Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Lee, a San Francisco independent optometrist, sued corporate affiliates operating optical retail stores in California that offer competing eyeglass products and optometry services, on behalf of a putative class of independent optometrists. He alleged that the chain stores operated in a manner that violated state laws regulating the practice of optometry and the dispensing of optical products, constituting unfair and/or unlawful business practices in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). He claimed that “adults are, on average, willing to drive more than 20 miles for routine medical care” and that “[i]f patients had not been able to visit illegal optometry locations, a statistically significant and statistically ascertainable percentage of such patients would have instead visited at least one member of the Class. The complaint sought a judgment “[o]rdering the restitution/disgorgement of all sums obtained by Defendants through improper taking of market share from Class Members through violations of the UCL.”The court of appeal affirmed the suit's dismissal. Compensation for lost market share is not a remedy authorized by the UCL, because it does not constitute restitution, the only form of nonpunitive monetary recovery authorized under the UCL. Compensation for expected but unearned future income to which the plaintiff has no legal entitlement is not recoverable as restitution under the UCL, regardless of how it is characterized. View "Lee v. Luxottica Retail North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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North Carolina abortion providers filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the State's criminalization of previability abortions. The State contends that the Providers do not have standing to bring suit because they do not face a credible threat of prosecution for violation of the challenged statutes, N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-44 and 14-45, and the exceptions thereto, section 14-45.1(a)–(b).The Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that the Providers have established a credible threat of prosecution and therefore have standing to bring this suit. In this case, amidst a wave of similar state action across the country, North Carolina has enacted legislation to restrict the availability of abortions and impose heightened requirements on abortion providers and women seeking abortions. The court explained that, given these facts, the court cannot reasonably assume that the abortion ban that North Carolina keeps on its books is "largely symbolic." Where North Carolina's continued interest in regulating abortion remains vividly apparent, the court cannot dismiss the threat of prosecution as "not remotely possible." Furthermore, informal statements by two of the defendants that they do not presently intend to enforce the challenged statutes do not alter the court's analysis. View "Bryant v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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After LAPIA terminated defendant's employment, it filed suit against him in state court seeking damages for disparaging comments defendant allegedly made about the company while soliciting his former clients, as well as an injunction enforcing a non-compete clause in defendant's employment contract. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking to recover unpaid commissions, and then removed the case to federal court. For nearly two years, LAPIA failed to file an answer to defendant's counterclaims, only finally seeking leave to file the document after the parties had fully briefed cross summary judgment motions. The district court accepted LAPIA's answer without explanation, then granted the company summary judgment based on a new defense theory that had been raised for the first time in LAPIA’s belated answer.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to LAPIA and its denial of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, because LAPIA failed to demonstrate that its failure to initially file an answer was the product of "excusable neglect," as is required to obtain an extension of time once a filing period has elapsed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "L.A. Public Insurance Adjusters, Inc. v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Valeant develops and manufactures generic pharmaceuticals. Appellants purchased stock in Valeant after Valeant changed its business model to focus more on acquiring new drugs from other companies rather than developing its own. Valeant made promising representations about its financial performance based on its new business model. The price of Valeant stock skyrocketed nearly 350% in 2015. Before the district court addressed class certification in a putative class action on behalf of investors who purchased Valeant stock in 2015, alleging that the price was artificially inflated as a result of deceptive practices, the Appellants filed an “opt-out” complaint bringing the same claims in their individual capacities. The district court dismissed that complaint as untimely under the two-year limitations period.The Third Circuit vacated the dismissal. Putative class members may recover as part of the class or seek individual recourse. Members may initially proceed as part of a class, but certification may be denied later or members may discover that their individual claims are more valuable than the class claims and decide to pursue an opt-out complaint even if certification is likely. In either case, members are generally allowed to initiate an individual action. When a class complaint is filed, the limitations period governing the individual claims of putative members is tolled to protect the rights of putative members while avoiding needless identical lawsuits. Nothing further, such as a certification denial, is required to benefit from tolling. View "Aly v. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this appeal, several Summerville residents and public interest groups (Petitioners) asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to invalidate approval granted by the Town of Summerville Board of Architectural Review (the Board) for construction of a proposed development project (the Project). Petitioners contended the Board violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and various Summerville ordinances. At some point during Petitioners' appeal of the Board's decision, Applegate & Co. (the Developer) decided not to go forward with the Project. Since there remained no actual controversy for the Supreme Court to decide, it vacated the court of appeals' decision and dismissed Petitioners' appeal as moot. View "Croft v. Town of Summerville" on Justia Law

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A Town of Cottageville police officer shot and killed the former town Mayor Bert Reeves. A federal jury awarded Reeves' estate $97,500,000 in damages. The South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, which insured the town, paid $10,000,000 to settle the federal lawsuit and two other lawsuits. The Settlement Agreement provided for two questions to be submitted to the state courts: (1) whether the amount of indemnity coverage available under the policy was more than $1,000,000; and (2) whether the South Carolina Tort Claims Act applied to a bad faith action against the Fund. The South Carolina Supreme Court answered the first question "yes"; it declined to answer the second. View "Reeves v. South Carolina Municipal Insurance" on Justia Law

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In the lawsuit underlying these consolidated writ proceedings, the People of the State of California, by and through the Santa Clara County Counsel, the Orange County District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Oakland City Attorney, filed an action against defendants— various pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture, marketing, distribution, and sale of prescription opioid medications. The People alleged the defendants made false and misleading statements as part of a deceptive marketing scheme designed to minimize the risks of opioid medications and inflate their benefits. This scheme, the People alleged, caused a public health crisis in California by dramatically increasing the number of opioid prescriptions, the use and abuse of opioids, and opioid-related deaths. These proceedings pertained to a discovery dispute after several of the defendants served subpoenas on two nonparty counties, petitioners County of Los Angeles and County of Alameda, seeking records of patients in various county programs, including individual prescription data and individual patient records related to substance abuse treatment. After petitioners and the Johnson & Johnson defendants engaged in various informal and formal means to attempt to resolve the dispute, the superior court issued a discovery order granting the Johnson & Johnson defendants’ motions to compel production of the records. The Court of Appeal concluded petitioners established that the superior court’s order threatened a serious intrusion into the privacy interests of the patients whose records were at issue: the Johnson & Johnson defendants failed to demonstrate their interests in obtaining “such a vast production of medical information” outweighed the significant privacy interests that the nonparty petitioners identified. Accordingly, the Court granted petitioners’ writ petitions and directed the superior court to vacate its order compelling production of the requested documents, and to enter a new order denying Johnson & Johnson defendants’ motions to compel. View "County of Los Angeles v. Superior Ct." on Justia Law

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Mondelli suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and major depression. During his daily 12-hour visits with his mother at Berkeley Heights, Mondelli allegedly observed inadequate care. Mondelli regularly complained to staff, the New Jersey Board of Health, and the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly. After several contentious visits, including police calls, Mondelli’s visits were limited to one to two hours per day in the lobby. Mondelli’s mother died.Mondelli filed suit, claiming ADA violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Despite several deadline extensions, Mondelli never cooperated in discovery. Mondelli explained that he suffers from various physical and mental health conditions; was found incompetent to stand trial in the Municipal Court of Fanwood; and has been unable to properly communicate with his lawyer. Mondelli supplied letters from physicians and a psychiatrist. The case was administratively terminated for 180 days, after which Mondelli moved to reopen. The district court denied Mondelli’s motion and, weighing the “Poulis” factors, dismissed his complaint with prejudice, finding that Mondelli was personally responsible for his failure to prosecute; that defendants were prejudiced by his failure to prosecute; that Mondelli had a history of dilatoriness; that no sanction other than dismissal would be appropriate; and that Mondelli’s ADA claim lacked merit.The Third Circuit vacated. There was verifiable evidence that placed Mondelli’s competency at issue; the court must examine his competency, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17. View "Mondelli v. Berkeley Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a sexual-misconduct investigation conducted by the University of Denver and the subsequent expulsion of John Doe after a classmate accused him of sexual assault. Doe sued the University and various school administrators (collectively, the University) alleging, among other things, that the University violated the sex discrimination prohibition of Title IX, because anti-male bias pervaded the sexual-misconduct investigation, resulting in a disciplinary decision against the weight of the evidence. The district court concluded Doe failed to present sufficient evidence that the University’s actions were motivated by bias against him because of his sex, and it therefore granted summary judgment to the University on Doe’s Title IX claim. Doe challenged that conclusion, alleging the district court applied the wrong legal standard in resolving his motion for summary judgment. Applying the “McDonnell Douglas” evidentiary standard to Doe’s claim, the Tenth Circuit concluded he provided sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether the investigation into the allegations and subsequent disciplinary action discriminated against him because of his sex. View "Doe v. University of Denver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the West Virginia Public Service Commission ruling that its jurisdiction under state law to regulate a company that was operating in West Virginia solely as a contractor for a federal agency was preempted by federal law, holding that there was no error in the Commission's determination.The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the federal agency in this case, was impelled to give the company, Community Pastor Care, LLC (CPC), the subject contract to meet a goal expressed by Congress in 38 U.S.C. 8127(a). Metro Tristate, Inc. filed this case asking that the Commission bar CPC from transporting VA passengers until it received a permit from the Commission. The Commission concluded that its jurisdiction to regulate CPC was preempted by federal law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission correctly determined that its jurisdiction to regulate CPC was preempted by federal law. View "Metro Tristate, Inc. v. Public Service Commission of W. Va." on Justia Law