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The plaintiff reached an oral agreement to settle a litigation arising out of a home mortgage loan, but the defendants insisted that as part of the settlement he would have to release any claims he had against another bank, and against a trust company, neither of which had been a party to the litigation. The district judge agreed with the defendants’ position. The Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded for a factual inquiry, noting that it has not been proved that anyone had told the plaintiff during the settlement conference that by agreeing to the settlement he would also be releasing any claim he might have against the two nonparties to the litigation. View "Chancellor v. Select Portfolio Servicing" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit seeking a declaration that it has the right to investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator encountered on the reservation to the proper authorities. The Ninth Circuit held that the first amended complaint raised a federal question that provided federal courts with subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331; the Tribe has presented a prudentially ripe case or controversy and the case is constitutionally ripe as well; and the district court's conclusion that the Tribe's response letter mooted all controversies between the parties was erroneous. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Bishop Paiute Tribe v. Inyo County" on Justia Law

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The South Carolina Supreme Court accepted a declaratory judgment matter in its original jurisdiction to determine if Respondents-Petitioners Quicken Loans, Inc. and Title Source, Inc. engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Petitioners-Respondents (collectively "Homeowners"), alleged the residential mortgage refinancing model implemented by Quicken Loans and Title Source in refinancing the Homeowners' mortgage loans constituted UPL. In addition to seeking declaratory relief, Homeowners' complaint also sought class certification and requested class relief. The Supreme Court found the record in this case showed licensed South Carolina attorneys were involved at every critical step of these refinancing transactions, and that requiring more attorney involvement would not effectively further the Court’s stated goal of protecting the public from the dangers of UPL. The Court therefore reject the Special Referee's conclusion that Quicken Loans and Title Source committed UPL. View "Boone v. Quicken Loans" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's determination that plaintiff asserted claims only under federal law, its dismissal of claims against the individual defendants, and its dismissal of plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. At issue in this appeal was whether a pro se litigant forfeits her claims under New York state and local discrimination law where she has alleged facts supporting such claims, but fails to check a blank on a form complaint indicating that she wishes to bring them. The court held that such a bright-line rule runs counter to the court's policy of liberally construing pro se submissions, and that plaintiff's complaint in this case should have been read by the district court to assert claims under New York state and local discrimination law as well as under federal law. The court addressed the balance of plaintiff's claims on appeal in a summary order issued simultaneously with this opinion, and remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. The Jewish Guild for the Blind" on Justia Law

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In a products liability case, plaintiffs Kawika and Sandra Demara appealed the grant of summary judgment granted in favor of defendants The Raymond Corporation (Raymond) and Raymond Handling Solutions, Inc. (RHSI). As pertinent to the appeal, Plaintiffs asserted claims for strict liability and negligence based on injuries Kawika suffered allegedly as a result of design defects in a forklift designed by Raymond and sold by RHSI. In granting summary judgment, the trial court ruled, in part: (1) Plaintiffs did not establish a triable issue of material fact as to causation; (2) the consumer expectation test did not apply as a matter of law; and (3) for purposes of applying the risk-benefit test, even if Plaintiffs had shown a triable issue of material fact as to causation, Defendants established the requisite elements for the application of the risk-benefit test, and Plaintiffs did not establish a triable issue of material fact as to whether the benefits of the design outweighed the risks of the design. The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court erred in these rulings: (1) because Plaintiffs' showing as to causation was more than negligible or theoretical, it was sufficient to defeat summary judgment; (2) Defendants did not meet their burden of establishing as a matter of law that the consumer expectation test does not apply to Plaintiffs' claims; and (3) in applying the risk-benefit test, Defendants failed to present sufficient evidence to shift the burden to Plaintiffs to show a triable issue of material fact. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to deny Defendants' motion. View "Demara v. The Raymond Corp." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a grant of summary judgment against Plaintiff-Appellant Parker Excavating, Inc. (“PEI”) on its civil rights claim against Defendants-Appellees Lafarge West, Inc. (“Lafarge”), Martin Marietta Minerals, Inc. (“MMM”), and Nick Guerra, an employee of Lafarge and MMM. Lafarge, a construction company, was the primary contractor on a paving project for Pueblo County, Colorado (“the County”). PEI, a Native American-owned construction company, was a subcontractor for Lafarge. MMM replaced Lafarge as the primary contractor. PEI’s participation in the project was terminated before it entered into a new subcontract with MMM. PEI alleged Lafarge retaliated against it with a letter of reprimand and a demand to sign letters of apology after PEI Vice President Greg Parker complained that County employees discriminated against PEI on the basis of its Native American ownership. In separate orders, the district court granted summary judgment on PEI’s 42 U.S.C 1981 retaliation claim to: (1) MMM and Guerra, because PEI could not show its opposition to County employees’ discrimination was “protected” opposition under section 1981; and (2) Lafarge, because PEI could not show Lafarge took an adverse action against it. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Parker Excavating v. LaFarge West" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants Pueblo of Pojoaque appealed a district court’s dismissal of its claim for declaratory and injunctive relief based on the New Mexico’s alleged unlawful interference with Class III gaming operations on the Pueblo’s lands. In July 2005, the Pueblo and New Mexico executed a Class III gaming compact pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) that allowed it to operate casino-style gaming on its lands. Prior to the expiration of the compact, the New Mexico Gaming Control Board (“the Gaming Board”) sought to perform its annual compliance review of the Pueblo’s gaming operations. The Pueblo complied on June 24; on June 30, 2015, the compact expired at midnight. The Gaming Board announced that despite the U.S. Attorney’s decision allowing the Pueblo’s gaming operations to continue pending the review, the Pueblo’s casinos were operating illegally due to the absence of a compact, and it placed in abeyance approval of any license application or renewal for vendors who did business with the Pueblo. The Pueblo commenced this action, asserting in part that New Mexico failed to conduct compact negotiations in good faith in violation of IGRA and that individual defendants conspired under the color of state law to “deprive the federal right of the Pueblo and its members to be free of state jurisdiction over activities that occur on the Pueblo lands.” The Pueblo sought an injunction, contending that the Gaming Board’s actions were an impermissible attempt to assert jurisdiction over gaming operations on tribal lands, despite the termination of New Mexico’s jurisdiction over such activities upon the expiration of the compact. The district court entered final judgment, stayed the effects of the preliminary injunction, and issued an indicative ruling that it would vacate or dissolve the preliminary injunction on remand. The Pueblo sought to stay the district court’s judgment and restore the preliminary injunction. The district court declined to do so, but the Tenth Circuit extended a temporary injunction against the State mirroring the preliminary injunction entered by the district court. On appeal, the Pueblo argued the district court did not have jurisdiction to proceed to the merits given the interlocutory appeal of the preliminary injunction and, even if it did, it erred in concluding that IGRA did not preempt New Mexico’s regulatory action. The Tenth Circuit found the text of IGRA clearly evinced congressional intent that Class III gaming would not occur in the absence of a compact, and no such compact existed. Accordingly, conflict preemption also does not apply. For similar reasons, the Court rejected the Pueblo’s argument that the Gaming Board’s determination as to the unlawful nature of the Pueblo’s gaming activities was an improper assertion of jurisdiction preempted by IGRA. Because the Pueblo’s gaming activities are not conducted pursuant to a compact or an alternative mechanism permitted under IGRA, the Pueblo’s present gaming is unlawful under federal law, and the State’s conclusion to this effect was not an exercise of jurisdiction that IGRA preempts. View "Pueblo of Pojoaque v. New Mexico" on Justia Law

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Appeals from decisions of the Industrial Commission cannot be turned into inverse condemnation actions; the Industrial Commission was authorized to modify previously designated spacing units. Arthur Langved appealed an Industrial Commission grant of Continental Resources, Inc.'s application to terminate existing oil and gas well spacing units, to create new spacing units, and to modify well setback requirements for portions of the Elm Tree-Bakken and Sanish-Bakken pools. Langved owned leased and unleased mineral interests in property covered by spacing units created by the Commission in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, Continental filed an application to amend these Commission orders to terminate the existing spacing units and to create new spacing units. On appeal, Langved stated the issue was "[w]hether the [Commission] could constitutionally, statutorily, or discretionally reunitize a producing drilling and spacing unit and thereby diminish his vested property rights and take his surface estate to afford Continental and the state of North Dakota an opportunity to access submerged minerals under the sections added in the enlarged unit." The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the Commission regularly pursued its authority, and its findings and conclusions were sustained by the law and by substantial and credible evidence. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Langved v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the district court's approval of a zero-dollar class action settlement and award of attorneys' fees in a consolidated lawsuit stemming from a merger between Midstream and Equity. The Fifth Circuit dismissed a class member's objection to the settlement based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. In this case, the class member was a nonparty, non-intervenor, who waived his right to appeal by filing an untimely, procedurally deficient objection. Furthermore, he failed to qualify for an exception pursuant to Devlin v. Scardelletti, 536 U.S. 1, 3–4, 6–7 (2002). View "Aron v. Crestwood Midstream Partners" on Justia Law

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Seneca, an oil and natural gas exploration and production company, sought to convert a natural gas well in Highland Township into a Class II underground injection control well in which to store waste from fracking. Highland Township, in Elk County, Pennsylvania, enacted an ordinance that, among other things, prohibited “disposal injection wells” from existing within Highland. In Seneca’s lawsuit, challenging the ordinance, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund sought to intervene on the side of the Township to represent the interests of underlying environmental groups (appellants). The district court denied its motion to intervene, holding that the Township adequately represented underlying interests in defending the ordinance. While a motion for reconsideration was pending, the Township repealed the ordinance and entered into a settlement with Seneca that culminated in a consent decree adopted by the district court. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that original motion to intervene was moot because there is no longer an ordinance to defend. The Consent Decree does not bind any of the appellants nor does it deprive them of any rights after the ordinance has been repealed. Because the appellants are nonparties, they cannot appeal the Consent Decree. View "Seneca Resources Corp v. Township of Highland" on Justia Law