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McCormick County voters elected Clarke Anderson Stearns as their Sheriff in the November 8, 2016, general election. After the election, Appellants brought this action alleging "Stearns does not possess the necessary qualifications to be Sheriff of McCormick County." Based on that claim, Appellants "specifically request[ed]" the circuit court issue an order "enjoining the Defendant Stearns from serving as Sheriff of McCormick County." Before the circuit court action was filed, however, the losing candidate in the general election, J.R. Jones, filed a Title 7 election protest with the McCormick County Board of Canvassers. Jones filed the challenge on November 16, 2016. The county board held a hearing on November 21. By a vote of 3-to-3, the county board took no action on Jones's protest. Jones did not appeal the county board's decision. Jones then filed this action in circuit court on December 7, 2016, joined as plaintiff by the South Carolina Democratic Party and the McCormick County Democratic Party. This appeal presented two issues for the South Carolina Supreme Court's resolution: (1) whether a challenge to an elected official's legal qualifications to serve in the office to which he has just been elected must be brought pursuant to the administrative provisions of Title 7 of the South Carolina Code, or whether such a challenge may be brought in circuit court; and (2) whether the "certified law enforcement officer" requirement to serve as sheriff, found in subsection 23-11- 110(A)(5) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018), required the certification to come from South Carolina authorities, as opposed to authorities in another state. The Supreme Court determined the plaintiffs in this case were permitted to bring the action in circuit court, but the necessary certification to serve as sheriff need not come from South Carolina authorities. The Court affirmed the result of the circuit court's decision, which did not remove the elected McCormick County Sheriff from office. View "Jones v. South Carolina Republican Party" on Justia Law

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Beginning in 2009, plaintiffs sued defendants, including Associated Insulation, for injuries arising out of plaintiffs’ alleged asbestos exposure. Plaintiffs served Associated with the complaints. Associated, which apparently ceased operating in 1974, did not respond. The court entered default judgments, ranging from $350,000 to $1,960,458. Plaintiffs served notice of the judgments on Associated, but not on Fireman’s Fund. After entry of the judgments, Fireman’s located insurance policies appearing to provide coverage for Associated, retained counsel, and moved to set aside the defaults. Fireman’s argued “extrinsic mistake” because service of the complaint on Associated did not provide notice to Fireman’s and that it “never had the opportunity to participate in [the] lawsuit.” Plaintiffs noted that in two cases, they sent a “demand seeking coverage” to Fireman’s which was “acknowledged and denied” in 2012. Fireman’s had responded that it had searched all available records without locating any reference or policies of insurance issued to Associated. Plaintiffs did not respond with evidence of coverage. The court set aside the defaults. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that Fireman’s has a meritorious case and articulated a satisfactory excuse for not presenting a defense. Fireman’s established diligence in “seeking to set aside the default” judgments once they were discovered. View "Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Water Court denying Little Big Warm Ranch, LLC’s (LBWR) motion to reopen proceedings and its request to substitute as an objector, holding that the Water Court did not err when it denied LBWR’s motion to reopen cases 40M-171 and 40M-238 and when it denied LBWR’s request for substitution in those cases. At issue was two water rights from Big Warm Springs Creek and Little Warm Springs Creek - one claim for stock water and the other claim for irrigation. The Water Court in this case determined that LBWR was not entitled to substitute itself as an objector to Claimants’ water rights in Cases 40M-171 and 40 M-238 and denied LBWR’s request for substitution and its motion to reopen. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Water Court did not err. View "Little Big Warm Ranch, LLC v. Doll" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Victory Insurance Company’s (Victory) motion to change venue, holding that the specific venue provision in Mont. Code Ann. 33-2-1118 controlled over the general venue provision in Mont. Code Ann. 25-2-124. Appellant Matthew Rosendale filed a complaint against Victory, a Montana workers’ compensation insurance company with its principal office located in Custer County, Victory’s president, and a living trust formed under the laws of South Dakota and a Victory shareholder, seeking statutory fines and to enjoin Victory pursuant to alleged violations of Montana’s Holding Company Act. Appellant filed the complaint in the First Judicial District Court in Lewis and Clark County. Victory filed a motion to change venue to Custer County. The district court granted the motion on the basis that section 33-2-1118 controlled and that venue was proper in Custer County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that venue was proper in Custer County for all defendants. View "Rosendale v. Victory Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors ("Board") appealed district court judgments affirming in part, reversing in part, and remanding to the Board its disciplinary decisions against Michael Berg, Apex Engineering Group, Inc., Scott Olson, Dain Miller, Thomas Welle, and Timothy Paustian. Respondents Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian were former employees of Ulteig Engineers, Inc. Olson was terminated from Ulteig in 2009. In 2010, Berg, Miller, Welle, and Paustian resigned from Ulteig and, along with Olson, started a competing business, Apex. Following the Respondents' departure, Ulteig sued Apex and filed an ethics complaint with the Board, alleging Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian violated the Professional Engineers' Code of Ethics by disclosing Ulteig's confidential information and failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest by not informing Ulteig of their decision to form Apex. Ulteig also alleged the Respondents knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects that Ulteig had been contracted to perform before the Respondents' departure from Ulteig. The Board found that each of the Respondents had violated one or more of the provisions of the code of ethics. Respondents appealed the Board's disciplinary decisions to the district court. The court affirmed the Board's decision that Welle, Berg, and Miller failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest. The court reversed the determination that Miller, Welle, and Paustian had improperly disclosed confidential information. The court also reversed the decision that Berg, Olson, and Welle knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects Ulteig had been contracted to perform before their departure from Ulteig. The court remanded to the Board for reconsideration the discipline imposed on Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle, and Paustian in light of the court's reversal of the disciplinary decisions. The court also awarded attorney fees to Berg, Welle, Apex, Olson, Miller, and Paustian. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, the Board argued the district court wrongfully reversed the Board's disciplinary decisions because the decisions were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. The Supreme Court concluded a preponderance of the evidence supported the Board's factual findings regarding the improper solicitation by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. Those findings supported a conclusion that Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex knowingly sought or accepted employment for professional services for an assignment for which Ulteig was previously employed or contracted to perform in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6). The Supreme Court therefore reversed those parts of the district court's judgments relating to the violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6) by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. View "Berg, et al. v. North Dakota State Board of Registration" on Justia Law

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Wakaya Perfection, LLC and its principals sued Youngevity International Corp. and its principals in Utah state court. The Youngevity parties responded by bringing their own suit against the Wakaya parties in a California federal district court, then removing the Utah case to federal court. These steps resulted in concurrent federal cases sharing at least some claims and issues. The California litigation progressed; and in November 2017, the federal district court in Utah ordered dismissal. The issues presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether: (1) the federal district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction under the Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976) test; and (2) and arbitrator would have needed to decide the arbitrability of Wakaya's claims. The Tenth Circuit reversed on both grounds: the federal trial court applied the wrong abstention test and erroneously ruled that an arbitrator should have decided whether Wakaya's claims were arbitrable. View "Wakaya Perfection, LLC v. Youngevity International" on Justia Law

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In this case against members of the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners the First Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of attorneys’ fees in favor of Plaintiff and affirmed the court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s amended complaint, holding that Plaintiff’s supposed “prevailing party” status was not justified. Plaintiff, an individual with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, filed suit against members of the Board challenging the Board’s denial of his request for certain accommodations to assist him in taking the Rhode Island bar exam. The district court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring the Board to permit Plaintiff the requested accommodations, dismissed Plaintiff’s amended complaint, and allowed Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees. On review, the First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s success in gaining a TRO did not warrant an award of attorneys’ fees; and (2) the district court’s decision to allow the Board’s motion to dismiss the damage claim in the complaint was correct. View "Sinapi v. Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated when they were coerced by New York City officials into signing settlement agreements waiving various constitutional rights in order to avoid eviction from their businesses and residences. The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because the settlement agreements were "so-ordered" by judges in the state-court system. The court held that the district court's Rooker-Feldman ruling was erroneous because plaintiffs' alleged injuries were merely ratified by the state-court judgments rather than caused by them. In this case, plaintiffs were attempting to remedy an alleged injury caused when, prior to any judicial action, they were coerced to settle, not an injury that flowed from a state-court judgment. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Cho v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment brought by defendant AMN Services, LLC (AMN), and denied motions for summary adjudication of one cause of action and one affirmative defense brought by plaintiff Kennedy Donohue, individually and on behalf of five certified plaintiff classes she represented (together Plaintiffs). AMN, a healthcare services and staffing company, recruits nurses for temporary contract assignments. AMN employed Donohue as a nurse recruiter in its San Diego office between September 2012 and February 2014. During the first few weeks of Donohue's employment in September 2012, for any noncompliant meal period, Team Time, AMN's timekeeping system, assumed a Labor Code violation, and the recruiter automatically received the full statutory meal period penalty payment. At all relevant times after mid-September 2012, if a recruiter's meal period was missed, shortened, or delayed, Team Time automatically provided a drop-down menu that required the recruiter's response: if the recruiter indicated that she chose not to take a timely 30-minute meal period, AMN did not pay a meal period penalty; however, if the recruiter indicated that she was not provided the opportunity to take a timely 30-minute meal period, then AMN paid the full statutory meal period penalty. The operative second amended complaint, filed on behalf of Donohue individually and a class of similarly situated AMN employees and former employees, alleged: (1) failure to provide meal and rest periods; (2) failure to pay overtime and minimum wage; (3) improper wage statements; (4) unreimbursed business expenses; (5) waiting time penalties; (6) unfair business practices; and (7) civil penalties authorized by the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). In her appeal, Donohue challenged the grant of AMN's motion for summary judgment and the denial of her motion for summary adjudication of one of the causes of action. On appeal, Donohue also challenged what she characterized as the trial court's "fail[ure] to hear a proper motion for reconsideration" of the summary judgment and summary adjudication rulings. After review, the Court of Appeal found it lacked jurisdiction to hear the rejection of Donohue's motion for reconsideration; the Court found no issues of material facts and affirmed summary judgment in favor of AMN. View "Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-respondent J.W., through her guardian ad litem, sued defendant-appellant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) and others for: (1) negligence; (2) negligent supervision/failure to warn; (3) negligent hiring/retention; (4) negligent failure to warn, train, or educate J.W.; (5) sexual battery; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. J.W. was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. In July 2006, J.W. and Gilbert Simental belonged to the Mountain View Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to July 2006, at a different congregation, Simental served as a ministerial servant and as an elder. Upon joining the Mountain View congregation, Simental served as an elder. In July 2006, J.W. and three other girls were invited to a slumber party at Simental’s home. Simental had a daughter near the age of J.W. and the other invited girls. While in his backyard pool, Simental sexually molested J.W. and another girl (Doe 1) in separate incidents. Doe 1’s sister, Doe 2, had previously been molested on two occasions by Simental. Doe 1 and Doe 2 told their mother about Simental molesting them. The mother contacted an elder of the congregation, a judicial committee was convened, and Simental admitted he molested Doe 2 on two occasions, and that he molested Doe 1 twice on July 15. In two criminal cases, Simental was ultimately found guilty of molesting Doe 1, Doe 2, and J.W. In her civil suit against Watchtower, J.W. moved to compel further discovery responses. The trial court’s order compelled Watchtower to produce all documents Watchtower received in response to a letter sent by Watchtower to Jehovah’s Witness congregations on March 14, 1997, concerning known molesters in the church (1997 Documents). By November 2014, Watchtower had not produced the 1997 Documents, and J.W. moved for terminating sanctions. At a hearing on the sanctions motion, the trial court offered Watchtower four days to produce the 1997 Documents. Watchtower declined the offer and refused to produce the 1997 Documents. The trial court granted the motion for terminating sanctions and struck Watchtower’s answer. The trial court clerk entered Watchtower’s default. After considering evidence, the trial court entered judgment in favor of J.W. and awarded her $4,016,152.39. Raising multiple issues of alleged error, Watchtower appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment. View "J.W. v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc." on Justia Law