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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing the case brought by Plaintiff seeking to have the district court address the same grievances she brought without success in the Massachusetts state courts, holding that Supreme Court case law divests federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction in such cases. A bank commenced a summary process action in the Worcester Housing Court seeking to evict Plaintiff. Plaintiff counterclaimed. The Housing Court eventually entered final judgment awarding possession of the property to the bank. Plaintiff’s appeal was unsuccessful. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a civil action against the bank in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleging wrongful foreclosure and other claims relating to the same issues she addressed in the summary process action. The district court granted the bank’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the doctrine set forth in D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983) and Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923), deprived the federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the district court lacked jurisdiction where Plaintiff’s federal suit sought to invalidate the antecedent state courts’ judgments. View "Klimowicz v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jose Sandoval was severely burned by an "arc flash" from a live circuit breaker while working with contractor TransPower Testing, Inc. and its principal Frank Sharghi, at a cogeneration plant owned by defendant Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm). The jury returned a special verdict finding that Qualcomm retained control over the safety conditions at the jobsite; that it negligently exercised such control; and that its negligence was a substantial factor in causing Sandoval's harm. The jury found Sandoval's employer, ROS Electrical Supply (ROS), not liable, and apportioned fault between the defendants. Following the verdict, Qualcomm moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and for a new trial. The trial court denied the JNOV motion but granted the motion for new trial on the theory the jury had improperly apportioned liability. Qualcomm appealed order denying its JNOV motion, arguing Sandoval failed to proffer any evidence to show that Qualcomm, as the hirer of an independent contractor, "affirmatively contributed" to Sandoval's injury under the "retained control" exception to the general rule that a hirer is not liable for the injuries of an independent contractor's employees or its subcontractors; the order only partially granting its new trial motion; and the original judgment. Sandoval appealed the order granting Qualcomm a new trial on the apportionment of fault issue. The Court of Appeal concluded substantial evidence supported the jury's finding that Qualcomm negligently exercised retained control over the safety conditions at the jobsite. Therefore, the Court concluded the trial court properly denied Qualcomm's JNOV. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court properly exercised its discretion when it granted Qualcomm a limited new trial only on the issue of apportionment of fault as between Qualcomm and TransPower. View "Sandoval v. Qualcomm Incorporated" on Justia Law

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Patricia Campbell appeals from an order of the Mobile Circuit Court adjudicating J.R.C., J.L.C., R.L.C., and J.H.S., minor children, as the heirs of the estate of her son, Remano Campbell. Remano died intestate in October 2011, the victim of a homicide perpetrated by his wife, Eugenia Campbell. At the time of his death, Remano was the insured under a $200,000 life-insurance policy issued by United of Omaha Life Insurance Company ("Omaha"). Because Eugenia was not considered to be Remano's surviving spouse, the proceeds of the insurance policy would pass to Remano's issue; if there was no surviving issue, then to his parent or parents equally. Remano and Eugenia were legally married in June 2002. During their marriage, Remano and Eugenia had three children, J.R.C., J.L.C., and R.L.C. Eugenia also had another child, J.H.S., who was born approximately 18 months before her marriage to Remano and who lived with Remano and Eugenia throughout their marriage. In January 2017, the administrator ad litem of Remano's estate filed a complaint in the interpleader action, seeking a judgment declaring that the Campbell children and J.H.S. were Remano's heirs and thus were entitled to the life insurance proceeds. After a hearing, the circuit court entered an order adjudicating the Campbell children and J.H.S. to be Remano's heirs and further finding that Patricia lacked standing to challenge the paternity of the children. Accordingly, the circuit court ordered disbursement of the insurance proceeds in the interpleader action and directed that the estate administration be remanded to the probate court. Patricia filed a postjudgment motion, which was denied. This appeal followed. Finding no reversible error in the circuit court’s judgment, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed adjudication of the children as Remano’s heirs. View "Campbell v. J.R.C." on Justia Law

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William Norvell appealed the grant of summary judgment in an action he filed against his brothers Carter and Samuel Norvell. This case arose from a dispute concerning a transaction in which their mother, Martha, sold Carter a certain house on lakefront property ("the lake house"). Martha established a revocable trust ("the trust") and executed a deed transferring title to the lake house to the trust. Carter was both the trustee and the beneficiary of the trust. Martha also executed a will that, because her husband has preceded her in death, divided her estate in equal shares among three of her four sons, Carter, Samuel, and Neal Norvell, expressly excluding William. A few years later, Martha executed a "revocation of trust agreement" pursuant to which she revoked the trust and expressed her desire to transfer title to the lake house from the trust to herself; shortly thereafter, Carter, as the trustee, executed a deed transferring title to the lake house to Martha. Martha also executed a codicil to her will to devise and bequeath her assets to Carter, Samuel, Neal, and William in equal shares and to appoint Carter and William co-personal representatives of her estate. The Alabama Supreme Court determined William failed to demonstrate the circuit court erred by entering a summary judgment in the defendants' favor on his "interference-with-inheritance-expectancy" and undue influence claims. Accordingly, the Court affirmed summary judgment with respect to those claims. However, the circuit court erred by entering a summary judgment in the defendants' favor based on William's lack of "standing" to prosecute his declaratory-judgment, breach-of-fiduciary-duty, and conspiracy claims. Accordingly, the Court reversed summary judgment with respect to those claims and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Norvell v. Norvell" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of 104 plaintiffs' claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Plaintiffs, individuals and associations located in Mexico that rely on the fishing industry as a primary source of income, argued that the district court abused its discretion in making dismissal with prejudice the remedy for failing to comply with pretrial order (PTO) 60. The court held that plaintiffs' failure to comply with PTO 60 constituted a clear record of delay considering the number of opportunities the district court gave plaintiffs to either comply with PTO 60, explain why they could not do so, or show documentation of their attorneys' efforts. The court also held that the district court's explicit warnings and second chances illustrated that lesser sanctions would not serve the best interests of justice. View "Barrera v. BP, PLC" on Justia Law

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BTH Quitman Hickory, LLC, challenged the amount of the ad valorem taxes assessed by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors by appealing the assessments to circuit court. However, BTH Quitman did not submit a bond with its appeals; therefore, the Board of Supervisors moved to dismiss the appeals. The circuit court found in favor of BTH Quitman, and the Board filed this interlocutory appeal. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court addressed a similar issue in its opinion in Natchez Hospital Co., LLC v. Adams County Board of Supervisors, 238 So. 3d 1162 (Miss. 2018), it reversed the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the case for the circuit court to dismiss BTH Quitman’s case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Board of Supervisors of Clarke County, Mississippi v. BTH Quitman Hickory, LLC" on Justia Law

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In late 2015, Mississippi filed a complaint against fifteen pharmaceutical manufacturers and their affiliates (“Defendants”). In this interlocutory appeal, the issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether the location of a foreign corporation’s registered agent was relevant when determining the appropriate venue for an action. The Supreme Court found that the adoption of the Registered Agents Act (“RAA”) made the location of a corporation’s registered agent irrelevant for purposes of venue. View "Purdue Pharma L.P. v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying Petitioners’ petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice correctly denied extraordinary relief. Petitioners were the defendants in a summary process action commenced in the district court by a bank. A judge found for the bank, and the Appellate Division affirmed. While their application for further appellate review was pending, Petitioners filed this Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition seeking relief from the district court’s denial of their motion to amend their answer to assert new defenses and counterclaims and to request a jury trial. A single justice denied relief on the ground that Petitioners had, and were pursuing, an avenue of relief in the ordinary appellate process. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners’ claims could be and were raised in the ordinary appellate process. View "Costello v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff-appellant Joshua Pagnini failed to respond to a demurrer filed by defendants-respondents Union Bank, N.A. and Unionbancal Mortgage Corporation, the trial court sustained the demurrer and entered judgment in favor of respondents. Appellant appealed the court’s denial of his motion for relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 (b). The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court was obligated to grant relief under the mandatory provision of Section 473(b), where appellant presented a sworn declaration from his counsel attesting that counsel mistakenly failed to respond to the demurrer by timely filing an amended complaint. Respondents’ demurrer was effectively a “dismissal motion” and appellant’s counsel’s mistaken failure to respond to the motion obligated the trial court to relieve appellant from counsel’s error. The trial court's order was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Pagnini v. Union Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Acting under Probate Code section 16440(b), the trial court denied a petition brought by Orange Catholic Foundation and Kevin Vann, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange (collectively, the Church) to remove Rosie Mary Arvizu from her position as trustee of the Josephine Kennedy Trust (Trust) and for damages. The Trust gave a life estate in Kennedy’s house (the Residence) to Paul Senez, her very dear family friend of over 60 years, provided that he pay for certain expenses related to the Residence. The Trust further provided that upon Senez’s death, the Residence was to be sold and the proceeds were to be given to the Church for the benefit of the needy elderly and abused children. The Church alleged that Arvizu (Kennedy’s niece and the successor trustee) breached her duties as trustee by: (1) improperly using Trust funds to pay expenses that should have been borne by Senez (who was elderly, destitute, suffering from dementia, and unable to cover the expenses himself); (2) failing to evict Senez when he could not pay those expenses; and (3) not promptly renting out or selling the Residence after Senez’s death (a delay which occurred in part due to Arvizu’s cancer treatment and other health issues, and which fortuitously benefited the Church because the Residence appreciated by $136,000 during the period of Arvizu’s inaction). Finding no abuse of discretion, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "Orange Catholic Foundation v. Arvizu" on Justia Law