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The 60-day deadline to file a notice of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(B) operates any time the government was a party to one of the consolidated lawsuits, even where the appeal solely concerns a different lawsuit and the government is not a party to the appeal. Defendant sought an en banc rehearing of the Fifth Circuit's decision to dismiss as time-barred his appeal of the district court's denial of his motion to vacate a second contempt order. The court treated the petition for en banc rehearing as a motion for panel reconsideration and granted the motion for reconsideration, withdrawing its prior order dismissing the appeal. The court held that United States v. Brumfield was inconsistent with its prior caselaw on the 60-day limit for him to file his notice of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(B), and its tension with governing law grew in the face of the 2011 Rules and statutory revisions. View "United States v. Conner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jesus Garcia filed a wage and hour lawsuit against Border Transportation Group, LLC (BTG), its owner Erik Ortega, and BTG employee Martha Ortega. Some of Garcia's claims were based on Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders; others were not. The trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on all eight causes of action on the basis that Garcia was an independent contractor, not an employee. After Garcia's appeal was fully briefed, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal.5th 903 (2018), clarifying the employee-independent contractor question as to wage order claims. The Court of Appeal concluded Dynamex compelled the conclusion that defendants did not meet their burden on summary judgment to show no triable issue of material fact as to Garcia's wage order claims. As to those claims discussed in the nonpublished portion of the Court’s opinion, Garcia forfeited appellate review of the trial court's decision that he was not an employee under the standard articulated in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 48 Cal.3d 341 (1989). Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to enter a new order denying summary adjudication of the wage order causes of action and granting summary adjudication as to the non-wage-order causes of action. View "Garcia v. Border Transportation Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Omega Forex Group LC (Omega), appearing by and through partner Robert Flath (Flath), appealed a district court decision affirming two Notices of Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment (FPAA) issued by the Internal Revenue Service to Omega. The two FPAAs, on the basis of fraud at the partnership level, eliminated large losses reported by Omega on its tax returns for years 1998 and 1999, and imposed penalties on Omega. Flath was an endodontist in private practice in Utah. At some point in 1997 or 1998, one of the endodontists in Flath’s practice suggested that Flath meet with Dennis Evanson, an “expert in options trading and general business organization and planning, tax planning and asset protection.” Evanston was Omega’s managing partner. Through their business arrangement, Flath would make contributions or investments in Omega or other entities controlled by Evanston. Evanson, in exchange for Flath’s agreed payments, “manufactured fictitious transactions to conceal income [for Flath] and create apparent [tax] deductions [for Flath].” For the years at issue here, Flath or his endodontist practice would claim pass-through losses from Omega. Flath was not completely forthcoming with his tax accountant. In 2005, a grand jury indicted Evanson and other individuals related to Omega. In February 2008, Evanson was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, tax evasion, and assisting in the filing of false tax returns. Omega’s FPAAs were upheld. Flath, on behalf of Omega, raised three issues on appeal: (1) whether the district court erred in holding that the FPAAs issued by the IRS to Omega were not barred by the applicable statute of limitations; (2) even assuming the district court applied the proper statute of limitations, whether it incorrectly applied the legal standards for determining whether Flath had fraudulent intent as to his personal tax returns; and (3) whether the district court erred in determining the asserted fraud penalty at the partnership level. The Tenth Circuit rejected all of these arguments and affirmed the district court’s decision. View "Omega Forex Group v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Town of North Hero appealed the Property Valuation and Review (PVR) Division hearing officer’s decision to impose a $2000 discovery sanction against the Town in a property-tax-reappraisal appeal brought by the Williams Living Trust. The hearing officer imposed the sanction as a result of a claimed discovery violation by the Town concerning disclosure of an electronic Excel spreadsheet file requested by the Trust. The Trust disagreed with the reappraisal of its property and challenged it through the statutory appeals process. In the notice of appeal, the Trust requested that the Town’s listers provide the Trust with a specific Excel spreadsheet file in “native format” and “unprotected.” The Town had provided the Excel spreadsheet in PDF format, not in the electronic format later requested. The Trust sent additional email requests to the Town asking for the Excel file. The Trust ultimately moved to compel production of the file in the requested format; the Town responded it did not have the file and could not produce “what does not exist.” The PVR hearing officer issued a decision on the Trust’s motion to compel, ordering the Town to make one last effort to obtain a copy of the file requested and giving the Town ten days to comply. In compliance with the hearing officer’s order, the Town conducted another search and located the file and produced it in the format originally requested. The Trust filed a motion describing the Town’s conduct concerning the file request as “blatant misconduct during discovery” and seeking monetary sanctions of $2500 and other sanctions as the hearing officer deemed proper for the Town’s failure to produce the file earlier. The hearing officer imposed a monetary sanction against the Town of $2000 for false statements made by Town officials and the “expenses, effort, and time” the Trust spent as a result of the Town’s failure to produce the file until ordered to do so. No evidence was provided concerning how much time, effort, and expense was incurred by the Trust, and there was no way to determine how the hearing officer determined $2000 to be the appropriate sanction amount. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed the sanction, finding the Town had fully complied with the order compelling discovery, making imposition of a monetary sanction against the Town an abuse of discretion. View "Williams v. Town of North Hero" on Justia Law

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In 2016, the California Legislature created two new statutes to address a financial crisis plaguing the workers’ compensation system, however, the remedy came at a significant cost to all participating medical providers and related entities. Specifically, the new anti-fraud scheme cast a very broad net to halt all proceedings relating to any workers’ compensation liens filed by criminally charged medical providers, as well as any entities “controlled” by the charged provider (noncharged entities). The Legislature created this new scheme because existing laws permitted charged providers to collect on liens while defending their criminal cases, allowing continued funding of fraudulent practices. Pursuant to these two new statutes, the Government gained authority to automatically stay liens filed by charged providers and noncharged entities, without considering if the liens were actually tainted by the alleged illegal misconduct. Michael Barri, Tristar Medical Group (Tristar), and Coalition for Sensible Workers’ Compensation Reform (CSWCR) petitioned the Court of Appeal seeking a peremptory or alternative writ of mandate, prohibition, or other appropriate relief directing the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) to perform its duties and adjudicate Tristar’s lien claims and not enforce certain unconstitutional provisions contained in newly enacted anti-fraud legislation. The Court of Appeal declined petitioner’s request to issue a peremptory or alternative writ of mandate, prohibition, or other relief directing the WCAB to adjudicate the stayed liens and not enforce the newly enacted anti-fraud legislation. The Court rejected Barri’s assertion the suspension and special lien hearing were really criminal proceedings hidden under a “civil label.” The Legislature clearly stated its intention was to enact a civil regulatory scheme and remedy; the Court determined the Legislature exerted its plenary power to create a civil regulatory scheme designed to prevent the unnecessary processing and payment on liens tainted by fraud and other misconduct. “[T]he anti-fraud legislation at issue may have some punitive aspects, but it primarily serves important nonpunitive goals.” View "Barri v. WCAB" on Justia Law

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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