Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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DCI Credit Services, Inc. (“DCI”) appealed a district court’s order denying its request to vacate the order granting summary judgment and awarding costs and attorney’s fees to Nicholas Plemper. DCI also appealed the dismissal of the complaint with prejudice and awarding Plemper costs and attorney’s fees. DCI filed the underlying action in May 2020, alleging Plemper owed $4,321.00 to Bakken Property Management for goods and/or services, and that the claim had been assigned to DCI. In September 2020, the district court granted DCI’s motion for default judgment. In October 2020, the district court granted Plemper’s motion for relief from judgment. DCI did not file a response to Plemper’s motion; Plemper then moved for summary judgment. There were settlement negotiations among the parties between the time of filing the motion for summary judgment and the court’s order. The parties exchanged emails agreeing that the matter should be dismissed but disagreed on whether costs should be awarded. In December 2020, without a response from DCI, the court granted Plemper’s motion for summary judgment and directed the clerk to enter judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice and awarding Plemper his actual and statutory costs and disbursements, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Daniel Oster, attorney for DCI, had been seriously ill for about six months before he passed away on January 11, 2021. In February 2021, DCI moved to vacate the order granting Plemper’s motion for summary judgment, arguing: (1) Oster was not in good health during the time of the filing of the motion for summary judgment; and (2) there were ongoing settlement negotiations. Plemper filed a brief in opposition to the motion to vacate and requested the district court amend the existing judgment to add the attorney’s fees incurred in responding to the motion. The court denied DCI’s motion reasoning it failed to meet its burden and directed the clerk to enter judgment of dismissal and enter an award in favor of Plemper of actual and statutory costs and disbursements, including reasonable attorney’s fees. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, DCI argued the trial court erred in denying its motion to vacate because its late attorney kept his illness a secret. DCI also argued the court abused its discretion in awarding costs and attorney’s fees to Plemper. The Supreme Court affirmed in part the district court’s order denying DCI’s motion to vacate the order. The Supreme Court reversed in part the court’s order awarding costs and attorney’s fees and reversed in part the judgment awarding costs and attorney’s fees to Plemper in the amount of $1,625.00. View "DCI Credit Services v. Plemper" on Justia Law

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Tioga Properties, LLC, appealed a district court judgment awarding Wades Welding, LLC $27,669.90 relating to Wades Welding’s lawsuit for enforcement of construction liens and unjust enrichment. Janice Ellsworth owned Tioga Properties. Tioga Properties owned a restaurant and home (referred to by the parties as a “mobile home”) adjacent to each other in Tioga, North Dakota. Susan Gordon leased the restaurant from Tioga Properties. Gordon delivered rent payments to John Ellsworth Jr., Janice Ellsworth’s son. Gordon resided in the home but had no written lease for that property. In late 2016 and early 2017, Gordon hired Wades Welding to repair the home and restaurant. Wades Welding performed $19,840 of work on the home and $2,500 of work on the restaurant. Wades Welding delivered the invoices for its work to Ellsworth Jr. A day after Wades Welding completed its work at the home, Ellsworth evicted Gordon from the restaurant and home. Ellsworth Jr. supervised the eviction and Gordon left both properties within 48 hours. In December 2017, Wades Welding recorded construction liens against the properties after Tioga Properties failed to pay for the repairs. Tioga Properties sold the restaurant in July 2019. In September 2019, Tioga Properties served on Wades Welding a demand to enforce the home lien. In October 2019, Wades Welding sued Tioga Properties for breach of contract, foreclosure of the construction liens and unjust enrichment. Tioga Properties denied the allegations, claiming it did not authorize Wades Welding's work on the properties. The district court found Wades Welding's construction liens on both properties were valid, and ordered foreclosure of the home lien. The court found the lien on the restaurant was unenforceable due to a service error, but nonetheless awarded Wades Welding the amount of the repaired under the doctrine of unjust enrichment. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Wades Welding. View "Wades Welding v. Tioga Properties" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit dismissed the Media Entities' appeal of the district court's denial of their motion to intervene and in support of unsealing and vacating non-disclosure orders entered in two cases that were pending before that court. In this case, after briefing in the appeal concluded, the district court unsealed both cases and lifted the non-disclosure orders. The court held that the district court's recent orders in the underlying proceedings have rendered the Media Entities' appeal moot. The court explained that, at bottom, the Media Entities sought to intervene to challenge orders that are no longer in effect. View "In re: Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed on a limited basis the district court's ruling that Plaintiffs suit must be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that dismissal was required.Plaintiff, a New York resident, brought this suit over a for-profit Israeli corporation that ranked the performance of United States investment analysts, claiming that that company defamed her in Massachusetts by posting a low rating of her professional performance. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden to adduce evidence of specific facts sufficient to satisfy the requirements of constitutional due process for the exercise of personal jurisdiction. View "Lin v. TipRanks, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Scholz was honorably discharged following her 2006-2008 Army tour of duty in Iraq but the mental and physical toll of her service continued. Scholz required a range of medical treatments. Scholz sought two courses of inpatient mental health treatment at the Tomah VA Medical Center in 2011. Later, while receiving outpatient mental health treatment through the Tomah VAMC, she consulted surgeons at the Zablocki VA Medical Center about elective breast reduction surgery. An unrelated psychological assessment performed at Zablocki VAMC raised concerns about Scholz’s mental health. Zablocki VAMC surgeons performed elective breast reduction surgery in 2012, igniting multiple complications. Scholz continued to receive outpatient mental health treatment, including prescription medications, from various VA providers through late 2018.Scholz has two lawsuits pending against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671–2680. The government argued that the second suit on the same, or essentially the same, operative facts, was precluded on claim-splitting grounds. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Scholz’s theory amounts to “arbitrarily splitting the treatment timeline.” In both suits, she mentions her treatment for mental health issues, her breast reduction surgery, the unsafe prescribing of medications, and improper record handling. Both suits arise out of Scholz’s treatment at various VA locations in 2011-2018 and mention the same alleged incidents. View "Scholz v. United States" on Justia Law

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National American Insurance Company ("NAICO") brought suit against New Dominion, LLC, seeking a declaratory judgment that four consecutive commercial general liability policies it issued to New Dominion did not provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage claims asserted in a number of separate lawsuits ("the Earthquake Lawsuits"). These claims allegedly arose out of seismic activity caused by New Dominion's oil and gas operations. New Dominion filed a counterclaim alleging breach of contract, seeking defense and indemnity, and asserting equitable claims for estoppel and reformation. The trial court bifurcated the issues pleaded, conducted separate bench trials for the contract interpretation questions and the equitable claims. Following the first bench trial, the court issued a declaratory judgment holding that the Total Pollution Exclusions and the Subsidence and Earth Movement Exclusions in the commercial general liability policies clearly and unambiguously precluded coverage for the claims asserted in the Earthquake Lawsuits. Following the second trial, the court estopped NAICO from denying claims for bodily injury during one of the four policy periods but denied all other equitable claims. Both parties appealed, raising "a litany" of issues with the trial court's orders. The Oklahoma Supreme Court joined the cases and held: (1) the Total Pollution Exclusions did not clearly and unambiguously preclude coverage; (2) the Subsidence and Earth Movement Exclusions clearly and unambiguously precluded coverage; and (3) there was no basis for New Dominion's estoppel or reformation claims. View "National American Ins. Co. v. New Dominion" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Petitioner's petition seeking a writ of mandamus and/or a writ of procedendo to compel Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway to rule on Petitioner's jurisdictional motion, holding that there was no error.Petitioner filed a "Motion Challenging Subject Matter Jurisdiction of Trial Judge Pursuant to Sup.R. 4, Sup.R. 36, Hamilton County Local Rule 7(E), O.R.C. 2701.031" and then later filed his petition seeking to compel Judge Hatheway to rule on his motion. Eight days after Petitioner filed his petition Judge Heathway issued an entry dismissing Petitioner's motion on res judicata grounds. In dismissing Petitioner's petition, the court of appeals determined that the procedendo claim was moot and that a writ of mandamus was not the proper remedy to redress Petitioner's alleged injury. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals properly dismissed the procedendo claim as moot and that mandamus could not lie. View "State ex rel. Roberts v. Hatheway" on Justia Law

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Elation sued Fenn and Shi for breach of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) (against Shi only) entered during the course of Shi’s prior employment with Elation and breach of a confidential settlement agreement and mutual release (Settlement Agreement) (against both defendants) entered to resolve a prior action between the parties. The defendants filed a cross-complaint, alleging Elation’s breach of the Settlement Agreement. Elation admitted to liability and stipulated to $10,000 in liquidated damages on the cross-claim for breach of the Settlement Agreement. A jury found that Shi had breached the NDA and harmed Elation, and awarded Elation $10,000 in damages. The court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), denied Elation’s motion for injunctive relief, and awarded defendants $700,000 in attorney fees.The court of appeal reversed in part. The trial court should have awarded Elation nominal damages on its NDA claim, as defendants’ JNOV motion did not challenge the jury’s finding that Shi breached the NDA. Substantial evidence did not support the jury’s finding in Elation’s favor on its Settlement Agreement claim. The court affirmed the order granting JNOV as to Elation’s Settlement Agreement claim and vacated the award of attorney fees. View "Elation Systems, Inc. v. Fenn Bridge LLC" on Justia Law

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SHI, owned by Vik, borrowed funds from Deutsche Bank (Bank). SHI entered a limited partnership (LP) agreement with Devon and invested $25 million, Bank issued margin calls. SHI claimed that it lacked funds to satisfy the calls. Bank sued SHI in England and Wales and received a $235,646,345 judgment, which SHI has not satisfied. SHI transferred the Devon Interest to CPR (allegedly related to Vik's father). SHI paid Devon millions of dollars for the transfer. Devon made fund distributions to the limited partners but had difficulties transmitting proceeds to CPR. CPR initiated arbitration to compel Devon to release the Proceeds. The arbitrator denied Bank’s request to intervene. Devon raised counterclaims, seeking a declaration whether the assignment to CPR was enforceable.Meanwhile, Bank sued CPR, SHI, and Devon in Delaware, alleging a conspiracy to commit fraud. The arbitrator denied Devon’s motion to stay proceedings. Devon then refused to participate in the arbitration. The arbitrator awarded CPR the proceeds, plus prejudgment interest, CPR petitioned to confirm the arbitration award; in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Devon attempted to interplead Deutsche Bank. Bank answered and sought to set aside the purported transfer of the Devon Interest to CPR, to declare SHI and CPR alter egos, and to find Devon, CPR, and SHI liable for fraud and conspiracy. The Third Circuit affirmed orders confirming the arbitration award, striking the interpleader complaint, and dismissing all third parties and claims and Devon’s counterclaim. View "CPR Management SA v. Devon Park Bioventures LP" on Justia Law

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In July 2015, R.N. went boating on Lake Coeur d’Alene with his friends, C.N. and B.L. All three boys were sixteen years old at the time. The boat was owned by C.N.’s father. C.N., B.L., and R.N. obtained about 12 beers from an unknown source and consumed them while boating. Later, the boys stopped at Shooters, a restaurant and bar near the south end of the lake. Respondent Tracy Lynn allegedly provided C.N., B.L., and R.N. with an alcoholic drink known as a “Shooter sinker” (also known as a “derailer”). The boys left the restaurant and drank the derailer on the lake. At some point during the trip, R.N. jumped or fell off the boat into the water and drowned. Appellant-plaintiffs Brandi Jones (R.N.'s mother), and Dasha Drahos (R.N.'s sister) filed a complaint against Lynn, alleging she recklessly and tortiously caused R.N.’s death by providing him with alcohol before he drowned in Lake Coeur d’Alene. Lynn moved for summary judgment, asking the district court to dismiss the case because the Plaintiffs failed to comply with the notice requirements under Idaho’s Dram Shop Act. The district court agreed and granted Lynn’s motion for summary judgment after concluding there was no uniform body of federal maritime dram shop law that would preempt Idaho’s Dram Shop Act. Thus, the Plaintiffs had to comply with the Dram Shop Act’s notice requirements. The Plaintiffs appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Finding that the district court correctly applied with the Idaho Dram Shop Act after concluding the Act did not conflict with any uniform federal common law, and that the district court did not err in finding Appellants' claims were barred because they did not comply with the Dram Shop Act, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Jones v. Lynn" on Justia Law