Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
Wayland v. OSF Healthcare System
The case involves an appeal by Marianne Wayland against her former employer, OSF Healthcare System. Wayland alleged that OSF violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by failing to adjust performance expectations to reflect her reduced hours while she was on approved medical leave, and subsequently firing her. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of OSF, concluding that it fired Wayland for justifiable reasons based on her performance.Wayland appealed this decision arguing that there was a genuine dispute of material fact over the amount of approved leave she took. The Circuit Court agreed, finding that if Wayland's testimony about the amount of leave she took is believed, a jury could find that OSF unlawfully failed to adjust its performance expectations by properly accounting for her leave when evaluating her.The Circuit Court also noted that a jury could potentially find that OSF interfered with or retaliated against Wayland's use of leave by holding her to the same standards as when she worked full time, and then firing her for falling short. It found that there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine question about whether OSF's reasons for firing Wayland were pretextual, highlighting that OSF did not tell Wayland that poor performance would lead to discharge and set goals that were potentially impossible to meet.The Circuit Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Wayland v. OSF Healthcare System" on Justia Law
Peterson v. Laramie City Council
In Wyoming, Jerry Peterson brought a case against the Laramie City Council, alleging that the council violated the Wyoming Public Meetings Act by holding its meetings remotely during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Peterson argued that this remote format presented a barrier to attendance at the council meetings, violating a section of the Act that states a member of the public should not be required to fulfill any condition precedent to their attendance. The District Court dismissed the case on the grounds of laches, asserting that Peterson had delayed unreasonably in filing the suit. However, the Supreme Court of Wyoming reversed this decision and remanded the case back to the lower court. The Supreme Court found that the District Court had incorrectly determined Peterson's claims all accrued at the same time and that it had improperly taken judicial notice of the City Council's evidence. The Supreme Court also concluded that the District Court had made an erroneous conclusory determination that the City Council would be prejudiced by Peterson’s delay in bringing his action. View "Peterson v. Laramie City Council" on Justia Law
Moll v. Telesector
This case revolves around the plaintiff, Cindy L. Moll, who made allegations of gender-based discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer of her job site, and discriminatory or retaliatory termination of her employment against her former employer, Telesector Resources Group Inc., in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New York State Human Rights Law. She also claimed she was paid less than her male co-workers for similar work, violating Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.The United States District Court for the Western District of New York initially granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, dismissing all of the plaintiff's claims. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated parts of the district court's judgment and remanded for trial.Regarding the hostile work environment claim, the Court of Appeals concluded that the district court erred in finding that the plaintiff failed to present a prima facie case. The Court of Appeals noted the district court's failure to take all the circumstances into account and to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.In relation to the retaliatory transfer claim, the Court of Appeals held that the district court failed to view the record in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. It disagreed with the district court's conclusion that the transfer of the plaintiff's job site to Syracuse was not an adverse employment action and found that the district court ignored evidence that could support a finding of causation.As for the discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment claim, the Court of Appeals found that the district court did not adhere to the summary judgment principles. It concluded that the record revealed genuine issues as to all of the elements of the plaintiff's claim that the defendant's decision to transfer her job site to Syracuse violated Title VII's prohibition against retaliation.Finally, concerning the Equal Pay Act claim, the Court of Appeals held that there were genuine issues of material fact to be tried. It pointed out that the district court failed to adequately account for the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of some of the plaintiff's other claims but vacated the judgment as to the claims of hostile work environment, retaliatory transfer, discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment, and the Equal Pay Act claim as to one of the plaintiff's identified comparators. The case was remanded for trial. View "Moll v. Telesector" on Justia Law
Drumm v. Freedom of Information Commission
In a dispute between John Drumm, Chief of Police, et al. and the Freedom of Information Commission in Connecticut, the court was tasked with interpreting a provision of the Freedom of Information Act. The provision in question exempts from disclosure records of law enforcement agencies compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime, if the disclosure of such records would result in the disclosure of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action. The case arose from a request for documents related to a 2010 unsolved murder case by a filmmaker who was working on a documentary about the case. The request was denied by the police department, and the filmmaker filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission. The commission ruled in favor of the filmmaker and ordered the documents be provided. The police department appealed the decision, arguing that the commission failed to apply the correct legal standard.The court held that a "prospective law enforcement action" refers to a future law enforcement action that has at least a reasonable possibility of occurring, meaning that the occurrence is more than theoretically possible but not necessarily likely or probable. The court also clarified that under the first prong of the exception, a respondent before the commission must establish only that it is at least reasonably possible that the information contained in a requested document will be used in support of an arrest or prosecution. Because the commission had not applied this standard and had made clearly erroneous factual findings, the court reversed the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings before the commission. View "Drumm v. Freedom of Information Commission" on Justia Law
Sundholm v. Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
The case involves Magnus Sundholm, a former member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), who sued the HFPA for breach of contract and other claims after his expulsion from the organization. The HFPA moved to disqualify Sundholm's attorneys from the case, asserting that they had reviewed privileged documents that belonged to the HFPA. The trial court granted the motion, leading to Sundholm's appeal.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, found that while Sundholm's attorney had improperly refused to produce documents in response to a subpoena from the HFPA, disqualification of the attorney was not the appropriate remedy. This is because disqualification affects a party's right to counsel of choice and should not be used to punish an attorney for improper conduct. The court further found that there was no evidence that the possession of the HFPA's documents by Sundholm's attorney would prejudice the HFPA in the proceeding.Thus, the court reversed the trial court's order disqualifying Sundholm's attorneys. The summary of this case is based on the court's opinion and does not include any additional information or interpretation. View "Sundholm v. Hollywood Foreign Press Assn." on Justia Law
Hohenshelt v. Superior Court
The plaintiff, Dana Hohenshelt, filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Golden State Foods Corp., alleging retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, failure to prevent retaliation, and violations of the California Labor Code. Golden State moved to compel arbitration in accordance with their arbitration agreement, and the trial court granted the motion, staying court proceedings. Arbitration began, but Golden State failed to pay the required arbitration fees within the 30-day deadline. Hohenshelt then sought to withdraw his claims from arbitration and proceed in court, citing Golden State's failure to pay as a material breach of the arbitration agreement under California's Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.98. The trial court denied this motion, deeming Golden State's payment, which was made after the deadline but within a new due date set by the arbitrator, as timely.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District disagreed with the trial court's decision. It held that the trial court had ignored the clear language of section 1281.98, which states any extension of time for the due date must be agreed upon by all parties. Golden State's late payment constituted a material breach of the arbitration agreement, regardless of the new due date set by the arbitrator. The court also rejected Golden State's argument that section 1281.98 is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, following precedent from other courts that held these state laws are not preempted because they further the objectives of the Federal Arbitration Act. Therefore, the court granted Hohenshelt's petition for writ of mandate, directing the trial court to lift the stay of litigation. View "Hohenshelt v. Superior Court" on Justia Law
Conservatorship of T.B.
In a case before the Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Two, a woman, T.B., was found to be gravely disabled and was appointed a conservator under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. T.B. appealed, arguing that her trial did not commence within 10 days of her demanding one, violating section 5350, subdivision (d)(2) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and denying her due process. This statute was amended in January 1, 2023, to state that the failure to commence the trial within the time period is grounds for dismissal. The court concluded that the time limit for commencing trials is directory, not mandatory, and that dismissal for the failure to comply with the time limit is discretionary. The court found that the trial court did abuse its discretion in denying T.B.’s motions to dismiss the proceedings, but no reversal was required because T.B. did not demonstrate prejudice. The court also found that T.B. did not demonstrate a violation of her due process rights by the delay. Therefore, the court affirmed the conservatorship order. View "Conservatorship of T.B." on Justia Law
Ayers v. FCA US, LLC
In this case, the plaintiff Jacob Ayers purchased a new Jeep Grand Cherokee manufactured by the defendant, FCA US, LLC (FCA). After experiencing numerous problems with the vehicle, he asked FCA to repurchase it, but FCA refused. Ayers then sued FCA under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as the lemon law. During the course of litigation, FCA made multiple offers to settle the case. However, Ayers rejected these offers and continued to litigate. Later, Ayers traded in the Jeep for a new vehicle, receiving a credit of $13,000.In 2020, a court decision (Niedermeier v. FCA US LLC) held that the Song-Beverly restitution remedy does not include amounts a plaintiff has already recovered by trading in the vehicle at issue. This decision effectively reduced Ayers' maximum potential recovery by three times the amount of the trade-in. In January 2021, Ayers served FCA with a section 998 offer for $125,000 plus costs, expenses, and attorney fees, which FCA accepted.The dispute then centered on how much FCA should pay Ayers in attorney fees and costs. FCA argued that its earlier offer to settle the case (made under section 998 of the California Code of Civil Procedure) cut off Ayers' right to attorney fees incurred after the date of that offer. The trial court rejected this argument, and FCA appealed.The Court of Appeal of the State of California reversed the lower court's decision. The court held that section 998 does apply to a case that is resolved by a pretrial settlement. It also held that an intervening change in law that reduced the maximum amount a plaintiff could recover at trial does not exempt the plaintiff from the consequences of section 998. The court concluded that FCA's earlier settlement offer was valid and that it cut off Ayers' right to attorney fees incurred after the date of that offer.The court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to enter a new judgment excluding any costs incurred by Ayers after the date of FCA's earlier offer. FCA was also awarded costs on appeal. View "Ayers v. FCA US, LLC" on Justia Law
Wilkins v. Genzyme Corporation
A group of individuals filed a lawsuit against Genzyme Corporation, a drug manufacturer, for injuries allegedly caused by the company's mishandling of a prescription drug shortage between 2009 and 2012. The lawsuit was filed several years after the events in question occurred and would typically have been considered too late under the applicable statutory limitations periods. However, the plaintiffs argued that previous class actions, a savings statute, and a tolling agreement between the parties allowed the lawsuit to proceed. The district court partially agreed and rejected Genzyme's argument that the delay in filing required dismissal of the lawsuit. However, it dismissed the claims of all but four plaintiffs for lack of standing, and dismissed the remaining claims on the merits.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found that all plaintiffs have standing and the court has jurisdiction to proceed with the case, at least with respect to the plaintiffs' individual claims. However, it concluded that four plaintiffs waited too long before filing this lawsuit, and their claims are time-barred. For the remaining plaintiffs, the court vacated the judgment dismissing their claims and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "Wilkins v. Genzyme Corporation" on Justia Law
Santiago-Martinez v. Fundacion Damas, Inc.
The case concerns parents of a child who suffered severe and permanent injuries at birth due to alleged negligence of the medical staff at Hospital Damas. The parents sued Fundación Damas, Inc., alleging that it operated the hospital at the time of the malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment to Fundación on the basis of issue preclusion, concluding that the parents were "virtually represented" in earlier proceedings by the parents of another child who also suffered injuries at the hospital.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court found that the theory of virtual representation, which the district court relied on, was inapplicable to this case. According to the Supreme Court's precedent, issue preclusion generally does not apply to those who were not party to the prior litigation. The court noted that the Supreme Court had rejected the broad theory of virtual representation, which was the basis for the district court's decision. The court explained that the exceptions to the rule against nonparty preclusion are narrow and specific, and none applied in this case. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Santiago-Martinez v. Fundacion Damas, Inc." on Justia Law