by
Plaintiff, an inmate, filed a pro se complaint against a Peace Officer and others under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff filed suit more than two years after the alleged incident giving rise to his claim occurred, but filed his renewed suit within six months of filing his initial suit. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim and held that the Georgia Supreme Court would construe O.C.G.A. 9-11-41(d) to require payment of costs before involuntary dismissals may be renewed under O.C.G.A. 9-2-61, Georgia's renewal statute; the court was not persuaded that the Georgia Supreme Court would allow plaintiff to rely on an extension of the good-faith exception to save his claim; and the court found no support for the assertion that the Georgia Supreme Court would construe Georgia's renewal statute to deem plaintiff to have met the cost-payment requirement under the circumstances of this case. View "Hancock v. Cape" on Justia Law

by
Objector-Appellant Dale Hefner appeals from the district court’s denial of his motion for settlement-related discovery, approval of the settlement agreement, and order regarding attorneys’ fees. This case concerns the settlement agreement and attorneys’ fees related to two separate shareholder derivative suits on behalf of SandRidge Energy Inc. (“SandRidge”) against its directors. The first of those actions was filed in federal district court in January 2013. The federal derivative suit alleged self-dealing, usurpation of corporate opportunities, and misappropriation by Tom Ward, SandRidge’s founding CEO, and entities affiliated with him. Hefner filed the second derivative suit was filed in Oklahoma state court in 2013. The director-defendants moved the state court to stay the action pending a resolution in the federal case, or in the alternative to dismiss the suit entirely. Hefner objected, and the state court stayed the action but denied the motion to dismiss. In 2014, the state court entered a stipulated and agreed to order granting SandRidge’s motion to stay. Then in 2015, the federal district court granted a preliminary approval of a partial settlement in the federal suit. Hefner (1) filed a contingent motion for attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses, (2) objected to the settlement, and (3) requested additional settlement-related discovery. The district court denied Hefner’s motion for additional discovery and, after a hearing on the other matters, entered a final order and judgment approving the proposed partial settlement and denying the request for attorneys’ fees. While the appeal was pending before the Tenth Circuit, SandRidge filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. SandRidge gave notice of the bankruptcy court’s approval of the company’s plan of reorganization and filed a contemporaneous motion to dismiss the appeal as moot, contending that because company stock was cancelled as part of the bankruptcy, Hefner did not have standing to pursue a shareholder derivative claim; the relevant derivative claims were released and discharged as part of the reorganization, and the right to pursue derivative litigation vested in reorganized SandRidge. The Tenth Circuit agreed that Hefner's claims were moot, and finding no other reversible error, it appealed. View "Elliot v. Ward" on Justia Law

by
Artur Hefczyc appealed an order denying his motion for class certification in his lawsuit against Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego (Rady). On behalf of a proposed class, Hefczyc sought declaratory relief to establish that Rady's form contract, signed by patients or guarantors of patients who receive emergency room care, authorized Rady to charge only for the reasonable value of its services, and that Rady therefore was not authorized to bill self-pay patients based on its master list of itemized charge rates, commonly referred to as the "Chargemaster" schedule of rates, which Hefczyc alleged was "artificial" and "grossly inflated." The trial court denied Hefczyc's motion for class certification, concluding that the class was not ascertainable, that common issues did not predominate, and that class action litigation was not a superior means of proceeding. Hefczyc contends that the trial court erred in denying class certification because, as the complaint sought only declaratory relief, the motion for class certification was brought under the equivalent of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 23(b)(1)(A) or (b)(2) (28 U.S.C.), for which he was not required to establish the ascertainability of the class, that common issues predominated and that class action litigation was a superior means of proceeding. Hefczyc also contended that even if the trial court properly imposed those three requirements in this action, the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that those requirements were not met. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hefczyc's arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the order denying class certification. View "Hefczyz v. Rady Children's Hosp." on Justia Law

by
In this appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether the 2000 and 2001 financial agreements between plaintiffs EQR-Lincoln Urban Renewal Jersey City, LLC (EQR-Lincoln), and EQR-LPC Urban Renewal North Pier, LLC (EQR-North Pier), and defendant, the City of Jersey City (City), incorporated 2003 amendments to the Long Term Tax Exemption (LTTE) Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:20-1 to -22. Plaintiffs were limited liability companies that qualified as urban renewal entities under the LTTE Law. Each plaintiff entered into a separate financial agreement with the City to obtain a property tax exemption relating to an urban renewal project involving construction of an apartment building. Among other things, the financial agreements required plaintiffs to pay the City an “annual service charge” in lieu of property taxes. Plaintiffs filed a two-count complaint seeking a declaratory judgment against the City seeking: (1) a judgment declaring that the applicable law and financial agreements permitted plaintiffs to pay “excess rent” to affiliated entities under certain ground leases, with the effect of eliminating the “excess net profit” that plaintiffs might otherwise owe to the City; and (2) a judgment declaring that the parties’ financial agreements incorporated future changes to applicable law, such that plaintiffs could calculate their “allowable profit rate” in accordance with the 2003 amendments to the LTTE Law. The trial judge granted partial summary judgment on Count II, reasoning that the express language of the contract, “as amended and supplemented,” demonstrated that the parties agreed to incorporate future amendments to the LTTE Law in their financial agreements. The trial judge further concluded that the 2003 amendments to the LTTE Law applied to the financial agreements, and that legislative history supported his conclusions. The trial judge denied the City’s motion for reconsideration. The Appellate Division reversed, finding LTTE Law did not sanction plaintiffs’ unilateral changes to their financial agreements. The Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division. View "EQR-LPC Urban Renewal North Pier, LLC v. City of Jersey City" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court vacated the district court's holding that production of a privilege log pursuant to an employment discrimination investigation was sufficient to establish that the attorney-client privilege protected BDO's withheld documents. The court held that by adopting the magistrate judge's recommendation, the district court erred when inverting the burden of proof, requiring that the EEOC prove that BDO improperly asserted the attorney-client privilege as to its withheld documents, and concluding that all communications between a corporation's employees and its counsel were per se privileged. The court remanded for a determination applying the correct attorney-client privilege principles and legal standards. In regard to the protective order, because the magistrate judge's incorrect application of the legal standard may have affected both her analysis of the allegedly disclosed communications and the breadth of the protections she imposed in her order, the court remanded so that BDO's request for protection may be considered under the proper legal standard for determining privilege. View "EEOC v. BDO USA, LLP" on Justia Law

by
United Fire & Casualty Company appealed a district court judgment awarding Carol Forsman $249,554.30 in her garnishment action against United Fire, commenced after she settled claims in the underlying suit against Blues, Brews and Bar-B-Ques, Inc., d.b.a. Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers was a bar in Grand Forks that was insured by United Fire under a commercial general liability ("CGL") policy. In 2010, Forsman sued Muddy Rivers and Amanda Espinoza seeking damages for injuries to her leg allegedly sustained while a guest at a February 2010 private party at Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers notified United Fire of the suit and requested coverage. United Fire denied defense and indemnification based on the policy's exclusions for assault and battery and liquor liability. However, after appeals and reconsideration, the court ruled in Forsman's favor, finding the settlement amount was reasonable. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erred in granting summary judgment because material fact issues existed on whether exclusions for "assault and battery" and "liquor liability" in the CGL policy excluded coverage of Forsman's negligence claim against Muddy Rivers. Furthermore, the Court concluded further conclude the court properly granted summary judgment to Forsman holding United Fire had a duty to defend Muddy Rivers under the CGL policy in the underlying suit. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Forsman v. Blues, Brews & Bar-B-Ques Inc." on Justia Law

by
Keith Candee appealed the grant of summary judgment to his parents, Lyla and Douglas Candee, awarding them an $884,508.83 deficiency judgment following foreclosure of properties in California and North Dakota. Keith and his parents executed a settlement agreement and mutual release of claims in 2013 relating to earlier disputes between the parties about the management of their family assets. Under the settlement agreement, Keith agreed to pay $2.2 million to Lyla and Douglas. The $2.2 million settlement amount was secured by real property in California and North Dakota. A deed of trust in favor of Lyla and Douglas secured the California property, and a mortgage secured the property in North Dakota. The deed of trust securing the California property included a power of sale provision allowing Lyla and Douglas to foreclose the property in a nonjudicial manner via a trustee's sale. After Keith failed to make payments under the settlement agreement, Lyla and Douglas foreclosed the California property. They proceeded with a nonjudicial foreclosure and in January 2014 purchased the property at a trustee's sale for a credit bid of $200,000. Lyla and Douglas foreclosed the North Dakota property and purchased the property for $975,000 at a July 2015 sheriff's sale. In September 2015, Lyla and Douglas sued Keith in North Dakota for a deficiency judgment for the difference between the amount Keith owed under the settlement agreement and the amount Lyla and Douglas obtained through foreclosure of the properties. Keith argued a deficiency judgment was not available under the agreement because California law applied and a deficiency judgment was prohibited under California law. The district court concluded California law applied only to the California property and granted summary judgment to Lyla and Douglas. The court entered an $884,508.83 deficiency judgment against Keith. On appeal, Keith maintained the California anti-deficiency statutes applied to the settlement agreement, and those statutes barred a deficiency judgment in this case. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding California law barred a deficiency judgment in this case as a matter of law. View "Candee v. Candee" on Justia Law

by
Karen Corum appealed the grant of summary judgments in two collection actions brought by American Express Centurion Bank. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court's summary judgments were proper as a matter of law and the district court did not err by denying Corum's request to allow her husband to be her spokesperson in court. A party who is not represented by a licensed attorney cannot be represented by another person, including their spouse, in any court of record in this state, absent authorization provided by state law or supreme court rule. The right of free speech does not encompass in-court advocacy by a non-lawyer on behalf of another person, including a spouse. View "American Express Centurion Bank v. Corum" on Justia Law

by
Edwards owns a taxicab in Milwaukee and gets referrals from Yellow Cab. Edwards leased the cab to Giri, who subleased some of the time to Chapman so that the cab could be in service much of the day. Chapman received fares and tips, paid rent to Giri, and kept the difference; he did not pay or receive anything from Yellow Cab. Chapman argued, in his suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act that he was a Yellow Cab “employee” and that, after he complained about not receiving the minimum wage, Mohamed, Yellow Cab's President, told Giri that Chapman was “fired” (would not be dispatched to passengers calling Yellow Cab). Giri then terminated the sublease. Chapman argued that Mohamed’s action violated the Act’s anti-retaliation clause, 29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3). His suit was dismissed with prejudice. The judge stated that Chapman had not addressed all of the relevant factors. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While federal court plaintiffs need not plead all legal elements plus facts corresponding to each, Chapman’s claim was implausible because it did not allege any direct dealings between himself and Yellow Cab. When the court requested more, Chapman did not respond with a plausible claim. He failed to provide additional details, insisting that, because Yellow Cab affected his driving through the chain of leases, it must be his employer. View "Chapman v. Yellow Cab Cooperative" on Justia Law

by
The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for extension of time to file notice of appeal pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 8002(d)(1)(B) for failing to show excusable neglect. Appellant filed her motion one business day late as a result of her attorney’s preoccupation with his second job as a church’s music director. The district court concluded that counsel’s explanation for the delay amounted to mere inadvertence and did not constitute excusable neglect. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellant’s counsel’s inadvertence did not constitute excusable neglect and that Appellant was bound by counsel's carelessness. View "Sheedy v. Bankowski" on Justia Law