Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' suit against the HSPCA, as well as Texas county and state officials, for unlawful search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court held that the district court correctly concluded that the statute of limitations barred plaintiffs' claims against defendants. Plaintiffs alleged that the seizure of their horses occurred on June 24, 2015, and thus they had to bring their claim no later than June 26, 2017. However, in this case, plaintiffs first filed suit after that date. Even accepting plaintiffs' claim that the seizure was only finalized when the justice court divested them of ownership, the court held that the record makes clear that the justice court issued its order on July 8, 2015 and their claims would still be time-barred. View "Hoffman v. Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" on Justia Law

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Audrie, the Potts’ daughter, was sexually assaulted while unconscious from intoxication. Her assailants distributed intimate photographs of her. Audrie committed suicide. The Potts, as the registered successors-in-interest to “deceased personality” rights for Audrie under Civil Code 3344.1, authorized the use of Audrie’s name and likeness in a documentary. The Potts sued Lazarin under section 3344.1, claiming that Lazarin (who claims to be Audrie’s biological father) had used Audrie’s name and likeness "for the purpose of advertising services” without their consent. Lazarin admitted that he had displayed Audrie’s photograph “to change the law regarding parental rights” but argued that he had not acted to promote “goods or services.” The Potts submitted evidence that Lazarin solicited donations for a suicide prevention group, using Audrie’s name and photograph. Lazarin brought an unsuccessful special motion to strike the complaint under Code of Civil Procedure 425.16. The court of appeal reversed. Lazarin made a prima facie showing that the Potts’ suit was based on his “written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest.” The Potts failed to establish that there was a “probability” that they would “prevail” on their Civil Code section 3344.1 suit; they did not show that Lazarin “misappropriate[ed] the economic value generated by [Audrie’s] fame through the merchandising” of her name or likeness. View "Pott v. Lazarin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Steven Kientz spent many years as a "dual status" technician with the Kansas Army National Guard, where he worked as a mechanic on electronic measurement equipment. Plaintiff’s position required him to simultaneously serve as a member of the National Guard, a second job with separate pay and separate responsibilities. In retirement, Plaintiff receives a monthly pension payment under the Civil Service Retirement System based on his service as a dual status technician. Plaintiff also receives Social Security retirement benefits based on contributions he made to the Social Security system from his separate pay as a National Guard member. The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether a dual status service technician’s civil service pension was “based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service” under 42 U.S.C. 415(a)(7)(A). After review, the Court concluded Plaintiff's civil service pension is not “wholly” based on service as a member of a uniformed service, and his pension payments were therefore subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision ("WEP"). Plaintiff’s dual status technician work was at least partially distinct from the performance of his military duties. And Plaintiff received separate compensation and separate pensions for his performance of those distinct roles. The Court concurred with the district court and Social Security Administration that Plaintiff's Social Security retirement benefits were subject to the WEP. View "Kientz v. Commissioner, SSA" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Sherman Act, RICO Act, and common-law claims against defendants for lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs are a group of investment funds and defendants are a collection of financial institutions. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from a scheme to fix the benchmark interest rates used to price financial derivatives in the Yen currency market. The court held that plaintiffs alleged an injury in fact sufficient for Article III standing, because plaintiffs plausibly alleged that defendants' conduct caused them to suffer economic injury. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that they entered into financial agreements on unfavorable terms because defendants manipulated benchmark rates in their own favor. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Sonterra Capital Master Fund Ltd. v. UBS AG" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed as moot this appeal from the decision of the superior court dismissing Appellant's petition against the Maine Department of Corrections for failure to serve the Department pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 11003(1), holding that events in the superior court had overtaken this appeal, rendering it moot. After Appellant filed this action, the trial court, treating the action as a petition for review of agency action, issued Appellant an order requiring him to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for failure to serve the Department. The court ultimately dismissed the petition for insufficient service of process. After Appellant's appeal was docketed, Appellant filed a motion asserting that the Department had acknowledged receipt of process. The court then negated its dismissal of Appellant's action. Therefore, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot. View "Paquette v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleging that Dunkin Donuts deceptively marketed two of its trademarked products -- the Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich and the Angus Steak & Egg Wake-Up Wrap. Plaintiffs alleged that through representations made in labeling and television advertisements, Dunkin Donuts deceived consumers into believing that the Products contained an "intact" piece of meat when the Products actually contained a ground beef patty with multiple additives. The district court dismissed claims based on lack of general personal jurisdiction in New York and failure to state a claim. The court held that, under New York law, the act of registering to do business under section 1301 of the New York Business Corporation Law does not constitute consent to general personal jurisdiction in New York. The court rejected plaintiffs' arguments that Dunkin Donuts' contacts with New York were sufficient to subject it to general personal jurisdiction in the state, and agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to allege a plausible violation of sections 349 and 350. View "Chen v. Dunkin' Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant Paul Bernier appealed two superior court orders granting partial summary judgment to plaintiff Thomas Loeffler, and denying his subsequent motion for reconsideration. The court ruled that defendant was estopped by deed from denying that plaintiff had an implied easement to access a right-of- way located on defendant’s property from a specific point on plaintiff’s property. The court also denied defendant leave to raise new arguments at the reconsideration stage asserting that plaintiff had abandoned any implied easement and, alternatively, that the purpose of any implied easement had been frustrated. Finding no reversible error in the superior court's judgments, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Loeffler v. Bernier" on Justia Law

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Appellant Kyle Linley Everard (Kyle) appealed a trial court's order granting reciprocal domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) against Kyle and respondent spouse Valerie Ann Everard (Valerie). In issuing the DVROs, the trial court found, pursuant to Family Code section 6305, both parties acted as primary aggressors and neither acted primarily in self-defense in multiple domestic violence incidents. Kyle claimed the trial court erred in including him in the DVROs based on its admission of an unauthenticated 2013 police report offered by Valerie, which report Kyle claimed was allegedly the exclusive basis for the court's findings against him under section 6305. Because the Court of Appeal conclude substantial evidence in the record supported the court's findings independent of the 2013 police report, and because it further concluded the court's findings satisfied section 6305, the DVRO against Kyle was affirmed. View "Marriage of Everard" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs were awarded more than $45 million in a products liability suit brought against EcoSmart, EcoSmart declared bankruptcy and plaintiffs brought a direct action against EcoSmart's insurer, LMIC, for payment on the judgment. LMIC argued that its policy with EcoSmart had a forum-selection clause designating Australian courts as the exclusive forum. The district court granted LMIC's motion to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens. The Ninth Circuit held that, because plaintiffs stand in the shoes of EcoSmart, their third-party creditors' rights are derivative of the rights and limitations held by the bankrupt insured, and thus the forum-selection clause applies. The panel also held that plaintiffs have not shown that the clause violates California public policy or that Australia is an inadequate forum for suit. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Lewis v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this case involving the construction of Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4(i), the Supreme Court held that, under Rule 4(i), if a plaintiff shows good cause for failing to serve a defendant within ninety days, a court is required to extend the time for service, but also under the rule, a court in its discretion may extend the period for service without a plaintiff showing good cause. Melissa Langevin filed a complaint against Dr. Steven Sholem. More than ten months after the ninety-day deadline had expired, Langevin filed a motion pursuant to Rule 4(i) seeking to extend the time for service. The trial court determined there was good cause to grant the motion and extended the deadline. After Langevin served Sholem he moved to dismiss, arguing that the complaint did not show good cause for extending the deadline. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no good cause for an extension under rule 4(i), but there were discretionary grounds in the record to deny Sholem's motion to dismiss. View "Sholem v. Honorable David Gass" on Justia Law