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Beginning in 2009, plaintiffs sued defendants, including Associated Insulation, for injuries arising out of plaintiffs’ alleged asbestos exposure. Plaintiffs served Associated with the complaints. Associated, which apparently ceased operating in 1974, did not respond. The court entered default judgments, ranging from $350,000 to $1,960,458. Plaintiffs served notice of the judgments on Associated, but not on Fireman’s Fund. After entry of the judgments, Fireman’s located insurance policies appearing to provide coverage for Associated, retained counsel, and moved to set aside the defaults. Fireman’s argued “extrinsic mistake” because service of the complaint on Associated did not provide notice to Fireman’s and that it “never had the opportunity to participate in [the] lawsuit.” Plaintiffs noted that in two cases, they sent a “demand seeking coverage” to Fireman’s which was “acknowledged and denied” in 2012. Fireman’s had responded that it had searched all available records without locating any reference or policies of insurance issued to Associated. Plaintiffs did not respond with evidence of coverage. The court set aside the defaults. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that Fireman’s has a meritorious case and articulated a satisfactory excuse for not presenting a defense. Fireman’s established diligence in “seeking to set aside the default” judgments once they were discovered. View "Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors ("Board") appealed district court judgments affirming in part, reversing in part, and remanding to the Board its disciplinary decisions against Michael Berg, Apex Engineering Group, Inc., Scott Olson, Dain Miller, Thomas Welle, and Timothy Paustian. Respondents Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian were former employees of Ulteig Engineers, Inc. Olson was terminated from Ulteig in 2009. In 2010, Berg, Miller, Welle, and Paustian resigned from Ulteig and, along with Olson, started a competing business, Apex. Following the Respondents' departure, Ulteig sued Apex and filed an ethics complaint with the Board, alleging Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle and Paustian violated the Professional Engineers' Code of Ethics by disclosing Ulteig's confidential information and failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest by not informing Ulteig of their decision to form Apex. Ulteig also alleged the Respondents knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects that Ulteig had been contracted to perform before the Respondents' departure from Ulteig. The Board found that each of the Respondents had violated one or more of the provisions of the code of ethics. Respondents appealed the Board's disciplinary decisions to the district court. The court affirmed the Board's decision that Welle, Berg, and Miller failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest. The court reversed the determination that Miller, Welle, and Paustian had improperly disclosed confidential information. The court also reversed the decision that Berg, Olson, and Welle knowingly participated in a plan to seek employment for Apex on projects Ulteig had been contracted to perform before their departure from Ulteig. The court remanded to the Board for reconsideration the discipline imposed on Berg, Olson, Miller, Welle, and Paustian in light of the court's reversal of the disciplinary decisions. The court also awarded attorney fees to Berg, Welle, Apex, Olson, Miller, and Paustian. On appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, the Board argued the district court wrongfully reversed the Board's disciplinary decisions because the decisions were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. The Supreme Court concluded a preponderance of the evidence supported the Board's factual findings regarding the improper solicitation by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. Those findings supported a conclusion that Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex knowingly sought or accepted employment for professional services for an assignment for which Ulteig was previously employed or contracted to perform in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6). The Supreme Court therefore reversed those parts of the district court's judgments relating to the violation of N.D. Admin. Code 28-03.1-01-12(6) by Welle, Olson, Berg, and Apex. View "Berg, et al. v. North Dakota State Board of Registration" on Justia Law

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Wakaya Perfection, LLC and its principals sued Youngevity International Corp. and its principals in Utah state court. The Youngevity parties responded by bringing their own suit against the Wakaya parties in a California federal district court, then removing the Utah case to federal court. These steps resulted in concurrent federal cases sharing at least some claims and issues. The California litigation progressed; and in November 2017, the federal district court in Utah ordered dismissal. The issues presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether: (1) the federal district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction under the Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976) test; and (2) and arbitrator would have needed to decide the arbitrability of Wakaya's claims. The Tenth Circuit reversed on both grounds: the federal trial court applied the wrong abstention test and erroneously ruled that an arbitrator should have decided whether Wakaya's claims were arbitrable. View "Wakaya Perfection, LLC v. Youngevity International" on Justia Law

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In this case against members of the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners the First Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of attorneys’ fees in favor of Plaintiff and affirmed the court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s amended complaint, holding that Plaintiff’s supposed “prevailing party” status was not justified. Plaintiff, an individual with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, filed suit against members of the Board challenging the Board’s denial of his request for certain accommodations to assist him in taking the Rhode Island bar exam. The district court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring the Board to permit Plaintiff the requested accommodations, dismissed Plaintiff’s amended complaint, and allowed Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees. On review, the First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s success in gaining a TRO did not warrant an award of attorneys’ fees; and (2) the district court’s decision to allow the Board’s motion to dismiss the damage claim in the complaint was correct. View "Sinapi v. Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated when they were coerced by New York City officials into signing settlement agreements waiving various constitutional rights in order to avoid eviction from their businesses and residences. The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because the settlement agreements were "so-ordered" by judges in the state-court system. The court held that the district court's Rooker-Feldman ruling was erroneous because plaintiffs' alleged injuries were merely ratified by the state-court judgments rather than caused by them. In this case, plaintiffs were attempting to remedy an alleged injury caused when, prior to any judicial action, they were coerced to settle, not an injury that flowed from a state-court judgment. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Cho v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment brought by defendant AMN Services, LLC (AMN), and denied motions for summary adjudication of one cause of action and one affirmative defense brought by plaintiff Kennedy Donohue, individually and on behalf of five certified plaintiff classes she represented (together Plaintiffs). AMN, a healthcare services and staffing company, recruits nurses for temporary contract assignments. AMN employed Donohue as a nurse recruiter in its San Diego office between September 2012 and February 2014. During the first few weeks of Donohue's employment in September 2012, for any noncompliant meal period, Team Time, AMN's timekeeping system, assumed a Labor Code violation, and the recruiter automatically received the full statutory meal period penalty payment. At all relevant times after mid-September 2012, if a recruiter's meal period was missed, shortened, or delayed, Team Time automatically provided a drop-down menu that required the recruiter's response: if the recruiter indicated that she chose not to take a timely 30-minute meal period, AMN did not pay a meal period penalty; however, if the recruiter indicated that she was not provided the opportunity to take a timely 30-minute meal period, then AMN paid the full statutory meal period penalty. The operative second amended complaint, filed on behalf of Donohue individually and a class of similarly situated AMN employees and former employees, alleged: (1) failure to provide meal and rest periods; (2) failure to pay overtime and minimum wage; (3) improper wage statements; (4) unreimbursed business expenses; (5) waiting time penalties; (6) unfair business practices; and (7) civil penalties authorized by the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). In her appeal, Donohue challenged the grant of AMN's motion for summary judgment and the denial of her motion for summary adjudication of one of the causes of action. On appeal, Donohue also challenged what she characterized as the trial court's "fail[ure] to hear a proper motion for reconsideration" of the summary judgment and summary adjudication rulings. After review, the Court of Appeal found it lacked jurisdiction to hear the rejection of Donohue's motion for reconsideration; the Court found no issues of material facts and affirmed summary judgment in favor of AMN. View "Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-respondent J.W., through her guardian ad litem, sued defendant-appellant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) and others for: (1) negligence; (2) negligent supervision/failure to warn; (3) negligent hiring/retention; (4) negligent failure to warn, train, or educate J.W.; (5) sexual battery; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. J.W. was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. In July 2006, J.W. and Gilbert Simental belonged to the Mountain View Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prior to July 2006, at a different congregation, Simental served as a ministerial servant and as an elder. Upon joining the Mountain View congregation, Simental served as an elder. In July 2006, J.W. and three other girls were invited to a slumber party at Simental’s home. Simental had a daughter near the age of J.W. and the other invited girls. While in his backyard pool, Simental sexually molested J.W. and another girl (Doe 1) in separate incidents. Doe 1’s sister, Doe 2, had previously been molested on two occasions by Simental. Doe 1 and Doe 2 told their mother about Simental molesting them. The mother contacted an elder of the congregation, a judicial committee was convened, and Simental admitted he molested Doe 2 on two occasions, and that he molested Doe 1 twice on July 15. In two criminal cases, Simental was ultimately found guilty of molesting Doe 1, Doe 2, and J.W. In her civil suit against Watchtower, J.W. moved to compel further discovery responses. The trial court’s order compelled Watchtower to produce all documents Watchtower received in response to a letter sent by Watchtower to Jehovah’s Witness congregations on March 14, 1997, concerning known molesters in the church (1997 Documents). By November 2014, Watchtower had not produced the 1997 Documents, and J.W. moved for terminating sanctions. At a hearing on the sanctions motion, the trial court offered Watchtower four days to produce the 1997 Documents. Watchtower declined the offer and refused to produce the 1997 Documents. The trial court granted the motion for terminating sanctions and struck Watchtower’s answer. The trial court clerk entered Watchtower’s default. After considering evidence, the trial court entered judgment in favor of J.W. and awarded her $4,016,152.39. Raising multiple issues of alleged error, Watchtower appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment. View "J.W. v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc." on Justia Law

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A divorced mother and father shared joint legal custody of their son. The mother moved for a modification of legal custody, alleging that the father was failing to cooperate on important issues such as counseling, the selection of a middle school, and medical care; she also moved for a declaration that the parents did not have to mediate their custody disputes before filing a modification motion, as required by their custody agreement. The superior court denied the request for declaratory relief and denied the motion for modification of custody without a hearing. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed with the superior court that the motion for declaratory relief was properly denied, as neither party was seeking to enforce the mediation provision and it presented no actual controversy. However, the Court concluded the mother’s allegations in her motion to modify legal custody made a prima facie showing that the parents’ lack of cooperation was serious enough to negatively affect the child’s well-being, and that the mother was therefore entitled to an evidentiary hearing on modification. The trial court’s order was therefore reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Edith A. v. Jonah A." on Justia Law

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A mother appealed an order modifying custody, which awarded sole legal and physical custody of her three children to the father and limited her to supervised visitation pending the children’s full engagement in therapy. The mother argued the father failed to demonstrate a change in circumstances that would justify a modification of custody and that the resulting modification was not in the children’s best interests. After review of the trial court record, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the mother’s interference with the children’s therapy amounted to a change in circumstances and that the children’s best interests were served by an award of sole legal and physical custody to the father while therapy took hold. View "Georgette S.B. v. Scott B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court dismissing the claims that Plaintiffs asserted their first amended complaint and denying Plaintiffs’ second motion to amend their complaint, holding that the trial court did not err by dismissing Plaintiffs’ amended complaint and denying Plaintiffs’ second amendment motion. Plaintiffs commenced this action by filing a complaint asserting fifteen claims. Plaintiffs subsequently amended their complaint and then filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. The trial court denied the second amendment motion because it involved undue delay and suggested the existence of a dilatory motive. After Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed some of their claims, the trial court granted Defendants’ dismissal motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the orders of the district court were not an abuse of its discretion. View "Azure Dolphin, LLC v. Barton" on Justia Law