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Plaintiff built a home on leased property owned by the Town of Vernon. The property is part of glebe land1 first leased by the Town in the early nineteenth century. The instant claim is premised upon an alleged covenant of quiet enjoyment in an 1838 deed in which the Town leased the land for the lessee “to farm occupy” and “to hold said granted premises with all the privileges and appurtenances.” Plaintiff obtained his interest in the leased land through a quitclaim deed from his wife in 2013. Plaintiff and his wife had received their interest in the property from a company controlled by plaintiff and a friend. A superior court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment with respect to a claim Plaintiff made that the Town breached a covenant of quiet enjoyment implied in the lease by not providing him access to the property. The superior court found that the pertinent section of "Stebbins Road" had never been officially laid out as a public road and that, therefore, plaintiff never obtained an abutting right of access over the road that would have survived the Town’s later discontinuance of the road. The Vermont Supreme Court determined that the Town had not been joined to earlier litigation in this matter, making resolution of this case by summary judgment improper; the earlier litigation also alleged the Town had not laid out Stebbins Road properly. "Joinder [was] required 'if the action might detrimentally affect a party's or the absentee's ability to protect his property or to prosecute or defend any subsequent litigation in which the absentee might become involved.'" View "Daiello v. Town of Vernon" on Justia Law

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This case was the second arising from the near-fatal assault of Michael Kuligoski by Evan Rapoza, who had previously been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder. Here, members of the Kuligoski family(plaintiffs) brought suit against Evan’s grandparents, claiming that they were liable for Evan’s assault of Mr. Kuligoski while Mr. Kuligoski was repairing the furnace at their rental property. Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the grandparents were vicariously liable for Evan’s father’s negligent hiring or supervision of Evan, who was there to help his father repaint an apartment. On appeal, plaintiffs sought to reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the grandparents. Plaintiffs argued the trial court erred by determining that grandparents could not be held vicariously liable for the attack because it was not reasonably foreseeable. In granting the grandparents' motion, the trial court concluded: (1) to the extent plaintiffs were alleging direct liability on the part of grandparents based on a claim of negligent supervision, that claim failed as a matter of law because it was undisputed that on the day of the assault grandparents were unaware of Evan’s mental-health issues; and (2) notwithstanding the ambiguity as to whether father was grandparents’ employee, grandparents owed no duty to Mr. Kuligoski because Evan’s parents did not undertake to render services by monitoring Evan’s treatment after his release from the Brattleboro Retreat and because, even assuming that father was grandparents’ employee, Evan’s assault against Mr. Kuligoski was not foreseeable. Given the Vermont Supreme Court's determination that, as a matter of law, no employer-employee relationship existed between grandparents and father that would subject grandparents to vicarious liability for any negligence on father’s part in bringing Evan to the workplace on the day he assaulted Mr. Kuligsoki, plaintiffs’ remaining claim in this lawsuit was unsustainable. The Court therefore affirmed, but on grounds different than those used by the trial court. View "Kuligoski v. Rapoza" on Justia Law

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Neighbors appealed the Environmental Division’s order dismissing as untimely their appeal to that court from a decision of the Town of Jericho Development Review Board (DRB) granting a conditional use permit to applicant Kevin Mahar. In late April 2015, applicant sought a conditional use permit for a detached accessory structure and apartment at his single-family home in Jericho. On appeal, neighbors argued the appeal was timely because they did not receive proper notice of either the hearing before the DRB or the resulting DRB decision. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded that at least some neighbors adequately raised a sufficient basis to reopen the appeal period and timely filed an appeal. Therefore, the Court reversed the dismissal and remanded to the Environmental Division for resolution of the motion to reopen the appeal period and, if grounds are found, an adjudication on the merits of neighbors’ appeal. View "In re Mahar Conditional Use Permit" on Justia Law

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The Hagys took a loan to purchase a mobile home and property on which to park it. In 2010, they defaulted. Green Tree initiated foreclosure. Hagy called Green Tree’s law firm, Demers & Adams, wanting to settling the claim. Demers sent a letter containing a Warranty Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, stating, “In return for [the Hagys] executing the Deed … Green Tree has advised me that it will waive any deficiency balance.” The Hagys executed the Deed. Demers wrote to the Hagys’ attorney, confirming receipt of the executed Deed and reaffirming that “Green Tree will not attempt to collect any deficiency balance.” Green Tree dismissed the foreclosure complaint but began calling the Hagys to collect the debt that they no longer owed. Green Tree realized its mistake and agreed that the Hagys owed nothing. In 2011, the Hagys sued, citing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. Green Tree resolved the dispute through arbitration. The court granted the Hagys summary judgment, reasoning that Demers’ letter “fail[ed] to disclose” that it was “from a debt collector” under 15 U.S.C. 1692e(11). The court awarded them $1,800 in statutory damages and $74,196 in attorney’s fees. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal and the underlying suit. The complaint failed to identify a cognizable injury traceable to Demers; Congress cannot override Article III of the Constitution by labeling the violation of any statutory requirement a cognizable injury. View "Hagy v. Demers & Adams" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Digital Ally, Inc. appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Utility Associates, Inc. The two companies sold in-car video and surveillance systems. Utility owned U.S. Patent No. 6,381,556 (the ’556 patent) by purchasing the patent and other assets in January 2013 from a supplier of in-car mobile surveillance systems. Utility and its CEO, Robert McKeeman, believed that the ’556 patent was potentially valuable and covered existing systems already in commerce. Thereafter, Utility sent letters to potential customers (who were at that time customers of competitors), including Digital Ally, regarding the consequences of purchasing unlicensed and infringing systems. It urged customers to instead purchase systems from Utility because it now owned the ’556 patent. In October 2013, Digital Ally sought a declaratory judgment of non- infringement in Kansas federal district court, but the suit was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over Utility. In May 2013, Digital Ally filed a petition for inter partes review with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to determine the validity of all claims on the ’556 patent. The PTAB instituted a review of Claims 1– 7 and 9–25 and determined that Claims 1–7, 9, 10, and 12–25 were unpatentable, and that Claim 11 was not shown to be unpatentable. Claim 8 was not reviewed. The Federal Circuit affirmed this decision. On June 4, 2014, Digital Ally filed this suit with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, containing nine counts against Utility, including monopolization, false advertising, tortious interference, bad faith assertion of patent infringement, defamation and product disparagement, and trade secret misappropriation. The district court granted Utility’s motion for summary judgment on all nine counts and denied Digital Ally’s motion for partial summary judgment. The Tenth Circuit, in affirming the district court's judgment, concluded Digital Ally failed to sufficiently argue the issues it sought to appeal, "[t]he failure to do so amounts to a concession as to the proof." View "Digital Ally v. Utility Associates" on Justia Law

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An ex-husband challenged three decisions made by the superior court during divorce proceedings. He argued the court erred by: (1) failing to enforce the mandatory disclosure requirements of the Alaska Civil Rules with regard to his ex-wife’s financial information; (2) improperly valuing the marital home; and (3) awarding attorney’s fees against him for vexatious and bad faith conduct. The Alaska Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion or clear error in the court’s rulings and therefore affirmed the judgment. View "Olivera v. Rude-Olivera" on Justia Law

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Shellie G. Spencer III ("Shellie III") appealed a probate court order admitting a copy of his father's will to probate. After reviewing the record under the ore tenus standard of review and applying the prevailing substantive legal principles, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the judgment of the probate court was supported by the evidence. The proponent met his burden of rebutting the presumption that the 2010 will had been revoked and establishing to the reasonable satisfaction of the probate court that the 2010 will had not been revoked. The probate court's notation in its order concerning Shellie III's failure to offer any evidence "in support of the application of [that] evidentiary presumption" did not amount to reversible error. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the probate court's judgment. View "Spencer III v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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21 U.S.C. 853(n) proceedings are civil and thus governed by the time limits in Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a), which are jurisdictional because they implement the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 2107. The clock starts to run at the issuance of the first order and does not reset at the issuance of the second order. In this case, the Second Circuit held that appellants did not file their notice of appeal within sixty days of the district court's order, as required by Rule 4(a). Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal based on lack of jurisdiction. View "United States v. Ohle" on Justia Law

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In 1996, the City of Gulfport filed an eminent domain complaint against Dedeaux Utility Company. Gulfport did not take physical control of the utility until December 20, 2004, after a jury awarded Dedeaux $3,634,757. Dedeaux appealed that verdict and Gulfport cross-appealed. In the first in a series of cases between these parties, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, and the second jury awarded Dedeaux $5,131,676 for the taking. Dedeaux again appealed, and Gulfport again cross-appealed. The Supreme Court again reversed and remanded in “Dedeaux II,” and the case was tried a third time, resulting in a jury verdict in favor of Dedeaux totaling $8,063,981. The jury found that the fair market value of Dedeaux as of December 3, 1996, when the complaint was filed, was $7,082,778. It found that the fair market value of tangible assets added to Dedeaux from December 3, 1996, to December 20, 2004, when Gulfport took physical control, was $981,203. Based on payments already made by Gulfport to Dedeaux, the trial court found that Gulfport owed Dedeaux $1,951,102 plus interest on the amount of $7,082,778, and that it owed Dedeaux $728,117 plus interest on the amount of $981,203. Gulfport appealed, and the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court on all issues except interest: the trial court had determined that Mississippi Code Section 75-17-1 applied and mandated that it award eight-percent interest. The Supreme Court determined that Mississippi Code Section 75-17-7 applied, which charged the trial court to set an interest rate. The Court then remanded “for the limited purpose of determining a reasonable rate of interest and issuing an order for payment of that interest.” In the fourth appeal, the only issue was whether the interest rate on the judgment was appropriate. Because the trial court failed to follow the Mississippi Supreme Court’s mandate to set an interest rate, it reversed and remanded for entry of judgment consistent with the evidence presented. View "City of Gulfport v. Dedeaux Utility Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central Railroad’s request for a setoff of a jury verdict awarded to Bennie Oakes through his representative Clara Hagan. As described by Illinois Central, who as appellant framed the issues for appeal, “This case is about whether, once those damages are assessed by a jury, a railroad company under the [Federal Employers’ Liability Act] is entitled to a credit or reduction of that verdict for sums that have already been paid by others to the Plaintiff for the same injuries and damages.” In Illinois Central’s answer, it raised an affirmative defense that it was entitled to apportionment or set off liability and/or damages for any negligence of or damages caused by third parties. However, Illinois Central later clarified its position that it was not attempting to have negligence apportioned, and the circuit court echoed the clarification by stating that Illinois Central had not “tried to use a third, an empty chair for any other defendants.” The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals misconstrued the primary case it relied upon and ignored other federal precedent; therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and the circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central’s motion for a setoff. View "Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Oakes" on Justia Law