Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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The case involves a dispute between a married couple, identified as Br. C. and Be. C., who have three-year-old twins. The dispute centers around a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) that Br. C. obtained against Be. C. The DVRO was granted after several incidents of verbal and physical abuse, including Be. C. yelling at Br. C., throwing objects, and using derogatory language. The court also admitted into evidence three audio recordings of Be. C.'s abusive behavior, which Br. C. had made prior to filing for the DVRO.The Superior Court of Placer County granted the DVRO, which protects Br. C., their two children, and their two dogs from Be. C. for a three-year period. Be. C. appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting the three recordings into evidence and that substantial evidence does not support the DVRO.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District reviewed the case. Be. C. challenged the admissibility of the three audio recordings, arguing that he did not know he was being recorded at the time. The court found that the recordings were admissible under section 633.6, subdivision (b) of the Penal Code, which allows a victim of domestic violence to record a confidential communication if they reasonably believe it may contain evidence relevant to a restraining order. The court also found that substantial evidence of domestic violence supported the trial court's ruling. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the Superior Court of Placer County, upholding the DVRO against Be. C. View "Br. C. v. Be. C." on Justia Law

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The case involves Clifford Alan Dilbert, who filed petitions for clemency and/or commutation of his prison sentence with the Governor's office in 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2021. Dilbert claimed that he had not received any communication from the Governor's office regarding the processing of his clemency petition. He sought a writ of mandate to compel Governor Gavin Newsom to process his applications and reapplications for clemency/commutation, render a decision on those applications, and notify him of the decision in a timely manner.The Superior Court of Sacramento County sustained the Governor’s demurrer to the petition without leave to amend. The court concluded that Dilbert does not have a due process right to have his applications processed within a particular time frame and the law imposes no duty to process clemency applications within a particular time frame. Dilbert appealed this decision.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s order. The appellate court found that neither the California Constitution nor any provision of Penal Code sections 4800 to 4813 contains an express requirement that the Governor process clemency applications within a specified time frame. The court also rejected Dilbert's argument that the application instructions created an obligation for the Governor to grant discretionary clemency within a certain amount of time. The court concluded that Dilbert does not have a due process right under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and article I, section 7 of the California Constitution to have his application processed within a certain time frame. View "Dilbert v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a dispute between the City of Santa Cruz (City) and the County of Santa Cruz (County) over the interpretation of the City's claim presentation ordinance. The County sued the City for damages exceeding $1.2 million, alleging that the City's failure to maintain and manage a certain area led to emergency repairs. The County argued that it was not required to present a claim to the City before filing the lawsuit, as per the Government Claims Act (Gov. Code, § 810 et seq.). The City, however, demurred, arguing that the County failed to present a claim directly to the City as required by the City’s claim presentation ordinance (Santa Cruz Mun. Code, § 1.14.010).The trial court sustained in part and overruled in part the City’s demurrer, rejecting the City's argument that the County was required to present a claim before filing the lawsuit. The court reasoned that the City’s ordinance applies to claims that are “not governed by” section 905 (Santa Cruz Mun. Code, § 1.14.010), and the County’s claim against the City is governed by section 905, which provides an exception to the claims presentation requirement for the County’s claim against the City.The City appealed, arguing that its ordinance, which applies to claims “not governed by” section 905, must be interpreted as applying to claims “excepted” from section 905. The Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District agreed with the City's interpretation. The court concluded that the trial court erred in determining that the County was not required to comply with the claim presentation ordinance before filing its lawsuit against the City. The court directed the trial court to vacate its demurrer order, to enter a new order sustaining the demurrer, and to decide in the first instance whether the County should be granted leave to amend. View "City of Santa Cruz v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Taylor C., who was declared a ward of the court at the age of 14. After his wardship ended, Taylor successfully moved to dismiss his wardship petitions under the Welfare and Institutions Code section 782. He then sought to seal his juvenile court records. However, the juvenile court denied his request, citing his prior adjudications for committing forcible lewd conduct, which made his records ineligible for sealing under section 781, subdivision (a)(1)(F). Taylor appealed, arguing that the dismissal of his wardship petitions erased the adjudication of his offenses as if they never existed.The lower court had granted Taylor's motion to dismiss his wardship petitions, finding that the interests of justice and Taylor's welfare warranted dismissal and that he was no longer in need of rehabilitation. However, it denied his motion to seal his juvenile court records, citing the prohibition in subdivision (a)(1)(F) of section 781 on sealing records relating to his forcible lewd conduct offenses.The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Three affirmed the lower court's decision. The court held that the dismissal of a juvenile petition under section 782 does not obviate the prohibition on sealing records under section 781, subdivision (a)(1)(F) in cases involving certain delineated offenses. The court found that Taylor's records were ineligible for sealing because section 782, subdivision (e) provides that dismissal of a petition does not alone constitute a sealing of records and section 781, subdivision (a)(1)(F), precludes sealing due to the forcible lewd conduct offenses. View "In re Taylor C." on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between neighbors Matthew Olds and Mark Huelskamp, which escalated into an altercation on July 18, 2018. The details of the incident are contested, with Olds alleging that Huelskamp pointed a gun at him and punched him in the nose, while Huelskamp claims that Olds spat in his face and threatened him, leading Huelskamp to defensively strike Olds. Olds filed a civil suit against Huelskamp for negligence, assault, battery, actual malice, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.The case was initially scheduled for trial in May 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial was postponed multiple times. During this period, Huelskamp decided to present an expert witness, Shawn Paul, and disclosed this in September 2020. Olds objected to this, arguing that the disclosure was untimely and that Paul lacked the requisite training and experience to testify. The District Court initially allowed Paul to testify, but reversed this decision on the second day of trial, ruling that the disclosure was untimely.The jury found Huelskamp guilty of assault and battery, awarding Olds $13,700 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages. The District Court later reduced these amounts to $13,700 and $10,500 respectively, and also reduced Olds' claimed attorney fees from $105,869 to $91,300. Huelskamp was thus ordered to pay Olds a total of $115,500.In the Supreme Court of the State of Montana, the court found that the District Court had abused its discretion by excluding Huelskamp's expert witness from testifying. The court noted that Huelskamp had disclosed the expert witness over 13 months prior to trial, giving Olds sufficient time to prepare for cross-examination. The court therefore reversed the District Court's decision and remanded the case for a new trial. View "Olds v. Huelskamp" on Justia Law

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The case involves S.Y.C., who appealed the judgment of the Eighth District Court of Appeals dismissing her petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus against Judge Alison L. Floyd of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. S.Y.C. sought to compel rulings on motions pending before Judge Floyd, who was overseeing the child-custody cases involving S.Y.C., her former partner, and their two children. The Eighth District dismissed S.Y.C.’s petition as moot, finding that Judge Floyd had disposed of the motions.The case originated in the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, and was transferred to Cuyahoga County in 2016. It involved multiple appeals, petitions for extraordinary writs, and affidavits of disqualification. S.Y.C. filed a petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus in the Eighth District, alleging that Judge Floyd had failed to rule on “at least seven” pending motions filed between April 2021 and August 2022. Judge Floyd filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that S.Y.C.’s petition was moot as the motions identified in S.Y.C.’s petition had been ruled on or withdrawn or were not a motion and therefore did not require a decision from the court.The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Eighth District Court of Appeals’ judgment dismissing S.Y.C.’s petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus as moot. The court found that Judge Floyd had ruled on all the motions that were the subject of the petition, rendering moot S.Y.C.’s petition. The court also rejected S.Y.C.’s other arguments about Judge Floyd’s rulings, noting that S.Y.C. was essentially seeking an appellate review of Judge Floyd’s judgments, which is not the purpose of either procedendo or mandamus. View "State ex rel. S.Y.C. v. Floyd" on Justia Law

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In 2015, Universitas Education, LLC initiated a lawsuit against Jack E. Robinson, III, alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Robinson defended himself until his death in November 2017. After Robinson's death, the focus of the case shifted to finding a proper party to substitute as a representative of his estate. Universitas identified Lillian Granderson, Robinson's mother, as a suitable substitute and filed motions to substitute her into the case and to enter default judgment against her. The district court granted both motions.On appeal, Granderson argued that the district court erred in granting Universitas' motion to substitute and motion for default judgment. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to substitute Granderson into the case, but vacated the default judgment. The court found that Granderson had defended the case and no entry of default had been entered against her, which was a requirement for a default judgment. The case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court's opinion. View "Universitas Education, LLC v. Granderson" on Justia Law

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The case involves Sherry and David Lewis, who sued their auto insurer, GEICO, for allegedly breaching their insurance contract when their car was totaled. The Lewises claimed that GEICO undercompensated them by applying a "condition adjustment" that artificially reduced its valuation of their car and by failing to reimburse them for taxes and fees necessary to replace the car. They sought to certify a class of similarly underpaid insureds for each instance of underpayment.The District Court certified both classes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. GEICO appealed the decision, challenging the certification of the classes.The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the order certifying the class for the taxes-and-fees claim. However, the court found that the Lewises lacked standing to bring the condition-adjustment claim as they failed to show that GEICO caused them concrete harm when it applied the condition adjustment. Therefore, the court vacated the District Court’s order in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss the condition-adjustment claim.Regarding the taxes-and-fees claim, the court found that the Lewises met the requirements for standing as they alleged financial harm stemming from GEICO's pre-2020 practice of declining to pay taxes and fees to lessee insureds. The court also found that the class was ascertainable, meeting the requirements for class certification. View "Lewis v. GEICO" on Justia Law

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The case involves the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and its affiliates, who sued several medical practices in separate actions in the District of New Jersey. GEICO alleged that the practices defrauded them of more than $10 million by abusing the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits offered by its auto policies. The practices filed exaggerated claims for medical services, billed medically unnecessary care, and engaged in illegal kickback schemes. GEICO's suits against the practices each included a claim under the New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA).The practices sought arbitration of GEICO’s IFPA claim, arguing that a valid arbitration agreement covered the claim and that a different New Jersey insurance law allowed them to compel arbitration. However, each District Court disagreed, ruling instead that IFPA claims cannot be arbitrated. The practices appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts' decisions and compelled arbitration. The court found that the IFPA does not implicitly prohibit arbitration. The court also found that the IFPA claims before them should be compelled to arbitration under a different New Jersey law. Furthermore, the court concluded that GEICO’s IFPA claims must be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The court held that the arbitration agreement in the Plan covers the IFPA claims and therefore, must compel arbitration. The court also addressed practice-specific issues in the Mount Prospect and Precision Spine appeals. The court concluded that the District Court should not have granted GEICO leave to amend its complaint in the Mount Prospect case. In the Precision Spine case, the court held that the District Court abused its discretion by denying Precision Spine’s motion sua sponte because it was addressed to the unamended complaint. View "GEICO v. Mount Prospect Chiropractic Center PA" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute between Firexo Group Limited (FGL), a British company that manufactures fire extinguishers, and Firexo, Inc., a Florida-based company that was created to sell FGL's products in the United States. Scot Smith, a resident of Ohio, purchased 70% of Firexo, Inc. from FGL under a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA). The JVA included a forum-selection clause designating England or Wales as the exclusive jurisdiction for any disputes arising from the agreement. Firexo, Inc., which was not a signatory to the JVA, later sued FGL in an Ohio court over issues with the fire extinguishers. FGL sought to dismiss the case based on the forum-selection clause in the JVA.The district court granted FGL's motion to dismiss, applying the "closely related" doctrine. This doctrine allows a non-signatory to a contract to be bound by a forum-selection clause if the non-signatory is sufficiently closely related to the contract. The district court found that Firexo, Inc. was closely related to the JVA and therefore subject to the forum-selection clause. Firexo, Inc. appealed this decision, arguing that the district court applied the wrong law and analytical approach in determining the applicability of the contract.The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court agreed with Firexo, Inc. that the district court had applied the wrong law. The court held that the "closely related" doctrine, a federal common law rule, should not have been used to interpret the JVA's forum-selection clause. Instead, the court should have applied the law specified in the JVA, which was English law. Under English law, contracts do not apply to non-signatories unless certain exceptions apply, none of which were present in this case. Therefore, the forum-selection clause in the JVA did not apply to Firexo, Inc., and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Firexo, Inc. v. Firexo Group Limited" on Justia Law