Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
Henson v. Fidelity National Financial Inc.
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion for relief from judgment in an action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). In Phelps v. Alameida, 569 F.3d 1120, 1135–40 (9th Cir. 2009), the panel set out the analysis that courts should employ to guide their discretion when evaluating the merits of a Rule 60(b)(6) motion that seeks relief from the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition on the ground of an intervening change in the law. In this case, plaintiffs sought relief from judgment based on an intervening change of law in Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 1702 (2017). The panel held that many of the Phelps factors were relevant to the Rule 60(b)(6) analysis in the present context, and reemphasized that courts must consider all of the relevant circumstances surrounding the specific motion before the court in order to ensure that justice be done in light of all the facts. In this case, the panel held that the district court's denial of plaintiffs' Rule 60(b)(6) motion rested upon an erroneous view of the law as to several significant factors, and thus the panel remanded with directions. View "Henson v. Fidelity National Financial Inc." on Justia Law
Ex parte Kristi Kelley.
This case addressed whether a foster-care provider and a caseworker for the Department of Human Resources ("DHR") were immune from liability. Arnold Curry filed this wrongful-death action against Becky Van Gilder, a licensed foster-care provider, and Kristi Kelley, a caseworker with the Montgomery County, Alabama DHR office, seeking damages for the death of his nine-year-old son A.C., who died of complications related to sickle-cell anemia after DHR removed him from Curry's home. Curry alleged that Van Gilder had acted negligently and wantonly in caring for A.C. and that Kelley had acted negligently and wantonly in managing A.C.'s case. Van Gilder and Kelley separately asked the Montgomery Circuit Court to enter summary judgments in their favor, denying liability and arguing that they were protected by immunity based on their respective roles as a foster parent and a DHR caseworker. The trial court denied their motions. They separately petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for writs of mandamus to direct the trial court to vacate its previous order denying their summary-judgment motions and to enter a new order granting those motions. The Supreme Court consolidated the petitions for the purpose of issuing one opinion, and granted the petitions in part and denied them in part. To the extent Curry's wrongful-death claims against Van Gilder and Kelley were based on allegations of negligence, those claims were barred by the doctrine of parental immunity. Parental immunity, however, did not bar wantonness-based claims, and Kelley did not establish that she was entitled to State-agent immunity as to the wantonness claim against her. Therefore, Curry's wrongful-death claims against Van Gilder and Kelley were allowed to proceed to the extent those claims were based on allegations of wantonness. View "Ex parte Kristi Kelley." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Personal Injury, Supreme Court of Alabama
Ex parte Road Gear Truck Equipment, LLC.
Road Gear Truck Equipment, LLC ("Road Gear"), a corporation based in Franklin County, petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Marshall Circuit Court to vacate its order denying Road Gear's motion to transfer the underlying action to the Franklin Circuit Court and to enter an order transferring the action. Road Gear manufactures trucking equipment, including "cab guards" designed to prevent passengers in tractor-trailer trucks from being injured by shifting loads. Vernon Dement was operating a tractor trailer pulling a load of logs in Madison County, Alabama. While traveling, Dement's truck over turned on a curve in the road. The cargo crashed into the passenger compartment, crushing Dement to death inside the vehicle, and injuring his wife Deborah Dement, who was a passenger in the truck. Deborah filed suit in Marshall County on behalf of herself and in her capacity as the personal representative and administrator of the estate of her husband against Road Gear and fictitiously named defendants. Dement alleged that her injuries and the death of her husband were caused by Road Gear's negligence and wantonness and that Road Gear was liable under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine ("the AEMLD"). Dement alleged in her complaint that venue was proper in Marshall County because she resided in Marshall County and Road Gear "does business in Marshall County." The Alabama Supreme Court determined FleetPride was Road Gear's "agent" in Marshall County for purposes of determining venue, and that Road Gear failed to show that it did not regularly do business in Marshall County at the time the suit was filed. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying Road Gear's motion to transfer the action to Franklin County. View "Ex parte Road Gear Truck Equipment, LLC." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Supreme Court of Alabama, Transportation Law
Hinton v. Sportsman’s Guide, Inc.
In 2012, Timothy Hinton was deer hunting when he fell from his tree stand. He was using a fall-arrest system (FAS), but the tree strap snapped, and Timothy plunged eighteen feet, eventually dying from his injuries. In 2013, Timothy’s parents, Marsha and Thomas Hinton, filed a wrongful-death suit based on Mississippi products-liability law. The defendant manufacturer, C&S Global Imports, Inc., defaulted and was not a source of recovery. So the litigation turned its focus to the manufacturer’s insurer, Pekin Insurance Company. After the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Mississippi had personal jurisdiction over the Illinois-based insurer, Pekin successfully moved for summary judgment based on the clear tree-stand exclusion in C&S Global’s policy. Retailer Sportsman’s Guide, which sold Timothy the tree stand and FAS in 2009, also moved for and was granted summary judgment, giving rise to this appeal. As grounds for its decision, the trial court relied on the innocent-seller provision in the Mississippi Products Liability Act (MPLA), and found no evidence of active negligence by Sportsman's Guide. The Hintons argued in response: (1) Sportsman’s Guide waived its innocent-seller immunity affirmative defense; (2) a dispute of material fact existed over whether Sportsman's Guide was an innocent seller; or (3) alternatively, Mississippi’s innocent-seller provision should not control: instead the trial court should have followed Minnesota’s approach - the state where Sportsman’s Guide is located (under Minnesota’s law, innocent sellers may be liable when manufacturers are judgment proof, like C&S Global was here). Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hinton v. Sportsman's Guide, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Nathan M. v. Harrison School District No. 2
Amanda M. (“Parent”), the mother of Nathan M., a child with autism, challenged an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) developed with Harrison School District No. 2 (“the District”) that proposed removing Nathan from Alpine Autism Center (a private, autism-only facility) and placing him in Otero Elementary School (a public school). Nathan’s mother contended the school district did not comply with numerous procedural requirements in developing the IEP and that the IEP itself failed to offer Nathan a “free appropriate public education” as required by the Act. The Tenth Circuit determined that because the IEP at issue governed a schoolyear that has passed, and because the various IEP deficiencies alleged by Parent were not capable of repetition yet evading review, the case was moot. View "Nathan M. v. Harrison School District No. 2" on Justia Law
Silbaugh v. Chao
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that the FAA wrongfully terminated plaintiff. Plaintiff filed her action in the district court within the 30-day statutory limitations period, but she mistakenly named only the FAA and her former supervisor as defendants. Because plaintiff's action alleged claims of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she should have named the head of the executive agency to which the FAA belonged, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. After the statute of limitations had expired, the FAA moved to dismiss and Secretary Chao then filed her own motion to dismiss. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff was entitled to relation back under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(2). The panel held that the district court adopted an overly technical interpretation of the term "process" as used in Rule 15(c)(2). Rather, the panel held that the notice-giving function of "process" under Rule 15(c)(2) was accomplished whether or not the summons accompanying the complaint was signed by the clerk of court. Furthermore, the requirements for relation back were met here where both the United States Attorney and the Attorney General were sufficiently notified of the action within Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m)'s 90-day period. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Silbaugh v. Chao" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Government & Administrative Law, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Hill v. Honorable Jodi Dennis
The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from an order of the circuit court dismissing without prejudice his pro se "motion for writ of mandamus order," holding that Appellant appealed from an order that was not final, rendering his motions and petition filed in relation to the appeal moot. The circuit court dismissed Appellant's motion for failure to provide proof of service in compliance with Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(i)(1). Appellant appealed and filed a motion to proceed without a complete record, a "third motion to file incomplete record, motion for extension of time, and motion against the clerk," a petition for certiorari to complete the record, and a motion seeking waiver of the addendum obligation. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order from which Appellant appealed was not final. View "Hill v. Honorable Jodi Dennis" on Justia Law
Debernardis v. IQ Formulations, LLC
The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims against defendants based on lack of standing. The court held that plaintiffs plausibly alleged that they suffered an economic loss when they purchased supplements that were worthless because the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibited sale of the supplements. The court explained that Congress, through the FDCA and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), banned adulterated supplements to protect consumers from ingesting products that Congress judged to be insufficiently safe. In this case, the complaint's allegations establish that plaintiffs purchased adulterated dietary supplements that they would not have purchased had they known that sale of the supplements was banned. The court also held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged sufficient facts to show that their injuries were fairly traceable to defendants. Accordingly, plaintiffs had Article III standing to pursue their claims. View "Debernardis v. IQ Formulations, LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Drugs & Biotech, US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
First Student, Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue
First Student, Inc., a school bus contractor, sought to reverse a Court of Appeals decision to affirm dismissal of its business and occupation ("B&O") tax refund action. At issue was whether First Student's transporting of students qualified as transporting persons "for hire" such that it made First Student subject to the public utility tax ("PUT") rather than the general B&O tax. The Washington Supreme Court found the meaning of "for hire" was ambiguous as used in the PUT, but resolved the ambiguity in favor of the long-standing interpretation that school buses were excluded from the definitions of "motor transportation business" and "urban transportation business" under RCW 82.16.010(6) and (12). The Court found that WAC 458-20-180 was a valid interpretation of the statute, and affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "First Student, Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Tax Law, Transportation Law, Washington Supreme Court
Woodie v. Whitesell
In this action brought by Plaintiff seeking to collect on a promissory note the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motions to dismiss and granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the district court did not err in its rulings. Defendants executed the promissory note in Idaho and delivered it to Plaintiffs in payment for real estate located in Idaho. The note was originally secured by a deed of trust in the property. Plaintiff later sued Defendants in the district court in Teton County, Wyoming seeking to collect on the note. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on the basis that the Wyoming district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the lawsuit was time barred. The district court denied the motions to dismiss and granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over Defendants; (2) the district court properly applied the correct Idaho statute of limitations; and (3) the district court did not err in awarding interest, attorney's fees and costs to Plaintiff. View "Woodie v. Whitesell" on Justia Law