Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Macanthony Canady petitioned the superior court for a writ of habeas corpus seeking early parole consideration under Proposition 57. He asserted the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (Department) regulation purporting to implement Proposition 57 was inconsistent with the Proposition. Specifically, the Department’s regulation did not consider conduct credits inmates earned while incarcerated in the calculation of inmates’ nonviolent early parole eligible dates.The trial court agreed with Canady and invalidated the Department’s regulations as contradicting the stated purposes of the Proposition. The Attorney General appealed, contending the order had to be reversed because the Department’s regulation was: consistent with the plain language of the Proposition, authorized by the broad discretion granted to it by the Proposition, and consistent with the voters’ intent in passing the Proposition. To this, the Court of Appeal agreed and reversed the trial court's order. View "In re Canady" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal held that Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 authorizes only one judicial peremptory challenge for each side in a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding under rule 3.516 of the California Rules of Court. The court explained that rule 3.516 modifies the normal procedures governing section 170.6 peremptory challenges in two ways to conform the procedures to the unique characteristics of a coordination proceeding. First, the rule requires the party making a peremptory challenge to submit it in writing to the assigned judge within 20 days after service of the order assigning the judge to the coordination proceeding. Second, the rule specifies that all plaintiffs or similar parties constitute "a side" and all defendants or similar parties constitute "a side" for purposes of "applying Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6." The court further explained that rule 3.516 does not displace section 170.6's fundamental directive that there shall be "only one motion for each side . . . in any one action or special proceeding."In this case, petitioners and other similarly situated California government entities filed suit against Real Parties, alleging claims for false advertising, nuisance, fraud, negligent failure to warn, and civil conspiracy arising out of Real Parties' manufacture and distribution of opioid products. Because the trial court correctly interpreted and applied the rule, the court denied the writ. View "Prescription Opioid Cases" on Justia Law

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Dennis Borden, individually and as father and next friend of his son J.B. (minor), appealed the dismissal of his defamation, negligence, wantonness and wilfulness claims against Bobby Malone and Malone's counseling clinic, B.L. Malone and Associates, Inc. Borden and his then-wife, Kathy Smith, received marriage counseling from Malone at the clinic. Borden filed for divorce in 2010. The complaint here alleged that in the divorce proceedings Malone "served in the role of custody evaluator" and recommended to the court that Smith be given sole custody of J.B. Instead of following Malone's recommendation, the court awarded Borden and Smith joint custody. The divorce was finalized in 2012. In 2019, Smith petitioned for modification of custody, seeking sole custody of the child. Borden opposed the petition, alleging that "during the pendency of an adversarial custody dispute involving litigation," Malone began seeing J.B. for counseling at Smith's behest without Borden's consent. J.B. allegedly related to Malone in counseling sessions many deeply personal statements concerning the child's relationship with Borden. Borden's complaint alleged that Malone made numerous defamatory statements in a letter to Smith's custody attorney, that was eventually presented as evidence in the custody hearing (the letter was stricken from evidence because that court ruled the counselor-patient privilege applied). After review, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court's dismissal of defamation claims to the extent it precluded Borden from maintaining his claim that Malone and the clinic bore some culpability for the dissemination of the letter beyond those who had a direct or close relationship to the custody-modification proceeding. Furthermore, the trial court's dismissal of the count alleging negligence/wantonness/wilfulness was reversed to the extent that it precluded claims based on a breach of confidentiality on behalf of J.B., which were not foreclosed by the litigation privilege. The trial court's dismissal of the claims asserted in that count as to Borden was affirmed. View "Borden v. Malone" on Justia Law

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In case 1190468, Lewis and Ellen Richardson, and in case 1190469, Sherry Phelps (collectively, "the landowners") appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Mobile County, Alabama in their respective actions against the County. The landowners asserted the County was responsible for flooding that damaged the landowners' personal property, allegedly decreased the value of their residential property, and made travel over the roads in their neighborhood unsafe and inconvenient. The trial court concluded the County owed no duty to remediate the flooding. To this, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed: the landowners did not demonstrate the County owed them a duty to prevent the flooding of their property. However, the Court concluded the County did owe a duty to keep its roads safe and convenient for travel, and the landowners could seek to enforce that duty. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the trial court in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Richardson et al. v. County of Mobile" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Miami Auto Max violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, seeking over $12,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages. After defendant refused an offer of judgment for $3,500, he went to trial and prevailed, winning a verdict for $97 plus an equal amount in liquidated damages. The district court awarded him 37 percent of his requested attorney's fees and taxed against him the costs incurred by the parties after the offer of judgment. Plaintiff appeals both the final judgment and the order awarding fees and taxing costs.The Eleventh Circuit dismissed in part and affirmed in part, holding that plaintiff's appeal of the final judgment is untimely and that his appeal of the order awarding attorney's fees and taxing costs has no merit. In this case, the district court acted within its discretion to award a reasonable fee in light of plaintiff's limited success at trial, where he recovered only $194.40 after demanding $12,795.30. Furthermore, the district court correctly applied Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 to tax the parties' post-offer costs against plaintiff. View "Vasconcelo v. Miami Auto Max, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded the judgment of the trial court in this civil case against Appellant based upon a finding that she had violated Va. Code 8.01-40.4 by unlawfully disseminating images of Appellee, holding that further factual findings were required on the issue of whether the voluntary-payment doctrine mooted Sheehy's appeals of the now fully satisfied judgment.Appellant filed two appeals after the trial court entered judgment. While the appeals were pending, the judgment was paid in full. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the voluntary-payment doctrine mooted Appellant's appeal. The Supreme Court temporarily remanded the case to the trial court for factual findings on the voluntary-payment issue, holding that it was necessary for the circuit court to make findings of fact for deciding the motion to dismiss the pending appeals. View "Sheehy v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a negligence action based upon the alleged acts of defendants when one of the plaintiffs was staying in a hospital after surgery and received a burn from spilled hot water. The district granted defendants' motion to strike plaintiffs' witness list and defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Civil Appeals. After its review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held the trial court erred in granting summary judgment striking the list of trial witnesses when plaintiffs were not provided time to respond to the motion to strike as granted by District Court Rule 4. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Shawreb v. SSM Health Care of Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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After decedent Charles Fulks died, his wife, petitioner-appellee Dorothy Fulks, filed the probate of his estate in the District Court of Nowata County, Oklahoma. An heir at law-appellant, the decedent's daughter, Tammy McPherson, objected to the probate in Nowata County. She argued that: (1) the decedent died in Osage County, and all of the decedent's real and personal property was located in Osage County; (2) pursuant to 58 O.S. 2011 section 5, the proper venue for the probate was solely in Osage County, Oklahoma; and (3) the case should have been transferred pursuant to the doctrine of intrastate forum non conveniens. The trial court determined that Nowata County was also a proper venue, and it denied the daughter's request to transfer the cause to Osage County. The daughter appealed, and after review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held venue was proper in Osage County. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Fulks" on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Court of Appeal addressed three consolidated appeals relating to a judgment for the return of a child in an international custody dispute. This case was retried after the Court reversed an earlier judgment marred by due process violations. After remand, the trial court again granted father’s petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), for return of the child to her father’s custody in Denmark, her country of habitual residence. The court also awarded father his attorney fees and other expenses as the prevailing party under the Convention and ICARA. Mother filed separate appeals of the return order and the fees award and two post judgment sealing orders related to the parties’ use of the transcript of the trial judge’s confidential interview with the child during the trial. The Court of Appeal determined mother’s appeal of the return order was moot because the child was nearly 18 years old, and the Convention did not apply after the child who was the subject of the return petition turns 16. The Court reversed the fees award, because mother had no opportunity for a full and fair hearing on father’s motion for fees. As for mother’s appeal of the postjudgment sealing orders, the Court found no merit to the appeal and affirmed the orders. View "Noergaard v. Noergaard" on Justia Law

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Defendants, who at the time of trial were current or former California Coastal Commissioners (Commissioners), appealed a nearly $1 million judgment after the court found they violated statutes requiring disclosure of certain ex parte communications. The Court of Appeal surmised the case turned on whether: (1) plaintiff Spotlight on Coastal Corruption (Spotlight) had standing to pursue these claims under Public Resources Code sections 30324 and 30327; and (2) the up to $30,000 penalty for “any” violation of the Coastal Act in section 30820(a)(2) applied to such ex parte disclosure violations. Concluding that Spotlight lacked standing and that section 30820(a)(2) was inapplicable, the Court reversed with directions to enter judgment for Defendants. View "Spotlight on Coastal Corruption v. Kinsey" on Justia Law