Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff Robert Kenney was a former employee of Defendant Helix TCS, Inc. (“Helix”), which provided security services for businesses in Colorado’s state-sanctioned marijuana industry. Kenney filed this lawsuit against Helix under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), alleging that Helix misclassified him and similarly situated workers as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime obligations. Helix moved to dismiss Kenney’s claim based on the Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”), arguing that Kenney’s employment activities were in violation of the CSA and are thus not entitled to FLSA protections. The Tenth Circuit concluded Helix wanted it to interpret the CSA in a manner implicitly repealing the FLSA’s overtime mandate for employers in the marijuana industry. The Tenth Circuit determined the “case law is clear that employers are not excused from complying with federal laws” because of their other federal violations. “Moreover, the purposes of the FLSA do not conflict with the CSA quite as directly as Helix implies. Helix cherry-picks among the enumerated purposes of the FLSA, citing only those most favorable to its arguments.” The Tenth Circuit did not draw conclusions about the merits of Kenney’s FLSA claims. Rather, the Court held only that Kenney and similarly situated individuals were not categorically excluded from FLSA protections. It therefore affirmed the denial of Helix’s motion to dismiss. View "Kenney v. Helix TCS" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting motions to remand to state court. AHI contended that it properly removed this case to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Plaintiffs had filed suit in state court against the helicopter owners, the Hecker Defendants, and the manufacturer, AHI, after John Udall died in a helicopter crash while touring the Grand Canyon. The panel held that the district court committed no error in finding that AHI was not "acting under" a federal officer by virtue of becoming an FAA-certified Designation holder with authority to issue Supplemental Certificates. In this case, AHI inspected and certified its aircraft pursuant to FAA regulations and federal law and could not make any structural or design changes without the consent of the FAA. The panel joined the Seventh Circuit in concluding that an aircraft manufacturer does not act under a federal officer when it exercises designated authority to certify compliance with governing federal regulations. View "Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law

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Jerome Speegle and Anthony Hoffman, two members of Zieman Speegle, LLC, a law firm based in Mobile, petitioned for approval of dissolution of the firm. Thomas Zieman, Jr., previously a member of the law firm, appeared in the action, asserting a counterclaim against the law firm and a third-party complaint against Speegle and Hoffman. Without holding a hearing, the trial court entered a summary judgment on Zieman's counterclaim and third-party complaint in favor of the law firm, Speegle, and Hoffman. The trial court also identified the equity-holding members of the law firm and provided for the distribution of the assets of the law firm. Because the Alabama Supreme Court held the trial court should have held a hearing, it reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Zieman v. Zieman Speegle, LLC" on Justia Law

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Tyler Taylor injured his right index finger while in the line and scope of employment with Imperial Aluminum-Scottsboro, LLC ("Imperial"). The issue this case presented for the Alabama Supreme Court's review centered on whether the defendant-employer engaged in third-party spoliation of evidence that would have been essential to the plaintiff's products-liability claim against the company. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court, finding Imperial culpable for negligent spoliation of evidence, and affirmed the award of compensatory damages to Taylor. The Court reversed, however, judgment relating to the award of punitive damages based on a finding of wanton conduct. View "Imperial Aluminum, LLC v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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In its 28 U.S.C. 1782(a) discovery application, ALJ sought a subpoena for documents from FedEx and deposition testimony of a FedEx corporate representative. ALJ alleged that FedEx Corp. was involved in contract negotiations and performance of two contracts between ALJ and FedEx International, a FedEx subsidiary. Each contract became the subject of commercial arbitration, one pending in Dubai, the other in Saudi Arabia. The arbitration in Saudi Arabia was dismissed. The district court denied ALJ’s application, holding that the phrase “foreign or international tribunal” in section 1782(a) did not encompass the arbitrations. The Sixth Circuit, reversed, noting that the Supreme Court provided guidance for interpretation of section 1782(a) in 2004. Considering the statutory text, the meaning of that text based on common definitions and usage of the language at issue, as well as the statutory context and history the court held that this provision permits discovery for use in the private commercial arbitration at issue. View "In re Application to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings" on Justia Law

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This case concerned whether the city of Tacoma (City) could be held liable for damages for imposing an unlawful condition on a building permit. The Church of the Divine submitted an application to the City to build a parsonage on property it owned. A single-family residence had previously been located on the property, but it had been demolished in 2012. City staff reviewed the permit application and placed a number of conditions on it, including, at issue here, a requirement that the Church dedicate a 30-foot-wide strip of land for right-of-way improvements to a street abutting the property. While the existing street was generally 60 feet wide in other areas, it was 30 feet wide next to the Church's property. This lack of uniformity had existed for around 100 years. The Church challenged the permit conditions, and the City eventually removed most of them but kept the requirement for a dedication. The Church appealed the decision to the City's hearing examiner, and the hearing examiner granted summary judgment in favor of the City. The Church appealed under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), in which it challenged the hearing examiner's decision and also sought damages under RCW 64.40.020. In addressing the propriety of the dedication, the court confined its review to the administrative record that had been before the hearing examiner and acknowledged that, in that record, the stated purpose by the City for imposing the dedication requirement was to create a uniform street. The court held that this reason was insufficient to justify the requirement and reversed the hearing examiner, invalidating the condition. A trial court denied the Church’s request for damages and the Church appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. The Washington Supreme Court revered however, finding that the City's subjective belief that the dedication was lawful did not determine what it objectively should reasonably have known. The Court of Appeals erred in reasoning otherwise. The matter was remanded for a new trial. View "Church of the Divine Earth v. City of Tacoma" on Justia Law

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Carmichael was an employee of the Railroad, which contracted with PTI to transport its employees to and between job sites. Plaintiff was riding in a PTI van in the course of her employment when the van collided with another vehicle, causing plaintiff severe injuries. Plaintiff settled with the driver of the other vehicle, for the limits of his automobile insurance policy, $20,000. Plaintiff sought a declaration that the PTI was legally responsible for her damages due to a statutory violation: PTI’s vehicle insurance policy did not contain the minimum coverage required by the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/8- 101(c)). In both an affirmative defense and a counterclaim, PTI argued that section 8-101(c) was unconstitutional. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 19 requires a party challenging the constitutionality of a statute to provide notice to the Attorney General, to afford the appropriate state officer “the opportunity, but not the obligation, to intervene." PTI avoided that process. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the counterclaim. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed that the counterclaim was not under Illinois law and remanded. A purported counterclaim that fails to allege an independent, substantive cause of action against the plaintiff and fails to make a specific prayer for relief but only seeks to defeat the plaintiff’s claims is really an affirmative defense, not a counterclaim. View "Carmichael v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court order was final and its retention of jurisdiction to review the arbitrator's decision did not destroy the finality of the district court's ruling pertaining to the enforcement of the arbitral summonses. The court also held that the district court's determination that it had ancillary jurisdiction was appropriate. However, the magistrate judge improperly found jurisdiction on two additional grounds: (1) the district court appointed the arbitrator; and (2) the parties agreed to jurisdiction of the district court in their arbitration agreement. The court interpreted the plain meaning of Section 7 as (1) requiring summonsed non-parties to appear in the physical presence of the arbitrator as opposed to a video conference or teleconference; and (2) prohibiting pre-hearing discovery. In this case, the district court abused its discretion in enforcing the arbitral summonses because the court lacked power under Section 7 to order the witnesses to appear at the video conference and provide pre-hearing discovery. The court also held that the district court's order denying CIGNA's motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement and compel an accounting constitutes a post-judgment order that is final and appealable. The district court abused its discretion here by allowing the arbitrator to review the claims that have already been paid. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Managed Care Advisory Group, LLC v. Cigna Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner and his attorney filed an ex parte application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, which permits certain domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings. The district court quashed the subpoenas after concluding that not all the discovery sought was subject to the state secrets privilege. Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that certain information requested was not privileged because it was not a state secret that would pose an exceptionally grave risk to national security and that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege was valid over much of the information requested, the panel held that the district court erred in quashing the subpoenas in toto rather than attempting to disentangle nonprivileged from privileged information. In this case, the underlying proceeding was a limited discovery request that could be managed by the district court. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Husayn v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Andrijana Mackovska filed suit alleging that Viewcrest wrongfully removed their personal belongings and took possession of residential property Viewcrest had purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court held that plaintiff waived his right to a jury trial by failing to timely post jury fees. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for relief from the jury trial waiver, because Viewcrest did not make a showing of prejudice; plaintiff's failure to file a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court denied his motion for relief from jury trial waiver did not preclude review of that order on appeal from the judgment; plaintiff did not have to show prejudice; and the trial court's order imposing sanctions must be vacated. View "Mackovksa v. Viewcrest Road Properties LLC" on Justia Law