Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's refusal to vacate a second default judgment against the Elephant Group. The court concluded that the district court had jurisdiction over the Elephant Group, and that the Elephant Group failed to present a meritorious defense, as opposed to mere legal conclusions.In this case, Tango Marine, a Grecian corporation, filed suit in district court against the Elephant Group, two Nigerian businesses, seeking maritime attachment and garnishment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Supplemental Rule B. Tango Marine subsequently sought entry of default, which the clerk entered. When no motion for default judgment appeared before the district court, the district court ordered Tango Marine to file its motion for default judgment or explain its failure. Tango Marine then filed its motion for default judgment and the Elephant Group participated in the suit by filing a motion for extension of time and to have the default set aside. With the initial default set aside, the Elephant Group filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b). In response, Tango Marine filed an amended complaint and a response opposing the motion to dismiss. The Elephant Group responded only to this response to the motion to dismiss and never filed an answer to the amended complaint. Tango Marine ultimately asked the clerk for a second entry of default due to the Elephant Group's failure to answer the amended complaint, which the clerk granted. View "Tango Marine, S.A. v. Elephant Group, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Beginning in 1986, Arabian was the sole authorized dealer for Ford brands in Kuwait. In a 2005 Agreement, the companies agreed to use “binding arbitration” as the “exclusive recourse” for any dispute. Ford ended the Agreement in 2016 and applied to the American Arbitration Association for a declaration that it permissibly ended the Agreement. Arabian sued, seeking an injunction prohibiting Ford from proceeding with arbitration and asserting breach of contract and fraud. Arabian argued that the Motor Vehicle Franchise Contract Arbitration Fairness Act, 15 U.S.C. 1226, requires that arbitration between dealers and car manufacturers requires that the parties consent to it after the dispute arises. The district court denied the motion, deciding that the arbitrator must resolve the gateway issue.The arbitral tribunal decided that the Act did not deprive it of authority and held that Ford permissibly terminated the Agreement; it taxed Arabian $1.35 million for fees and costs. Arabian brought counterclaims for breach of contract and fraud but withdrew them before the award. The Sixth Circuit confirmed the award. On remand, Ford moved to stay the federal action to allow the arbitrator to resolve Arabian’s common law claims. The district court dismissed the case without prejudice. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The Act’s command, 9 U.S.C. 3, that a district court “shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial,” conveys a mandatory obligation. Dismissal, unlike a stay, permits an objecting party to file an immediate appeal; a dismissal order undercuts the Act's pro-arbitration appellate-review provisions. View "Arabian Motors Group W.L.L. v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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Mike Von Jones (“Jones”) appealed the denial of his motion to set aside a sheriff’s sale and the award of attorney fees to Safaris Unlimited LLC (“Safaris”) under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). A jury found there was an enforceable contract between Jones and Safaris, and that Jones breached the contract. Safaris petitioned for and obtained a writ of execution requiring the sheriff to execute upon Jones’s personal and real property, including a pending lawsuit against Jeremy Sligar and Overtime Garage, LLC. At the sheriff’s sale, Safaris (the only bidder present) bought the lawsuit for $2,500.00 via a credit bid. Although Jones received notice of the sheriff’s sale, neither Jones nor his representative attended. Jones did, however, file a motion to set aside the sheriff’s sale of the Sligar Lawsuit. Then Safaris executed on additional personal property of Jones. The sale returned $8,300.00. While both Jones’s and Safaris’ appeals were pending, Jones tendered a $119,238.04 check to the clerk of the court in an attempt to satisfy the remainder of the amended judgment. The district court granted Safaris’ motion for release of funds and determined that the deposited funds were sufficient to satisfy the amended judgment. However, the district court found that the deposited funds exceeded the amount owed by $2,500.00 because Jones’s tender did not account for Safaris’ credit bid to purchase the Sligar Lawsuit. The district court held that Jones had not demonstrated a gross inadequacy of consideration because he failed to establish the litigation’s approximate value. Similarly, Jones failed to show very slight additional circumstances because he could not point to any procedural irregularities “pertaining to either the notice or conduct of the sale.” After denying Jones’s motion to vacate the sheriff’s sale, the district court ordered the clerk of the court to release the remaining $2,500.00 from the tender back to Jones or his attorneys. Jones timely appealed, arguing: (1) the district court erred by concluding Jones’s monetary tender to the clerk of the court did not preclude Safaris from claiming ownership of Jones’s pending lawsuit; (2) the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to set aside the sheriff’s sale; and (3) the district court erred in awarding costs and fees pursuant to section 12-120(5) for actions taken after Jones’ tender to the clerk. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's orders. View "Safaris Unlimited, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Twentieth Century geopolitical events — World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russian Civil War, and World War II — forced leaders of Chabad Chasidism, a religious movement, to flee Russia, first to Latvia, then to Poland, and ultimately to the United States. In 1940, Chabad of the United States was incorporated under New York law and began attempting to recover 17th Century religious materials taken from its religious community.In 2004, Chabad sued Russia. In 2006, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered a partial judgment for Russia, which eventually withdrew from the case. The district court entered a default judgment against Russia in 2010, ordering it to return the materials. When Russia failed to comply, Chabad served subpoenas seeking to identify assets that could be attached for the fines imposed by the district court. Both appellants moved to quash the subpoenas. Neither, however, appealed the district court denials of their motions. Each then attempted to appeal the district court denials of their efforts to present immunity defenses. The D.C. Circuit dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The court denied mandamus review because there was an alternative avenue for review (the collateral order appeal that was filed too late). View "Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States v. Russian Federation" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review challenging an FCC order removing the Solicited Fax Rule from the Code of Federal Regulations. The order was issued in response to the D.C. Circuit's decision holding that the Solicited Fax Rule was unlawful, and vacating a 2014 order of the FCC that affirmed the validity of the Rule. The court concluded that it is bound by the D.C. Circuit's decision and that the agency did not err by repealing the Rule following the D.C. Circuit's ruling. Pursuant to the Hobbs Act's channeling mechanism, the court explained that the D.C. Circuit became the sole forum for addressing the validity of the Rule. Therefore, once the D.C. Circuit invalidated the 2014 Order and the Rule, that holding became binding in effect on every circuit in which the regulation's validity is challenged. Accordingly, the FCC was bound to comply with the D.C. Circuit's mandate and could not pursue a policy of nonacquiescence. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Maia Magee (tenant) appealed a circuit court order in favor of defendant Vita Cooper (landlord) on the tenant’s claim that the landlord willfully violated her right to quiet enjoyment of residential property. Tenant alleged that in retaliation for the August 4 continuance of an eviction proceeding, the landlord: (1) played “loud” rock music on an outdoor stereo system early in the morning and during the day from 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 7 until 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 9, and “for several hours” after 6:00 p.m. on Monday, August 10; (2) yelled “GET OUT OF MY HOME!” loudly from her property on August 10; (3) either shot a gun or ignited firecrackers during the evening of August 9 and between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on August 10; and (4) had an unknown and unidentified man, carrying a camera, trespass on the leased property on August 9. Additionally, Tenant alleged that the landlord breached a term of her lease prohibiting the tenant from playing a “musical instrument, radio, television, or other like device in the leased premises in a manner offensive to other occupants of the building” or during certain hours. She assertet that, in finding to the contrary, the trial court improperly failed to consider the timing of the alleged “bad actions,” and misconstrued and mischaracterized certain items of evidence. Furthermore, Tenant contended the trial court erred by: (1) considering each of the landlord’s alleged “bad actions” individually, rather than considering whether, collectively, such actions violated her right to quiet enjoyment; (2) not considering whether the landlord’s alleged “bad actions” violated the parties’ lease; and (3) relying upon Tenant’s failure to submit evidence of a local sound ordinance. Finding that Tenant failed to meet her burden to establish that there was a question of law warranting reversal, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Magee v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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This case stems from plaintiffs' claim of rights under a 1933 agreement between Standard Oil of California and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a 1949 agreement between the purported ancestors of plaintiffs and the Arabian American Oil Company. Plaintiffs seek to enforce an arbitral award against defendant, Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), which they were awarded by an Egyptian arbitration panel.After determining that plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration tolled the period for filing a notice of appeal, consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 83(a)(2), the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions for the district court to dismiss the case based on lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded that Saudi Arabian Oil Company is an instrumentality of a foreign state and is therefore immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA). The court stated that the arbitral proceedings give every appearance of having been a sham, and there exists no agreement among these parties to arbitrate this dispute, or anything else for that matter. The court decided that, instead of denying the petition for enforcement, the case is more properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, given that Saudi Aramco qualifies as a foreign state for purposes of the FSIA. View "Al-Qarqani v. Saudi Arabian Oil Co." on Justia Law

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Eight named plaintiffs, including two minors, brought a nationwide putative class action against e-commerce provider StockX for allegedly failing to protect millions of StockX users’ personal account information obtained through a cyber-attack in May 2019. Since 2015, StockX’s terms of service included an arbitration agreement, a delegation provision, a class action waiver, and instructions for how to opt-out of the arbitration agreement. Since 2017, StockX's website has stated: StockX may change these Terms without notice to you. “YOUR CONTINUED USE OF THE SITE AFTER WE CHANGE THESE TERMS CONSTITUTES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THE CHANGES. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ANY CHANGES, YOU MUST CANCEL YOUR ACCOUNT.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit and an order compelling arbitration. The court rejected arguments that there is an issue of fact as to whether four of the plaintiffs agreed to the current terms of service and that the defenses of infancy and unconscionability render the terms of service and the arbitration agreement (including the delegation provision) invalid and unenforceable. The arbitrator must decide in the first instance whether the defenses of infancy and unconscionability allow plaintiffs to avoid arbitrating the merits of their claims. View "I. C. v. StockX, LLC" on Justia Law

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On January 19, 2019, Bonvillian's vessel allided with a crew boat docked on the Mississippi River. On the crew boat, Pellegrin sustained personal injuries. On August 23, 2019, Pellegrin sued Bonvillian in Louisiana state court. On December 16, 2019, Bonvillian filed a verified limitation complaint. The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 allows vessel owners to limit their vessel’s tort liability to the value of the vessel plus pending freight, 46 U.S.C. 30501–30512, requiring vessel owners to “bring a civil action in a district court of the United States . . . within 6 months after a claimant gives the owner written notice of a claim.”The district court dismissed, citing the Fifth Circuit “Eckstein” rule that “a party alleging a limitation petition was not timely filed challenges the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction over that petition.” The district court concluded that the Fifth Circuit’s Eckstein rule remained controlling (despite Bonvillian’s contention that the Supreme Court implicitly overruled Eckstein in 2015), and that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Fifth Circuit reversed, overturning the Eckstein rule based on intervening Supreme Court decisions. The 46 U.S.C. 30511(a) time limitation is a mere claim-processing rule which has no bearing on a district court’s subject matter jurisdiction. View "Bonvillian Marine Service, Inc. v. Pellegrin" on Justia Law

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BillCutterz granted KGS a license to sell BillCutterz’s services and intellectual property. The parties agreed to arbitrate their disputes; BillCutterz was entitled to royalties and commissions based on KGS’s revenue. The Agreement automatically renews for successive five-year periods until terminated “for cause.” In 2017, a dispute arose. An arbitrator ordered KGS to pay BillCutterz all unpaid commissions and royalties through December 31, 2017, and from January 1, 2018 “for the duration of the License Agreement.” BillCutterz sought confirmation of the award. KGS moved to vacate the award. The district court confirmed the award. KGS filed numerous unsuccessful motions and an unsuccessful appeal but paid the retrospective relief and at least part of the prospective relief. The parties continue to disagree about whether the award’s order entitles BillCutterz to ongoing compensation and whether KGS incurred (and perhaps diverted) revenue after December 6, 2018.KGS sought relief from the judgment, arguing that it fully satisfied all obligations through December 6, 2018, that it ceased operating on that date, and had terminated the License Agreement. KGS sought “protection” from post-judgment discovery. BillCutterz suspected that KGS was still earning revenue under another trade name. The district court refused KGS relief and granted BillCutterz’s motion to compel discovery. The Fifth Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Pending discovery and adjudication based on such discovery of whether KGS has fully satisfied the arbitration award, there is no final judgment to consider. View "Gross v. Keen Group Solutions, L.L.C." on Justia Law