where he wants to pursue his claim that a JAG colleague, defendant, is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law because defendant is licensed only in states outside of California. The panel held that defendant was "acting under" a federal officer within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(2). The panel rejected plaintiff's contention that this was not a "civil action or criminal prosecution" under section 1442(a)(1), and held that defendant was a "person" within the meaning of the statute; there was a causal connection between plaintiff's claims and defendant's actions taken pursuant to a federal officer's directions; and defendant raised a colorable federal defense under the Supremacy Clause. In this case, defendant was appointed by and reports to a federal officer and is permitted by federal regulation to practice law, in a specific and limited capacity, without becoming a member of the California Bar. Therefore, defendant has a colorable defense that this federal regulatory scheme preempts a claim by a private individual that would have the effect of invalidating those federal regulations in states, like California, that do not require all JAG Trial Defense Service attorneys to become members of the California Bar. View "Stirling v. Minasian" on Justia Law

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When a party that has suffered an adverse partial judgment subsequently dismisses any remaining claims without prejudice, and does so without the approval and meaningful participation of the district court, this court lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. The Ninth Circuit dismissed plaintiff's appeal of the district court's dismissal of her Rehabilitation Act claim. The panel dismissed the appeal based on lack of jurisdiction, because plaintiff voluntarily dismissed what she thought were her sole remaining claims without prejudice after the district court dismissed her Rehabilitation Act claim, and because the district court did not meaningfully participate in the dismissal of those claims and did not formally dismiss an additional remaining claim. The panel explained that the procedural posture indicates that the district court did not intend to enter a final judgment and that the retaliation claim is still before the district court. View "Galaza v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Bay Point in state court and added DCT as a plaintiff in an amended complaint, alleging that Bay Point's foreclosure of two properties caused him to lose the collateral's value exceeding the debt balance, and to suffer mental anguish. After Bay Point removed to bankruptcy court, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court's order in favor of Bay Point. Plaintiff and DCT appealed, but then the district court granted DCT's motion to dismiss. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff lacked Article III standing, because he failed to allege a particularized, actual injury. Furthermore, plaintiff was not a person aggrieved. Therefore, plaintiff may not appeal the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's order. View "Thakkar v. Bay Point Capital Partners, LP" on Justia Law

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Janice Tubbs challenged certain assets her father, Harry William Berkowitz transferred to himself after his wife passed away. Berkowitz and his wife, Janice's parents, created The Berkowitz Family Trust (the Trust). The Trust provided for the allocation of assets to a surviving spouse’s trust and a marital appointment trust (the Marital Trust) upon the death of either Berkowitz or his wife. The surviving spouse’s trust and the Marital Trust included a general power of appointment allowing the surviving spouse to designate a person who would receive the Trust assets. Under that power of appointment, the surviving spouse could designate himself or herself as the person who would receive the assets. Berkowitz exercised this power of appointment after his wife passed away and transferred all the Trust assets to himself, effectively divesting Tubbs and her children who were contingent beneficiaries. According to Tubbs, Berkowitz’s fiduciary duties as the successor trustee limited his exercise of the power of appointment. Berkowitz moved for summary judgment contending he had the right to transfer all assets to himself pursuant to the general power of appointment provisions, which allowed him to act in a nonfiduciary capacity. The court granted Berkowitz’s motion for summary judgment and found the general power of appointment provisions gave him unfettered discretion. Because the power of appointment was given to the surviving spouse, and not the trustee, the court rejected Tubbs’s contention that Berkowitz’s discretion was limited by his role as the successor trustee. On appeal, Tubbs contended the court erred because Berkowitz was bound by his fiduciary duties as trustee when he exercised the general power of appointment. Finding no error in the trial court's judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment. View "Tubbs v. Berkowitz" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed this interlocutory appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction and remanded the matter to the district court, holding that Appellant's challenge to the district court's denial of summary judgment was not a final, appealable order. Plaintiff, an inmate at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC), brought this lawsuit alleging that Appellant, an SBCC prison official, and other SBCC officials failed to protect him from a substantial risk of serious harm in violation of his constitutional rights. Appellant and the remaining defendants filed for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity. The district court granted summary judgment to all SBCC officials except Appellant. Appellant filed a timely interlocutory appeal, alleging that the district court erred because the undisputed material facts showed Appellant was not deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant's challenge rested on factual, rather than legal, grounds, and therefore, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "Norton v. Rodrigues" on Justia Law

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Keith sued its former employee, Butterfield, after he filed a patent application for what eventually issued as the 520 patent. The employer alleged that the patent was based on inventions made during Butterfield’s employment and sought declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity; alleged breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets; and sought correction of inventorship. Butterfield later sent the employer a covenant not to sue and moved to dismiss in part, arguing that the covenant not to sue mooted the declaratory judgment claims and that the applicable statutes of limitation and the doctrine of laches barred the state-law claims. The court dismissed the declaratory judgment claims but allowed the state-law claims to proceed. The parties later filed a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice (Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii)), which required no court order. Days later, Butterfield moved for attorney’s fees under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d). In denying the motion, the court cited the 2017 Supreme Court decision, “Microsoft” and held that Rule 54 requires a judgment, “a decree and any order from which an appeal lies,” and that the parties’ stipulation to dismiss did not satisfy Rule 54’s judgment requirement because it was not an appealable order. The Federal Circuit vacated, holding that Microsoft did not apply. Judgment in the context of Rule 54 does not raise the same concerns about finality and piecemeal litigation that motivated the Microsoft opinion. View "Keith Manufacturing Co. v. Butterfield" on Justia Law

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Respondent J.H. was ordered to pay restitution as part of a 2005 juvenile delinquency adjudication. J.H.’s wardship terminated on June 6, 2014, after which writs of execution were issued for the unpaid balance. J.H. subsequently moved to quash. The superior court granted the motion, finding the restitution order was no longer valid because the 10-year enforcement period for money judgments had expired without renewal of the restitution order as required by section 683.020 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The State appealed, contending restitution orders imposed in delinquency proceedings were not subject to the 10-year enforcement period of Code of Civil Procedure section 683.020. The Court of Appeal concluded that, while restitution orders in delinquency cases were enforceable as money judgments and could be converted to money judgments, they were not money judgments for the purpose of the 10-year enforcement limit. Accordingly, the Court reversed. View "In re J.H." on Justia Law

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Kyle Christianson appealed a district court’s judgment affirming the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s suspension of his driving privileges. Christianson claimed the Department’s hearing file, which was admitted at the adjudication hearing, was improperly certified as a true copy of the Department’s official records. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Christianson rebutted the presumption that the individual whose signature certified the record had authority to do so. Therefore, the Court reversed the hearing officer’s decision to admit the hearing file and vacated the Department’s suspension of Christianson’s driving privileges. View "Christianson v. NDDOT" on Justia Law

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Samantha Schweitzer appealed a district court order dismissing her petition for a child custody order. Schweitzer and Blake Miller have one child together, born in Wisconsin in 2014. Schweitzer had primary custody of the child after the child’s birth. On January 6, 2017, Schweitzer and the child moved from Wisconsin to North Dakota. On January 13, 2017, Miller petitioned in Wisconsin for joint custody and parenting time. After an August 2018 hearing, the parties stipulated they would have joint custody of the child and Schweitzer would move to Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin court entered an order on the basis of the parties’ stipulation. In January 2019, Schweitzer petitioned for an emergency child custody order and initial child custody determination or modification of child custody determination in North Dakota. Miller moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to decide Schweitzer’s petition. Miller claimed the Wisconsin court had jurisdiction to decide custody issues relating to the child. The North Dakota district court determined it lacked jurisdiction to decide Schweitzer's petition, and the North Dakota Supreme Court concurred with that judgment. View "Schweitzer v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, alleging disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Rehabilitation Act. At issue in this appeal is the enforceability of the parties' settlement agreement. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court properly exercised jurisdiction to decide the motions to enforce and subsequent motion for reconsideration; the district court did not err in concluding that the settlement agreement does not allow plaintiff to receive $150,000 because she has not elected disability retirement; and the district court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the settlement agreement is enforceable. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for the district court to consider whether the settlement is valid and enforceable, or whether a mutual mistake warrants rescinding it. View "Wise v. Wilkie" on Justia Law