Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
Griffin v. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates LTD.
The issue presented for review by the Idaho Supreme Court stemmed from an “unfortunate kitchen accident.” Mary Clare Griffin purchased a bottle of Italian wine, which broke in her hands as she attempted to open it, causing substantial injuries. Griffin and her son, a minor who witnessed the event, brought a product liability suit against Zignago Vetro S.P.A., the Italian manufacturer of the wine bottle; Marchesi Antinori SRL (Antinori), the Italian wine company that purchased the bottle from Zignago, filled it with wine, and exported it to the United States; Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Ltd. (Ste. Michelle), the United States importer; S & C Importers and Distributors, Inc. (S&C), the Idaho distributor who purchased the bottle from Ste. Michelle; and, Albertson’s LLC (Albertson’s), the retailer that sold the bottle to Griffin. Zignago successfully moved the district court to dismiss Griffin’s complaint based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. Griffin appealed the district court’s decision, asking the Supreme Court to apply the personal jurisdiction framework established by the United States Supreme Court in World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980). Zignago claimed the district court did not err by applying the stricter test that the United States Supreme Court offered in Asahi Metal Indus. Co. v. Superior Court of California, Solano Cnty., 480 U.S. 102 (1987) (plurality). Griffin also appealed several adverse discovery rulings. The Supreme Court held that the correct test when determining personal jurisdictional issues remains the “stream of commerce” test adopted by the United States Supreme Court in World-Wide Volkswagen. Applying that test to the case here, the Court reversed the district court’s decision to grant Zignago’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and remand the case for further proceedings. Furthermore, the Court affirmed the district court’s decision granting Antinori’s and Ste. Michelle’s motions for summary judgment and hold that it did not abuse its discretion in failing to grant Griffin’s motion to compel discovery against Antinori and Ste. Michelle. View "Griffin v. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates LTD." on Justia Law
Berg v. Pulte Home Corp.
The issue presented for the Court of Appeal’s review in this case arose from a residential construction defect lawsuit filed by several homeowners against Pulte Home Corporation. The homeowners sued Pulte for allegedly violating building standards set forth in Civil Code section 896, breach of contract, and breach of express warranty pertaining to 13 homes (the Berg litigation). St. Paul Mercury Insurance Company (St. Paul) defended Pulte in the Berg litigation as an additional insured under a general liability policy issued to St. Paul’s named insured and one of Pulte’s subcontractors, Groundbreakers Landscaping, Inc. Pertinent here, St. Paul later sued three of Pulte’s subcontractors -- Vaca Valley Roofing, Inc., Norman Masonry, Inc., and Colorific Painting, Inc. (collectively defendants) -- for equitable subrogation through a complaint in intervention in the Berg litigation. In essence, St. Paul sought to pursue Pulte’s breach of contract claims against defendants for their failure to defend Pulte in the Berg litigation. Standing in Pulte’s shoes, St. Paul asserted defendants were jointly and severally liable for the reimbursement of the money it expended in defending Pulte, St. Paul raised four arguments on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in granting defendants’ request for a jury trial; (2) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that defendants are jointly and severally liable for the mixed defense fees (i.e., attorney fees and costs incurred in defense of the entire Berg litigation, such as attending status conferences or mediations; in other words, tasks unrelated to the defense of a subcontractor’s specific scope of work); (3) the trial court erred in denying St. Paul’s motion for prejudgment interest; and (4) the trial court erred in denying St. Paul’s request for attorney fees in prosecuting the equitable subrogation action. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "Berg v. Pulte Home Corp." on Justia Law
AdTrader, Inc. v. Google LLC
The Ninth Circuit dismissed, based on lack of appellate jurisdiction, AdTrader's appeal from the district court's attorneys' fee award in a class action brought by AdTrader on behalf of itself and advertisers who used Google advertising services but did not receive refunds for invalid traffic.The panel concluded that this is neither a traditional common fund case nor one that meets the requirements of the collateral order doctrine. In this case, the litigants and the district court may have agreed that attorneys' fees should be determined in light of common fund principles, but they also agreed that "any award of attorneys' fees here would not come from a sum that Google has been ordered to pay the class." The panel explained that this alone shows that this case neither fits the situation under which the "common fund" doctrine developed nor meets the requirement of unreviewability that is essential to the limited collateral order exception to finality. The panel also considered plaintiffs' other arguments for an immediate appeal and found them to be without merit. View "AdTrader, Inc. v. Google LLC" on Justia Law
Haverkamp v. Linthicum
Texas state prisoner Haverkamp, a biological male at birth who identifies as a transgender woman, sued, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause by denying Haverkamp medically necessary sex-reassignment surgery and by failing to provide certain female commissary items and a long-hair pass. Texas’s Correctional Managed Healthcare Committee has a policy concerning the treatment of gender disorders. Based on the state’s advisory, the district court ordered service of Haverkamp’s operative complaint on Dr. Murray, whom the state identified as the proper defendant if Haverkamp were seeking sex-reassignment surgery, and the nine Committee members who had not yet been named as parties. The district court subsequently denied motions to dismiss, concluding that the state was not entitled to sovereign immunity.The Fifth Circuit vacated. Haverkamp’s suit is barred by sovereign immunity because the Committee members are not proper defendants under Ex Parte Young; Haverkamp fails to allege they have the requisite connection to enforcing the policies Haverkamp challenges. In light of the state’s representations to the district court that these defendants are the proper state officials to sue, the court did not dismiss them from the case. View "Haverkamp v. Linthicum" on Justia Law
Exline v. Gillmor
Plaintiff Brian Exline appealed an order granting defendant Lisa Gillmor’s special motion to strike under California's anti-SLAPP law. Exline filed a complaint against Gillmor alleging that, during her terms serving as a councilmember and then as the mayor of the City of Santa Clara (the City), Gillmor violated the Political Reform Act of 1974 (the Act) by failing to disclose on Form 700 filings her interest in, and income she received from, an entity known as Public Property Advisors. Exline argued his lawsuit was not subject to challenge under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 because it fell within the public interest exemption codified at section 425.17 (b). He contended the trial court erred by concluding that an exception to that exemption, set forth in section 425.17(d)(2) applied and rendered the exemption inapplicable. The Court of Appeal held the exception applied to completion of the Form 700, and the complaint in this case was therefore subject to the anti-SLAPP law. View "Exline v. Gillmor" on Justia Law
Braganza v. Albertson’s LLC
Plaintiff Lisa Braganza sued defendant Albertson’s LLC (Albertson’s) for personal injuries and other damages she sustained as a result of slipping and falling on the floor of an Albertson’s grocery store. The trial court granted Albertson’s motion for summary judgment after denying plaintiff’s request to continue the hearing on the motion in order to allow plaintiff time to conduct discovery necessary to oppose the motion. The trial court later denied plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, based on her claim that the court abused its discretion in denying her continuance request. Appealing those judgments, plaintiff claimed the trial court abused its discretion: (1) in denying her request to continue the hearing on Albertson’s motion; and (2) in denying her new trial motion. The Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion in either ruling, and affirmed the judgment. View "Braganza v. Albertson's LLC" on Justia Law
North Carolina v. United States
North Carolina filed suit in state court seeking recovery of an unpaid civil penalty against the Marine Corps for failing an air quality compliance test. After the federal government defendants removed to federal court, the district court dismissed the case.The Fourth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the Clean Air Act does not preclude removal but does waive sovereign immunity as to the penalty at issue here. The court concluded that the United States properly removed this suit under the federal officer removal statute and rejected North Carolina's contention that the Clean Air Act's state suit provision, 42 U.S.C. 7604(e), implicitly carves out a narrow exception to removal that precludes federal adjudication of this federal immunity defense. Rather, these two statutes are capable of coexistence and, contrary to North Carolina's argument, section 7604(e) does not require actions brought in state court to remain there. The court also concluded that the Clean Air Act unambiguously and unequivocally waives the United States' sovereign immunity as to all civil penalties assessed pursuant to state air pollution law, including punitive penalties like the one at issue here. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "North Carolina v. United States" on Justia Law
Tawanna Ware v. Best Buy Stores
In 2013, a Chicago Best Buy store's manager warned the Plaintiffs that plasma‐screen televisions frequently experienced longevity problems, and encouraged them to buy a five‐year extended warranty, the “Geek Squad Protection Plan.” They bought a Samsung 64‐inch plasma‐screen television for $3,119.99 and the Plan for another $519.99. The television broke down after four years. Best Buy could not repair it. The Plan provided that if the television could not be repaired, Best Buy could elect either to replace the television or to compensate the consumer with a gift card. Best Buy provided a gift card, the value of which was keyed to the current market price of a new television of similar quality to the one purchased in 2013.The Plaintiffs filed a purported class action under the Magnuson‐Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. 2301, which requires that if a warrantied consumer good cannot be repaired, the written warranty must give the consumer a choice of remedy: either a replacement or a refund of the purchase price, less reasonable depreciation. They argued that the Plan is a full “written warranty” and that Best Buy’s unilateral decision to provide the gift card failed to provide consumers with the choice. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case. For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, the Wares have not met the amount‐in‐controversy requirement. View "Tawanna Ware v. Best Buy Stores" on Justia Law
Weinbach v. The Boeing Company
Plaintiff filed suit against Boeing, alleging that defendants wrongfully escheated her property to the state. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Boeing. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that plaintiff's claims are subject to Missouri's five-year statute of limitations period and, in this case, plaintiff's cause of action accrued more than five years before she filed suit. Accordingly, the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claim as time-barred. View "Weinbach v. The Boeing Company" on Justia Law
In re Joseph Hurley, Esq.
Appellant Joseph Hurley represented Clay Conaway, a former college athlete charged with raping six women. After the case attracted media attention, the Superior Court entered an order prohibiting counsel from making public comments except to the extent permitted under Rule 3.6 of the Delaware Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct (“DLRPC”). Hurley twice spoke to reporters while the order was in force. The court held that both sets of comments violated the order and found Hurley in civil contempt of court. On appeal, Hurley argued the Superior Court erred by holding that there was a substantial likelihood his comments would materially prejudice pending proceedings. Finding no reversible error, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld the contempt order. View "In re Joseph Hurley, Esq." on Justia Law