Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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This panel originally held that binding circuit precedent required that it conclude that nominal damages claims alone could not save appellants' otherwise moot constitutional challenges. On March 8, 2021, the Supreme Court reversed the panel's opinion.On remand from the Supreme Court, which held that an award of nominal damages by itself can redress a past injury, the panel reversed the district court's dismissal of appellants' First Amended Complaint and remanded for further proceedings. View "Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski" on Justia Law

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After a trial before a three-member land commission, the district court awarded compensation to Landowners after the government took an easement on their land. The district court awarded Landowners $4.4 million, apportioned attorney's fees and litigation costs, and split the cost of the commission.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of just compensation and the splitting of the commission costs. The court concluded that the district court was within its discretion to weigh the evidence and to determine that the Landowners had shown a non-speculative demand for industrial and residential development in the reasonably near future. Therefore, the court could not say that the district court clearly erred in calculating its award of just compensation. The court also concluded that the district court has broad discretion in apportioning commission costs, and upheld its decision to do so. However, the court concluded that identifying the "prevailing party" for purposes of the attorney's fee award is a legal question that the court reviewed de novo. The court found that the district court erred in making that determination, concluding that because the government's $937,800 value is closer to the district court's final award of $4.4 million, the government, not the Landowners, is the "prevailing party" in this litigation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. 269 Acres Located in Beaufort County" on Justia Law

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A patient sued a hospital, arguing the hospital violated the Alaska Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA) when it temporarily assumed decision-making authority over his medical care while he was incapacitated and treated him without his consent or that of his parents, whom he had previously authorized to make medical decisions on his behalf if he were rendered incompetent or incapacitated. The hospital argued it was entitled to immunity under the HCDA because it held a good faith belief that the patient’s parents lacked authority to make medical decisions for him, based on conduct that convinced health care providers at the hospital that the parents were not acting in the patient’s best interest. The superior court agreed with the hospital and granted its summary judgment motion, concluding that the immunity provisions applied. The superior court concluded the hospital was entitled to immunity because its doctors had acted in good faith and in accordance with generally accepted medical standards. In a matter of first impression for the Alaska Supreme Court, it determined the superior court overlooked the requirement for specific good faith as to the authority or lack thereof of the patient’s surrogate or agent. The grant of summary judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Bohn v. Providence Health & Srvs - Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Schilling v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 646 N.W.2d 69 (Iowa 2002), that a deferred judgment counts as a "final conviction" for purposes of mandatory license revocation under Iowa Code 321.209 and noted that its intervening decision in State v. Tong, 805 N.W.2d 599 (Iowa 2011), did nothing to erode the Schilling.At issue was the use of a deferred judgment as one of the underlying convictions counted by the Iowa Department of Transportation to revoke Appellant's status as a habitual offender. Appellant's driver's license was revoked under section 321.209 for Appellant's having garnered three enumerated convictions in a six-year period, making him a habitual offender under Iowa Code 321.555(1). Appellant argued that the deferred judgment he received on the eluding charge was not a "final conviction" and could not be counted as one of the predicate convictions. The district court upheld the agency's decision, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lower courts correctly declined to depart from Schilling. View "Johnston v. Iowa Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Bennie Stapleton sued GEICO for abusing the judicial process after GEICO obtained a default judgment against him that was later set aside. An interlocutory appeal arose from the circuit court's denial of GEICO’s motion to dismiss Stapleton’s complaint on statute-of-limitations grounds. The Mississippi Supreme Court took the opportunity presented by this case to overrule the recent judicial expansion of Mississippi Code Section 15-1-35 (Rev. 2019) because earlier Supreme Court decisions "strayed too far from the statute’s clear text." The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "GEICO Casualty Company, et al. v. Stapleton" on Justia Law

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A majority of the active judges of the Eleventh Circuit voted to rehear this case en banc.This petition for writ of mandamus arises under the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3771. Petitioner, one of more than 30 woman who were victimized by notorious sex trafficker and child abuser Jeffrey Epstein, sought mandamus relief, alleging that when federal prosecutors secretly negotiated and entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein in 2007, they violated her rights under the CVRA. Specifically, petitioner alleged that federal prosecutors violated her rights to confer with the government's lawyers and to be treated fairly by them.The en banc court held that the CVRA does not provide a private right of action authorizing crime victims to seek judicial enforcement of CVRA rights outside the confines of a preexisting proceeding. The court explained that, while the CVRA permits a crime victim like Ms. Wild to move for relief within the context of a preexisting proceeding—and, more generally, to pursue administrative remedies—it does not authorize a victim to seek judicial enforcement of her CVRA rights in a freestanding civil action. In this case, because the government never filed charges against Epstein, there was no preexisting proceeding in which Ms. Wild could have moved for relief under the CVRA, and the Act does not sanction her stand-alone suit. View "In re: Courtney Wild" on Justia Law

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This case presented the Idaho Supreme Court with a fundamental, but previously unanswered, question: what duty is owed by a hospital to someone who is on its premises solely to visit one of its patients? Summary judgment was entered against Victor Dupuis in a premises liability case brought against a hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Dupuis was visiting his hospitalized wife in January 2017 when he slipped and fell on ice in the hospital’s parking lot. Dupuis sued the hospital, alleging inadequate snow and ice removal in the parking lot caused him to fall. Dupuis argued that the hospital had breached the duty of care it owed to him as an invitee. The district court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Dupuis was a licensee, and the hospital did not have superior knowledge of the dangerous conditions over that of Dupuis, and, therefore, the hospital did not breach any duty owed to Dupuis. Dupuis appealed, arguing the district court erred in determining that he was a mere licensee, rather than an invitee, and that even if he were a licensee, the hospital assumed and subsequently breached a duty of care to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. The Supreme Court found Dupuis was an invitee, thereby reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment, vacating the judgment entered, and remanding the case for further proceedings. View "Dupuis v. Eastern Idaho Health Services Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition filed under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that Petitioner's petition failed because of adequate alternative remedies.Petitioner asked the county court to order the clerk of the superior court to enter a final judgment in certain proceedings in that court. The judge denied the motion, concluding that the petition failed because there existed an adequate alternative remedy. Petitioner then filed his current petition asking the court to direct the trial court to either enter judgment or schedule a trial. A single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner's petition failed because of an adequate alternative remedy. View "Bishay v. Superior Court Department of the Trial Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant Wild Meadows MHC, LLC challenged the Superior Court’s dismissal of its petition for a writ of prohibition. The Wild Meadows manufactured home community (the “Community”) owned by Appellant, was located in Dover, Delaware. The Community was governed by the Manufactured Home Owners and Community Owners Act and its subsection commonly known as the Rent Justification Act (the “Act”). Appellee Intervenor/Respondent Wild Meadows Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) represented these homeowners. Multiple homeowners rejected Wild Meadows’ rent increase and, through the HOA, filed a petition with the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority (the “Authority”). The Authority appointed Appellee David J. Weidman, Esquire as the arbitrator under the Act. Before the scheduled arbitration, the HOA requested financial information from Wild Meadows relating to the Community’s recent revenue and costs. Wild Meadows refused to provide this information. The HOA moved to compel discovery and a motion for summary judgment with Weidman. In his initial decision, Weidman granted discovery of any financial documents that Wild Meadows intended to rely upon at arbitration, but he denied the HOA’s motion to compel the production of additional financial documents from Wild Meadows. Determining he could compel discover, Weidman ordered Wild Meadows to submit a proposed confidentiality agreement, and ordered the HOA to submit any comments on the draft. After taking both parties' comments into consideration, Weidman issued a final confidentiality agreement, rejecting many of the changes the HOA proposed. Wild Meadows refused to sign the confidentiality agreement and filed the underlying application for a writ of prohibition in the Superior Court. Wild Meadows argued to the Delaware Supreme Court that the Superior Court erroneously held that the arbitrator appointed under Delaware’s Rent Justification Act had authority to compel discovery and impose a confidentiality agreement upon parties concerning discovery material. Finding no reversible error in the Superior Court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wild Meadows MHC, LLC v. Weidman" on Justia Law

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Mary Clare Griffin purchased a bottle of Italian wine, which broke in her hands as she attempted to open it, causing substantial injuries. Griffin and her son, a minor who witnessed the event, brought a product liability suit against Zignago Vetro S.P.A. (Zignago), the Italian manufacturer of the wine bottle; Marchesi Antinori SRL (Antinori), the Italian wine company that purchased the bottle from Zignago, filled it with wine, and exported it to the United States; Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Ltd. (Ste. Michelle), the United States importer; S & C Importers and Distributors, Inc. (S&C), the Idaho distributor who purchased the bottle from Ste. Michelle; and, Albertson’s LLC (Albertson’s), the retailer that sold the bottle to Griffin. Zignago successfully moved the district court to dismiss Griffin’s complaint based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. Griffin appealed the district court’s decision, asking the Court of Appeal to apply the personal jurisdiction framework established by World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980). Griffin also appealed the district court’s order granting summary judgment to Antinori and Ste. Michelle on the grounds that Griffin failed to meet her burden to show a prima facie case for a product liability claim. Additionally, Griffin appealed several adverse discovery rulings. The Idaho Supreme Court found the correct test when determining personal jurisdictional issues remained the “stream of commerce” test adopted by the United States Supreme Court in World-Wide Volkswagen. Applying that test to the case here, the Court reversed the district court’s decision to grant Zignago’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court affirmed the district court’s decision granting Antinori’s and Ste. Michelle’s motions for summary judgment, finding it did not abuse its discretion in failing to grant Griffin’s motion to compel discovery against Antinori and Ste. Michelle. View "Griffin v. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates LTD." on Justia Law