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Jeremy White appealed a district court order denying his motions for relief from a judgment relating to primary residential responsibility and for contempt against Cassie Loibl. White and Loibl had one child together, born in 2015. In March 2016, the State sued White to decide issues of child support, health insurance and who could claim the child for income tax purposes. White was incarcerated when the State filed its complaint. The Barnes County Sheriff personally served White with the complaint at the Barnes County Correctional Facility. Loibl moved to establish parental rights and responsibilities. Loibl served White with the motion by mailing it to the Barnes County Correctional Facility and two other addresses in Valley City. White did not respond to either the State's complaint or Loibl's motion. The district court entered a judgment awarding Loibl primary residential responsibility and sole decision-making responsibility of the child. The court awarded White supervised parenting time and ordered him to pay $575 per month in child support. In February 2017, White moved for relief from the judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) and for contempt against Loibl. White claimed he did not respond to Loibl's motion because he did not receive the motion. He stated he was released from jail on March 4, 2016, and did not reside at the addresses to which Loibl mailed the motion. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, White argued the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion because extraordinary circumstances justified relief because he did not receive Loibl's motion. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's order. View "North Dakota v. White" on Justia Law

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Carl Genberg was an executive for Ceragenix Corporation when he suspected misconduct by the Company's Board of Directors. When he acted on these alleged suspicions, he was fired. He sued Ceragenix's Chief Executive Officer for retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and defamation under Nevada law. The district court granted summary judgment to the CEO on both claims. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Court concluded a reasonable factfinder could have concluded two emails at the heart of this case could have been viewed as protected activities that had contributed to Genberg’s termination, or the absence of which would not have lead to his termination. Either way, the Court concluded the CEO was not entitled to summary judgment based on the same-action defense with respect to these emails. Because the district court found otherwise, the Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the CEO on the Sarbanes-Oxley claim. Regarding the defamation claim, the Court affirmed the district court’s award of summary judgment: the CEO's statements fell under the common-interest privilege, and Genberg did not present evidence of an abuse of the privilege. View "Genberg v. Porter" on Justia Law

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The Superior Court of Navajo County erred when it denied Defendants’ motion for change of venue in this legal malpractice action filed by a Hospital located in Navajo County against a professional limited liability company (PLLC) organized in Maricopa County and its attorneys, both Maricopa County residents. After the Hospital sued, Defendants moved to transfer venue to Maricopa County, arguing that venue in Navajo County was improper unless a statutory exception applied under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-401. The trial court denied the motion, finding that venue in Navajo was proper under section 12-401(5) because the Hospital “exclusively contracted business in Navajo County,” and under section 12-401(18), reasoning that LLCs should be considered corporations for venue purposes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the PLLC was not required, expressly or by necessary implication, to perform in Navajo County; and (2) the trial court erred when it applied the subsection (18) exception on the basis that LLCs, like corporations, are amenable to veil-piercing, where venue and the alter-ego doctrine reflect different policy considerations. View "Butler Law Firm, PLC v. Honorable Robert J. Higgins" on Justia Law

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Itron alleged that misrepresentations by three of SmartSynch's corporate officers (defendants) caused it unknowingly to assume an unwanted $60 million contractual obligation to a third party, Consert. Itron eventually settled Consert's claims and then filed suit against defendants for negligent misrepresentation. The magistrate judge ordered Itron to produce, without qualification, materials that were shielded from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege. The Fifth Circuit granted Itron's petition for mandamus and vacated the magistrate judge's order, holding that the mere act of filing the lawsuit effected no waiver of any attorney-client privilege. The court remanded with instructions to reevaluate defendants' motion. View "In Re: Itron, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2016, Kansas sent notices of decisions to terminate its Medicaid contracts with two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (“PPGP”), and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (“PPSLR”). The notices cited concerns about the level of PPGP’s cooperation in solid-waste inspections, both Providers’ billing practices, and an anti-abortion group’s allegations that Planned Parenthood of America (“PPFA”) executives had been video-recorded negotiating the sale of fetal tissue and body parts. Together, the Providers and three individual Jane Does (“the Patients”) immediately sued Susan Mosier, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (“KDHE”), under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(23) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction enjoining Kansas from terminating the Providers from the state’s Medicaid program. "States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides." The Tenth Circuit joined four of five circuits that addressed this same provision and affirmed the district court’s injunction prohibiting Kansas from terminating its Medicaid contract with PPGP. But the Court vacated the district court’s injunction as it pertained to PPSLR, remanding for further proceedings on that issue, because Plaintiffs failed to establish standing to challenge that termination. But on this record, the Court could not determine whether PPSLR itself could establish standing, an issue the district court declined to decide but now must decide on remand. View "Planned Parenthood v. Andersen" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Spring Creek Exploration & Production Company, LLC and Gold Coast Energy, LLC appealed four separate district court orders dismissing contract and tort claims against Defendants Hess Bakken Investments II, LLC and Statoil Oil & Gas, LP. Around January 2009, Statoil entered into two agreements with a Hess affiliate. One of those agreements, the “Rough Rider Agreement,” prohibited Hess for one year from acquiring any oil or gas interests in the Rough Rider Prospect (land in North Dakota’s McKenzie and Williams Counties) in exchange for Hess’s affiliate receiving certain proprietary information from Statoil. In October 2009, still within the one-year non-compete period, Hess entered into a series of agreements (collectively, the “Tomahawk Agreement”) with Spring Creek, Gold Coast, and non-party Coachman Energy relating to the Tomahawk Prospect, a collection of land lying entirely within the much larger Rough Rider Prospect. As one part of the Agreement, Spring Creek and Gold Coast sold all of their oil and gas leasehold interests in the Tomahawk Prospect to Hess in exchange for an overriding royalty interest (“ORRI”) in the hydrocarbons produced under the terms of the leases (the “First Assignment”). Hess’s plan for these leases was to drill enough exploratory wells to prove their value and then sell them to larger operators. In another part of the Tomahawk Agreement, Spring Creek, Gold Coast and Hess executed an “Area of Mutual Interest Agreement” ("AMI"). In 2010, Statoil alleged Hess breached the Rough Rider Agreement by acquiring leases in the Rough Rider Prospect during the non-compete period. That led to a settlement agreement in which Hess sold most of its Tomahawk Prospect leases to Statoil at a discount. Hess further agreed that any leases it acquired in the Tomahawk Prospect in the next three months would be offered to Statoil at cost. In connection with Statoil’s due diligence in executing the settlement agreement, Hess disclosed to Statoil the terms of the AMI Agreement. Neither Spring Creek nor Gold Coast was privy to the Hess-Statoil negotiations. After the agreement was finalized, Statoil publicly announced that it had acquired about 10,000 net acres in the Rough Rider Prospect. The underlying litigation was filed in 2013, when Spring Creek brought suit against Hess and Statoil in Colorado state court. After careful consideration, the Tenth Circuit determined summary judgment in favor of Hess and Statoil was proper, and affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Spring Creek Exploration v. Hess Bakken Investment" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Delane Hurley appealed a judgment in her action against defendants California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Leda Seals (together Defendants) that alleged, inter alia, causes of action for sexual orientation discrimination, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, all in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), and a cause of action for violation of the Information Practices Act (“IPA”) and additionally alleged causes of action against Seals only for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). Following trial, the jury returned verdicts in favor of Defendants on the FEHA causes of action, against Defendants on the IPA cause of action, and against Seals on the IIED and NIED causes of action. The jury awarded Hurley $19,200 for past economic damages and $19,200 for past noneconomic losses against both Defendants, and $28,800 in punitive damages against Seals only. The court denied Defendants' motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). On appeal, Hurley contended trial court erred by excluding evidence that was relevant to her FEHA causes of action. DPR and Seals challenged the judgment against them on the IPA cause of action and the trial court's denial of their JNOV motions. DPR contended: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the finding it violated the IPA; and (2) the litigation privilege under Civil Code section 47(b), barred the IPA cause of action against it. Seals contended: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the finding she violated the IPA; (2) the litigation privilege barred the IPA cause of action against her; (3) the IPA cause of action was alleged under, and the jury was instructed on, a statute that was inapplicable to her; (4) there was insufficient evidence to support the findings against her on the IIED and NIED causes of action; (5) the workers' compensation exclusivity doctrine barred the IIED and NIED causes of action against her; and (6) the punitive damages award against her must be reversed for, inter alia, instructional error and insufficiency of the evidence to support it. After review, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, except for the award of economic damages against DPR, and modified the judgment accordingly. View "Hurley v. California Dept. of Parks and Recreation" on Justia Law

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Montes owns houses in California and in Wisconsin. After filing suit, Cunningham arranged for service of process at the Wisconsin address. No one answered the door. The process server called Montes, who refused to provide his current location. The judge authorized service by publication. Cunningham published notice in periodicals that circulate only in the Midwest. When Montes did not answer, the court entered a default. After learning about the case, Montes unsuccessfully asked the court to set aside the default. The judge wrote that “Montes has rather persistently sought to evade service in both California and Wisconsin" but did not describe what Montes has done to evade service. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Wis. Stat. 801.11(1), states that when “reasonable diligence” has not succeeded in producing service in hand, a court may authorize service by publication. The court did not explain why the “reasonable diligence” standard was satisfied when service was attempted at only one of a defendant’s known residences. Cunningham knew Montes’s California address. Wisconsin requires a plaintiff who knows or readily can learn that a defendant has multiple addresses to attempt to serve the defendant at each address. Given the lack of any effort to serve Montes in California, however, it would be difficult to make a finding that he is evading service in this case. View "Cunningham v. Montes" on Justia Law

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Murphy was awarded a judgment in his federal civil rights suit against two prison guards, including an award of attorney’s fees; 42 U.S.C. 1997e(d)(2) provides that in such cases “a portion of the [prisoner’s] judgment (not to exceed 25 percent) shall be applied to satisfy the amount of attorney’s fees awarded against the defendant.” The district court ordered Murphy to pay 10% of his judgment toward the fee award, leaving defendants responsible for the remainder. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that section 1997e(d)(2) required the district court to exhaust 25% of the prisoner’s judgment before demanding payment from the defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed. The mandatory phrase “shall be applied” suggests that the district court has some nondiscretionary duty to perform. The infinitival phrase “to satisfy the amount of attorney’s fees awarded” specifies the purpose of the preceding verb’s nondiscretionary duty and “to satisfy” an obligation, especially a financial obligation, usually means to discharge the obligation in full. The district court does not have wide discretion to pick any “portion” that does not exceed the 25% cap. This conclusion is reinforced by section 1997e(d)’s surrounding provisions, which also limit the district court’s pre-existing discretion under section 1988(b). View "Murphy v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Pennsylvania law to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Appellant Jobe Danganan’s contracted with Appellee Guardian Protection Services (“Guardian”), a Pennsylvania-headquartered business, for home security equipment and services at his then-home in Washington, D.C. The contract signed by Appellant, a standardized form agreement employed by Guardian, contained, inter alia, a choice-of-law provision, stating that the “Agreement shall be governed by the laws of Pennsylvania.” Another clause required that any suit or legal proceeding pertaining to the Agreement be brought in the other party’s district or county of residence and mandated that the parties consent to jurisdiction in such venue. Prior to the expiration of the Agreement’s purported three-year initial term, Appellant moved to California and sold his Washington, D.C. house, notifying Guardian of his intent to cancel the contract and related home protection services. However, Guardian continued to bill Appellant, citing provisions of the Agreement that it claimed authorized ongoing charges through the contract’s term, regardless of cancellation attempts. Appellant filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on behalf of himself and a putative class of nationwide plaintiffs who were subject to the same form contract. His claims for relief were predicated exclusively on Pennsylvania statutory grounds, namely, the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL") and Pennsylvania’s Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act. The matter was removed to federal district court, and Guardian moved to dismiss, arguing that Appellant had not, pursuant to the UTPCPL, demonstrated a "sufficient nexus" between the Commonwealth and the improper conduct alleged in the complaint. In response to the first certified question, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a non- Pennsylvania resident may bring suit under the UTPCPL against a Commonwealth-headquartered business based on transactions that occurred out-of-state. Furthermore, the Court concluded that its answer to the first issue eliminated the predicate to the second question certified for review. The matter was thus returned to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. View "Danganan v. Guardian Protection Svc." on Justia Law