Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Will Hughes and Chad Penn were commercial farmers who leased farmland in Madison County, Mississippi. They began using propane cannons in the summer months to deter deer from eating their crops. Because of the intentionally loud noise these devices created, neighboring property owners sought to enjoin Hughes and Penn from using the cannons. But citing the Mississippi Right to Farm Act, the chancellor found the neighbors’ nuisance claim was barred. Undisputedly, Hughes’s and Penn’s farms had been in operation for many years before the nuisance action was filed. So the chancery court ruled Miss. Code Ann. Section 95-3-29(1) was an absolute defense and dismissed the neighbors’ nuisance action. On appeal, the neighboring property owners argued the chancery court misinterpreted the statute. In their view, the chancery court erred by looking to how long the farms had been in operation instead of how long the practice of propane cannons had been in place. But the Mississippi Supreme Court found their proposed view contradicted the statute’s plain language. "The one-year time limitation in Section 95-3-29(1) does not hinge on the existence of any specific agricultural practice. Instead, it is expressly based on the existence of the agricultural operation, which 'includes, without limitation, any facility or production site for the production and processing of crops . . . .'" Applying the plain language in Section 95-3-29(2)(a), the Supreme Court found the properties being farmed were without question agricultural operations. And the propane cannons were part of those operations, because they were part of the farms’ best agricultural-management practices. Since the farms had been in operation for more than one year, the chancellor was correct to apply Section 95-3-29(1)’s bar. View "Briggs v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the Eleventh Circuit considered a question of first impression: whether the district court has authority to remand a case based on a procedural defect in removal when (1) a motion to remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is filed within 30 days of the notice of removal, but (2) a procedural defect is not raised until after the 30-day statutory time limit.The court concluded that 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) allows a district court to remand based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction or upon a timely motion to remand on the basis of a procedural defect. In this case, the district court's remand order is based on neither of those grounds. Rather, plaintiff untimely raised a procedural defect in removal, thus forfeiting that objection. Consequently, the district court had no authority to remand the case on that basis. The court vacated the order remanding the case to state court. View "Shipley v. Helping Hands Therapy" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on the nature and scope of the “exclusive original jurisdiction” that ORS 419B.100(1) conferred on the juvenile courts over specified categories of “case[s] involving a person who is under 18 years of age.” The question arose from petitioner’s challenge to a juvenile court judgment that deprived her of legal-parent status as to S, a child over whom petitioner had claimed a right to custody. According to petitioner, the court’s judgment of “nonparentage” was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the juvenile court did not determine that S actually fell within one of the categories specified in ORS 419B.100(1). The Court of Appeals rejected petitioner’s challenge to the judgment, and the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals. Here, it was undisputed that this case involved a child who was the subject of a petition alleging that she fell within one of those categories and requesting that the juvenile court exercise its authority to address those allegations. And it was undisputed that proceedings to address the petition were pending when the juvenile court ruled on petitioner’s parentage status. The Supreme Court concluded the allegations and relief sought in the pending petition were sufficient to bring the case within the subject matter jurisdiction of the juvenile court. View "Dept. of Human Services v. C. M. H." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a question of law to the Oregon Supreme Court concerning whether a statutory damages cap applied to an award of noneconomic damages in an unlawful employment practice action. Plaintiff Max Zweizig filed suit in the federal district court in Oregon, alleging that corporate defendants had retaliated against him and that defendant Timothy Rote had aided and abetted the corporations in violation of Oregon statutes. The jury found for plaintiff and awarded him $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Over plaintiff’s objection, the district court entered a judgment for only half that amount after applying the non- economic damages cap set out in ORS 31.710(1). Defendant appealed, and plaintiff cross-appealed, challenging the reduction of the noneconomic damage award. The Supreme Court determined the damages cap in ORS 31.710(1) did not apply to an award of noneconomic damages for an unlawful employment practice claim under ORS 659A.030 in which the plaintiff did not seek damages that arose out of bodily injury and instead sought damages for emotional injury. View "Zweizig v. Rote" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action on behalf of themselves and “[a]ll consumers to whom [d]efendants, after November 17, 2013, provided an electronically printed receipt” listing the expiration date of the consumer’s credit or debit card in violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA). Plaintiffs’ only alleged injury was exposure to an increased risk of identity theft and credit/debit card fraud. The complaint alleged that “there are, at a minimum, thousands (i.e., two thousand or more) of members that comprise the Class.” The trial court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint based on its determination that plaintiffs could not satisfy Rule 4:32-1’s numerosity, predominance, or superiority requirements for class certification. The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal as it pertained to the class action claims. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding plaintiffs sufficiently pled the class certification requirements to survive a motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court remanded the matter for class action discovery to be conducted pursuant to Rule 4:32-2(a), so that the trial court could determine whether to certify the class. View "Baskin v. P.C. Richard Son, LLC" on Justia Law

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In May 2020, the chairs of the California Assembly and Senate committees that consider election-related matters, prepared a formal letter to the Governor indicating they were working on legislation to ensure Californians could vote by mail in light of the emergency occasioned by COVID-19. The committee chairs encouraged the Governor to issue an executive order allowing all Californians to vote by mail. On June 3, 2020, the Governor signed the order at issue here, Executive Order No. N-67-20. The Executive Order identified statutory provisions that were displaced pursuant to its provisions. At the time the Governor issued the Executive Order, two bills pending in the Legislature addressed the substance of the Governor’s Executive Order: Assembly Bill No. 860 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.), which would ensure all California voters were provided ballots in advance of the election to vote by mail, and Senate Bill No. 423 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.), which would govern those remaining aspects of the election that were yet to occur. In June, real parties filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief seeking a declaration that the Executive Order “is null and void as it is an unconstitutional exercise of legislative powers reserved only to the Legislature, nor is it a permitted action” under the Emergency Services Act and an injunction against the Governor implementing the Executive Order. The complaint also sought an injunction. In Newsom v. Superior Court, 51 Cal.App.5th 1093 (2020), the Court of Appeal granted the Governor’s petition challenging a temporary restraining order suspending the Executive Order that the superior court issued in an expedited, “ex parte” proceeding. The Court held that there was no basis for the superior court to grant real parties’ ex parte application at a hearing conducted one day after the action was filed, without proper notice to the Governor or his appearance, and without the substantive showing required for an ex parte proceeding. Following the earlier Newsom decision, the case was reassigned to a different judge who conducted a trial and entered a judgment granting declaratory relief that the Executive Order was void as unconstitutional, and that the California Emergency Services Act did not authorize the Governor to issue the Executive Order. In this case, the Court of Appeal granted the Governor’s petition and directed the superior court to dismiss as moot real parties’ claim for declaratory relief: the Executive Order was superseded by legislation and was directed only at the November 3, 2020 general election, which had occurred before the judgment was entered. However, the Court found the declaratory relief and accompanying permanent injunction regarding executive orders issued under the Emergency Services Act raised matters of great public concern regarding the Governor’s orders in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The Court ruled the superior court erred in interpreting the Emergency Services Act to prohibit the Governor from issuing quasi-legislative orders in an emergency. The Court concluded the issuance of such orders did not constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. View "Newsom v. Superior Ct." on Justia Law

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In September 2016, defendant Trend Motors, Ltd. (Trend), provided defendant Mary Aquilar with a loaner vehicle for her personal use while her vehicle was being serviced. Aquilar’s negligent operation of the loaner vehicle caused it to strike plaintiff Tyrone Huggins’s car. Huggins sustained serious injuries as a result. GEICO insured Aquilar through an automobile policy. Trend held a garage policy with Federal Insurance Company (Federal) that insured Trend’s vehicles for up to $1,000,000 in liability coverage. The definition of an “insured” in the Federal policy purported to extend liability coverage to Trend’s customers using Trend’s vehicles only if the customer lacked the minimum insurance required by law. Huggins filed a complaint seeking compensation for the injuries and loss of income he suffered as a result of the accident. Federal disclaimed liability, arguing that Aquilar did not fit the policy’s definition of an insured because she held $15,000 in bodily injury coverage through GEICO. The trial court held that the Federal policy’s definition of an insured constituted an illegal escape clause and held Federal to the full policy limit of $1,000,000 in liability coverage. The Appellate Division declined to review the trial court’s ruling. The New Jersey Supreme Court concurred with the trial court’s ruling that the provision in the garage policy at issue constituted an illegal escape clause which could not be used to evade the minimum liability requirements for dealership vehicles set by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). The Court ordered the reformation of Federal’s policy to the $100,000/$250,000 dealer-licensure minimum liability coverage required by N.J.A.C. 13:21-15.2(l). View "Huggins v. Aquilar" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the trial court's order denying his motion to set aside a default and default judgment in an action on a promissory note. The Court of Appeal concluded that both the award of the earn-out payment, as well as the award of interest on the earn-out payment, are contrary to law and rendered those portions of the default judgment void.In this case, defendant's challenge as to the default judgment does not run afoul of any timing limitation under Code of Civil Procedure section 473; consideration of defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment is not an "idle" act; the trial court erred in failing to determine that the default judgment was void on its face, as to the award of the $100,000 earn-out amount; and the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's motion as to the award of interest, to the extent that the interest exceeded the amount that had accrued on the $100,000 principal at the constitutionally allowable maximum rate. Accordingly, the court reversed the order on defendant's motion as to these two awards, and modified the default judgment to exclude the $100,000 earn-out payment and reduced the award of interest to $8,081.53. View "Grados v. Shiau" on Justia Law

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Arlington filed suit against opioid manufacturers, distributers, and pharmacies, including the ESI Defendants, in state court for causing, or contributing to, the opioid epidemic in Arlington County. The ESI Defendants removed to federal court pursuant to the federal officer removal statute, claiming that their operation of the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy (TMOP) as a subcontractor to a contract between their corporate affiliate and the Department of Defense (DOD) satisfied each of the statute's requirements. The district court granted Arlington's motion to remand back to state court.The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the ESI defendants satisfied the requirements of the federal officer removal statute. The court concluded that the ESI Defendants met their burden of showing that they were "acting under" DOD in operating the TMOP in accordance with the DOD contract. Although the district court did not address the other two requirements of the federal officer removal statute—possession of a colorable federal defense and a causal relationship between the government-directed conduct and the plaintiffs' claims—the court found that judicial economy favors resolution of those questions without a time-consuming and costly remand. On the merits, the court concluded that the ESI Defendants also satisfied these two requirements. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "The County Board of Arlington County v. Express Scripts Pharmacy, Inc." on Justia Law

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NYK Line, a company incorporated and headquartered in Japan, chartered a ship that collided with a U.S. Navy destroyer in Japanese territorial waters, killing seven sailors and injuring at least forty others. Two sets of plaintiffs filed suit against NYK Line: the Douglass plaintiffs are personal representatives of the seven U.S. sailors killed and the Alcide plaintiffs represent those injured in the collision and their family members.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the consolidated actions based on lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). The court first concluded that personal jurisdiction is only proper in this case if the Fifth Amendment due process test is satisfied. The court followed Patterson v. Aker Sols., Inc., 826 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2016), and its application of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), in addressing whether the district court could constitutionally exercise personal jurisdiction over NYK Line, and agreed with the district court that it could not. Bound by the rule of orderliness, the court agreed with the district court that personal jurisdiction over NYK Line cannot be constitutionally established under existing Fifth Circuit precedent. In this case, NYK Line's contacts with the United States represent a small portion of its contacts worldwide and its American employees represent less than 1.5 percent of all employees. The court explained that, although NYK Line has considerable contacts with the United States, these are not so substantial and of such a nature that NYK Line is essentially rendered at home in the United States. View "Douglass v. Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha" on Justia Law